Friday, June 11, 2010

Waiting for all the pieces to fit together.

I'm finally getting around to watching the first season of Sons of Anarchy. It's a show I've heard is pretty great, and really compelling. Sons and Breaking Bad, and Treme, have been on my must see list.

And Sons has a lot of amazing components. Amazing acting, some really interesting writing, tons of room for drama, considering the hero is second in command at a gun running motorcycle club, and even a cute leading man. I'm enjoying it, but not loving it.

It has all the components of great TV, but that something special is missing. It's just not as fun as True Blood, not as well paced and beautifully detailed as Mad Men, or exciting as Battlestar. It's missing the crucial piece to make it great TV.

And it's an interesting case study. I've read a few books recently, where all the individual pieces are great, and all present. Characterization, pacing, mystery, all there, but the book is still not compelling. Right now, because my brain can't quite hit on what's missing, I'm going to say the magic isn't present. The magic that takes all the individual components and makes something remarkable.

And right now, as I struggle through a first draft, magic is the last thing on my mind on a daily basis. All I'm thinking about right now is "just keep swimming"...

9 comments:

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh my - I so understand what you mean. I had a little dry spell with book after the Hamilton book and so I remembered I had the Joseph Boyden follow up to Three Days Road, which I had raved about earlier.

Two LINES in - so much magic. And it just kept getting better.

Sometimes it's there - sometimes it's not and maybe it's impossible to pin down and that's why it's so special.

Eileen said...

Oh, the magic, the "je ne sais quoi," the sparkle . . . so important and so impossible to pin down and define.

I'm in the middle of a first draft, too (well, maybe not quite the middle, but darn close!) and you're right. I'm not thinking about magic or sparkle and yet I often think that's where the best stuff happens. I'm just trying to get that story down on the paper and something flies out of my fingertips - some great moment of sexual tension or a funny turn of phrase or a cliffhanger scene ending and even I'm surprised by it.

Love it when that happens. I wish I could make it happen in every sentence.

Maureen McGowan said...

The magic is hard to find... and I think it's something that can't be forced or pushed. If it can be, and someone knows the recipe, then please, share. :)

If I were to guess... I'd say magic comes from passion and the author truly loving the story. But even then, the author's passion doesn't always end up on the page (or TV screen).

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, and I started watching the first season of Friday Night Lights again... because we were telling Eileen to and I wanted to make sure it lived up to my memories, and because I needed another excuse to stay up till 4:00 am now that there's not much on TV. G'ah.

Amazing. I had to watch all 4 episodes on the first disk back to back, plus all the deleted scenes, plus the "making of the first season" special -- (don't watch that when you watch the first disk, Eileen. There are big spoilers.)

Anyway, I can't believe how many of the big story arcs that are still ongoing in season 4 started in that pilot episode. I also can't believe how hard I cried.

Sinead M said...

That first season... to have the joy of watching that for the first time all over again..

I write people off based on their reaction to that season:)

the magic is tough. Some books have so much of everything except the magic and they are tough to read and some books have so litte proficiency and so much magic...
To me the best example of that is Twilight.

Eileen said...

Oh, you did not use the T word, did you, Sinead? Are we going to have to throw-down at Nationals over this?

I'm already imagining the two of us tussling in a hotel ballroom dressed to kill. :-)

I'm not sure where the magic comes from. I know I've had stories that I've loved loved loved that no one wanted to buy and others that other people seem to love that I wasn't nearly as passionate about.

Sinead M said...

Eileen, as much fun as a tussle in evening wear sounds.. we'll have to find something else.
I despised T, hated it, but there has to magic there for it to have inspired so much love and devotion..

but then again, the Justin Bieber thing is so beyond my understanding either....

Eileen said...

Oh, fine, maybe we'll just have a big sloppy kiss in our evening wear to celebrate our mutual hatred of all things T. Either way, we might be able to sell tickets. :-)

prashant said...
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