Magnum, PI, Another Again

Lots of people Magnum, PI, Another Again — Kimia Woodhave talked about the repetitive, unimaginative products Hollywood has been offering us lately…and with much more analysis and detail than I could.

I just want to make a brief comment about a recent reboot that high-lights just how desperate and irrational this phobia of original concepts is.

Magnum, PI

Dad introduced us to this show as part of “pop culture” class. I also watched some episodes on my own, and enjoyed the mystery, the adventure, the detective work, and the charm of Tom Selleck.

Here’s the premise, in my own words:

Thomas Magnum, a Vietnam veteran, now works as a private investigator in Hawaii. He ostensibly works for the reclusive author Robin Masters, whose estate he lives at, and has a strained relationship with Masters’ estate caretaker, Higgins.

Higgins is an older man, a veteran of the First World War, and a straight-laced counterpoint to Magnum’s Hawaiian-shirt-wearing energy.

There. Lots of room for plot, as episodes explored Magnum’s war experiences (his two best friends served alongside him), enjoyed the tropical setting, and pitted the mirthless, proper Higgins against Magnum’s fun-loving demeanor and eclectic working schedule.

The Reboot

CBS has brought the show back – well, as an updated, readjusted form of itself.

Thomas Magnum is now a Hispanic veteran of Afghanistan. This is great. Hispanics can be good-looking, there’s no reason a Hispanic veteran wouldn’t live in Hawaii (and decide to be a PI), and the casting openly acknowledges that you can’t re-create Tom Selleck, so why try?

Just do your own thing, and do it well.

The bigger problem is that “Jonathan” Higgins has been turned into “Juliet” Higgins. As Laura Finch in WORLD Magazine put it, “I think we all know how that story ends.”

And that’s the problem.

This is “supposed” to be Magnum, PI. Part of the whole dynamic there is the conflict between Higgins and Magnum…the old man and the young man…the Brit and the American…the class act and the bend-the-rules…the suit and the Hawaiian shirt…the straight-faced professional and the emotionally-invested professional.

The bickering of two men who didn’t see eye-to-eye, and the grudging respect they gain for each other through long seasons of working together (and saving each other’s lives) was a profound and unique dynamic.

Now…there’s Magnum and Juliet.

As soon as it’s a man and a woman, you have sexual tension. That’s just how it works. A male and female can’t have the same platonic working relationship that two people of the same gender can.

The writer in WORLD already spelled it out. We can all smell where this story is heading. Even if the writers decide to toy with our expectations, and these two don’t get together, the fact that there’s this possibility turns all their interactions on their heads.

Now, a “grudging respect” might be “flirty bickering”. Juliet complaining about Magnum’s methods might be a romantic rebuttal, or an emotionally confused statement (she’s attracted, but doesn’t want to be, so it taints her professional decision-making…or vice versa) – rather than a plain statement about their different working mentalities.

(The new writers also want her to be a “strong female”, with MI6 experience and the skills to defend herself, thank you very much. Whatever, people.)

Another, Again…Except Not

Could a story about a man and a woman in antagonistic professional circumstances be compelling? Could the tale of how they bond over shared adventures and intrigue (both pulling their weight – in a masculine sense – ala Mr. Incredible and the kick-butt ElastaGirl) be entertaining and meaningful?

Sure. But it’s not the story of the original Magnum, PI.

I enjoyed the original. I enjoyed how Higgins and Magnum didn’t really like each other, thought the other one was much too ____, but still had each other’s backs in every sticky situation. It was a uniquely male dynamic, and refreshingly so.

In private, Magnum would troll Higgins, and Higgins would scold Magnum. But when bad stuff hit the fan, they put their personal relationship in the back seat, and worked together to win.

Turning one of these characters into a woman automatically makes the personal relationship a key issue. Women are much more “personal relationship” oriented than men are…and men forming relationships with women have a much harder time not making those relationships “personal” (think of the deep, innate urge to save the princess – even if she’s a jerk).

Even if Magnum and Juliet are both mature, rational adults, you can’t put a man and a woman in a room and not have tension. Further, they’re going to approach whatever problems they face from a male or a female perspective – regardless of whatever cultural, demographic, religious, philosophical, and experiential differences they might have with each other.

To pretend this new show is Magnum, PI, but to change this foundational element, is both disappointing and confusing.

