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Career changing Inspiration

Getting inspiration from films

Getting inspiration from films

Films can be rather obvious sources of inspiration. However, as always, take care not to get into copyright infringement issues. Hence you will need to tread lightly. And you should pretty much assume any movie you see is not in the public domain. Because the vast majority of them are not.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting inspiration from films
Do you ever get inspiration from films?

I will use The Wizard of Oz as an example, because most of us know the film.

The New Prequel

So when we first meet Dorothy Gale, she is a teenager living on her aunt and uncle’s farm in Kansas. And everything is eerily gray in color. Furthermore, the song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, hints at dissatisfaction. Dorothy yearns to understand and see a lot more of the world.

But why is Dorothy living with her aunt and uncle, and not her parents? The absence of both parents begs a few possible questions. Maybe Dorothy became an orphan in some horrible accident which took both of her parents. Or maybe her father abandoned her mother, or they perhaps never married. Still another possibility: they are alive but gone for some reason, such as work, or missionary work, or even prison. Because Dorothy is a good person, and Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are as well. Yet that does not guarantee that her parents were good people at all.

The Side Character Gets Center Stage

So this has already been done. It happened when the Syfy Channel reimagined the story and came up with Tin Man. And it was kind of an odd idea, but that is one way to change a film. So let’s imagine a life for the Cowardly Lion. He might have been bullied, or maybe was under stress before he met Dorothy and the others. And what happens after the story ends? Does he return as King of the Forest, the undisputed? Or does he have to fight some usurper for the title?

Flipping the Ending

So what happens if Dorothy loses Toto for good in Oz? Or how about if she and Toto get away in the balloon with the Wizard? Another possibility is of both of them staying behind, either voluntarily or not. And yet another scenario is if she returns home but someone comes with her, say, the Scarecrow.

Consider the Art of Filmmaking Itself

Yet another thing to think about concerns the making of films. When films open, they are huge collaborative efforts which include not only the writers, actors, makeup and set people, special effects, the director, and the producer. They are also a product of budgets, and of timing. When a tragedy occurs, a film might be delayed, or even shelved indefinitely. And the same thing can happen if the star dies or becomes embroiled in a scandal. Furthermore, some films would benefit from an update in special effects technology. And others would change with our current social sensibilities regarding feminism, LGBTQ rights, and other issues.

Takeaways

I am not suggesting you copy any intellectual property. So please don’t misunderstand me. However, what I am suggesting is to think about basic plots and try to reinvent and reimagine them. Because if you make enough changes, they become your own.

Categories
Writing

Self-Review – Untrustworthy

Self-Review – Untrustworthy

Untrustworthy is my first-ever published novel.

Background

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Untrustworthy

Much like a fan fiction novel called Reversal, it begins with a dream. And that makes perfect sense, as a dream inspired it.

And the dream, originally, was of seeing scenery change before my eyes (I have had this same dream before, and have written about it before, yet in different ways every time).

Plot

As Tathrelle begins the part of her life related by the story, the reader sees flashbacks of what seems like a dream and then seems like an earlier existence. However, the older life gets cut short in favor of the new. Tathrelle’s life, instead, centers around her wife Ixalla, and the children they are about to have. Past is prologue.

The Cabossians, a species made up by me, can have children in any combination, so long as both parties are fertile. Hence both mpreg and all varieties of marriage (same- and mixed-sex) figure in the plot.

Furthermore, Tathrelle’s new job drives a lot of the action, as she has won an election and represents the people in what obviously starts off as a military dictatorship. Also, in the background, a disembodied voice tells the people what to do. The first statements come out more as helpful hints and requests, such as to thank the public transportation driver or set the thermostat to a particular setting.

But that’s all about to change.

Characters

The main characters are Tathrelle, Ixalla, Velexio, Adger, and Students Number Five and Seventeen, along with a character just referred to as the unknown girl. The scene is solely on the planet Caboss, in the Central City.

