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Supergirl SEASON ONE EPISODE 8 – “HOSTILE TAKEOVER”

Supergirl!
This show is so amazing! How did I ever doubt it?!

 

My initial reaction to Supergirl was met with much scepticism. I wasn’t happy that Kara seemed too ‘cute’. It felt at the time that the trailer was for a young audience. But with comic book characters, perception is everything. No writer can please everyone, and you never should. Supergirl is a dialogue of identity. It is much better than Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ because as a TV show it has a longer course. The serial writing of the screenplay allows Kara to  have much more subtle nuance. She builds up as a character much more slowly because as a female superhero, she analysed much more differently than Henry Cavill’s Superman was.

Life as a woman is never easy, and Melissa Benoist reflects much of what her ‘Glee’ character tried to as well. Supergirl can’t sing her problems away, but neither can she punch all of them.

I wrote what I perceived to be a good impression of the original trailer, which is here in this article.  I though to myself: what would I do if I was Supergirl?

But it’s a hard question to understand and from Cat’s perspective, from her lens, I thought it was a very shaky was of explaining ‘feminism’. Feminism is always complex to argue about because some people don’t realise it is just another conversation about equality. Cat Grant has been through so many things to become ‘The Queen of all Media” so when she named Kara “Supergirl” instead of “Superwoman” she knew that it would sell. She has faith in Supergirl and in Kara because both of them are always there for her, even when she fails to see the hero through Kara’s dumb glasses.

Cat made a dialogue about White Male Privilege. It is a concept I  have lived with all my life, both as a black woman, an African, and as a  Brit. I will never understand why America doesn’t understand the need for free health  care. In London, where I live it is an undisputed Human Right.

supergirl-08

You can’t prove a concept out of context, but we all know that racism, sexism, and all discrimination exists. You don’t have to be a reporter like Jimmy Olson, or an alien like Kara or ‘The Martian Manhunter’ (who of course hates this horrid name!)

Discrimination is everywhere. It’s in ‘manga’, it’s in ‘comic books’, it’s in the NEWS. And it is there plainly to see but it is hard to DEFINE because everyone has a different angle on the term.
When I was applying for my Year in Industry I studied the minute expressions of everyone’s face.

Cat Grant
Cat Grant

I can’t help that. I can’t turn it off. I’m a part time blogger, part time programmer, and a Full Time writer. If it isn’t in the script, if it isn’t in the screenplay I can’t define it.
I can’t find the class, the object, the syntax. I can’t compose the song.
What is a superpower? Are you Team Batman, or Team Flash, or Team Wonder Woman? Who will win? Deadpool or Deathstroke?
I don’t have an off button, and I never will.

So what did you think about this episode? How did you feel when Kara was faced with the horrid notion of having to kill her own kin? And most importantly, what is YOUR superpower?

Note: This is an old post from my old blog

I’m roughly in the final quarter of my third draft (which might as well be a first because it is a complete re-write) and I’ve reread some of my stuff and I’ve noticed a bunch of inconsistencies. This brought me to wondering about plot holes and this is what I have found out during my search.

But what is a plot hole? A plot hole can be an inconsistency in your novel, or an unanswered question of sorts that isn’t done on purpose as some sort of cliffhanger. Here are other ways of finding out if you have a plot hole:

  Unaccounted for characters & Subplots

 A well-liked, or particular quirky character goes off on a subplot mission. We never hear from them again. In some cases, this can be okay. In reality things do not always go according to plan. In the world of fiction, however, things can be smoothed out better. It might be okay to leave the character to dissapear somewhere. Maybe they die on their mission. Maybe they lose communication. But you need to at least mention them at some point so we know their status. Subplots are sometimes used to parallel with the main plot, or more often than not, it is a romantic subplot. In a romance novel, however, the romance is the main plot, and the subplot might be anything from a mystery to a work related problem the main character is having. Whatever a subplot may be, it ought to be

Small part characters like fellow classmates or co-workers your main character is not friends with don’t matter so much. I really don’t need to know how the day went for the pizza delivery guy.

Unaccounted main characters, however, are even worse that supporting characters. Your readers have invested a lot of time and emotions into them, so they deserve to know what became of them.

