Monday, January 9, 2017

New Stories

I love mysteries and cozy mysteries. I especially love Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in all its iterations from the old Basil Rathbone black and whites to the current crop played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., and Johnny Lee Miller. There have been many fictional offshoots as well featuring Irene Adler, Moriarity, and female Sherlocks.

I have enjoyed multiple versions of the Bronte sisters' works and all the Jane Austen tales from Emma to Pride and Prejudice, though I draw the line at adding zombies.

I enjoy the endless Marvel comics-inspired movies from Iron Man to Guardians of the Galaxy. They will be making movies long after I am in the ground.

In fact, Hollywood and fiction writing are awash with sequels, prequels, and too many to count remakes of just about every classic novel, television show, and movie within my lifetime.

There are tried and true genre tropes repeated ad nauseum because they are comfortable and have been proven to work: the romantic triangle, the courtroom drama, aliens attacking earth, and being alone in space.

More and more I find myself craving new stories, especially stories that bring to light dark shadows of history, stories that inspire and elucidate.

For example, the movie Hidden Figures (2017) about three African-American women at NASA who helped launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit. They didn't make the text books. It is time historical women and minorities get their day in the sun.

Another example would be the Imitation Game (2014)  about the scientist Alan Turing, who created the "computer" that decrypted German intelligence codes during World War II. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we humanize those who have been dehumanized by history.

I encourage you to resist writing what has been done simply because it has proven successful in the past.

As much as I love the old and comfortable, I am eager for the new. There are thousands of years of history and myriad cultures to draw from.

As our planet tilts toward what feels like a new dark ages, it has never been more important to advocate and enlighten as well as entertain.



Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

9 comments :

  1. I do get tired of the remakes but then they'll do something like the modern Sherlock and I realize those old stories can be fresh with great characterization.

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    1. They can be wildly successful, but I've seen a lot of failures as well. :)

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  2. I also like familiar stories from the standpoint of a different character. Like the Sherlock Holmes from his wife's perspective. Are those the Laurie King books? Very intriguing.

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    1. I never mistook Sherlock for the marrying kind. :)

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  3. There is something to be said for comfort in characterizations. That is one reason series do so well. Wish I had known that when I first started writing, but I didn't read series. I always read standalones. So I wrote them too, before I wrote the first book in my series, which I didn't know was going to be a series. It's also why book covers of series are all the same with variations. Not mine. All different. Again, a misstep? I try to write out of the box in my stories. But as I've heard, there are only so many plots, and all the rest are imitations. By the way, your movie choices are excellent.

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    1. When I fall in love with a world or characters, I do like spending a lot of time there. But that doesn't mean you can't tell new stories that are equally exciting.

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  4. "Stories that inspire and elucidate."

    Inspire: encourage, educate
    Elucidate: clarify, explain

    We live in a complex, often unkind world that frequently baffles and discourages people. Links to the past, to another present, even to the future through books and visuals such as movies and television shows can refresh us by temporarily taking us out of our world and allowing us a glimpse of a perhaps simpler time or just a different time. Whether written or acted out on a screen, great characterizations allow us insight into alternate ways to handle situations that may in some ways parallel ours. As writers and actors, these are vital tools of our trade. As readers or viewers, these can change our perspective, even offer hope in what may seem to us a hopeless problem. Or they can simply entertain. Great post, Diana.

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    1. There is power in stories. That is why writers, poets, artists, and journalist are feared by weak leaders.

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  5. I think we can take comfort in the familiarity of characters we have come to love via series or undying characters, like Sherlock, as long as the story-line is fresh and they are surrounded by new, fresh characters.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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