One thing that surprised me as I wrote is that the main character, Tathrelle, did not turn out to be my favorite. Instead, that honor belongs to Ixalla. Ixalla was originally not much more than an expository mouthpiece. She really took flight when she became a revolutionary.

Memorable Quote

Ixalla yelled to them all, “This is the very last vestige of your privacy, and it is going up in smoke! You are all voluntarily giving it up! And for what? Is it for some vague notion of security? For the new requirement that anyone who is fertile is not just privileged, but that they are – we are – somehow, now, required to prove our fecundity? What will we have to prove next?

Music

The inspirational song for this book is Bastille’s Pompeii. Years later, and I am still incapable of hearing the song without thinking of the book, and vice versa.

Story Postings

Unlike any other works in this blog (as of now), this story is for sale. It is not truly ‘posted’ anywhere. Even on the NaNoWriMo site, all you can find is a short snippet.

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

Without giving away more of the plot, I think the story is okay but the truth is, I have written better since then. However, it is a great first effort for publication. Furthermore, I feel it works in some ways to get me into the publishing game, but then what? I feel the book had pretty good promotions but not great promotions. I know it has more reviews than a lot of other indie works, but not as many as others. Sales come few and far between.

In the meantime, I write about different things. Can Untrustworthy serve as an entree for diverse works such as the space opera of The Enigman Cave, the science fiction detective stories in The Obolonk Murders and its two sequels, the Victorian urban fantasy of The Real Hub of the Universe and its two sequels, or the odd science fiction dystopia of Mettle?

Stay tuned, and thank you, as always, for your kind and unwavering support.

In addition, do you like this page? Tweet it!


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Categories
Career changing Inspiration

Pocket Conflicts in Writing

Pocket conflicts

So, Pocket Conflicts are the kinds of conflicts which are tiny. They aren’t wars and they don’t lead to divorce or a firing. Instead, they are more about the speed of “who moved my cheese?

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Pocket Conflicts
What are pocket conflicts?

Hence they are kind of trivial, yet they can add a lot of annoyance into anyone’s life. And they can add color and interest to your characters, too.

Sibling Rivalry

Because the sibling relationship is often fraught with conflict, it can be the perfect vehicle for these types of conflicts. And if you have ever seen two children in the back of a car arguing about who last touched whom (or if you have ever been either of those children), or who last sat in front, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

And sibling rivalry does not necessarily go away when the siblings have grown up. Old resentments can crop up even when going through a deceased parent’s things. And the ‘kids’ might even be in their sixties by then.

Work Relationships

Pocket conflicts abound at work. And it’s not just cheese moving. What happens when a desk is moved? Or maybe someone was passed over for a promotion. Furthermore, colleagues can resent when a person has a different schedule if they don’t know why. If a parent has to drop their children off at daycare, and has permission to do so, then there’s every possibility that employee will, on occasion, be late. And that can create a conflict with that person’s coworkers if the boss doesn’t explain things properly.

Takeaways

Get your characters out of their comfort zones, but only a little bit. Because sometimes the small pebble in your shoe can hold your thoughts more than the metaphorical gunshot wound to your gut. And your characters should be no different, if you want them to seem real.

Categories
Career changing Inspiration

Getting inspiration from politics

Getting inspiration from politics

Politics comes with built-in drama. Because competitions for high and low offices can be truly thrilling. And long-term friendships can sometimes end over this often forbidden topic.

Right (American definition)

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting inspiration from politics
Do you ever get inspiration from politics?

So consider the conservative point of view, and what it truly entails. Go beyond the basics of voting. What is a basic, core conservative philosophy? It is generally one of caution. And another aspect concerns keeping government small.

Left (American definition)

And on the other hand, for liberal, the point of view centers around moving ahead and trying new things. Hence these are essentially first adopters in a lot of ways. In addition, a leftist viewpoint (as defined in American politics, that is) connotes larger government but often more personal freedom.

