Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Interview with @CarolineFardig, author of the upcoming Bad Medicine...and the Java Jive series!

Did I mention that one of the best perks of being in the indie community is having a chance to read some gems before anyone else gets their hands on them? Well, it is, and once again I hounded Caroline Fardig to let me read her latest as soon as she'd spell checked it.

I have good news and bad news: Bad Medicine is just as good as It's Just A Little Crush and That Old Black Magic...but this might be the last we see of Miss Lizzie Hart, at least for a little while. *sniff* But- and this is more good news- we're going to be seeing a lot more from Miss Fardig! Read on to find out what, when and the secret to Caroline's success.

In what way is this story a departure from the other two books in the series?

Aside from the fact that my two favorite characters aren’t speaking to each other at the beginning, it’s not much of a departure. In fact, I think BAD MEDICINE ties both books together and kind of brings the trilogy full circle.

What's up with Lizzie actually using good judgment?!

Weird, right? Lizzie has been punched in the gut enough that things are finally starting to sink in for her. She’s working smarter.

What made you decide to pursue a medical angle in this book?

I’ve always been fascinated (and scared to death) by the way drugs can wreak havoc on our systems. I personally freak out if my body isn’t working the way it should, especially if I’m on a new medicine for some reason. It’s horrifying to think that two seemingly harmless drugs could cause a reaction that could kill you.

Is this really the last we're going to see of Lizzie?

Never say never. I have a new series coming out with Random House, the Java Jive Mysteries, and I’m also working on a very less cozy, much more forensics based novel. I don’t have the time to juggle 3 series at once, so I thought it would be easy to wrap up Lizzie’s story after three books. However, that doesn’t mean she and the gang are gone forever. Besides, Juliet, the main character in the Java Jive series is from Liberty, and Lizzie’s brother Ryan is a recurring character in the series as well.

I did like Ryan! When are we going to meet the rest of the Java Jive crew?

Ryan was fun to write, because he and Lizzie have such a strong brother-sister banter.  You'll meet Juliet and the rest of the Java Jive crew in DEATH BEFORE DECAF.  There's a sneak peek at the end of BAD MEDICINE!

Your career has made a big leap since you published It's Just A Little Crush. What's on your plate now?

I think I was overly wordy in my last answer and answered this question as well. Specifically on my plate is the first revision for the second book in the Java Jive series. And when I say “revision” I mean “rewrite of most of the second half”.

Every month (or is it week?), we see new forecasts of doom (which, we know, is right up your alley!) and/or Get Rich Quick schemes in publishing. What do you see?

As for Get Rich Quick schemes, I call those “one author simply got lucky and thinks he gamed the system”. As for the forecasting of doom, well, it depends on who you are and how you look at it. Are traditional publishers in trouble? Yes and no. Yes, their market share is being chipped away by indies. Yes, people are going to ebooks instead of buying print copies, which forces publishers to use a different marketing strategy. No, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, because people still generally trust the quality of the works of “traditionally published”
authors over indies. Plus, the Big 5 still have an army of publicists and marketing experts who know how to get books in front of readers.

What do you think has been the secret to your success?

My team of friends and family who have all pitched in to help me! I have 9 editor/beta readers (yourself included!), all of whom have their own unique perspective and skill set. They truly make my books what they are, and I couldn’t do it without them. Other than that, I work A LOT. So much so that I’m always being told by my husband to “take a break”. I’m constantly thinking about writing the next scene, coming up with the next book idea, and trying to get my name out there.

So then would your advice to other authors be to work smarter or to work harder? ;-)

YES.  But seriously, for example, when a certain promo works well for you, use it again.  Or when some kind of advertising doesn't net you any sales, learn from your mistake.  Work anytime you can, because no one is going to do it for you.  You control your destiny, and (barring plain old bad luck) if you put in the time and effort, you'll see a return. 

Indeed! Thanks so much to Caroline for sitting down with me. Bring on the Java Jive!


