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.
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
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 backstory.” 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
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 that 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. If you want a strong story, forget the “I saw you kissing that woman” “That was my sister” stuff; give your relationship 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
Previously on Person of Interest:
“The Perfect Mark” is one of those everybody’s-crooked con stories that was probably pretty good, but by this point, the HR story is so compelling that it just got in the way of the good stuff, culminating in the shootout in which Lasky dies, Carter shoots his killer, and gets the dying crooked cop to point out the head of HR: Quinn. Best part of the entire episode: That fistbump between Reese and Carter in the car. It’s a beautiful thing. Continue reading
I began to watch a John Sayles movie called Lone Star several years ago and almost turned it off because it kept switching to new characters with new problems. I can’t remember now how many–six? eight?–but I was completely confused. Fortunately, the writing was great and the actors were exceptional, so I stuck around. And as I watched, those multiple stories slowly converged, and as they converged, they added layers to each other. What had seemed like fairly straight forward character stories became complex, what happened in one story shifted the other, plot points took on different meanings, and I couldn’t look away. As I remember, I didn’t understand the impact of everything until the very last lines of the very last scene. It was a perfect inverted pyramid plot, everything resting on the final words.
This episode reminded me of that the first time I saw it. Continue reading
I wrote a book once about a depressed divorcee. Well, she perked up fairly quickly, but she was depressed in the beginning. And that taught me a valuable lesson: Never write a depressed protagonist. They’re usually immobilized, unhappy, and frankly, depressing. It’s nice to have a 180 arc, but it’s possible to start too low.
I think the emotionally-stunted Shaw presented the PoI writers with much the same challenge. Shaw isn’t depressed, she just has a personality disorder that makes it difficult for her to feel emotion. And that in turn is why it would be difficult for us to feel emotion for her: there’s nothing for us to relate to.
So why do so many of us love Shaw so much? Continue reading
By the time you get to the third season of a series (or the third novel in a series), you’ve probably built up an embarrassment of cast riches: there are a lot of people your viewer/reader wants to see again. Plus whatever relationship problems or secrets your central cast has are probably ironed out, so when everybody gets together, it’s just fun.
Unfortunately, the last thing an exciting story needs is a lot of shiny, happy people, which is why Person of Interest rips our hearts out halfway through this season and stomps them to a pulp.
But before that, they did some fan service and made use of that wonderful extended cast. Here’s what happened before this episode: Continue reading
First, I forgot to do the “Previously on . . .” with the individual episodes we’re skipping yesterday, so I’m going with a fast second season recap instead. If you want to skip this, jump down to the row of asterisks: ********* Continue reading
Once you have your story world and people in place (usually after the first act), you can start to layer your characters (and your plots and subplots, but that’s tomorrow). By Season Two, everybody knows how the Machine works, that it also works for the government, that the agency it works for is ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill anyone it thinks might be a threat to the Machine. At that point, it’s time to change things up. Things are going to get worse, yes, but they’re also going to get more complex. Continue reading