Rewrite News



Hello everyone!

I have some exciting news today!  I have hust finished the latest draft of the Birth by Flame rewrite!  It is currently a 114-page bundle of papers resting in my backpack.

Things are moving along at a great pace.  At this point, I’ll go through this draft and make some edits, then, depending on how the first round goes, either republish or do a second round.  It’s actually really exciting to be at this point!  Hope to have more news shortly.


On the Merits of Reality TV



Hello everyone!

Today was officially the start of my second year at film school!  I am super excited to be back, surrounded by all my friends, and working on something I love so much.  To celebrate the occasion, I thought I’d write one of my rambly thought pieces about an aspect of my chosen field that often gets an unjust amount of critique and scorn.

I’m here to defend reality TV.

I know.  Why would someone dedicated to studying television and making it as their career advocate for some of the lowest common denominator trash on TV, you might ask.  And true, the end result of reality TV is not often high art.  But, you see, I’m much less interested in the finished product than I am about the process of making it.As a creator, reality TV is a fascinating way to tell a story.

As a creator, reality TV is a fascinating way to tell a story.  While some may complain it isn’t truly “real” and that it’s actually largely scripted, that simply isn’t true for the majority of shows.  Yes, elements of an episode may be pre-determined beforehand and guests may be pre-booked.  For example, all competition shows need to have a clear order of challenges and shows that follow people’s lives often follow them to events they would have attended regardless of the camera’s presence.

The main difference between scripted and reality TV, and what makes reality very interesting to me, is that the actual actions of the character are not scripted.  This has led to some excellent moments where cameras just keep rolling and follow someone’s reactions.  Some of the most entertaining or emotional moments of TV have come from something that could never be scripted, like Tyra Banks’ meltdown on ANTM or the cast of The Real World: Chicago‘s reactions to the events of 9/11.

This challenge of never really knowing what to expect makes reality TV an exciting challenge for editors too.  Even in scripted work, the edit can make or break a movie or TV show.  In reality TV, however, the edit is probably more important than the actual footage.  The edit is where you make characters, plotlines, suspense, drama, everything that keeps you hooked and coming back for more.  Taking hours of essentially found footage over several days and stringing a cohesive 1-hour narrative from it takes a considerable amount of skill that I think is sometimes overlooked.  Believe me, editing is hard enough when you do have a script for reference.

That’s how we should look at reality TV, or at least, how I will from now on.  Not as a way for the talentless to get famous, but as a challenge to the creators to tell a story with no road map.

Hopefully, this was a nice palate cleanser from the last few serious posts.  In writing news, I am about halfway done with my rewrite draft and am really liking how it’s going.  I hope to be done with this draft and onto rewrites and finalizing the draft by the middle of October.

Until next time!

On Charlottesville

Hoo boy.

Initially, I didn’t think I’d be writing about what happened in Charlottesville this past weekend.  I wasnt sure what I could add to the conversation about it.  However, I didn’t want my silence to be misread as agreement for those events.  So, here we are.

What happened in Charlottesville is deeply troubling.  We are stronger together.  Humans can do amazing things when we work toward a single goal.  To see others actively trying to shut others out of the conversation is disturbing, to say the least.

It’s difficult to think of what to do in response to events like this, events that happen thousands of miles away yet still hurt so much.  Especially when you lack the ability to donate money or join marches.  So this is what I am planning to do.  It’s simple, cheap, and it’s honestly one of the only things I feel I can do.

I’m going to keep persisting.  I am going to keep being who I am, keep telling the stories I need to tell, and keep showing love and respect to all of those who need it.  If there is one thing we can do, it’s keep our heads up and focus on making a difference to each other.

I swear I’ll post some more lighthearted stuff soon.  Until then, stay safe out there and love one another.


Thoughts on the 4th


Hello everyone!

Today is July 4th, Independence Day here in the United States.  241 years ago today, our Founding Fathers declared a new nation based on the belief that people are entitled to certain rights, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

A lot has happened since then, and, especially in the last year, it has been difficult at times to find anything worth celebrating about this country.  But, I believe that the US is something more than a president or a government.  Our country is our people and our ideals of liberty and personal freedom.  Maybe that’s not what the Founders wanted, but it’s what I want and what I am celebrating today.

