The McDreamy Dilemma
April 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
SPOILER ALERT – If by some miracle you have not seen Grey’s Anatomy this week, or have not already heard what happened, STOP READING.
The internet was buzzin’ after Thursday night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. People were outraged that Shonda Rhimes not only decided to kill off yet another character from the show, but the beloved McDreamy himself!
Yes, I am a fan of the show and have watched it from the beginning, so certainly I am attached to these characters.
But let’s take a look at this just from a writing perspective. Was it smart to kill off one of the most popular characters of the show and one of the few remaining original characters at that?
While the episode was well written (although, not the best episode they ever had), and while it certainly created a buzz, in my humble opinion, I think it was a dumb move.
The show has been losing viewers over the last couple of years. We all know that it is drawing to an end – It has already been stated that they are planning on ending it after 2 more seasons. Wouldn’t you want to keep as many viewers as possible over your last 2 seasons?
Derek Shepherd earned the nickname “McDreamy” for a reason. He is written to appeal to women as the perfect guy. And women across the world love him for it. Many people have continued to watch the show mainly because of him. Now he’s gone.
Perhaps his storyline was done. Perhaps he just wanted out. It doesn’t matter the reason. Killing such a beloved character at this point in the series is not a smart move. There are plenty of other ways you could write him out that would leave it open for him to be back for the finale, or to still be part of the storyline without actually being on the show. Keeping it a little more open ended – whether if he ever appeared on the show again or not – would keep viewers watching. It would keep viewers happy.
Now, if Shonda didn’t already have the habit of killing off almost every character she wanted off the show, would my opinion on this be different?
I think it would. It would make Derek’s death much more shocking and traumatic. It would hit the viewer’s core even more. We wouldn’t be ready for it, and it would send us reeling. We would want to keep watching to see how Meredith would survive.
But since there have already been a ridiculous amount of deaths on this show, quite frankly, this wasn’t much of a surprise. Of course she would kill him off – she killed everyone else off (except Christina). Of course Meredith is going to survive and move on – she did with everyone else.
Was I upset Derek died? Sure, I love that character like everyone else. But did I have the ugly tears while watching it like I would have expected in other circumstances? Nope. I was fully expecting it, and I was quite annoyed. This show has proven that it has some fantastic writers. Some of the opening/ending narrations have been darn near genius in the past. So I KNOW they have good writers. So I KNOW they could have created a better storyline. So I was annoyed that they took the easy way and killed him just everyone else. Derek deserved better. The show deserved better.
Was the episode itself well written? Yes. Was it the best written episode I’ve seen from them? No.
It was a fitting way for McDreamy to die – a hero. I would expect nothing less. It was an interesting choice to have the great neurosurgeon’s brain being what ended up killing him. Nice move. It is within Meredith’s character to be strong and stoic like her mother. However, that said, I felt it was weird, especially considering the final song that was playing, that Meredith didn’t lay down next to him one last time. To hold him, as he always held her and supported her, while he passed away. That last part of the ending left me unsatisfied, and it seemed like there should have been a bit more than just hearing the great McDreamy’s last breath.
But that is just this one writer’s humble opinion. What did you think? Was it a fitting ending? Was it a smart or stupid move in the overall arch of the show’s story? Do you think viewers will still watch till the end of the show?
It certainly will be interesting to see how it ends up panning out….
Photo Credit: Patrick Dempsey via photopin (license)
Are You Ready for Google’s New Settings?
March 30, 2015 § Leave a comment
Google is making major updates to its search results. And if your company’s website is not super mobile friendly, you could be losing some major hits!
Not sure how your website ranks? Try using Google’s Webmaster Tool to see how your site adds up. You can also use their Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to see just how “friendly” your site is. If Google says it’s not so friendly, they will give you a list of options on how to proceed to the next step.
Time is short to make these updates. Google is already beginning to implement these changes, with the major impacts starting on April 21st.
While you’re updating your site’s coding, take a look at your content. How effective is it? Have you been getting the results you need off of your website? When is the last time you changed your content? If it’s pretty much the same content you started with, you should think about making some updates. Fresh content impacts your Google ratings as well, and a stagnant site will not get as much attention as one that has recently been updated.
Also take a look at how professional your content is. Does it portray your business in the best possible manner? Or are there grammar issues? Typos? Elementary sentence styling? Can you tell that an amateur wrote it, or does it sound like you paid a lot of money for a true professional to write it? Does it relate to your audience, in their “language”?
The answers to these questions are all important considerations. You don’t just want a web presence. You want a web presence that will reach your target audience. You want a presence that will get you and your business true results!
Your website is a reflection of your business and you want to appear as professional as possible. You want people to have confidence in your products and services. Believe it or not, if people are searching Google for a service, the “tone” of the site will determine whether if you get a call or not. If the site looks too amateurish, they will move on to the next one on the list. If all other considerations are the same between two businesses, people will pick the one with the better site, every time.