Up

What happens at the top of the ticket? And that doesn’t have to just be in America. What about in other countries? How are leaders chosen – and who do they end up beholden to when elected? Top candidacies get a lot of press, and national leaders have nearly no time to themselves. Even bad leaders can be inundated with work. These are undoubtedly extremely stressful jobs, no matter the size of the country or the type of government.

Down

And what happens in the lower tiers of the ticket? Races for alderman and county clerk and even dog catcher might have some drama. Maybe they showcase rising political stars and foreshadow things to come. Furthermore, races for district attorney and for judge (in jurisdictions where either or both of these roles are not appointed) can have their own drama. Does the law and order candidate win? Not every time.

Takeaways

When putting together your own stories, think about how we (and other nations) choose our leaders. Democracy isn’t the only choice out there. Maybe your characters do something different, from voting to terms to how they treat incumbency to any of a host of other possibilities. And who knows? Your invented way may turn out to be better.

Categories
Career changing Inspiration

Getting inspiration from marriage

Marriage is more than weddings. And when you consider the entire experience, it can spawn any number of plot bunnies.

Courtship

So, how did you two meet? It’s a standard question and can be a terrific ice breaker.

Getting inspiration from marriage

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting inspiration from marriage
Have you ever gotten inspiration from marriage?

Furthermore, dating rituals differ through time, so adjust what you write accordingly. In the 1950s, your young lovers might go to a hop or to play miniature golf. In the 1970s, they might go to a roller disco. And in Victorian times, they might visit in the sitting room of her parents’ home, or stroll in the garden.

Proposal

These days, anyone can do the proposing. However, of course, this was traditionally the realm of a man. Hence if you’re writing historical fiction, make sure to include that. Or, if you want to subvert tradition, make sure you can show a good reason why that happened.

And another tradition can be asking a parent’s (or maybe just the woman’s father’s) permission before marriage or even before courting.

Here’s another question: if your couple is same sex, who does the proposing?

Wedding

Because weddings have a ton of variables, this can take you in any number of directions. A large wedding can be an occasion for drama. Who is feeling left out? Does the cake topple over? And what happens if one of the parties is jilted or left at the altar? What if someone objects?

Day to Day

Married life can bring with it a raft of responsibilities, and I’m not even getting into parenthood here. Because combining households means, among other things, deciding whose couch to keep.

Issues

Money is probably the #1 issue between couples and it can be a doozy of a problem. And the couple do not have to be poor in order for this to be a problem. So, what happens if one person saves and the other can’t stop spending?

Other conflicts can include one person becoming an addict or mentally ill, or having to care for elderly parents or take in (or otherwise financially assist) siblings.

Divorce

The messy end of some marriages can create fallout and harm everything it touches. What if there was cheating? Or maybe the parties simply stopped trying. And don’t forget the kids, if any. Young teenagers and tweens are hit particularly hard by divorce. Furthermore, there is a very real economic component to divorce.

And what happens if either of the parties remarries?

Till Death

For some couples, death is the end. And that doesn’t necessarily mean they were happy 24/7 or even most of the time. However, for couples who are happy, the death of a spouse is devastating.

Widowhood

Widows and widowers may, consciously or unconsciously (and not necessarily fairly) compare their dearly departed with any potential new lovers to come down the pike. And conflicts can arise from everything from putting old pictures away – and taking them off the walls – to taking off the wedding ring.

Plus widowhood can happen at any time. What if your widowed character is in their twenties?

Takeaways

Marriage is one of the most important relationships in society. And if your characters marry, or if they are already married when your story starts, then it should be important to them as well.

Categories
Career changing Inspiration

Gender Swap in Writing

What’s all this fuss about a gender swap?

When we gender swap characters, what really happens? And will audiences accept the changes?

This was most recently shown in the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot.

