Thursday, November 28, 2013

Less Rice, Fewer Grains

"Less" and "fewer" seem to be one of the more difficult word pairs to get right. I don't blame people for having trouble with it; it handles certain concepts in English that do not come up often and are also not always easy to explain. In fact, I am certain that the primary reason for the troubles in remembering when to use each word is that people explain things so technically that it makes most people's brains shut off before the lesson sinks in. 

So let me give you a handy trick that might help you remember it for the long haul:

"Less rice means fewer grains."  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I was listening to videos of British people discussing various subjects. In one video, I heard somebody use the word "guyed". By the context, I could to that to be guyed is to be insulted or mocked. But it was such a terribly odd word to me. In fact, I don't know if I had ever heard it before.

When I pondered on it, the root word was "guy". I happen to know that the word guy comes from Guy Fawkes, a character from history who is often mocked and burned in effigy (which is why a generic, faceless dude is a "guy"). So clearly, as a verb, it makes sense that guying someone is mocking them. Still though, why had I never heard it before?

Simply put? Probably because I'm American. Guy Fawkes means absolutely nothing to the average American. He had no part in our history in any direct manner. We don't know what Guy Fawkes Day is, nor do we know when it is or why it matters (unless you are a particular fan of V for Vendetta). As such, this somewhat colloquial term never entered our language.

It is a remarkable thing how people who speak the same language can end up really speaking quite different languages, just by growing up in different locations. The differences in vocabulary and speech patterns, though, are an excellent way to identify and add specialness to your characters. It's not always easy, but it is a powerful tool when writing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Studying Ideas Of Evil

When discussing good and evil, it’s easy to dismiss them as “just words” or “the same actions from different perspectives”. It’s easy to not explore them because moral relativism says that good and evil are dependent upon your personal beliefs. And technically speaking, that is true. However, it is important to explore these concepts. For example, I recently heard this said:

“Evil is the use of force to get what you want. The second you decide that coercion is ok, that’s evil.”

This struck me when I heard it. To make people do what something they do not want to do in order to get something you want sounds resoundingly evil. Amongst humanity, collective well-being seems to always be the most virtuous and noble principle. Anything that is selfish, by which I mean harming the collective well-being for personal gain, is almost invariably evil.

One could argue that "the use of force to get what you want" is the same thing as "might makes right", and that it is a perfectly valid morality. However, one could also argue against it, saying that the only people who believe such things are those who benefit from it.

But the point here is that the arguments could be made on both sides. And this is precisely why they should be explored.

Frog On A Hot Plate

It is relatively well known these days that if you put a frog in a pot of water and set that on a hot plate, you can very slowly increase the temperature and never alert the frog, thus it will boil alive without ever realizing it. 

It is less well known that this story is bullshit. The people who talk about scientists proving it to be true neglect to mention that the results are hundreds of years old, or that they involved very specific circumstances. By and large, frogs don't sit still for you. 

However, nobody really cares about boiling frogs (at least not in this manner). The point of the story is analogy. People more easily ignore changes when they happen in small increments. The mind has time to adapt to new circumstances and forgets that things were ever different when the next minor change occurs. 

So here is the question, and it is one I don't yet have an answer for: if people have a metaphor which is commonly known and regularly used to explain a standard human phenomenon, does it matter if the metaphor is based on a complete lie? 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Trivial Pursuits

Everybody is on a quest in life. Some people are on several quests. And in short, those quests are for personal satisfaction. The whole purpose of doing stuff is to make ourselves feel good. However, since different people are satisfied by different things, everyone's quest is unique. 

Some people seem to spend their lives doing the dumbest things. They may look at birds all day, identifying and classifying them, and then going home and reading journals about other people who watched birds. Other people may spend all day reading and reading, soaking up knowledge from countless walks of life, but doing nothing with that knowledge. 

It is frustrating to see people following trivial pursuits. But what is truly difficult is getting out of your head and seeing that no pursuit is trivial if it makes you happy. 

As a writer, challenge yourself to make those activities interesting. If somebody wants to learn all about Egyptian mythology, how do you make it interesting? How do you make the audience care about seeing a main character learn about a subject that "doesn't matter"? If you can answer that question, then you can write about anything.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Resources Must Be Used To Be Useful

If you have a car, but you never drive it, you are living the exact same life as one where you don't have a car at all. This idea applies to food you don't eat and money you don't spend. 