Unexplained Motivations

When creating a multifaceted character, contradictions may occur. People do not always participate in activities they believe in. For instance, if your character is subjected to peer pressure, they may be persuaded to do something like drinking alcohol when in actual fact they may have religious or other personal reasons to be against drinking. 

A plot hole occurs when a character does something out of character that is then left unexplained. You may have a villain who decides to blow up a building ‘for the evulz’ and leave it at that. So long as his future actions are consistent with his character, this is fine. He may go on to commit a string of crimes ‘for the Evulz’. You cannot, however, have a villain with a sound, well thought out plan, who decides he wants to take over a multi-millionaire company decide to blow up a building ‘for the evulz’ and just leave it at that. Your readers can’t suspend their sense of disbelief enough to allow something like this. 

So to round that off, make sure that your characters are motivated enough to do the things that they do, and you take the time to explain it at some point, or else it will come across as just random.   

 Rules of Logic 

Fiction means that the events in the novel never really happened. This does not however allow you to throw out all the rules of logic. Sure, you can rethink the laws of gravity, or even the laws of time and space as we know it. But they must have some sort of logic. In fantasy novels, there is usually some sort of Magic System. This Magic System may not be explored thoroughly – it all depends on how much your main characters interact with said magic – but you should have some sort of logic in mind. Magic always comes with a price. 

But what if your novel doesn’t use magic? Well, there are still bound to be some kind of rules. If the novel is set during a particular period, it ought to follow many of the conventions. If for some reason it does not at some point, your reader needs to know why. 

I’m roughly in the final quarter of my third draft (which might as well be a first because it is a complete re-write) and I’ve reread some of my stuff and I’ve noticed a bunch of inconsistencies. This brought me to wondering about plot holes and this is what I have found out during my search.

But what is a plot hole? A plot hole can be an inconsistency in your novel, or an unanswered question of sorts that isn’t done on purpose as some sort of cliffhanger. Here are other ways of finding out if you have a plot hole:

  Unaccounted for characters & Subplots

 A well-liked, or particular quirky character goes off on a subplot mission. We never hear from them again. In some cases, this can be okay. In reality things do not always go according to plan. In the world of fiction, however, things can be smoothed out better. It might be okay to leave the character to dissapear somewhere. Maybe they die on their mission. Maybe they lose communication. But you need to at least mention them at some point so we know their status. Subplots are sometimes used to parallel with the main plot, or more often than not, it is a romantic subplot. In a romance novel, however, the romance is the main plot, and the subplot might be anything from a mystery to a work related problem the main character is having. Whatever a subplot may be, it ought to be
Small part characters like fellow classmates or co-workers your main character is not friends with don’t matter so much. I really don’t need to know how the day went for the pizza delivery guy.
Unaccounted main characters, however, are even worse that supporting characters. Your readers have invested a lot of time and emotions into them, so they deserve to know what became of them.

Unexplained Motivations

When creating a multifaceted character, contradictions may occur. People do not always participate in activities they believe in. For instance, if your character is subjected to peer pressure, they may be persuaded to do something like drinking alcohol when in actual fact they may have religious or other personal reasons to be against drinking. 
A plot hole occurs when a character does something out of character that is then left unexplained. You may have a villain who decides to blow up a building ‘for the evulz’ and leave it at that. So long as his future actions are consistent with his character, this is fine. He may go on to commit a string of crimes ‘for the Evulz’. You cannot, however, have a villain with a sound, well thought out plan, who decides he wants to take over a multi-millionaire company decide to blow up a building ‘for the evulz’ and just leave it at that. Your readers can’t suspend their sense of disbelief enough to allow something like this. 
So to round that off, make sure that your characters are motivated enough to do the things that they do, and you take the time to explain it at some point, or else it will come across as just random.   

 Rules of Logic 

Fiction means that the events in the novel never really happened. This does not however allow you to throw out all the rules of logic. Sure, you can rethink the laws of gravity, or even the laws of time and space as we know it. But they must have some sort of logic. In fantasy novels, there is usually some sort of Magic System. This Magic System may not be explored thoroughly – it all depends on how much your main characters interact with said magic – but you should have some sort of logic in mind. Magic always comes with a price. 
But what if your novel doesn’t use magic? Well, there are still bound to be some kind of rules. If the novel is set during a particular period, it ought to follow many of the conventions. If for some reason it does not at some point, your reader needs to know why. 