We hold this truth to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.  And someday soon, we’re going to make sure everyone is included in the sequel.

Pardon the schmaltz, but it felt right.  Happy Independence Day everyone!


June Update


Hello everyone!

As always, it’s been far too long since I last posted.  Just wanted to update everyone on how things are going as well as the status of the Birth by Flame rewrite.

I recently finished my first year of film school.  It was an amazing experience and, while I’m glad to be back home and relaxing for the summer, I can’t wait to go back.

Speaking of summer, I just came back from a week in Puerto Rico.  This was the big family vacation this year, and it was fabulous.  I’ve wanted to go to Puerto Rico for years, and I had an excellent time.  I might be posting some pics soon to keep putting out content.

Meanwhile, my focus for the summer will be cranking out a rewritten draft of Birth by Flame.  If all goes well, I’ll be in the editing phases by the time I’m back at school in August.

That’s about it for today.  Hope everyone had a great Father’s Day and is enjoying the summer.  Until next time!


Kong: Skull Island – Why Am I Still Thinking About this Movie?


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I went with a friend to see Kong: Skull Island last week, and I have not been able to get it out of my head.  What I thought was going to be a light, innocuous popcorn flick turned out to be a really engaging and enjoyable popcorn flick.  This isn’t going to be a review per se, but I do want to share some of my thoughts on this film.

The acting was wonderful all around.  The film is a very well-crafted ensemble piece, with everyone getting good characterization and story arcs.  There were definitely some standouts: John Goodman, John C. Reilly, and Samuel L. Jackson are the main ones that come to mind.  The story itself is well-paced with fun action set pieces that are varied and thrilling to see.  The filmmakers seem to have taken to heart the criticism Godzilla received over not showing enough of Godzilla because there were monsters aplenty in this film.

Speaking of the filmmakers, the film itself looks amazing.  Action movies can tend to look washed out, going for “realism” and ending up with “gray and brown.”  In this film, the colors popped and made every scene on the island feel vibrant and alive.  Even in quieter moments, there was always something interesting to see.  The action scenes were great as well, filmed so they were easy to understand but still had cool shots and moments that made you sit up in the theater (Tom Hiddleston in a gas mask with a katana, anybody?).

All in all, this was a really solid movie that won me over completely.  I can’t wait for the next one to come out, and until then, I will be stalking Tumblr tags for headcanons and crack fics.  4/5. (I wasn’t going into this film to rate it, so I’m hesitant to give it anything higher.)

P.S. Let me know if you’d like me to start doing reviews of movies and other things.  It would get me to start watching more things, and it might be fun.  They’d be more structured than this one, don’t worry.


On Plot Holes & Talking about Writing



Judging by the sales numbers, I think it’s safe to assume that a good number of you watched Disney’s new version of Beauty & the Beast. I personally was not a fan, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about something that has bothered me for a while and I’ve been seeing more and more recently.

People seem to be really gung-ho about finding and rationalizing “plot holes” in movies nowadays. I’m sure that’s always been the case, but now with the Internet, it’s become much easier to find theories and make them go viral. I actually like overanalysis and crazy fan theories, whether it’s about movies, video games, or any kind of media. I think it’s a fun way to engage with a work that leaves you noticing things you otherwise might not have. At best, it can give you a new insight and deepen your appreciation for your favorite story, even if you don’t think the theory is true. At worst, it’s a fun diversion and ultimately harmless.

So, it’s important to preface that I don’t mind looking for and trying to explain plot holes in a movie. The problem is this discussion has seemed to overtake all discussion over a film’s writing, especially in regards to Beauty & the Beast.

For clarity’s sake, a plot hole is an inconsistency in the story’s logic, where something happens that doesn’t quite make sense. In the original Beauty & the Beast, the main plot hole concerns the Beast’s transformation: namely how old he was at the time of the curse and how long he’s been cursed. Given the information from the film’s prologue and Lumiere’s lines in “Be Our Guest,” we would assume that the Beast was cursed at 11 years old.

