Entertainment or Activism?

Hi Jim,

I was hoping you could talk a little bit more about your views on politics in entertainment. You seem to be of the mindset that a writer or entertainer either has to choose to write a good story or write a political piece. Why can’t they be one in the same? Why can’t someone accomplish both goals at the same time?

Thanks,
Chris


Hi Chris,

I suppose it isn’t impossible, however from an anecdotal standpoint, I’ve never seen it and IMHO it’s a fool’s errand to even try. There’s an age-old saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

In most cases, in order to produce an ideologically-driven narrative, you have to reduce other aspects in favor of that narrative. Now, one could argue that you could include both in a story, but that would make for a particularly long and drawn out story. In this day and age with attention spans being what they are, this is something that is typically discouraged if you want your writing to draw a crowd.

Think of it like a comedian. People pay to see them or they’re paid by the location to get on stage. People want to be entertained when they’re on their own time trying to escape the horrors of reality. That comedian only has between 20-60 minutes to entertain the crowd. At what point does his act suffer when he stops telling jokes and goes on a political diatribe? It’s one thing to tell jokes with a political slant, it’s another thing to use your platform solely to push your political view.

In writing, I believe this is the difference between using political/social issues to push a story forward and using a story to push a political narrative. The latter is simply ill-advised. You do a much better job making your point when you’ve successfully entertained the audience while addressing the issues you wanted to.

When you make your agenda the forefront of your story, you take the risk of reducing the story elements to the point where they’re either non-existent, unbelievable, or unrelatable and thus deviate almost completely away from what is traditionally considered entertaining.

Think about it, people don’t go for fantasy and sci-fi stories for political messages. They want to immerse themselves in different worlds, be introduced to new possibilities and ‘alien’ ideas that they never imagined before. Simply put, they want to be entertained. It is a lot easier to deliver your political message when you’re not entertaining people.

This is why I say that it is very difficult, if not near impossible to shape a political narrative into a good story. The focus should be writing a good story and using that political narrative to drive it forward, not the other way around.

However, as I’ve said before, this is simply my opinion based on my own experiences, not only in the writing world but in the entertainment world in general. Take it with a grain of salt.

Anyway, thanks for the question. Hope this helps you understand a little better. Readers- what do you think? Is it possible to do it the other way around or should escapism be preserved? Let me know in the comments!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Idea Expansion and Growth

How do you expand an idea? I have this idea for years now, but as soon as I try to expand it, it starts to sound boring and then I just dunno which way to go with this.

-Journal of Chrissie


Hi there!

Thanks for the question. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to expand an idea, even if it’s a good one. Sometimes there just isn’t enough meat to expand an idea, at which point it could remain a short story or an essay. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just what happens sometimes.

However, if this is something you’re constantly running into, then there are some things you can do to try to expand upon it. The first thing I would do is put your ideas down on paper. Get it down and then read it, then re-read it. Try adding a line if you can here or there to see where it goes. You can also try ‘what if’ scenarios to see what would happen if the story goes a different way then you originally want it to.

While adding to the summary you’ve written, don’t be afraid to come up with characters on the side. Come up with a few main protagonists and antagonists that would work in this idea. Now answer the following questions:
What’s their background?
What are their vices?
What would you include about their backstory?
What’s their personality like?
In the antagonist’s case, what circumstances pushed this character into the ‘bad guy’ role?

If you can answer these questions, you’ve already expanded on your story. Now add them in with everything you answered in these questions and build your idea around them. There you go, you’ve expanded your idea by adding in new ideas and new topics to cover in order to enhance the initial idea.

Another thing to try is simply talking about the idea. I know that may sound obvious, but a lot of people are worried about sharing their ideas with friends or in a writing circle community due to someone stealing their idea. It’s a risk that we all have to contend with, but it’s honestly something that rarely happens in writing circles, one because litigation can happen, two because no one want’s their own IP being copied either.

Finally, and I know no one wants to hear this, but be open and willing to accept that the idea may not be great. It’s okay to have a good idea and not have it pan out into anything. Sometimes ideas will simply stay as ideas. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Anyway, let’s turn it over to my readers. Do you have any advice or anything to add? Am I right on or do you think that there’s more to it?

Thanks!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Romance Stories Suck! I Root for the “Bad Guy”

Okay, this post is actually just a rant. So if you’re looking for writing advice, feel free to skip.

I have seriously come to despise MOST romantic stories. They all seem to fall into the same damn plot…

Person 1 is in a happy relationship with Person 2. They are successful and literally have everything anyone could ever want. Person 2 has to go away or just leaves the plot for a while.
Person 1 becomes acquainted with a rough-around-the-edges or simply unconventional person. Let’s call them Person 3. Suddenly Person 1 begins to realize that they’re missing something in their lives… or something in Person 3 is something Person 1 never realized they always wanted. They start to develop a romance and typically Person 3 has no care or concern for Person 1’s outstanding relationship.

