Thursday, January 27, 2005

Everyday Ingenuity

Recently watched The Triplets of Belleville. There's a theme in French cinema of glorifying a certain kind of quirky inventiveness that takes existing objects and turns them into something different and useful. It struck me we have a phrase here in the States - Yankee ingenuity - but it's not really our thing anymore. . . Why be ingenious when you could just go buy the latest gadget? We've lost touch with our "everyday ingenuity" accessible to everyone, in favor of a sort of "superstar ingenuity" of the chosen few.

Since I'm happiest when being ingenious, I tend to imagine that's how everyone is, or at least how they should be. Of course I suppose the reality is more complicated than that. It takes all sorts, after all. Still, I wonder, do we have the right balance? Wouldn't we be better off with a little more everyday ingenuity?

Saturday, January 22, 2005


I just had a story-writing epiphany, and I'm putting it here so I don't forget it. Character development has always been a stumbling point for me.

When writing characters, don't think about personality or backstory. . . Think about motivation, objective. All action flows from motivation. Personality is just an explanation we give ourselves after the fact. This is, of course, exactly what you tell actors and directors. Funny it took me this long to put it together with the writing process.