This revelation does call into question some of the logistics of the world and the motives of the Enchantress, which could hurt some viewers’ immersion right at the start of the film. And, to be fair, the new film does address this and fix them in fairly unobtrusive ways. However, this fact seems to be the focus of discussion of the film’s writing. A quick Google search for articles about the movie turns up no shortage of clickbait articles about how the remake “fixes” all the plot holes of the original. Meanwhile, actual reviews of the film that don’t mention these “fixes” give a passing mention to the script, mostly in how it added a few scenes and backstory. Rarely do they actually dig into the writing, which, as a writer myself, particularly irks me.

There are some big issues I have with the film’s writing that I haven’t seen addressed, and they don’t involve a leap in logic. The characterization of a lot of the characters is completely off. The Beast feels stiff and standoffish, unlike in the original where he falls head-over-heels in love with Belle in an adorable way. Gaston becomes a boorish idiot, losing some of the menace and charm that made him a memorable villain. For all the hype around making LeFou gay, the script gives him the lowest possible arc for a gay character, complete with a five-second pay off at the end. And the unnecessary backstory adds length to the movie, not really any depth to the characters.

These are problems with the script that directly affect one’s enjoyment of the movie much more than its internal logic. And yet I haven’t seen these discussed at all. I think this speaks to how we talk about movies, focusing on visual elements over the narrative itself, which is a shame, to say the least. If film is one of the great forms of storytelling, we should start really looking at the stories they tell, not just how they tell it.


On Moonlight and Representation



So, the Oscars were on Sunday.  I actually thought this year was pretty good, without any major snubs or undeserving winners.  In particular, I am very happy that Moonlight won the coveted Best Picture award, and I’ll try to explain why in this post.  If you’re not ready to move on from awards season just yet, keep reading.

Moonlight is notable for many reasons: it was the first film with an all-black cast to win Best Picture, Joi McMillon, the editor, became the first black woman to be nominated for Best Editing, and Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win any acting Oscar.  And it may be a watershed for LGBT representation in film.

Moonlight is the first movie to win Best Picture with queer characters who survive the film.  It is also one of the few Oscar-nominated films with queer characters that don’t involve death in some way.  That fact is more notable when you learn just how many queer characters have been nominated for Oscars, and how many of those characters have not survived.

The earliest example of a queer character being recognized by the Academy is Rebecca, 1940’s winner for Best Picture.  Judith Anderson nabbed a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her portrayal of the villainous housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, as close to an out lesbian as one could find in the era of the restrictive Hays Code.  With her death by ceiling at the end of the film, Hollywood’s pattern with queer characters was established.  The monstrous coded gay killer would be seen and thwarted again and again in movies like Rope (1948) and Strangers on a Train (1951).

It wouldn’t be until 1968, after the end of the Hays Code, that a positive portrayal of coded queer characters was recognized by the Academy.  Daniel Massey’s only nomination was for his portrayal of Noël Coward in Star!.  Coward was private about his sexuality throughout his life and was not out when Star! was made, but was romantically involved with other men and exhibited some flamboyant characteristics associated with gay men.

The first movie to win Best Picture with confirmed queer characters is Midnight Cowboys (1969), the only X-rated movie to win Best Picture.  This movie was rated X for its depiction of gay men.  Queer stories, especially gay stories would only increase through the 70s and 80s, but queer characters were still relegated to being villains or sidekicks.  Al Pacino was nominated for playing attempted bank robber Sonny Wortzik in 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon, while Cher was nominated for playing the lesbian roommate of the title character in 1983’s Silkwood.  The HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 80s and 90s led to more tragic characters, such as Longtime Companion (1989) and Philadelphia (1993), the latter earning Tom Hanks his first Oscar for Best Actor.

