Ask Steve Perry

Started by Corporal Hicks, May 06, 2007, 09:22:14 PM

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Ask Steve Perry (Read 186,988 times)

SiL

SiL

#60
Quote from: steveperry on May 24, 2007, 12:38:29 AM
Yeah, but at least Scott knows how to make movies. He has a great visual sense.
Ouch! Fincher also clearly knows how to make a movie - Fight Club and Se7en, anyone? - with one of the best visual styles out there.

He just never got the chance to utilize it to its full potential what with the dicking around with the studio (Re-writes, gaps in filming, constantly being denied creative decisions, not being allowed to finish the film...)

steveperry

steveperry

#61
Quote from: SM on May 22, 2007, 09:19:11 PM
QuoteCowardly boogie-men?

QuoteShooting at inferior (script considerations aside) prey from long range, with energy weapons, while invisible, always struck me as rather cowardly.  Then when they ditch the weapons and go mano-a-mano they get their arses handed to them.

Like the Fezzik the giant in Princess Bride when he says, "My way is not very sportsmanlike ..."

Human hunters take down Bambi from a distance using weapons, and Bambi can't shoot back at all. At least humans have a chance against Predators, as you have pointed out. Man is the most dangerous local game, and if you have a weapon that'll kill your opponent, he can't get any deader if it's a knife, rifle, or pocket nuke.

Besides, being invisible doesn't always help when somebody opens up on the whole forest with an electric minigun ...

Let's see: Predators are bigger, stronger, faster, better trained, hard to hurt and kill, but the one-on-one human wins? Only in movies. The smart money bets on the Predators hand-to-hand against a man. Creature can backhand you and knock you twenty feet through the air? Be worse than you in a fight with a six-year-old kid. I wouldn't give any kind of odds on the kid winning.

Yeah, Predators are arrogant and they underestimate their opponents, which is always a bad idea. If they believed humans were as good as they were? They'd be a lot more careful and I doubt they'd lose very often. If you prepare for the worst and doesn't happen, it's all gravy.

Unless, of course, I am writing it. In which case, I can give my ooman some advantages ...

QuoteSiL more or less addressed what I was going to.  You're obviously pro-Predator while I'm an Alien geek and ne'er the twain and all that.  :)

Actually, I'm not pro one or the other, but for me, it's like the difference between a tiger and a gladiator. Aliens might not be as dumb as fence posts, but until they can work a manual transmission or come up with an FTL spaceship, they can't run with the smart crowd. What they do all seems instinctual, like ants herding aphids, and that's way down the sentience scale compare to people or Predators. Monkeys can use rudimentary tools. Crows drop nuts onto the concrete to open them.

None of them are going to set up my DVD player.

I like tigers, and admire them. I'd bet the trained gladiator to win against a tiger most of the time. Smart beats fierce, otherwise, we wouldn't be having this conversation ...

(quote]ust to back to an earlier question - You set Earth Hive in 2092, yet as far back as 1979, it was established Alien was set in the 22nd century, making the 2092 date about a century too early.  Did you come up with th 2092 date or did Dark Horse give you the wrong info (the '92' bit seems about right following Aliens).

I don't recall the specifics -- it's been a decade and a couple years since I wrote it -- but I'm guessing it probably either came from Dark Horse's graphic novel, or, just as likely I mis-read it. It happens.

Any big universe has continuity problems, usually because nobody thought it was going to get to be a big universe when they set out, and things pile up along the way. Star Wars and Star Trek have all kinds of contradictory dates, there are the original Klingons and the new models, and you try to explain all that away when it comes back and bites you. Sometimes you can, sometimes, you just have to shrug and let it go.

It is true, the devil is in the details, and I try to get 'em right as much as I can, but past a certain point, the demons are too small to chase down. There are folks who know what color the lint was in Ripley's left front pocket last Tuesday, but I hope you won't think less of me when I say I don't really care. Yeah, I'm a fanboy, came out of comics and TV and science fiction, but there's a point beyond which it gets to be an obsession. I try to say away from there ...

steveperry

steveperry

#62
Quote from: SiL on May 24, 2007, 12:51:38 AM
Quote from: steveperry on May 24, 2007, 12:38:29 AM
Yeah, but at least Scott knows how to make movies. He has a great visual sense.
Ouch! Fincher also clearly knows how to make a movie - Fight Club and Se7en, anyone? - with one of the best visual styles out there.

