Re: [8] Round 12, Part Two [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

…well, you’ve just birthed a whole new genre. Congratulations! What are you going to name it? :-)

I was thinking Laura Mae might be a nice name…

I think you’re right. It is closer to suspense, and possibly does border on horror. But, then the questions are raised, what is the suspenseful situation, and what is horrible about it? I see it more as dramatic, but then the thing is less formed and more amorphous in my head. We’ll work on that. I’m sure we can come to terms over this. So long as coming to terms means doing exactly what I want.

I kid. This story is one I feel that’s worth fighting for, and to me that means it’s one worth listening to your critiques of, and accepting your ideas for, and forming it into something stronger than just my vision through collaboration. To me, that’s the heart of collaboration, and my segue into mentioning that I’m working on a few posts about collaboration and how we work, which I think is kind of interesting.


“Hollywood is currently very much into story structure. Books, treatments and scripts are analyzed by readers in terms of plot points — points where the plot turns. Are there enough? Are they in the right place? Other important buzz words, if you’re planning to pitch, are backstory, inciting incident, progressive complications, setups and payoffs, subtext. These are courtesy of Robert McKee’s screenwriting seminar. Everyone, it seems, in the business who can’t write has taken McKee’s course to figure out what people who can write should be doing. McKee has never written a screenplay that anyone will actually produce. Back in 1988 he charged $600 for a weekend seminar, $350 of one of his staff to produce a reader’s report, $1,000 for a personal consultation on your script. So he makes quite a good living just for sounding off. There are lots of cute and ambitious young women in the audience, so presumably he gets laid a lot. And that, by almost everyone’s standards, is a pretty good definition of success.”

1993 Footnote in American Hero, by Larry Beinhart (the novel that the movie Wag the Dog was based on).

Re: [7] Round 12, Part Two [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

First, apologies to Grymz and everyone else for my recent silence. Several things have happened this week that have forced my attention elsewhere. The one most applicable here was that on Monday morning, the first day of a week off that I was planning to devote to Spitball! and other writing pursuits, my computer died.

One day after the warranty expired.

Luckily, the Apple guy up in Lynnwood, WA was a total mensch, and sent it off to be repaired free of charge. However, this means that I'm forced to use my wife's PC laptop, which, to me, is like trying to write on a loom. ("Hi Bart, I am weaving on a loom!")

The other thing: in case y'all out there in Spitball!land haven't heard, my wife is pregnant with our first child. And we just found out that it will be a girl! Laura Mae arrives sometime on or around February 5th -- be the first on your block to get one!

Oh yeah, and Spitball!: I'm not ready to totally dive into this (I will when my computer gets back from the shop), but YES, your explanation of The Scabs totally helps. If I were to slot it into a category, however, from what you've written, I'd call that suspense, bordering into horror. So when you say that it has comedy... well, you've just birthed a whole new genre. Congratulations! What are you going to name it? :-)

I'll be posting my characters soon. (I was actually working on them when I got the flashing screen of death.) I was actually trying to write them somewhat neutrally; that is, something that's applicable regardless of the genre. Is that possible? I think so, but maybe not. Anyway, we'll be back on track pretty soon.

I'll be back in two and two.

Clarke's Three Laws

Today I found myself quoting Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It’s a very well known quote, of course, used throughout science fiction and media.

But in referencing it online, I was reminded that it was actually one of Clarke’s Three Laws of prediction. Specifically, number three. The first two are good to think about in reference to the stories on the table now, where I think they can inform us:

1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. 2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Read more at Wikipedia.

Re: [6] Round 12, Part Two [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

In re-reading some of the posts in this thread, I don’t think I was being very clear about a few things, and I didn’t hear you strong enough when you asked me to define how this is a action-drama. I think it’s a good point that you raised, so I apologize for overlooking it, and I’m wondering if our balance over this is off kilter because of one word: action. In retrospect action was exactly the wrong word for what I see in my head when I think of this movie. Drama? Yes. Action, no.

Where action = Bruce Willis, The scabs != action.

I’ve been wracking my brain today trying to come up with a movie or show that might give an idea of how I see it, but I’m drawing blanks so far. So, let’s say this: the mood is serious, and kind of dark. I see the events playing very straight: the robots shut down mysteriously. I imagine a scene of industry where the production line just stosp, and the effect is a little disconcerting, like a noisy factory that has worked noisily for many years just suddenly stopping.

The humans are so stuck in their concept that robots are only for their duty, that when they stop working, its almost as if they sun has stopped shining. The idea of robot sentience is so alien, it’s as if our toasters went on strike and we had to rediscover fire. As if our cars suddenly said “uh, sorry. Our wheels are tired [err, no pun intended] and we’re not going to run anymore” and we had to rediscover walking.

In that, I think there is plenty of comedy, but I’m just not seeing it as character based, but instead faced with the absurdity of the situation.

So, that’s a bit more of a peek into what I’m thinking. I’ll try to elaborate on it more later, but does that help at all?

Re: [5] Round 12, Part Two [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

I don’t think I can really add much to my vision of The Scabs at this point than I already have.

I would very much be interested in reading your character sketches from this POV. Maybe even skip La Commune Planet (my interest in which has waned), and give me a human and a robot? Or maybe a plot outline (if it differs from the one I suggested). I need to see the story from the inside. Since it seems that you liked my plot sketch, then the thing that differs is how we’re seeing the characters placed in that world. Leaving Arrested Development aside for now, give me your pitch.

I’d still like to hear how you see this as an action-drama.

I’d be happy to offer more information, but please give me some thoughts on how what I’ve already provided is lacking, so that I have something to address.

