FANGIRL FRIDAY: For Your MCU Viewing Pleasure

I’d been so busy with everything under the sun the last couple of months that I didn’t give the time and love that WandaVision so richly deserved. It’s okay, though, because it’s still within the spoiler zone, so a more in-depth discussion of how that story unfolded will come in a future Fangirl Friday post.

For now, without going too much into it, I want to share how excited I was to see Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their respective roles in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The long awaited first episode in this 6-episode run is ready to stream at the time of this writing on Disney+.

One thing I can freely discuss and praise is the diverse cast of characters in this premiere episode. I’m not just talking about ethnicity, but also the character traits, quirks, and flaws that each person brings to the story.

For those already anticipating the buddy-cop dynamic between Sam and Bucky, all I can say is that if the trailer was any indicator, we’re in for a real treat. Just the recall to their shared scenes in the movies were some much needed tension release from the heavier storylines.

I wish I could into further detail but I’d rather people watched it first so I don’t give anything away. As for the streaming platform, say what you will about the recent controversies with Disney, they’ve been putting out a lot of outstanding programming, of late, and I can only hope that it’ll keep getting better from here on out.

Be sure to catch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier each Friday, streaming today, March 19 with the final episode streaming on April 23. Before the year’s over (is that enough time to be out of the spoiler zone? lol), more discussions and story element breakdown to follow.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: impact x SKYDANCE

Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, who founded Imagine Entertainment back in November 1985, are responsible for an eclectic collection of film and television over the decades. They had a hand in bringing us films such as Willow, The ‘Burbs, Parenthood, Kindergarten Cop, The Doors, Backdraft, My Girl, Boomerang, Apollo 13, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, and Get on Up. Our television screens takes us into the world of Sports Night, Felicity, 24, Arrested Development, Friday Night Lights, Empire, and many more. This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s safe to say that you’ve seen at least five of their productions in your lifetime, so far.

When I discovered that the dynamic duo created Imagine Impact which last year collaborated with Netflix to launch a global writing opportunity, it was an overwhelming but exciting chance to inch my way out of my comfort zone. They cast a wide net in four category submission calls for feature films. While I ended up not submitting to two of the genres that interested me, I kept my ear to the ground for any upcoming submissions.

This year, they are teaming up with Skydance TV to seek out new content for television series. Impact x Skydance is looking for two categories for this first submission period. From February 11-March 7, 2021, writers from across the globe can submit their story ideas for a premium drama, or a grounded, elevated sci-fi series.

Now, that I’ve been in a solid writing routine for the past three and a half months, I feel a little more comfortable getting uncomfortable for this artistic endeavour.

I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself–says the girl who has ideas for both categories. However, to my relief, I don’t need to write full scripts but need to have “a well-thought out idea and writing sample.” The writing sample needs to be a screenplay or a teleplay that showcases my writing. That will be my first task. There’s also a 30 second elevator pitch video that I have to submit for each category. More details can be found on the impact x Skydance FAQ page.

My next month of Writerly Wednesdays should be updates on the highs and lows of this challenge. No matter what comes of it, I’ll have focused on getting my work out there, which is the whole point of my getting back to my writing.

I’m excited and low-key freaking out over this but it’s definitely something to look forward to. Check out the site yourself. It’s an amazing opportunity that, with today’s technology bringing the world closer together, is too good to pass up. I could sit back and watch another submission period draw to a close or I can look beyond myself and stretch my imagination to the infinite possibilities that await. I invite you along for the ride.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: WYSIWYG?

a.k.a. Reading and Watching as a Writer

Do you try to lose yourself in a story only to find yourself noticing things like plot holes, inconsistencies, or inspiration for a story idea? Is it really what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG)? Once I’m in writer mode, I find it challenging to detach and just enjoy a story for what it is. The complete opposite was true when I had stopped writing for a while. I didn’t have the drive to write so my consumption of stories were more to pass the time than to actually study them. Is there a middle ground?