What do a smokin’ hot detective, an evil chiropractor, and a couple of blind dates from hell have in common?

Lizzie has to wrangle them all in the third book of THE LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series!

Lizzie Hart is overjoyed that six whole months have passed without a single murder in the sleepy town of Liberty. It’s also been six months since Blake Morgan heartlessly dumped her, but she’s determined to get over him. She’s slimmed down, ready to party, and injury-free, except for a little nagging pain in her ankle. She’s also very single, but her friends are doing everything in their power to fix that—including setting her up on one disastrous blind date after another.
Lizzie’s reprieve is short-lived when an old friend of hers is found dead from an apparent drug overdose. She wants to write it off as bad behavior after having seen the guy cheating on his wife with the new chiropractor in town. However, when she sees that same chiropractor playing doctor with another man who ends up dead, she worries there could be murder afoot.
Doing her best to stay on the right side of the law this time, Lizzie decides to go straight to the police with her suspicions. Unfortunately, the only cop available to speak with her is the stern yet hot new detective who has already given her a traffic ticket and a reprimand for public intoxication. Not surprisingly, he brushes her off, leaving her no choice but to begin snooping on her own. Lizzie soon learns she’s going to need help to get to the bottom of this mystery, but her best partner in crime solving, Blake, has turned into her worst enemy.
Can Lizzie and Blake find a way to work together to catch the killer…or will they kill each other first?

CAROLINE FARDIG is the author of the LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series and the forthcoming DEATH BEFORE DECAF, available November 2015 through Random House. Her eclectic working career included occupations of schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thoughts from my Orson Welles festival

I decided recently to retire my first blog, Deb in the City. There were a very few posts I wanted to save, and those went either to Amazon or Tumblr. This is the only one that belongs here. I wrote this almost two years ago, but Orson Welles never goes out of style. 

This summer I embarked on my own mini-Orson Welles film festival, inspired in large part by my love of Citizen Kane and my fascination with the man.

I started with The Lady From Shanghai. It was almost comical to hear Welles sport an Irish accent, but by the end of the film I was half convinced that he really was an Irish immigrant. Welles' directorial style- going all the way back to Kane- was made for film noir.

This was also the first time I'd seen anything with Rita Hayworth, and she was wonderful, of course. A little disconcerting to see her without her trademark red hair, but she played the cool but tormented femme fatale perfectly.

I must confess: I'm still not sure what she saw in him.

I followed with Welles' version of Othello. He, like almost everyone else, missed the mark on Iago and we're left with someone who's inexplicably malevolent and not someone with his own political motivations. But the rest of it is almost perfect. Welles makes it painfully clear how thin Othello's veneer of confidence is, and the opening scenes with the dead bodies of Othello and Desdemona fill the rest of the film with doom.

His treatment of Macbeth suited me far better. His Lady Macbeth was far more desperate and less cold than almost any other work I've seen thus far. Macbeth is a difficult character because he has to become both more ambitious and insane at the same time, and he still has to have enough strength (as it were) to try to fight as a man and not a preordained destiny at the very end. Welles does all of that and convinces me that one person can. Kudos.

The next Welles film I watched was The Third Man. Oh, I love me some sardonic Joseph Cotten! Here the story feels like it's focusing on Holly Martins' (Cotten) reluctance to be decent, especially when that decency will mean betraying a man who has been a good friend to him, the infamous Harry Lime (Welles). But when he sees what Lime has done- given infants faulty batches of meningitis vaccine- Martins is forced into action. We never get to see what the affected children look like, but the look on Cotten's face says it all.

This was a good film, but I didn't feel it was the masterpiece that so many others do.

I was very surprised to see that Welles had made a version of Jane Eyre. This was directed by Robert Stevens, but Welles played Edward Rochester. While the rest of the world falls over Jane Austen, I'm a solid Bronte girl, and for me it begins and ends with Jane Eyre- and Rochester. Welles made Rochester malevolent, manipulative, secretive and, in unguarded moments, tender and lonely. Perfectly understandable why someone as deprived of love like Jane would fall for him, but you still cheered when she walked away. While I was watching this I understood why Bronte injured him so badly before Jane could return to him: she wasn't safe otherwise.