Resources are only useful if you use them. 

With that said, I want to be clear about something here. If you own a hammer, you don't have to use the hammer once a day to justify having it. You may not even need it as much as once a year. The one thing that does matter is that, when a situation can be remedied by one of your resources, you choose to use it. 

I think that's part of the reason that stories tend to only tell you things that matter; resources that don't aid in the story detract from the story. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Can vs. May

Can vs. May

‘Can’ and ‘May’ are often used interchangeably, but they do have different flavors of meaning worth recognizing.

Generally speaking, ‘can’ means having the ability to do something, and ‘may’ means having the permission to do something. “You can drive this car” means that you are able to operate the vehicle. “You may drive this car” means that you have the blessing to do so.

However, what makes this whole thing a massive clusterfuck is that each of the words individually have multiple meanings.

‘Can’ often is used to mean having permission. Any normal person who says “You can drive my car” is clearly granting permission; it is a universally understood speech pattern, which makes it grammatically correct. Similarly, any normal person who asks, “Can I borrow your car” is clearly asking for permission; the only people who say “I don’t know, can you” are assholes.

‘May’ becomes more problematic because its secondary meaning is that an action is uncertain. “I may drive my car” means that there is a chance that I will drive my car, but there is also a chance that I won’t.

What is most amazing here is that we as English speakers pretty much always understand which meaning of which word is intended solely by the context in which it is said. However, some situations do allow for ambiguity, and some people thrive on using ambiguity or dual meanings to screw with others, so these words can be problematic in use.

Again, although people know how to use these words latently, it is valuable to know the differences and understand the subtle implications of using one word versus another.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Being A Liberal Grammarian

Following from my previous post, I am very liberal in terms of grammar. As a liberal grammarian, my mantra is, "If I understand you, it's good English." This is pretty easy to say, but it is quite difficult for most people to actually stand by.

Every generation speaks their language at least a little differently from their parents. Their parents tell them that they're butchering the language, but the children respond by saying that their parents are old and stuck in the past. And, as usual, those children grow up and they continuously speak their version of the language. And when these now-adults raise their own dhildren, the cycle will repeat itself. 

The point here is that people hold onto their language more securely than most any tangible objects. And I am no exception. I understand the English language to be a certain way. If people start using it in different, new ways, it feels like they're butchering my language. 

This is where the true test of a liberal grammarian comes in. When people use English different than what you're used to, what will your response be? Will you call them stupid or ignorant? Will you say nothing? Will you tell them it's cool or interesting?

It can be difficult to let some things go, but you must. You must accept that language is alive, that it is always changing, and that it will eventually change into a form that you personally don't like. But if you can accept those things and keep going on with your day, then you, too, could be a liberal grammarian. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why I Don't Like Style Guides

I have a lot of problems with style guides. The first is that grammar is not rigid or inflexible. Grammar has been in a constant state of change since its very inception. Every single generation has changed the grammar of its language, and no matter how hard the generation in power struggled to stop their language from changing, it has. Not even the printing press or the myriad style guides that have been written through the ages have kept language from evolving. The idea that language should be caged destroys the very fundamental purpose of language.

Language is about communication and expression. The ultimate reality, and really the only rule of language is that the words I say need to make you understand the things that I’m thinking. If you understand me, then my language is correct. The only grammar that matters is the grammar that aids in the understanding of language. Keep in mind here that I know a LOT of grammar. I soaked that stuff in like a sponge when I was young and I haven’t forgotten it. I know and enjoy a lot of the standard conventions of English grammar. For example, I think that Oxford commas are absolutely critical and the idea that they are optional is shameful and wrong; they are often essential to aid in communication. However, some conventional grammar rules are stupid as hell. Not ending sentences with prepositions is moronic bullshit. The same for not being allowed to use “hopefully” to mean “with hope”. When everybody knows what I mean, then my language is correct.

Beyond that, though, language is too complex to fit in a book. If you tried to create a rule for every single solitary possible event that could arise in English, your guide would be so unwieldy as to be useless. And if you did know how to navigate the guide and managed to learn all of those rules, you would be the only one that knows them. And once again, who cares about imaginary rules that only you follow? If it isolates you from the rest of language speakers, then it hinders communication.

