Tag Archives: writing

Fuller House: A Review.

21 years ago, a little sitcom had its series finale. Full House. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

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A recent trend on television these days is reunions and reboots. Audiences love seeing characters return that they once loved so dearly. 90210, The X files, Twin Peaks — just to name a few.

A reunion show can be hit or miss.

I’ve watched eight of the thirteen Fuller House episodes.

The AV Club reviewed the show and called it a ‘porn parody without the porn.’ Is that fair to say? No. But, are the critics right in this situation? Is the show bad? Maybe.

The writers of Fuller House needed to remember something: This can not be a constant throw-back. Yes, the little jabs toward the Olsen Twins are funny. And sure, Danny Tanner being in town for a ‘huge reunion show’ is a nice break of the fourth wall. But, after awhile, the self-awareness gets a tad annoying and amateurish.

The show does have some bright spots. Andrea Barber and Jodi Sweeten are fantastic actresses, Sweeten especially does have some serious material that she absolutely nails. DJ’s children, Jackson and Max (played by Michael Campion and Elias Harger) are decent child actors, in my opinion.

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The show does have some small season-long plot threads, but generally, it acts as an old sitcom, where episodes stand alone. I appreciate the baby steps, but as I watched more episodes, I found myself wishing I was watching a more connected story.

The show suffers greatly in its writing. Some lines really cross a line for a cheap joke. Oh, and there are fart jokes. Not many, but they’re here. I detest that kind of comedy and I believe if you need your characters to fart, you probably shouldn’t be writing anything at all.

Where the show really misteps, is its treatment of DJ Tanner. Candace Cameron Bure can act. There’s no mistaking that. But what she has to work with is pretty poor. DJ is a really corny ‘soccer mom.’ There’s nothing wrong with having a ‘silly mother.’ But, it’s taken to the extreme and DJ was never like that as a child. She was the smart, good daughter. She’s almost on the verge of doing slapstick humor and I just hate that.

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SPOILERS: Besides DJ’s characterization, there is a bigger problem that I see. And that is the fact that by episode 8, she literally jumps into the arms of a man she barely knows and kisses him.

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Now, think about it: DJ’s husband just died. Sure, time has passed by the 8th episode, but not much. DJ barely mentions her late husband after the pilot, in which she was in tears talking to her youngest. There seems to be no grieving period. She’s already wanting to date and making out with guys.

What’s worse, is that right after this kiss, her two older boys are missing their father, and she takes them in front of a mirror as she tells them how they remind her of him. And that tomorrow, they’ll watch old videos of their father.  It’s meant to be a tender moment, but DJ was making out with the temporary vet dude just two minutes ago!

Will Fuller House be a hit with fans of the previous series?  Of course. And, I will be watching the remaining episodes. But, I’m sad to say. Like the art work on the Tanner’s refrigerator, the show is kinda sorta cute but after awhile looks messy and you secretly want to throw it away when no one’s looking.

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FACADE, the interactive play.

So. There’s this little game. You might have heard of it: Facade. I came across it when researching writing and I was extremely interested in it. The download is free, which sometimes is a sign of poor quality. But, that isn’t the case here. This is a nifty game. In fact, I feel Facade is a great experiment of what games could be.

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What is Facade? You play yourself. You’re an old friend of Grace and Tripp’s. They’ve invited you over for dinner. It’s been awhile since you’ve all visited. But, within seconds of getting through the door, Tripp and Grace seem to be fuming with one another. Your job is to either fix their marriage or tear them apart.

How does the game work? Via the keyboard, you’re able to type what you want to say. Based on what you type, Grace and Tripp deliver prerecorded dialog that moves the story forward. The game is billed as an “interactive drama.” I’d go as far as to compare it to a lucid dream.

I’ve only had a few lucid dreams in my life. These are dreams where you are aware you are dreaming and have some control over what’s going on. I relate the two because, in regular dreams, we simply watch our conversations with characters. In lucid dreams, we directly control the conversation.

The game has a lot of replay value. I’ve played many times and in my last play through, Grace said something she never had before. (Tripp has a secret!) It was so astounding. I thought I had heard every piece of dialog, but I know now that I haven’t.

