Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Season Finales Teach About Series Writing (Part Three: HIMYM and Revenge)

Quick Update: SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER! Yep, it’s been my first week of summer break and…I’ve done absolutely nothing extraordinary. Even the video-game I’m playing is one I’ve finished before. Pathetic, I know.

Song Stuck In My Head: “Home” by Phillip Phillips. And “Volcano” by Phillip Phillips. And “U Got It Bad” by Phillip Phillips. And “Time of the Season” by Phillip Phillips. Etc. What? This is the first time I picked a favorite from the audition, and the first time one of my favorites WON AMERICAN IDOL! Let me celebrate, even if it’s a week after the finale.

Well, continuing from last week’s series, SSF is exploring all the wonderful things that not-so-wonderful season finales can teach us about series writing.

Today, we tackle HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (the reigning queen of funny twist endings) and REVENGE, the dark, murder-filled prime-time soap that people watch from guilty pleasure alone.


As all HIMYM fans know (and non-fans will learn now so, er, *spoiler alert*) this past season began almost swimmingly. Our hopeless romantic hero Ted, who just can’t seem to get a girl, was at a wedding. A wedding where the groom happens to be Ted’s womanizing second-best friend, Barney. Say what? We know. Well, according to Ted, who tells the whole show in flashbacks, that was the wedding where he met THE MOTHER. Oh yeah.

So what did the first episode of season 7 do? Why tease, of course. Ted was going to the unidentified bride’s room to talk with her. Oh yes! Viewers everywhere think. We are making good progress! Viewers everywhere think. Then, after promising to reveal all very soon, the rest of the season is plagued by every other plotline in the world except flashbacks to Barney’s future wedding (yes, all very confusing, try to keep up).

But the season finale didn’t completely disappoint. After Barney proposed to stripper girlfriend Quinn, Ted finally made it to the bride’s room…oh wait, that bride’s Robin? Throw out the party celebration banners everyone, it’s time for another HIMYM-style mindfuck. But hey, at least HIMYM did us one favor: it finished what it started. After raising one question at the beginning of the year, it answered it. Congrats.

Harry Potter translation: Let’s take…Goblet of Fire. At the beginning, we get a variety of questions. Why is Harry having dreams of an old gardener getting killed? Who were those creepy masked guys at the Quidditch World Cup? Who made Voldemort’s mark appear in the sky and what the hell is his problem? At the end, all of those questions get answered…we just may not like the answer.


REVENGE teaches us to be badass!!! Just kidding, it teaches us to NOT LEAVE STUFF THE SAME

Ah, Revenge is its own  brand of mindfuck. In one episode, it manages to make us believe that three villains are dead, two heroes are in trouble, one annoying girl is pregnant, and that break-ups aren’t so bad after all. Once the finale is over, we pause and say, “Hey, wait just a second, are you just messing with us? That chick’s not really dead, is she? And she’s not really pregnant! IT’S ALL A SCHEME! A HOAX! THIS SHOW ISN’T EVEN REAL! WE’RE ALL DREAMING RIGHT NOW, AREN’T WE?


Anyhow, Revenge does like to keep us guessing. It also makes sure that nothing is ever the same. At the beginning of the season, “Emily” was a mysterious outsider who had murder in her eyes for a small group of prissy elite. By the end of the season, Emily’s emotions kept her from cold killing and it turns out she can’t blame her problems on these rich people because there’s a whole bigger, badder conspiracy at work.

The other subplots have their fair share of changes, but this change is the only important part. The character shifts, the antagonist shifts, the motives shifts, and the whole entire story takes a step up. What else could we could ask for? Season two is bound to drop some jaws too. For now, we’ll just keep guessing.

Hunger Games translation: At the beginning of book one, we got a tough, independent girl who avoided the idea of government/the Capitol and whose only concerns were food. Once the first chapter’s over, we got a crazed yet admired girl whose only concerns are making sure the government/Capitol feels her wrath. Really, Katniss is still as strong-headed and determined as always…but now she has I-killed-people baggage to carry around and her fair share of mortal enemies. AND NOTHING SHALL EVER BE THE SAME!!!

Okay. All for today, boys and girls.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Season Finales Teach About Series Writing (Part Two: Glee/Once Upon a Time)

Quick Update: Survived Chemistry finals. I think. Erm, if I don't show up tomorrow you know why, how's that?

Song Stuck In My Head: "Through Glass" by Stone Sour. Pandora radio and I have made up.

So, continuing SSF's new series on how those horrible SEASON FINALES could aid as writers...


Yeah, Glee season numero three came to an end last night, with Rachel Berry alone as she sang her way into New York City (and oddly, had no one look at her those whole entire three-four minutes). But in classic Glee style, there was a lot of bouncing back and forth between characters. While with any other show this would be a horrible thing, with so many characters to juggle, there was a decent amount of closure for each main character.

The really surprising was that a lot of the ties on the subplots weren't exactly closed doors. They were opening new ones. So while it managed to end every subplot, it set up the basis for just as many new ones next year.

This is difficult to do in a series, especially with the more characters you juggle. But the important thing is to remember that while this is the end of this story for your main character, it should be the end of a chapter for your other characters too. Sure Rachel is about to go on and be famous at her arts school, but what about Kurt and Blaine? Or Puck graduating? Or Brittany and Santana? Or Coach's baby? Tie up every bow you started, and make sure you have something new to develop on for the next chapter.

Harry Potter translation: How the epilogue somehow manages to cover every character and moreorless what they've been up to the past 19 years.


