Just some random stuff for today. I'd had a post on the trickiness of traveling in the course of one's manuscript halfway ready, but then I got the stomach flu yesterday and nothing got done. Oy. Thank gawd it was the 24 hour variety.
The only good thing that can be said about the flu is that when it's over, you feel like you've been given a whole new lease on life.
My son and I have been watching the first season of The Wire, in no small part because Nathan Bransford has frequently declared it the best show on TV ever. No small praise, that. I have to admit that it took me about three episodes to get into the swing of things, but after that it was terrific. Great characters, great layers and complications and people getting in each other's way without being evil. Loved it a lot. However, I was surprised at how thoroughly they wrapped up Season One. It left me really wondering what they would do with Season Two, which we started a couple of nights ago.
It did not disappoint. And it reminded me of a few really important things we need to keep in mind as storytellers.
One, keep things fresh. The second season did not return and dip directly into the well that had fueled Season One's success. They went someplace totally different. I loved that. I loved the risk of it and the surprise of it.
Two, the entire first episode was set up. And a little bit of catching up on where our favorite characters were now. And the reason I was struck by this was that it showed huge confidence in their storytelling. Especially in this day and age where we are reminded to cut to the action immediately, set up is slow, bad, needless, get rid of it.
But this totally worked. It was a slow build, and I was very aware of a large net being cast to show us the scope and breadth of what they were building. But the thing that made it work, I think, is that the set up kept raising all sorts of dramatic questions in our minds. And I think that's the key to making set ups work. If you can create the set up so that the information you give them raises dramatic questions, or creates stakes, or tension, then it can work.
In other news, I just found out that Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist Book One will be published in China! How cool is that? Can't wait to see the complex Chineese characters on the page. Besides, I figure since everyone keeps predicting China will be the dominant world power here in the next few years, it can't hurt to be available in that market. :-)
Have a great weekend, and I hope you get lots of holiday shopping and baking done!