You might be thinking, “Well, okay. But lot’s of game’s let you talk to characters…” Yes, that’s true. But, FACADE does it differently. Most role playing games allow you to speak to characters via dialog options. You could have three, maybe four pre-set questions you can ask a certain character. While you are picking which questions to ask, it somewhat feels limited. It doesn’t feel real.

What makes Facade different is the allusion you’re controlling more than you are. We can type any word we want when talking to Grace and Tripp. While the questions are not directly posed to us, the story is moved by the prerecorded dialog. We feel like this is real because we can say or ask anything we want.

Sure, we are limited by how many lines the actors can deliver and exactly what those lines are. But, there are hundreds of lines. We also feel more in control, because of how closnit the story is. We’re at someone’s house and the couple is fighting. In the context of being in this environment, we’ll say things that relate to marriage, answer questions they ask, and so on. We feel as though we can ask Grace and Tripp anything that pertains to them. And this is not something many games have.

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There are countless adventure games where you can roam around the environment freely. In that respect, we have games that make an environment seem real. But, role playing games still have aways to go where the characters seem real. This is where Facade succeeds greatly. I believe this game opens the door for other game designers. There needs to be more games where the characters are the focus and players truly feel that interaction with them is unlimited.

The creators of Facade where creating a second game, THE PARTY. One could assume that the set up would be similar to Facade, but there would be more than two characters to interact with. But, as of 2013, it has been confirmed it’s no longer in production. That is truly saddening.

As I said, I found this game through research on writing. Besides it being a “game”, it makes an excellent study on story, character and dialog. The story is tight. The characters are well-rounded. The dialog doesn’t come across as a written line, but as someone would actually speak. It’s something you need to experience to really understand. The game has been called an interactive play. So, why not take your shot at it? FACADE can be downloaded here.

Some elements of this article come from: http://aigamedev.com/open/review/facade-ai/

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What is PRETTY LITTLE GIRL?

PRETTY LITTLE GIRL is merely a writing exercise in the form of a script for the television show DEGRASSI.

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I’m a script writer (aspiring) but I haven’t written anything for months.

Finally, inspiration hit and I decided to roll with the ideas that had been in my head for quite some time.

PRETTY LITTLE GIRL originally was to be solely a ‘Reunion’ episode featuring original characters from the first few seasons. However, I was struggling to reason why students so much older would return and exactly what they’d be doing.

But, with the suicide plot featuring Cam Saunders, I had found my reason.

The story then shifted. Instead of being just about returning characters, I wanted to introduce at least one new one and tie everything together with a bow regarding Cam.

What exactly is the story behind PRETTY LITTLE GIRL? Well, here… I’ll tell you—

Degrassi has been shaken by the horrific suicide of Cam Saunders. When Emma and Craig meet by chance, upon hearing of the bad news,  they decide to return to Degrassi and stage a Suicide Prevention Concert. Meanwhile, Maya is struggling deeply with Cam’s death and finds herself attracted to new student Kyle Wolff— but are his intentions pure? And with all the attention Cam is getting, Becky Baker makes it her mission to be sure the Greenhouse is destroyed…

I don’t like the term ‘fanfiction’ but I suppose that’s what this is. I’m not working for the show. I’m just a writer who dreams about it!

Stephen Stohn responded to my tweet a few years ago, regarding working on the show. He told me that all writers must be Canadian. Looking at it now, I believe you technically could be from the US and work on the show, but you must live in Canada in order to do so.

I’m not going to be living in Canada ever… so this is the best I’ve got. It’s merely a creative exercise. And, I mention this because I do plan to make the script available when it’s finished. My hope is the DEGRASSI fans find it to be a good read and maybe some cast members will read it too. You know, I can dream.

If you follow my blog, you know who FRANCIS SAUVE is. 298992_497966720255043_1815764232_n

Just to recap, he’s an aspiring actor who has auditioned for the show. He knows I’m a writer and he had asked me, “If you were writing for the show, what would my character be? Who do you see me as?” And my script, PRETTY LITTLE GIRL. is my answer to the question.  (Kyle Wolff.)

