My favorite movies

After writing about my favorite villains, I’ll continue with the list making exercise from the book “Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II” by Alexandra Sokoloff.

This time I’ll list my favorite movies, dividing them by genre:

Science Fiction

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1. Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back
 

And only those first two, after all, the other films were made mostly for children. After being extremely underwhelmed by the Return of the Jedi (silly Ewoks) and the Prequel Trilogy, I’m still considering whether “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is worth watching. But I can’t deny that I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” so many times I caught Han Solo’s cowboy accent to spice my English. 🙂

2. Blade Runner
Awesome director, actors, and screenplay in one of the best science-fiction cult films of all times. The future setting is awesome, the story the best ever, and all characters make this film nothing less than Legendary!

Fantasy

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3. Ladyhawke

I saw this film still as a teenager, but it stayed with me forever. Special stories are never forgotten. Rutger Hauer gives a show here, like in Blade Runner. He’s the kind of actor you could watch forever.

4.The Dark Crystal

Together with the Wizard of Oz, this was a childhood favorite. The whole world and the characters were just magical and for years I pulled up my ears so they would look like Kira’s.

 

Comedy

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5. Tampopo

This is a cult Japanese comedy about love and food. I saw it as a child and never forgot it. I just wish I could have a bowl of Tampopo’s noodles after watching the film.

6. The Little Shop of Horrors.

This has been a favorite since I was fourteen. I watched both versions, though I prefer the one with Rick Moranis and Steve Martin who will make you roll on the floor laughing as Orin Scrivello, the crazy dentist. I also loved it as a theater musical.

7. What’s new Pussycat

The first produced screenplay from Woody Allen and IMO one of the best comedies of all time.  Petter Sellers and all other actors make you laugh non-stop in this awesome comedy.

8. Some like it hot

I’m a fan of Marilyn Monroe and most of her films, and this is the funniest of them. A classic is a classic and this film belongs among the best ones.

 

ROAD FILM

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9. Thelma & Louise

Another awesome cult film from director Ridley Scott and the actresses Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. Pure art, with an original story.

ROMANCE

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10. Shakespeare in Love

Romantic setting with the story playing in 1593 London, and Joseph Fiennes as Shakespeare in one of his best roles.  I’m usually not a huge fan of romance, but this film was way too good to miss.

11. The English Patient

An awesome film based on the novel of the same name from Michael Ondaatje. All the actors are great, and Ralph Fiennes as Count László Almásy is unforgettable. He and Juliette Binoche are wonderful together as in the film 12. Wuthering Heights which is also one of my favorite romantic films.

And finally, a romantic film where things end up well:

13. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

To explain why this film is one of my favorites I just need to say two words:  Audrey Hepburn. But the underlying theme of a girl pretending to be superficial and mercenary while she’s lost is a deeply touching story. The song “Moon River” helps too.

After this list, the following warning is advisable
Some films will mean something greater to you than just two hours sitting on a movie chair. Those you will not forget. And they will remain with you and be part of you forever.

 

If the Characters in my WIP had a Theme song.

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I won’t say much about each character due to the fact that my novel isn’t yet ready. But here are the theme songs I picked for them. The songs aren’t meant to disclose if they are good or bad in the story, they have more to do with their personality or a characteristic moment.  So here it goes:

AnitaLaura Branigan – Self Control

Jessica

Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)

Kenrick

Yes – Owner Of A Lonely Heart (this video has some strong images, don’t watch if you have fear heights)

Oliver

Milky Chance – Stolen Dance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX-QaNzd-0Y&index=42&list=PLNUJ5gKgghTXxQkzrKWLSr76Zdkj0mkaz

Christine

Lily Allen “The Fear”

Dan

Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime

Richard

Sting – Englishman In New York

 

My favorite villains

An important tip in the book “Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II” by Alexandra Sokoloff is that making lists of your favorite characters/ villains/ story endings is a helpful inspirational exercise. In the book, it says that analyzing your own list can give you insight on your own story’s characters, endings, and villains.

For me, the best villains are the charming, educated, tragic, twisted and obsessed. The ones a story protagonist could even sympathize and be friends with (if they don’t know better).

Here is my list of favorite villains, I also included the bad boys or the bad who turned out to be good.

Here it’s like Adele Dewitt so nicely says:

 

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The first vampire, from the time these guys were still dark and not sparkling: Dracula

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The obsessed and tragic husband: Soames Forsyte

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Another case of obsessed love with tragic consequences: Claude Frollo

V.Hugo, Gloeckner / Gem.v.A.Couder

We all grew up with the tale of Darth Vader

 

 

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This one had a tragic story leading to a dark path through Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff

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A villain I could sympathize with because the people around her were not much better:

Amy Dunne

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Including another villain whom she could not control: Desi Collings (you simply never take the dessert out of the hands of a woman)

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This one managed to remain enigmatic to the end, to finally show he wasn’t the bad guy after all.(He reminds me of a teacher I had): Snape

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And finally, the king of slimeballs, Sir Richard Carlisle

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And you, do you have a favorite villain or bad guy/girl turned good, dark hero or bad boy/girl who wasn’t listed here?

Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six delightful places and things I saw in my Tuscany vacation

1. The medieval San Gimignano

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Once an Italian friend told me that this small town is one of the most beautiful towns in Tuscany, and I agree with her. It looks like a magical fantasy setting, especially at night when the stone towers, walls, and houses seem even more lost in time.

 

2. Etruscan tombs.

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Which, according to my son, look like the entry to the lost city of Ouroboros in Ninjago. 🙂

3. A delicious candy made of milk powder.

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These sweets made of milk powder, honey and yogurt were my main fuel in my Tuscany tours.

 

4. Decorative objects made of Alabaster.

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Alabaster, a white soft stone from Tuscany, is so beautiful white I couldn’t resist buying decoration objects made of them.

 

5. The Pisa Tower does justice to its fame.

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I had seen pictures of it before like everybody else, but to see it live is still an amazing, surprising and breathtakingly experience. It was much more beautiful than I expected.

6. The Devil’s Bridge

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Also called The Bridge of Mary Magdalene, it has the classic medieval “hunchback” design, but what makes it different (according to the prospect from the Borgo a Mozzano Comune) is its asymmetrical arches and the gravity-defying central arc.

I never saw such a glorious gothic bridge before and loved crossing it. I wonder how the eleventh-century pilgrims must have felt back then.

It hurts when it seems no one cares for your book, but…

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I thought about writing this post after seeing a video of one of my indie-publisher writer friends saying she would give up publishing due to too few people reading her books. She said she only had around ten people who really cared for her first book and this people shouldn’t be paying to read it.

I understand her point of view and disappointment. The problem is, we are in an extremely saturated market here.

On Goodreads, I have a list only for books from my independent author friends. It contains 76 titles so far. Last year I managed to read 8 books from this list. I wished I had read more and I hope I do manage a higher count this year, but reading time in real life is something very limited and, I must confess, sometimes I want to read books coming from traditional publishing as well, or writing craft books, or classic books. I wouldn’t be able to limit myself only to what has been published the last three years too.

I do hold all my independent author friends to my heart, but I alone can’t fulfill their expectations. All I can say to them is that they must write even if only a handful of people read their books. They should look at their books as their legacy to the creativity and wisdom of mankind. So few humans in this world have written a book and left something so valuable to the rest of us. Worries about how many people read it in the year it was published seems to me not the most important here.

So please take heart, dear indie-pub author. Your book is there, forever. It will be read eventually. It will be loved sometime too, by someone, this year or the next, or the next… You’ll never know the full impact it will have on other people. Don’t despair. Write on and always try to improve what you leave in this world. If it’s this you feel you should be doing, if this is your passion, make it happen. Release your work into the world and don’t worry so much about the immediate answer to it.

Only follow the path of creativity and passion without regrets.

Namaste.

The Stage Lights

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I must confess: I didn’t bake Christmas cookies this year. The thought of baking cookies didn’t even cross my mind. I was reading books on writing craft instead. So far the cookies haven’t been missed, thankfully the kids are happy with the cakes I bought. And I feel much better prepared to go on revising my draft now. But this doesn’t mean I’m done with studying and revising. It will take me probably the whole next year to revise my novel’s first draft into something I’ll be happy with.
Once I was part of an amateur theater group. At the start I knew nothing about acting. I kept my arms close to my tense body. I just wanted to say what I had to say as fast as possible and get out of stage. Then the director told me: “Breathe deeply. This is your moment, your space. Move your arms, take your time to say what you have to say. The spotlights are on you for a reason. This moment belongs to you. Make it count. Make it important.”
So the advice I would give every artist and also every writer would be this: Never give up, but never hurry up either. Good art takes time; be it an artistic performance or a novel. Time will unlock everything that has to be imagined in your story. Your plot, your characters, your setting has to be fully imagined so they can be described well enough to show the world of your mind clearly to your readers. Don’t summarize anything. Make it the magic, unforgettable moment under the spotlights. Breathe deeply and take your time. When on stage say your words loud with your whole self on them. The spotlights are on you for a reason.
In the meantime enjoy the process. Allow yourself time to enjoy the holidays even if your Christmas tree is a bit crooked. I also didn’t buy the perfect present for each adult this time, but at least the kids will have enough to unpack. Christmas is magical for them and it can be magical for us if we relax and allow it to be this way.
So I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Writing Year.

 

My writing playlist, 25 songs full of emotion

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Writers often speak about which music inspires them to write. All these are songs bring up a lot of different emotions in me, they conjure specific moods for writing scenes. I also hear them gladly in my everyday life.