There's a reason we don't usually think of Welles as a romantic lead, but if he's going to be one in anything, it's this.

Jane Eyre.jpeg

If I was disappointed by The Third Man, I was blown away by Touch of Evil. I believe this is considered by some to be one of the better examples of film noir, and I would agree. It balances the scratch into the dark underbelly of life with a pace that's quick but not frenetic. It's a nail biter from the first scene- even though you know Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh are going to make it through to the end of the movie, you still find yourself transfixed to the screen to make sure that they do. The plot is complicated, but there's just one thing you need to know: Heston's Vargas represents the moral compass Welles' Quinlan used to have, and you know on a visceral level that when Quinlan threatens Vargas' wife (Leigh), he's trying to get at that. The final revelation at the end only makes that insight feel worse.

I ended my little festival by watching the updated version of The Magnificent Ambersons. It was too hard to track down the original at my library, and the word "original" and "Magnificent Ambersons" can lead to lengthy discussions which always ends with "I'd give anything to see the uncut version!" As I understand it, the version I saw was as faithful to the original script as they could be.

We all see the world through our own lens, but I doubt I'm the only one who saw the haunted family inhabiting this universe, and it began with the Civil War veteran Major Amberson. I imagined that he came from poor circumstances and the fabulous wealth he achieved wasn't something he was used to. He may have been used to living without, but he didn't know how to teach his children to live frugally with their wealth. His spoiled but kind daughter raised a son who was equally spoiled but not nearly as good-natured, but she had spent too long making him the center of her emotional universe to see it.

The story reminded me a lot of both Washington Square and The Rise of Silas Laphamnouveau riche that doesn't know what to do with its wealth. In the unrequited love between Isabel and Eugene we see, perhaps, a recognition that wealth married to industry is the best way to insure continued success, and the failure of that relationship to flourish is what leads to the final decay of the once "magnificent" Ambersons. Therefore, the ending, in which we presume Isabel's spoiled son George is about to find redemption through Eugene's daughter Lucy, feels false. Whether that's Welles' failure, I can't tell.

That was the end of my stint. I know there's more Welles out there, but I think, for now, I've had enough to satisfy me that he was indeed a consistently brilliant writer, actor and director, even if I don't love every one of his choices.

Who else is just as good?

Deb in the City

Monday, June 1, 2015

Check out my interview on @LornaSuzuki's All Kinds of Writing

I was touched that Lorna Suzuki, author of the Imago Chronicles, offered to interview me after she read an excerpt of The Smartest Girl in the Room. Please check it out. (To no one's surprise, I talk quite a bit about television.)

And while you're doing that, I'm going to continue my editing spree. Win, win!

Monday, May 18, 2015

#MadMen ends perfectly

There was no way I was going to stay up until 10 at night to watch anything, but that doesn't mean it wasn't the first thing I did when I woke up. The show I have loved and found almost flawless did not disappoint at the very end.

All good things....
The opening episode found Don continuing his Western adventure, Joan at the end of her idyllic, post-"retirement" vacation with her older lover, Peggy practicing her elbowing skills at McCann and Pete bidding farewell to McCann and New York. That might have been everyone's happy ending- Peggy only acts annoyed when she has to struggle; the truth is that she lives for the fight- but something was going to give. In this case, that something was Sally's confession to Don that Betty was dying of lung cancer. Her plea to her father: convince Betty that her brothers should stay with their stepfather Henry, not go to live with their Uncle William. Don is indignant and calls Betty; the boys should live with him. Betty, who with age has developed nobility, tells Don that the boys need the presence of a woman, and her sister-in-law Judy is the only one who can provide that. She also quickly lets him know that he's been a failure as a father, and spending more time with them now will let alarm them. Betty has never been a great mother, but it was touching that she wanted to provide her children with stability, even if keeping them in the dark was a complete failure. The scene where Sally came home to find her brothers struggling to make dinner broke my heart; she wanted to maintain the facade that everything was okay, but her little brothers knew better than she did how sick their mother was. She told Bobby that she wasn't going to Madrid that summer, and started taking care of everyone by making dinner- and teaching him to make it in the process. Not surprisingly, this was one of the most tragic arcs of the entire series; as long-time viewers may remember, the second episode of the series explored the beginnings of Betty's unraveling in response to her mother's recent death.