Just to make Person 1, the supposed protagonist, not look like an absolutely horrible person, the writer then makes Person 2 do something that seems incredibly out of character, turning them into the villain and justifying Person 1’s behavior.

Person 1 eventually leaves Person 2… OFTEN LITERALLY AT THE DAMN ALTER for Person 3. The story typically ends with Person 3 and Person 1 getting married or starting a relationship.

Be honest, how many of you reading this right now can name at least 20 different movies that have this nauseating plot? I bet we could all post a list of stories we’ve read/seen that fall into this plot without overlapping. Need proof?

Just on the movie side of things…

This drives me insane for a few reasons. Firstly, I actually do like romantic stories. I’m not a guy who waves them off as chick flicks and most of my own books have a romantic element to them. At the same time, Stardust is one of my favorite movies of all times, and it is a romantic flick!

The other reason I hate these stories so much is because they’re so unrealistic. Think about it. In every story where Person 1 leaves Person 2 at the altar, what’s Person 2 going to do? Bow out gracefully? Yeah, good luck with that. Try again. Person 2 is likely going to sue for every penny that they put into the wedding.  On top of that, they may actually sue Person 3 for ‘Abandonment of Affection’, depending on where they live. ON TOP OF THAT, Person 1 and Person 2 typically live together, so guess what kind of chaos that’s going to cause. So this is hardly going to end well. Not to mention that Person 3 will have been humiliated in the worst way and will probably develop trust issues where they’ll be in therapy for years afterward. Not to mention all the family and friends who will probably be affected by this, causing rude shocks and anger, even if there wasn’t a wedding involved. This is all after going through a character assassination so that Person 1 doesn’t look horrible.

So I’m sorry, but I’m completely on the side of Person 3 in these cases. I usually envision the ‘after Happily Ever After Scenes’ where Person 3 goes on to make his fortunes, does really well, finds someone who actually loves them and is far more compatible. They live out their days in success and luxury.

What happens to the breeding pair, you may ask? Heh, considering that Person 3 is usually broke, or some level of plebian, there are a few scenarios…

  1. Person 3 can’t provide Person 1 the lifestyle they’re accustomed to and their relationship eventually collapses. They go their separate ways and Person 1 sees all the success Person 2 is having and lives in despair over what they lost.
  2. Person 1 and Person 3 get close to where Person 1 was with Person 2… suddenly the same story happens, except this time, Person 3 meets their own Person 3 and before long, Person 1 becomes their own version of Person 2, and is yet again, out on the street, alone.
  3. Person 1 and 3 do work out, get married, and live a life that is nowhere near the level of quality Person 1 had always envisioned. Though happy on some level, Person 1 regrets what they sacrificed to be with Person 3.

Needless to say, it doesn’t work out well for Person 1. You may consider that petty, but I really don’t care. This plotline is terrible, yet it is continually rehashed in romance stories, particularly romantic comedies, like it’s pure gold.

Anyway, brief rant over. Let me know what you think or what stories/movies you know of that meet the above formula.

Thanks!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Visionary Marketing for Psychedelic Artists and Entrepreneurs

So I know I’ve got some artists on my page who like my books’ covers.

If you’re interested in learning from the man who does most of my covers:

Please see his new facebook group here. 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Paid Reviews: Moral and Ethical?

I’ve actually gotten a few questions on the ethics of paid reviews in the past, so I wanted to try to tackle this one outright. Is there anything wrong with paying someone for their review? The answer is that it really depends…

In one example, I had someone tell me about doing a book giveaway on Goodreads and basically paying for the advert in the hopes of the book getting into the hands of people who would write a review.
As far as I’m concerned, there is no breach of ethics here. You’re paying someone for their honest opinion of something you wrote. Though I admit it’s kind of unusual to have to pay for such things, it’s not unheard of and can certainly be beneficial. Word of mouth does help a lot and good reviews draw the attention of other readers.

The second example I had was of a writer who paid for people to write reviews… and then wanted to sue/remove one of them for writing a bad review. This is a breach of ethics. I honestly view this as a form of bribery. If your book can’t stand on its own merits and you have to pay just to get someone to write a good review, it’s time to re-think publishing. It’s not a good move because it’s a deceptive business practice where you’re basically lying about the quality of your work… or paying others to do it for you. DO NOT DO THIS!

In the end, there is nothing wrong with paying to get free copies of your book out there or even offering to pay readers to write an HONEST review. Keyword there. Honesty is the big differential there. If you pay, knowing full well that you run the risk of getting negative reviews, there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re asking these people to give their honest opinion. It’s risky, but if you’re good at your craft, it can pay off.
If you’re paying for positive reviews, only. Then you run afoul of good business practices.