I probably wouldn’t watch the new show either way, because we don’t have a television. (And my brother got more exercised about the gender-swap than I did.) But I really wanted to connect this new show to the issue I started with…the regurgitation of media.

Just do your own thing, and do it well!

What if, once upon a time, a writer had a new premise idea for a great TV show:

Tomas Colt is a Hispanic former SEAL turned private investigator, using his combat skills in the private sector. He lives on the estate of a reclusive author, and has a tense relationship with the estate’s caretaker Juliet, who doesn’t approve of his professional methods and standards.

Little does he suspect she is former MI6, and critiques his detecting and problem-solving techniques because of her own experience in the field…

Well? Why didn’t they do that?

Why did they say, “This is that exact same show you used to love, except with younger actors and good graphics…and also diversity”?

Instead of, “If you loved Magnum, PI, you’ll also love this new show that has some similar elements, but is exploring its own themes for a modern audience! Please tune in to Colt, PI!”

Why? Right when writing coaches and analysts around the internet are bemoaning the lack of originality and risk-taking in modern media…why would they take an old show, change one of its foundational tenants, and try to feed us the same old thing only more diverse?

Just do your own thing, and do it well!

I just watched a YouTube video about how the live-action Beauty and the Beast did the same thing…”fixed” non-existent problems of sexism and bigotry, and created new problems of character motivation, plot inconsistency, irrational bigotry, and emotional impact. (language cautions)

And in case you think I’m a cynic who just hates all female characters, try this YouTube video that explains we just want good female characters…and to not have the writers’ virtue-signaling meta-agenda shoved down our throats.

Sure, let’s make new stories. But let’s make new stories. And let’s be intentional about the dynamics, character motivations and interactions, and thematic assumptions that go into our stories.

Do your own thing…just do it well.


Header picture is from WORLD Magazine.

Magnum, PI, Another Again — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates of her latest reading and writing adventures.

“Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder

"Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder — Kimia Wood As Mr. Snyder says in his prologue, “Why do we need another book about writing?” Apparently even in 2005 when he first published Save the Cat, you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting an eager, helpful guru determined to instruct young writer hopefuls in his way to plot, write, and sell.

So what makes Save the Cat any different, and why has it taken the industry by storm to be required reading for newbies and professionals alike?

I decided it was time to buy it and find out. Continue reading

Interview with Allison Tebo

I’d like to welcome Allison Tebo to the blog with an interview. Her book The Reluctant Godfather caught my eye during one of the indie Christian author sales, so when I saw the chance to read a review copy and participate in a blog tour to celebrate its relaunch, I said, “Why not?”

Enjoy getting to know her and hearing some advice to developing marketers/authors 🙂


Interview with Allison Tebo — Kimia WoodTalk about your family and upbringing. My family is a huge influence in my own writing journey; has yours been supportive of you? Have any siblings to base your annoying characters on? ; )

I have two wonderful parents, a fantastic older brother, a lovely older sister, and a precious twin sister!  I was homeschooled and brought up in a rich environment of exploration and creativity that put God first with parenting that directed me on how to see everything through the eyes of faith.

Yes, my family is a HUGE influence on my writing journey and are incredibly supportive!  My siblings and I have a writers club and for the last ten years we have met nearly every Sunday to help each other brainstorm, to reach selections of our work, and to help each other along in the writing process.  My mom has faithfully provided one of the dearest thing an author could ask for—objective critiquing.  My dad is also in sales, and eagerly promotes my books and is always hunting for opportunities for me in my writing.  I am very, very blessed to have a family that is not only so supportive, but have always guided me with unbiased criticism to guide me towards striving for the best.

Same for me!

You say you’re a sales representative. How has this helped you as you build your author brand? From your sales experience, do you have any advice for developing authors?

Yes, I am!  And it most definitely has helped me in my writing journey.  One advantage I feel that I might have is that I’m not so self-conscious about marketing myself.  I see so many indie authors who seem almost apologetic about selling their books.  This can be a rather damaging approach—unprofessional as well as lacking confidence. By necessity, I have to be pretty fearless in selling myself or whatever I’m selling—people expect it, so it’s not something to apologize for.

