Thursday, September 16, 2021

Jeff Somers doesn't like musicals...until he does

It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that genre is a fixed concept—that thrillers always look and feel like thrillers, or romances always look and feel like romances. Most people are comfortable with the idea of mixing genres to a certain extent—the romantic subplot, the murder mystery with a deep bench of comedy—but we generally expect certain genres to adhere to certain tone frequencies and pacing requirements. 

 But genres can masquerade as each other, and Singin’ in the Rain is a prime example. Sure, it’s a musical, and a romantic comedy on top of that. It hits all those beats, but it’s all a smokescreen for the real structure of the story, which is 100 percent heist. Or, since technically nothing is stolen (aside from my blackened, underdeveloped heart⁶) maybe the word caper is a better fit. Either way, it adheres to the basic stages of a heist/caper story:


1. The identification of an impossible task

2. The assembly of a team

3. The development of a complex scheme using the individual talents of that team

4. Sudden twist adding complexity

5. Apparent failure

6. Apparent failure revealed as actual triumph


If you're not subscribed to Jeff Somers Writing Without Rules Deep Dive, you're missing out. 

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E.M. Goldsmith said...

I second the recommendation with no authority to do so except that I loved Writing Without Rules - Jeff's book on the craft of writing and it really got my head stuck out of my back side as far as writing goes.

And I love breaking rules. I love no rules. I love anarchy. At least when it comes to writing. So you should get this book. No, wait, it's not a book. It's like a newsletter thing. Even better. I don't think it costs anything. Free is good. Especially if you're a writer. Subscribe.

What's the worst that can happen?

Boy, that sounds like a writing prompt that would end in dismemberment knowing this group.

So this probably won't help Jeff and his many cats and his Duchess. Unless you just send him whiskey for no reason. Someone did that or so his last newsletter claimed. For sure, you can laugh. And point. And learn stuff from someone who breaks rules a lot. Ok...should drink coffee before commenting. I thought he had written a second craft book. My mind doesn't work right early in the morning.

Colin Smith said...

As a subscriber to Jeff's periodic missives, I can endorse this endorsement. If you loved WRITING WITHOUT RULES, you'll get more of the same. Hurray!!! If you hated WRITING WITHOUT RULES, you'll get more of the same. Sucks for you. 😉

Do the thing. You know it makes sense.

Karen McCoy said...

I love this! Probably even more than I love musicals...

John Davis Frain said...

It would appear that I have never seen Singin' in the Rain. Can this be? I need to find a remedy. Thank you for the alert.

John Davis Frain said...

Also, Jeff Somers is both original and funny. It's the human version of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. You can't go wrong.

Steve Forti said...

It's true that you can't go wrong with a Resse's Peanut Butter Cup. BUT - you can go 'better'. Get the "Thins" version of them. I like the ratio and bite more that way. The takeaway from this? We must squish Jeff Somers, or at least remove a few of his organs. Sorry Jeff. It's the only way.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Mr. Frain... WHAT!!! And YES to Jeff Somers.

Craig F said...

The only musical that hit the spot for me was Rocky Horror Picture Show; maybe it was just the audience participation.

Gotta check out more of this Somers guy.

John Davis Frain said...

I'm not sure that Jeff Somers even plays the organ, so I don't see why he'd object to having any removed. I mean, sometimes you gotta take one for the team and it's hard to argue with Steve's logic.

His pants would fit better after a squishing, but that doesn't sound very motivating if Mr. Somers is our audience.