Ultimately, though, what bothers me most about style guides is that they are STYLE guides. They aren’t telling you that something is right or wrong; they’re telling you how to write specifically in a certain way. Once again, I find these to often be a hindrance to communication. (Hey look, I just noticed that I split an infinitive. It did not in any way whatsoever impede my ability to communicate.)

Normal Is Relative

Normalcy ses to be a major human struggle, at least in this day and age. There is so much variety in how things can be, that it becomes harder and harder to identify what normal really is. 

Often, normal refers to the people in power. It's normal to act the way high society does. Like, on a national level, the way that CEOs and politicians dress and speak is normal. Everything that deviates abnormal. 

Normal can also be whatever the majority of people do. If you are in a heavily Cuban area, speaking Spanish is normal. If you're in Montana, Spanish is abnormal. (This could also be due to the fact that the majority of a people collectively are in power, therefore the first principe still holds true.)

Normalcy is always a good subject to explore. When we are young, we desperately struggle to be normal. And as soon as we grow up, we wish to be anything other than normal.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Agents of Chaos

One of my favorite phrases is "agent of chaos". It's a cool concept and it sounds totally awesome. 

Chaos is like a force of nature. It is disorder and discord. Amongst humans, with our desire for reason and harmony, chaos is about the most disturbing force. 

All atrocities are "senseless". They "boggle the mind". That is because they are chaotic, and thus defy logic or reason. And when people commit such atrocities, they are acting as agents of chaos. They have disrupted society and shattered the semblance of order that people had in their minds. 

The thing that makes chaos both terrifying and fascinating is that it has no desires. It isn't trying to gain power or create political change. It doesn't want wealth or fame. Chaos simply acts. It does whatever it feels based on whatever whim enters its mind. Chaos is kind of the epitome of being a colossal dick.

Just Because You Can

There's this weird trope in stories that I come across often enough to remember. It's when a character finds themselves in a position where they can make some very significant action and they tell themselves that because they have the opportunity to make this decision, that they meant to do it all along.

This trope kind of makes sense in storytelling. Stories love to have legends and prophecies, gods and fates, and all manner of ways of saying exactly that a character was meant to do something and basically had no choice. 

The problem is that a lot of stories don't have devices of fate, and in those cases, this trope is unwarranted. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you were meant to do it all along. But it does mean that you can do it. 

Stories with fate are about characters struggling with accepting that they have been chosen to be special. Stories without fate are about characters struggling with the decision of what kind of person they are going to choose to be. 

Both of these are valid and potentially interesting story themes. They are simply effective for different reasons. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Go For It

My number one piece of advice that I give to people is "Go for it." It's not the right advice for every situation, but it's the right advice for most. I say this because most people ask my advice by saying, "I'm thinking about trying <blank>." Unless you're thinking about drinking bleach or punching pregnant women, just go for it. (Side note: if you are thinking about punching pregnant women, try drinking bleach instead.)

Seriously though, people don't plan on doing incredibly stupid or dangerous things. And they aren't even going to do it full bore; they're thinking about trying it. It's the most innocuous activity imaginable. 

When people ask for that advice, they want confirmation. They want you to tell them that you haven't missed something terribly important that would make their idea disastrously awful. And all they need is am all clear to remove their trepidations. 

Next time you're thinking about trying something, don't worry about asking permission. You have my permission: go for it. 

Because I Can

One of the biggest questions people ask is "why?" The other question words also matter, but they're much easier to determine. More importantly, no matter how much we learn about something that happened, we have this insatiable desire to know why it happened. And, the more we know, the greater our desire to know why. 

The why's often involve the human element. When a person chooses to do something (or to not do something), there has to be a reason for it. Some thought must have occurred and determined that it was all right.

The desire to know 'why' is the desire to understand how the human mind works. But sometimes we find out that the answer is unsatisfying. Sometimes a person's answer to 'why' is, "Because I can."

Yeah. Not every action has a grand plan. Some of them are completely whimsical. They are done just to do them, just to see the result, just to kill boredom. They are the most frustrating people to encounter, as they are truly unknowable. They also can be terribly frustrating characters to write for, and for the same reason. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Discussion vs. Argument vs. Fight

It's really difficult to talk about ideas with a lot of people. Differing opinions escalate into full-blown blood feuds way too quickly. I think there is a certain amount of human nature at the root of things, but I also think a portion of it comes from ignorance.

