June 6, 2014

Corrections and The Edge of Tomorrow

This post is a combination of some thoughts on writing as well as some of my thoughts on The Edge of Tomorrow, which I saw on Thursday night. So without any further delay, on to my thoughts about writing.

Just on Wednesday, Holli Moncrieff posted something on her blog about criticism. You can read her post by clicking here. She pointed out that criticism of your work isn't always someone's attempt to tear it apart, but sometimes is an effort to help you improve. I've known creative types, not just writers, who literally only want to hear nice, sunshiny things about the work they perform. They literally melt down if anyone dares point out anything that could be improved upon in their work. I can understand why they react that way -- I certainly have had my moments of taking criticism rather hard. Over the years, though, I have also learned that constructive criticism can help you become that much better of a writer, even though it hurts.

The process is similar to getting into shape. When you have been sedentary for a time, it really hurts to get out there and work out. The pain can be almost unbearable as just walking or climbing stairs becomes a big ordeal. If you stop, you will never get into good physical condition. By pushing through the unpleasant pain, you become more energetic, tone your muscles, and in general feel better. I've worked with some really mean, unreasonable editors in the past, which has made me tougher and helped me to not take constructive criticism from my current clients personal. The longer I write, the more convinced I am that this is a necessary step toward becoming truly great in the craft and art.

The Edge of Tomorrow Review

Now, on to The Edge of Tomorrow. I have to admit I'm not a huge Tom Cruise fan, even though I grew up when he was wildly popular. I am also not a Tom Cruise hater since some of the best movies I've ever seen have starred him. I do have to say that I have been aware of All You Need is Kill, the novella the movie is based on, and always thought it sounded interesting. After seeing the first trailer for The Edge of Tomorrow, I was hooked:

The movie was even more entertaining than I thought. While some people understandably have been comparing it to Groundhog Day, it is nothing like the classic comedy (other than repeating the same day over and over). Tom Cruise was actually pretty believable as a guy who wasn't trained to become a soldier who gets to learn how to be one by repeating the same day over, and over, and over (you get the idea). Emily Blunt did a good job of playing a badass. There is even an appropriate amount of humor, keeping the plot about the end of humanity from getting too heavy. I'm a weaponized suit nerd (thanks to Starship Troopers, the book, among other stories), so it was cool to see hundreds of soldiers storming the beaches of France using one version of them. Instead of the movie falling into the obvious plotline a lazy writer would have settled into, the movie went in a different direction and did a good job of ratcheting up the tension for the final climax. I'm not dropping any spoilers here, but if you think the trailers look even remotely good, I'm here to tell you that you should just go see it. Other than X-Men and Captain America, this has been the best movie I've seen so far this year.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Seeing it this weekend and looking forward to the film!
Criticism is supposed to be suggestions on how to make something better. Reviews that state what didn't work and why don't bother me. I just try to make the next book better.

Holli Moncrieff said...

Thanks for the shout out, Steven! That was so kind and unexpected.

I think the people who have been my harshest critics have helped me grow the most. "You're wonderful," feels great, but it doesn't help me be a better writer.

That said, we have to know when criticism is valuable and when to disregard it. Like the editor I wrote about, some people rip things apart just because they can. In that case, it really doesn't mean anything.

mshatch said...

I really want to see this movie. I'm not a Cruise fan either but I have to admit I like a lot of his movies. Oblivion was awesome.

VR Barkowski said...

I agree with Alex. To critique means to analyze, thereby suggesting how work can be made better. "I hate that" isn't a critique, it's an opinion.

I'm not really a Tom Cruise fan either, but I've been hearing a lot of good buzz about this movie.

VR Barkowski

David P. King said...

I enjoyed Edge of Tomorrow more than I thought I would, so that's a plus! The sooner we get a thick skin and learn how to apply and not apply feedback, the better for any writer. :)