Make Readers Suffer—Great Fiction Goes for the GUTS

Figuring out your character’s personal problems (GUT) will definitely make your stories have more depth and seem more real. Excellent advice.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image courtesy of Reuters. Image courtesy of Reuters.

I hope everyone had a FABULOUS Christmas and is enjoying this wonderful time of the year. Holidays bring family and friends together and usually? This equals CONFLICT. Use it. Eavesdrop. Great writers make a MESS because that is what is the heart of the best stories. The uglier the better. You will one day be grateful for that seriously jacked up childhood.

Sally forth!

I think it’s fair to say that writing a novel is no easy task. There is a lot to balance at the same time—narrative, setting, dialogue, POV, plot points, turning points, scenes, sequels, character arc, etc. It can be very challenging for even the best of us. Yet, I believe the hardest part of writing fiction is that, for most of us who aren’t crazy, conflict is something we avoid at all costs during our daily lives.

In fiction? We must go…

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BEAR Reviews… Badlands

Badlands sees Kit, a young man in the outback of America, in a relationship with Holly, a girl whom looks up to him as some kind of cool, James Dean character. The narrator of the film is done by Holly, who has this sweet, naive perspective of someone delusional enough to stay with a mad psycho killer, all the way through the odyssey of slaughter this film becomes. I mean, the moment Kit shoots Holly’s dad in her own home, you would have thought she’d of snapped out of her romantic fantasy of ‘happy-ever-afters’ but she doesn’t – instead she justifies his actions in her narration to us.

They burn Holly’s house down to the ground, with her dad’s cadaver still inside, then embark on their bloody adventure. I say bloody, not because this o’ BEAR is mildly annoyed in the confines of his/her cave, but because from the moment Kit killed Holly’s father, they were on the run, and it becomes apparent that Kit is out of control. Even when just the sniff of danger enters his madcap mind, he loses it and just blasts everyone and anyone away, every time! BEAR did find it amusing how the vinyl Kit recorded a message on–intended for the cops to think he and Holly were dead–got consumed by the house fire as well. Oops. 


(yes, Martin Sheen (KIT) is a firestarter!

The most iconic moment in the whole movie has to be the moment Holly ponders and questions her own life. She wonders what would have happened if Kit didn’t kill her dad (among other things) and how it suddenly hit her how life is short. BEAR loves her musings in this scene so much, he has included it here (see below). BEAR is nice, isn’t he/she/it/Ro0aAAR!?!!:

What’s so beautiful about this scene is that it simply makes you… feel. It amazed me when I first saw that scene – the simple introspection it induces within you, the sincerity of it… that’s a hard thing to do in cinema; and director/writer, Terrence Malick, achieved here what many people have spent a lifetime doing, but failing to do, in this particular scene, BEAR thinks.

Eventually, the game is up for Kit and the police finally capture him. But Kit doesn’t seem to bothered by this, and instead of becoming defeated, he revels in it. The police lap it up as well: they enjoy it when Kit throws them all the possessions in his pockets, and can’t stop asking him questions. It’s almost like Kit thinks he’s become a celebrity of sorts (well, he did go by the name ‘James’ when on the run – a reference to James Dean. Also, he’s been in all the newspapers, so perhaps he has a point. And the officer who arrested him says when they capture him:

Deputy: You like people?
Kit: They’re OK.
Deputy: Then why’d you do it?
Kit: I don’t know. I always wanted to be a criminal, I guess. Just not this big a one. Takes all kinds, though.
Deputy: [to Sheriff] You know who that son-of-a-bitch looks like? You know, don’t you?
Sheriff: No.
Deputy: I’ll kiss your ass if he don’t look like James Dean.

BEAR loves the world these two main character’s adventure on throughout this film. The brutality of Kit and the cute innocence of Holly is a dichotomy of complexity, a strange and fascinating viewing experience.

This is a bloody great film. 9/10

BEAR Reviews… 3 Iron

BEAR review intro pic - DVD scaled to 30(resize button mode)

Welcome human people! I am BEAR, and my week was fine thank you. Every film review will have spoilers, so SPOILER ALERT: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SPOILERS IN THIS BLOG. PERIOD. BEAR can’t tell you what to do – you are your own human person, and I am my own BEAR, with my BEARclaws and my BEARnessnessnesses. This has been an automated BEARmessage.

