Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Raising The Stakes Too High

There are going to be spoilers in this piece with regard to I, Frankenstein and Knowing.

In a story, the stakes are what will be lost if the protagonist does not succeed or does not defeat the antagonist. As a story progresses, tension and interest from the viewer or reader is supposed to increase as the stakes are raised as the story progresses.

I contend that in a story the stakes can be raised too high. In my opinion this is a mistake that is often made by story tellers, especially those who write screenplays. The risk of raising stakes too high is destroying the viewer's or reader's willing suspension of disbelief.

I saw I Frankenstein a few days ago. This film is a prime example of raising the stakes too high. The plot involves a war between demons and gargoyles in which Frankenstein's monster finds himself in its midst. A young woman who is a genetic scientist unknowingly gets involved with helping the demons and she becomes the B story, although some time after act two is well underway.

At that point the audience can identify with Adam, Frankenstein's monster and the young scientist. Threatening her would be raising the stakes enough because the audience can identify with her, like her and care about her. Taking the story there would have sufficiently involved the audience which would then look forward to a decent resolution.

However the story raised the stakes way beyond that. The story moved on to the threat of thousands of dead bodies being brought to life they way Frankenstein's monster was brought to life and then having the souls of fallen demons possessing them. This would lead to the defeat of the gargoyles and the destruction and enslavement of all mankind.

Besides being a tired old cliché threatening all mankind is just something readers and viewers do not or cannot identify with. It's just too much to take on and it puts a very high strain on the audience's willing suspension of disbelief.

One of the worst examples of this was in the movie, Knowing. In that movie by the end of the second act it was determined that the earth would be destroyed with everyone on it. That made the entire third act completely tedious and when I saw the movie at the end of the second act the entire audience became restless and wanted the movie to end so they could leave.

There were two flaws in that story. One was having the resolution to the story at the beginning of the  third act instead of at the end of the movie. It's like this. When the story resolves it's over. The other was threatening all mankind. Oh, look the movie has ended with the destruction of all mankind and I'm still here. Hmmmm.

By all means raise the stakes but instead of making them too high, make the audience really care about the characters that will be threatened. Your story will be much more interesting and much more involving.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

This is What a Whiteout Looks Like

I took these pictures today, Sunday, January 19, 2014 from inside. I'm not going out in it unless I have to and I don't have to.

There are people out driving under these conditions on a Sunday. I hope they have somewhere to go that's really important.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More Photographs Around My Home

I felt a bit restless today so when I went out to check my mail I took my camera and took some pictures. The thing is what is right there that I tend to take for granted every day has quite a bit of aesthetic value. You don't have to go far to get some nice pictures.

Note the sign. Note the tracks.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Scan of an Article I Wrote for Fire Fighting In Canada

Here are some scanned images of an article I wrote for Fire Fighting In Canada. The article is about the first Canadian Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony in 2004.

We spent eighteen months preparing the ceremony and we got the top of the flag pointing in the wrong direction. According to protocol the top of the flag should be to the viewer's left. It's been correct every year since then.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

What To Do With Winter: Photograph It

It's Sunday, January 5, 2014 and we have snow. I took the following pictures from my window because I didn't go out. This is how much of the season will look until the spring. In addition to that people take their Christmas lights down and that adds to the dreary nature of things.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Some Photographs Around My Home in Greely

I went out today to take pictures. It was really cold out so I didn't go far and I didn't stay out long. Still I think I found some interesting things to photograph and one or two of my pictures might even be winners.