Merry Christmas!

If you want to learn about amazing TV and movie writing, click here.

But today, I give you a Christmas present from one of my favorite TV comedies.

(Don’t tell NBC.)

Badass Drama: Punch-Drunk Love

INSIDE THE MIND OF BARRY EGAN
Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
2002

CONTEXT

Barry Egan is special. He has seven pushy sisters, a business that sells novelty plungers, a table filled with pudding to take advantage of a marketing gimmick, a harmonium, and a phone-sex operator trying to steal his money. Although his psychological quirks are never defined in the movie, many viewers suggest he has Asperger syndrome.

In this scene, one of Barry’s sisters attempts to introduce him to her friend Lena.

WHY IT’S BADASS

The drama in Punch-Drunk Love stems almost completely from Barry Egan’s awkward mindset; if he was a normal guy, there wouldn’t be a movie.

Barry’s disorder is imperative to the story, but it’s never explained in the dialogue or plot. So how do we know he’s crazy? And how does his mindset create drama in such a simple movie premise?

Although Paul Thomas Anderson is a brilliant writer, he is first and foremost a director. This means that he creates drama with filmmaking techniques more than plot. We aren’t told that Barry’s crazy, we experience it through the camera, lighting, soundtrack, design, and performances.

The most obvious device that puts us in Barry’s head is Jon Brion’s percussive, syncopated soundtrack (to call it “music” would be a stretch). It’s a jumbled mess of sounds and notes that rarely match the action in the scene, broken only by an occasional melody from the harmonium. What better way to show how a series of simple problems can become a nightmare in the mind of Barry Egan?

But there’s more to this scene than an awkward soundtrack.

Notice how Barry’s suit blends in with the stripe on the wall. Listen for the constant repetition of dialogue (“What’s that pudding, Barry?”). Watch for a disorienting mix of zooms, dollies, and swipes that keep us on the edge of our seats, and exploding anamorphic flairs that indicate Barry’s aversion to bright light.

In any other movie, it would be a sin to put the actor’s face in shadows, but there are several instances where Barry’s face falls into silhouette. Look at the way his sister walks; is she a Muppet? This odd performance choice adds to the chaotic rhythm of the scene. And during the first dialogue scene with Lena, the camera “crosses the line” making the couple appear disconnected while subtly confusing the viewers sense of space.

Even when Barry is alone in his office, he’s surrounded by moving shadows. No matter where he goes, he can’t escape the chaos!

HOWEVER.

There’s a beautiful moment of decision as Lena stands beside her car and considers going back inside. When she finally meets Barry away from his sister and his work, the music dies down, the camera settles, the shadows and flairs disappear… and thanks to brilliant filmmaking techniques, we know that Barry needs Lena in his life.

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Want more Badass Drama? Click here.

Wattpad Wednesday: BrittTheBookSlayer

BrittTheBookSlayer ProfileBasic Info

Brittany Geragotelis (real name)
United States

Author of Life’s A Witch,  What the Spell, and Suddenly StarletBrittany was discovered by Simon & Schuster on Wattpad when Life’s A Witch reached a phenomenal 19 million reads. Her three-book deal also includes a prequel and sequel to Life’s a Witch.

Visit her Wattpad profile here: BrittTheBookSlayer

Show us your workspace. Don’t clean it up first!

I have an L-shaped couch and my side has a chaise lounge attached. I lay down (yes, lay down) underneath a blanket, and place my laptop on my stomach. My cat, Cohen rarely leaves my side when I write, and he either lays on top of one of my arms (apparently this is his way of helping me write) or underneath the blanket between my feet. Typically I have music on, because I don’t like to write in silence, and I’ll get too distracted by the TV. I have a little tray that sits on the couch next to me and holds coffee, snacks, pens, paper, etc. It’s like my little mobile desk!

BrittTheBookSlayer Workspace

Other than high school English class, how did you learn to write?

I’m not sure you can be taught how to write, really. You either can or can’t. I believe it’s all through practice, and trial and error. I wrote my first novel at 15 and my books get so much better with each one I write. I think the best teachers have been the other authors of the books I read, though. I know, through them, what an amazing book looks like and reads like. My editor at Simon & Schuster is also making me a much better writer. She’s become like my own personal Mr. Miyagi, my writing guide.