1) Tomoyasu Hotei – Battle Without Honor Or Humanity

2) Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy

3) 3-11 Porter/ Surround me with your love

4) Duffy – Rain On Your Parade

5) Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

6) Pharrell Williams – Happy

7) Vance Joy – Riptide

8) David Bowie – Absolute Beginners

9) Duffy – Distant Dreamer

10) You’re Beautiful – James Blunt

11) Capital Cities – Safe And Sound

12) Gabriella Cilmi – Sweet About Me

13) Amy Macdonald – This Is The Life

14) The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony

15) Gary Barlow – Let Me Go

http://www.universal-music.de/gary-barlow/videos/detail/video:330626/let-me-go

16) Rockferry – Duffy

17) Nelly Furtado – Powerless Say What You Want

18) Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger

19) Travis – Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

20) Coolio- Gangster’s Paradise

21) Eurythmics – Here Comes The Rain Again

22) Game Of Thrones “Official” Show Open (HBO)

23) Gloria – Laura Branigan

24) Gnarls Barkley – Crazy

25) Little Talks- Of Monsters and Men

http://www.vevo.com/watch/of-monsters-and-men/little-talks-(official-video)/USUV71102089

My other passion: Painting and Drawing

During my late twenties and thirties, while I made a pause on writing, I was busy drawing and later painting with oil. I also visited many art expositions in galleries, museums and artist communities. One of the most interesting experiences I had was visiting an art community in Munich, the Domagk ateliers in one of their open to the public Sundays.

Now I posted some of that work on Deviantart. You can see it here: http://thelett26.deviantart.com/

Have a good time expressing yourselves!

Looking for inspiration? It may be a good idea to turn your computer off.

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I made an interesting discovery on my last summer vacation. Time away from the internet can do wonders for your writing and for your time management too.

As usual in every vacation I never take my laptop with me. I know that it will be hard to be away from the virtual world, but I make a stand on it. It’s a, to some degree, return to the past ritual; to the time when I didn’t own a computer and didn’t even know what an email was. I remember having more time for everything back then even if some of that time was spent watching television. As nowadays television for me is something I mainly use to show my DVDs twice per week, during these three weeks I used the internet free time for something more constructive; reading.

Since I often change my mind about what I want to go on reading, it’s very practical to carry a great number of books in an electronic reader. So, apart from the two books I started and didn’t feel like reading to the end, during this vacation I managed to finish reading other six books: Four science-fiction books and two about writing craft. These last two I didn’t only read, but also studied, making notes on the e-reader. When I was writing, I was fine under the sun with a paper notebook and a pen. I had the double word count I usually have at home while trying the almost impossible task (with my white complexion) of getting a tan. All this while reading and writing were just a part of my day. The rest of the time I was “busy” enjoying my vacations and had a great time, without internet.

But coming back to my main theme, inspiration. Ideas rarely come to me while sitting in front of my computer. I think this happens because too much goes on in the virtual world and I’m not disciplined enough not to look around while writing. New ideas appear while cooking, talking to people, taking a shower or just after closing my eyes and deciding I was done for the day and I’m going to sleep. Usually I’m not thinking about my novel, it happens unconsciously when I am relaxed. So, the best thing to do when you hit the wall is to take a break. Give it time, from half an hour to a full night of sleep, preferably go to do a task that doesn’t occupy your mind so much. Even everyday work, like baking a cake or ironing clothes can help your mind in answering your questions for you. Inspiration will surface when you expect it the least.

Experimenting with different narrator voices, a Gedankenexperiment

Today my inspirational tips go towards creating an original perspective, using different narrators. The voice of a different character causes a switch in perspective, bringing originality and movement to your story. How would a story sound if it would be told by, for example, a young child or an older person?

In my current WIP Novel I included some chapters from the point-of-view of the villain and it sounded different to have an obsessive controlling person as the narrator. It showed insight in his egocentric personality and view of the world and also helped to deepen the character, show some of his back story and the reasons behind him wanting to control everything. An example of a book where this is really well done is The Pillars of the World from Anne Bishop.  Many interesting sci-fi books I read had an alien as a narrator, and this a great way to show a glimpse into their world, culture and way of thinking.Another idea for fantasy or sci-fi would be to put the narrator in an altered state of consciousness, like dreaming or in a trance? In my WIP I included a scene where my main character, Anita, is in a trance. Tell me what is your opinion about it:”And then I realized that the surrounding realities were interconnected like a web. On this web all lines started on me and took me to different lives in different universes. I sat in the center of this web like a spider, seeing where all lines would take me. These lines of lives would interconnect at regular intervals even if time would make them to get more distant from each other. Between one life and another I would see the line connecting all my parallel lives and have all the understanding and all knowledge that would remain occult during my lifetimes. I wouldn’t be able to carry all the knowledge in a conscious way during my lifetimes because the multitude of different realities and points of view would madden me. Or at least would make me behave in a way others in my current reality would consider mad. But now, in the trance, in the full possession of my power I could see my web clearly. I could have remained there for eternity just watching that kaleidoscope of fights and emotions, but I forced myself to stop. My children need me. I thought. And this was more important than the ultimate power, more than the ultimate knowledge.”