As a visual learner, when I read a book, I’m also catching myself observing everything from word choice to syntax. I even look at the formatting and layout. The placement of words on a page, the punctuation, the font choices, they each have a specific intention and impact. So do typos or misprints. In movies, we have artistic choices of camera angles, lighting, marrying words and action together for the most impactful or meaningful scene. Each book, show, and movie you dive into is a masterclass in storytelling, the dos and the don’ts, or even the whys and the why the heck nots.

Are there really any rules in story creation? Sure, there are tried and true formulas that people swear by while others opt to break from convention. Just this week, the topic for specific story templates (rom-com, hero’s journey, etc.) were up for debate in one of my writing groups. I’m going to delve further into these and my WIPs on an upcoming Writerly Wednesday post.

While I don’t make definitive reading/viewing decisions based on ratings, it’s interesting to see what other people think prior to and after I experience the medium. I look at descriptions and (hopefully) spoiler-free reviews on sites such as Goodreads, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes. Since we’re not currently interfacing with friends and family like we used to, social media is where I go for in-depth discussion–or all-out word wars–on opinions and observations of the piece. I like watching YouTube videos that break down plot points or explore hidden meanings behind the various Easter eggs that are sprinkled throughout a movie or episode. When I’m left with more questions than answers, I like to find out what other people are thinking, too.

Much like previously mentioned in regards to music, each of us also see and appreciate books, tv, and film differently. So whether I’m seeing things as a writer or consumer, it makes for interesting discussions when I bring up something that intrigued me that someone else missed or vice versa. It’s also worthwhile to have those discussions how it might appear that we’re looking at the same thing and come away with very different interpretations.

Whether it’s on paper, device, or screen, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if your writer brain is permanently switched on. We should soak in every learning opportunity where we can. It makes us better writers. You can discover in real time what other people think of the book, show, or film. From that you can determine what not to do or how you’d tackle the same challenge differently. One thing is for certain, when I finish reading or seeing a great story unfold, I’m excited and inspired to make sure my stories are the best they can be so I can share them with the world, too.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: A Picture’s Worth

Hello, fam!

It’s been a few days into the Get Your Words Out 2021 Challenge and things are going well. I don’t feel the intense pressure of word counts, so I’m glad I chose the Habit Pledge instead. Though sign ups are done for this year, It’s worth a look to see what’s entailed in such a challenge. You can then decide if you want to partake next year. Meanwhile, feel free to do a variation of the challenge right along with us!

I’ve been continuing my dabblydoo with the planning software called Plottr, the software created by writers for writers. I think I need to do more than take it for a test drive before I can do an in-depth review, so stay turned for that in a later post. So far, I’ve found that it’s a robust program that can help you visually plan your stories more efficiently. Now, of course, most of it is visual in the strictest sense, but with the use of timelines and the ability to track subplots and every character’s journey throughout the story, you literally cannot miss a beat, because you’ll see everything laid out in front of you. More on that later.

What I did want to talk about today was the use of photos in story creation. As a visual learner and writer, I find that the ideas flow more readily when I have a face to go with a name or a visual representation of a place in which my characters live and explore.

I’ve gone through my WIPs and have created character sheets with corresponding pictures to help bring the characters to life. To do this, I’ve done a deep dive into the the interwebs to look up actor photoshoots, magazine spreads, or even more helpful, actual stills from television and film that show them in similar attire to what inspired the character I’ve created. In addition to the people in my “neighborhood,” there are a plethora of photographs, artistic renderings, and stills that capture the places I’ve visualized for my stories.

I’ve created folders on my desktop to organize these visuals. I have a folder called Story Settings that contain anything from landscapes, cityscapes, post-apocalyptic suburbia, ethereal forest dwellings, to mysterious and ominous castles. My Character folder has a slew of subfolders with some of my favorite faces from the big and small screen already attributed to characters for the different books and genres I’ve got brewing. Included therein are unique animal pics that go well with the Middle Grade Adventure that involves talking animals, because why not?

In recent years, I have made a conscious effort to do some recasting. I’ve mentioned in previous posts the lack of diversity in books, TV, and film I had growing up, so it’s my chance to be proactive in my writing. I do believe that a character’s ethnicity is secondary to the story. If cultural references are necessary to the plot, then I want to make sure those are woven in organically so that nothing seems forced upon the reader. And if such references are merely part of their routine, I have that earmarked as well to smoothly incorporate details where needed. To that end, having a visual of what these characters look like somehow switches on something as I write and things they would do in their daily life seem to reveal themselves more naturally.

