Monday, March 21, 2005

*Incredible* subplot lessons

It was a windy, cold, and snowy weekend, the perfect weekend for indoor pursuits. On Saturday I sewed a new comforter cover and pillowcases that I'd had the material for since November. I'd sort of been waiting until I got the new flooring and had the room gutted anyway for painting and flooring, but...I wanted the new look already. It doesn't *clash* with the current walls and carpet, but it doesn't look great either! Our sales reps want the guys to change a large section of demo floor at the store to something that is currently available, and I'm welcome to take home the *old* click laminate from that area. It's been in the store for two years and is in great shape. Only the really big question is WHEN the guys will have time to replace the store floor when they are so very busy? So, yeah. New look: started.

I also began scrapbooking our September trip to Vancouver Island. I've only had the scrapbook desk set up since January, so don't look at me that way. The hard part, apparently, is STARTING. I'm pleased with the eight or ten pages I've gotten done thus far.

Sunday after church Jim decided we needed to buy The Incredibles. So we watched it Sunday afternoon, went to his sister and brother-in-law's for supper and watched it again at their place with their two teen boys. It gave me some time to analyze the storyline (grin) and learn. If you've watched the movie, I'd be interested in your input. If you haven't, you may want to skip the rest of this post. Either you WANT to see it, and this will contain spoilers, or you DON'T want to, in which case you'll be bored silly.

Jean commented a few days ago that having trouble spotting subplots might be a good thing, meaning that they're so well interwoven into the main story line that they don't stand out. I have suspected all along, though, that it might require a different colored pair of glasses to see subplots. So I had a *duuh* moment (hour) with The Incredibles. So many subplots! The resolving of Bob and Helen's marriage problems is a subplot. Ditto Violet's shyness (characterized both by her relationship with Tony and by her hair, both resolved). Ditto Dash's learning the appropriate use of his powers (from a kid who puts tacks on his teacher's chair to a kid who figures out how to come in second in a race). Ditto Jack-Jack's having no special powers to figuring out what his are. Ditto Edna's search for the perfect material for super-suits, which includes the tiny subplot regarding why you should not have a cape on a super-suit. Ditto Mirage's recognition of Buddy's evilness and decision to help the Incredibles escape. Even the babysitter had her own subplot, from calm, cool and collected to frazzled beyond belief with Jack-Jack, to willingly giving the baby to the first person to walk in the door. Maybe the littlest subplot had to do with the neighbor kid on the tricycle, who kept sitting in their driveway to see what amazing thing would happen next. There are literally dozens of subplots woven together to create this super incredible movie. Could the movie have been done without all of these subplots? Certainly. Any one, two, or three of them could have been eliminated. The kid on the trike, for instance, adds NOTHING to the main story (except a little wow factor). But you couldn't have eliminated very many before the story would have begun to unravel. It would certainly have been a much less rich experience.

And without Violet's and Dash's subplots, how could this family have learned to work together (the main theme, I think), instead of Bob (Mr. Incredible) continuing to work alone? Many of the subs were necessary to the eventual outcome, but were still not, in and of themselves, the main plot.

For those of you who have wondered about my inability to understand subplots, I think you can relax now. I finally had on the right pair of glasses (incredible ones) to see the underworkings of the plot. Does that mean that the weaving wasn't tight enough? I don't think so. I think I was finally able to SEE, and it all fell into place. Hopefully it will prove to be like learning to ride a bicycle; once you know, you never forget how.

The dvd *extras*, such as the alternate opening scene were also fascinating from a writer's point of view (yes, we also watched THOSE twice). The director knew the story he wanted to tell, but played with different ways to get to it. What would set up the action in the best way? Also good lessons in how to eliminate unnecessary characters. And I haven't even touched the pacing of the story line, the lulls, the build-ups, the climax, the heroes thinking they've won and then finding the villain has the baby... So much more meat for study. Believe it or not, I could watch it again...

I feel like I spent hours yesterday in a writer's workshop! Good stuff. I recommend the movie, in case you haven't figured that out.


Jean said...

What a learning tool. I'll have to get the movie, print your post, and practice finding these things.

Of course, you're correct about needing the right color glasses. I certainly need practice discerning sub-plots (if I can't identify them anywhere else, how will I ever get them into my work?), and this looks like a fun way to do it.

Valerie Comer said...

Ah, so your earlier comments were merely to cover up your own feeling of inadequacy in this area (/me smiles wisely). It was a very cool AHA moment (hour or two) for me.

Katie Hart said...

My family watched The Incredibles for the first time Sunday afternoon, too! And again tonight. I think subplots are a little easier to discern in movies than books (and more fun, too). Enjoyed your post!

Jean said...

Oops. You're onto me. I'm so transparent!