After the Wedding...

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I went to see AFTER THE WEEKEND this past weekend, and was fortunate to have Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich come in afterwards for a Q&A about the movie. It’s a remake of a Danish movie (Oscar-nominated!) from a few years ago, and they switched genders in the remaking, and it made for a very interesting take on the whole situation and interaction between the characters.

Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup and newcomer Abby Quinn have a lot of emotional weight to carry and do a great job. And the contrasts between India (Michelle works at an orphanage there) and New York (where she goes to get funding from the orphanage) are both emphasized and linked, as the hustle and bustle walking in New York or shopping in a market are balanced. And there are quiet moments of fun and joy in India, with bit dark moments as well.

But what also struck me—and the woman behind who said to her friend that she thought his must be from a great summer read of a book—is the treatment of the quiet and the loud. The movie lets the silences linger and the actors show their anger and fear and unease, and that’s something very hard to do. These actors live their confusion and inner lives very well.

If it was a novel, I don’t know if Theresa’s (Julianna Moore) breakdown would be as effective as seeing it on screen. The loss of a control by a woman who lives to control others is personal and grief-filled, and getting that on the page would make it feel overwrought and require too much repetition and make me want to hold back. But on the screen, it worked for me!

On the other hand, that intense internal life leaves a lot to be desired. I want to know more about some of the motivations, some of the links that make the background of the characters clearer. There’s something about Isabel’s (Michelle Williams) background that’s tossed up that is so intriguing that I want a conversation about that. Or about other Grace’s (Abby Quinn) decisions regarding her marriage. (Trying not to give too much away!).

So yes, I think I enjoyed the performances in the movie, it was quite emotional and tears were flowing all around me, but I wanted a touch more and would probably have really enjoyed the book for the detail, but wouldn’t have wanted it to linger in the emotions in the way the movie allows.

I’m lucky I got the one at least, and will enjoy the memory!

Oh, some of the non-spoiler questions – the movie was done in a month in the NYC setting, and then they spent about four days filming in India. Which I think is amazing acting for Michelle to cram the whole arc of her character, things she’d already filmed with these scenes that were woven through the full movie.

The choice of Billy Crudup crying was specifically on the page of the script, as was the fixing of the collar of another character and such. In fact, when asked, Bart said when he talked to Julianne about the idea of gender-flipping the characters and was she interested, she said yes—but she had to see the script first. She loved the idea, but needed to know that the script was great and starts off with that basis.

And one thing she also talked about was how she was attracted to the anger in Theresa’s character. The role was tough in many ways, but being able to show Theresa’s anger in subtle, direct and overwhelming ways was something she enjoyed about the character.

So yes, there were some coincidences—and things that turned out not to be coincidences—and some contrivances and some unanswered questions and motivations and some that worked. But overall, the movie did what movies and books do best—take me on an emotional journey, let me understand some of the pain and internal life of the characters and make me think about what I might do in the situation.

I was moved in the moment and the fact I wanted to know more about the characters, their reactions, what was behind their inner lives and the emotional outbursts is a good sign!

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Building a series...

I’ve been working with some authors who are building their worlds and developing new series, and it can be an exciting thing!

One thing I do want to caution authors about, though, is that if you’re doing a fantasy or science-fiction world, or even a more traditional story with an involved arc, it can be best to write the first book, draft the second book and lightly plot the third book before publishing the first book.

There are so many times that an enthusiastic and proud author has published the first book in the series, wanting feedback and direction—and hopefully some money to support the second book!—only to discover that the rules of the world, the motivations of the characters, the background of the protagonists or the direction of the story in the first book limits what she wants to do in the second one.

Exploring the world in more detail, understanding where you are going on the journey and then going back and tweaking the first book before publication is crucial.

Sure, if you’re seeking an agent or a publisher, it’s fine to submit the first book (if it’s as strong as can be!) to agents and publishers while you’re developing the rest of the series. You might get additional feedback or direction, and that will help you on a final revision of the first book in the series.

And yes, it’s true that you can also take down/update/revise the first book after publication. But I do think many readers grow wary of authors whose books have been frequently updated. They’ve read one version—should they read another? What has changed—grammar and typos, or characterization and motivation? Does it make a difference to their memory of the book? Do they have to reread it before the second book comes out? Should they bother with the second book if something changed that they liked?

For those authors who are often tinkering and updating, I have a reluctance to buy a book that might need to be revised a couple of times. I believe that a story can be posted and developed on a site and get feedback for improvement, and I’ve worked with authors who are tweaking and revising often—though you do have to give up the search for perfection at some point!

But it is a bit that you have one chance to make a good first impression. And putting something out that needs more tweaking might mean you have an even better book for any new readers, it also can cause more doubt in your original readers.

It’s a fine line to balance and one you’re going to have to play with as an author.

But still, I think it’s worth not hitting publish until you’re really sure you’re ready for the next stage!

What do you think? Do you trust authors who are always revising once they’ve published? Once for a cleanup of errors I can see, but three or more times? Let me know!

RWA 2019--whew!

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So RWA 2019 is over. :)

I’m always delighted to have it in NYC—no flying anywhere! No packing! And I hate it—heading back home on the subway and carrying things all day long!

But of course the best part of RWA is seeing the authors and readers and editors and agents and friends who fill the place. There are the usual hotel things you hate (escalators down, long elevator waits, searching for rooms!) but the Crossroads bar is great to see the people you didn’t expect.

I attended some workshops but mostly took the time to meet with authors I have worked with—and was delighted to meet with authors I’ve just started working with in the past year or two. It’s great to just sit and talk—or wave in passing—and put faces to the names on the paper, phone and Skype calls.

I was said to see the end of the Golden Heart contest—I think I’d found nearly a dozen authors over the years from that conference—and am eager to see what RWA is planning with the upcoming mentor program.

I was happy to see Allson Kelley in person and get a chance to thank her for all she’s done for RWA over the years and wish her all the best with her travel and next stages in life! The rest of the staff made things run smoothly (from my POV at least!).

Cheering on authors at the RITAs and the other contests is also affirming the best in business. And I enjoyed sitting at open seats and meeting authors who were first timers at the national conference, debut authors, bloggers and other knowledgeable authors sharing their experiences in publishing.

It’s also exhausting! :) But I’ve got a list of interesting things to do, new projects to look at, and renewed enthusiasm about the power and potential of romance.

Excelsior!

(till next year in San Francisco!)

Keep your eye on the ball....

 

My niece has now decided I should write about soccer (her second week at soccer camp this week inspired this request!).

 

My experience with soccer pretty much extends to watching from the sidelines and cheering her on. So I had to think about how it connects to this site.

 

One thing I did realize from those games is that the best players automatically turn their bodies and attention to the ball at all times. They don’t look to the sidelines, obsess over the miss they just made, check the time, or stop to chat. The focus is on the ball, teammates, opponents, goal, rules, coach and muscle memory. When on the field, their attention is absolute—and even off the field they have an awareness of what’s going on.

 

It’s a lot of work! And these girls practice hard for those games. It’s amazing to see the levels of improvement from year to year.

 

In some ways writing/publishing is like that. At first you just like the game/watch it. Then you participate and work at it. Learning to write, the commitment of time, getting critiques, practicing, and letting the myriad details become muscle memory.

 

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