What I’ve learned from The Last Airbender

First of all! Happy 4th of July to my U.S. friends! Hope you’re having a great day.

Then, I also want to thank everyone who jumped to book Fridays. You ladies and gents are awesome.

So yesterday I (finally?) got around to watching M. Night Shayamalan’s The Last Airbender.
(Incidentally, he also wrote the script, but I don’t refer to him by name after this.)

And… as cool as the effects looked, I HATED it. Not a little.

A lot.

I mean… this movie had some serious potential for epicness. Huge scope. Many personalities… etc. etc. and somehow… it sucked.

Not a little.

A lot.


I got stuck on the outside of the story. I mean, when someone dies in a story and I don’t care, that generally means that the writer has lost the plot.

But that got me to thinking. Why? What got me stuck outside? I mean, I did like the characters, even though I didn’t really get close to them. 

I think that was the first problem. If I don’t have a bond with the characters, I’m not really going to be drawn into the story.

But the story itself had a problem. It lacked focus. A lot happened in that movie. That in itself wouldn’t be a problem to me. After all, I have a lot happening in my story too. I can’t even see that the events in the movie didn’t have a reason. (Because that would have been way too annoying.)

No. My problem is that things are dropped all over the place and I’m scratching my head as to why they’re happening. Not from the character view (that’s obvious) but from a writer’s view.

And THAT was my problem. The events were dropped into the plot with zero blending. I.e. things happened with very little reference or thought to it later – until it was needed to push the story forward again.

Now, this (in my opinion) could have been done right in two ways:
1) The events take on such a small space that the viewer hardly notices it there until something happens as a result. This gives a viewer that awesome “AHA!” moment.
2) The events have to be mixed in with others, so that the introduction feels organic and so that the thought of that event remains in the viewer’s mind.  

What you don’t do is cut from scene to scene (event to event), insert narration in the bits considered unimportant (i.e. the bits not containing the events mentioned above) and then come out at an end that no one cares about because not enough time was spent on making everything count.

While we’re at the narration point: TELLING me that one of the main characters cares for a new character does NOT make me care for the character too. So… that pretty much failed the ending.  

So basically, the scenes of The Last Airbender act like having clues in a mystery highlighted to say: “THIS IS A CLUE. REMEMBER FOR LATER.”

Not a good way to write a story, Movie or Book.

Still, I might watch the movie again, because this has some good case study pointers on how not to write duel storyline plots.

Have you watched The Last Airbender?

What did you think about it? What movies have given you some pointers on how (not) to write?   

My interesting discovery about plot holes.

Hi all! Just want to leave another reminder to pencil in 24 June. There’s a voucher at stake! ^_^

Then, I want to ask you to go over and say hi to my friend, Theresa. I did a double whammy and drew her over to the Dark Side. She’s starting to write and… she’s starting to blog. So please head over to I Need To Write and show your support and love. 🙂

So… plot holes.

The bane of our existence, right? Every writer I know from the trenches had to face this nasty little weapon of mass procrastination.

Everything goes along swimmingly. Characters come and go. Story lines flow.

And then we almost stumble over a cliff. What do we do?

Turning back is an option (if you’re drafting on a computer), but then we have to live with the fact that you might have to settle for an end destination that wasn’t your first choice. I hate that.

So… we stare at the abyss trying to find around or down.

Well… that’s my discovery about plot holes. They shouldn’t make us change direction or retreat.

It should make us think harder, knowing that every plot hole has a solution if you think about it long enough. And those solutions! They can potentially solve more problems than the ones you can see now.

So now I’ve come to love plot holes, even if it’s just in the way I love annoying family members.

Because those cliffs aren’t there to stop me. They’re there to teach my writing how to fly.

How do you go about solving plot problems?

Or… Not…

So… as it turns out, my writer’s block is still going strong.

I was hoping that rebuilding the habit of writing every day would get me back to writing again. It has me writing, but not in my book, which is seriously annoying.

After this morning I thought I cracked the problem, but… no. Although I have this insight into James’ psyche, it doesn’t mean I can explore the conflict without boring and utterly annoying the reader. (Unlike here, where there are no readers to speak of… hint hint, nudge nudge) So I’m still stuck, pondering the same problem that has been there for two or three months.

How in the name of all that is holy, do I get James and Phipps to match wills constantly, while preventing repetition (a huge risk) and without letting James come off looking like a spoilt brat. Granted. He is a spoilt so and so, can be cruel and is somewhat self-centred, but he must also be at least tolerable to the reader so that they can have a vested interest in his personality improvement.

Also, there is this little matter of my book before this being set in stone until I have finished the entire first draft. So restructuring or rewriting is impossible.

Still, there is this fear that is starting to take hold now.  Did I write myself into a corner? Why won’t the answer present itself to me like the others did. Should I maybe force myself to write and see where it goes? What if I do and I run myself into the dead-end of my creative maze? Do I have to stop months of work and start again? I don’t want to. I really don’t want to.

I ran across a quote from a published author, that said something to the effect of: real writers don’t get writer’s block. That they just keep going, because that’s what they do for a living.

I read it, reread it and binned it for the bull it really is. Firstly, most of us don’t have the time or money to write for a living. Secondly, if he wants to write crap thinking that he’ll just delete it later, so be it, but for the rest of us mortals, having your creativity snarled by problems in the story, emotional issues and so on and so forth is a very likely occurence. I don’t like it, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. I wish people would stop spitting lines like that. They aren’t helping, and it makes them appear arrogant…

Sorry for that, but I’ve been stewing on that quote for little over a day. Anyone knowing my disposition knows that that my patience lives dog years. A day is ages and ages for me to stew….