jafwords

@jafwords (On TWITTER)

Improvements to be made

I really do have to be honest with myself, I lack focus and direction when it comes to my writing.

However, the question should then be asked "is this a good or a bad thing?"

Let me tell you where I am just now. My second novel is still currently sitting with a status of "Currently Editting", which I need to admit is dreadful as its been like that for ages (I promise I will do more today). I am also now into creating my second issue of a comic which has the working title "Gates of Hell". The title works for the moment as it describes what's going on but I suspect I will change (simply becuase I don't like it). I see this comic stretching into 4 issues with around 25 pages in each. Keeping with the comic theme I created the first issue of a comic I called "Elysium Rising". I haven't  returned to this comic yet but I do intend to as I love the idea I created. The plan for this will be a simple three part but we shall see.

Keeping up?

Then novel number 3 has been started with the adventures of Captain Walsh MacKenzie and then finally I have started to jot down some ideas for a fairytale story but it not be aimed at kids.

Do you are my point about focus and attention. So what are the pros and cons?

Cons are obvious. It's taking me an age to complete one thing. Which, in turn, leads to a bit of frustration on my part. The creative journey is extended and along the way you can easily fall into the mode of self doubt -that my friends is hard to shake. Ideas can get mixed and then you can loose track of what you doing

Pros? Yeah there are many. Mack lack of planing allows me to maximise my  creativity. Oh and that mixing up of ideas I mentioned actually works for me, as it allows me to try different things with other stories; which often works. With so many projects on the go I find it helps beat that nasty writers block, and I am loving the fact that my ideas are flowing.

So really I need to meet the compromise and be realistic. My planing and timescale has to be completely abandoned in favour of promoting the inspirational side of writing. Trust me though, I  will get there and have some cool stuff for you to read.

Happy reading my friends.

Jafwords.

A Video I helped to make...For my Jambos fans, this is for you!

Writing is not my only creative outlet. For many years I have also been an amateur film maker. Around May of this year I was asked if I would help to make a video for the Foundation of Hearts and Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

Okay automatic confession, I am not a Hearts Supporter - but I was  delighted to be asked to help make this film. Most of the Camera work is me with some bits lifted (with kind permission) from STV. The film was edited by Nick Walker and he has managed to create a very emotional advert for the Jambos!

So even if your not a Hearts fan, sit back and enjoy this wee film about the club recovering from the brink of destruction.

Pixels - the Arcade Fights Back

I was born at the start of the 80s and so fortunate enough to know computer games when they were really "COMPUTER GAMES"! If you never played things like Manic Miner, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man then your childhood must have been utterly empty. Thankfully, along comes Adam Sandler, the directing power of Chris Columbus and the writing talent of Tim Herlihy and we get all our old favourite games on the silver screen. First of all let's give credit to the original idea - a short film called "Pixels" by Patick Jean. If you haven't seen this then do this film maker the favour of checking out the short and from it you will see the numerous elements that were carried over into the feature film...so well done Patrick!
But wait a minute! Pac-man is the bad guy? NO WAY!!!!

 A few days ago I went and saw Pixels and with Mr Sandler involved I knew I was going to be in for a good time. I have to admit it I do love Adam Sandler films (and yes I am of the opinion there really isn't a bad one). So you can imagine where the rest of my simple review is going to go.

So the premise of this one. Aliens encounter arcade transmissions of old games in outer space and interpret these as a hostile declaration of war. So they create giant real life versions of the games and send them to Earth to fight.
Okay so you know the story is miles out there and totally beyond belief but it's meant to be that way. So what where the positives  - well for me Adam Sandler gives his usual solid performance. Admittedly, he kind of plays the same recurring character type, but that is his strength and he is really good at it. Kevin James always teams up well with Sandler in these types of films and so we get a fairly decent turn out from him, perhaps not the best role I have seen him in and he didn't give his many laugh out loud moments but his character did have a more serious role in the film I suppose. The next positive, playing Violet van Patten, was actress Michelle Monaghan. Very little you could fault her on this. her pairing with Adam Sandler was effective and you got a good sense of chemistry between the two characters.