And still, queer characters are stereotyped, now as sidekicks or tragic, doomed figures.  The next film centered on a queer character who survives the film and isn’t an immoral villain was Transamerica (2005).  Felicity Huffman received a nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of a trans woman looking for her long-lost son.  This peak of queer representation was somewhat overshadowed by Brokeback Mountain (2005), the tragic love story between two men that was nominated for 8 Oscars that same night, including a Best Picture nod.

Even with increasing visibility and gains for the LGBT rights movement in recent years, these same stereotypes exist.  The Imitation Game (2014), a film about the life of Alan Turing, pioneering computer scientist and informal namesake of the UK law posthumously pardoning men convicted of homosexuality, was nominated for 8 awards and criticism for its portrayal of Turing’s romantic relationship with fellow female scientist Joan Clake.  At least Imitation Game won an award for its queer content in Best Adapted Screenplay.  The next year, Alicia Vikander received the only award of the night for The Danish Girl (2015) for her portrayal of the cisgender wife of trans woman Lili Elbe, who dies at the movie’s end.  Meanwhile, Carol (2015), a quiet period piece about the love between two women, was snubbed in all 6 of its nominations, not even receiving a Best Picture nod.

This finally brings me to why Moonlight is so important and why I hope it brings more movies like it to mainstream attention.  Moonlight is a movie about the life of a queer man and, at the end of the film, that life is not over.  He’s not gunned down as retribution for his villainy.  Nor does he go quietly into that good night, poignantly wasting away from AIDS or complications and giving straight audiences a tearjerker ending to a sad life.  Even further, Moonlight characterizes him as a real person.  Chiron isn’t some squealing stereotype to be shunted into the background.  He seems like someone you could know in your life or, at the very least, meet somewhere and talk to.

I want to clarify myself to prepare for the inevitable straw men.  No, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with queer villains, although we tend to see those characters’ sexuality played up as either a cause of their evil or an outward manifestation of it, i.e. they are evil so they act either sleep with the same sex or behave stereotypically queer.  And no, I don’t think that writing a queer character’s death is inherently bad either.  Death is an important part of storytelling for many reasons, and it would be wrong to exclude queer characters from having that kind of weight in the story.  But, it is something of a problem when the majority of queer characters who are critically acclaimed wind up dead by the end of that story.

And this gets into the fundamental conundrum with representation.  Why does it matter how LGBT characters are portrayed in film?  Well, especially in the current political climate, real-life LGBT people are in a considerable amount of danger.  There is no legal protection in the US for LGBT people against discrimination in the workplace (17 states), housing discrimination (28 states), and hate crimes (19 states).  LGBT people are especially vulnerable to hate crimes and mental health problems like depression and addiction.  And now, these individuals, especially trans individuals, are worried about basic civil rights protections being taken away from them, rendering them less free than their straight counterparts.

This is why Moonlight is so important and why we need more movies like it.  It allows people to see what queer individuals are really like.  They aren’t repressed and deranged killers, they aren’t one-note stereotypes, and they aren’t doomed, tragic figures.  They are real people with real lives.  And it’s time to show the world why these lives are worth protecting.

Anyone interested in further reading on queer representation at the Oscars should look at these pages.  They really inspired this piece.


“New Year’s” Update

Hello everyone and welcome to 2017!

Yes, I am super late on this, but this past month has been kinda hectic for me with class and stuff.  This year, I’m going to post more often, both worldbuilding updates as well as some more general thoughts.  I hope you find them enjoyable to read.

Not much left to say, just hope you all have a good year!


The History of Deralan



This is the history of the Ulushosu (ulu’ʃosu) Peninsula, a 9 million square mile piece of land jutting out into the Western Ocean.  It is a rich, fertile land, filled with peoples of many different cultures and languages.  It is on this land that the events of Birth by Flame take place.  In this post, we will briefly explore the history of this stunning peninsula.


We begin in the year 4000 B.E. (Before Empire)*, when the first Ulushosu kingdoms developed.  These grew as small individual cities grew in power and their kings wanted to expand their influence over the surrounding areas.  While some of these expansions grew violent, especially when one city tried to exert its authority over another, records suggest that many people willingly accepted being ruled by these kings, as they offered protection from other, more aggressive settlements.