Currently, the script is at ten pages. I’m estimating an actual script is around 20 pages long, so I’ve got ten more to go. And in actuality, this is just PART 1 of the story.

I’m having a lot of fun with it. I just love writing. And while it’s just for fun, I do hope to show readers that I do have talent.

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“Pretty Little Girl” Page Preview

Just a sneak peak of what I’m calling “Pretty Little Girl”, a script that takes place a few weeks after the events of “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”

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Character Name Poll!

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So, for my “Degrassi Reunion” script, I’m having a bit of difficulty naming a certain character. His name is impending the writing process— he needs a better name. I’ve done some creative research — and narrowed it down to THREE names. Please participate in the poll and tell me which name you like best.

http://poll.pollcode.com/ojolc>

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The Best Comedy on Television

I’ve heard from many writers and professors, “You know you’re talented when you can write comedy.”

Making someone laugh is a rewarding thing, but difficult to do on the page. I won’t say I can’t write comedy. I’ve never really tried. Don’t get me wrong. There are several comedy films I love. But as a writer, I prefer serious stories. However, I’ve been meaning to crack down and attempt a comedy, just to see how talented I am.

I mention comedy tonight, because I was wondering… if successful comedy is good writing, could we pinpoint a really, really well-written show? The answer is yes. It’s a sitcom. The show is dated, most of the cast has died… but the show still airs in syndication because it’s damn funny.

What show am I talking about?

THE GOLDEN GIRLS of course.

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Just in case you have no idea what that is… “GOLDEN GIRLS” began in the 80s. It follows 4 older women as they room together in a home. Their personalities conflict and make life extremely interesting.

The show went for 7 seasons.

Now, I’m positive I have many readers shaking their heads. They’ve probably never heard of the show and they are wondering why anyone would be interested in a show about 4 old ladies? It’s simple. THE WRITING.

At least in my opinion, sitcoms today are dead. They rely on cruel jokes or a character farts or falls down. Stories are one-denominational and forgettable. Minus “THE BIG BANG THEORY” I think it’s safe to say most sitcoms made nowadays suck.

THE GOLDEN GIRLS was different. The premise was solid. Each CHARACTER had a clear, direct motivation, and the actresses hired were the hottest tickets at the time. Lastly, the plots were often cumulative and often memorable. But, the most important thing about this COMEDY was that each episode was guaranteed to make you laugh.

You can’t explain comedy. Jokes from THE GOLDEN GIRLS aren’t knock-knock jokes. They rely on the characters and stories to make them funny. But, what I can explain, is one of the characters and how she was the blunt of most of the comedy.

Rose Nylynd, played by Betty White, was an extremely naive woman. Viewers of the show might call her “stupid”. But the idea was that Rose was so naive, she simply didn’t understand a whole lot of things from a logical perspective. Rose’s lack of understanding leads to many situations where you burst out laughing because she’s the only one who doesn’t get it. Rose also came from “Saint Olaf” where the townspeople were strange and stupid. In almost every episode, Rose would tell a “saint olaf” story. The story was meant to help one of the other women with an issue. But the joke was that the story never had a point or never made any relevant sense to the other women.

The point is, THE GOLDEN GIRLS, if not the best, is one of the best written television shows. If the premise doesn’t interest you, still give it a shot. Save it for a night when you really need to laugh. Cause you will. I mean, when you consider the show is from the 80s and is still being shown on reruns… that  must be a clue, right?

BONUS: Watch this short clip from the first episode and see what I’m talking about:

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A writer’s reaction to Cam.

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If you’re here, you obviously have just watched “Bittersweet Symphony” Parts 1 and 2. In the episodes, we watched as Cam’s depression worsened and ultimately led to his suicide.

Most of you probably cried. Or, at the very least, you shed a tear. Those who’ve seen the episode may have cried because you either have felt the way Cam did or you know someone who has actually committed suicide. I cried a bit, I’m not ashamed to say, because, I’ve been where Cam was. In fact, the line, “I just wish I could go to sleep and never wake up,” has actually come out of my mouth before.

