Friday, September 4, 2009

Tone, texture, pacing

Just got finished watching "Aliens" for millionth time. The movie never gets old to me. It's been 23 years since it was made and it remains as a stellar example of storytelling in the speculative fiction genre.

Granted, James Cameron adapted a lot of context from the novel "Starship Troopers" to give the movie a whole new feel compared with its also praiseworthy predecessor. But there are touches of talent you find in the movie you just don't see with many directors these days.

The movie evokes certain emotions in spite of the absurdity of the setting. An alien infested planet with a nuclear reactor on the verge of blowing up...and the primary means of escape crashes in a fiery heap.

In lesser, unimaginative hands this would end up turning into the typical Saturday night monster flick sparse in originality and design.

The difference is Cameron took the time to layer the tone and texture while being mindful of pacing. There is a moment when Ripley is painstakingly arming herself for battle with the same care one might give to dressing for a party.

You don't see that kind of presentation these days. Most directors rush to blow something up or give you the blood spray. The audience says "cool", keeps feeding the studio money and then another crappy movie gets made.

Art can be entertaining. Character development and story need not be boring. For example, "Aliens" is about the character of Ripley reclaiming everything she lost in the aftermath of "Alien". It goes beyond payback, she gets back an emotional quality absent at the start of the movie. And while she has this epiphany, you have marines shooting the hell out of alien critters all around her.

I suppose that is my lesson learned for the day.

Heritage Fields word count: 53,309

Working as fast as I can to finish this and pitch to an agent (thanks Danielle for the contact).

Gave the first few chapters to someone I trust for opinions and edits.

So if you happen to read this, Miss: "Chop, chop!";-) Need that feedback. 

I got deadlines and I'm horrible at editing my own work.

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Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away