Category Archives: Clancy Metzger

I Would Do Anything for Love…

 

But I won’t do that. You know what I’m talkin’ about, Meatloaf.

 

Instead, we did all of this:

Victoria Morris Threaded the Tapestry

Gregory D. Little Subverted the Meet Cute

Ace Jordan did the Science of Love to Explain the Murky Middle

Mary reminded us that All You Need is Love

Joshua Essoe gave us advice about Writing Sex ScenesIn two posts!

Clancy showed us the Flip Side: Bad Girls and Anti-Heroes and Why the Guys Love them

Travis Heermann Examined and Bound

Kim May Pleasured us with Pain

Stephan McLeroy no longer Struggles to Define Love

Leigh Galbreath Drew us in with Dysfunctional Relations

Tracy Mangum gave us a master class in Love in Screenplays

Jace Killian showed us the Try and Fail in Love

Matt Jones made Ignorant Secret Troubled Love to us

Tracy Mangum followed up with Sex in Screenplays

Lisa Mangum reminded us that First Comes Like

Frank Morin pushed A Life of Passion

Colette advised us to Let Love Simmer

And RJ Terrell wrote On Love

 

Sure, this month is over, but we know you’ll be back. If you fall we will catch you, and we’ll be waiting. Time after time.

 

On the Flip Side – Bad Girls and Anti-heroes: Why the Guys Love Them

Hit GirlWhen I Googled bad boys and anti-heroes for my previous post just to gather thoughts, I came up with a wealth of information. Easy peasy. Then one of our readers (Thank you!) asked about the female counterparts. Good point. One which I then discussed with a writerly friend and we had an excellent conversation on the topic, though finding examples took us a while. But once we got started, it was great and even clarified some differences for me between ‘bad’ and ‘anti-hero.’ So, here I am doing a sequel a year later.

A few things I noticed.

A ‘bad girls’ search only got me to the western movie of the same name. Sad.

When I previously googled anti-hero, all I got were guys, but lots of them. I actually had to google ‘anti-heroines’ (sad) before I got any gals and the resources were limited in substance. Not easy peasy.

I found in the discussions on this topic (online) there was huge dissention about what does or does not make a woman an anti-hero. There were arguments for likeability despite character flaws, arguments that said being annoying didn’t qualify one as anti-hero, and arguments that ‘bad’ and anti-hero’ were the same. Names were bantered about (some I agreed with and others not so much). Some were just crazy (read sociopaths and psychopaths). Not sure how crazy qualifies, personally. Apparently, women anti-heroes seem to be a difficult breed to pin down (and once more I say this is a sad state of affairs), so I’m going with the same qualifications I used for the guys.

As a refresher, they are: Bad Girls/Boys – They are no one you really want to introduce to dear old mom and dad, may wear inappropriate clothing or jewelry, have a disregard or disrespect for authority figures (including the parents), may brood, be rebellious, could be one of those musician types, may ride a motorcycle, and could have a criminal record.

Anti-heroes (Girls/Boys) – They lack conventional heroic qualities, may have a bad attitude, possess both good and bad traits, and while we may not be able to look up to them, we root for them to redeem themselves.

And in both cases, despite all these dubious traits, we want to inspire their redemption or bring forth their better self. And in a romantic world we want to be the cause of that change. Girl or Guy (I don’t care), this is my measuring stick.

I think we find them appealing because we want variety and depth. Like Goldilocks, we don’t want too soft or too hard, we want just right. And sometimes, just right looks awfully wrong at first glance. Like Jessica Rabbit, she wasn’t bad, she was just drawn that way. Or traversed a rocky road to get to where she is now – badly in need of love to help pull her back from the Dark Side.

My favorite is Lisbeth Salander. Rocky Road? This gal was crossing the Grand Canyon with a lame burro. Seriously. Yet she survived. Tough as nails, sought revenge on those who did her wrong and sought vengeance for those who were victims. Did her and Mikael get a HEA (Happy Ever After)? No. But I think Mikael loved her and hoped his influence helped her in some way. And I firmly believe (hopeless romantic that I am) that at some point in her future she found/will find the right gal or guy to help mend her sexy broken self.

What about Scarlett O’Hara? Rhett loved her and fought uphill all the way. She may have looked like a southern belle, but she had an iron will and mind that gave her a whole host of unconventional heroic traits. Rhett saw through all that nonsense and loved her for those very same traits. Arguably, her iron will and mind also drove Rhett away eventually, but as she says, “Tomorrow is another day.”

I have little experience with La Femme Nikita, so I’ll stick to the Bridget Fonda character, Maggie, in the homage Point of No Return. Druggie criminal with a wicked bad attitude, recruited and trained to be an assassin, yet deep (deep, deep) she has a soft side that J.P. brings out in her. She redeems herself to be worthy of him, only to have to leave him in order to survive leaving Bob and the agency for which she kills And let’s not forget that Bob loves her too. He loves all of her cuz he’s seen the real Maggie and molded her into who she is today (except for the gooey soft parts J.P. inspired). I love this character. I love her strength to do what she had to do no matter how hard.

