Guest Blog: Bad YetiApril 17, 2012
When my good friend “The Enigmatic Mr. Wu” started to blog about writing, I knew I wanted to feature him here as a guest blogger. Why? Because Mr. Wu is also Thundering Monkey, a name some of you may recognize as a Poser artist featured in the Cat-Tales Gallery, and frankly, several of his pictures display a better understanding of storytelling than we see in the output of certain professional writers. There is real artistry in finding the psychological moment in a scene and in knowing how to convey it.
Or, as a friend of mine put it recently, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, you better choose those words carefully.”
So I give you a blogger of fewer words than most of us, which belies a marvelous clarity of ideas.
(Mind you, when I asked him to do a guest spot, I didn’t realize he’d be bringing a yeti.)
Don’t Let Bad Yeti Happen to You
A few days ago, I was watching The Mummy 3. Don’t ask me why, some things cannot be explained. I was watching the Mummy and I came upon this scene:
………… I know, right? What was that?
You have to ask yourself, how something like that made it into a 145 million dollar movie?
What really bothers me about this scene, other than the way it damages the movie, is that it’s painfully, obviously bad, and someone made a large amount of money for writing it , while some of the best storytellers I’ve ever read, will never be paid for the work they do. I’m not sure what is more terrifying; the idea that a Yeti Field Goal was in the original script and no one cut it, or that it wasn’t in the script, but someone said “the third act needs punching up, you know what this movie needs ? A sweet Yeti field goal!! Hell Yeah! Or the fact that in the months that it took to model, texture, animate, render and composite this sequence into the movie, the idea that it was stupid, and hurt the movie never gained traction. What The Mummy 3 really needed was for someone to say no.
This is why you need a good Beta reader. A Beta reader serves many useful functions. They give you valuable feedback on your story. They might spot opportunities that you missed or have an alternate way of saying something that makes your scene funnier, or sadder, or scarier, but perhaps the most important service they provide is to give you one more chance to stop something bad from getting into the world. When all people remember of your story is the stupid scene with the Yeti field goal, your reputation as a storyteller has been harmed. They may be unwilling to give you another chance.
The best thing your Beta reader can do for you is to be ruthlessly honest with you about what they feel works and what doesn’t. Their reactions will probably mirror your readers. The best thing you can do for them is not take criticism of your story personally. When they tell you something doesn’t work, it’s not a slam on you. It’s not calling you stupid or saying you’re a bad writer. It’s not about you, it’s about the scene, and if it’s not working, it’s better for you to know now than when the Ebola monkey of a scene has escaped into the wild. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to thank them in the author notes. They spent their valuable time to make your story better, so mentioning their input is just the classy thing to do, and as Rob Burgundy says, you should always stay classy.
Originally published as Don’t Let Bad Yeti Happen to You at enigmaticmrwu.blogspot.com.