The audience is screenwriters, but the ideas are excellent and valuable for novelists.
Christopher Vogler and Michael Hauge conducted a workshop for writing movie scripts based on Joseph Campbell’s work. This is the recording of that workshop which includes some questions from the audience.
I rarely watch movies. My feeling is why watch a movie when I could read a book? Books have more depth. When I see movies based on books I’ve read, I’m disappointed although I do enjoy the visuals. As I listened to this lecture, I felt further reluctance to watch movies. They’re all made with the same formula! (or most of them) The first 10% is seeing the ordinary world and the call to action. Other parts include meeting the mentor, encountering tests, the supreme ordeal, and return with the elixir. These parts were first defined by Joseph Campbell. He studied mythology and found consistency in all myths in all cultures. Apparently all humans always want the same story.
During the 1970s George Lucas used these ideas when he wrote the first Star Wars movie. During the 1980s Christopher Vogler wrote a memo organizing Campbell’s ideas into guidance for movie making. Vogler worked for Disney at the time. Vogler later turned his memo into a book “The Writer’s Journey.” I was bothered by Vogler’s claim for credit. He talked as if he were “the first one” to consider using Campbell’s ideas for movie making. He never mentioned that Lucas used them earlier. On Vogler’s website (mentioned below) he states “I had discovered the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell a few years earlier while studying cinema at the University of Southern California. I was sure I saw Campbells ideas being put to work in the first of the Star Wars movies and wrote a term paper for a class in which I attempted to identify the mythic patterns that made that film such a huge success.” This rubs me wrong. Lucas clearly stated that he used Campbell’s work when he wrote Star Wars. Vogler’s comments are pompous. My distaste is the reason I did not give this 5 stars. But the subject matter is excellent. Most of the examples are from three films: The Firm, Shrek, and Titanic. I was surprised that the speakers didn’t use Star Wars as an example.
This audiobook is a good way to learn about Campbell’s ideas. The authors talk about the hero’s outer journey, his inner journey, and major character types. Hauge defines four character types: hero, reflection (friend), nemesis, and romance character (or the object of hero’s pursuit). Vogler’s website (thewritersjourney com) has a helpful summary of the outer journey and eight character types. (My thoughts, not in the lecture: Since all plots are the same, it is critical to have unique, engaging, and fascinating characters. This seminar does not discuss that.)
A couple of Hauge comments. The inner journey is to find your essence. At the end of the workshop, Hauge summarizes with three arcs that consistently occur in American movies - three transformations the character needs to make.
1. risk being who you truly are
2. risk connecting to other people (romantically or other)
3. stand up and do what is right, the honest thing, to stand up for the truth.
He says “love encompasses all of these. All great movies are love stories.”
The narrators are the authors. Their voices were fine.
I don’t like the subject. It’s grief and an unlikeable heroine.
This is women’s fiction with some romance at the end. Janie’s husband died in a bicycle accident. The story takes place during the subsequent year.
It’s hard to like a book when you do not like the main character Janie. She is antagonistic, snide, snotty, insufferably irritable, sarcastic, angry, hurting others, and disrespectful to others. One character said to her “You snarl and snipe at people all day long. The people that love you the most you treat the worst as if they’re disposable.”
I want enjoyable and feel good stories. So this was not a good choice for me. 99% of the book is watching Janie’s grief, rage, and meanness to others. Another thing I did not like about her: Janie was going to throw out some of Dillon’s toys when he wasn’t around because he would disagree on what to throw. I find that disrespectful to Dillon.
What a nasty person Janie’s mother was. I did not enjoy watching her. She did something mean concerning Janie and Jake. She should have talked to Janie first before talking to Jake. Later she was critical and insulting about Janie and Tug. If you're going to have a nasty person I'd prefer some reaction, resolution, regret, or change. Here there was no change, just meanness thrown in.
In the physical book the diary pages are written in italic and in 1st person. That is a problem for the audiobook because the reader doesn’t know when it is switching between diary and regular narrative. It was disconcerting to hear changes between 1st and 3rd person. But more important, the diary was a distraction. It should have been eliminated.
