Friday Links: Pop Culture and the Writer

TGIF! There seems to be a confluence of significant pop culture landmarks today. First, of course, we have the anniversary of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, which premiered on the WB 20 years ago today. There are a ton of great articles and reminiscences floating around — far more than I could have included here — but I did find a particularly writer-specific one to share in today’s links. But do poke around and see what else is out there if Buffy is your kind of gal.

For those of you in a Marvel state of mind, today is the 100th birthday of Sergeant James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, faithful sidekick of Captain America, most recently personified by actor Sebastian Stan. There are a lot of birthday wishes for Bucky appearing on Twitter and Tumblr. He looks damn good for 100.

Finally, for the Harry Potter set, today is Remus Lupin’s birthday as well. I believe per the books he would be somewhere in his late 40s. I’ve seen a few posts celebrating Lupin, also. You really have to love fandoms.

So what does my little outburst of geekdom have to do with writing or publishing? There’s a lot to be said for creating characters that encourage this sort of knowledge and acknowledgement, even celebration. What makes them so beloved? Why do readers and viewers feel so connected to them? How did they become so real? Take a look at the source material for any of the above, or for your own favorite successful works, and figure out what really makes those characters tick.

On that note, I offer up a little more pop culture love, plus a nice assortment of other writerly links to help kick off your weekend. Enjoy, and happy writing!

10 Famous Writers on Loving Buffy the Vampire Slayer – A good group of authors offering up a variety of reasons why they love the show.

7 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Writing Files – Sometimes it’s procrastination, but sometimes it’s just plain necessary. Some helpful advice on getting organized.

How to Develop Relationships with Other Writers – Some excellent tips for finding your writing tribe.

Margaret Atwood on What “The Handmaid’s Tale” Means in the Age of Trump – The author looks at her own work in regards to the current political climate.

Writing Contests in 2017 – A searchable database compiled by the folks at Reedsy. With thanks to Arielle Contreras for the link.

10 Essential Books to Read from Iran – A nice list to help anyone looking to diversify that TBR stack.

 

Friday Links

I was tempted to make this the first-day-of-spring edition, but none of the links I have are particularly spring-like, and also it’s only spring for half the planet, so… I’ll just be happy for Friday and call it a day.

It’s one of those jam-packed, work-filled weekends for me. I’m on vacation week after next, which means I have a longer-than-usual laundry list (in addition to actual laundry) and never enough time. But I hope you all have some fun plans for the next couple of days, whether you’re getting into the swing of slightly better weather, gearing up for fall, or shoveling yet more snow. Reading and writing are excellent activities no matter it’s doing outside, so be sure to squeeze some of those in as well.

But first, I have links! I hope they inspire and entertain. Enjoy!

Stephen King to Share Writing Tips in New Short Story Collection – Each story will feature details about how he wrote it, where the idea came from, etc.

Small Batch Edition: On Loving Romance with Sarah Wendell – Some romance chat and recommendations by way of NPR.

Potter DIY: Marauder’s Map – A fun weekend project for children of all ages.

Publication Opportunities for Writers: April and May 2015 – Calls for work etc. with deadlines in the next couple of months.

Five Ways Being a Writer and a Professional Skateboarder Are the Same – Proof that writing about what you know can sometimes lead to something fun and different.

Happy Halloween!

It feels strange to have Halloween on a Monday, especially since all the parties seemed to have taken place over the weekend. As fast as this year is going, today already feels like November somehow. But it’s officially pumpkin day, so I’m offering a few random treats.

Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) Shows Off Her Haunted Dollhouse – Wonderful photos of a very spooky little house.

Jack-o-Lanterns Inspired by Literature – Photos of some very creative pumpkins.

Why J.K. Rowling Almost Killed Ron Weasley – Fun peek at how the author considered bumping off this member of the famous trio. (Because even your favorite characters can occasionally make you feel murderous.)

Much more coming up here this week, so be sure to check back. I’m going to be sharing a few tips for those of you tackling Nanowrimo (starting tomorrow!) and there’s a giveaway on the horizon as well. Meanwhile, have a happy, safe Halloween, and try not to eat all that candy at once. (It makes a good reward after a writing sprint!)

A Fond Farewell: Saying Goodbye to Characters We Love

It would have been a little difficult to ignore Harry Potter fever this past week leading up to today’s release of the final film in the series. Potter mania is something we’ve all grown used to over the past decade or so, and the knowledge that this would be the last time the world gathered in joint appreciation for the boy wizard and his cohorts has left many people feeling more than a little nostalgic. Certainly, I’m no exception. But for me the true goodbye took place in July of 2007, with the release of the final book.

J.K. Rowling’s world has always been about the books for me, first and foremost. Reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a farewell to the characters, to their adventures, and to the excitement that inevitably preceded the publication of each installment. By contrast, the film was a farewell to these actors we have watched grow up on screen, to little Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, now adults who have graduated from Hogwarts and the fame it afforded them, off to spread their wings in new projects and roles. It has been a pleasure watching them go from ten- and eleven-year-old child actors just finding their feet in the industry to the accomplished performers revealed in this, their last effort for the Potter franchise.

Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint
Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint (credit: CRIENGLISH.com)

Much has been made of the unique format of this series—both books and film—in that J.K. Rowling succeeded in creating a series of books for children where the characters aged in each book (something Warner Brothers was miraculously successful in mimicking by maintaining the cast throughout all eight films). Much of our attachment to these characters comes from that structure—we feel like we really know them all. But the Potter books are not the only ones where children grow up. One has only to look to the Narnia tales—where the Pevensie children age (both forward and backward!) or Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet—with Meg and Charles Wallace Murray going from children to adults, to know that children do not always stay stagnant. It is true there are many series where children or teens appear frozen in time, but in many cases those series are ongoing and episodic, about a collection of similar, repeating adventures with no overriding arc. In fact, the open-ended series is as popular with adult readers, in particular within the mystery and urban fantasy genres. A detective or monster hunter can continue indefinitely through book after book, solving new puzzles and fighting ever-mounting evil.

So when does an author decide to call it quits? How does a writer say goodbye to the characters they love—particularly when the public adores them, too? Part of the beauty of the Harry Potter saga is that Rowling knew from the very beginning how many books she intended to write. She had the arc planned in her head, had written the epilogue for book seven long before she began the book itself, and has maintained that the adventures of Harry Potter are complete. There are rumors, as there always are, that she will give in and return to the world she has created, but would that be the right decision? The books as they stand form a complete and satisfying tale. Yes, she could write early history—delve into Dumbledore’s youthful adventures or give us more stories about the Marauders. Conversely she could push forward and follow young Albus Severus Potter through his own Hogwarts years. But what would that truly accomplish? In the end, she has told the story she planned to tell in the way she planned to tell it, and experienced unprecedented success in the process. There is much to be said for leaving off at the height of that success, rather than continuing on until interest peters out. Too many authors, especially those with open-ended series, write long past the fading of their ideas and end up ending on a sad note, with dwindling sales and/or worsening reviews.

Everything ends. That includes film franchises, television series, and beloved books. Life moves forward and, even if farewells can be a little sad, it is exciting to anticipate what new things will sprout up to replace the old. I, for one, look forward to discovering where J.K. Rowling will take us next.