BEAR Reviews… 3 Iron

The film opens of a static shot of someone (not seen yet) hitting golf balls into a practice net. BEAR is perceptive enough to spot the subtext here (domestic abuse) as behind the net is a statue of a stone woman. Look even closer and you will see that this is a stone lady who comes to represent Sun-Hwa. If you’re asking yourself, “BEAR, how do you know that this is an omen of what is to come when it hasn’t happened yet?” then BEAR will provide you with a simple explanation: BEAR has seen this movie before. NOTE: I like to refer to myself as BEAR sometimes, just to remind you, a human person, whose words you are reading – the words of an actual BEAR!

Next, we are introduced to Tae-Suk, a young drifter who goes from house-to-house, pinning flyers on the doors. He assumes that, if no-one takes the flyer off after some time has passed, then that means nobody is currently living there. He breaks in (Tae-Suk is also an expert lockpicker) and then roams around the property, nosing about, having a shower, having a kip, and taking selfies of himself by random stranger’s possessions. This young man sure knows how to make himself at home. BEAR thinks this guy has some ballz for doing such novel trespassing – if I, a BEAR, were to do that… actually I don’t even know how to use a photocopier, so no I wouldn’t even try. What I find strange about this character is, even though he breaks into people’s houses, he fixes stuff, makes the place look tidy (when there is no need to) and cleans their clothes. Sure, the toy gun we see him fix in the first break in was for his own amusement of using it to shoot balloons in the house, but you can’t help but think what he might be thinking. Perhaps, Tae-Suk–even though he breaks into houses–is a kind soul, and wants that kid to be able to have a toy gun that does what it is suppose to do – he is thoughtful (or perhaps, just lacking respect). Either way, when the owners come back to the house, the kid inevitably picks up the toy gun, and shoots his mother in the face with it.

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Driving down the road, after leaving that family flat, Tae-Suk stumbles upon the house where he blocked a businessman from getting out of his driveway. He looks at the door, and lo-and-behold: the pizza flyer is still there. He goes in through the back gate.

As he strolls through the lavish garden, it becomes apparent to the viewer (which is BEAR) that the man hitting golf balls into the net earlier lives here (hence the golf practice net in the heart of the garden). What I, a BEAR, wasn’t expecting was that there was someone present in the building. Tae-Suk assumed wrong, also.

At first, Tae-Suk is unaware of the young woman’s presence – even when he opens the sliding door to the bedroom she is in, he did not see her. I, BEAR, did see her, and also saw that her face was badly beaten up. But what was most interesting was that the young woman, did not even attempt to hide her presence. Of course, we the audience can guess that though she is perhaps hidden by the wall when Tae-Suk opens the bed, all he would need to do is crane his neck the other way to see she is there. BEAR finds this highly peculiar… but in a good, cinematic way.

She doesn’t even mind him being there. In fact, she seems to feel safe around him, but not safe enough to let him know that she is there. So what happens is that she observes him: how he cooks, how he is respectful of her possessions, cleans her clothes, etc. and all without revealing herself. It’s kind of poetic, BEAR thinks, because her wealthy husband has a coffee-table book of her in naked poses, whereas in this odd, undefined relationship between two strangers, we have a different relationship – a relationship that only she can know of – a secret relationship. She does not reveal herself… yet.

She watches him through the glass, practising his golf swing with her husband’s golfing equipment (picking up the 3 iron!!), she watches him have a bath, fixing her scales – it’s like her fantasy lover! (BEAR believes this is what is at the core of this movie. If you don’t agree thus far – read on and BEAR will prove you wrong).

And finally, at the end of the day, whilst Tae-Suk is masturbating over the image of Sun-hwa – she reveals herself. The phone rings (as it did before), but this time she answers it. Tae-suk is about to leave, and then Sun-hwa screams down the phone, hanging it up. He looks at her as if to say, “What are you doing with him – he did that to you, didn’t he?” and she just looks back, defeated. He leaves.

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When the Sun-hwa’s husband comes back, he yells at her and treats her like dirt… then apologies. But the damage done to this poor girl is already cemented–it’s become their routine–and Tae-suk knows this, and is spying on them as the events unfold before his eyes (through the glass of the back door). And then, he tries to force himself on her, but she pulls away, which results in him slapping her, proving his previous apology to be highly fickle.