WHAT I LIKED:
Marguerite Gavin was excellent. She was wonderful doing dialogue for two 4 year old boys. That had me smiling.
Narrative mode: most is 3rd person Janie, with frequent diary entries done in 1st person.
Genre: women’s fiction, grief.
Things are not well thought out. Audiobook narrator not good.
Too much stretching things out at the end. The bad guy catches victims, you know they are going to die, but the authors interrupt the scenes too much. Example: Someone wakes up and finds themselves in chains. Scene switches to other. Bad guy talks to the prisoner. Scene switches to other. Bad guy injects something into prisoner. Scene switches to other. It was too manipulative for me.
I was bothered that not enough details are shown when the bad guy catches victims. Authors don’t show how he avoids being seen and how he drags heavy victims from public places to his dungeon. In one case a trap is set, but we don’t see how it worked. Victim sees bait. Next scene has victim in chains in a cell.
I don’t mind suspending disbelief if it makes the story fun. But here it was used instead of logic. That’s not a good reason. For example: a dead woman is found and taken to the medical examiner. There’s been nothing in the papers. So how does Pendergast know that she exists and that she is the Surgeon’s latest victim? He shows up at the medical examiner’s lab and tells the examiner to look at her back. Some kind of Super Knowledge? Later Pendergast operates on himself without a pain killer (more Super Something?)
The cell phone problem: It is current day New York City. Cities have good cell phone coverage. There are several scenes where someone needed help, but they didn’t have a cell phone. It made me think the authors couldn’t think of a better way to create suspense so they got rid of the phones.
The authors had an argument for the ending, but I did not like it. (See Spoilers)
I was angry when someone destroyed something. This was similar to if you had an inexpensive-easy-to-make cure for cancer would you destroy it?
The bad guy was killed due to bad luck. I’d rather see Pendergast plan the thing that killed the bad guy instead of passively being saved.
I LIKED ONE LINE.
Pendergast was talking about opera: “I loathe it. Opera was the television of the 19th century – loud, vulgar, and garish, with plots that could only be called infantile.”
I was unhappy with Jonathan Marosz. You know how young adults end sentences on an up note like a question? Jonathan Marosz is the opposite. He ends sentences on a down note, which normally appeals to me. But the way he does it sounds like he’s reading a SHOPPING LIST. It is not good. He is not “acting” the story. He’s reading a list of sentences.
A second problem was editing. At least three times a section (a few sentences long) was read twice in a row – repeated.
Genre: mystery suspense.
I was hoping to laugh, but I didn’t. It’s told in 1st person by Judd, talking about his siblings, his parents, his wife, and others. It’s wry humor about mistakes and choices that are not good or not smart. His wife has an affair with his boss. His brother has never been able to keep a job, is into drugs, and has sex with lots of different women. It’s also about bad luck. It was depressing. No one is having a good life.
I did not like the ending. It’s open and unexplained. I’m supposed to guess what will happen. I wanted closure and didn’t get it.
Ramon de Ocampo was ok.
This is a police procedural. We accompany Ellie (a homicide detective) as she investigates murders by a serial killer. Michael Connolly does the same thing with his character Harry Bosch. But with Bosch I am intrigued and fascinated. I did not feel that way with this book. It was dry, almost plodding. Both authors use twists and surprises, but for some reason Connolly does it better. I don’t know how to explain why.
If you look at the plot and what happens in outline form, it sounds good.
Toward the end I was disappointed with Ellie’s mistakes/stupidity which caused bad things to happen. She is sneaking up on someone but doesn’t turn her cell phone off so it rings and gives her away. She knows who the killer is and goes there alone. She enters a dangerous room and doesn’t check behind the door.
I was also disappointed with the ending. If two cops and another told the truth about why they did something or their investigation process, the killer might go free. So they agreed to lie to make sure the killer would not get off. I did not understand that. I wish the author spelled that out better. I thought what they did seemed legit. It wasn’t like planting evidence.
There are no sex scenes other than briefly mentioning a couple had sex while spending the night together.
