Looking Askance at the “How I Met Your Mother” Finale (Spoilers!)

(Big spoilers ahoy! For the whole series! And it won’t make sense to you if you haven’t seen the show!)

So… that turned out to be pretty divisive.

A lot of television series that go on for too many seasons run into the problem of a canon that grew randomly limiting the choices that can be made. This is what doomed the final season and finale of How I Met Your Mother.

HIMYM is a great show, and is one of my favorite sit-coms due to its daring format and great cast. Throughout its run, the creators and their writing staff really tried a lot of bold things and succeeded with them more often than not. Since the story is framed as a flashback, they were able to do a lot with that idea, including some seriously great non-linear storytelling within episodes. The actors’ chemistry worked. Neil Patrick Harris swaggered across the screen like a randy god of comedy. They managed a balance of hilarity with occasionally poignancy that worked very well most of the time. But the finale…

I can see why some people liked it. If you were a Ted/Robin ‘shipper, then you probably found it satisfying. I respected the choices that were made for the finale and even the final season, but feel that the showrunners painted themselves into a corner in several respects.

In the early seasons, Robin and Ted’s on-again-off-again romance did one of two things to viewers: made them want the two to get together, or made them really, really not want them to get together. I’ve been in the latter camp since about season 3 or 4 (but definitely by the time that Robin and Barney dated). I never thought the match made sense after a certain point. At first, Ted and Robin created balance for each other. Their early breakups were about people in their late 20s being unsure of themselves. But later attempts a reconciliation smacked of settling, and it felt like that to me even at the final scene of the series. But look, the writers had to get Ted/Robin back together or they would have created a deeply tragic figure out of Robin due to her extreme loneliness. Her marriage to Barney didn’t work, she was unable to have children, and she had become even more of a cat lady (but with dogs) than she was originally.

The Robin problem lead to something even weirder, particularly in the context of a sit-com about meeting the mother of your children: they had to kill off the mother.

Who we just met! And really liked!

Rather than the interminable lead-up to Robin and Barney’s doomed marriage, I would have liked to see a final season that started out with meeting the mother, followed by some great episodes integrating her into the group, and then she comes out at the end and finally tells Ted to stops telling their kids all of his crazy stories. But the writers went the way of something more literary – too literary for the sit-com format, I think. And the whole thing just didn’t feel right. Why? Because in hindsight the character of Robin ultimately drove the writing of the later seasons and the finale more than the mother and Ted did. The show if not called “How I Met Your ‘Aunt’ Robin”. The scene that stood out the most to me in the finale was the one between Robin and Lily in the empty apartment. The tragic nature of Robin’s situation overpowered anything the writers did to try to moderate it.

Once the writers painted themselves in to that corner, they just had to build a door where they could based on the canon they’d created. It’s just too bad a comedy of this quality throughout most of the run turned out to be so, so bittersweet.

 

Post NaNoWriMo Editing Sale!

Please note: this sale has ended!


Hello to all you NaNoWriMo participants and winners! I hope that you achieved your goal for the month… whether that was to churn out 50,000 words of Nobel Laureate-worthy prose or just to get back in the swing of creative writing. Me? I didn’t get the word count, but I did get some work done on my work-in-progress, so go me!

Now that we’re all done celebrating our writerly prowess and awake again after our turkey comas, it’s time to… keep writing more! And making sure it’s the best it can be.

I promised a sale on editing services in honor of NaNo (you don’t have to be a winner), so here it is: 25% off of ALL services, big and small. Check my rates here. For work that I don’t charge a per-word rate for, we’ll go through a friendly negotiation and then take 25% off of that.

That’s not all. If you want to sample my services and see what it’s like to work with me in the easiest way, I’ve got deal the for you. Send me up to 5,000 words, and I’ll give it an edit and brief commentary for $35 flat. Simple! (In case you were wondering, that’s $0.007/word!)

“You’re crazy!!” you are probably saying. Nope. Just excited to see what everyone is working on. So contact me today so we can start talking about making your masterpiece even better. It’s going to be fun.