I was waffling on Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the series, NOT the movie – don’t get me started on the movie ….), but I think I will add her here. She was über unconventional, had a bad, bad attitude and wore totally inappropriate (even I am rolling my eyes a little at this turn of phrase) clothing. Yet, we loved to hate her, then we loved to love her and always I think we were rooting for her redemption and hoping some nice guy would come along and soften those very sharp edges. She especially reminds me of Jessica Rabbit for some reason I can’t explain. Also Eliza Dushku is notoriously good at playing this type of character. Could be her dark broody looks lend that impression to begin with so that’s how she’s cast. I dunno.

One new addition is Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiffany on Silver Linings Playbook.  She’s a bitter, depressed widow with a lot of anti-social tendencies and a bit of sex-addiction thrown in for good measure. What’s to love? She loves dancing. How bad can she be if she loves ballroom dancing? Pat (played brilliantly by Bradley Cooper) finds a lot to love in her. He’s his own brand of mega-issues. But between them, they find a way to bring out the best in each other and isn’t that what all this is about? I dare say it is. Maybe. Yeah! I think so.

Another new addition is Hit-Girl in the Kick-Ass movies. She was raised to be a vigilante and knows more about weapons and fighting than even the non-average bear. She is totally kick-ass (lol) and I was completely rooting for her and Dave to complement each other’s missing bits – like his lack of real fighting skills and her lack of any kind of normal childhood. To quote Wayne and Garth – “Party Time! Excellent!”

Some honorable mentions (because I’m waffley on their status but I’m open to discussion): Hayley Stark in Hard Candy (such a great movie and Ellen Page is chilling as Hayley – maybe too young to be anti-hero yet, but in the future? with this past?), The Bride in Kill Bill (are we rooting for her redemption or just her revenge?), Aileen Wuornos (real life and Charlize Theron’s movie version – bad or just crazy?), Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary (unconventional or just cold – I dunno), Selene in Underworld (lovable to be sure, but is she unconventional enough? Is being a vampire enough?), Mathilda in Léon: The Professional (another age issue for me – but in the future, her possibilities are endless), Cathy in Wuthering Heights (bad, unconventional or just untterly selfish?), Catwoman from the  Batman franchise ( I think you could argue for crazy but she is a bad-ass), two Farrah Fawcett characters – Marjorie in Extremities and Francine in The Burning Bed (in both is she just victim seeking revenge? Or something more?), Lara Croft from Tombraider (I’m not sure she’s unconventional enough but she can be tough).

*I was all over the place on references, metaphors and similies – I thank you for staying with me. 🙂 And now — let the discussion begin.

 

Lee Child vs The Boring

I’m not a big fan of first person fiction despite ascertains that it gives me the most internal and personal perspective. Mostly, I don’t find that to be true. I don’t care for first person point of view because I find myself so conscious of it that I am pulled out of and distanced from the story instead. Lee Child writes his Jack Reacher novels in both first and third person, yet even when he writes in first, I hardly notice. For me that is gold. If I can get to page three and forget the story is being told in first person, I’ll read the book. If not, I’ll give up on it. It’s very few authors who pass this test.

When I read a Jack Reacher novel I am immediately in it. I am inside Reacher’s head and understanding why he does everything he does, no matter the point of view. I am along for the ride and embracing his ethics which are not particularly the norm. That’s huge. That’s the real deal for me. If Lee Child can put me so far into Reacher’s mentality as well as the moment and empathy of the story that I am with Reacher for every action – every violent action, then that’s great writing to my mind.

I love the precision of his staccato-like dialogue. I love the imagery he shows me. I love the detail of weapons, trajectories, behaviors, thoughts, etc… that he explains to me. I love the way Reacher puts himself into the heads of others to reason out what they are doing and why. I would be hard pressed to find something I didn’t find great in any of his books. As a writer, I find so much I want to emulate in my own writing. I believe good/great writing comes from avid reading of good/great books. Lee Child and the Reacher novels are that for me.

On the other hand, there are books I find so bad. Boring. Frustrating. Bad.

I shan’t name names because this example is by a ‘legendary’ writer. It was a science fiction and truly I could not tell you what that book was about. My best friend played a guilt card to make me read it because it was “one of the best” for her. So, I read it. Every boring, pointless page (mostly – I admit I started skimming towards the end because I really couldn’t take it any more).

Why was it so bad for me? There were several factors and they apply to all writing I find bad, but generally they aren’t all in one book so predominantly. First, if there was a plot, I’m sure I don’t know what it was. That’s pretty sad when the meandering prose loses me to the point that I have no clue what the author’s point might have been. As a writer, I wondered throughout why did he write this? What story is he trying to tell? Why am I reading this? Why am I bored out of my gourd? Because there was nothing to latch on to. No inciting incident that changed things and got me curious. No beginning, middle, end. No purpose that I could find. It was sci-fi. Genre writing. I really thought it should have a plot. Plots are a good thing.