I’m very happy that Degrassi finally tackled this issue. If you follow Degrassi, you know that “The Next Generation” is not the first “branch” of the show universe. Suicide has been touched on… but only once before. For many of us, this IS the first time we’ve seen Degrassi do this storyline and to my knowledge, only the second time a main character has died. (On the current Branch.)

From a writers perspective, Cam’s entire plot line was done very well. The character obviously was created for the sole purpose of having this kind of storyline. However, you’ll notice, Cam was a well-rounded character. His depression was not the very first thing we saw surrounding him— Some shows would have— but Cam had ideals, dreams, and when first introduced, was almost a bully— then quickly softened— (His friendship with Tristan) and finally— he and Maya became a couple. And then— we saw how the pressure of performing on the hockey team and being homesick affected him.

Remember in RUSTY CAGE (Part 1) where Cam accidentally cut himself with his skate?  cut

That was a really well written scene. What I liked was how it was IMPLIED Cam loved the pain. Cam cutting was never seen again, but just from that scene, you gathered he probably engaged in self-harming from then on.

There was more “well roundness” with Cam, surrounding his interaction with Zig. 1231-picture-2

Cam taunted Zig about losing Maya. In this action, we saw another side to Cam… a dark side… which we can gather was part of Cam’s sickness. The fact is, Cam was a ‘good character’, but like a real person, did have a side to him that wasn’t pleasant. This made him REAL.

The other nice part of this entire story line was the reaction by various students. Dallas showed anger. Maya showed denial. Becky showed ignorance. And the rest of the student body showed the ‘usual’ reaction— sadness and disbelief.

I also was so HAPPY the writers came up with Hoot, Maya’s stuffed animal that has now become a symbol of love, hope, and death… I was WAITING for Maya to “sit” with Cam’s death by holding Hoot. And SHE DID.

My only complaint, and it truly is only one— is I wished we had seen Cam once more before his suicide. I understand not showing the act itself. And that’s not what I wanted. However, I feel a scene showing him entering the green house would have been more real… to see the character’s final thoughts before reaching the breaking point. It would have been nice to see him thinking out loud his feelings.

Also, let’s applaud the show for doing this storyline with a MALE. So many teenage dramas focus on females getting depressed. Rarely does a male character express it. Having a male commit suicide was a brilliant choice and goes against the grain.

Lastly. Dylan Everett, the actor who portrayed Cam, deserves an award for his acting. Honestly, Dylan was so believable. You weren’t watching an actor… you were watching CAM suffer and want to fall asleep and never wake up. The casting department did a great job here. Dylan, I wish him the best in his future acting work. He is going to do great things.

I claim no ownership over the pictures used in this post.

EDIT: Some readers have wondered what Cam was sick with. It’s unknown if the writer’s specifically decided to give him a disorder or not. If they did, we don’t know what it is. Now, I’m not a doctor. But, I take care in the characters I write and I do research on this sort of thing. My guess is that Cam suffered from a general anxiety disorder. Or, He could have suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder.   A generalized Anxiety disorder just means a sufferer is somewhat always anxious, and when traumatic things happen to them, the anxiety can manifest in depression, if provoked enough.  BPD is a disorder where sufferers experience extreme emotions, either negative or positive.  If Cam didn’t have BPD directly, it’s possible a person can simply have “traces” of it, and that’s my best guess. The evidence surrounding my belief is this: Cam is waiting for Maya to arrive. He’s happy— he did just have the “best night of his life.” When Zig approaches him and tells him to “get lost forever”— that comment clearly reverted Cam back to an extreme emotion. And yes, there were memories to support this change. But, ultimately, it was just a comment Zig made. In the context of BPD, Cam overreacted to this statement and dismissed the fact that Maya was happy with him. The negative comment overrode Cam’s happiness and ultimately led to his death. This is all theory, you understand.

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Degrassi.

My, oh my. Where has the time gone? This poor blog has been neglected, clearly. Bad, writer, bad!

 Let’s get to the point, shall we?

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 Today, I want to talk about a little show, DEGRASSI. You may have heard of it. It actually was a continuation of another series and was at first called DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION. The show did what some shows do, and that’s follow the children of the once main characters of the previous show.

