5 Reason’s Why you Loved The Queen’s Gambit

A TV show about chess. Why were we so obsessed?

I binged this show in a handful of days. MESMERIZED TO TEARS. This was one of the few series that reminds me how desperately passionate I am about storytelling. Here are my authorly reasons why this series was so captivating. (lite spoilers)

1. They take their time in a meaningful way

Personally, as a writer I’m terrible at this, so I was just in AWE of how flawlessly they pulled this off. It was really a genius move to make a limited series rather than a full movie. They slowed everything down to fully develop the story and the characters throughout the episodes, but it didn’t FEEL slow. And that’s because each shot and scene were purposeful toward the narrative.

You don’t have any of that heavy misplaced exposition. You don’t hear some character droning on about how “Margret from high school became a sad alcoholic.” The MC runs into Margret at the store and hears the liquor bottles clink under the baby carriage. And that’s it. It’s never explicitly said. But we know exactly what it means.  Proving that YES, you can pull off show vs tell in a cinematic sense. 

The Queen’s Gambit is FULL of this brilliant storytelling. Taking time to really show what the other characters are thinking and feeling without saying it. I think the most capital example is the way the Borgov raises his eyebrows when Beth resigns her Paris game in tears. That expression alone. That .04 seconds of screen time and YOU KNOW. You know that character is not the ruthless Soviet antagonist. You know Borgov is a sympathetic man who completely understands Beth. That shot perfectly sets up his warm reaction toward her in the end. (Which made me bawl by the way thank you very much) Such dynamic characters! LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT!

2. The characters are real

Be honest… did you or did you not Google whether Beth Harmon was a real person? BECAUSE IT FELT LIKE A TRUE STORY. If you told me it was a true story, I wouldn’t have flinched! And not just Beth but each character is so carefully developed and detailed with their own voices and experiences. They’re not just pegs of a stool holding up the protagonist, any ONE of them could have had a compelling series themselves.

I never stop complaining about “the generic good-looking cast” that so many movies dish out. It makes the whole movie seem like a catalog ad and not a believable set of people. So I really appreciated that they let the people LOOK real. Even Beth, who in the show is called “pretty” many times, and yeah she is, but in a REAL kind of way. Like someone you would sit across from at the airport. Not a matte photo of a model at a beach shoot.

Another thing I noticed, is they would introduce a seemingly small character and then bring them back a few episodes later. This happened over and over again! Which said one thing to me… this writer loved their characters. This writer loved their characters so much that they had to bring them back and add more and more details. Their crooked teeth. The knife they carry. The full detailed life they had since they last saw Beth. I fell in love with these characters because the creators loved them. And they were actual meaningful driving forces in the protagonists life.


3. The simplicity

I just imagine the original author pitching the novel like:

Tevis: Okay, so there’s this orphan…

Publisher: Yeah?

Tevis: And she’s really good at chess.

Publisher: Okay.

Tevis: Like… super good.

Publisher: … … Can she at least have an addiction of some sort?

Tevis: Yeah, probably. But it’s mostly that she’s really good at chess.

(On my TBD list)

I have never been SO invested in chess in all my life. I never thought I would be on the edge of my seat watching so many chess matches. Caring SO MUCH whether or not this character was going to win. And that’s it! I do think the addiction aspect gave Beth a nice arc and made a clear self-antagonist… but really I cared way more about the chess than anything else. Because BETH cares about the chess more than anything else! We get it! Through the story-telling we understand that for this character, chess is the goal, the motivation and the stakes. And we believe the simplicity. She’s passionate about chess and that’s it.

4. Let’s talk about that actress!

Anya Taylor-Joy. Girl. Wow.

A trait of the Beth Harmon character is that she is solemn and mostly expressionless. That would be SUCH a challenge to portray well. I don’t know HOW they pulled this off, but they really did! I was completely sucked into her emotions. At every moment you knew how she was feeling without obvious expression on her face. Brilliantly done! If she were losing a chess match, fists up to the sides of her temples. If she were winning, fingers clasped under the chin. The consistency was flawless. Not just the adult actress but her childhood counterpart as well. They seamlessly made the character one.