If you’re not sure if your content is at the standard it should be, contact us. Silverpen Productions does free consultations and estimates. Let us help you make your site the best it can possibly be and be sure that you stay at the top of Google’s rankings, regardless of the upcoming changes!
Photo Credit: Google Main Search via photopin (license)
Quote of the Day
May 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
“Those of us who write do it because there are stories inside us burning to get out.
Writing is essential to our well-being.
If you’re that kind of writer, never give up!”
The HIMYM Dilemma From A Writing View
April 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
Ok, so we all know that How I Met Your Mother ended this week. After 9 years of watching, the show’s loyal fans finally got all their answers. And while some were quite satisfied, most of the fans were left confused and angry. Was this show really supposed to be called How I Met Your Stepmother??
Personally, I’m a little torn on my opinion of this ending. On one hand, it’s a tidy roundabout finish – it ties up the story, and it’s nice to think that your first love can come back. On the other hand, I was disappointed. I felt that Ted’s character had grown throughout the series and actually evolved beyond Robin. I was excited to see him find true love with someone new and felt a little robbed by the mom being more like a long montage than anything else.
But personal feelings aside, let’s take a look at this strictly from a writing structure point of view. A good story obviously has a distinct beginning, middle, end. A good story has foreshadowing, repeating patterns or symbols, compelling characters that not only draw you into their world, but become so familiar they are a part of your world. A good story, like life, often has various twists and turns, bringing us down a different track and always keeping us on our toes.
Does HIMYM have these things? Yes, it most absolutely does. Everyone can point out the repeating themes of Ted’s quest for love, his big gestures, his dogged & determined romantic side, the blue horn, the slap bet, The Playbook, The Bro Code, and “Legendary” moments – the list could easily go on. Every character was on a journey and we knew their love and loyalty for each other was what always carried them through. They grew up together. They grew together.
The creators have stated they knew their ending from the very beginning and the story across the seasons show that. It always came back to Robin. That blue horn periodically made an appearance. We knew the mother herself was not a major part of the story. The story was really more about Ted’s journey. Not only his journey in finding the mother, but his journey in finding himself and growing up in the process.
So does the fact that he eventually ends up with Robin anyway, blue horn in hand, make sense in terms of story structure?
Well, yes, it does. Life, like stories, have repeating themes. Robin is one of Ted’s themes for sure. The story came full circle and everything was tied up. There were no other questions left to be answered. Except for perhaps the question of how the future of Ted & Robin would work this time. Yes, Ted already has the kids, so that solves that problem. But Robin is still a famous world reporter that has to travel all the time. Ted is much more of a responsible homebody than Barney ever was, plus he has kids. So if it didn’t work for Barney, why would Ted & Robin work any better considering the difference in their lifestyles?
But that wasn’t the point of the ending. The point was the story coming full circle. It may not have been the most satisfying ending that fans were looking for, but that’s life too – it’s not always a clean, satisfying end.
Could it still have worked the other way? Could Robin have stayed just Aunt Robin and Ted ended his dialogue with, “And that, kids, is how I met your mother.”? That could have been followed by a montage of some snapshots and/or “home videos” before a fade to black. The End.
Yup – that could have worked too. Maybe it wouldn’t have brought the story to a complete full circle like ending up under Robin’s window again, but it still would have worked well with the themes because Ted evolved. He learned from his on-again off-again relationship with Robin. He found out what really mattered to him and what the kind of love was that he needed in his life. What the mother of his children should be like. And even if she still ended up dying, it would be ok because he has learned over the last 9 years that it isn’t just about the end result – it’s about the journey, the story itself. It’s about the adventures, the people you meet along the way, and the knowledge you gain. The happiness and life in general that you experience is what makes up your story, not your ending. In the end, he knew that’s what it was really all about. Not just mom, but what made up the path leading to mom. That was his story all along (with or without Robin).
Yes, that ending could have worked too.
But then, if that had been the ending, everyone wouldn’t be talking about it so much, would they?
What did you think about the ending of How I Met Your Mother? Did you like what the creators decided to do? How did you feel it fit in terms of a writing technique?
What Does It Mean?
March 5, 2014 § 1 Comment
Have you ever really thought about where the words you use everyday come from?
I’m a writer, so obviously I love language. Wordplay is a part of my job and I actually get excited about learning different ways to use language to enhance my writing. I have always enjoyed hearing how a particular phrase came about and learning the origins of a word, but I have to admit, I do not actively seek out these tidbits of information. I take for granted all the words I do know and don’t think twice about the true meaning behind them. Until recently…
The last few years, I have been privileged to know a wonderful and inspiring woman who is originally from Russia. If you met her, you would never know that she just received her citizenship a couple of years ago, or has been living in this country for only a few years altogether. Her English – wait, let me clarify that – her American English is flawless. She not only knows proper English, but she knows all the slang and common phrases that we naturally use everyday. It is very rare that I see her trip up on something someone says to her.