(Offer ends January 31, 2014. Resolve to take advantage of this deal before it’s gone! (See what I did there?!) And again – you don’t have to have had anything to do with NaNoWriMo this year to take advantage of this offer.)

NaNoWriMo: Last Day. You Can Do It.

In 2010, I did NaNo, but I also had a big Thanksgiving trip planned to California’s Central coast. It was an amazing trip, but needless to say, I barely got any writing done.

Before I left I had about 39,000 words. When I returned, I had about 40,000. I was pretty pleased with that, truth be told, but I wanted more. I really wanted to finish.

So I did. On the 30th, I had nothing planned, so…

Eight hours.

10,000 words.

Boom.

It was a great feeling to get that done.

You can too.

Once more into the breach!

NaNoWriMo: Halfway home. Stuck yet??

Hi, everybody! Sorry I dropped off the map. Between NaNo and the nice little boost of editing and non-profit work you’ve been sending my way (many thanks to you all!), I’ve been busy. I suppose that as soon as I committed to NaNo and started running the sale on non-profit consulting, that work would ensue… but I have room for more! Please contact me today to get some great deals on editing. I am super-fun to work with, if I do say so myself. And as I recall, I promised you all a NaNo editing special. That’s still coming, I just needed to put it off a bit. Look for it around Thanksgiving.

End PSA. On with the post!


Today is the end of the first half of NaNoWriMo. Dun-dun-dunnnnn!

Hit the doldrums yet?! I hope not. But if you did, here’s a few more ideas to get you going again:

  • Write from a different/new character viewpoint. New blood = new story.
  • Do something random. Add a flock of menacing ducks. An angry bank teller. Have an alien invasion at the mall. Make all the zombies start getting better. You know… weird stuff.
  • Talk out your story situation with friends or family. Have them give you random ideas for new conflict and then draw one from a hat.

Or maybe this is you: “I missed three days, and am waaaay behind. Help!”

  • Don’t panic.
  • Worry even less about typos.
  • Worry even less about the story making sense – as long as you can keep it going in a good/fun direction.
  • Make sure that you end your writing day in the middle of a scene rather than completing it. That way you know what you are going to write right off the bat next session, and it will be easier to get going.
  • Remove yourself from your normal situations. For example: Use an app that counts words, but isn’t one that you typically use or go outside or to a cafe to write.
  • Set up a reward system. Make it good. What are your favorite little things in life? Do that for yourself.
  • A couple of cheapies, but goodies: stretch descriptions and conversations. Make characters wax eloquent about otherwise boring details in a fun way. Describe every hair on the back of the murderous cat that is the villain of your sci-fi, alternate history.

Whatever you have to do to get that word count! And that brings up the question: what are YOU doing to keep yourself going? Share in the comments! You might help someone achieve their NaNo goal today.

Keep going, everybody! You can do it! Have a blast.

I’ll try to post sooner rather than later, but I’ll not make any specific promises. And please send me some more work! 🙂

It’s Four Days into NaNo. How are you doing??

Hopefully better than me! I started day one like gangbusters, but fell off on day two. Too much outside non-NaNo life intruded. This is all too typical of NaNo. Day two can be tough: the shine is already off and many folks think: Wait. I have to do all that AGAIN?

Yes, you do, but it’ll be alright. Here’s some things that you may be telling yourself already and some tips to get through them. Because you’re so very wrong about what you’re telling yourself!

I’ll never be able stick to it.

Don’t say that. Of course you will! Some days will be better than others and some days will be… awful. Just know that tomorrow is another day. And make sure that you have a good support system in place so people can kindly shame you into continuing when you think you’re ready to give up. Laugh at yourself. Writing a novel in one month is crazy funny. And don’t forget: crazy fun. It’s supposed to be fun!

I’m Terrified of the Blank Page.

Don’t worry. No one is judging you, aside from – most likely – you. Put that voice aside and get creating. You don’t have to be William Faulkner or Stephen King right off the bat. Just be you. The world already has plenty of Faulkner and King; it needs more YOU. Put something on the page or screen and then put something else. Don’t stop. Just write. BICHOK it. That’s “Butt In Chair; Hands On Keyboard.” Go. No judgement allowed.

I’m still stuck. Any more advice, brainiac?