5. THE PRODUCTION WAS SO BEAUTIFUL AND DETAILED

I love the sixties. I mean, obviously I do. And I love time period dramas. Of course. SO HELLO! No wonder I was a little biased towards this show. The music was SO good! So fitting too! And THE OUTFITS!! THE PRETTY PRETTY OUTFITS! ALL THE OUTFITS! GIVE ME ALL THE OUTFITS MORE MORE MORE

Excuse me while I swoon over this show for another three months.

12 Things I Think While Watching Kid Shows with my Toddler (2019)

Parents, I know you feel me.

 

#1

Me: Which TV show do you want?
Jack: *picks the one with the most annoying voice actors*
Me: … … Okay, movie night. Mom’s choice.

#2
Why do I find the Dad’s voice from Daniel Tiger so sexy? Do I need to see a therapist about this?

#3
Chris from Sesame Street is a gosh darn treasure. Prove me wrong.

ChrisKnowingsElmo

#4
I honestly didn’t know it was called an “excavator”…

#5
Blippi makes thousands and thousands of dollars every time he plays on an indoor playground and I need to reevaluate my career choices

#6
Johnny Johnny how do you feel about tooth decay?

#7
Okay, how is “Cocomelon” a more marketable name than “ABC kids”? 

bath

#8
Mm-hmm shark doo doo doo doo doo doo… Stuck in my head doo doo doo doo doo doo

#9
Hello, I’m the mom from Ryan’s Toy Review and I do COCAINE

#10
How does Cheesy from Super Simple Songs look so much like my friend Josh? lol

Image result for Cheesy super simple songs

#11
Not much of a surprise when you watch them open this egg 30 times a day

#12
Childless person: Um, your kid watches a lot of YouTube…
Me: *shows them my brother finger*

6 Things I’ve Learned Writing About Myself

I’m about to finish writing the final season of my TV show project, which will be an INCREDIBLE accomplishment. It has been a full year and 200,000+ words of what I hope to look back on and consider the beginning of my “writing career”. In honor of its closing I wanted to talk about what I’ve learned on this auto-biographical journey:

 

1. Things that I didn’t think we’re such a big deal turned out to be pivotal moments in my life.

Honestly, I had SO much self-discovery during this project. There were scenes that got me double thinking of why I had chosen that particular thing to write in. But overall, those little moments uncovered my flaws, my greatest strengths and some deeply ingrained fears. In re-reading episodes, I often put myself on the psychiatrist couch and just learned all about Val.

 

2. Things that were irritating at the time turned out to be the funniest things to write.

On the other hand, things that were SUCH A BIG DEAL in my teenage world turned out to be nothing. Writing my over-dramatic reactions had me laughing out loud a lot.

emoren
Pictured: Me.

3. Writing someone else’s POV caused me to develop a deeper respect for them.

When I was FORCED to come up with reasons why person X did reaction Y it really made me appreciate that person in real life… even if those reasons were completely fabricated. This happened with nearly everyone I wrote about. The more scenes I constructed the more I realized that these guys are some DANG STRONG CHARACTERS. Being able to be that ghostly third-person presence, really helped me to change my perspective.

 

4. I am a little to a lot conceited…

It is really difficult not to twist things to make yourself seem really great… Soooo this is embarrassing… there are five different male characters who are in love with Elle. Oops. That doesn’t seem bad, but considering how few consistent characters there are… it comes off as A LOT. I think I did this because I was so flattered when anyone liked me that I wanted to write about all of them… all five. I’m sure when my children pick up these old manuscripts they’ll either cringe or roll their eyes.

Breakfast-Club-So-Popular

5. Human memory is really unreliable

Pardon my symbols, but this is freaky as $^*%. I actually had accrued false memories over a ten year span. Memory is a joke. This one scene had me so freaked out, I was wrapping tin foil around my head and crying on the floor. This is how I remembered the memory: I was asked out on a date in the summer… But then I told a friend about it at school who came over after to help me do my hair… But then one of the guys on the date had brass knuckles in a FREAKING COAT POCKET. But guess what? It all took place during the summer after all. What the what!? How can you trust anything that has happened to you in your lifetime? Doesn’t that concept just CREEP YOU OUT?

 

6. I plan to keep writing.

I really have enjoyed every minute that I’ve poured into these pages and I have a lot more stories to tell. . .

In fact. . .

I will be announcing my next project in September!!!!

new project announcement

Be very excited.