Second, there weren’t any characters I could root for or invest in. I don’t remember liking any of them or disliking them either. I was completely ambivalent about them, their lives, their problems. Nothing. Nada. Had no connection whatsoever. If I don’t have at least one character I can despise or love or care about or finding interesting, then how am I supposed to relate to the story (presupposing there is a story)? How am I supposed to connect? I don’t necessarily need to love the main character, but I do need to have some reaction besides indifference. And if not the main character, then give me a secondary character to feel something about. Anything. Antipathy for every character is bad, bad, bad.

Third – and this was specifically my friend’s reason for loving the book – the author just went on and on and on about the weather, a sunrise, the sea, the landscape, the main character’s memories of the weather, a sunrise, the sea, the landscape… blah, blah, blah. It was chapter long meanders of description that served no point that I could see except for the author to wax poetic (and not in a good way). Every other chapter seemed to be one of these strange unrelated rambles that had little or nothing to do with anything. I have no problem with loads of description and detail if, and this is a big if, it serves a purpose other than the author’s ego and romance with his own words. Lee Child gives a lot of description yet every word feels necessary and keeps me attentive.

I wish all writing could take me where Lee Child’s writing takes me and I desperately hope that I can achieve a similar quality and depth in my writing. I use the other book as a reminder of what not to do.

Hair Popsicle

Imagine this as hair…

I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. We moved there when I was ten. And as much as I hated it at the time, I grew to love it more. One of the reasons was all the incredible stories that I can tell for having lived there for a decade.

My favorite and the one that most people find bizarre is the Hair Popsicle story which believable or not, I may still use in one of my stories.

I lived at twenty-two and a quarter mile Chena Hot Springs road. The only place this road ran was the fifty miles from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs. There was a road that t-boned it and cut over toward North Pole (an actual town and home of the Santa Claus house where you could have letters from Santa sent to children with a real North Pole postmark). To get from where I lived to my high school was a twenty-five mile trip one way. The school bus was driven by a neighbor who lived a few miles further up the road at the end of the paved and populated part of Chena Hot Springs road. She would keep the bus at her place overnight, drive it the one way picking up kids and then not return it back out there until after school when she dropped us all off. There was a definite small town feel among all of us who lived in that fourteen mile stretch of Chena Hot Springs road.

Why all this background? To set the stage. The bus driver didn’t just leave if you were running a few minutes late because the winter weather in Alaska, which was most of the school year, didn’t really accommodate waiting on the road for the bus. It was cold. And dark. In order to get us to school in time we were catching the bus at something like 6am. Truth be told, in the heart of winter, it was mostly dark twenty-four hours a day. So, the bus driver would hit the end of my driveway and honk, wait for me to run up the drive which was almost a quarter mile long, and I’d catch the bus.

Life in Alaska is a little different from anywhere else I’ve lived, and I’ve lived in eleven states. Alaska is unique.

More setting – stay with me. Because we lived in Alaska and Alaska gets cold, our school didn’t officially close down until the temperatures hit sixty below zero. Mind you, back in the Portland area of Oregon, where I used to live, if it snowed two inches, everything shut down. In Alaska, “home of the individual and other endangered species”, school and everything else went on until it hit -60°F and forget how much snow there was because we would still have four feet on the ground in April. Also, keep in mind that freezing is at 32°F. Sixty below is a full ninety degrees colder than freezing. At -50°F it was optional to go to school and the parent’s decision. I have been to school when it is optional.

This one winter, we had a long spell of cold that was in the -40°F range. This is where you can hardly breathe for the cold air hitting your lungs. I was running late that fateful morning and by the time I got out of the shower I had minutes to get dressed. I heard the bus honking as I was combing my long straight hair that was still almost dripping wet. I pulled on my boots, grabbed my coat and ran. No hat, no gloves. I didn’t even do up my coat. I just ran because I couldn’t miss the bus. Halfway down my long drive way, my hand came up and hit my hair.

You know how long hair, when wet, hangs in icicle like clumps? Yeah, that was my hair. And it had frozen in the few minutes it took to get halfway down my drive way. And frozen stuff that is hit, breaks. Yep, I broke my hair. Cursing, I grabbed the frozen hair Popsicle from the snow and ran on.

Once on the bus, I was able to truly assess the situation. I was holding an icicle of hair about an inch in diameter at the widest part and about eight inches long. It had snapped off straight, right below my ear. As my hair thawed on the ride to school, I realized how bad it was. Do try to imagine it if you can. All day at school I got teased and then had to get a horrible shag haircut to minimize the damage done.

Needless to say, I was more careful in the future, and I got a cool (get it… cool… lol) story out of it. Can’t wait to hear more tales that are stranger than fiction.