People do not understand the difference between a discussion, an argument, and a fight. You can see this by how often the words are used interchangeably. In actuality, they are very different things, and the more people that know the difference, the better. 

A discussion is when people all talk about a single subject, either trying to understand it better or solve a problem. Discussions are non-biased. Everybody works toward the same goal, so if one person "wins", everybody wins. 

An argument is when you make a claim and provide evidence to support it. You can argue for something or argue against it; in either case, you make a claim and support it. To argue with somebody is to have differing claims on a given subject. To describe arguing in one sentence, say "I disagree." Arguing should be civil. Just because you disagree with somebody doesn't mean that everything they say is wrong. It also doesn't mean that your beliefs are completely right.

"You are wrong and I am right. Now we're in a full-blown fight." Fighting is where too much discourse ends up. The reason is understandable. We get very emotionally invested in our ideas. They make sense of the world in a way that has proven itself consistent. Ideas very easily become beliefs, and that is when they get dangerous. Beliefs become a part of our personal identity. If you believe something, then it is true. If it wasn't true, you wouldn't believe it. So now, when somebody disagrees with your idea, it feels like a personal attack against you.

People need to know that they can have thoughts or ideas and care about them, but still be able to talk about them impersonally. Being passionate about something is fine, but there's no need to be rude. If you truly believe that your ideas are correct, then they will stand up to all scrutiny. So let people poke and prod and ask questions. If you can rationally explain why you are right, then be happy that you know the truth and that others learned. But if somebody has valid points when arguing against your beliefs, then be able to accept it and modify your beliefs. Again, in a discussion, when one person wins, everybody wins.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Eliminate The Unsalvageable

I am a real salvager when it comes to editing. I keep as much of a person's words and ideas as I can while editing. I think it comes from not wanting to alienate others or cram my words down their throat. It is also partly because I usually edit for people that have an idea of what they want their story to be like and don't want it to stray to far from that.  

I happen to be a great salvager, but that can be its own downfall. Sometimes, while editing a document, I will realize that what I want to add or change doesn't work. I'll spend minutes looking and toying and changing and rechanging sentences, both in order and construction, and I will grudgingly accept that the sentences can't be salvaged. 

At that point, I have to accept that and start to build a whole new sentence to make the passage work right. But the real lesson here is that it's not easy to let go. Even when it's not your writing, it can feel strange cutting away others' words. But if a passage is best served by not salvaging what's there, then eliminate that which is unsalvageable for the sake of making the best product. 

Stupid Stories About Smart People

I am really irritated by stupid stories about smart people. Shows like Frasier and Big Bang Theory are perfect examples (and it should come as no surprise that they are standard sitcoms). These shows portray characters whose single most prominent feature being their expansive intelligence, yet every episode has them doing something so monumentally stupid that I wonder how anybody can believe that these characters aren't mentally challenged. 

There are a lot of reasons for things like this happening, but I tend to blame stupid writers. It's not easy to make a character who is smarter than you, so purportedly smart people can make dumb decisions simply because the author didn't think things through.

What irritates me the most about these kinds of shows is how popular they become. People love to see smart characters being nerds, especially with the current popularity of geek chic. But it also seems like they love seeing nerds screwing up, like it's a catharsis to see "superior" people being even dumber than the viewer is. It comforts us to see that intelligence is just a facade. The problem is that it is a false stereotype. Smart people are smart. They are humans, and fallible, but by and large, they aren't stupid and they don't do the same stupid things week after week without learning. 

I recognize that stories need drama, and that if somebody was smart enough to avoid trouble, then they would be more boring. Still, I don't think it's a valid excuse. If you're afraid a smart character would solve problems too easily, then don't write smart characters. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Admit Mistakes Or Incorporate Them

If you're writing a story, you're probably going to screw something up at some point. You may describe a character incorrectly, or have the wrong person speak a line, or place somebody somewhere that they couldn't be. 

If a reader catches an inconsistency and calls you on it, you have two options. One is to admit that you made a mistake and change the errors. The other option is to find a way to incorporate those mistakes into your story. 

