Puppet Planet

Where I Get to Pull all the Strings

Begin with ‘The End’

I watched an incredibly marginal movie this weekend. My husband and I haven’t had a TV for three months, which I think is marvelous. After ordering a pizza (it was date night!), we went to one of those big chain grocery stores and got what was left out of Red Box. I could see that the movie had a decent cast and was filmed in a charming European city. When we got it home and pressed ‘Play’ on the computer it even appeared to have somewhat of a plot. But here is where they lost me. Every 6th word or so began with the 6th letter of the alphabet. Really, Screenwriters? Is that all you’ve got?

When the dialogue has so many expletives peppered in, it makes me reach for the salt as I excuse myself without pressing the ‘Pause’ button to go into the kitchen so I can make popcorn the old fashioned way. After coming back to see the end of the movie (missing the middle didn’t seem to detract much from the plot), I realized they just killed off all the main characters, every single one of them.

Now, I do somewhat understand that. Heck, when I was in the 7th grade, Mrs. Sorenson had us writing all these “creative writing stories”. I hated it. I had no idea what to write about. And even if I had a decent story, what did I do at the end of every one? I killed off all my characters, every blessed one of them. Bye Bye, Harry; Sianara, Sheila! It got to the point where my teacher was concerned and would write in large red ink so that my parents would see, “Your stories are quite morbid.” I have to admit I had to look that word up at the time, but what she thought was morbid was just me being lazy or having no idea how to let these poor people live in some way, any way.

So what does this have to do with achieving your goals, getting you to ‘Happily Ever After’? Excellent question. Let me think for a minute.  There are a couple of things. As regards the movie, at least the writers had a thin plot, a captivating setting and knew not to place it in the early 1800’s and cast a supporting character with a Brooklyn, New York accent. But here is the zinger. They played it ‘safe’. Instead of consistently using intelligent dialogue, they employed the  ‘f ‘ bomb.  And, instead of arriving at a clever point, they took the path of least resistance by killing everybody off at the end. Heck a 7th grader can do that, at least the second part. Where was their imagination?

What they are telling us is that if you run out of ideas pummel your audience with obscene language and unnecessary graphic violence that does absolutely nothing to develop the plot or characters. It was a missed opportunity.

Can you think of a time when you wanted to put yourself out there but instead you played it safe? I have done it hundreds of times, whether killing off characters or just not acting on some idea because I figured out ahead of time that I would fail. So what if I did fail? Is anyone keeping track? Maybe I learned something from the failure.

And sometimes we need help. Right now I am working with a marketing consultant (Daniel McInerny at www.thecomicmuse.com) to help me tweak my website so that I can attract more people like you: people who enjoy humor, people who might want to push the envelope just a little bit, or at least open the envelope.

Someone once said that you would be amazed at what you could get away with if you just tried or made the effort. And you know, he was right.  So if you’re scared, okay. That’s a start. You might have a great idea or a project you’ve been wanting to start. What have you got to lose? A little pride? Big deal. Nobody is paying as much attention to us as we are to ourselves, so stop worrying about what you are going to think of you. Tell yourself that you will be happy with you for trying. And be done with it!

One of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People tells us to begin with the end in mind. I have a hard time thinking that the screenwriters of my weekend movie sat in a room and said, “Okay we want the movie to end with everybody dead. Now how do we get them there?” So you see, we can learn something even from a poorly written screenplay. Do something today to get you closer to the result you want, just one little thing.

And let me know if I can be of any assistance at karen@karenjhornsby.com.



Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – photo of the day for June 25th, 2013 – how convenient for me!