Negatives - funny thing is with this...that bits that irritated me were to do with a characters personality or trait which I am sure was designed to be annoying and hence a credit to the actor who played them. Peter Dinklage is by far one of my favourite actors. The man is gifted and if you are a fan of Game of Thrones you will know what I mean. His character in this film, Eddie Plant, is imaged after gaming champion Billy Mitchell (at least that is what I have heard). However, he is set up as Sandler's enemy and as such you can't help but hate him.

So what is my real opinion of this film. It was good - and its worth seeing. You will leave the cinema smiling after this one and so I give it a two thumbs up. Its not ground breaking but it doesn't set itself up to be like that at all.    
It gets my **** rating and just a fraction away from my ***** rating. I liked it and it will be a film I will purchase when it hits the DVD shelf (I do have to complete my Adam Sandler collection after all).

The Jafwords rating system.
***** (Awesome)
**** (Almost awesome but with some flaws)
*** (To be honest it could have been better)
** (Struggling to say good things)
* (Dear director give me my money back)

A brilliant Trainwreck of a Comedy

The summer comedy Trainwreck finally pulls into the cinema station and after watching it last night it's time to give it my completely in depth and insight review (are you laughing yet?)

So let's start off with the right tone straight away - if you want to laugh, then you must go and see this film. You pretty much know what you are getting when Judd Apatow is involved; either as director, producer or writer, he brings a solid pedigree of good comedy along with him. Mr Apatow steps behind the camera as Director/Producer and the writing credit is handed to the film's star Amy Schumer.

The film is a romantic comedy which follows Amy Shumer as 'Amy' a Men's magazine writer who looks to be pretty much on a road to self-destruction (hence the title). That is until she meets Bill Hader's character, surgeon to athletes 'Aaron Conners' after being assigned to write a story on him for the magazine. Amy then starts to face a life she is totally accustomed to or prepared for.

So that is the basics of the story. What about the actual writing? To be honest I don't know too much about Amy Schumer, we don't get to see much of her here in Scotland. However, just based on this film, it is clear she has an absolute wealth of talent. I am looking forward to seeing her write more. I am sure Judd Apatow experience has helped polish this film but it can't be denied that it has started off from an extremely strong position to begin with.

The acting in this film is top notch and Amy really has created a lead character that you will go on an emotional rollercoaster with. Bill Hader is his usual brilliant self. I could go on forever about how good he is as an actor and comedian (but  I don't want to bore you) - he is great in this film.

Amy Shumer and Bill Hader really work well as a onscreen pair and after seeing this I am pretty sure we will see them together again onscreen. You will laugh, you might cry and I am sure you will walk out that cinema hall with a smile on your face.

The directing is great, maybe not as brilliantly done as I have seen Apatow do in other films but the slight roughness around the edges I think adds to the tone of the film and I suspect Apatow's plan from the start.
 
Yes its finally time I break out one of my top recommendations and give this film the full ***** rating. So if its date night, or friends looking for a decent film or you just want to go to the cinema to feel that little bit more uplifted then this is the film for you! 

The Jafwords rating system.
***** (Awesome)
**** (Almost awesome but with some flaws)
*** (To be honest it could have been better)
** (Struggling to say good things)
* (Dear director give me my money back)

The Legend of Barney Thomson - Review

One of the joys of holding a cinema pass is to go to films which you normally might avoid because of the ever going price of a cinema outing. There will be lots of people who save it for the big Hollywood Blockbusters and I don't blame them. However, I would always encourage the cinema goer to give the lesser known films a chance as you might just end up surprised and end up with a more satisfying viewing experience. After all the less than satisfying flick, Fantastic 4 (couldn't resist the dig again), is proof that a big budget and the Hollywood machine isn't always a winning formula.

