Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bad Writing Easy to Spot

I was so worried about fixing the issue I had in Killer Eyes, and I am glad that I did. Because if I didn't, then it would have been an example of bad writing, and it would have been easy to spot. Now that it's fixed, the story line makes sense, as far as what the characters are doing, and how it all turns out. All of it, in fact is perfectly logical. There are no moments where a reader might say, "Hey, wait a minute. Why is he doing that? And then why does he do that?"

Not anymore at least. Characters in a story need a good reason to do the things they do, at least in a book or movie, and then they better have a good reason to do something else if they in fact do something else.

I saw the move "Prisoners" with Hugh Jackman the other night. It's not a movie I would normally watch, but I was flipping through the TV channels, and it was on, and I like Jackman as an actor, so I watched it with my wife. I wish I didn't. There were so many things wrong with that story line, it's like where do I begin? I don't even want to get into it. The writing was so bad, it was nearly unwatchable. Still, I stuck it out, watched it through the end, and wasted my time.

Sure, Hugh Jackman's acting was good. No problem there. It was simply the writing, or the screenplay. So many things happened that made no sense. I mean no sense at all. And from start to end. I will point out two things, so spoiler alert coming up.

Here's the premise: Two girls are kidnapped, and throughout the story there's a long and seemingly impossible task of searching for them. I won't delve into the plot any further because that's all I need to say for two of the ridiculous writing flaws I'm going to point out. (And there are more, believe me.)

One: For the entire movie, the town and the families of the two girls are unable to find these girls. Hugh Jackman's character is going to extreme lengths on his own, but finally, near the end of the movie, one of the girls is reported to have been found. BUT NO ONE SAYS WHERE SHE WAS FOUND! And so the next scene is the girl sedated in a hospital bed, with the families around, and Jackman rushes in, but does he ask WHERE WAS SHE FOUND? No. He's badgering the sedated girl, asking her if HIS daughter is still alive.

But nothing about WHERE WAS THE GIRL FOUND!

And two: The parents of the sedated girl are just standing there idle, while Jackman's character continues to badger their daughter. Finally the daughter opens her eyes, and with a scowl snarls, "You were there!"

Now the first impression is that it was Jackman's character who was the kidnapper. And to reinforce that thought, he immediately runs away with the cops chasing him. But he loses the cops, again reinforcing the impression that HE was the villain all along.

It turned out that when the girl said that he was there, he realized where his daughter was, because he had visited the house shortly before that. But that's the problem. If he realized where his daughter was, then the first thing you would think he would do is shout for everyone to hear that he KNOWS WHERE IS DAUGHTER IS, and get the entire police department over there ASAP. But no. Instead, he LOSES the policeman chasing him, goes to the house alone with no one else knowing where he is, and ends up being captured by the kidnapper.

That was some horrible writing, and it's just two examples. I would love to be an editor on some of these sloppy plots, and say, "Look, it's just bad writing, but you can fix it like this!"

And that's just what I did with Killer Eyes. It's a great story, but there were problems that needed fixing, and I saw it, I wracked my brain on how to fix it, and then I fixed it. No more problems. And if a writer truly has a love of his own story, then that's just what he will do. No matter if it's a book or a movie. It makes the story better, more enjoyable, and believable! To me, if it's not believable, then the enjoyment factor is compromised. And then it's not worth watching or reading. Period.


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