You’re Ruining My Childhood

Gender Swap
Gender Swap

So when the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot was first announced, I recall any number of fans complaining that it would ruin their childhood memories. Furthermore, a lot of these same people went on and on about how the original film was an amazing classic, a masterpiece of modern comedic filmmaking.

And all I could think of was, did you and I see the same movie?

Because I remember the original as being amusing but not overly so.The special effects were okay; the acting, passable. Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray in particular have done better work elsewhere. The theme song was everywhere and even got an Oscar nomination. Frankly, it didn’t take long for me to get sick of that film. And that was during the summer of 1984, the year of its release. In addition, the sequel was truly vile.

So why did people care so much? Maybe some of it was resistance to change. And some of it involved looking at the 1984 film through a rosy, nostalgic haze which forgave its weak and slow spots. However, some of that may have been sexism.

Why do IP holders reboot and gender swap?

First of all, we need to start with Sarbanes-Oxley. What? According to Investopedia:

The SarbanesOxley Act of 2002 (SOX) is an act passed by U.S. Congress in 2002 to protect investors from the possibility of fraudulent accounting activities by corporations. The SOX Act mandated strict reforms to improve financial disclosures from corporations and prevent accounting fraud.

In practice, Sarbanes-Oxley protects investors by keeping corporations from just rolling the dice and making changes or buying tech or merging, etc. because they feel like it. Instead, boards of directors have to prove the investment is a good one. And often this means serious research into potential investments, etc. For a lot of industries, SOX works rather well.

However, this can pose problems for creative companies. Because SOX requires research and care, IP holders often go with reboots as they spring from proven winners. And a gender swap for a reboot gives a new twist to an old tale, even as they comply with SOX. Furthermore, it creates an instant controversy, and that means more press coverage and more social sharing.

But I’m not a big IP holder

Of course, if you’re not a big IP holder, you’re not beholden to SOX. However, you still might want to try a gender swap on your own work, or even on works in the public domain, such as fairy tales and the like. For example, if Snow White is a man, what happens to the story? Maybe the handsome prince is a beautiful princess. Or maybe the rescuer is still a handsome prince.

And you can also see what happens if you flip the gender script in your own works, even if you never really write or publish any of that. A gender swap can provide insights.

Takeaways

For classic literature, and for your own work, try a gender swap and see where it leads you.

Categories
Career changing Personal

Lonely Writer

The Lonely Writer

Are you a Lonely Writer?

Independent writers can sometimes be rather lonely indeed. You can feel as if it’s just you in a sea of promotions, prompts, social media, and writer’s block.

Adventures in Career Changing | Green | Lonely Writer
Green

I’m here to help you. I am getting my Master’s degree in Communications (social media), and this is my capstone project. Yeah, I’m being graded for this! I might just continue after graduation. Furthermore, I can see there is a need out there, for a sharing of this sort of expertise.

I am also a published author. I write or do something regarding writing every single day. Plus, I just so happen to be a retired attorney, and I used to work in databases and even voice recognition. My resumé is rather eclectic.

Balance

I seem to have a pretty balanced brain, in that I am not too far over on the artistic side (right) or the analytical side (left). However, I tend to split the difference. Or maybe it’s just my genetics. Because my father is a retired engineer and an inventor, several times over. And my mother is a retired reference librarian. This stuff is in my DNA.

So with such an odd and varied background, I have become what you, too, need to be:

  • Organized
  • Artistic
  • Persistent
  • Legally savvy
  • Open to all sorts of possibilities

Help

I know you need some help, or maybe just a sympathetic ear. And believe me, I know! Just between you and me, we have to wear a ton of hats. Writer. Marketer. Accountant. Lawyer (or at least paralegal). Editor. Cover artist.

Fortunately, you are not alone.

And I am more than willing to share my expertise and my experience. So let’s explore, together, how to navigate the waters of being an independent (no agent yet) author, whether published or not. I’ll provide videos and cheat sheets for you to refer to, so you’re no longer in the dark.

We’re gonna make it.

We’re in this together.