It has come to my attention that I haven’t given any writing advice in a long time. I myself am still learning an awful lot. I’ve been writing the same book for 4 years now and I’m on my third draft, so I’ve learned a thing or too on my journey towards the promised land of the published world.
One thing that has come to my attention whilst reading a How to Write book, “Dynamic Characters” by Nancy Cress, was the difference between close and distant point of views in third person. Of course I say third person because it is pretty much a given that first person is going to be a Close POV.

Distant POV

Let us start with distant POV. Point of view is the lens through which the writer, or narrator, sees everything. Reimagine the last movie you saw. The director no doubt uses many different kinds of shots. Wide shots are often used at the beginning of a movie to establish the setting. It might again be used later during the epic fight-off. Of course I have The Avengers in mind here, where the director used a mixture of wide-shots and close-shots to show the alien invasion of the chitauri. But how does this apply to the written word of fiction?

Nancy Kress states in Dynamic Characters that:

“Distance is the measure of how far away you, the author, are standing from your character as you tell the story.”

A distant POV is less popular in modern contemporary writing but it is still important to be aware of. It is more common when the external conflicts are more important than internal conflicts. The danger here though is getting the readers to truly sympathise with the characters. A friend lent me a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone a few years ago and I found that I felt too detached from Harry to really care. I could sympathise with him through many of his difficulties, and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his aunt, uncle and cousin, but I couldn’t feel WITH him and truly empathise.

In a distant POV, we might see and hear the same things as the main character, but we won’t be aligned with his thought processes. The narrative is separate from what the character is thinking and feeling. I have already mentioned it’s disadvantage but one of it’s advantages is that it enables you to concentrate on the action. This can add speed to the novel, which is ideal in an action book.

One example I would give is Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series. Here is an extract from the first book, Stormbreaker:

He rolled out of bed and walked over to the open window, his bare feet pressing down the carpet pile. The moonlight spilled on to his chest and shoulders. Alex was fourteen, already well-built, with the body of an athlete. His hair, cut short apart from two thick strands hanging over his forehead, was fair. His eyes were brown and serious. For a moment he stood silently, half-hidden in the shadow, looking out. There was a police car parked outside. From his second-floor window Alex could see the ID number on the roof and the caps of the two men who were standing in front of the door. The porch light went on and, at the same time, the door opened.  

The first thing I should say is, a character wouldn’t describe themselves in this kind of detail, and certainly for no good reason. Alex isn’t dressing up for some party and checking himself out before heading out. He’s waking up at three in the morning because a couple of police officers are there with bad news. Similarly, when Horowitz then goes on to describe Alex’s housekeeper with this much detail, it is clear that this is the narrator speaking, and not the character.
Although this is a short extract, you should notice how Alex’s feelings and emotions are not in the equation. We see Alex from the outside. This is what distant POV is.

Close POV

In the debate between showing vs. telling, a close POV can help a writer SHOW the character’s thoughts. A close POV allows readers to delve into the minds of a character. Close POV is not quite first person, and it must be thought of as a camera mounted by your character’s head. We see and hear what your characters see and hear. The advantage of a close POV in third person is that you can get many of the same advantages of writing in first person, with the added benefit of being able to change character perspectives without confusing your reader. It is much easier to change a “she” to “he” perspective that an “I” to “I” perspective. That isn’t to say, of course, that it’s impossible. It just means limiting how often you change perspectives, and giving your charcaters more distinctive voices.

Here is an interesting extract from The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, because I think he uses the 3rd person close POV rather effectively:

Leo’s tour was going great until he learned about the dragon.
The archer dude, Will Solace, seemed pretty cool. Everything he showed Leo was so amazing it should’ve been illegal. Real Greek warships moored at the beach that sometimes had practice fights with flaming arrows and explosives? Sweet! Arts-and-crafts sessions where you could make sculptures with chain saws and blowtorches? Leo was like Sign me up! The woods were stocked with dangerous monsters, and no one should ever go in there alone? Nice! And the camp was overflowing with fine-looking girls. Leo didn’t quite understand the whole related-to-the-gods business, but he hoped that didn’t mean he was cousins with all these ladies. That would suck. At the very least, he wanted to check out those underwater girls in the lake again. They were definitely worth drowning for.
A lot of the language the narrator employs is the same kind of diction the character would use. At this point, the main character, Leo Valdez, is about 16 years old. He uses slang like ‘dude’, ‘cool’ and ‘suck’. He describes the girls as ‘fine-looking’ rather than something more formal than ‘beautiful’ or ‘exquisite’. And a cliche like ‘so amazing it should’ve been illegal’ sounds rather like a teenager. The passage above is also interspersed with rhetorical questions describing the things of interest to the character. When he travels around camp, he makes note of many of the dangerous thins flaming arrows and explosives. It’s quite possible that there are many other more normal things at the camp, but Leo only cares for the things that appear to him as larger than life.
 Another thing to notice is the lack of tags. The author doesn’t write ‘he thought’ any point, which suggests a very close POV. Is it the narrator who thinks the underwater girls are worth drowning for? Is it Leo? Is there a difference between Leo and the narrator? When you notice that there is little difference between the narrator and the character, this is when you truly know that the POV is close, and tags are no longer needed.
But what about books where there seems to be a lot of tags and italicised thoughts where we still gain a great insight into the character’s minds? This is the middle POV.

Middle POV

I haven’t been able to find any articles or blog posts about this POV but it has been mentioned before. As you would imagine, Middle POV is somewhere between distant POV and close POV. We are given an inisight into the character’s thoughts from time to time, but there is a clear narrator feeding us the information. This is useful in keeping a sort of even tone throughout the novel, whilst also making us aware of the characters and their developments.

Middle POV is likely to use tags or italicise. Tags include, but are not limited to phrases like ‘he thought’, ‘he wondered’, ‘he mused’, and ‘he realised that’.

In my opinion, I think that Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series are in middle distance POV. Here is an extract from the second book in the series, Ink Exchange:

While Niall may have rejected the Dark Court so very many years ago, he was still connected to them. It was his rightfuly court, where he belonged whether or not he chose to accept it.
As does Leslie. She might not know it, might not realise it, but something in her had recognised Irial as a fitting match. She’d chosen him. Not even riding with Gabriel’s Hounds was as satisfying as knowing that the little mortal was soon to be his, as knowing that he’d have her as a conduit to drink down emotions from mortals. The hints and teasing tastes he’d already been able to pull through her were a lovely start to how it would soon be. The Dark Court had fed only on fey for so long that finding nourishment from mortals had been lost to them – until Rabbit had started doing the ink exchanges. So much would be better once this exchange was finished. And she might be strong enough to handle it. Now he just had to wait, bide his time, fill in the hours until she was fully his. 
Idly, Irial needle Niall, “Shouldn’t you have a keeper or something, boy?”
“I could ask the same of you.” Niall’s expression and tone were disdainful, but his emotions were in flux. Over the years, the Gancanagh had continued to worry over Irial’s well-being – though Niall would never say it aloud – and something had made that worry far more pronounced than usual. Irial made a note to ask Gabriel to look into.

Now this is a fairly long passage, so bare with me.
I feel that some of what is stated is for the benefit of the reader. Irial knows how the Dark Court – the faeries he rules over – functions. His musings over how the court used to work, in comparison to his current situation, are more for the readers, so we can see just how bad things are. These thoughts are objective, and read a lot more like the narrator than the character.
 If this was in close POV, we would be feeling his emotions as he mused over the past. Instead, we seem to just hover outside his head, with the occasional delving into his personal thoughts, which are highlighted in italics.
When Irial interacts with his once-lover and close friend, Niall, now sort-of-enemy, we perceive that he cares about Niall, but we don’t literally feel his concern.

I hope that this was helpful. Another useful thing to know is the difference between Limited and Omniscient perspectives. Hopefully I’ll talk about this next week. For now, please just drop me a comment and let me know if my advice was helpful.
Thank you for reading 🙂

Related articles I recommend:

http://letthewordsflow.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/point-of-view-first-person-third-person-or-objective/

http://kristenstieffel.com/the-difference-between-third-person-pov-and-deep-pov/

http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/11/16/deep-pov-whats-so-deep-about-it/

Today I received something through the post. My grade 8 certificate for flute from Trinity Guildhall. It occurred to me some time after that this was it. It might be my last certificate or award for playing the flute ever again. I’ve since stopped taking flute lessons since starting my Computer Science degree. After all, there isn’t much point since I’m not going to be doing it professionally in the future and I’m already stacking up quite a nice debt. £9000 a year for my undergraduate education, not to mention I still have to pay for accomodation. Sure, the student loan helps, but it isn’t enough.