The news about Betty's health sent Don on another bender- what a surprise- and he asked the race car drivers he was sponsoring to drop them off in LA to visit his niece Stephanie. He hoped to reconnect with the only family he had left that he hadn't disappointed, but Stephanie, who had been compared to a Madonna earlier in the series, wasn't able to give anyone absolution as she was struggling with her own feelings of worthlessness. She convinced Don to come with her to a retreat that featured proto-group therapy in addition to yoga and tai chi. (How awesome was Don's face when he saw people performing forms?) Don was highly skeptical about the whole thing, but when participants were told to express their feelings about the person closest to them without using words and an older woman shoved him, Don's defenses came down.

Meanwhile, Ken reached out to Joan from Dow, in desperate need of a producer who could create some industrial commercials. Joan quickly realizes that she could produce the commercials. She also realizes that she knows the perfect writer and calls Peggy. At lunch, Joan asks Peggy to not only help her write one commercial, but to come into business with her. Harris-Olson, because two names are better than one- and Joan wants Peggy. Peggy is flattered, but frazzled, and later takes out her angst on Stan, her long-suffering colleague/confidante. Fed up, Stan tells her she'd better be really drunk, because she's going to need an excuse.

Meanwhile, after a particularly difficult session in which Stephanie is reduced to tears over her abandon of her young son, Don realizes that Stephanie has left him at the commune and taken his car. It'll be a couple of days before he can get a ride out. When he berates the young woman at the desk because people leave without saying good-bye, the young woman smiles and shrugs. People can go as they please. Don realizes that's exactly what he's done his entire life, and staggers over to the phone to call Peggy. Peggy, the person who has most consistently seen his decent side, reminds him of the good things he's done and tries to remind him of the creative opportunities he still has- "Don't you want to work on Coca-Cola?" but to no effect.

This image made a lot of people predict that the show would end with Don committing suicide; really, this only showed what happened to Don in every episode.
After Don hangs up, Peggy calls Stan in a panic, telling him where Don is and then apologizing for what she said. Stan confesses that he doesn't want her to leave after she tells him she already made up her mind to stay, then rambles out that he loves her. Peggy comes to her own realization that she loves him too, and the scene ends when he comes running to her door and they share a loving, passionate kiss. I must say, I've loved their relationship since Peggy put younger, sexually harassing Stan firmly in his place, and it's been clear for the last several seasons that their friendship was based on mutual respect. When she confessed that she'd given up a baby years before two episodes back and Stan was not only understanding but kind, I was jumping out of my seat, hoping that the two would get together, but I didn't think there was time in the series. So this was a wonderful, romantic surprise; Peggy deserves a happily ever after as much as- if not more than- anyone else on the show, and part of the HEA is a man who treats her like an equal.

Roger, Madison Avenue's would-be Peter Pan, is now engaged to be married to Don's former mother-in-law, Marie. The two have a passionate argument after what looks to have been exhausting sex and Roger ends up on the couch. But this is Roger's version of a happily ever after; just like Peggy needs to fight in order to thrive, Roger needs not a mother to take care of him (his first wife Mona) or a child to pamper (his second wife Jane), but a fierce, independent woman who has enough dignity not to tolerate his shenanigans. He's at peace when he tells Joan that he's getting married, during the same conversation that he tells her that he insists on leaving half of his estate to their son, Kevin. Joan cares a little less about appearances now and gives her blessing. It was a nice final scene between the two of them; Joan would have made a good wife for Roger, but Roger wouldn't have made a good husband for her. To see him graciously accept that they were better as good friends was satisfying.

