Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I may have committed the unpardonable Proser sin.
Oh, it started out innocently enough. I was bored and needed something new to watch on Netflix.
Psych, yep, watched every episode - twice. Burn Notice, check. Castle, new dvd's en route from Netflix, but they haven't yet arrived.
Not in the mood for Phineas & Ferb, AFV, or SpongeBob.
So, I tried out Flashpoint (streaming on Netflix, of course).
*Sigh* I like it. I like it a lot. And here's the heresy: I might even like it more than Burn Notice.

Why, you ask?

Flashpoint is about an SRU (strategic response unit) that deals with hostage situations, bomb threats, crises and the like. And although they have all the high tech weaponry and gadgets anyone could want, their first line of diffusing a situation is always negotiation.

The cast is great. Enrico Colantoni (who you might also know as Veronica Mars' dad, or Mathesar from Galaxy Quest) does a stellar job grounding the team as their Sergeant, Greg Parker. Hugh Dillon seems made for the role of next in command, Ed Lane, and the rest of the cast just mesh really well with their strengths and weaknesses.

There's a very strong emotional element running throughout the entire series. For one thing, the bad guys are usually not truly evil, but just people who have been caught up in situations that spiral out of control. For another, there is an emotional aftermath to the team's lifestyle. There's a price to pay for the SRU sniper who has to shoot someone to save a hostage - because he is still shooting someone. I like that it's not treated as a video game. The team supports each other, not only physically in combat, but personally, too.

Which brings me to how this all relates to writing.

I was watching a video clip (which, of course, I can't find back to embed), where Enrico talks about the two main characters, Greg Parker and Ed Lane and how, as separate characters, they have weaknesses and demons and regrets, but as they rely on each other, together they become a whole or complete man who can do the job that needs to be done.

The way he said that really struck me and got me thinking about friendships in film and literature. Friends come in all stripes. A friend can be the goofy sidekick for comic relief. A friend can be an extension of the main character's ideas. Sometimes friends are placeholders until the love interest shows up (Twilight, I'm looking at you).

But, I think some of the most memorable friendships in literature are the ones that Enrico was talking about - the ones where the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron

A classic example of this type of friendship is found in the Harry Potter series. Harry is a great guy, don't get me wrong, but he's not spectacular in and of himself, and certainly not at the start. In the first book, he's pretty mediocre in his studies, a little unsure of his place in the wizarding world, and blindsided by fame and expectation. Ron rounds him out by being able to explain the 'ins and outs' of magical life. He gives Harry the impetus and courage to try harebrained things, and acts as a sounding board to his hopes and troubles. Hermione brings brilliant intelligence and insight to the group, as well as a moral code that at least tries to add some balance to the others' schemes.

If Harry had already possessed knowledge, courage, insight, and an unshakeable moral code himself, he'd have been labeled a Mary Sue pretty quickly. But as three separate characters, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are each believable, fallible, and interesting. And together, they fill in the gaps of each others shortcomings. They lend their strengths to each other. And together, the whole become greater than the parts.

And that, my friend, is the value of writing strong friends that complement, fill in, and buoy each other up.


What I'm listening to: A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz. Excellent narrator and narrative voice. Lots of gory goodness for my older boys.

What I'm writing: Ch 21 / 64k. Although I just figured out what really needed to happen, so most of the gain is probably erased. Two steps forward, one step back.


  1. I haven't even read what your whole post yet, but I'm coming down here to say:


    Not better than Burn Notice. Surely! (On the other hand, I love Enrico Colantoni! I might have to give this one a try.)

  2. Awesome post, your unpardonable sin notwithstanding. Friends with different strengths and weaknesses add so much to my favorite books--I'm not sure why I haven't thought about this as it relates to writing more.

    I'm desperate for something good to watch, so I'm adding this one to my queue. Just FYI--Psych is even better the second time around. :)

  3. I think the dynamic between Ron, Hermiony, and Harry is the very thing that made me spend a decade of my life with these books, and what made them continue to resonate with me long after I entered adulthood. I wish more books had these types of relationships. Great post!

  4. I sometimes feel like my writing has progressed slowly in relationship to characters. My first short stories were almost all single-character focused. Now I'm starting to get into pairs of characters, and explore how they interact. I think that opens up all new depth to a story. Thanks for the post!

  5. I absolutely agree that the real magic of Harry Potter was that close friendship that developed between Ron, Hermoine, and Harry. I'm a sucker for those kind of stories.

    Excellent post! And thanks for making me add another show to my netflix addiction. :)


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