The husband then realises there is someone playing golf in his backyard. He goes outside to confront Tae-suk, who decides to unleash his 3 iron expertise on his woman-beating sorry ass. He hits golf ball after golf ball into him, making sure he feels intense pain, just like how he made his own wife feel pain. Tae-suk stops after spotting Sun-hwa watching him through the glass. He keeps the 3 iron, and picks up the last golf ball, and makes his silent exit. BEAR likes the use of the statues again: notice how the lion looks like it is resting it’s paw on the husband of Sun-hwa – that’s symbolic, no? (see picture below). Notice also, how when Tae-suk is looking through the glass, how the target poster of the practice golfing set is superimposed over the husband’s head. The director, Kim Ki-Duk, is definitely a glass act, in BEAR’s book.


In 3 Iron, anything and everything associated with golf is symbolic of violence. Note how later on, how Sun-hwa stands in the direction of Tae-suk’s ‘swing’ – he has no intention of hurting her, but she has grown dependant on such violent behaviour. And when the device Sun-hwa has made breaks loose (he screwed a hole through the ball, and wrapped metal wire through it, so he could tie it around a tree, or a lamppost, to practice his swing), the golf ball goes through a windscreen and badly injures a person. What this signifies BEAR does not know, but it could mean that violent energy is violent; and no matter how well you can restrain yourself, it will come out one way or another, and potentially hurt those around you.

Tae-suk looks after Sun-hwa, and they break into a house to spend the night. Their relationship is cute, almost fairytale, or dreamy, in a way. But this time, they get rumbled by the house owners, and the man of the house gives Tae-suk his best ‘swing’.

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And it all goes well… until it doesn’t.

Eventually, their luck runs out, and they break into a house where the person living there is dead on the floor. They wrap the body in a cocoon of bedding–out of respect–but fate is not on their side, as relations to the owner knock on the door, and find them in there. They immediately become suspects and are taken in by the police.

When in the interrogation room, the officer goes through the camera and flicks through all the selfies Tae-suk took of himself in people’s homes. Sun-hwa is let free (she is on the missing person’s list), but Tae-suk is being accused of murder, amongst other things.  BEAR knows that he didn’t kill that man as he was already dead in the flat (turns out he died of lung cancer). They even think he kidnapped Sun-hwa, which we know is not true either. And so, with the law not on his side (he knows how to make enemies with the wrong authorities – which is actually Tae-suk’s major flaw. If he could just not respond to these aggressive types in any way, then he wouldn’t have ended up in a jail ceil.


And from this point in the movie, both Tae-suk and Sun-hwa are trapped in a situation neither can escape from… their current reality. Tae-suk is stuck in prison, whereas Sun-hwa is stuck with her abusive husband (which is her own type of prison). The only way either can escape their misfortunes is by imagining that they are with one another. Tae-suk, in his clastrophobic ceil, vividly pieces together the surroundings of Sun-hwa, until he can picture everything. But he starts off small: he practices imagining he can still play golf (in his cell), and that he can hide from the prison guard when they come to check on him (which results on him getting beat up).

It’s sad, but what can either of them do – they’re trapped! Prisoners of their own reality. So instead, they retreat into their fantasies, which is where they both coalesce and share together as one. Their shared hatred of authority is what makes their love for each other stronger. And they lived happily every after, in an unhappily made up world. Well… sort of…

To BEAR, the film suggests that Tae-suk is now dead… but Sun-hwa isn’t told this by her husband – he says that Tae-suk is ‘set free’. The ghost of Tae-suk continues as before, visiting old haunts, getting revenge on the officer who ruined him. The soundtrack creates this really spooky, paranormal vibe, which is so hard to ignore, that you can’t help but think that this has indeed happened to Tae-suk – that he has passed on. Plus, the reactions of all the people thinking that someone’s watching them are all people from the old ‘haunts’ of Tae-suk and Sun-hwa. Oh, and the “floaty” style the camera takes on implies it too (though it is subtly used).


It’s hard for BEAR to tell if Sun-hwa is seeing Tae-suk’s ghost, or that she is in fact imagining he is there, but BEAR thinks that is the beauty, and tragedy of the situation. Such pathos.

This film is everything BEAR can ask for in a film, and BEAR can sum it up in one word: Magic (with a capital ‘M’). Not many films can make me feel such a variety of feelings, and also make me truly ponder the existence that we live in. This is what BEAR calls a masterpiece of cinema. Breathtaking.


This film gets top marks from a BEAR:


BEAR Reviews… Scream

Welcome human people! I am BEAR, and my week was fine thank you. Every film review will have spoilers, so SPOILER ALERT: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SPOILERS IN THIS BLOG. PERIOD. BEAR can’t tell you what to do – you are your own human person, and I am my own BEAR, with my BEARclaws and my BEARnessnessnesses. This has been an automated BEARmessage.