I asked her how she did it. I mean, I took Spanish in high school, and although I earned good grades, I was FAR from a fluent speaker. Learning a new language is hard work! And English has so many double meanings, I can imagine that it would be doubly tough to become a fluent American speaker.
She said she just immersed herself in it. And she studied. If she hears a word she doesn’t know, she writes it down. She has a whole book of words and phrases that she can look back on and study whenever she needs to.
However, I’ve also observed that she doesn’t just teach herself the words, she asks the origins too. Sometimes she’ll ask me what something means and although I know the word, I have to really stop myself and think about how to explain it without using the actual word. I love when she asks me these things since it forces me to not only use my brain, but to also evaluate my own language and my personal communication skills. I get excited when she asks me about the origins of a phrase and I don’t really know the answer, because then we look it up together and the information is usually so interesting!
We have a rich history to our language that has contributions from so many different cultures. Until I met her, I never really thought about that. It has forced me to look at language, and thus my writing, in a whole new way. I really think about the words I’m using much more than I ever used to. In fact, she has inspired me. Not only do I want to one day learn a different language for myself, but I want to learn about my own language even more.
The realistic side of me knows that I just do not have the time to do this to the degree I really want to, but my goal is to set aside a little time here and there to look up new words and learn the origin and history for my own information. Not only will it be good for my own personal growth and enrichment, but it will also enhance my writing in new ways and add a new layer of quality to my work. There’s always room for improvement!
Photo Credit: photosteve101 via photopin cc
Project: Organize – The Almighty List
February 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
So we already know that I made the decision to enroll myself in a project to “organize” this year. The decision part was easy. The where-to-start part proved a little harder. So I started with what I always do – A List.
My husband is perplexed with my obsession with lists. I have lists everywhere. I even have lists for my lists! He said that having that many lists can’t possibly help with organization – it’s just one more massive thing to keep track of!
Yet somehow, it does help. Sometimes when I have a huge list (as seems to often be the case), it is a bit daunting. But at the same time, I don’t have to try to keep all that stuff in my head. Once I write it down, I don’t have to worry about trying to remember it anymore. Whether if the task is completed or not, it’s one more thing off my mind. Plus, there’s something that is just so satisfying about crossing an item off the list. In a world where the “to-do” list never seems to be completed, it’s nice to have a visual representation of all the things I have completed. I might get very frustrated, feeling like I never get anything done, if it wasn’t for those lovely dark lines, striking through my list!
So, when I decided to put my Project: Organize into action, the first thing I naturally did was make a list. I just stream of conscious wrote down everything I wanted to “fix up” – whether if it was a house project, a work project, or even a new exercise routine. In less than 2 minutes, I suddenly had 66 items on my list, and I was still going!
Daunting? Yes. How was I realistically going to get all of this done? It’s not like I can take a whole year off from work and life to just concentrate on this. (Although, that fantasy was very alluring!) Was this hopeless? Was this project doomed from the start?
Looking at that endless list, it kind of felt like it. Then I realized that I could already cross a couple of things off. The list will likely keep growing as my project continues, but daunting or not, I was already on my way:
1. Make a list.
2. Get started – Just do it.
Check & check.
I would love to hear feedback from my readers during this project. Have you had a similar experience? Was there a time in your life that you had to take a step back and make a difficult decision or re-evaluate things? How did it work out for you? What are your experiences with The Almighty List?
Please comment on these blogs with your experiences as well! I know there are many people out there who have needed to re-evaluate, organize, or make certain changes in their lives and I would love to have a section that can take my personal experiences to a more global level and create a community involved in this mission!
Photo Credit: Silverpen Productions, LLC.
Photos should not be used without prior permission & license from Silverpen Productions, LLC.
New Year, New You – Blah Blah Blah
January 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’ve been seeing it everywhere – “New Year, New You!” Initially, it’s a nice sentiment — It’s a fresh year, make a fresh start. Now is your chance for a change.
But let’s face it – we all know those New Year’s resolutions are pretty much shot by March. And what really changes? You’re still you. Ok, so the number on the calendar went up one more notch, but everything else is still the same. You still have the same job. You still have the same body. You still have the same problems. That pile of work you left on your desk just before the Christmas break is still going to be there. Your to-do list hasn’t been deleted. In fact, it now is even longer since it has your New Year’s resolutions added to it. Nothing has been truly erased – it’s all still there.
I’m not trying to be a “Negative Nelly” here. I’m just being realistic. As nice as the thought is to wipe the slate clean with the new year, it just can’t happen.