What is one of the best sentences or paragraphs you’ve ever written?

 “It was the day Bridget Bishop was sentenced to die and all she could think about was how she would never get the chance to see her daughter marry.”

What is your favorite sentence or paragraph from another author’s novel?

“The cold wind swept across the hill, whistling through the headstones like dozens of crooked baby teeth.”
-Stacey Jay, You Are So Undead to Me

Do you have pets? Show us!

Two kitties. Murray and Cohen. They look like they’re brothers, but they’re actually two years apart and I rescued them from different places. They’re my babies!

Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 7.18.44 PM

What was your best experience on Wattpad?

When I first started getting positive feedback on my novel, Life’s a Witch. It came after 9 years of rejection and I’d been wrestling with the idea of giving up on my dream of being published. But people liked the book so much that the experience ended up reinvigorating my writing career. Hearing how much people loved the book reminded me why I write and totally changed my life.

What other talents do you have? Show us!

Hmmm. I was training for the Olympics in gymnastics growing up, and then did cheerleading for 8 years, which led to my former job at a cheerleading magazine. I also know a crazy amount of pop-culture trivia and can recite most of the lines from the movies, “Bring it On” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I’m actually pretty good at painting elaborate nail jobs, and have a knack for making scary-themed food.

     

What is the most disappointing book you have ever read?

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. I think my expectations were too high and she had a lot of pressure on her to make another Harry Potter hit. It just wasn’t what I’d expected. She’s still one of the best writers alive though.

Do you keep a writing notebook? Show us a page!

Nope. Although I do collages for each of my books to help me better visualize the characters.

Read us a short excerpt from your work.

Recommend another Wattpadder.

@AmandaHavard. She’s amazingly talented and insanely smart.

Other than your Wattpad profile, do you have another site you’d like us to visit?

Yes! www.brittanygeragotelis.com.

I’m having a Goodreads giveaway for What the Spell. If you want to enter for a chance to win one of 25 books, click here. Or if you want to pre-order What the Spell, go here.

I’m also on various social media!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BrittanyGeragotelis
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TheBookSlayer
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/TheBookSlayer
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/TheBookSlayer

Life as a Book Blogger – by Dayla FM

Dayla FM Guest Post

Dayla was one of my very first blog reviewers and one of the few to review all three of my books. She’s articulate, insightful, and honest. Her website, Confessions of a Book Addict, is full of musings on novels as well as reviews, author interviews, giveaways, and book hauls.

_______________________________

I still remember the first time I was approached by a self-published author. My blog was still a speck in the tumblr universe and all I was doing was documenting which books I read in 2012. It was also around this time that I started writing reviews.

Whenever I saw book reviews on the internet before starting my blog, I would always think it was too daunting a task to write so much about a book. I like to blame this on school, since the constant critical writing put me off from any kind of writing that wasn’t creative.

But when I created my blog and started showing anyone who would stop by what books I was reading, I started to appreciate the time people took when reviewing. I reviewed for my few followers, never expecting to pick up the pace since there are so many other more popular blogs out there. I think I primarily wanted to get my foot into the literary world, even if through a small blog, for the book I was hoping to write once school was done.

After I read and reviewed my first assignment, I felt a strange thrill rush through me. Reviewing became something much more serious once I started getting more requests. Up until this past summer, I thought of this as something I could do for fun aside from writing my novel, but as the emails came in and I earned praise for my work, I realized that what I had once shunned had become a natural part of me.

I was hooked.

Pretty quickly, my blogging became more about giving honest reviews for any kind of author, traditionally published or self-published, and encouraging others to read them instead of simply stating what I was reading. I still wrote my novel–which is currently in the early editing stages–but I’ve also found a new and exciting love for reviewing novels.

I silently thanked my professors as I wrote review, after review.

I joined Blog Critics a few months after I started reviewing professionally and my blog started getting some attention. But, even as traditionally published books were sent to me for reviewing purposes, I still enjoyed receiving the occasional self-published novel. I love that some writers have such passion for writing that they take their futures into their own hands. That takes guts and I respect them greatly.

