Final Space dropped this year and it grew on me like a beautifully animated fungus.
For those not familiar with the show, IMDB describes it as:
“An astronaut named Gary and his planet-destroying sidekick called Mooncake embark on serialized journeys through space in order to unlock the mystery of where the universe actually ends and if it actually does exist.”
I describe it as Invader Zim meets Star Wars with a dash of found-family and a nice helping of pathological sincerity. It’s great. Which of course means I’m now going to critically rip it to pieces. It’s how I show my love.
Here are some lessons — good and bad — that we should all take from Final Space.
SPOILERS AHOY! (Also very slight spoilers for The Haunting of Hill House)
A masterful story is a lot of things. It carries plot, characterisation, tension, meaning, and absolutely, unequivocally does not make its audience go, “What? Where the fuck did that come from?”
The WTF reaction from your audience is one of the fastest ways to get people to hate your story. There’s a reason people froth at the mouth when discussing the Deus ex Machina trope. People hate feeling left out of the loop.
The loop, in this case, being the Setup/Payoff cycle.
Spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok ahead! I also allude to scenes and sequences from Star Wars: The Last Jedi and both Guardians of the Galaxy movies just FYI.
I saw Thor: Ragnarok in cinemas when I was having a particularly rough time and for a brief, shining moment the world was good again. My pain was forgotten, my depression cured, flowers bloomed beneath my feet as I left the cinema and bunnies stood poised to break into song.
Taika Waititi is the sort of storyteller I would step over a body to have a beer with. As someone who’s been steadily falling out of love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the last few years, Thor: Ragnarok was like a shot of adrenalin. It was funny, it was heartfelt, and it broke so many rules but in the best of ways.
Here’s my rundown of what writers can learn from Thor: Ragnarok.
Writing is all about empathy. It’s about putting yourself in a character’s shoes and doing your best to understand their perspective on life. Sometimes your characters have a lot in common with you, so it’s relatively easy to step into their head. Sometimes they don’t, and it isn’t. When it comes to the latter, research is your best friend.
If you’re here, you’re probably researching how to write a character with chronic pain. Or you’re my mum (hi mum!). So, welcome! I’m here to tell you a bit about what it’s like to be in pain 99.9% of one’s time. Because I have first-hand experience in this arena and boy HOWDY do some writers get it very, very wrong.
Spoilers for The Shape of Water ahead!
The Shape of Water is out in cinemas and I’ve never been more creatively in love with Guillermo del Toro. This isn’t a surprise, honestly. Del Toro’s previous movies are some of my absolute favourites and I have a long-standing obsession with all things fairytale, both as a reader and a writer. So I entered the cinema with high hopes and left with actual, literal tears of happiness on my face.
But while I could spend 1000 words waxing poetic about The Shape of Water in general, I instead want to spend 1000 words waxing poetic about what The Shape of Water can teach writers. Because, my dudes, this movie is a finely-crafted masterclass of storytelling.
Here, in no particular order, are the main writing lessons I took away from The Shape of Water.