Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Research...Really?

Please join me in welcoming the talented Mimi Barbour to Tattered Pages, who very graciously agreed to blog about her most recent research. Thanks, Mimi for visiting with us today!

     Lately, my research has been to watch television programs through the eyes of an author and not just a fan. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s…!? Actually, by doing this, I’ve realized how much there is to learn from screenwriters whose responsibility is to seduce viewers into focusing on their worlds of make-believe. And having us accept as real their often unbelievable characters and far-out concepts. Think of shows such as ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘True Blood’.
     My admiration soars for those talented writers, for their ability to come up with new plot twists and deep emotional moments in an hour time slot every week. The way they tweak in small tidbits of information, which eventually lead to the next weave of the story is nothing short of brilliant. I’m thinking of shows such as ‘24’ and ‘Private Practice’.
     At  last year’s Emerald City conference in Seattle, I had the opportunity to go to a Bob Mayer workshop, great choice I might add, and he said something that struck me as being a bit sad, but very true. Every story has been told. Bravery, treachery, love, jealousy, etc, it’s all been used in some movie or novel, hasn’t it? So, as authors with a tale to tell, we need to write it differently—a new spin so to speak, a fresh voice, something that’ll catch the eye of the publishers and the readers. Well I imagine this scenario is the same for script writers. They, too, need to keep their audience tuning into their channels weekly and falling in love with those actors playing roles that have already been done over and over.
     One of my favourite shows a couple of years ago was an ongoing saga called Life Unexpected. A story about a young orphaned teenager who goes to find her real parents and gets caught up in their lives. The acting was great, but I think what got me the most was the way each week’s conflict spun out every episode and left you hooked. Like the ending to a well-written chapter should leave the reader needing to know what’s going to happen on the next page. It’s what keeps them caught up in the story and unable to put the book down in the same way that I waited for the next week’s addition to this serial on TV.
     By making notes and paying attention to their dialogue, especially during the deeper moments, it helped me understand that there’s a rhythm to conflict and emotion. Listening to the funny one-liners has taught me to cut down on the wordiness and trim off unnecessary descriptions. It’s also made me aware of how important the setting can be to the mood in a particular scene. But most of all, it’s given me a better appreciation for authors who don’t have the advantage of the screen. We need to convey and express everything to our readers with only our words.

     I’d love to know which TV shows or movies have influenced you in your quest to becoming a better author?  

MIMI BARBOUR  - Author of THE VICARAGE BENCH SERIES lives in Qualicum Beach and writes paranormal romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. If I can steal a booklover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a fantasy love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”
The 4th in the series “Together Again” was released Spring/2011


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Traveling forward in time, Dani Howard's spirit becomes magically united with reporter, Troy Brennan. He's everything a girl could want in a man, and during their time together, she falls deeply in love. Though she must return to her own body, she gains his promise to come to her birthday party in seven days time where they will meet in person and continue their romance.
Troy can't believe he's fallen for a sixteen-year-old spirit invader. He's so infatuated that when renowned author, beautiful Ellie Ward, comes on to him, as attractive as he finds her, he's honor bound to stay true to his young love—or is he?