Another way pictures have proved useful are as writing prompts. Whether it was an actor in a known moment from their show or film, to a visual that might set the scene in a chapter, these pictures are the spark that can ignite a very fruitful writing session.

How are things going on your side of the screen? Do you use actor photos as character inspiration? Do you have favorite websites where you curate the most beautiful landscapes to represent the world where your characters live and breathe? We’re lucky to be in such an evolving technological era that allows us to be everywhere and with everyone in an instant. That fact alone is truly inspiring.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

Represent!

As a child of the 80s and 90s, I was privy to the dynamic evolution of media and social media, as a whole. When it came to seeking out my people on such platforms, however, it was sorely lacking. In researching for today’s post, I found myself immersed in nostalgia and the absence of relatable content.

Years later, I see big moments for Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color (BIPOC) and we’ve come a long way. I feel that as a POC writer, I have a responsibility to provide relatable content that was missing for me when I was looking for ways to understand who I was in this world. That journey continues to this day.

There are the token minorities in books, tv, or film or the headlines that make novelty of who we are. For instance, in a recent article, the headline included the phrase Black Batman. Did they mean that the comic would be about a black man taking on the persona of the Caped Crusader or were they actually now qualifying the superhero himself? “Look! It’s the Black Batman!” doesn’t have that catchy vibe. Why is this even news? Why can’t we be telling stories about complex and flawed characters and not have to point out the person’s ethnicity in order to drive the story forward?

Shouldn’t we be able to tell a captivating story that can reach millions of people without bringing race into the equation?

I, myself, am part of the problem, to a degree. I grew up reading and watching certain characters that I began writing what I knew. Margaret asking God if he’s there, the twins at Sweet Valley High, the spy named Harriet. All girls at different times in their lives and all people that looked nothing like me.

At least in a couple movies, I had Short Round and Richard ‘Data’ Wang (incidentally played by the same actor, Ke Huy Quan). But for the most part, if I were to follow a certain show on a regular basis, the person I connected with the most was the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Appsh!

But where were my people at?

For most of my life, I thought I was of Chinese, Filipino, and Spanish heritage. However, thanks to Ancestry.ca, I’ve learned that my lineage breakdown is as follows: 58% Southern China, 37% Northern Philippines, 5% Southern Philippines with a fluctuation in percentages in Myanmar, whatever that statistic means. Outside of programming I watched while I lived in the Philippines for a decade or so, I didn’t see or read much about people like me to feel a connection.

It warmed my heart to discover that Blue’s Clues & You (a reboot of the popular Blue’s Clues I watched with my nephew and niece when they were younger), returned with a Filipino character. In a recent episode, he introduced his grandmother and they ate a Filipino dessert together. They also showed a traditional sign of respect to one’s elders. This was a perfect example of how people should be able to see the lives of others unfold in the story with the cultural references or ethnic-related issues woven into the narrative in an organic way.

Yes, I was thrilled with Mulan and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But what about stories in the more recent here and now, of it all? With great works such as The Joy Luck Club, Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther, Andi Mack. and the heartwarming Over the Moon, I was starting to feel a better immersion of relatable storytelling.

Prior to that, I was more into stories with talking animals, robots, or other entities, because I could just dive into a story and focus on the characters rather than the literal color of their skin. In upcoming posts, I’m going to talk more about the novels I’ve been working on and how I felt the need to make some serious changes because of this current hot button issue.

When I searched for Over the Moon on Netflix, it was under a category called the Representation Matters Collection. Representation does matter, but we need to work towards an era where the discussion of it won’t matter anymore because it’s a common occurrence.

As I posted to my POC writers’ group, I’m proud of how far we’ve come when it comes to representation in books, tv, and film, but I hope that one day, representation in these and other forms of media is no longer breaking news, but just another facet of intriguing and relatable storytelling.

As always, stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.