Unfortunately, Joan's lover Richard was much less sanguine about her new business venture, and walked out when she answered a business call. Joan was heartbroken, but it's one of those things that she would surely be thankful for sooner rather than later. Richard didn't want an equal partner, he wanted a playmate. Joan had surely earned her playtime, but she had a lot more to do before she was ready to take up permanent residence by the beach or in the mountains. Peggy didn't take her up on her offer of a partnership, so Joan's firm was called Holloway-Harris, her maiden name plus her married name. And that's just fine, because Joan has always been the most capable person on the show.

One of the leaders of the retreat found a devastated Don slumped by the phone and convinced him to join her in the next session. Don was moved when a man who looked just as out of place as he did talked about his longing to be seen and loved, and then his realization that maybe he had been getting love all along but didn't realize it because he didn't know what it was. As the man sobbed, Don crossed the circle and knelt down beside him, embracing him and then sobbing himself. It was one of the many epiphanies Don had through the course of the show, but this was the most human response Don had ever had to it.

The end scene featured Don chanting "Om" with his fellow participants in Lotus Pose, and then smiling before the famous "I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke" ad was shown. It looks like Don got to work on Coca-Cola after all. Perfect, because that was as close to enlightenment as Don Draper, the soulless narcissist, was ever going to get.

Thank you, Matthew Weiner, for some of the best, most consistent characters I've ever watched, and thank you for giving your loyal viewers a realistic closure to a compelling story. I do not feel cheated one bit by anything that happened (although I'm always going to wonder what happened to poor Sal), and at the same time I'm done; I don't feel any need to watch this again, and I don't wish anything had been done differently. Like the best of great stories, I feel richer for having heard it.

But...now what am I going to watch?!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I Totally Saw That Coming...and sometimes that's not bad

Kerrie did a great job talking about the good side of predictability. Despite the snark implied in the title of this blog hop, I don't always think predictable is a bad thing.

My husband and I watched a great little show broadcast by BBC America last year, The Game. It was set in early 1970s London, and it was about a group of agents from MI-5 who were trying to forestall a Soviet plot. The main character is young but jaded agent Joe Lambe played by Tom Hughes. Even though he's barely in his late twenties, the viewer can tell that he's already starting to lose his conscience and is willing to be more and more ruthless.

Whatever happened to corrupt young Agent Lambe so? He lost the love of his life, of course- or did he? (SPOILER ALERT) From the first time I saw a flashback of Joe remembering the murder of his lover Yulia years before, I knew that she wasn't dead. (And if I hadn't known that, the fact that they showed the flashback in almost every episode would have given it away by the end.) More importantly, because Yulia was an intelligence agent for the Soviets, you knew the bad guys were going to use her as leverage. But what you didn't know: would it work?

You could guess what happens next and then what happens right after...but could you figure out why?
There was another big twist I could guess within two episodes, and that was the identity of the mole. It was a small team: Joe, director "Daddy" (yes, that is kind of creepy), young assistant Wendy, proto-techie Alan, his brilliant wife Sarah, Bobby, a to-the-manor-born agent who needed to hide his homosexuality and Jim, a detective on loan from the London police department. (SPOILER ALERT) It didn't take much to figure out that Sarah was the mole, although they did do a very good job for a few minutes of making it look like her husband Alan was. Why did he confess? Because he figured it out first and he wanted to protect Sarah.

Really, only one of these people could have been the mole. The real question was whether the rest of them could get on in spite of it
So why did this make for really good television viewing anyway? A couple of reasons: first, the viewers knew who the real mole was before the team did; would they figure it out on time? And what were the Soviets planning? Even more importantly, the credibility of everyone on the team was compromised in some way: that which made it plausible for them to be the mole also made it possible that they weren't going to be able to do their jobs even though they weren't.