So where am I going with this?

Enter the talent of Mr Robert Carlyle and a film with a distinctive Scottish taste and you end up with a wee film that is pretty good and worth a night out at the cinema. This film marks the first big screen directing credit for Robert Carlyle and the man himself takes on the title role of Barney Thomson, a bit of a wet blanket of a man who ends up embroiled in the dark comedic events surrounding the life of a serial killer. It was the fact that Robert Carlyle was in this that drove me to go and see it, I think he is a absolute gem of an actor (I still regret the day I saw him in Toys r us in Govan and didn't say hello to him).

Without the massive budget behind him, Mr Carlyle creates a wonderful stylish film which will hold your attention from start to finish. However, lets not forget the supporting cast in this one. The legend that is Ray Winstone churns out another of his stellar performances as Detective Hold-all, and you will love watching this detective work on the case of serial killer. AND THEN THERE IS Emma Thomson, who has been done up to look like a typical mental Glaswegian chain-smoking, bingo playing Scottish granny. Thomson takes on the role of Barney Thomson's mother and yet again its a performance I will not forget, as she is absolutely brilliant - even the Scottish accent comes out very natural.

I love the fact that this film is set in Glasgow and again shows just what we can do with the Scottish Film Industry - the sad thing is I doubt this film will find a huge worldwide audience simply for the reason I think it won't get a lot of advertising support. If you happen to see it playing in your cinema of when it eventually hits the DVD shelf then do yourself a favour and go and see it. I promise you will enjoy it.

For all its elements, the story, the actors, the fact that Robert Carlyle did this one; I am giving it a **** rating. 

The Jafwords rating system.
***** (Awesome)
**** (Almost awesome but with some flaws)
*** (To be honest it could have been better)
** (Struggling to say good things)
* (Dear director give me my money back)          

Writing thoughts for August "Outlining".


Random thoughts for August. I was looking up the old interweb thing and like to do a bit of reading and learning - all with the goal of improving my writing technique (you know so one day I will be famous haha). One of my biggest concerns has always been the notion of "outlining" your work before starting. You see my biggest secret is that I don't outline. I find the process tedious and boring. However, I wanted to know how many writers do and do not do. Basically, I have read books before about getting published etc with the advice - "Outline" and if you don't then you are not a writer. Well the news I will share is that I consider myself a writer (unpublished in the traditional sense) but still a writer - because I write and I enjoy it. 

So the notion of Outlining. Seems there are two side to this, much like the Force with both a dark side and the light side. As far as I can tell the predominate school of thought seems to fall on the side of the Outlining; the REAL writers Outline. Well to let you into my wee secret - I do not Outline my stories. I just can't do it and it does not work for me. I imagine writing as a journey where we meet some characters, get to know them and go on an adventure with them. If I was to Outline my novel, then their story would be told too quickly and I wouldn't get to go on the journey with them. When I sit down to write, its like me entering into a cinema hall and watching a movie for the first time. As I see the imagine in my head I start to write it down and then I get to be on the journey as well. I know after the first two or three chapters if the story is going to work and find an ending. 

I can admit that my method can end up with a lot of false starts, but I like it that way. I think back to my first full length novel I wrote (Star Fantasy). I started writing that using my own method - "write as you think". I eventually reached a dead end with it knowing at that stage in my life I did not have it in me to write a purely fantasy driven novel - my one true love was/is science fiction. 

Eventually, I started to write a book using the same world I had created in my mind, using the same species of characters, and the events which I churned out in those early chapters became a back story for the book that is Star Fantasy: The Voice of Darkness. However, even as I was writing that I didn't plan the ending. I did not shape the characters beforehand (I am sure the professional writer out there is rolling their eyes at me). I simply followed the "write as you think" method and in doing so I created a book which I loved. As I was writing it I could imagine myself in the cinema watching it play out before me. If I plan I think I would end up spending all my creative energy on the project and loose interest in it.  

