Friday, October 21, 2005

Ten Things I've learned from LOST continued....

I’m back! Here are the last five things I’ve learned from watching LOST. True LOST fans will understand my method of counting. Sorta. :-)

4. Surprises and shocks are great fun, but anticipation is agony!
We all love the shocks we get from watching LOST. Remember the time the airplane pilot was suddenly whooshed out of the plane? Or the time we discovered that Locke had been in a wheelchair before the crash? Or the time we first saw the numbers on the hatch? More recently, the shock of seeing Desmond’s face for the first time in the hatch and realizing Jack has met him before. We know more surprises are coming, and we keep showing up for the thrill. But it was no surprise that for the season premiere they were going to descend into the hatch. We all knew it. We saw them blow the lid off and look inside. Then, all summer long we had to wait. And wait. Anticipation is a powerful and cruel force! (Just ask some pals here who didn’t want to wait one day for the rest of this list!) What a great way to hook in a reader, whether it’s at the end of a chapter so the reader can’t go to bed even though it’s 3 am. Or maybe it’s at the end of a book that’s part of an ongoing series. Anticipation never lets us off the hook. All summer long the speculation grew. What was in the hatch? Was it cannibalistic headhunters (that was my daughter’s favorite), a strange cult, an experiment gone bad, the Others, or even aliens? By the time the season premiere arrived, millions of viewers were desperate to go into the hatch! Wouldn’t we love to have readers that hooked?

8. Excellent writing never takes a break.
As writers, we have to maintain the quality with each page, each chapter, and each book. Readers/viewers may love you today, but they can be easily disappointed tomorrow. I’ve gotten into the habit every week of checking online reviews that fans post about LOST. They are so accustomed to the high quality of writing, that they have become rather critical. And they’re extremely hungry for answers that are not forthcoming. Their frustration shows. It’s a scary thing for a writer. We work everyday with a fear hanging over us. Is this book as good as the last one? Am I still improving as a writer? Will my readers enjoy this and keep buying my books? All we can do is keep doing our best and never, ever take a break.

15. It has to make sense!
At some point, questions have to be answered. The plot has to move forward. Decisions have to be made. Sure, we write fiction. In other words, we’re telling a pack of lies. But there must be a truth to it. Characters must be true to themselves. Results have to be believable. And it all has to make sense, or you can lose the reader/viewer. LOST is really out there. It’s plain crazy, but we’re buying it. They’re making us believe it, and that is amazing!

16. To keep the suspense building, the best answer gives you an answer, but raises more questions.
LOST has a great way of answering questions in a way that only leads to twenty more questions. The result makes us bang our heads against the wall, but it certainly keeps us hooked!

23. Never underestimate the intelligence or imagination of the reader/viewer.
Fans of LOST have been keeping up with a large cast of characters. Now that the tail-end survivors have been found, the cast is growing even larger. The plot lines keep increasing and becoming more and more complicated. And we keep finding new ways that the different plot lines and characters interconnect with each other. It’s an amazing load of information to process and remember. Not only do the viewers handle it, but they love it!

42. That last one was actually number 10, but I have to complete the number cycle or something terrible could happen! LOL If that statement lost you, then you need to be watching LOST.
Seriously, this shows presents a fabulous display of writing expertise. The writers wield all the tools—great characterization, backstory, inner and outer conflict, dialogue, hooks, superb plotting. It’s all there, and it all works together so well. It is truly a great how-to manual for writing fiction. And it’s fun!

Kerrelyn Sparks
How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire


JoAnn Ross said...

Ooh, this was worth waiting for! Even better than yesterday's list, I think.

I especially love the part about never underestimating the intelligence or imagination of the reader. I don't think many writers do this. (At least none I know.) I wish the same could be said for some editors and publishers!

Oh, I'm also so relieved you completed the cycle!!

Allison Brennan said...

Great conclusion!!! Love every point, but I think anticipation is the best. There are some stories where I can't turn the pages fast enough.

Alphabeter said...

For the dorks who are going to catch up via DVD before watching their tapes of the current season (yeah, yeah I'm super behind), please to explain "completing the cycle"?

Kerrelyn Sparks said...

The numbers (4,8,15,16,23,42)are very important. Or cursed, if you ask Hurley. He first heard them in a psycho ward where a crazy guy repeated them over and over. Hurley used those numbers playing the lottery and won millions (which he believes destroyed his life and everything around him). He traveled to Australia to visit the home of the crazy guy from the psycho ward to try to learn why the numbers are cursed. The flight back crashed, and the survivors found the hatch. The same numbers were on the side. Those numbers were on the drug that Desmond was shooting up. And they must be entered into the computer every 108 (sum of the numbers) hours or something terrible will happen-- which is why I had to complete the listing of all the numbers-- to keep something terrible from happening. (we don't know what)

L. Faye Hughes said...

Thanks, Kerry! I admit that I've watched the show sporadically since it first aired, but I've been playing catch-up.

Gloria Harchar said...

I'm one of the dorks who never watched it until the very last episode when I was in Hammond, Louisiana with my sister and BIL who had to "catch me up" on the whole thing. But I do admit that I was hooked all summer when I had to wait to see what happened after they blew up the hatch. When are the dvd's going to be available? Does anyone know? Yes, and I agree with Allison -- anticipation is the best! Love that suspense and intrigue.


Kerry, great list! And LOL on your numbering. I was on the second tip when I thought, "8? wait a minute, that's not right" and on the third when I realized what you'd done. I've posted a link in a few places so that other writers can come check out your LOST wisdom.

Camy Tang said...

Thanks! I love LOST and these were TERRIFIC points!

JoAnn Ross said...

Maybe the something terrible happening if the numbers don't get put in is the show being cancelled?

Terese Ramin said...

"More recently, the shock of seeing Desmond’s face for the first time in the hatch and realizing Jack has met him before."

Well...I've gotta say, ya kinda knew this was coming the minute Desmond introduced himself to Jack in the flashback. Abrams & crew don't waste character segments or scenes, so that was a "gimme" from the get. Same with the Michelle Rodriguez character, when you think about it: how many times has she ever played someone peaceful in anything she's ever been in.

But in terms of anticipation...absolutely. LOST pulls it out every time. They take the old Mark Twain adage to the ultimate, and I've got to tell you, this is my writing mantra:

Make them laugh,
Make them cry,
Make them wait.

Works every time.

Terese Ramin
Bewitched, Bothered & BeVampyred
Season 1