He just never got the chance to utilize it to its full potential what with the dicking around with the studio (Re-writes, gaps in filming, constantly being denied creative decisions, not being allowed to finish the film...)

Um, not exactly. He kinda went in saying he hated the earlier movies and wanted to switch from sci-fi back to horror. I thought this was a mistake -- science fiction is a better platform for Aliens, as Cameron and Hurd's film aptly demonstrated. They got it.

Yeah, he has a style, that MTV look, but what matters is the story, and A3 didn't have one. Everybody run around in the prison and kill each other, booga booga ...

And I didn't think Fight Club or Se7ven were the highest examples of the movie makers' art myself. Looked fine, stories didn't move me. Personal taste ...

SiL

SiL

#63
Quote from: steveperry on May 24, 2007, 01:21:52 AM
science fiction is a better platform for Aliens, as Cameron and Hurd's film aptly demonstrated. They got it.
Pity about the rest of the film :P

Quotebut what matters is the story, and A3 didn't have one. Everybody run around in the prison and kill each other, booga booga ...
Exactly why I prefer the extended edition. Much more story, better flow, better characterisation wherever possible. Didn't feel butchered like the rest of the movie.

QuoteAnd I didn't think Fight Club or Se7ven were the highest examples of the movie makers' art myself. Looked fine, stories didn't move me. Personal taste ...
I thought everything about Fight Club was spot-on. Only movie twist I never saw coming. Well, maybe that and Ian Holm being a milk-spewing robot.

But my earlier question seems to have got lost in it all; have you ever read Alan Dean Foster's novel tie-ins?

SM

SM

#64
QuoteI don't recall the specifics -- it's been a decade and a couple years since I wrote it -- but I'm guessing it probably either came from Dark Horse's graphic novel, or, just as likely I mis-read it. It happens.

Kinda figured it'd be something mundane.

QuoteThere are folks who know what color the lint was in Ripley's left front pocket last Tuesday

I resemble that remark!

I've always been under the impression that Lucasfilm were fairly diligent with with continuity - is there much difference between dealing with them and Fox/ Dark Horse?

steveperry

steveperry

#65

QuoteBut my earlier question seems to have got lost in it all; have you ever read Alan Dean Foster's novel tie-ins?

Oh, yeah. I know Alan Dean from way back -- I toastmastered a convention at which he was the guest of honor years and years ago. He was the go-to-guy for years on movie novelizations. Wrote the first Star Wars book for Del Rey, and George Lucas not only gives him credit for it, he gave him a nice bonus when the movie did so well.

steveperry

steveperry

#66

QuoteI've always been under the impression that Lucasfilm were fairly diligent with with continuity - is there much difference between dealing with them and Fox/ Dark Horse?


They are very careful, these days. Anybody who has a long-running universe is. But early on, nobody expected the Star Wars movie to become the monster franchise it spawned. Go find the first Marvel comics and look for Jaxx, who was a giant green bunny rabbit. Definitely not canon ...

Same-same elsewhere. Conan the novels don't agree with Conan the movies. People usually address this by saying, "Well, there are many tales of Conan of Cimmeria. Some say he was a pit-fighter, while other say ..." yadda, yadda.

Sometimes, you can reconcile the stuff, sometimes you hit it with a lick and move on, sometimes you just ignore it. That's all you can do.

As to fanboy stuff, I am guilty of it myself. I got action figures in my office. But as a writer, I can't write for the hardcore fanboys -- you can't please them all because they disagree about almost everything, and if make one set happy, another group will be unhappy. Look at the arguments on any online group, and you can't miss what I'm talking about.

"The lint in her pocket was green, because when they were making the jackets, the processing overdye leaked and -- "

"You moron! It was blue! There's no evidence the dye leaked onto that jacket, and the cloth was from Altair Nineteen, where Indigo is the prevaling hue  of all women's jackets, so ..."

You can get wound around your own axle trying to cover every small continuity glitch. Make one guy happy, piss the next guy off. Trust me, I hear from both guys, in detail.

