Archive for Writing

On: The Problem With All My Children

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2010 by thenewserials
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As 2 Dimensional as Mario on the SNES

If you ever watched a dying animal you know what the height of pathetic life is. It’s not something you can really help (other than to kill it) and it’s not something you’d feel comfortable walking away from because it demands your attention.

And thus is the story of All My Children. The soap has been on for decades, winding its way through a cultural maelstrom. From race to aids to terrorism to gay marriage All My Children has always stayed on top of the issues and provided unique and sympathetic stories to the current situations at hand.

Being the most “plain” of the soap operas (no regular super cops, or super criminals or spies and whatever) All My Children has always been propelled by characters. Money grubbers, crooks, murderers, fathers, sons, daughters, drunks, junkies, mothers, philanthropist, moguls, psychotic, storytellers and even a couple of bears here and there. These characters are what have kept All My children unique and interesting.

We’ve watched Erica Kane go from young dreamer, to broken rape victim, to high end model, to addicted fiend, to indignant mother, wife, single, wife, single, wife, single and wife again and in each change we’ve learned something about a woman many of us have know for over thirty years.

But recently the soap has seemed to lose its way. It still has its characters (arguably maybe now they have the best roster of characters) From the sultry and possibly psychotic Annie Novak (Lavery, Chandler) to the plotting and cunning Dr. David Hayward, All My Children has a lot to work with and even could pull from older characters to spice it up a bit.

But when Charles Pratt Jr. took over as head writer audiences cried foul. The most frequent argument being that the female characters had all be degraded to shells of people, subservient and not as clever as their male counterpart.

The end of the Pratt Jr. reign followed the death of long time character Stuart Chandler and a sordid Baby’s Father drama involving nearly every character but, primarily: David Hayward, Jake Martin and Amanda Dillion. Admittedly it was some of the same stuff we had seen before but, it was still intriguing.

After Pratt was released from his duties writing the drama of Pine Valley, many fans thought that a fresh perspective would bring about a new and improved look and feel to Pine Valley (couple with a move to L.A. to shoot what could go wrong?)

Sadly it hasn’t turned out to be what most expected and hoped it to be. The characters of Pine Valley have been reduced to mere talking points, a brief look into a common thought from the character followed by some uncharacteristic actions and then onto the next set of characters before repeating the process for 45 of the 60 minutes.

Characters many of us have known for ten, twenty years are suddenly reacting to similar situations in totally different manners. A painful look at writers testing the waters to see what sounds nice on paper doesn’t always apply when acted on a continuous scale.

A great example of character trampling came with the character Aiden Devane. A private detective/spy like character who at the very core of him was benign. Only in Pine Valley because he cared about some of the women, Devane was written as a raving lunatic at the end of his run.

For weeks audience were subjected to him sitting in a padded room attempting to help (or extort?) a mental ill patient that he was (or wasn’t) in love with. Varying with the day Devane was either trying to uncover evidence against Annie Lavery or uncover a way for her to escape. For the first week it offered us some intrigue not being sure but, then after a little while it became very clear that the writers weren’t sure as to what they wanted to present with the character.

And in the end a character who hadn’t lifted a finger to do anything against the women of his life ever, except to protect them from themselves occasionally, kidnaps his ex-girlfriend and holds her hostage against her husband (whom he had a good relationship with too) before being sent to jail.

The end result served as a slap in the face to viewers who like to be treated more than just cardboard cut-outs sitting in front of a television screen. And as bad as that was, we weren’t expecting what was going to come next after Pratt’s leave.

The show as of late has been reduced to watching one story-line repeated endlessly. It’s not as if there’s multiple components to the story, literally the same thing happens over and over again. In one story Adam Chandler Jr. struggles with a lust (and possible love) for his father’s ex-wife (and cousin’s current fiancée) even though he’s married already. Normally this kind of thing is fair-grounds for a soap opera but, it’s been months of the same dialogue being used over and over again.

The guilt he feels in his heart, the burning he feels in his loins. Every episode serves for Him to say to his mistress: “We can’t be together but, I want to”, week after week we hear him say “We can’t be together but, I want to” without and real clarification of the issue. 3 months ago the show was in the same position as it is now.

The writers have forgotten what drives the story FORWARD. Instead they pick one talking point and talk about it at until the viewer is ripping their hair-out or mindlessly speaking the dialogue of the show along with the broadcast.

The characteristic of the characters have been twisted into mere stereotypes, the blending of unique and intricate qualities of characters have been replaced for blatant moments of characters stressing “I AM THE HERO” and “I AM THE VILLAIN!”. There’s little wiggle room to understand the motives for characters other than: He’s the bad guy, he’s supposed to be that way.

In the past characters of pure evil were introduced, with no motive other than to wreak havoc but, they weren’t trying to live in the society, they attempted to use it and control it. Like Dr. Kinder but, the real joy came in characters like Vanessa aka Proteus who was clearly doing wrong but, had an overbearing love for her sons that lead to the death of one of them.