The look on Joe Lambe's face: that's what The Game was really about
Further, being able to suss out a plot twist isn't the same as being able to figure out why. As predicted, Joe was reunited with Yulia at the end, but he was tormented as to what, if anything, her role in the plot was. Did she willingly go along with a charade to make it appear that she was being killed, or did the Soviets spare her at the last minute so they could use her as leverage against Joe? While the viewers may have had a pretty good idea that it was the latter, it didn't matter: the end frame of the final episode made it clear that Joe was always going to be tormented by his doubts. As Jim pointed out a few episodes back, there was no way Joe could be the mole they were looking for: he didn't believe in anything. That was what the show was really about, and predictability wasn't going to ruin that.

If predictability can be a good thing, the converse is also true; sometimes, there's such a thing as too much surprise. No, I'm not talking about Scandal this time, but rather the 2014 novel The Big Hit. I went into this expecting to find out why Hollywood star Catherine Delure was murdered by a sociopathic hit man. If you look at the cover and read the back cover, you'd most likely think that the murder had something to do with the victim's job. You know what else makes you think that? The fact that more than half of the book is spent following NYPD Detective Jeb Barker into the corrupt warrens of some of Hollywood's producers- that, and the fact that said hit man just happens to hail from LA as well. (SPOILER ALERT) But no. As it turns out, Delure's profession is just one big red herring that gives birth to a slew of others. (An early tip should have been that she wasn't killed anywhere near LA.)

The question of a mystery should be something like Who Dun It? and then Why?, not What Is This Story About?
That kind of a "twist" might have felt clever if it had taken up fifty pages, but when it takes up more than 200 out of 400 pages, it feels like a manipulative way of drawing out what would have been better as a compact murder mystery. If you're going to be unpredictable, it should make the story better, not completely derail it.

What have you watched or read that wasn't hurt by predictability or that was greatly harmed by a lack of it?

Thanks for stopping by! Please be sure to visit Karin Cox tomorrow for her take on when predictability works and doesn't.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

#ISawThatComing: Fringe and Grimm

I think there’s some truth to the notion that there are only so many plots. Seven, eight, twenty-one...it doesn’t matter, the number is much smaller than the number of works published every day. In my genre, Romance, there’s a basic plot structure that all are measured against: Girl Meets Boy, Girl and Boy Come Apart (in some way), Girl and Boy Come Back Together and Girl and Boy Get Their HEA, or Happily Ever After.

Perhaps you’ve heard that Romance consistently pulls in a lot of money for its publishers year after year. There are some stories people can’t get enough of and that’s okay (from my perspective, it’s a good thing). But discriminating readers will still gnash their teeth- or just stop reading- if they feel that they are literally reading the same story over and over again.

As irritating as it is to read the same story again and again, it can be even worse to watch the same story on an infinite loop. (Someone needs to explain to me why television is becoming more and more predictable even as our viewing options increase.) I’ve been able to see through plots since I was ten years old (“Of course Alexis is threatening to tell Fallon that Blake isn’t her real father; she’s the only person Blake loves without any conditions!”) but it probably has gotten worse since I started crafting my own stories. I’ve honestly lost count of how many times I’ve rolled my eyes and screamed at my television, but here are two that stand out:

Fringe Okay, maybe it’s not fair to pick on this show because I watched the @(#@^&!*( X-Files for years before that (and under duress for most of it), but every time I had to sit through an episode of Fringe I was unimpressed. The spooky dreams, the haunted victim of childhood experimentation, the mad scientist, the odd-looking humanoids, the shadowy government agency that might be working for good or evil and ultimately answered to themselves...yawn. And now cue the suspense...but did they know where it was going? (After the series finale, I’m not so sure they weren’t making it up as they went along.)