In short, if you don’t think your story can withstand a little scrutiny, either don’t publish it or don’t pay for reviews. It won’t end well. Polish your writing and then put it out there. Let the public decide what happens next.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Transcending Mediums

Hi Jim,

I wrote a short story recently that I published on the KDP. A friend of mine in college wants to use my story as a script for a small film he’s going to do as a project for one of his classes and I’m kind of torn. I mean I kind of like the idea because I’d get to see my work come to life, but on the other hand, what happens if he doesn’t do it right? He’s going to be making the movie, so he’s going to have a lot of creative control. Given his social media following, I’m worried that his film may wreck my story.
What do you think I should do?

Thanks,
Warren


Hi Warren,

His film can’t wreck your story. Let’s just be clear on that one. No matter what he puts on screen, it won’t change what you wrote and have published on the KDP. At worst, he makes a bad film with your name in the ‘based on’ field and you get a few people who take one look at your story and say, “Well… the movie sucked, I’ll pass.”
However, typically people are smarter than that… and usually, the people you lose will be replaced by the masochistic crowd that comes in out of morbid curiosity to see if your story is as bad as the film.

Remember it’s YOUR story. You can keep a choke hold on creative control if you want. If you’re that concerned about it, you can give him conditional usage of your IP. In other words, he can make the movie, but you have a say in the actors, props, sets, etc. The problem there is that the director may have a different vision than what you have and forcing him to work with your vision may be to the story’s detriment.

Let me put it this way, do you trust this person?

If so, let them make their movie and don’t worry about it. If you don’t trust their creativity, there’s nothing wrong with saying no. It’s not really worth quibbling over. If worst comes to worst and you really don’t like what you see when he makes the movie, simply ask that your name be removed from the credits. However, even this may be ill-advised because even if you don’t like it, the audience might. (See the Never Ending Story)

In the end, it’s up to you. You don’t have to give him the story to work with if you don’t want to. However, I don’t think that decision should be predicated on the concern that his movie could ruin your story. To me, that’s a non-existent issue. Your story will always be there. If the movie isn’t good, just ignore it.

Anyway, I hope this helps. Please feel free to email me back and let me know how things go!

Thanks!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Well… the Book Was Better: An Argumentative Fallacy

So recently I finally got to sit down and watch ‘Ready Player One’
Sidenote: If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a fantastic nostalgia/geek flick! SEE IT!

One criticism I’ve heard over and over and… pretty much the only criticism from people in my circles, is that the book was better than the film.

Well of course it was. Why is that a strike against the movie?

I hear this argument a lot!

Lord of the Rings was amazing!
Well… the books were so much better!
Jurassic Park is a classic!
Yeah, but the book was better.
The NeverEnding Story is a timeless classic!
Yeah, but it was nothing like the book, which was so much better.

Full disclosure, I’m guilty of this myself. The original Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid rendered Disney’s The Little Mermaid virtually unwatchable in m eyes. However, this is an argument for another time.

However lately Hollywood has seemingly completely given up on original scripts and relies more on established novels with an audience to make motion pictures about, this has become a far more prevalent argument. One that is actually becoming a little jarring.

Of course, in most cases, the book is going to be better than the movie. A book gives its readers a lot more than a movie ever could. In a book, you’re allowed to know what a character is thinking and you don’t need visual cues to try to figure it out. Additionally, the image you create in your mind of what the reader describes is 99.999% of the time better than anything a filmmaker can put on the screen. In a book, you’re allowed to build the author’s reality as you see fit, based on the criteria the writer gives you. In a movie, it’s all right there in front of you and there is little room for imagination or change.

All things considered, when a movie is made about a book, it’s already got an uphill battle to fight because there’s always going to be a huge section of the fandom that will come out and make this argument or worse… will have their expectations messed with and flat out hate the movie on those merits.

Finally, a book can typically go on for as long as the writer wants. The writer is typically given broad discretion to include as much or as little as they want. Movies are contending with audiences, typically with limited attention spans. They are limited to typically between 90 minutes to 2 hours. It is incredibly rare that a movie would come out and be widely accepted as better than the book.

As such, at this point, I tend to dismiss the argument that the book was better. I’ve taken to the mindset that the movie and the book are telling two different stories with similar characters. If I didn’t in many cases, it would ruin any chance of getting full enjoyment out of the movie.

So when you go to see a movie that’s based on a beloved novel that you absolutely could not put down… put that novel aside, wipe your slate of expectations clean, and let the movie stand on its own merits. If it’s good, enjoy it. Don’t let your love of the book ruin what was otherwise a good movie.

So that’s all for now. Thanks for checking in! Let me know what you think down in the comments!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim