Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites: the Blogfest

Today I'm participating in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Genre Favorites Blogfest. The goal: list your favorite genre of movie, music and books, as well as a guilty pleasure genre.

Now, I love a lot of genres in literature, and I love a lot of stories that cross genres, or can't be classified in a genre, so it was a little hard picking just one. The most important things in a story for me are the message and the characters, so I can enjoy a story in almost any genre if these two elements are in place. But there are a few genres I enjoy more than others. Here are some of my favorites:

via IMDb
Movie - Science fiction

One thing I love about science fiction is that, unlike fantasy, it's something that might, just possibly, someday be true (look at Jules Verne's stories). This combination of reality and semi-plausable fiction makes sci-fi movies a lot of fun to watch. On the flip side, I also enjoy the sci-fi movies that pose a question that challenges your perception of reality. I think those are some of the most powerful movies. Some of my favorites in this genre are Star Wars, The Matrix, and Iron Man.

via IMDb
Music - Soundtrack

No contest here. This is the genre in which I most consistently find songs (and even whole albums) that I like. One of the things I love most about soundtrack music is that it's written to evoke specific emotions that tell a story. I tend to favor the composers (like John Williams) that have sweeping orchestral accompaniments. Some of my favorite soundtrack composers are Steve Jablonsky (Transformers), Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Carribean, Kung Fu Panda, the Batman trilogy, among lots of other things), and John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon and the Bourne movies). I've also been listening to Alan Silvestri's Avengers soundtrack alot. Good stuff there.
via Goodreads

Books - Mystery

Mystery will always have a special place in my heart. I spent maybe two or three months when I was 14 reading through the rest of the Sherlock Holmes stories, all the Lord Peter Wimsey stories, and a lot of the Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries. But I started reading Sherlock Holmes when I was 7 or 8, and he'll always be my favorite detective.

via Goodreads

And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories:

Comic books. Especially the ones from the "golden age" of comics in the 60's. I love them for the same reason I love reading fairytales - its about good and evil in a simple, uncomplicated form. The first comic book I ever read was the very first Spider-man comic, and I'll always love those. I also enjoyed the original Fantastic Four comics, and some of the early Avengers comics. The newer ones can't really compare.

What are some of your favorite genres?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Taste of the End of Summer

Summer is winding down now, isn't it? I think one of the most distinctive reminders that summer is ending is the taste of freshly picked apples. The taste of the end of summmer.

This poem was going to be entered in Britt's poetry contest, but unfortunately I spaced out and forgot to submit it yesterday. But here it is anyway, for you to enjoy.

The Taste of the End of Summer
Lauren Shearer 2012

Take an apple
Crisp from the tree,
Lightly baked by the waning sun
And crunch into the freshness of the fragrant skin
With the sweet-tart juice fleeing down your wrist
And just a hint of autumn
In the texture on your tongue.


What will you miss most about summer? What are you looking forward to this fall?

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Am Writing a Play

“Playwriting gets into your blood and you can't stop it. At least not until the producers or the public tell you to.” ― T.S. Eliot

I don't think I'd consider myself "only a playwright." As in, I don't think I'd be content to spend all the rest of my life writing for the theater. But I do consider myself a writer, and not one who is stuck in one particular genre or medium.

Which is not actually the reason I'm writing a play. Though I'm not just doing it for fun, either. I mean, it is a lot of fun (especially because I love writing dialogue), and I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't have any interest in it, but that's not primarily the reason why.

Nor is it for practice -- not entirely, at least. This is only the second play I've written, which of course means that I should be practicing, since I don't have a lot of experience. But it's not just for practice in the way that something written for fun would be just for practice. It's something that's actually going to be physically performed, for real.

How do I know it's going to be physically performed, for real? Because I'm the one putting this performance on. As in, I'm the director, producer, designer, coordinator -- scary, I know. But I did it last year. I wasn't really blogging back in December, so I never wrote about it, but last year I put on my church's annual Christmas play. And this year I'm doing it again. But bigger. And better. And quite a bit different.

Last year's play was just a simple adaptation of the Christmas story in Luke. The story you've all heard before. It was fairly straightforward. But this year I've set my sights on a story from a different book of the Bible. A popular story. A story that's unusual for a Christmas play.

I'm writing a play that dramatizes the story of Gideon.

Fun, right? It's an exciting story with lots of dramatic potential. Of course, being a play for my church, and being a play that will be performed by non-professional actors with little to no experience (and mostly under the age of 18), I do have some limitations. But I think that's when it's most fun to write a play (or screenplay).

For one, I have to write a play that can be performed on a traditional church "stage" - one that has the bare minimum of props, very limited scenery, and poor visibility. But this is just creative license to use people and words instead of props, to use movement instead of detailed scenery, and to bring the action spilling out into the aisles.

Another limitation: working with volunteers who are amazingly dedicated, but who don't have a lot of time or motivation to memorize a lot of complicated lines, and who also aren't professional actors who can project lines loud and clear. But this is just an excuse to simplify the Biblical phrases into modern English, to add witty lines or clarifications of my own, and to write dialogue that will come alive to the actors, so that it will also be easily understood by the audience.

Any kind of playwriting is fun. But playwriting on an almost nonexistent budget with a specific set of limitations is tremendously fun because it forces you to think creatively about problems and solutions.

Some professional screenwriters write the action first and then write in the dialogue. That's what I've been doing, using quotes from the Biblical story to stand in for dialogue while I work out all the actions (Judges 6:21 in particular, heh). Now it's time to go back and simplify the dialogue. After that (and after a final edit) I'll be submitting it to my writing group for critique (and another edit after that!) and then to the Elders for a final approval before I start recruiting and casting and the whole crazy project begins. Then I become director, designer, producer, coordinator, etc. etc.

With so many things to consider that I otherwise might not have to, I can't really be "only a playwright." And I like that. It makes it less like work and more like play.

Yes, that pun was totally, shamelessly intended.

Have you ever written a play? Ever performed in a play? Ever been to see a play? 
How do you feel about writing with limitations in mind? 
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