On one hand you hate Vanessa on the other hand you can’t wait for her to be on screen again to see her rationale. Gone is that feeling once you hear a character admit something it stays that way. Black and white is how the lines are drawn in, no one in Pine Valley is complicated, they’re either: simply good or simply bad.

Some characters don’t even have conflicts. Amanda and Jake stand around having sex whenever they can and helping friends but, neither of the characters have anything to do individually. Sometimes they’re asked to participate in unethical actions but, they show absolutely NO conflict, they just go along with it because it’s against  ‘the bad guy’ and that’s what ‘the good guys’  do.

And so before you watch an episode you know what’s going to happen and for what reason and you can’t relate because surely YOU as an actual human being are more complicated than “I do the right thing all the time and hate everything wrong”.

All My Children is a medium in what many consider to be a ‘dying art’. The characters are treated like Adjectives: “loyal” “evil” “righteous” “confused” but, never as a mixture of one and another. So we as viewers get stuck watching the equivalent of literary stick figures but, we know there’s more. We’ve been with most of these character for ten or more years, we’ve seen them grow up, we’ve seen them do bad and good and we’ve seen them wrestle with which was more appealing to them.

That’s why we still watch because anyone who’s watched All My Children knows that the show was founded in greatness and can still achieve that goal if someone would take some time to think of stories that encompass more than one character and present more than one view-point as ‘right’.

But maybe this is the end, maybe the animal is really beyond saving and we loyal fans are just unable to look away because we love it so much still.

Or maybe someone will go to L.A. and whip some of these ‘writers’ into shape!

Facebook.com/raganork8

Twitter.com/KeithBCovington

On: Long Periods Without Writing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by thenewserials

You would think that having two personalities in my mind would make me more prolific with writing that’s not the case however. For weeks at a time (sometimes months) I will have nothing of any interest to say about anything. Sure something will happen in that time but, no one really comments on this blog anyway so there’s no reason to share with the world if the world isn’t looking.

Don’t take that as a guilt trip, it’s simple logic.

However on occasion I will think of something I think is important enough to share with the people who do come across my blog, and then I blog. My last blog post are some of the easiest to put down. I love music so sharing my experience with new and/or live music is something that comes easily.

What doesn’t come easily is a way to make the banal routines of my life come alive for you all in this blog.   Writing isn’t a challenge per se but more of a required discipline that I  haven’t totally gotten down. It comes to me in waves, sometimes as small as a tide and sometimes as large as a tsunami.

This doesn’t only apply to my blog  but, also to writing a book or short story, I have to be in a very specific mood in order to get anything down. And even then I tend not to write a whole lot in one day, sometimes I’ll pull our a page or two and be content with that because when the feeling goes…it’s gone.

The frightening thing about writing a blog is that everyone who reads it seems to expect some sort of consistency, I have friends who blog once a month on the same day every month, or vow to blog twice a week or some schedule but, I’m not able to stick to that sort of thing. As soon as writing becomes a ‘job’ so to speak, where I have to worry about getting it down in a certain amount of time or fear the deadline, I lose a boatload of interest.

I know, that’s real life, right? Sure it is and I didn’t say I wasn’t able to do it but, I just said it’s no longer as fun for me. I like to take my time and even be lazy. I spend every waking minute thinking about writing, how I want something to look and how I want it to be presented on the page and whatnot and when I get to the execution I get there.

This blog is more of a twisted therapeutic sort of engine for me to work with, I get to write whenever I want to and share it out to the world. Sure the lack of comments and viewers sometime annoy me but, that’s not really the big issue. The issue is filtering through the packing peanuts in my mind to find the really fragile things and bringing them into some sort of like in reality.

With two people in my mind constantly trying to find a way to appease each other there’s often a lot of interesting stuff that gets cut on the editing room floor. I just can’t express EVERYTHING sometimes, mostly because I think a lot of what I say is common sense, but I’m not a common guy and this isn’t a common world and so maybe I ought to consider getting over my personal misgivings with my writing and just put it out there.

I often have this vendetta against artist, like painters and sculptures and cartoonist; maybe not a vendetta but a jealousy because for them the final product of the art is there and can be beheld with the eye. For me I have to then embark on a new journey to get people to read what has taken me a year to write and thats the hardest part of all.

You would think that people would be jumping for joy over the fantastic like: Dreams and the damaged infrastructure in the mind of a semi-psychotic but, people really aren’t. Maybe they think it’s silly or overly-dramatic but, no one cares that much and in some degrees neither do I. I’m still entertained by very simple things like Soap Operas. I watch All My Children everyday as if it were something that will feed my starving stomach. It’s one of the few things that both my personalities will agree to doing but, who wants to sit here and read about how much I dislike Ryan Lavery or think Marissa Tasker needs to buy a clue.

