Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a magic wand and could *poof* our story into existence – a perfect story without faults and perfectly entertaining?
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. On the other hand, judging from the Halloween hit, Hocus Pocus, you don’t need perfect to create an enduring seasonal hit. There is no doubt that a lot of hard work went into this Disney movie, but if you need an example of a deeply flawed story to learn from, here you go.
The biggest problem with the story is that the movie takes three feisty, funny women (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker), and immediately turns them into child murderers. And the flip side of the problem is that they are the best damn things in the movie. Every time I want to root for them, I catch myself and say, “Oh, yeah. Complete and utter evil.”
We’ve talked before about how a villain should be understandable, and even likable. Jenny Crusie has talked about how a villain should also be smarter and better than the protagonist. If the villain isn’t any good, the victory is hollow.
But there is such a thing as going to extremes. If you are going to have witty and interesting villains (and you really should!), you also need to have protagonists who can stand up to the star power.
According to IMDb, Leonardo DiCaprio was courted to take the part of Max, the main protagonist. I can’t help but wonder if the movie would have been more successful with a stronger actor. Then again, Leonardo was young, and this could have sunk his young career.
There are other things wrong with the movie, but despite everything, Hocus Pocus is a popular Halloween movie. It is strongly seasonal, and the three actresses are amazing. We’ve also got pretty cool side characters such as a talking cat, and an adorable zombie ex-boyfriend, and the kids, particularly young Dani (played by Thora Birch) are good. Maybe that’s all you need to be published and adored – not perfection. Good enough is good enough.
It’s a thought that should be sustaining when we get into the darker days of November, particularly if you are NaNo’ing this month. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Thoughts? Also, what are your writing goals for November? Not everyone will NaNo, but everyone should have a goal. Writing doesn’t just happen by magic, after all.