There's a great episode of The Simpsons in which a bunch of fanboys are asking questions of a writer, and the gist of it is like this: Well, on Monday's episode, when whathisname got hit in the ribs, the tone was a C-sharp, but on Friday when the got hit on the same ribs, the tone was a C-major. So ... which one is right?

To which the answer is what Shatner said on that long-ago episode of Saturday Night Live: Hey -- get a life!

I love to put in-jokes and convoluted stuff into my stuff for the fans. In one of the Aliens books -- forgive me, but I don't recall which one -- I had a military unit and three of the guys were named Huey, Dewey, and Louie -- fans who were paying attention caught it.

There's a line I always wanted to use, and I found a way to get away with it. My editor had it blown up and put on her wall: "Eat hot plasma death, alien-scum!"

This is fun.

But guys who are so steeped in a universe that they get into the microscopic details do tend to get obsessive, and you will go crazy trying to please them. I can't afford to lose the brain cells, so I gave that up ...

SM

SM

#67
QuoteThere's a great episode of The Simpsons in which a bunch of fanboys are asking questions of a writer, and the gist of it is like this: Well, on Monday's episode, when whathisname got hit in the ribs, the tone was a C-sharp, but on Friday when the got hit on the same ribs, the tone was a C-major. So ... which one is right?

I liked the one where Lucy Lawless writes that sort of thing as "Every time something like that happens, a wizard did it".  "But..."  "Wizard!"

QuoteAs to fanboy stuff, I am guilty of it myself. I got action figures in my office. But as a writer, I can't write for the hardcore fanboys -- you can't please them all because they disagree about almost everything, and if make one set happy, another group will be unhappy. Look at the arguments on any online group, and you can't miss what I'm talking about.

I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about...  ;)

Is there something to be said for keeping hardcore fans away from writing for franchises?  I've written a couple of Star Wars fan scripts, and my attempt at writing an Alien V tanked because it was so heavy on details and light on actual story.  And I find most other peoples fanfic excrutiating.

Both Joss Whedon and Paul Anderson professed to be massive fans of the Alien series (well the first two at any rate) and yet they've turned in arguably the two weakest installments.  Is it too simplistic to say you need to be a writer first and a fan second?

steveperry

steveperry

#68
Quote from: SM on May 25, 2007, 12:30:04 AM
Is there something to be said for keeping hardcore fans away from writing for franchises?  I've written a couple of Star Wars fan scripts, and my attempt at writing an Alien V tanked because it was so heavy on details and light on actual story.  And I find most other peoples fanfic excrutiating.

Both Joss Whedon and Paul Anderson professed to be massive fans of the Alien series (well the first two at any rate) and yet they've turned in arguably the two weakest installments.  Is it too simplistic to say you need to be a writer first and a fan second?

A whole lot of writers come out of fandom -- in comics, science fiction, fantasy, horror. If you don't love the stuff, you ought not even try to write it -- you might hit the obvious marks okay, but it is the between-the-lines material that really sells it to a reader. Jim Cameron loves science fiction, that comes across in his movies. I imagine Avator will blow our socks off.

Some people don't like the stuff at all, but write it. It's never as good. It's missing the heart.

What you have to watch as a fan is that you don't allow your desire to show how much you know of all the little details get in the way of the story. People don't care that the lint in Ripley's pocket is green or blue; they care that, terrified as she was of the Aliens, she went back for Newt. (And what they didn't know unless they read the original script was why, but that didn't matter. She did. Bravery isn't a lack of fear -- it's doing what needs to be done even if you are scared shitless.)

Character, under pressure, that's what people relate to the most.

If you do the research, you want it to show. Too much kills reader interest. No matter how fascinating you might think it is, a big expository lump stops forward motion like a giant boulder in the middle of the road. Generally, if you have a scene in a 75,000 word novel that runs more than four pages? It's too long. Cut it down.

Pacing matters.

You have two guys sitting at a table telling each other stuff they both already know for fifteen pages, your reader's eyes will glaze over and he's gonna start snoring. He will stop reading or skip ahead, both of which are bad. If you absolutely have to have all that stuff -- and you don't -- cut it into three or four scenes and sprinkle it in. Nobody wants a brick in the stew.