For all the talk of subplots and side characters, remember, the end of one chapter is when your character gets the moment. After all, the pathway to the next chapter is all theirs.

In Once Upon a Time, the fairy-tale-themed Lost, our season finale really does give us a lot of Emma, the protagonist. She's the daughter of Cinderella and Prince Charming turned private detective who must more or less save the fairy tale people from the curse on them that keeps them trapped in the real world. And after episode and episode of her in denial, not only did Emma come to grips with her destiny but she went heads-on with it.

Heads-on how? Well, let's just say there's a lot of personal revealing. And dragon slaying.

Anyhow, for a lot of the episode, it is just Emma and Emma becoming the hero of the story. Which is all we needed for a season finale, especially with a twist ending that'll cruise us right into season two.

Hunger Games translation: In the end, we do get a lot of one-on-one time with our lovely Katniss and Peeta, until all that's left is the two of them, our two main characters. And Katniss herself has a lot of alone time and self-discovery moments in the end of each book.

Well, that's all for today. Time to go see Phillip Phillips win American Idol.

(That's right. I'll bet money if I must.)


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What Season Finales Teach About Series Writing (Part One: Secret Circle/New Girl)

Quick Update: Read my update/apology here. Other than that, about to do finals for chemistry tomorrow. Scared would be an understatement.

Song Stuck In My Head: "You Know You're Right" by Nirvana. Been listening to this like crazy for no reason whatsoever.

Ah, it's that time of year when you just want to punch your fist through your TV. Yep: it's season finales time.

However, as writers, there's actually much to learn in all those twists, surprises, tears, unhappy endings, and overall #WTF moments in those TV show season finales especially if you are a series/trilogy/something-gy writer. I'm exploring some random TV show finales and the golden nuggets of knowledge they teach us. I'm also giving Harry Potter and Hunger Games examples, both very relatable and well-known series.


So the Secret Circle was once The CW's attempt to cap on the success of Vampire Diaries by adapting another L.J Smith fave, but it hasn't been too half-bad as of late. In fact (won't get into too much show vocabulary in case you haven't seen it) after two of the witches in the "circle" of six teenage witches learn their father happens to be part of a "super race" of witches, he decides to kill off the weaker witches (say, like the rest of the circle) with a curse so it's just the (moreorless) super witches like the three of them. They stop him just in time, thus killing the guy who was both evil out of his mind and way too connected to them.

But already, a new maybe-villain has been incorporated. Not thrown in: incorporated. The other "super" witches persay are already headed for them. After all, they are all connected...they just want to get to know the two witches in the circle, and recruit them. They're teenagers who all ditched their own circles to be together with their own kind. Whether or not they'll be friend of foe...that is the question.

The Secret Circle ends perfectly, with a shot of the incoming super-witches arriving in town, no faces shown. They're clearly there to collect the two new witches, unaware that the two won't be so willing to abandon their circle. There won't be a new villain just randomly introduced, they have a connection to the past villain (other than petty revenge).

Hunger Games Translation: The new villains in Catching Fire and Mockingjay are the Capitol, before just puppeteers in the first book/but now full-fledged, fighting bad guys.


Fox's hit adorkable show reached a new levels of adult and young, 20-something relationships with its finale. While there have been hints at goofy Jess and cynical Nick's possible chemistry before, despite being roommates, there have also been just as many times when that possibility had been crushed. Like when the two almost get in a threesome with their landlord. Or when the two got involved with new girls/beaus and then their exes (at the same time).

But then the writers decided to have an actual path set out. After having odd closure with her ex, the lovely Justin Long,  Jess is almost thrown off by the fact that Nick hasn't done the same with his ex. When the two decide to move in together, thus taking Nick away from the apartment, she's thrown even farther off. While Jess never really comes out and says it, or talks to anybody it, it's clear that she does NOT want Nick to leave or leave with his ex. And very subtlety, we get hints of a "Ness" in the future.

At the end, Nick does break it off with his ex and move back in the apartment. He had a few reasons to, and maybe even one of that is Jess...but not that he comes right out and says it. The most we get is Jess and him smiling at each other, and him being welcomed back. No her running into his arms. No him saying "she wasn't the one I wanted. You were." Just a very subtle, gentle shove in the "Ness" direction.

There a lot of ways to do this. As for a Harry Potter translation, think in Order of the Phoenix, when Ron jokes that if Harry and Ginny would be a better couple to him than Ginny and Dean. And what happens in the next book? Oh, wait...HARRY AND GINNY DATE! WHATTT!?

Be subtle. That's all.

That's all for today. This is (hopefully) a series post, so (hopefully) I will be back to bother you guys tomorrow.


Return of the SSF (And LOlcatz apology)

Guess who's back? Back again? Some Screaming Fangirl's back! TELL A FRIEND!

Yeah, so SSF has moreorless vanished from the web these past...three weeks? My excuses (ahem): number one, blogging break. Didn't think I'd need one after A-Z, but there you go. Two, SCHOOL. I know, I know, I'm a high school junior, what the heck do I know? But combine school work with managing journalism projects and anxiety and stalking school crush and summer weather and lack of sleep and you get one VERY braindead teenager. Three, every library closes early around beginning of summer. It's ridiculous.

No more excuses now. Let us blog, blog like we've never blogged before!

Oh wait. I need to my necessary apologize-via-Lolcatz.

Here you go!

 And possibly earning the award for most friggin' adorable...