There's devoted parents...and then there was this guy
Points to the show for adding interdimensional travel? That was actually the final nail in the coffin for me. In an early episode, some reference to traveling between dimensions is made. About five minutes later, the Mad Scientist is having a conversation with his adult son about the time he was very sick as a little boy. “Really, Dad? I don’t remember that.” “I know you don’t, son.” At this point I shook my head. “Yeah,” I said drily, “because this guy’s son actually died and then he kidnapped his son’s double from the other dimension.” My husband thought that was crazy...until he saw a gravestone at the end of the episode which confirmed my theory. Or at least I think it was a gravestone; I didn’t even need to look at the screen to figure out what was going on.

Grimm If we’re going with The Seven Basic Plots, then Grimm is Overcoming the Monster- literally- every week. Nick Burkhardt is a detective in Portland, Oregon who discovers that he’s a Grimm, or a guardian who can see the true forms of human-monster hybrids (wesen) and protects others from them as necessary. Throw in some very old history with the powerful Royals and the fact that many wesen have a grudge bordering on a vendetta against the Grimms, then add that Nick is holding down a normal job while also maintaining relationships with human beings and this should be pretty exciting...but it’s falling short. 

Juliette is Nick's true love...
but it's a shame the show didn't have better reasons to put Juliette with Sean and Nick with Adalind
It’s not just that the dialogue is stilted- with one eye on the screen and the other in a book, my husband can predict what the next line is going to be- it’s that the story beats are so easy to guess even when they don’t make sense. If I see two good-looking actors of the opposite sex alone, it’s a pretty good guess that there’s going to be some romantic entanglement (or that they’re just going to have sex); if they do, there’s a good chance that someone’s going to get pregnant. This will hold even if it’s not in keeping with the characters, and the show will invent some convoluted reason why it will be so. Most recently, Nick's girlfriend Juliette was turned into a Hexenbeist (basically, a witch) to justify a partner switcheroo. It's a weird case of a nonsense plot twist to rush characters into something you saw coming a mile away.

Predictability isn’t the ultimate litmus test. And yet...Grimm is arguably more predictable than Fringe, but I will happily spend time watching that whereas Fringe felt like nails on a chalkboard to me. For me, the key is that I feel secure that Grimm has, basically, an idea of where it’s going in the series, while Fringe made me feel nervous about investing time into something that was going to implode under its own weight (did I mention it was a JJ Abrams’ show?). I’m happy to trade a little bit of finger-snapping surprise if I feel like the journey over all is going to be satisfying.

What about you?

Please be sure to visit my friend Caroline Fardig tomorrow as she shares her thoughts on predictability.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The "I Totally Saw That Coming!" blog hop

Whether you write your own stories or whether you read/watch a lot of other people's, you start to pick up on certain themes. You may have become...how can I put this nicely...a difficult viewing partner on more than one occasion. "Hello! That woman is totally going to be the murderer because she just dropped a reference to something completely out of left field that's obviously going to mean something at the end," you sigh. Or "he's totally going to be the murder victim because he's just screwed over everyone in the first twenty minutes." (Okay, that one's really easy.) Or "That's totally someone's long-lost child."

The person next to you may scoff...until you're proven right at the end. Or they'll mutter "Yeah, thanks, I didn't want to enjoy this anyway." Or there may not be a person next to you at this point, because everyone is so used to you seeing through the plots that they don't want to watch anything with you anymore.

Is it your fault that everything's so predictable?

For this blog hop, some other writers and I are going to be exploring predictability: those times when something was so predictable it took you out of the story, and maybe those times it didn't matter because something else about the story (the acting, the direction, the motivation, whatever) was so good. And then some of us (well, maybe just me) are going to be writing about the times when something *wasn't* predictable at all; a lot of times that's a big help, but sometimes it's not enough- and sometimes it's too much (anything that's predicated on too many "gotchas" is missing other essential elements).

It was a dark and stormy night...oh just kill me now.
Here's the schedule for the blog hop. Please visit all of their posts and let them know what you think was the most- and least- predictable of things you've seen or read.