Instead of New Year, New You, how about New Year, Better You? Because let’s face it, you’re still you. And that’s a good thing! You’ve spent your whole life becoming who you are. You’ve worked hard to get here, and even if you don’t like everything about your life, you don’t really want to erase your history. That’s your backstory – it leads up to the exciting climax. A new year is really just a new chapter in the book of your life. Which way is your story going to go now?
When thinking about my New Year’s resolutions this year, I’ve decided to get rid of the notion of a whole new life and fresh start. I am merely turning the page and developing my story in a better direction. I am an ongoing masterpiece. I will keep the good things and revise the things that need some work. I am the master behind my own story – I control the pen, so it is up to me to decide what comes next. My decisions determine whether my character is a strong one or a boring one. I might stumble. I might fall back on some old habits. But I know the direction my story needs to take and I will continue to work toward that, and enjoy every aspect of the journey along the way.
A good story has twists and turns, highs and lows. We must learn to relish the same in our own lives. We don’t need to completely change. We just need to strive toward that better revision, develop our story, and add to our plot.
Here’s to a New Year, BETTER You!
Image Courtesy of: Silverpen Productions, LLC. Images should not be used without prior permission & license from Silverpen Productions, LLC.
Quote of the Day
June 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Writing is easy.
All you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until
drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Quote of the Day
May 22, 2013 § Leave a comment
“English is a funny language.
A fat chance and a slim chance are the same thing.”
The Importance of Looking Up
May 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
Last week the movement arts group New York Live Arts hosted a five-day festival dedicated to the work of one of my favorite writers, Oliver Sacks, a neurologist turned author whose fame stems from his ability to make medical writing digestible for a lay audience.
Sacks writes primarily about neurological cases he comes across in his practice. In his essays, he explains the scientific underpinnings of complicated and rare neurological disorders, but his pieces also read like engaging personal narratives. His patients and their experiences come alive on the page.
As a writer I’ve always wondered how Sacks managed to craft such emotionally and scientifically intricate pieces, and I think I recently came across the answer in a National Public Radio blog post dedicated to Sacks.
NPR Reporter Alva Noe writes: “A comment I heard more than once at a recent [New York Live Arts] event in New York to celebrate the life of Oliver Sacks, who turns 80 this year, is that it isn’t Sacks’ patients who are particularly interesting; it is the interest Sacks brings to them that makes them special. He has good eyes.”
He has good eyes. That comment really struck a chord with me. Not just because it shed light upon a question I’d had about Sacks, but because it speaks to something I think every writer has asked themselves at least once: am I paying enough attention?
Whether the focus is your emotions, the world around you or the world of others, writing requires attention to detail. In order to reconstruct our experiences into essays and stories that ring true to others, we have to be able to set scenes, emotional or physical, that are saturated with observations which help our readers feel as if they’re experiencing our worlds themselves.
For me, it sometimes feels like my world is no longer saturated with the kind of details my favorite authors capture in their works. But the problem is not that those details don’t exist—city streets are still as lively as Virginia Woolf described, and people are still as beautifully complicated and fickle as Hemingway depicted them—the problem is that I’ve stopped noticing, and I don’t think I’m alone.
How often have you participated in a conversation where it seems like you’re just one-upping a friend on the exhaustions scale?
“I haven’t slept in three days I’m so busy.”
“I’m so busy I can’t even remember the last time I ate!”
It seems like as a society we’ve come to a decision: busy is better. And busy means not having the time to stop and take in the little details that make life beautiful and exciting.
I don’t know when we decided that busy was the new desirable status quo but it seems like everyone has signed on, and if you’re not busy you’re somehow missing out.
After all, technology makes it so easy to stay busy. Ten minutes between doctors’ appointments? Respond to that e-mail you neglected this morning. An hour-long bus ride to visit family for the holidays? You can make a whole PowerPoint presentation from your iPad. There’s no longer any reason to not be busy.
But there’s also no longer any reason to look up from our smartphones and tablets, to look around at the world and realize there are things beyond our isolated, technology-centric worlds worth devoting our time and attention to.
Sacks was lucky in that he was able to use his work as inspiration for his art, but if he’d spent his diagnostic time looking down at e-mails from his patients instead of looking up and seeing them face-to-face, as unique parts of a bigger world with a greater purpose, I don’t think we’d have the same amazing accounts of his experiences.
To replicate experiences in a tangible way, we have to be present for those experiences. Fully present and mentally alert.
If we stop paying attention, if we stop looking up, if we no longer have “good eyes,” will we deprive ourselves of a whole new generation of literary wonders like Sacks?
We might. But we might lose even more. Philosopher John Campbell once wrote, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.”
If we stop looking up we can lose those essential, random, unplanned experiences of being alive—the very experiences that allow great writers like Sacks to captivate us, that allow us to gain something more from our day-to-day than just checking things off a to-do list, that make us essentially human.
Let’s start looking up again. Let’s have good eyes.