The cities and kingdoms shown on the above map are not the only, or even the majority of the kingdoms that existed at this time.  Most leaders of these new cities styled themselves as some form of king, and some expanded their reign over the surrounding area.  The kingdoms on the map are simply the largest and most important to Ulushosu history.


By the year 2000 B.E., the individual city-states in the western end of the peninsula have grown into a few larger kingdoms.  At this point in history, the vast size of these kingdoms led to the creation of bureaucracies and more formalized government structures.  The leaders of these kingdoms gained power mostly through their combat skills and wealth.

In the eastern parts of the peninsula, expansion was slower and more sporadic than in the west.  Later scholars would attribute this to a supposed inferiority of the eastern peoples, that they were too weak or simple to unite into single entities.  In reality, much of the difficulties in expansion came from the physical terrain.  Most of the peninsula is flat grassland, but the land on the west side of the East River is more fertile than that on the east side.  As a result, the kingdoms in the east grew slowly along rivers and coastlines, and the interior grasslands were left to wandering nomadic tribes, a group that would later be known as the rulozhani (ɾulo’ʒani).


Most of these trends continued into the year 1000 B.E.  However, kingdoms in the east began to experience some troubles from those aforementioned rulozhani.  These nomadic warriors attacked and raided cities and towns, usually in search of treasure or land for their livestock.  Clans in the north were especially brutal in their raids.  These attacks led to the collapse of the kingdom of Chelusuan (tʃe’lusəan) and the near collapse of Kuhepa (ku’heɪpa) after the sack of Heyapa (heɪ’yapa) around the year 1300 B.E.


The trends of Ulushosu history seemed to reverse by the year 1 A.E. (After Empire).  The rulozhani raids in the north had ceased, though their retreat into the eastern plains had only hastened the fall of those kingdoms.  Chelusuan and Kuhepa had united with their neighbors for protection, and now grew prosperous under single rule.  In the southeast, kingdoms began to expand again, especially the newly-united delta kingdom of Zuehesuan (zəeɪ’hesəan).

Meanwhile, the situation in the west was more chaotic.  The meritocratic rule of earlier generations had given way to a hereditary system, where power was handed down kept within the family.  These same powerful families began to chafe under rule by leaders who were often hundreds of miles away.  They began to revolt and break away, forming their own kingdoms, which then warred with their former rulers for land and independence.  The age of great western empires was over.

Something else was on the horizon as well.


In the years around 500 A.E., the Udezhuan (u’deʒuan) Empire waged a devastating conquest of the Ulushosu Peninsula.  The above map shows the state of the peninsula in the year 750 A.E.  The borders represent its division into multiple provinces suitable for imperial governance.

It was at this time that the Ulushosu Peninsula acquired its current moniker.  The whole region was at the western edge of the Udezhuan Empire, and as such, it was called “The Western Lands” in imperial documents.  This name eventually became used to commonly refer to the region, using ulushosu, the native Deru word for west.

The Ulushosu War for Independence ended in 1076 A.E.  After the end of imperial rule, the newly freed people debated over how to divide their land.  Some argued that they should unite as one nation, while others advocated for a revival of the pre-conquest kingdoms.


In the end, it was decided that the peninsula would be divided into three kingdoms: Deralan to the west, Lisholesuan (li’ʃolesəan) to the north, and Zokosuan (zo’kosəan) to the south.  While each of these nations came forth from different revolutions that united into one war effort against imperial rule, each also largely encompasses a major ethnic group; the Kuhederu in Deralan, the Koluderu in Lisholesuan, and the Utederu in Zokosuan.  The Uluderu, a large ethnic group in western Deralan that have often been discriminated against by the Kuhederu, have been clamoring for a nation of their own for much of Deralan’s existence.

*Throughout much of Uhezuote, time is measured in years before and after the founding of the Udezhuan Empire.  This empire conquered much of the known world at the time and extended influence over many diverse peoples and cultures.  This dating system is just one of the many lingering effects of imperial rule.