“Everybody dies but us. We get to carry on and plan the sequel, ’cause Let’s face it baby, these days, you gotta have a sequel.” ~Stu (a character in the film)

“I disagree.” ~BEAR (The writer of this film review blog)

A question for you:

What do you get when you mix a multitude of horror movie clichés with an abundance of name-drops to previous horror classics? You get Scream, of course. My second question is: did you not read the title to this entry? No? – Shame on you, but you are forgiven. Yes? – Oh well, please forgive BEAR. You do? Great. We continue…

The first thirteen minutes of the film are, in my BEAR opinion, the best part of this film. That’s not to say the film as a whole is rubbish (because it’s not – I, a BEAR, was quite fond of this cheesy little number) it’s just that BEAR believes it is… neat! It begins with a girl, home alone (I don’t know her name – BEAR doesn’t give a BEAR-care about names, just the story and how BEAR feels when watching the story… plus… she dies in this scene, so what’s the point? What BEAR does remember is that she is played by Drew Barrymore, so BEAR was expecting her to be the protagonist, the main star of this film; but alas, BEAR was wrong. I liked how it messed with my expectations, so kudos). This girl picks up her house phone to engage in a call with a mysterious guy caller. She ends the call abruptly several times – this first starts off as a flirtatious interchange between them, until the mystery caller lets slip that he is watching her. The mood then switches to trepidation, and the girl locks the french doors. BEAR did find it amusing that there were no curtains to conceal any windows, and that the girl didn’t JUST HANG UP TO RING THE POLICE!!!!! But BEAR also understood quickly (I am smarter than that Yogi Bear) that this film was bound to be cheesy, as the movie quickly established that fact. I also was amazed she never took the pan of popcorn off the burner when she had the chance. Her parents would have been thankful to her, even though, inevitably, she would have died by then.

After doing an eight-second news research on Scream, BEAR found out that Scream is being turned into a new Scream TV show… and they’re going to re-enact my favourite part of it! BEAR can’t help suggest they use Drew Barrymore again to play that part as she nailed that whole scene the first time around. Note: BEAR sometimes likes to say silly billy things. And this is a nice segue to…


Yes, after Drew Barrymore’s boyfriend gets disembowelled in a chair, in the garden, and her character is hanging [tough until the director said ‘CUT!’], we move to a scene where Billy scares the B-Jesus out of the real protagonist:


They are boyfriend and girlfriend, in this film. And throughout the movie, Sidney doesn’t trust him on so many levels (BEAR update: it’s two levels, in fact).

And as that meme above clearly shows – the killer in the film is not one, but two human people!!! The guy holding Sidney is obviously Billy (see previous meme before the one above), but who is the guy with the gun? Why, it’s none other than Sidney’s-best-friend’s-boyfriend, Stu. BEAR can see that he hasn’t talked much about Stu, and his girlfriend Tatum, and has no intention to do so. I am a living, breathing BEAR, and like you I can’t just stay on the internets 24/7… I will however say that Stu is like a timid cat compared to Billy, who is the dominant cat who gets the (s)cream. Yes, I’m punny! I also want to mention the hilarious scene where Tatum goes to get alcohol from the garage, and then finds herself trapped in the cat-flap, only to be crushed by it as the masked murderer opens the garage door. (The cat-flap was part of it. I… you’ve seen this film haven’t you?) One more shout out: The Fonz was in this! He helped move the film along by being killed by the Ghostfaced Killer (also a good rapper), and getting the majority of the kids to leave the party to help move the movie along swiftly to the finale. Happy days…

All the way through the film, I (with my BEAR logic) thought it was Sidney’s dad who was the killer. He’d left Sidney, his daughter, all on her own as he went to a hotel airport to tend to some “work business” stuff. This confused me, an actual BEAR, because if it was a year-to-almost-this-day that your wife had been brutally killed, you wouldn’t leave your beloved daughter home alone, would you? I mean c’mon – I’m a BEAR, and even I know that. It’s just not on! But then I remembered this is a film, and I must apologise to you bloggers and blog readers: sometimes this BEAR gets emotionally sucked into this make-believe world a tad more than the film doctors ordered. (No, I don’t have a film doctor, because they don’t exist… I think). Where was I…

So yeah, Sidney’s dad deserves a slap ’cause he left her vulnerable daughter alone around the anniversary of her mother’s death. But it’s not just him: her friends all seem to take the Mickey Mouse out of her too. As does the whole school. I mean, some pranksters wore masks, and in my BEARbook, that is a poisonous berry you should not indulge in (Note-to-self: visit the berry bush around the corner from my cave after I’ve finished this entry).  How can you human peoples be so cowardly and hurtful to each other? Please, please, just love one another, okay? We are only on this planet for a short timespan, so could we all just get along and enjoy the party of life? Party… hahahhaar… Aha! They invite Sidney to a house party don’t they? This moment was the facepalm of the film for me.

