Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
My nine-year-old son, who up until now has had the attention span of somethin’ like a hummingbird thanks to those no-good Japanese cartoons, has lately taken an interest in my Centennial collection. I was pleasantly surprised to see him stick out the first two chapters, which make up a good five hours. He pronounced that from disc 3 onward things go into a steep decline and “it gets boring.” But not until then.
I realized he’s right. And there’s a reason for this, that has something to do with where technology was, long before he was born.
In 1978, if something was on TV and you missed it, you couldn’t count on ever, ever seeing it again. So chapters three through twelve shoulder considerably less burden than chapters one and two. Up to eleven, each installment is barely an hour-and-a-half long. In the late 70’s, it was awfully tough to get bored in an hour and a half. I hadn’t noticed this before. Not consciously. Looking back on my experience with my DVD collection, I did find a lot more time for loading the dishwasher and doing my laundry after the first five hours, than during them.
So…I’m watching discs seven and eight and nine, and I’m noticing something that applies to television, movies, and books with other stories. Seems to be a universal trend. Not sure about it yet, I’ll have to chew on it for awhile.
Start with the relationship between a story, and the characters who contribute to it. Strong characters “feed” a strong story. If you have a weak story and you don’t know why, look to the characters who participate in it — usually, you’ll find you have a lot of weak characters. No ground-breaking revelations here; a character is defined to the point where you start to care about what happens to him, and then you read about something happening to him…you want to know more. That’s what makes you want to turn the pages.
So here’s the theory.
Just like a man succeeding, or failing, to capture the love-interest of a lady in the first five seconds after she’s seen him. A character is made weak or strong, almost completely, during his or her introduction. Now as television miniseries’ go, this one is outstanding. Near-perfect. This is perhaps the only flaw, certainly the most serious one: The never-ending mural of “I’m Henry Garrett and this is my son Bealy Garrett” becomes horribly, horribly monotonous.
Can you build a “weak” character, to whom you have given a creative, clever introduction? Can you settle for the bland, unimaginative, “Hi my name is so-and-so” introduction, and from that build a strong character?
I can’t think of an example of either one. Okay, a few kinda-sorta examples…nothing really powerful, to completely blow the theory out of the water. It seems to hold up.
Three ways I can imagine to carry this out:
One. Give the audience a puzzle. Make them do some work. Give them the name first, and drag out a red-herring that gives the impression this name belongs to somebody else.
Two. Distract the audience with a story involving the other characters already introduced…maybe even a story that will, ultimately, come to a dead-end. Fool ‘em into thinking this is a peripheral character, whom ensuing events, and a new storyline, will build into a primary one.
Three. Use an alias. The character masquerades under a phony name, and then very soon after his introduction there is an “Aha!” moment where his real name is revealed.
In the “Hero’s Journey,” the primary character doesn’t need any of these devices; we already identify with him.
I missed that fourth one, which should have been obvious. The Vader technique. Name second, stature first — with a grand, grand entrance, and an act of homicide in the first few minutes while anonymity still prevails.
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