Inspiration: Movie Review

One of the things I’ve been trying to do is watch more old Westerns.  That Man enjoys watching them (much more than something like Star Trek, although he’s watched several with me), but mostly because I was so impressed with Firefly.  I know it’s basically a Space Opera Western, and I loved how familiar it made the world feel despite the science fiction.

That’s one thing I think I need to work on.  I can worldbuild all day long and I love it, but I don’t think my worlds are always immediately accessible.

So thanks to Netflix, we just watched Once Upon a Time in the West.  It was ranked as one of the top 100 Westerns of all time, and starred some big names like Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda.

I have to admit that we were confused quite a bit.  It was hard to figure out how the characters were related and what was happening.  For example, at the beginning, three characters arrive at a train station and basically take it over.  This scene goes on and on, with the characters sitting around, waiting, flies buzzing, wind blowing, etc.  Literally, at least 10 minutes were spent on this, and we had no idea what they were waiting for.

Then Bronson’s character arrived and it was a shoot out.  Why?  I have no idea.  Was Bronson a bad guy?  Who was he looking for? 

The other characters were introduced in the same way.  Gah, so confusing.  And oh, the long, meaningful stares and looks.  It became hilarious by the time we got to the last huge showdown.  Oh, look, a stare!  Now closer!  Get a good shot of Fonda’s nostrils! 

For all the loooooong stares and our confusion, we really did end up enjoying the movie (although I wouldn’t watch it again).  Bronson’s character was especially well done with the harmonica and what that meant, but we didn’t learn WHAT THAT MEANT until the last 10 minutes of the movie!  Very nice static trait, though.

The part that sticks with me is the ending.  Jill McBain, the widowed prostitue who’s struggled to keep her dead husband’s land, ends up falling in love with Bronson.  It was very subtle  (more meaningful stares, snickers) and she actually has a sexual relationship with Fonda’s character to save her own skin.  But in the end, Bronson walks away. 

I guess a lot of old Westerns end this way, with the moody cowboy/hired gun riding off into the sunset alone, but yeah, it didn’t do much for this romantic heart.  More, I just wasn’t satisfied with the ending.  How was Jill going to manage Sweetwater Station by herself?  She had dozens of workers to keep, and we know women didn’t do “business” type work back in those days.  Yet both of the men she’d come to rely on left her.

I couldn’t help but translate this to a science fiction setting.  Think about it:  a colony, with an older, established woman trying to make a go of it against bandits and the land itself.  She doesn’t know who to trust.  The men she counts on walk out on her.  How is she going to rally her workers even if they don’t respect her?

Ah.  Inspiration.  :-)

Color Me Intrigued

Color always plays a huge role in writing for me, which may seem rather odd.

Think about it.  The Blood and Shadows world colors are appropriately black, red, and white.  The Trinity is based on that color scheme, and the main characters reflect those colors as well.  With the Sha’Kae al’Dan, color is part of their individual honor.  The Blood, the personal guards, all wear red to symbolize their willingness to sacrifice every last drop of blood in Khul’s defense.

In Beautiful Death, Isabella’s trademark clothes are based on a simple color scheme:  black and indigo.  Hades is silver, to match his hair and eyes.  Their power signatures also match the colors, and Isabella’s aura manifests as sweeping indigo butterfly wings.

Now the brand new project I’m working on suddenly shouted out its color scheme to me.  Purple, mainly, with emerald green, and just a touch of black and red.  What makes this hilarious is I have to use folders, papers, and pens that reflect those colors.  Of course I have a black and red speckled composition book for the Blood and Shadows work.  now I have a purple folder and purple legal pad for the new project.  I have no idea what those colors MEAN yet, but creatively, those are the colors that are speaking for this project.

How about you — does color play a part in your world or character building?

Deep in the Well

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about creating art as sinking into the Well to touch the flow of inspiration that lies just beneath the surface.  When you’re deliberately dipping into the Well and remaining open to Creation, then the exact inspiration you need will be provided.

Take a small step in the direction of a dream and watch the synchronous doors flying open.

This happens all the time, if I am open and listening.  Usually, it’s music recommendations.  I always have a very specific playlist for each book, sometimes for each character.  As the story arc develops, I sometimes need a new message, a new tone or inspiration.

Sitting at 80K and dying to reach “the end” of Return to Shanhasson, I’ve been searching for THE song to get me through the big big climax.  It’s just around the corner.  I feel its beady little eyes boring into me, hear its evil cackle on the wind, and sniff the faint stench of death.  It makes me sick with dread but I creep closer every day. 

Why this dread?  Because I don’t know how I’m going to save them.

Oh, if this were Romancelandia, they’d all go off and live happily ever after.  But this is Blood and Shadows, and my characters don’t always get to ride off on white chargers to live in the Cinderella Palace.  Don’t get me wrong, the ending overall is VERY uplifting and wonderful, but bad things happen along the way.  There’s a very dark moment ahead and I can’t see my way through it. 

I can’t see who reaches the brief patch of light on the other side before the next horrifying hairpin turn, and that makes me very, very nervous.

I needed a song, and I found it thanks to Mrs. Giggles.  It’s far from a new song, but seeing it again, and reading the lyrics, I felt the hypnotic pull of the Well trying to suck me under to the bottom of the ocean. 

Who wants to live forever 
Who dares to love forever 
When love must die

But touch my tears with your lips
Touch my world with your fingertips
And we can have forever
And we can love forever
Forever is ours today

The Breaking Benjamin tribute isn’t bad, but no one will beat the original Queen.