Who invites someone to a party around that time in someone’s life, especially a friend? It makes me think that this girl Sidney must have done something rotten to all those she loved before I started watching, and I have no idea what she did because she seems like such a lovely girl, and… I’ve forgotten it’s a movie again, haven’t it?

Even though Scream is most definitely a cheese-a-thon, BEAR had a great experience watching this human film. I loved it… but I hear that there is not just one Scream, but several more. NO! Stop it! You don’t throw more cheese on cheese. When I’ve eaten a belly full of berries, I don’t immediately go, “Damn, I must eat more, more, more, before Joseph TheBerryBandit comes and steals my berries. You don’t need to worry about other people copying Scream if that’s what you’re worried about film maker humans: the original is always the best in my book. Unless, it’s about another issue unrelated to that, like money

The amount of references to previous horror films in this, you would have thought this was Quentin Tarantino’s wet dream. And I liked it! Not the inducement of a director’s subconscious ejaculation, but the way the characters in this highlighted the flaws in horror films, and using it to justify things that happen in the film. For example, Billy says to Sidney, “Corn syrup: the same stuff they use for pig’s blood in Carrie,” when she thought that he was stabbed to death in the bedroom.

Does this BEAR like Scream? Hell yesh! This film works for BEAR because it is so confident in its own cheese; and because it this, it is definitely BEAR’s cup of tea. It’s definitely not BEAR’s favourite film – nowhere near (BEAR’s fav film is ****), but it is sure a fun, lighthearted, slasher movie, with sentiments-to-the-horror-genre-that-spawned-it turned up to 11. So…………

Overall, I give Scream:

I’ll leave you with the death scenes:

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Introductory BEAR Hello (from cave)

This blog is all about FILMS FILMS FILMS!!! – my feelings and interpretations towards them.         ~ A BEAR

Greetings!!! (from an undisclosed location). I am incognito and will be for a very, very  long time. It doesn’t matter why I am in hiding, or what I am hiding from. I repeat: IT DOESN’T MATTER!!! …Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you, please forgive me? Good. Let’s move on. I am living in a cave – that is all I am willing to say for now. My name is ****, but for the sake of my safety, I will go by the pseudonym: BEAR. This is very apt as I am indeed a BEAR, and indeed creative with my wordplay (N.B there are thousands of BEARS in the world, so what chance have they to find me… *laughs gradually more unconvincingly to oneself*)

Because of my insomniac tendencies, I have lost the ability to hibernate at all, and now rely on the BEARilliance of human peoples posing in front of things that record life (Kam-ma-ma-rahz?). Films! Movies! I love them. If I could, I would BEARhug all my DVDs to death. But of course, DVDs are not living entities in themselves – they just exist in this reality. In another life/dimension, I believe there’s a human ‘me’, trying to communicate with BEAR ‘yous’ (like that guy in Grizzly Man)… but what we have in this life will suffice for now.

You might think it strange for a BEAR to blog, or for a BEAR to be interested in films, or for a BEAR to want to interact over the internet with human people… but life is strange, and I’m strange, and you’re strange, and we should bond over shared passions, forgetting our problems and fears, and just unite through the love of films.  ~ Another quote from BEAR

I should explain briefly why I–a BEAR–can talk like Yogi BEAR. Firstly, I’m typing, not talking. Secondly, Yogi BEAR is a fictional character, a cartoon LIE! This BEAR is real, people! I have an emotional craving for films, DVDs (sometimes, I eat them like Quavers). Intellectually speaking, I am abnormally advanced for a BEAR, and this came about because I was experimented on by a mad fu… I’ve said too much…

Basically, this blog is dedicated to films, from a BEAR who loves all kinds of movies. So please BEAR with, as it is kinda hard to type with phat clunky claws in need of a manicure.

That is the intro. over – from this point onwards it’ll be BEAR VS. FILM… BEAR CRITIQUES MOVIES, BEAR EATS DVDS, etceteRO0O0OOAAAAAHHhhhh!!!!. That is all. Peace!

(Please note, any pictures of bears in this blog ARE NOT OF ME!!!! They are a representation. Period.)