Maybe someone, I guess but, often I don’t feel like it’s a worthy subject to start ranting about in a blog.

I guess part of me still feels like I’ve stumbled into this writing thing, Like maybe I don’t deserve to even be doing it. I love it though, I just like taking my time as well, maybe if i had an actual job writing I would think differently about it but, as of now I don’t. And even when I worked for my school magazine I waited til submission day to do something and it was still pretty good.

What I need is for someone to take me seriously, seriously enough so that we can work together. I work fine alone but, I think ultimately I feel comfortable if I have someone to bounce ideas off of and craft together with. I’ve been alone all my life so maybe that’s why.

I should write a comic book and work with an artist (maybe that would ease some of the jealousy) and put it out one day. That sounds like it could be a barrel of monkeys!

Now let’s see if anyone’s interested…

Twitter.com/KeithBCovington

Facebook.com/raganork8

From The Minds of a Cereal Killer: On Writing a Novel

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2010 by thenewserials

Let me preface this with: I’m Lazy.

Trying to write this novel has been something akin to getting into a relationship with a person who is perfect one day and then totally wrong the next day. I tried the forceful ‘write everyday’ approach but, that didn’t bring me any pleasure. Now I’m, seemingly, on hiatus from writing the novel. I haven’t written since about the time I was in school and I feel content with not writing until I go back.

there’s something about writing that I just can’t get into if I’m not in the mood. The words will be in my mind but; they won’t come out the right way and so instead of putting out something forced and contrived I prefer not to put anything out at all. When I used to write by hand I would always do it when I was supposed to be doing something else. I wrote in school all the time during class, so much so that it got me into trouble. Sometimes I would write on the train but; I would rarely ever write when I was at home. There was something about sitting in my own apartment and writing that seemed perverse to me, especially if my mother was home. I felt like I was masturbating or something of the like while she was around, it was something I didn’t want her to see.

When I started typing on the computer I found that I had somewhat of a 180. I could suddenly write at home with my mother home (so long as she didn’t cause a constant distraction) but, I would write by hand and then transcribe later, writing the same thing twice NEVER appealed to me.

Now I write in school again just not during class time (well maybe sometimes) and I find I’m able to write a little more thoroughly that way. Still I can’t write for a long duration of time, it takes me quite a bit of time to write a page or two and when I’ve used up the creative juices they’re gone for the day. However the two pages that I get down I’ll be proud of and ultimately will be a good product.

Now the challenge is to get motivated more often, the feeling of plowing through a section of the novel is extremely gratifying but; equal to the horrid, wretched failure of not being able to look at the novel without feeling some sort of dread.

And even though I can’t write every day the story is constantly going on in my head, scenes play continuously, backwards, forwards in slow motion, sped up. I see every ounce of the story in my mind in vivid detail. It’s both amazing and terrible because I can experience the greatness that I’m about to create but; sometimes I simply just cannot place what I see on the paper.

The images run perpendicular to my thoughts so I’m able to think and imagine the story at the same time. It’s rare (extremely so) that I’ll be lost in a trance thinking about the story and not be aware of my surroundings. I can look at the halls of my college and be equally aware of where I am as well as see the halls as any given location in the novel.

It’s like having two TVs in your brain playing different programs at once, both at the same volume and image resolution. Every so often I can see the novel world in front of my eyes but; the images gets stuck as if its missing a piece of a reel. When that happens I’ll often act out the scene playing out whatever characters I have to find what’s most effective and natural. This could go on from a couple of seconds to about fifteen minutes. I’ll talk to myself in the inflection of each character, and i’ll do it several times, over and over until I feel I’ve gotten it right. Of course sometimes this’ll draw the stares and strange questions from stranger who don’t understand what’s going on but; that only helps me put the characters into the real world.

I live in NYC so I take public transportation most of the time but; when I am able to ride in a car to go somewhere and I get out on a highway my mind will completely go into a comparison mode. The peaks and valley’s of the terrain around me become structures in my novel and at any given point I’m able to recall the image, almost perfectly to transcribe.

The ultimate problem is that I’m not able to write as quick as I can think. At any given point of writing this novel I’ll be planning out events that happen two-hundred or three-hundred pages in the future and because I’m not there when I’m writing  I find myself disinterested or dissatisfied.

I have similar problems with screenplay writing and blogging and it’s important to note that nothing I have ever written has come out to my total approval, not even in this blog. Before I start writing I have a particular way I want everything to sound but; when It’s on the page it isn’t the same thing.

There’s more to this and as I write I’ll continue to detail the problems and the joys of writing.

In the meantime please feel free pass this blog on to someone who might not have a chance to read it and feedback is ALWAYS appreciated.

You can read my current novel here

And my collection can be found here: Covington

Again feedback on everything is appreciated

And As always I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter at:

Facebook.com/raganork8 and

Twitter.com/KeithBCovington