Word Count 21: Gates of Balawat update, anagnorisis in film endings, and The Midnight Library

by Suw on October 25, 2022

Hi there,

Whilst Ada Lovelace Day itself is over, I still have some last bits of admin to do to tidy everything up. Soon, one way or another, I’ll be having a change of career. I have no idea what that’s going to look like yet, mind you.

I’ve already started doing basic prep for the short film project that’s heaving into view, but there are still a lot of open questions about what my long term career plan is. I am used to some level of uncertainty – you have to be, when you run your own business – but this is rather more than I usually experience. And I have to admit, it is a bit stressful, so please keep your fingers crossed that it all comes out in the wash!

Suw’s news: The Gates of Balawat update

I finally had time to go to the British Museum last week and get some photographs of the replica Gates of Balawat for the cover of my novelette of the same name. The real gates decomposed a long time ago, leaving behind only the bronze bands that tied the wooden planks together. Some of the bands are preserved at the British Museum, but they are behind glass in a very awkward corner and are difficult to photograph. The replicas look a lot more impressive, so they will be on the cover.

All I need to do now is design the cover, proof-read it all again and remind myself how to make an ebook, and then it will be yours to love and cherish!

Stop, look, listen: Draft Zero, Ep 92 – Insightful recognition in powerful endings

I do love discovering a new (to me) podcast and being blown away by the first episode I listen to. Draft Zero is hosted by screenwriters Chas Fisher and Stuart Willis, and like my other favourite writing podcasts it leans heavily into the how of writing.

In Ep 92, they talk about Aristotle’s concept of anagnorisis, that moment when “a character moves from ignorance to knowledge (particularly of self)”. They focus specifically on anagnorisis in film endings, analysing the final scenes of La La Land, Inception, No Country For Old Men and Turning Red.

I particularly liked their analysis of La La Land, which I absolutely loathed when I saw it (128 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back!). But after listening to Fisher and Willis talk about the way that the two main characters, Mia and Seb, each have their moments of anagnorisis, and how the audience also has their own opportunity to experience revelation, I might be persuaded to think differently. Possibly.

But more than that, this is a new concept that I need to think about within my own writing. Am I providing my key characters with anagnorisis? Do they have any opportunities to move from ignorance to self-knowledge? And, more importantly, can I now say anagnorisis?

Book review: The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

Having Covid a couple of months ago reminded me not just how much joy a good book brings, but how fast I can plough through one. Sometimes I’m temped to pick up a book, but think, “Oh, it’ll take too long”, forgetting that I can read stupidly quickly when motivated.

It’s a measure of how good The Midnight Library is that I sped through it in no time at all.

Nora’s life has been going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given the chance to undo her regrets and try out each of the other lives she might have lived. Which raises the ultimate question: with infinite choices, what is the best way to live?

Haig handles what could have been a clumsy premise with delicacy and empathy, exploring the nature of regret and self-forgiveness with genuine emotional depth. It’s a delight to see Nora grow more confident in herself as she confronts her regrets in her quest for a better life. Indeed, she experiences many moments of anagnorisis.

The cast of supporting characters, who could easily have become one-note cameos, develop real depth as we see different aspects of their personalities come to the fore in Nora’s different lives. Rather than being a series of tedious replays, each of Nora’s lives shines a different light on her character and illuminates not just the choices the people around her made, but their impact on her.

There’s a reason this book is a bestseller!

Grabbity in a box Obligatory cat picture

All cats love boxes, big cats and little cats alike. Grabbity adores boxes. She used to love reducing them to a pile of tiny bitesized pieces of cardboard, though she doesn’t bother with such shenanigans anymore. No, sitting in a box is all she needs to make her happy these days.

See you next week,


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