Wolfgang Smith, A Good Dog and True: 2001-2016

Wolfie

Wolfie was born in a &%^$*&^ puppy mill which is why he had such extreme parrot mouth and looked like a very small, deranged wolf. He was shipped to a pet store where some idiot bought him and then returned him. Then somebody else bought him, and then they gave him to somebody else. I picked him up to take him to Dachshund Rescue as a courier and then refused to hand him over, so I was his fourth owner before he was a year old. We were together for the next fourteen years, through moves to Columbus, two moves in Cincinnati, and one move to New Jersey. He was generally an easy-going dog, aside from the occasional bouts of vamp-face snarling that tapered off as he got older. He had issues. Who doesn’t?

He was the model for Steve in Faking It, and appeared as himself with new puppy Milton in Dogs and Goddesses. I’m sure he’s now chasing squirrels in dog heaven (he always got along with cats), free of the arthritis, blindness, deafness, heart murmur, leg tumor, and other ailments that brought him down in the end.

He is survived by his foster brother, Milton, his foster sisters, Mona and Veronica, and that woman who kept feeding him.

He was a good dog and true, and he will be very much missed.

Person of Interest: Deus Ex Machina: Act Climax As Crisis

One of the conceits I’ve been working with here is that Person of Interest is a five act novel, each season finale acting as a turning point, an event that swings the story in a new direction, raising the stakes, changing character, and escalating the conflict by hurtling the plot forward. If you prefer a classic screenplay structure, then Season One is Act One and the upcoming Season Five is Act Three, leaving the middle three seasons as the arcing middle act with the devastation of Carter’s death hitting at the midpoint/point of no return.

But act/turning point designations don’t have to fall into a rigid pattern. They’re there to make sure that a long form story keeps reinventing itself, not to make a fill-in-the-blanks framework for story. So I’d argue that there are two crisis points in the Person of Interest novel: this episode which defeats the Gang, and the climax of Season Four, which defeats the Machine, a one-two punch that sets up the desperate final act, which begins next Tuesday (May 3), a shortened stretch of narrative that raises the reader/viewer’s anxiety about the story to a fever pitch before providing catharsis in a final story-changing climax.

Well, I’m worried, anyway. Those PoI writers will kill anybody. Continue reading

Person of Interest: RAM: There Is No Good Back Story

When I chose the episode and craft topics, I did it by memory. As a fan of the series, I loved “RAM,” so I thought it’d be a good way to talk about “good back story;” watching it now as a writer, it’s still an excellent story on its own (another written by Denise The), but in the context of the series as a whole, it has two main purposes: explain what happened in the past and provide fan service. The problem is, while it’s fun to know what was happening to Finch and Reese before they joined forces (even more fun to see Shaw at her murderous best), there is nothing in the story that we needed to know. It’s a good episode, but if you were editing the season as a novel, this episode would go. Back story kills, people, no matter how well it’s written.

Previously on Person of Interest: Continue reading

Lavender: Action is Character

This was going to be a comment in answer to the comments on yesterday’s post, but it got long, so . . .

I have to go back through and reply to everybody (I’m just checking dashboard this AM), but there are two things I’m finding interesting about people requesting that Lavender be spared because they like her:

One is the reinforcement for the idea that action is character. Lavender does everything right, that’s why Liz likes her, and her actions are what everybody here is citing.

But the other is the complete failure of another method of characterization, what other characters say about the character. Continue reading

Thank You!

I surrender to destiny my beta readers.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. The comments on the WiP are gold, and since they’re here on the blog, I can find them if and when I ever finish Liz. (I think I started her in 2008?) And having looked over all of them, I think you’re all absolutely right (except Lavender dies). Continue reading

Person of Interest: 4C, Character in Crucible

One of the most heinous crimes a writer can commit in relationship stories is the Big Misunderstanding. After spending many chapters/episodes building a strong relationship the reader/viewer can invest in, instead of looking at the very real, character-driven problems that might test a bond, the crisis descends into a misunderstanding that any solid relationship would defuse with an intelligent question. So forget the “I saw you kissing that woman” “That was my sister” stuff; if you want to test a relationship, give it a real test, something that just talking won’t solve. That kind of test almost always goes to character: In this situation, no matter how much this character believes in this relationship, he or she has to walk away. Continue reading