Suppose that Sharon said something that Cathy was supposed to say. How did Sharon know to say it? Might she be more involved than others know?
What if Michael showed up in a scene at the mall when he was supposed to be at work across town? Why might this be? What happened?

Answering these questions might take your story in a whole new direction that adds excitement and intrigue. It could also take your story in a whole new direction that you don't want it to go in. Either way is fine. That's why you have the choice to admit your mistakes or incorporate them. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Power Of Reputation

If your favorite author puts out a new book, you're probably going to buy it. After all, it's your favorite author. More importantly, it is very likely to be a pleasure to read. That author has done work in the past and it was good enough to become your favorite. This author has a tremendous reputation. 

It is amazing how much reputations affect us. If something is supposed to be good, we are far more likely to try it out. If something is bad, we will likely avoid it so much, based solely on reputation, that you would never have the opportunity to find out for yourself. 

In terms of people's reputations, it can be a scary thing. A reputation is like a filter through which others see us. When somebody has a reputation for being a liar, you may never believe what they have to say. If their reputation is for being genuine and helpful, you may never realize that they're robbing you blind. 

Reputation can be a handy tool. It is a way for people to learn from the experiences of others. The problem is that not all people have the same taste, so reputations are never 100% true for us individually. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Don't Shoot The Messenger

Any concept that has its own saying is deeply rooted in our collective psyche. Take, for example, "don't shoot the messenger." The meaning is that when somebody tells us bad news, we should not lash out at or punish that person. So why is it such a common saying?

The short answer is: because it needs to be. Even at a cursory examination, it is common to hate the person who gives us bad news. Our default wiring says that they are responsible for our unhappiness. They ruined our mood and should be punished for it.

The problem, of course, is that it is irrational. Learning information may make you unhappy, but the person informing you didn't make it happen. He simply stated facts that you didn't want to hear. 

What's screwed up, though, is that, in a certain light, the irrational thought almost makes sense. Technically speaking, that person was responsible for making you unhappy. If they never told you, you would still be blissfully happy. Granted, it is the bliss of ignorance, but bliss nonetheless. 

What most people don't realize, though, is how much people don't want to be the messenger. People wrack themselves with guilt when they tell others bad news. When we say something that pisses off others, we feel bad. We feel responsible for their unhappiness. 

"Don't shoot the messenger" is a saying that wonderfully captures the irrationality of the human mind. But what it shows us about ourselves is so much deeper than the one example we tend to think of.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

You Know 104 Letters

I find it amusing when people talk about how hard it would be to learn Greek or Russian just because of their alphabets. Their argument is that English has 26 letters and that it would be so much work to learn even more letters. The problem with their argument (at least one of the problems), is that English doesn't have 26 letters; it has 104. 

After you get all of the "you're so wrong" out of your system, hear me out. Lower case and capital letters are completely distinct. Even though they are considered the same letter, take the same name, and make the sound, the fact remains that they are totally different letters.

It may not be easy to see this, but the capital and lower case "A" look nothing alike. There is no reason to think that they have the same sound and meaning. There are some exceptions, like "O" and "X", because they are just different sizes of the same shape, but we do recognize them as unique characters. The capital and lower case versions are different sizes and are used in different ways. They are still distinct. 

So that's 52 letters you know. So how come I said 104? That's because all of those letters get doubled with cursive. 

I know that script handwriting is fallen out of favor (and to be candid, I'm perfectly fine with that), but I believe people can still read it for the most part, even if they don't write it. And that is how you know 104 letters. 

So, if you ever find yourself concerned or hesitant or making excuses to not learn a new alphabet, remind yourself that you already know 4 of them, so what's the harm in learning one more?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

People Hate Change

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but people hate change. However, it becomes an interesting fact in light of how very quickly humans adapt to their surroundings. No matter what their situation is, it becomes normal to them, and normal is a great comfort. 

When somebody’s normal is taken away from them, they become uneasy, unhappy. They can become depressed or highly agitated. And yet, regardless of how things have changed from their normal, as long as it is consistent, it becomes a new normal, and the person will get used to this situation.

People are so strange in the way they get so incredibly upset when things change, and yet they have no idea how quickly they get used to that change and forget that it was ever different from what they were used to. This also highlights another curiosity of the human condition: memory retention. But I will save that for another time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Indomitable Spirit

People love stories about a character with an indomitable spirit. Such examples are the little girl who never stops believing that everybody has goodness inside, the young man who faces all obstacles in order to achieve his goals, the brother who looks over his sister regardless of the personal cost, and the wife who holds together her family while waiting for her husband to return from his voyages.