This is book #1 in the Ellie Hatcher series. So far there are five in the series.
Christopher Lane was good. But I was not pleased with his voice for Ellie. It was odd, maybe too rushed.
Genre: crime mystery.
The story plods along. It was hard to stay interested. The characters were the weakest part. They were not interesting. No chemistry. No intrique. A plot was developed, and the bad guys got it in the end. But I didn’t care. I just wanted the book to end. The bad guy killed and hurt so many people. Those were the depressing thoughts left with me at the end. I would have liked some happier feelings.
The romantic relationship between Dawson and Amelia was not well developed. I didn’t feel any chemistry. There were two intense kissing scenes and three sex scenes. The sex scenes were vaguely described and short.
Stephen Lang should not read romance novels. He does not read with sensuality or sexuality. Tom Stechshulte was fabulous when he read a guy’s lines in another book, I was melting. If Tom were reading this book he would have put very different feelings in both the hero and heroine voices. But Lang was stilted and wooden. The hero should have feelings of desire and treasuring her. Lang’s voice had none of that. It was not sexy. Also, I did not like any of his voices for women. Throughout the book the heroine’s dialogue sounded wimpy, weak and wan. A different feeling by the narrator could have made her more interesting. Instead she was blah. Harriet’s voice was weird and cartoonish. The narrator grew up in Queens, NY. He still has some of that accent for example, he says ar rent (for aren’t) were rent (for weren’t) and sometimes: har or huh (for her).
Sandra Brown is hit or miss with me. My favorite books of hers are Mean Streak, Envy, and Mirror Image.
Genre: mystery suspense with romance.
It was hard each time I had to make myself stop.
If you’re looking for a good romantic suspense, this is one.
She’s back! For awhile, the author was getting away from romantic suspense. Some of her stuff was good until the endings – too brief – not happy – not romantic. This one is good!
I think the author has two types of fans. Romance lovers should like this. Her mystery fans may not. Mystery fans complain about suspending disbelief, unrealistic actions, and stereotyped characters. That didn’t bother me. The best thing about this is the RELATIONSHIP mystery, intrigue, intensity, and interaction.
Telling why I liked the book will give away something important. So I put it in my review of this book on Goodreads and Amazon, coded as a Spoiler.
There were some things a bit contrived, but I was willing to accept them. One had to do with the author not showing motivation for a character’s actions. Another was the heroine doing something stupid, going off alone with an uncharged phone and no weapon. But the rest was so engaging that I felt five stars anyway.
There were five sex scenes. Two of them maybe a page long, the others shorter.
Jonathan Davis was very good. He’s not a favorite but good enough. I was pleased with his voices for women.
Genre: romantic suspense.
I love stories about unusual relationships, and this is one of the best.
But it needs a pdf file for pictures. Pictures are in the physical book, but the audiobook buyers lose out. There are some pictures on the website lawrenceanthony dot co dot za
As to the story, this is truth stranger than fiction. It’s wonderful to watch a man talk to angry wild elephants. Emotions are communicated both ways. It shows there are other senses than those we normally think about or accept.
The story is what it’s like to run a game preserve in southern Africa. There are problems with employees, poachers, and working with local tribal leaders. And of course problems with the animals. The animals are Lawrence’s family -- his children. There is always some new thing he needs to attend to. But the story is mostly about Lawrence and the elephants. It’s a true story. And it’s fabulous.
Too many true stories are depressing with bad things happening to animals. But this is not. The main animal and human characters do not die. There are some animal deaths, but the ending feels good.
The audiobook narrator Simon Vance did an excellent job.
Bad recording equipment picked up narrator’s breaths. Needs a pdf file for pictures.
I learned a lot but it was long. At times it dragged. A different author could have been more selective. I feel like Goodwin’s goal was to provide as much information as possible, so a historian would be pleased to find a diary entry that he had not read before. I stayed with it because it was good for me. I’m glad I read it, but it was not as compelling or engaging as I hoped.
At times the subject matter was depressing. So many deaths in that war. I admired the morality of northerners willing to support the war against slavery. I was surprised and admired how Lincoln got enemies and those with conflicts to work together. He always took blame so others would not look bad.