 Well, DEGRASSI has been on the air since 2001 and has won many awards and has a strong fan base. I started watching the show when it was in Season 10, but over the past 6 months, I’ve been watching the earlier seasons.

 I love the show because it provides a pretty accurate interpretation of the life of a teenager. Admittedly, the show has lost some of its shine in recent years, but hey, it’s in it’s 12th season. So, that is to be expected.

 I want to talk a little about how the show was when it first began in 2001. This was when cell phones were of the flip variety and Facebook wasn’t even invented. I mention this, because Degrassi’s first storyline is a brilliant one, but it’s something that couldn’t really be done now, with the current technology.

 Emma Nelson, who when the show began was 12, was emailing Jordan, a boy her age who shared the same interests as her. Emma was head over heals for the boy and jumped at the chance to meet him when he asked.

 As the story goes on, the audience learns that Jordan isn’t a kid at all, but instead a pedophile who manages to trap Emma in his hotel room. Emma’s friends manage to crack her email and discover Jordan is a fraud and race to the hotel to save her.

 For 2001, this storyline grips you. Yes, this kind of thing still does happen in real life. But, back in 2001, it was a lot easier to hide behind a mask on the internet. It has more believability. Looking at the story from a written perspective, the writers have very little time for you to care about Emma. The only strength they have is tying her to her mother, who was a well loved character as a teen on the other series.

But, the writers make a fleshed out young girl, and you do care for her. Emma loves the environment, means well in every respect, and is simply a victim of falling in love with what she believes to be a boy who cares for her .

 This is the storyline that I love most on the series and I think it is the one that is done quite well.

 f you have yet to see DEGRASSI, do yourself a favor and rent it on Netflix. Just get the first disc. Just check out the very first episode and see if you don’t get addicted.

 In my next entry, we’ll examine the series further and discover why you should be watching it.   

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Who is A?

Pretty Little Liars. Yeah. I watch that show. So, sue me. I don’t care that I’m not the core demographic. That show just hooks you in and is a testament to excellent writing. If you are reading this and have no clue what Pretty Little Liars is, here is a rundown:

It’s a drama, following four teenage girls.  Their best friend was killed and they’re trying to solve the murder. And, if that’s not enough, someone is texting them anonymously and is revealing their secrets and ruining their lives.

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The plotline of ‘anonymous texting’ is a genius concept. It’s been done before. I can think of one other series in which it was featured prominently. The web series PROM QUEEN, which aired on Myspace in 2007. That followed Ben Simmons, an unpopular student who was getting unknown texts, and as the series went on, a whole lot of drama happened because of this ‘unknown sender.’

That’s actually why I began watching PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. I like the concept, and I wanted to see just how this one would play out. In LIARS,  The unknown sender is only known as A. Next week, the series airs its season 2 finale. There is hype up the walls because A will be revealed. For real. It’s not a gimmick… like abcfamily pulled awhile ago. This time, the camera will pan over to see just who is wearing those black gloves.As a writer, I love the series because it’s so planned. The way things unfold, things ‘connect’ later on. It’s a sign that these writers know where they are going and they come up with the most interesting “OH MY GOD!’ moments. There’s been a million of them.

I am, however, very worried. When the show began, I fully believed the creators would  never reveal A, as it was the whole idea of the show. Without a mysterious texter, there is no mystery. But, here we are, season 2, and we’re being promised we will learn the answer to our biggest question.

I am excited to see how the writers make the show as gripping as it is, with its main mystery solved. I could see, for awhile, that if ‘A” is unmasked and sticks around… the dynamic of this character with the girls could create a lot of drama.  Without knowing a thing, I just thought one of the main girls would end up being A. However, I’m sure everyone else though that too. So, it wouldn’t be shocking.

There’s this theory, that I only read a few days ago. The theory is that ‘A’ might be Ezra Fitz. Ezra is an English teacher at the school, and is in love with one of the main leads— Aria.  (Don’t worry, they met off campus and had no idea they were getting into illegal territory!)

If you look in the right places, people have stacked evidence to suggest the theory is in fact true. The producers have stated that they have left clues along the way in all episodes regarding A’s identity.