Being a sales person has also given me a daily dose of rejection.  Writers talk a great deal about rejection, but it’s something I deal with all the time – I can be turned down as many as fifty times in one afternoon, sometimes rather nastily.  Being in sales has helped me to begin to learn not to take rejection personally and to persevere.

Good advice. It’s hard to develop that thick skin.

I’ve seen a lot of fairytale retellings in indie author circles lately. What attracted you to this genre, and what about it particularly interests or inspires you?

I feel that most fairy tale retellings often focus solely on romance – romance that can get downright steamy at points.  At other times, I’ve found many retellings can get disturbing and excessively dark.

What attracts me to fairy tales is a desire to put into book form what Walt Disney did with old fairy tales – extracting the good, adding a unique spin and creating a clean and fun retelling that engages the whole family.  The other thing that attracts me about fairy tales are the strong messages woven through them. It seems that many people can be distracted by the glitter of fairy tales, and miss the morals.  There are incredible themes of truth tucked into fairy tales.

What is your favorite author (and book) ever and WHY?

Oh my goodness me. Such an impossible question!  I really have to cheat here and list my top three authors, as well as my favorite books from each other.  The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  The Dark House On the Moss, Reb and the Redcoats, and Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery and The Lantern Bearers andThe Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff.  As to why I love them—each of these books contain all the necessities to entrance me.  Stupendously crafted plots, exquisitely drawn characters, lovable characters that take immense bites out of my heart—and a shiningly, glorious hopefulness.  Sometimes painful, sometimes happy—always beautiful in its constancy and radiating truth.

C.S. Lewis I’m familiar with. My current favorite book of all time is That Hideous Strength. I might have to check out those others!

Where do you see yourself in five years? Still writing books? Do you have any other accomplishments you’d like to achieve?

Lord willing, I’ll be writing till the day I die!  I’m not sure one lifetime is enough to unleash all the stories in my mind, clamoring to be let out.  My main ambition in life is to become a successful author.  Aside from that, my only goal is to follow God’s leading in my life, and be quick to follow any path He charts out for me.


Thank you for answering my questions, Allison! Wish you all the best with your writing and beyond!Interview with Allison Tebo — Kimia Wood

Allison Tebo is relaunching her book The Reluctant Godfather (Amazon link; author’s site store):

A humorous and magical re-telling of Cinderella from a unique perspective.

Burndee is a young and cantankerous fairy godfather who would rather bake cakes than help humans. A disgrace to the fairy order, Burndee has only two wards entrusted to his care…a cinder girl and a charming prince.

A royal ball presents Burndee with the brilliant solution of how to make his wards happy with the least amount of effort. He’ll arrange a meeting and hope the two fall in love.

The debut novella from Allison Tebo, ‘The Reluctant Godfather’ is a new addition to the charming fairy tale tradition of Cameron Dokey and K.M. Shea.

Come back on Sunday to see my review of the story. If you’ve been hoping for a Cinderella story with a fresh ending, this might be what you’re looking for!

There’s also a GIVEAWAY:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can connect with the author on any of these sites:

Website: http://allisonteboauthor.com/
Blog: http://allisonswell.website/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16192992.Allison_Tebo
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allisonteboauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AllisonTebo

“The Collins Case” by Julie C. Gilbert

"The Collins Case" by Julie C. Gilbert — Kimia Wood — Christian Despite having a “Mystery/Thriller” cover and blurb, this book is actually a “Christian/Inspirational” story. If I had known better what to expect, and if the pacing had moved faster, I might have enjoyed this much more.

Slow Start

The story is ham-strung from the very beginning, where for the first chapter and a half, the only conflict is that Rachel Collins is unequally yoked – married to an unbeliever.

The scenes of the “happy little family” living their lives and unaware of the calamity awaiting them is a classic writer move to get readers to connect to the characters. Unfortunately, I had recently read the blurb and knew they got kidnapped – and I was aware of the author-ly tricks at work – and so was very un-invested.

If I was advising the author, I would suggest beginning with Mr. Collins coming home and discovering melted groceries on the counter, his wife’s car in the garage, her phone on the counter, and his family nowhere to be found. (This scene already exists, but is sapped of tension since we’ve already witnessed his family be snatched.) This kind of scenario is visceral enough to connect with readers without the lead-up…a lead-up that lost me before the plot even began. Continue reading

Apocalyptic Stories – How, What, and Who

Apocalyptic Stories – How, What, and Who — Kimia Wood

Published in connection with the Indie Author e-Con 2018. Find more here

When you enter “post-apocalyptic” into Amazon’s search bar, you get lots of things. 30,000 results, to be exact.

