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Monday, October 12, 2009

Firefly for Writers

Awesome summary of a RWA clinic on writing and the show Firefly. With, possibly, the best use of Bonnie Tyler's Holding Out for a Hero.

I admit, I'm a closet Browncoat. I've seen the entire Firefly season all of once, but I adore Whedon's characters. You have to admire how screen writers are able to convey character in such a short time. Usually they have less than ten minutes to get it all across, hook the watchers before the first commercial break really.

The visual medium has some advantages. Not everything has to be described by the character. But you know that somewhere along the line someone designed the sets and did do the description work.

I think I may log on night this week for "research" and go chill out with some of my favorite sci-fi movies. What about you? Is there a movie or TV show that you think writers should study?


  1. I guess it depends on the show? I definitely notice the settings for TV shows like LOST. Settings for TV shows like "Ghost Whisperer (with the exception of the episodes where Mel went down in the underground city)" and "Firefly" not so much. With Ghost Whisperer, it's because the setting is a generic downtown setting (for the most part). Firefly - I just didn't notice much setting. They...er... spent a lot of time on the ship. It had big gray cargo bay, the pilot area reminded me from Star Wars, and whatshername's room reminded me of how Doris Day's character decorated Rock Hudson's characters apartment when she was very angry with him and trying to get even (That chair. It bit me!).

    Maybe I should just try a little harder the next time I watch either show? :)

  2. Closet Browncoat? Whatever! I'm a Browncoat all the way!!!

    Thanks for the link--I think, personally, that writers have a lot to learn from Joss Whedon. While Firefly is (imo) the epitome of good writing, I think Dollhouse is actually a great way to learn how *not* to write (don't start slow, don't confuse the reader, set clear characters and expectations)

  3. *OK must research Firefly* I'll check out fancast and see if there are any episodes...


    Firefly is a perfect study in characters.

    Memento was a great movie for study, imo. It's original in the way we, as writers, must be to stand out in a saturated market. And it certainly knows how to build the suspense.

    I feel that The Last Samurai is another great movie in building believable plot and characterization. It's also wonderful in how they use the scenery and the unspoken to such dramatic effect.

  5. I have to laugh at beth's comment. Dollhouse can only be watched on DVD when you can see multiple episodes at a time.

    But as a fellow browncoat I agree that Whedon really knows how to hook you with sympathetic and dynamic characters. Plus he has awesome interpersonal character interaction.

  6. I wish they hadn't canceled Firefly. URGH> Yes, it's done very well. I think it's a show many writers can learn from. Have fun watching your sci-fi stuff!

  7. I've seen Firefly but (gasp!) never seen Buffy or Dollhouse, so I don't know much about Whedon's work. Still, I agree that he's able in Firefly to develop interesting characters quickly. I think he takes stock characters and then twists them so that they're quirky and interesting... but still, at heart, people we recognize from popular culture. That's a great way to introduce a character quickly (especially in an ensemble cast) and still make him or her interesting.

    I don't know if this is a show that's good for character and/or setting study, but I will admit to loving the new incarnation of Battlestar Galactica.:D I thought there were some kickass characters (literally and figuratively) on the show. There were a lot of problems with the show, too, but what I loved best was the idea that there were no truly evil characters (though there were plenty of characters who did terrible things), and although there were definitely "heroes," these protagonists had so many flaws. This ambiguity and messiness, whether in a TV show or a film or a novel, is key to making a story compelling.

  8. CLK- That's an interesting idea. I haven't actually seen much of BSG, but I may have to hunt it down now.

    Beth and Wulf- Yay! Browncoats!!! A western with spaceships, what not to love?

    T.Anne- I hope you find the episodes :o)

    Catherine - Good point about setting :o)

    GNAT- The one-liners rock!

    Glam- :o) What do you study for your books? I know you have a different style (very beautiful for those who haven't read her work), so what inspires you?