I was surprised at how cowardly some northern generals were. Lincoln could not find good generals. The ones he had were afraid to attack and afraid to chase. Most of the fighting was when the South attacked. In one case McClellan was ordered to move his troops to help another general. McClellan wouldn’t do it. At the same time Grant was out west fiercely fighting and winning. Lincoln was so happy to finally have a general who would fight, so he put Grant in charge of the whole thing. I was impressed with Lee’s brilliant military leadership in the south.
Also memorable was Lincoln’s desire to forgive. One of his cabinet members Chase campaigned against Lincoln for reelection and said negative things about Lincoln. After Chase lost, Lincoln gave another assignment to Chase because Chase was the best man for the country. Lincoln wanted to help the South recover after the war. He did not want to punish the South. Booth was so stupid to kill Lincoln. He was angry at freeing the slaves. But he killed the one man who would have forgiven and helped the South the most.
The awe of the Gettysburg Address. Reading it now in the middle of this book is so different from when I read it in high school. I have more understanding of what was going on, and it made the Address more powerful.
There needs to be a PDF file for audiobook buyers for pictures and illustrations that were in the physical book.
Suzanne Toren is a good reader for this book. But the recording equipment picked up her BREATHS. Her breathing was sooo distracting and sooo annoying. Recording people: Please solve this problem! I don’t hear other narrators breathing.
But it’s still fun.
I will always read the new Jack Reacher book. I like being in this world. He had about three or four beat em up scenes. Those were fun. But the story was not very good. There was a lot of going-nowhere-talk. My mind wandered at times. The author used the following phrase a lot. I smile when I hear it because it’s typical Reacher. “I said nothing.” “He said nothing.”
Most of the Reacher books have been 3rd person narratives, so I was not happy with this done in 1st person.
This is book 19 in the Jack Reacher series. I gave 4 or more stars to the first seven books except for Running Blind.
The narrator Dick Hill was very good.
Genre: mystery suspense.
but I was not taken. It dragged.
Maybe it was just a hard-to-work-with-plot and uninteresting characters. Everyone keeps secrets from Lucas - good guys and bad guys. Even Nadia his partner does not tell him things. It was a slow process of puzzle solving. The ending was lackluster. It was not wrapped up well, but I didn’t care much. I was glad it was over.
A group of Russian families has been in the U.S. for decades. They consider themselves spies for Russia even though they rarely have contact with Russia and don’t do much. They kill a Russian. Nadia arrives from Russia to investigate and works with Lucas.
I don’t like the way the author writes women. He makes them weak, incompetent, or not smart in order to make Lucas look good. I don’t require strong smart heroines in everything I read. It’s ok to have weak characters in either sex. But make the main female character quirky, unusual, or something. So far in the three books I’ve read, I come out with an empty feeling about women. They are cardboard.
Here’s an example. Nadia and a guy are in a room. Killer enters and shoots the guy then runs out. Lucas is nearby, hears gunshots, and sees the killer running. Lucas goes to Nadia and sees the guy shot. Lucas calls 911 giving information, tells Nadia to stay with the guy, and then runs off to chase the killer. Lucas is a good runner and gets close to the killer. Why didn’t Nadia do anything? She could have called 911. But no, Lucas has to delay his chase to make the phone call while Nadia stands there and watches. Why couldn’t Nadia chase the killer? Nadia is a Russian agent, not a shrinking violet fragile female. She’s cardboard.
I was eager to read about Letty, a 12-year-old Lucas meets in book #14 (the previous book). She shoots a rifle and traps muskrats. I hoped she would have a bigger role in this book, but she had no role. The only thing said was Lucas was her guardian.
I was impatient with Nadia’s dialogue. She asked too many word meanings which dragged the dialogue. Examples: “The others were tarnished and even had some, I don’t know the English, green coloring on the brass.” “How do you say...” “What’s this ‘upside’?”
Richard Ferrone was good for general narration and men, but not women. He made them sound weird.
Genre: mystery suspense thriller.
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