 

 

If you can’t wait for my new mysterious project, then let me tell you where to accrue some good reading. Usborne Books is really cool. They have tons of amazing educational kids books. If you’re a mom or a teacher or a weird hybrid mix like me, this is a great resource for you:

J6433.myubam.com

 

And if you want to know more about my-life-turned-TV-show click HERE.

 

Identity Crisis: Main Characters

Here’s a quick break-down of the main characters in the TV show that I’m writing and the actors that I think could play them. Ideally, I wouldn’t want any well-known actors because I feel that would make the show less relatable. (Just my personal preference) BUT the problem with make-believe casting them is that I only know well-known actors… so here’s as close as it would be.

(Also! Just want to note that because it’s an autobiographical show, these characters are inspired by real people. However, that doesn’t mean that they are real people. For example, MOST of my characters are made up from multiple people that I’ve met. And some of their character descriptions have been altered from real life to fiction.)


 

ELLE “The Protagonist”

ELLE is a sixteen-year-old human contradiction. She is a very wholesome girl who attends church weekly but has a closet obsession with Halloween and everything horror. She’s talented at public speaking, yet dreads attending large parties. Although she is a fairly pretty girl, she dresses like a mid-aged suburban mom.

ElleCasting

 

It’s hard to cast yourself, but I think someone like Emily Osment would be able to do the job. I need someone who would be able to do comedy and drama interchangeably. Not only that but someone who could showcase the contrast between “wholesome Elle” and “punk Elle”.

elleandelle
Me and other me

 

 

When we did the concept art for the show, I cast a young local actress, Hailey, as Elle for the pictures. My photographer pointed out how alike we acted. She flat out said, “Hailey IS Elle”. I would absolutely cast her as me. She’s a talented actress and I feel confident that she would do an excellent job.

 


 

RONNIE “The Bad Influence”

RONNIE (17) is a reflection of ELLE’s contradictory personality. He’s a generally quiet person, but really has very little inhibitions. He knows everything there is to know about cool music and his life revolves around it. Under his black and beaten style he is actually quite tall, dark and handsome.

RonnieCasting2

 

I think a young Diego Luna would be cool as Ronnie. I just really envision this role being played by a Hispanic actor. I don’t know why. The person who inspired this character isn’t even remotely Hispanic.

 

 

 


 

JEREMY “The Troublemaker”

JEREMY (18) a long-haired “burn-out” dressed in ripped jeans, a black hoodie and beanie. He’s the type of kid that sits in the back of the class and everyone suspects is the uni-bomber. To find another person with even half of his passion would prove impossible. He’s an avid defender of things being just and fair and would probably have the gumption to murder someone over it, if he didn’t love his mother so much. 

JeremyCasting

 

Okay, I know that casting this person would require a time machine, even more so than the others. But I just don’t care. I want teenage Richard Dreyfus to play this role SO bad. My heart is totally set on it. Not even the real Jeremy can change my mind.

 


 

BRANDON “The Judgmental Ex”

He has thick hair and a sharp, pointy face. That fact that he is attractive in only the mildest sense does nothing to deflate his Adonic self-concept. BRANDON (17) is a very clean cut boy, and although there is no conscious reason not to like him something is very insincere about the way he smiles.

BrandonCasting

 

Will freaking Poulter. Oh my gosh, just look at this kid’s face. Don’t you just want him to see him be a snooty villain? Plus Poulter’s comedic timing is impeccable which is just what this over-the-top character needs.

 


 

TAYLOR “The Bridge”

TAYLOR (17) is a stunning, dark-haired girl. She is unenthused about being at rehearsal since she had auditioned for the play just a few weeks ago and didn’t make the cut. Her not being cast was probably chalked up to school politics rather than talent, because TAYLOR is very good at acting. In fact, she is very good at everything. She excels at school. She is the president of the student association. She is even very good at being naturally beautiful which is churning JEREMY’S stomach just looking at her.

TaylorCasting

 

I just have a feeling that someone like Emily Browning would do a good job as Taylor. And that’s really it… nothing more than just a feeling. Logically, I want to say that someone like Miranda Cosgrove would be able to pull off her personality better but I’m just stuck on Emily Browning for some reason.

