Stranger Things – A Review

Hello My Imaginary Friends,
Since July of last year people have been recommending to me a TV show called Stranger Things.

If I were to describe the show, I’d say it was an homage to 1980’s YA movies with more than a little supernatural horror thrown in. It has D&D, Monsters, Psychic/Magic abilities, Conspiracies, Eighties Rock, and lots of kids on bikes.

It’s eight episodes on Netflix and although the first episode is a little slow, it builds quickly. The special effects are amazing, the locations are great, the music is wonderful, but most of all the acting is fantastic. The actors in this each play stereotypes from eighties movies, but managed to pull those characters out of cliché and make them believable.20161201_stranger_things_node

The one thing that I found lacking in the show was complexity and surprise. After two episodes I could have given you an outline of the entire season. I wasn’t surprised and was actually a little underwhelmed by the story.

It was a fun watch and the acting alone made it worth it, but this show was too close to my own influences, likes, and writing style for comfort. Seriously, after the last episode, I went to IMDB to make sure I hadn’t written it. I’ll let you decide if that’s a compliment or a condemnation.

In short, if you like Horror, YA, Eighties movies, and/or my writing; you’ll enjoy Stranger Things.

I give it 85% or 4.25/5

Later Days,

Éric

Diversity in Writing

My brother, who is a great guy, has always loved performing and after our mother died he started taking classes and seriously throwing himself into acting. It was roughly the same time I started writing seriously.

Authenticity

When he talks about the craft of acting he often brings up “truth” or “honesty” in reference to a performance. It got on my nerves until I understood that he was talking about authenticity or making a character feel like a real person. (My English teacher would say three dimensional.) It’s a concept that brought his acting from talented but hammy to truly good. He’s been getting better with every project by always keep that idea in his mind.

Writing and Authenticity

In writing it’s just as important to make your characters authentic and relatable. As a writer (I’ve written 5 books, fifty plus short stories, and over 200 blog posts. I’ll call myself that and if this guy has a problem with that I’ll gladly challenge him to a write off.) Sorry… As a writer, I concentrate as much as I can on characters. My favourite scenes are usually domestic ones, how someone eats, cleans etc. tells me more about a character than all the clever quips in the world. (I like those too though)

The problem with being authentic is trying to understand and represent characters that are completely different than me. Let’s face it, I’m a 30 year old white, middle class, male, who rates a 2 on the Kinsey scale. I am what 90% of books, movies, and television portray as the norm.

This makes me worry that I’m not being authentic in my writing. If I’m not the best case is that that characters come off as unbelievable, at worst they come off as sad stereotypes. I don’t want to misrepresent my characters or my (eventual) readers.

Why Does Diversity Matter

I’ve heard the old saying of, “Write What You Know” it is a platitude handed down from the gods of writing years ago. It’s also wrong. It’s an attitude that says only aged, world weary, grizzled writers should write.

So why do I want to write about characters who don’t resemble me? Why is it important? It just is. As a kid I had hundreds and thousands of characters that looked and thought like me, that I could relate too. I want that level of relatability for everyone. I want a world where you can pick up a book and see a character that you fully understand and a whole bunch that teach you that as humans we are all fundamentally the same.

Learning about other sexes, cultures, religions, nationalities, sexualities, sexual preferences, and disabilities helps make them more understandable and breaks the “Us vs Them” mentality.

It’s also more interesting.

Conclusion

I haven’t lived as a Polynesian girl with anorexia, or a transgendered boy raised by a conservative family but I have written about them.

In Parasomnia, (AKA the book that is taking me way too long to edit) I tried my best to be authentic and to make each character feel real. I hope I succeeded but I’ll only know by finding beta readers who can call me out on anything that is wrong or stereotypical.

 

What’s your opinion on diversity in books?

Éric