Like most story tropes, though, people like this because it is uncommon in reality. The idea of the indomitable spirit flies in the face of the human condition. What people are the most skilled at is adapting. No matter how fantastic or how repugnant a person’s situation is, it will quickly become normal to them. It is the greatest survival mechanism we have – what doesn’t kill us becomes our norm.

And yet, we love stories where people don’t adapt. We are amazed by characters who never let bad situations bring them down. We are encouraged when characters filled with hope refuse to let themselves get deflated, and we are vindicated when those characters see the things they hoped for become real.  

Stories often do not show us how life really is, but show us how we wish life was. Struggle and stress still exist, but we handle them well. And people who stay strong long enough are rewarded. It is a lovely ideal, no matter how rare it is, and one that may be worth perpetuating, no matter how unlikely it is. After all, maybe some day it will become a reality.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bad vs. Amateur Writing

I'm pretty quick to label something as "bad writing". And generally, any writing that fails to get me to think or feel a certain way is bad because it didn't do what it was supposed to have done. However, I realize that some writing does fail in its purpose, but it's not because it's bad per se; the real issue is that it's amateur writing. 

Amateurs lack experience and training. They could very well have good ideas for stories, but not know how to execute them. This can lead to stories that have choppy or clunky narration, stiff dialogue, or excessive description. All of these things affect the reader's experience, and they do lessen the quality of the story, but that doesn't make the story itself bad. 

Amateurs need to know what the next step is (or be informed that there even is a next step). Amateur writing is what I consider to be a step in the right direction, but not the end of the journey. 

Bad writing, on the other hand, is a step in the wrong direction. It's when characters are inconsistent and plot holes abound. It's not that dialogue is clunky, but that it simply doesn't make sense. If a protagonist is afraid that a group of spies is tracking his every move and listening in on every word he says, it would be moronic for him to have a conversation with a stranger and explain all of that; he should be assuming that this person is also a spy and not to be trusted.

I like working with amateurs. In general, they want to be good writers and will soak up whatever knowledge they can. Bad writers, though, tend to be stuck in their ways and totally incorrigible; it's kind of what makes them bad writers. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chess Piece Storytelling

I came across a fascinating phrase recently: chess piece storytelling. It is what happens when a story consists of "This character goes here; that character goes there." In essence, it reads like a game of chess, where it only shows where the pieces moved and what they did. 

This is a classic example of amateur writing. It is all description and no emotion. It lacks humanity and empathy. 

I want to emphasize that this is not bad writing; it is amateur. The difference here is that chess piece storytelling is a good first step. It is like building the skeleton of your story. It gives you the structure from which you can build more refined ideas on top of it. An amateur simply needs to know that there are more steps to go to make it complete. 

I might even go so far as to recommend amateur writers give it a shot. Write a chess piece story, and when it's done, use it as an outline to then write a more exciting and fuller version for your next draft. 

Comfort Zones

It's easy to tell somebody to break out of their comfort zones. It is massively more difficult to actually do it. Discomfort is an amazingly powerful force. 

I sometimes think that people are more scared of discomfort than they are of actual pain. Nobody talks about how much something might actually hurt; they talk about how awkward it could be. 

Still though, we need to do new things and have new experiences. They open our eyes and expand our minds. And if the biggest obstacle to actually doing those things is our own personal discomfort, then we have to do what we can to break out of out comfort zones to make it happen. 

Raw Humanity

I watched a performance of Frankenstein put on by the British Ntional Theatre company. It was a literally amazing experience. The show had quite a bit of spectacle with the scenery and lighting, but what was most outstanding was the acting.

Frankenstein is a harsh story. It is filled with sorrow and anger, and characters often lash out at one another. The experience of seeing it as a stage show brought a new life to it. The actors let loose their characters' rage, and it was visceral. 

I can't help but feel that theatre is unique in this quality. Movies are so dolled up that actors never really let go; everything is calculated and edited just right. A play, though, is severely stripped down. You don't have the background music or the panning shots or extreme close ups. And by removing all of that veneer, you can tap into that raw humanity that we rarely see let out.