Also, a lot of the independent authors I’ve met have been awesome! It has definitely been a very neat experience. I’ve always loved books, but never really fathomed meeting the brains behind them. The literary world is tricky and hard to get into, but I have been very blessed with the opportunities I’ve received.

Blogging has taught me a lot about myself. I never expected to be where I am today, but I have great followers and have met some pretty awesome authors. I don’t know where I see myself a year from now, but hopefully I will still be reviewing great books and meeting more incredible people.

__________________________

Want to discover indie authors with Dayla? Check out her reviews here.

If you have Twitter, add @daylafm! She Tweets consistently, and always has something interesting to say.

Are you a writer looking for an honest review? Ask Dayla!

And here are her awesome reviews of my work: Lighthouse NightsThe Accidental SirenThe Brandywine Prophet

Wattpad Wednesday: Thingstosay

Thingstosay ProfileBasic Info

Tess (real name)
United States

Author of At Second Glance.
Visit her Wattpad profile here: Thingstosay

Show us your workspace. Don’t clean it up first!

Thingstosay Workspace

Other than high school English class, how did you learn to write?

Mostly online, and by experience I guess. I started writing before we were really taught most of the helpful tips they give you in English. I’m very appreciative that I have so much information at the tips of my fingers (or keyboard).

What is one of the best sentences or paragraphs you’ve ever written?

You should know better than to ask an author about their own work, we always criticize ourselves! Well, I guess if I’m going to have to choice one, it’d be the one below. (Please note that I am currently in the editing process so this passage might be changed later). For context, this is after Emma finally confronts her father after seventeen years of abuse.

“‘Isn’t this what you wanted?’ she demands, hitting me in the chest with both hands. Her voice quivers. ‘Are you happy now? Am I finally enough for you? I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’ Those last three questions aren’t for me. I hold both of her hands, pulling them down. She rests her had into my chest, whimpering. I hold her face with my hand.

Those questions were for him. And in the back of my head, I knew they’d never disappear. Sure they may fade, but there’s no way to undo a childhood. No way to wash all the scars away. They’ll always be in the back of her mind. Emma’ll always be hesitant for help. She’ll always want to do things all by herself. She’ll always be a bit untrusting, a bit hesitant. I can only hope they’ll fade enough to where they’ll never have to become visible again.

As Emma sobs in my arms, I let her break and fold into herself. No matter how strong you are, we all have a breaking point. The longer it takes you to get there, the harder the ground will be when you arrive.  She’s been waiting seventeen years for that crash.”

What is your favorite sentence or paragraph from another author’s novel?

I’m not a person who can pick a “favorite” anything, but this is in my top five.

“I’ll go to school, too late for first period, and we’ll have one last day together. The only difference being that I know it’s the last day. You won’t. Do you remember the last thing you said to me? The last thing you did to me? And what was the last thing I said to you? Because trust me, when I said it, I knew it was the last thing I’d ever say.”
–Th1rteen R3asons Why, Jay Asher.

Do you have pets? Show us!

Sadly, I don’t have any pets. My dad’s allergic. I do, however, how two brothers, one older, one younger, who can act like pets sometimes. Just kidding! But yeah, they don’t like having their picture taken so I doubt they’d want it on a website they’ve never heard of-no offense. They’ve definitely helped made me who I am today. With boys running around the whole weekend, you learn not to care. Boys don’t intimidate me.

What was your best experience on Wattpad?

I wouldn’t say that there’s one experience above all others. However, logging on and seeing that ASG had reached over 10,000 reads was a huge milestone. I never thought so many strangers with no binds to me or my work, would in joy my work so much. That’s part of the reason I’m taking so long to edit. I want the final product to be good, for them.

What other talents do you have? Show us!

I’m involved in theater (musical and otherwise).We just wrapped the pay this last weekend actually. I played Mrs. Donner in my school’s production ofFlowers for Algernon. It’s an amazing story and I love being a part of it. It was originally a book (in which Mrs. Donner was Mr. Donner). There weren’t many pictures during the performances, but I do have one of my script:

Thingstosay Talent

Oh gosh this not helping my PPD (post performance depression).