Here's the formula: Chase your hero up a  tree and throw rocks at him. Show us who he is, what makes him tick, make us like him, fear for him, root for him. Everything else comes from that. Every time he overcomes an obstacle, put a bigger one in front of him. That's your story, and the plot needs to center around your hero coming to the last, biggest, win-or-die obstacle, and get resolved because of who he -- or she -- is.

That's it. Simple.

Commander Scott on the Enterprise might love to read technical manuals. Movie-goers and fiction readers want to be able to identify with who you people your tale with That's the cake -- everything else is icing.

Nobody is going to break into spontaneous applause when they find out what color the lint is in Ripley's pocket. When she says "Get away from her, you bitch!" and cranks up her hydraulics? They will laugh out loud and cheer.

I did.

steveperry

steveperry

#69
"Avatar." Typo-man rules ...

Steve

SM

SM

#70
QuoteGenerally, if you have a scene in a 75,000 word novel that runs more than four pages?

I try to stay away from prose.  One must know one's limitations.

However, to go off on a slightly anal tangent, you use the word 'scene' there.  I've used it in the past when talking about books, but always thought it was incorrect, and was more movie lingo.  Do you use that word in the industry or would you normally use the word 'passage' or something else?

SiL

SiL

#71
Quote from: steveperry on May 25, 2007, 11:22:23 PM
Some people don't like the stuff at all, but write it. It's never as good. It's missing the heart.
I think many would disagree when it came to Alien. As Walter Hill said, and on the whole I tend to agree, 'The best thing I'm bringing to this is that I don't like science fiction', or close enough. I like O'Bannon's script, cheese and all, but it really does pale in comparison to the re-writes.

But enough of the Aliens -- Why has it taken so long to get to writing a solo Predator novel?

Meathead320

Meathead320

#72
 Steve, in Female-War, when you described the "Mother-Queen", the description sounded very different than what was in the Dark horse comic.

I never really like the Dark-horse art depicting her, and she looked too much like a Cricket.

The version you described, in my mind looked more like a overgrown version of the Queen we saw in the movie Aliens, and I liked your description much better.

Just wondering what you were envisioning when you described her in the book.

I remember you said 8 meters tall, and four arms (like a normal Queen), and in the DH comic she looked like an insect, and did not even have arms.

steveperry

steveperry

#73
Quote from: SM on May 26, 2007, 10:33:39 AM
QuoteGenerally, if you have a scene in a 75,000 word novel that runs more than four pages?

I try to stay away from prose.  One must know one's limitations.

However, to go off on a slightly anal tangent, you use the word 'scene' there.  I've used it in the past when talking about books, but always thought it was incorrect, and was more movie lingo.  Do you use that word in the industry or would you normally use the word 'passage' or something else?

Nope, it's correct. A scene is merely where something takes place. You can use it in movies, books, comics, poetry, wherever.

steveperry

steveperry

#74
Quote from: SiL on May 26, 2007, 11:34:43 AM
Quote from: steveperry on May 25, 2007, 11:22:23 PM
Some people don't like the stuff at all, but write it. It's never as good. It's missing the heart.
I think many would disagree when it came to Alien. As Walter Hill said, and on the whole I tend to agree, 'The best thing I'm bringing to this is that I don't like science fiction', or close enough. I like O'Bannon's script, cheese and all, but it really does pale in comparison to the re-writes.

But enough of the Aliens -- Why has it taken so long to get to writing a solo Predator novel?

Well, my position is pretty obvious. I thought Aliens looked great, but it was an idiot-plot and I wasn't impressed with it. Walter Hill is a great producer. Not a writer. His taste in cheese is different than mine.
Which is why I think A2 was a better movie -- Cameron likes skiffy and it shows. My opinion, which with a dime will get you ten pennies, if somebody wants to bother to make change.

As for the Predator book, I had other projects lined up ahead of it, and if one of those hadn't been put on hold -- the novelization of the movie script "The Secret," which Mike Richardson and I wrote, based on his idea -- I wouldn't have been able to get to the Predator book now. (Mike wrote a four-issue miniseries for his comic line, spooky stuff, and we'll get back to the novelization eventually, probably once the movie sells.)

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