But hey, there’s always room for one more version of civilization’s death throes, right? What if you want to craft your own apocalypse tale? Where do you need to start?

When eating an elephant or an apocalypse, start with one bite at a time. Continue reading

“Kate’s Innocence” by Sarah Holman

"Kate's Innocence" by Sarah Holman — Kimia Wood — innocence Can Kate prove she didn’t bomb her college campus? Can FBI agent Patrick trust God to reveal the truth as he tries to clear Kate?

For this indie Christian book, I’m going to front-load all my complaints, and then focus on what I liked.

That way, it’s like struggling to remove the sticky wax-paper wrapper on a chocolate toffee, then getting to eat the toffee! (I’m sure lots of people compare my reviews to chocolate toffee…) Continue reading

Why Are Bad Book Reviews So Important?

Why Are Bad Book Reviews So Important?

Some people on the internet refuse to write or publish “negative” book reviews. They claim the writing world is a community, that every book took a lot of effort and tears from its author, and to “support” each other, we shouldn’t air our concerns or disappointments with another’s work.

The problem with that is that this community is about more than patting each other on the back, or smiling politely at something we think is sub-par. And we’re more than just writers – the readers who consume our work have a right to receive the best possible product we as writers can supply!

How do “bad book reviews” serve that purpose? Let’s break it down by who is benefitted by critical reviews: the reader, and the author. Continue reading

“Hazardous Duty” by Christy Barritt

A Cautionary Tale for Writers

 Surfing Amazon one day for “Christian mystery” (or some similar keyword) I came across this book about a crime scene cleaner who finds evidence that the police missed – and it was free! I downloaded it, eager to start reading, and went to load it onto my e-reading device.

BLAM!

File is locked with DRM (digital rights management), meaning I couldn’t read it on my Nook (it’s a Kindle/.mobi file), nor on my dad’s Kindle (device registered to him, book registered to me).

Almost a year later, I did finally get to start reading (because AT&T got me a smartphone, long story short)…but needless to say it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Gabby St. Claire is a professional crime scene cleaner, and an interesting enough character. The perky go-getter type, with an interest in chemistry and forensics, she uncovers evidence in one of the houses she’s cleaning that seems to shed light on a murder investigation.

She then immediately jumps to a conclusion, and pursues that conclusion through the rest of the book. Most sleuths pursue a mystery: she pursued her conclusion…and guys. Continue reading

“Ranger’s Apprentice” & Bad Cliffhangers

The Book I Loved, the Series I Stopped

"Ranger's Apprentice" and Bad Cliffhangers — Kimia Wood — series

I haz rifle – and a pet spider. Ergo, I’s awesome.

Rangers Apprentice, by John A. Flanagan, is a series highly recommended to me by a good friend of mine. It follows the adventures of a group of characters in a quasi-mystical land where “Rangers” (Rogues, Hunters, Hide-in-shadows-shooting-with-deadly-accuracy-awesome, whatever the name is) train and serve the king of Araluen.

Sadly, it is also the series I think back on when I think of the wrong way to do cliffhangers. Differences in fiction taste aside, here’s why I loved the first book, but finally gave up on the series.

The Case Studies

"Ranger's Apprentice" and Bad Cliffhangers — Kimia Wood — series1 The Ruins of GorlanThey have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied…

I’ve heard this book get some flack, but it was my favorite. Continue reading

Writing Post Round-up 2016

I enjoy Twitter – and what I enjoy most is sharing and finding new blog posts or resources to help me in my writing journey. I realize not all of us are writers as well as readers, but for those who enjoy both, here are the articles/posts I’ve found most helpful or interesting this past year.

(I read 99% of the articles I tweet out, but not all of them are worth going back to later. The ones below are worth the effort!)

The Authoring Landscape

The Man Behind the Mask: On the Creation of Batman—and Rewriting Authorship Itself, by Sean P. Carlin (@SeanPCarlin):
A long and thought-provoking post about assigning authorship to intellectual property, the hazards of mob rule, “correcting for history”, and the baffling fact that someone has published a collection of Shakespeare’s works with Christopher Marlowe as co-author. Important read with telling worldview implications.

