September 27, 2014

Movie Review: This is Where I Leave You *****

You know how you read a book you really love and then they make a movie of it and the movie really sucks? Well, I'm happy to say that doesn't happen with one of my favorite books, Jonathan Tropper's This is Where I Leave You. Yay!
I wrote a review of the book a few years ago (read it here) because when I finished it I turned back to page one and read it again. That doesn't happen very often and it's so fun when it does.
Tropper's writing is what I look for in an author: accessible, engaging, poignant and witty - the perfect storm for fiction. He wrote the screenplay, and that's probably in large part why the movie works so well, but it's also because of the great casting (I love Jason Bateman), and wonderful acting and directing.
In general, books are way better than the movies that come from them, but once in a while it's the other way around - Winter's Bone comes to mind; a convoluted, complicated, confusing book but a beautifully told and gripping movie - but mostly you're just happy if the movie does a little justice to its source. This one goes one better. This is Where I Leave You is like seeing the characters walk off the page. And of course the dialogue is witty and Tropper-like.
Full disclosure: This is not really a five star movie - it's not perfect - but because I liked the book so much and the film didn't ruin it, it gets five out of five stars from me.

September 6, 2014

Writing Tip: How to Write a Sensitive Critique

From my friends at Writer Unboxed.
Don't forget to register for the Writer Unboxed Unconference coming up in November in Salem, MA. I'll be there. It’s going to be a blast!
CLICK HERE to read the rest.

September 4, 2014

Writing Tip: Five Ways to Get Un-Stuck

Working on a novel or short story and can't figure out how to get your characters out of (or into) a particular situation? Or how to move the story forward, or...just can't figure out what happens next?
Here are five ways to get un-stuck:
1. Read something by someone whose work you love. Inspiration comes from reading the works of others - not to copy, of course, but to stimulate the creative juices. Reading is why most of us became writers in the first place.
2. Create a Pinterest board for this thing you're working on and populate it with images that resonate with your story - inspiration will come with the visuals. Here's my Pinterest board for The Ones You Left Behind.
3. Walk away for a little while. Go for a walk, see a movie, work on something new, clean the refrigerator. Distance helps create a new perspective. It can be an hour, a day, a week or longer. Whatever works for you. It'll still be there when you come back and then you'll see it with a fresh eye.
4. Give yourself permission to move ahead in the story and come back later to the problem area. It's tough for me not to write in a linear fashion. I want all my ducks in a row. But it doesn't always work so I give myself permission to jump ahead. Oftentimes, that gets me unstuck for the previous scene. And progress is always exhilarating.
5. Kill off one of your characters. Add a car chase. Shake things up. It might get you somewhere you never planned on going and isn't that the best part of writing? The things that happen on the page that just appear out of nowhere?
Just enjoy the process. You're a writer!