Now, let me state… I am not connected to the show. I have not looked up any spoilers (since accidentally coming across the Ezra theory.) If Ezra is in fact A, it’s purely coincidence on my part.

Anyway. Back to the point: I want Ezra to be A. Here’s why. It is truly shocking. The thought of him being A never once crossed my mind. Never. And, I am so upset I came across the theory because it makes perfect sense.

I’ll just note two clues I noticed on my own. First, in last night’s episode, the ‘creepy little kid’ got a lollipop from A in the ‘ending credits tag’ (It is called a tag, right?) It’s revealed in this tag, that A ‘hired’ the little kid to lie to our girls, and a lollipop was his reward. Now, my thinking is, a teacher would give a kid a lollipop. I know, I know… you get one at the doctor’s office. But, seriously… I’ve got a million teachers in my family, and, in the younger grades, candy is used as a reward. And in this ending tag, the creepy little kid who seeming feigned psychic ability, got a lollipop. Okay, that’s clue one.

Second clue…  In the episode, “The First Secret” —  Aria is seen visiting Hollis to see her Father. And, in a brief moment in a scene, she bumps into Ezra and rushes off. This episode is a FLASHBACK, before the two knew each other. The fact that this moment was put in the episode is a major click. It’s very brief, but it is there.  Aria could have bumped into an extra— but no, she bumped into Ezra.

Ezra being A is a wonderful story twist. The love interest is the villain. That concept isn’t anything new. But, it can be done in a perfect way that still shocks the audience.

#Aday, as it’s being called, is the day we’ll turn on our televisions or maybe computers— and watch the most shocking secret be revealed.  I’m still going to watch, even if I have somehow solved the mystery. If anything, I’m more interested. And remember, this is a theory— something a fan thought up. So, the possibility it is wrong is intriguing as well. Maybe A is someone else.  And, let me say that I came across this theory from CARLYtheBARBIE on Youtube.

So. Now, we wait.

I hope all the highschoolers reading this get back to their homework… surely your ENGLISH TEACHER has assigned you to read THE SCARLET LETTER…

You know… where Hester Prynne must wear a giant A on her chest?

Image from: http://www.engadget.com

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Mesh.

Maybe, this is a dumb question. But, how much of ‘real life’ gets into our fictional writing? Is there an unspoken rule that we can not take from our own lives? Or, is it ‘common sense’ that most of what you write WILL come from experiences?

I believe this is a touchy subject. From my experience, most of what I write does come from my life.  Or, I might write something that resembles an experience from a person I know.  The subject is touchy, because, some people might not want aspects of their life drawn into a story. I really can’t help it, though. My mind is buzzing with ideas all the time. I write them down and have them in a small red notebook. Some things I deliberately haven’t begun writing because I worry about someone getting angry with me.

For example, I find the story of how I came to be extremely fascinating. I’ve often joked that my life could be a primetime drama. And, my parents meeting and me being born could very well make up two full seasons.

But, there are details in there I’m sure my parents don’t want out there. And you could be saying— “You change the names— you change the location—” Sure, but the real people know it’s about them, so you run into problems. But, the point is, that makes a good story. I’ve told my parents I’m writing about them after they’re gone. It’s just too good.

But, see, writers need to be careful. And, I don’t think this topic is actually addressed much. You need to not cross a line, yet you need stories to be engaging and entertaining. And, I think if you asked most writers, they would say most of their ideas contain even just a tad of real life.

It’s hard not to mesh reality with fiction.

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This whole idea can be seen with the film, The Social Network.   You know— it was about Facebook and its creator, Mark Zuckerburg.  Zuckerburg had been quoted as saying he felt the film was wrong on several counts and that he was never going to see the film. I’m sure the creators were a bit scared of what Zuckerburg would think, especially of his portrayal.  At the end of the day, the story of Facebook’s creation is a good one, and it needed to be told.

The bottom line is: as writers, we can’t worry what others think of our choices when it comes to our writing.

We’re all humans, absorbing our surroundings and experiences.  And, if you’re good friends with a writer, chances are, you’ll find yourself in a script one day.

IMAGE: From Filthymonkey, DeviantArt.

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