For the foreseeable future I will continue to create works using the "write as you think" method. At this particular point in my life it works for me and allows me to enjoy the writing process. Write as you think allows me to create interesting first drafts, and although scrappy and in need to serious editing, I end up with a story that has entertained me as much as I hope it will have entertained a reader.

I think its important that writers choose the method that works best for them. Although the published manuals on writing will tell you one thing, don't do something that will ultimately get in the way of you writing your story.

Those books will not tell you how to write number 1 best seller straight away. Every story that is written, no matter what method you follow, will ultimately need a massive amount of editing to make it right. So choose a method that works for you to get that first draft written. 

Perhaps in the future, as my writing matures and I get better at it I might change - but for just now I am simply writing as I think. Which is how I have approached this blog post. Now that I have got to this sentence I am not sure if this was the original point I was going to make - I think it was. :) 

So the exclusive here today - How does John A. Ferguson approach his short stories, novels and comic scripts? ANSWER - I write as I think. 

So be well my fellow creative friends - write and be happy.

Happy reading and happy writing.

Jafwords

Not so Fantastic 4.

I do enjoy writing the odd we film review and I hope you enjoy reading them. Most of the time I am raving about a film I have seen and want to share its general "awesomeness" with you all. In fact I general hate to be overly negative...after all I am sure there are reviewers out there who would jump at the chance of shredding my work! (oh please don't).

So last night we sat down to watch the Fantastic 4. The hype surrounding this film was great and Josh Trank was really one of those directors who had caught my attention with his 2012 Film Chronicle. All the cast brought their own excellence with them and there is not one bad actor among them...I particularly enjoyed seeing Tim Blake Nelson in the role as the snivelling Dr. Allen. However, with so much acting pedigree on the roster for this one, this film simply 'Does not happen'.  So what are the plus point - Visually it has been well shot and the section where we see Dr Doom letting rip some evil in the army base is great. Full Marks for the director and visual team on this one. 

This is an origin story and we get a relationship dynamic built up between Reed Richards, Sue Storm and Victor Von Doom. This is a very loose plus point as I even felt this was somewhat rushed. 
The real problem for me was the path of the story. It has a long beginning, squashed middle and very easy quick end. Almost like it falls victim to yet another Hollywood massacre to appeal to a large audience, yet in doing so ends up just been a poor attempt at a film. It seems to me that they have made a film with the sole intention of packing people into a film screen hall just to get their money, and if it makes some money then they will give the go ahead and make a sequel. What I would like to see is some forward thinking. If you think its going to be a trilogy then write a decent trilogy, spend the time and make the script work. 


Through the muddled mess we end up seeing on the screen, I can see what Josh Trank was trying to achieve, but for me the film didn't reach his expectation or vision - so is this his fault or the fault of others. In truth I don't know. The film may carry the Marvel stamp but you need to remember this is not the Marvel Studio that brings us Avengers and all things Iron Manish - so perhaps Marvel have just got the award winning team to properly adapt comic books and other studios don't. 


Oh and don't wait to see the usual Stan Lee cameo or end sections as it just doesn't happen. 
I'd like to see the same cast attempt a sequel in the future (I think scheduled for 2017) and give Josh Trank another go at it with a little bit more creative control. 


The film wasn't terrible, it wasn't brilliant - it was average. Worth seeing, if like me, you generally like these types of films. But this time it gets a *** rating.


The Jafwords rating system.
***** (Awesome)
**** (Almost awesome but with some flaws)
*** (To be honest it could have been better)
** (Struggling to say good things)
* (Dear director give me my money back)

First draft of a new comic...

I have now completed the first draft of issue 1 of a new comic. Now to get started on issue 2. What can I give away about it?  erm...well at this stage very little. However, I will give you more detail in time.

Happy reading my friends. 

Jafwords.