  • If you’re going to worry about quality anyway, try this: deliberately set out to write something you hate or is bad, as long as it’s within the context of your story. The trick is this: write the best nonsensical crap you can. Pulitzer crap. Once the juices are flowing again, you’ll just write your story.
  • Try writing about the noises you hear outside or in the office wherever you are.
  • Type what you’re feeling about being anxious and then put it into a character. Make sure that they overcome some part of their issues before the end of the scene.
  • Ask a random passersby for an idea on setting or character quirk or bad-guy doomsday scenario. Then use it verbatim. With permission.

Whew. I’m going to take my own advice here and get back to work!

What are you doing to get through your early NaNo roadblocks? Or what are you doing that’s allowed you to avoid them? Please share in the comments!

It’s NaNoWriMo Eve! What are you doing as last-minute prep?

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 9.15.20 AMI spent yesterday and this morning deciding what I’m doing for NaNo this year. I’m excited that I decided on a work in progress (WiP): an epic urban fantasy/sci-fi frankenstein monster of awesomeness that’s I only need to make about… 50,000 words of progress on to finish. How convenient! I was going to do something wacky like create a video game script based on a fantasy novel that is also in progress, but maybe later. That would have required more prep time than I’ve had lately.

I’ve got to get a few ideas together and maybe make a new playlist or two, but otherwise, I’m set. What are you doing to prep today?

Oh, and If any of you are signed up at NaNoWriMo.org, find me. I’m right here. We can be novel buddies and cheer each other on!

Good luck, everyone!

NaNoWriMo Tools – Part 4: Going Portable

I did a huge percentage of my first NaNoWriMo in 2007 while commuting by train. I did my third one largely on my iPhone with two thumbs and raucous movie soundtracks blaring through the headphones. I was working full time, not living the beautiful, flexible life of a freelance editor with a sense of humor, so I had to squeeze the writing into my schedule where I could. Like a lot of you will! The easy way to go is a laptop, but these days, that’s not the only way to get NaNo done. I started using my iPad and iPhone so much, that I don’t even have a laptop any more! (Mac Mini, since you asked.)

Portability is really big for NaNo, and here are some ways to go about it for your non-laptop portable device… and a couple for the laptop diehards as well!

Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive or other cloud-based file storage service

Just from a back up standpoint, one of these services is a must. My Scrivener file is set to auto-save like every two seconds and it is immediately backed up to Dropbox. From a portability standpoint, these services (potentially) tie into various word-processing solutions. (See below and here.)

PlainText

This is the one that I use right now to get my Scrivener files portable. It’s a bit tricky to do, but it works well. Here’s a video that Keith made awhile back that describes the process. Please watch it carefully! It’s a hair cumbersome, manual sync, but once it’s set up, it works very well for heavy Scrivener users. One downside is a lack of formatting (plaintext only), but in NaNo, who has time for that anyway? (Another note: they are building Scrivener for iOS as we speak. And when it comes, there will be much rejoicing!)

SimpleNote

Ostensibly a note-taking app, it’s cross platform and works nicely with… you guessed it: Scrivener.

Google Drive/Apps

You could just write the whole thing in Google Docs. Works on your computer, phone, tablet, and probably your Xbox360. Downsides? Need internet connection to stay updated, though there is an offline mode for computers.

LogMeIn Free

This is great to use on your work computer. During your lunch break, of course! (Wink, wink.) Why use a stripped-down setup on the go, when you can beam in to your meticulously crafted NaNo mission control? Works great on computers and very well on tablets. Smartphone experience is a bit compromised, but more than doable if a brainwave hits you while on the bus.

Yarny.me

A reader clued me into this one, and it looks lovely. You need an internet connection, but Yarny’s desktop web interface is uncluttered and simple to use and they have a free iOS app. It actually reminds me of a web version of Scrivener. You can tag and search, color code, move chunks of text around easily, and more. You can export to plain and rich text, as well as straight to ePub. And it counts words.

So many ways to go portable. How do you do it? Let everyone know in the comments!

(Only one more NaNo Tools post to go, and it’s going to be a fun one. Sorry… it’s a surprise!)