Catching Up

amberAt some point in the near future I hope to post that I’ve finished the outline of my new book and then share some lessons I’ve learned from it. Right now, though, it’s still somewhere between halfway and two-thirds complete.

There are secrets and counterplots and manipulations going on within this one, and knowing when to reveal what and through whom is really the tricky thing. I ALWAYS appreciated Zelazny’s original Chronicles of Amber but as I try to replicate some of the feel of revealing layer upon layer of how the world works and who’s behind sinister plots I have more of an appreciation for what he himself pulled off. It’s not easy.

courtsI couldn’t have told this story before now, I don’t think. I was messing with a version of it decades ago, but only the characters survive from that initial foray. Now I have the wisdom to know I need a very detailed outline to pull it off. I’m not starting without one, even if that means that several weeks are required to hammer a detailed outline into shape. Some writers don’t need them, but I’m pretty sure if I didn’t set out with a good plan in hand it would take me years to write this, seat of the pants, and explore all of the potential dead ends. I don’t intend to do that anymore.

In other news I finally got around to watching the new Dark Shadows movie (it has been on endless re-run lately), and it proved even worse than I’d feared. It was so completely tone deaf. The sad thing is that there was so much potential there. Can I blame all of it on Tim Burton? One assumes that there were other decision makers helping him pilot that ship into the reef. Whomever was involved seems to have made the mistake so often made by people trying to re-envision material: they didn’t understand why fans loved the original show.

Barnabus1I only dimly remember Dark Shadows from when it used to be on re-runs when I was 8 or 9, but it seemed pretty cool. I’d watch it with one of my sisters, then a teenager, right after school. It was one of our few shared interests. I’ve only caught a few glimpses of it since and yeah, it looks a little cheesy. I understand in a lot of respects it’s really cheesy, and that microphones hanging into the shot and characters fumbling lines occurred regularly because of the show’s incredibly tight shooting schedule.

I think THAT is what the film makers seized upon — that the show was cheesy and had a vampire in it. What they didn’t get was that fans were transported enough by what they were seeing to look past the cornball stuff. When Dark Shadows was re-made there was a chance to tap into the compelling story elements that lay beneath it all rather than delivering a supernatural parody/comedy shlock fest. It’s almost like turning over the original Star Trek to be directed by someone who preferred Star Wars… I digress. I think that, as a result, Dark Shadows is probably dead for real. They’ve tried to re-envision it several times now and each time they’ve utterly failed. I doubt that any money will be spent on it again. And that’s too bad, because in the right hands there are some powerful themes that could be enjoyed by modern audiences.