In Transit

InTransit

This is a documentary by Albert Maysles (and others), covering people traveling on the Amtrak train Empire Builder (which travels from Chicago to Seattle or Portland, OR). It’s really good. Like, emotionally stirring, inspiring-as-a-piece-of-art-and-otherwise good.

Some of my appreciation for it comes from being a writer and knowing the struggle to create believably human people in media with limited resources. In Transit feels like an effortless skim across the surface of many people’s lives, but each one feels real, deep, often emotionally compelling, and always very human. Which in turn means that the editing was spectacular, because they turned disparate piecemeal vignettes into something that feels whole, and they did such a good job that it feels *natural.*

It’s a textbook example of character construction done right. But the team that made this did so many other story construction things right too, and the emotional impact was incredible and… In Transit is overwhelming, but in a good way.

When I say that the film is overwhelming, I mean that there are so many brief moments of intensely believable humanity that feel honest and wonderful and often bittersweet… so many of these moments that it’s difficult to know what to think as you leave the theater. I felt almost stunned as I walked home, and I still feel awe when I think about the movie.

In the skillful ways in which it reveals humanity with such economy of time and focus, In Transit feels like what a storyteller ought to aspire to. I would strongly recommend watching it, especially if you are in the practice of creating characters that you want to feel like real people.

If you are not in the practice of creating characters, I would strongly recommend that you watch it anyway. This movie is marvelous and moving in many unexpected ways.

The film’s site can be found here: http://www.intransitfilm.com/.

Sadly, it seems that Albert Maysles died before this was released. More details on that (and the uncertain future of the film due to rights disputes) here.

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Flash Fiction: Characters in 250 words or less

Like it says in the title, this week’s flash fiction challenge is to create characters and convey them in 250 words or less.  I’ve had a few knocking around in my head recently, and I decided to let two of them out.  I’ve already written stories about both of them before, which you can find (amongst others) right here.

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Stats to Who: Roleplaying Doesn’t Care About Numbers Part 2

Zeeblee

As promised I am now going go through the Stats-to-Who process of character creation.  The Stats I will be working with is from Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 because I think most people will be at least passingly familiar with that system (as it is the face of roleplaying).  Below is a quick summary of the Stats:

Race: Human
Class: Fighter
Level: 2
Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency(spiked chain), Combat Expertise, Improved Trip, Combat Reflexes

This may not seem like much, and you’re right.  A DnD character also has skills, equipment, attributes, and languages.  But attributes are determined randomly, and the other bits aren’t really required at this point.  For those unfamiliar with the spiked chain Fighter twink, this is the beginning core to a build that has many variations.  The basic idea is that in DnD 3.5 you can trip your opponents from range with the chain, and if they try to get back up you get free attacks on them and can keep them lying prone.  Over time you can add more area control maneuvers, damage, or whatever, but for now I am only going to care about the core.  Now to the steps of character discovery!

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