So in the grand scheme of things, what was the point? And why do I still play the flute? Because I love it. It’s an interest of mine, whether or not I end up playing with a big orchestra. And it’s the same for writing. The truth of it is that many completed manuscripts never see the light of day, and many more never even get finished. I’m not saying this to discourage anyone, mind you. Just know that if you’re doing the writing thing because you want to be famous, I’d advise picking an alternative career. Write because you have something to say. Or because your characters demand to be noticed. Mine do. I stay up at ridiculous hours sometimes to get short stories finished. One time, I wanted to write something serious and thought provoking but my MC was adamant that he really just wanted to get it on with a bellydancer.

So sometimes ideas will feel like they’re forcing themselves on you and sometimes you’ll be scraping the back of your mind for something new and exciting. Sometimes you’ll be bathing in happy comments from readers, and sometimes you’ll be swimming in the waters of your own sad little soul. The writing process is long and arduous but don’t give up. Set yourselves goals and give yourselves little treats along the way. Listen to your characters but if they start talking general nonsense, remind them who’s boss, and that as the writer, you are their GOD!

Just remember, if writing were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

 

What’s Love Got to Do With it?

So today is Valentine’s Day. Spring is near– though with all these obscene rain, it’s practically impossible to believe, and until it snows, I can’t move on from winter. And love is in the air. And it sickens me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love love, but if you’re one of the many people feeling left out, you’re likely to give into cynicism. That’s why I’ll be at my Creative Writing Society meeting, where we can get all creative with our cynicism. And that’s what you should be doing too!

Beauty Is Pain

Now I’m not asking you to fill your writing with pissed off characters who try to wreck love for other couples, but I am talking about writing out your pain. Every character you write will have a trace of your own personality, or your repressed feelings and worries, or your beliefs. Each character is a part of you, and so one of the best ways to make them life-like is to draw out your own emotions into them.

We Feed on the Weak

Now the one fear with writing from your soul is criticism. You have to be aware that no matter how sincere you try to make your writing, there will always be critics and you have to be ready for that, whether it be to prepare to ignore them, or take the criticism like a champ and try harder next time. Writing from your pain can open up a doorway to a hurt you thought long ago closed. I know the feeling. I’ve tried writing what I hoped to be “deep” poems, originating from trials of my own. Though the heart wrenching ache was not quite as bad, it was still there– this ghostly numbness. It can be distressing and sometimes it can be too distressing for your readers too.

Conceal It. Don’t Feel It. Don’t Let Them Know. 

Yes, I did get the above line from Disney’s Frozen, and like Elsa, the princess and would-be-queen, as a writer, we all have to wear our own thin veneer to keep the readers just a little bit distanced from the true reality of our soul. That’s why we have our characters. There is a thin line between using your emotions to build a character to life-like proportions, and letting your emotions overpower the novel. Your characters shouldn’t be exactly like you, or else it wouldn’t be completley original. And come on, could you imagine writing a novel with a character who’s past boyfriends or girlfriends and conquests had the same details as those of your own? We don’t need to read your diary– we want to read your novel. Or poem, or script, whatever format it may be.

How to Write it Out

An English teacher of mine gave us this useful advice during the stressful times of A-levels, back at sixth form. She advised us to keep a diary, and of course to write regualarly. Obvious, right? But it was the method that intrigued me. She told us to write continuously for about 10-15 minutes, and interestingly enough, NOT to have prepared anything beforehand.
What came out was this rush of words, in a voice that sounded so naturaly becuase I was literally writing as I was thinking. And it was strange how my mind flitted across to so many subjects and people in a short space of time– much more than if I had prepared my topic in advance.
Another piece of advice she gave us was to write in the 3rd person, to distance yourself from, well, yourself! Other interesting ways would be to change tenses.
For me, personally, I had a very emotional first week at university, getting to grips with living on my own. So one strange night I woke up at maybe 2AM in the morning and wrote out this really long, really angry poem. And you know what? It was cathartic. And that’s the beauty of writing– it’s therapeutic.