 

 

 


 

TYSON “The Voice of Reason”

ELLE turns to her desk partner TYSON (17) a smart, well-dressed kid. He’s a master of dry humor and is constantly lost in his own irony. He’s the one that you can always count on for the truth even when you don’t want to hear it.

TysonCasting

 

There’s a myriad of YouTube personalities that could fit well as Tyson. Shane Dawson is both sarcastic and personable enough to be able to capture this more complex character.

 

 

 


 

ADAM “The Mysterious New Student”

The door swings open and in breezes ADAM (17) a classic Hollywood-handsome boy. Every girl in class drops her jaw, including ELLE. As ADAM walks down the aisle amongst the chairs, several of the girls quickly move their purses and backpacks off of the seats next to them. He quietly picks a seat in the back of the room away from everyone.

AdamCastingThis is the only character that I care about being “good-looking”. And that’s only because it moves some of the plot elements forward. I feel like Adam would be the hardest character to cast for hands down. It would need to be someone effortlessly talented, since Adam has to make the audience feel the entire spectrum of emotions. I’m still not sold on anyone, but maybe if I could resurrect a healthier River Phoenix. He could probably pull it off.

 


 

CASEY “The Second Act Hero”

If CASEY (16) didn’t look so humanistic you might mistake him for a puppy. Excitable, friendly and loud – very loud. Fiercely loyal, athletic, always thinking about food… CASEY is absolutely dripping with personality and leaves puddles of personality everywhere he walks.

CaseyCasting

 

To cast a Casey it would have to be a Casey. So I would look at actors who just radiate fun. Someone like Zach Levi or Chris Pratt (without all the fame to his name).

 

 

 


 

Also I want to cast my teenage celebrity crush, Ricky Ullman, as my husband when he appears in the series.

amiwrong

suchacutie

AM I WRONG?!??

To learn more about this creative writing project click HERE.

 

Every week I give a small business or creative endeavor a shout-out at the end of my blog post. If you need more views or traffic and are interested in being featured, please contact me.

Turning My Life Into a TV Show

Season One Cover Art
Concept art photographed/edited by Alison Ostler. Modeled by Hailey Stephens*

If you didn’t already know, my latest project that I’ve been writing is a teen drama/comedy television show called “Identity Crisis”. The show is mostly based around my own life. My experiences, my friends, my crushes, my heart aches and my hilarities.

Synopsis: After a messy break-up with her overly religious boyfriend, Elle seeks revenge by trying to fit in with a group of burnouts. After spending time with her new friends however… she begins to wonder who “the bad kids” really are.

 

 

Season 2 Cover Art
Concept art photographed by Alison Ostler. Modeled by Hailey Stephens*

 

I didn’t write it just to be self absorbed. (Even though yeah sort of). I wrote it because I had a lot of old crazy memories that I didn’t know what to do with. I guess I’ve never been much of a conventional diary person. The idea to make an autobiographical TV show was always a consideration. Even when I was personally living major plot points of the now-series, I remember thinking… Wow… this could make a good soap opera. I actually came up with names for a couple of the main characters at the time (“Ronnie Johnson” and “Adam Levenski”). So yeah, I’ve been kicking around the idea for a while now.

 

Season 3 cover art
Concept art photographed/edited by Alison Ostler. Modeled by Hailey Stephens*

 

Here’s a short sample from the pilot episode, if you’re interested in checking it out. (Disclaimer: mild language and drug use)

Identity Crisis EP1_ACT1

I’ve been writing the show since August 2016. I’m currently working on season 5 of the six season set (each with 10 individual episodes). I have a small circle of readers who have been asking for the novelization or production of Identity Crisis. But unfortunately, because the show is based on real people and events it would need to be further fictionalized before I would release it publicly. If there’s enough interest in it, I will add the revision to my project line-up.

For a quick overview of each season you can also check out the main description page here:

Identity Crisis

 

*Fun fact! Hailey is wearing my authentic high school clothes in the photos. During the shoot I couldn’t stop talking about how weird it was to see a teen dressed up like “teen-me” and Hailey kept laughing at what I used to wear a decade ago.

 

If I ever DID make the show, let me tell you who I would want to do all the music. My friend Chris is insanely talented, his voice makes my heart weep with joy. Listen to this song. And then you know what? Go and listen to all of his other songs! You will not be sorry. Be prepared to fall in love.