Re: [4] Round 12, Part Two [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

I don't think I can really add much to my vision of The Scabs at this point than I already have. Again, I see it as a comedy, in an "Arrested Develpment" vein: fast, smart, layered, with characters that are kinda wacky, kinda venal, but still sympathetic. I see the humor arising out of the humans to attempt to learn stuff they had foolishly forgotten, thinking they had no more use for it, and from dealing with robots that use to be slaves, more or less, and are developing sentience and will. The humans in the story are ripe for a come-uppance, which the robots provide. I also suggested various "AD" characters as templates for potential screenplay characters.

I'd still like to hear how you see this as an action-drama.

links for 2006-09-19

September 18, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Re: [3] Round 12, Part Two [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

See, I’m a little worried about this one, because if we can’t agree on the tone, trying to come to terms on plot and character seems pointless.

I guess that would depend on your definition of pointless. Maybe the step forward is to define better our visions for it and see if they are, indeed, incompatible. Give me a taste of the comedy as you see it in a character sketch or overview and let’s go from there. You say Arrested Development, but that doesn’t actually give me a very good idea of your vision. I still stand by my original sketch, but I don’t want to be presumptuous in making arguments that don’t address actual issues on the table.

Re: [2] Round 12, Part Two [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

But despite the fact that I played with the humor a bit in The Scabs, I disagree with Shockah when he says it should be a comedy. I actually think this is an action drama, albeit with comedic elements.

See, I'm a little worried about this one, because if we can't agree on the tone, trying to come to terms on plot and character seems pointless. Can you explain further how you see this as an action drama? From my POV, we've already established that one of the basic elements or themes is "communication", and I get communication (the lack of it, misunderstandings, purposefully ignoring it, etc.) as the basis for comedy, but not for action. And what kind of action? What do we mean when we say "action"? I don't see this as a story with derring-do, car chases, or gunfights, so you need to help me out a bit.

I don't remember if I've said this before so explicity, but I see this as a full-length futuristic "Arrested Development" episode -- Michael Bluth as the human negotiator, Gob and Buster trying to figure out how to farm, George Michael as the robot negotiator, that kind of thing.

(Not literally as an "AD" episode, just to be clear, just trying to describe the tone.)

links for 2006-09-12

September 11, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Re: Round 12, Part Two [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

Wherein Burley lays out why he did what he done and didn’t do what he didn’t do in his last two posts, containing therein the character bios for our two current battle concepts.

Okay. Well, first I have to say that I never considered La Commune Planet a comedy until I started writing the bio for Gertrude Faith, which quickly became comedy. My Exit to Eden warning bells ringing, I proceeded anyway. I guess I had a hard time looking at this one seriously for some reason. So, the idea of a haven for richie riches and a character who only desires to be there but can’t be because of her actions. The absurdity of the situation was more interesting to me in the moment.

But in looking back, I proclaimed my love for this previously. Why would I fawn all over it and then now come back with a flippant comedy? I mean, I ranked it #3 after all.

Round 12, Part Two [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

The Scabs

In a world designed by engineers to be a self-sufficient, endlessly exploitable resource for the rest of the known galaxy, robots toil tirelessly in the fields, the forests and the mountains, providing food and raw materials for a rapidly expanding market. But when a series of accidents destroys some of the mining robots, the rest of the metal workforce decide to strike and power off, leaving the humans that depend on the planet in the lurch. A taskforce is assembled to get the planet up and running again while a negotiator tries to get the robots back online. While the taskforce tries to relearn the long-forgotten principles of farming and manufacturing, the negotiator accidentally reveals the existence of the taskforce… and the robots, realizing that their existence could be usurped by the humans, decide to go on the offensive.

Round 12, Part One [La Commune Planet v. The Scabs]

La Commune Planet

In a world constructed for the pleasure of the ultra-rich, every vice can be had — for a price. But beneath the smiling exterior of the friendly staff, there lurks a growing resentment. When a group of ascetics destroy access to the planet’s hidden interdimensional gateway, the employees sieze the chance to declare independence from the government and its backers. But as they take the profits and the pleasures for themselves, pressures and conflicting desires threaten to blow the planet to smithereens.

Re [2]: These two guys walk into a blog

We have a winner! According to the needlessly complex™ rules of Spitball! Little Black Stray moves ahead, and Terminal Connection is placed on the nobody-loses-in-our-world-but-you-didn't-win-either pile.

Next up, a knock-down match. The last until we run into our final heats and whittle our ungodly huge list of ideas down to the eventual winner. It's coming soon, folks, and then you know what happens?

We have to write the damn thing. Uh oh. Better make this next one last:

La Commune Planet v. The Scabs. Coming soon to a Spitball! near you. Like this one.

Re: These two guys walk into a blog

Dammit, Grymz, I told you to unplug the blog while we were on vacation! Geez....

So. Voting. Yeah.

I, Urban Shockah, vote only for Little Black Stray; while Terminal Connection is intriguing, I'm not feeling it enough to push it forward in the Spitball! Tourney of Story Ideas. However, I am mucho interested in returning to it at a later date. (Or potentially cannibalizing it for other stories.)

Next up: Burley Grymz will introduce us to the final two competitors in this heat: La Commune Planet and The Scabs. It an SF class-issues smorgasbord! Be there or be crushed under the treads of history.

These two guys walk into a blog

What? Is this thing on?

Is summer over yet?

When we last left you, (yes you!) intrepid reader, Shockah and I had laid out our bios for our concepts of Terminal Connection and Little Black Stray. Shockah's can be found here and here, and mine here and here.

We both explained a bit about the choices we made and why we made them, which leaves us only with a vote. Here's mine:

I, Burley Grymz, vote to move both stories forward at this time. There. We'll let our future selves sort it all out.

Shockah? What say you?