Protect eBooks Or Trust Customers To Do The Right Thing, by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords (@MarkCoker):
A lucid post on DRM (digital rights management) and the future of books. DRM is an important issue in today’s publishing world, and deserves the time it takes to understand the implications.

In Defense of Short Games, by Extra Credits (@ExtraCreditz):
This YouTube channel team posts videos primarily about game development and story-craft in gaming, but much of what they say is just as applicable to novelist entrepreneurs, or screenplay-writers, etc. This particular video affirms that sometimes it doesn’t take 10 hours of gameplay (or 200,000 words of a novel, or 3+ hours of running time) to tell the story you need to tell, and writers who deliver content in a shorter frame should be just as valued as the others.

Making Money in a World Addicted to FREE—What Do Writers DO?, by Kristen Lamb (@KristenLambTX):
I like so much of what Mrs. Lamb writes – partly because her style is very different from my own, and thus challenges me – and this post talks about writers being worth payment for their labor (just like every other business providing a product), and teaches us how to take charge of our author brand and bring the technological advances of our day to heel!

Botched Beginnings: Common First Page Killers, by Kirsten Lamb:
The first few pages/chapters of a book are always critical, and this post is an engaging walk-through of some common pit-falls to avoid.

5 Reasons to Pan Those 5-Star Reviews, by Porter Anderson:
This post discusses everything that goes wrong when every book is either FULLY AWESOME or WORST THING EVER.
I’ve heard some authors determine to not write book reviews, unless the book is good, to avoid “hurting feelings”…but I can just say I’m very grateful for the thoughtful, intelligent writers who write thoughtful, intelligent reviews of their reads, thus helping the authors of those books and the rest of us to grow, learn, and improve our craft. Why would you cheat anyone of your constructive criticism, thus skewing the review-ratings and denying them the chance to make the next book better?

Should You Self-Publish or Traditionally Publish?, by Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman):
If you’re an author weighing the options of which publishing route to take, this post can help you lay out exactly what you’re looking to achieve and help you make the best decision for your goals.

3 Ways Self-Publishers Fail at Cover Design, by Joel Friedlander (@JFbookman):
Whether you’re trying your hand at making your own cover, or outsourcing the design, it’s important to remember the biggest pitfall authors face in this area: not considering the audience.

Common Writing Myths, by Nat Russo (@NatRusso):
This post shows the weaknesses of axioms like “Show, Don’t Tell” and encourages all writers to take a deep breath, step back, and write for the story, not for the critics.

Using Twitter Effectively, by Nat Russo:
This is a long series of posts, but it really helped me define my ideas of marketing and social media as I got started on Twitter. Because the landscape of Twitter – and marketing with Twitter – is so complex, also consider Kirsten Lamb’s post Twitter for Writers – Eight Ways to Nuke Your Brand.

Don’t Let A Glock Kill Your Book, by Scott Hoffman:
A post by a literary agent explaining why agents read until they can stop, then do (specifically with examples from thriller manuscripts). When they get about 500 queries a week, it doesn’t take much ignorance or imperfection (in research, grammar, or editing) to make a busy agent drop your query and go on to the next. Get your stuff right!

Worldview Significance

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” – The True Cost of Survival in The Walking Dead, by Extra Credits:
Again, this is a YouTube video primarily talking about the adventure video game The Walking Dead…but it’s talking about so much more than that. It’s talking about the ability of an art form to confront us with our humanity and challenge us to rethink crucial elements of who we are – while entertaining us at the same time. If you’re an author seeking to bring your work to a whole new level, this is a good exploration of what’s possible.

Superversive Blog: Life, Carbon, and the Tao — Part Two!, by Tom Simon:
I go back to this post every so often because it’s such a shining explanation of the impact of stories, and why your starting point for interpreting the world (worldview) matters so very much – in everything.

3 Ways the “Blind Men and the Elephant” Story Backfires, by Trevin Wax:
If you’ve heard this “just so” fable that talks about different perspectives on truth (or even if you haven’t), check out this thought-provoking analysis of where the analogy comes up short.


cropped-IMGP56981.jpgKimia Wood has been writing stories since she was little. Now she writes to give the people living in her head a chance at life. Join the mailing list to stay up to date on her latest reading and writing adventures!