Giving Up

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Let’s talk about consuming and creating media. I say media instead of art to avoid any quality bias. I might think my writing is art but others would disagree.

Consuming

I have a rule, well more of a guideline, about consuming media. It goes like this:

“If you’ve gotten through at least 25% and you’re dreading continuing, it might be time to quit.”

I’ve applied this to most long form media like books, movies, comics, TV, youtube shows, etc. There’s a certain amount of relief that I get when I let myself give up on something.

I’ve often broken this guideline, the book I’m currently reading is only 250 pages so I figured I’d finish and critique it properly. I rarely quit a book, I won’t read the rest of the series, but I’ve quit reading 2 books in my life. One was Interview with a Vampire, and the other was a book about a murderer that somehow killed people using landline phone calls.

Series and TV shows are different. I’ll give a book series, one book, and a tv show at least 1 season unless it offends me in the first 2-4 episodes.

It’s really easy to give up on something that no one cares about, but it’s a completely different thing to give up on something that is a cultural phenomenon. When everyone is talking about something, or your group of friends are, there’s a sense of obligation in consuming that thing.

I’m of course talking about Game of Thrones, I’ve watched the first 4 seasons, and read the first 2 books and I just don’t like it. The plots are inconsistent, the characters are either despicable, boring, or dead, and I find it painful to read or watch. There I’ve said it. Revoke my geek card if you wish.

Other shows that are close to me giving up on are Grimm, The Arrow, and Supernatural. All because of inconsistent and downright annoying writing.

Creating

Creating it is completely different. That rule is:

“If you’re dreading creating something, you need to rethink your approach.”

I have been struggling this year with my novel, Everdome. Not just because of book itself. I caught 2 flu’s and the plague. I’ve also apparently been doing something wrong at work and I’ve been getting pain in my right arm. On top of that my work has lost a lot of employees and I’ve had to do more work than past years. (Ok, enough excuses.)

One of my major issues was that I had a beginning and an end, 6 character points of view, and one big cool concept. Unfortunately without character arcs, and a middle, I was having trouble putting words in front of each other.

Last week I stopped and thought about all the characters I had left and where I wanted them to be and how I could get them there. It helped me set things up and start writing freely again.

I think the concept and the characters in this book are awesome, but I’m not sure how good a book it’s going to be. I never am.

 

What popular media have you given up on?

Eric

Lately I’m easily… *SQUIRREL!*

I’ve been having trouble concentrating lately. Not during important things like reading, writing, or talking to my wife. It’s while watching TV.

I’m an avid fan of television and consume a lot more than I should. Especially while multitasking. My first writing project was a fanfiction staring a post Star Trek: The Next Generation Scotty. I think both television and video games have been greatly underestimated as art and educational. That’s a completely other post however.

Full disclosure, between television, movies, and youtube, I probably watch 30-40 hours a week, most of it while working. I’m a layout artist for the government and can easily multitask without affecting the speed or quality of my work.

All that being said, a lot of shows are having trouble keeping my interest. Most of them are new shows. The particular culprits are Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, Atlantis, Haven, and Grimm. I’d watch them and suddenly find myself looking at my phone or thinking about something else.

I thought it was me until I watched Nightmare on Elmstreet 3. I assumed I would have the same problem but I didn’t. Then I started re-watching Gilmore Girls and again didn’t get distracted.

So what was my problem? Was I bored? No. Were the shows boring? Not really.

I think I’ve come up with a reason. “Pacing” any good action, cop, adventure, or genre show has high levels of tension and action followed by cool-down periods. It’s a structure that’s shared between most of them. It helps to calm the audience or build tension depending on how it’s used.

I think the problem is simply that their cool-down periods are boring me. You know the part where they get ready, or the part where they explain, or the part where they chat about the secondary storyline. It’s just not keeping my interest.

This is an essential part of the story but it doesn’t have to be boring. Look at Castle, it has more witty banter and flirting during these scenes to compensate. Or look at Doctor Who or
Buffy, they do these scenes during running, or flying or while they move to the next thing.

Some shows, like Gilmore Girls, don’t need the ups and downs and keeps to a middle ground tension.

All the shows that keep my interest are seasoned with humour. I think the combination of strong character relationships and humour is what keeps me focused during the slower bits.

In writing, I always try to write something that it interesting and funny, to me, in the cool-downs or build-ups. The hope is that the reader won’t get bored or distracted.

These aren’t bad shows, most of them are still struggling to get their balance or get their balance back. If they were bad, I’d stop watching them.

What about you? Are there shows that just can’t keep your interest? If so what would you like to see them change?

Lately I’m easily… *SQUIRREL!*

I’ve been having trouble concentrating lately. Not during important things like reading, writing, or talking to my wife. It’s while watching TV.

I’m an avid fan of television and consume a lot more than I should. Especially while multitasking. My first writing project was a fanfiction staring a post Star Trek: The Next Generation Scotty. I think both television and video games have been greatly underestimated as art and educational. That’s a completely other post however.

Full disclosure, between television, movies, and youtube, I probably watch 30-40 hours a week, most of it while working. I’m a layout artist for the government and can easily multitask without affecting the speed or quality of my work.

All that being said, a lot of shows are having trouble keeping my interest. Most of them are new shows. The particular culprits are Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, Atlantis, Haven, and Grimm. I’d watch them and suddenly find myself looking at my phone or thinking about something else.

I thought it was me until I watched Nightmare on Elmstreet 3. I assumed I would have the same problem but I didn’t. Then I started re-watching Gilmore Girls and again didn’t get distracted.

So what was my problem? Was I bored? No. Were the shows boring? Not really.

I think I’ve come up with a reason. “Pacing” any good action, cop, adventure, or genre show has high levels of tension and action followed by cool-down periods. It’s a structure that’s shared between most of them. It helps to calm the audience or build tension depending on how it’s used.

I think the problem is simply that their cool-down periods are boring me. You know the part where they get ready, or the part where they explain, or the part where they chat about the secondary storyline. It’s just not keeping my interest.

This is an essential part of the story but it doesn’t have to be boring. Look at Castle, it has more witty banter and flirting during these scenes to compensate. Or look at Doctor Who or
Buffy, they do these scenes during running, or flying or while they move to the next thing.

Some shows, like Gilmore Girls, don’t need the ups and downs and keeps to a middle ground tension.

All the shows that keep my interest are seasoned with humour. I think the combination of strong character relationships and humour is what keeps me focused during the slower bits.

In writing, I always try to write something that it interesting and funny, to me, in the cool-downs or build-ups. The hope is that the reader won’t get bored or distracted.

These aren’t bad shows, most of them are still struggling to get their balance or get their balance back. If they were bad, I’d stop watching them.

What about you? Are there shows that just can’t keep your interest? If so what would you like to see them change?