And here's the Excerpt:
The general store, filled with clothes for younger men, proved to be exactly what Troy wanted. He grabbed a pair of stylish bell-bottomed jeans and a black T-shirt from the overflowing racks and made his way towards one of the changing rooms. As soon as he opened the curtain and saw the mirrored wall he stopped.
“Hold it! Are you still there?” His voice warned of his seriousness. It was a rougher, no-nonsense tone—one she recognized from when he’d used it on the bullying blokes yesterday.
“Uh-huh! Where else would I be?”
“Don’t be cheeky! You can see right now, can’t you?”
“Of course I can. I see out of your eyes, don’t I?”
“Right! Fine.” He closed his eyes, continued into the change room, and stumbled when he stubbed his toe on the wooden chair.
What in the world are you doing?”
You’re only sixteen. You shouldn’t be seeing a man undress.” He hadn’t had to worry about her spying in his room, for there wasn’t a full-length mirror. He’d taken care never to look at anything she shouldn’t be seeing. Not an easy task but doable.
“Number one. Just ‘will’ me to leave and you’ll feel me shut down, because I’d respect your privacy. And number two, yours wouldn’t be the first male body I’ve seen anyway.”
“Number one, how about just shutting up instead of shutting down. And number two, what the hel—heck do you mean by not the first male— No, wait. I don’t want to know.”
“At least let me see you after you’re dressed. It’s very difficult carrying on conversations with someone you can only see from the inside.”
“What does it matter?”
“What if I told you I have a crush on you and I want to see what you look like, especially in your knickers?”
The tight jeans were only halfway up. Vertigo and embarrassment collided, engulfing him at the same time. His knee bashed against the chair and his forehead hit the wall. Muffled swear words and babbles that made no sense, except that the surly meanings were explicit, rang out before he spoke to her again.
“Stop that!” He sounded angry.
“Stop what?”
Was she giggling? “Stop saying things like that. You don’t have a crush on me. You don’t even know me.”
“I know you’re extremely kind, that you care about small children and animals, take on burdens even when you don’t want to, and—and you’re ambitious. You have a wonderful, warm chuckle, and—”
“Enough! For God’s sake, my head will swell. Look, sweetie, you’re sixteen—“
“Almost seventeen.”
“And I’m almost thirty. Besides, you should be with a nice guy your own age.”
“I already have.”
“What?” Troy’s eyes popped open — wide, very wide.
****
“Ohh! You’re a smasher, you are.”
He stared into the mirror as if he could see into the soul hidden inside him. The ferocious look on his face warned her not to say another word. Instead she silently continued to view his features. His piercing, multifaceted eyes, brown and green, gold and gorgeous, were daunting.

Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Mimi! It was a pleasure hosting you and hearing all about Together Again!



11 comments:

Jannine Gallant said...

Great point, Mimi. The funniest lines on TV or in movies are short and sweet. Hadn't thought about it in terms of writing. I will in the future.

Marilyn Yarbrough said...

I occassionaly watch tv with the mute button on. Then I can watch their expressions. If the actor is good, his or her facial expressions and body language is priceless.

Mary Ricksen said...

My kinda research! Now all I need is cable. Great idea Mimi!

harshadpassion said...

I tend to get inspiration more from movies, but it's the same thing. :) Joseph Campbell always said all stories are interrelated (I'm paraphrasing); I believe Shakespeare was the first one to say "every story has been told" but what a truism! The originality comes in what you do with it. :)Enjoyed your excerpt and your post,Mimi. Good luck with it.

LaVerne Clark said...

I hadn't realised until I saw your post, Mimi, that I tend to study my favourite characters too. They help me understand reactions and to describe deep emotions.

My absolute FAVOURITE show for the acting and outstanding writing is Dexter. Dexter is about as dark and flawed as you can get - yet he is a strangely loveable character - and it doesn't hurt that Michael C Hall is sexy : )
Mixed in amongst all the drama are some fantastic one-liners. The writers do such a wonderful job - but they've ruined me for any other show sadly. I keep comparing and the others keep coming up short!

Calisa Rhose said...

Every time I read about Together Again, I giggle, Mimi!

I find myself studying movies more than tv shows, but Grey's Anatomy does hold my attention as I revise my medical novel currently. The job stress intermingled, and so well balanced with the office romance is inspiring.

AJ Nuest said...

Hey Everyone! Mimi asked me to hop on and let you know Google has decided to ostracize her for the day! She sends her apologies and promises to return comments asap. Thanks so much for stopping in for a visit. I'll check back with everyone soon! Hugs!

Lilly Gayle said...

Great interview AJ. And Mimi, I can't wait to start this book. ;-) Thanks again. My favorite show is Criminal Minds. On the surface, it doesn't look like a show to influcence a writer unless one is writing about serial killers. But, the writers do such an awesome job trickling details about the main characters backstory into each episode, it's a great deomonstration on how NOT to back-story dump. And I just love the interaction between Garcia and Morgan. Not a romance, but you can definatly feel the love!

Clover Autrey said...

I'm a total Supernatural and Firefly addict. I get a lot of inspiration from both.

AJ Nuest said...

Hey! Thanks for the follow, Clover! Woot! Oh, and I've decided I'm using your name in a book. Clover is just too perfect for the book I have in mind! LOVE IT!

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by for a visit with Mimi! And a special thanks to Mimi for posting such a great blog. I'm off to slumber-land!