What is the most disappointing book you have ever read?

I’d have to say Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Granted, I did read the Twilightbooks and I didn’t think they were half bad. But this was just bad. I’m not quite sure what it was. Everything seemed so… artificial. The ideas were great. She didn’t executed them well in my opinion though.

Do you keep a writing notebook? Show us a page!

Thingstosay Journal

As you can probably tell, I’m known for my illegible handwriting. What can I say? I write to get an idea out and sometimes I don’t have long until I forget it.

Read us a short excerpt from your work.

Recommend another Wattpadder.

Wow, you’re really good at hard questions. I’d have to go with @Snowsheba. She’s my writer buddy in real life as well as online, and is about the only person who understands my rants (about writing). Everyone else looks at me like I’m crazy, which I very well could be. Make sure to check out her book The Onyx (that’s her favorite).

Other than your Wattpad profile, do you have another site you’d like us to visit?

Yes! I’ve recently started on a group blog called Inkspiration. That’s where I’m doing most of my writing right now, seeing as I’m still currently editing ASG. We’re looking for more writers, who are serious about their craft, so if you’re interested, make sure to shoot us an email.

We also have a twitter for the blog to for its news.

Also, there’s my good old Facebook page.

Wattpad Wednesday: Fallzswimmer

Basic Info

Ali Novak (real name)
21 Years old
United States

Author of 8 stories on Wattpad, including My Life with the Walter Boys and The Art of Mending a Broken Heart.
Visit her Wattpad profile here: Fallzswimmer

Show us your workspace. Don’t clean it up first!

Other than high school English class, how did you learn to write?

I’ve been writing for different online websites for over six years now and posting my work online is what has really helped me grow. Compliments are always nice, but it is always the constructive criticism that helps me move forward as a writer. I’m also in my final year of University and I will be graduating with a Creative Writing Major. Each semester I am required to take a writing workshop where an entire class edits and critiques your work. Although it is really nerve racking, I’ve learned some major lessons from those classes.

What is one of the best sentences or paragraphs you’ve ever written?

The following paragraph is from an autobiography I am writing about my childhood after the death of my father.

“It is always a long, dreary drive up north. Nowadays I make an effort to sleep through most of the eight hours, but as a kid, when we neared the lake, I would watch for the street sign. Sleeping Dragon Drive. It made my heart beat fast as if the swelling of the road was actually the back of a sleeping dragon. Back then, the forest was filled with mythical creatures-elves and goblins and wizards. If I pressed my face against the window hard enough and really looked, I could catch a flash of swords fights and magical battles between the gaps in the trees. Now there was nothing.”

What is your favorite sentence or paragraph from another author’s novel?

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”
-Sarah Dessen

Do you have pets? Show us!

Yes, the lovely Mr. Rocco.

What was your best experience on Wattpad?

That’s a hard question because I have been fortunate enough to have so many. I think that the best moment was when an entertainment company saw my work on Wattpad and liked it. They contacted me and asked me to write a novella about a character on one of their TV’s shows. It was the first paid writing job that I’ve ever had.

What other talents do you have? Show us!

Show us! I like photography. I don’t know if I have a bright future in it though. Here are some pictures I took at Las Ramblas which is a market place in Barcelona. I’ve been told it’s a prime spot for a working photographer. I thought it was quite fun. I also like to make book trailers for both my own work and other writers on Wattpad. Those can be found on my youtube account.

   

What is the most disappointing book you have ever read?

I’ll exclude books that I’ve been required to read for school because the list would be a mile long… So, the most disappointing book that I’ve read lately would have to be What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. I really enjoy reading her work because one of her books got me through a really tough event in my life. I was waiting for over a year for this book, but when I finally got my hands on it the story just wasn’t as exhilarating as most of her work.

Do you keep a writing notebook? Show us a page!

Read us a short excerpt from your work.

Recommend another Wattpadder.

Well, you already beat me to the punch with @ella_enchanted but I also love @leigh_ and natashapreston both of whom are wonderful writers.

Other than your Wattpad profile, do you have another site you’d like us to visit?

Not really. Wattpad is my one true love :)