IWSG – Know Thyself (& Movie List)

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In the Matrix Trilogy, Neo was not ready to know the truth until he understood one important thing… himself. In many ways this was foreshadowed above the Oracles door with the sign that read, “Temet Nosce.”

We are writers. We take the world and remold it into our stories. We take world events or established stories, and recraft them. Even if the story is entirely original, some aspect of life can be gleamed from your work. Especially that of your characters. Readers need to be able to see themselves and those they know in the characters we write… but how do we do that?

The answer is simple: Profiling.

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I’m sure that is a dirty word for many of you. Profiling can be used in a number of ways, and yes, it can be used the wrong way in the wrong hands. But profiling is being able to understand people at their core, how they function and why. I’m sure many of you have picked apart characters to try to understand them better, and some of you have done that with friends. All good to do (just don’t tell your friends you’re doing this).

I tell my students that when it comes to profiling, the first step is profiling yourself. That is very hard to do. Why? Because we are liars. Most people lie to themselves as a way to feel better about ourselves, to believe there is nothing wrong with ourselves and the whole world is the problem. It’s called Self-Serving Bias.

When it comes to profiling yourself, you have to ask yourself the really hard questions, and you have to really search for the answer. The answer is hardly simple, and most likely more complex than the question itself. Why do we do the things that we do? Why do push people away, or are so clingy? Why do we insult other, or insult ourselves? Why are we introverts, or extroverts?

The first step is accepting that you are not perfect. You are flawed. The second step is accepting that through your imperfections, that doesn’t make you a bad person automatically. Eventually, once you start learning more of yourself, you will come to the realization that some things you can alter about yourself and something you can’t. Maybe you want to, maybe you don’t.

I learned that I used to be overly sarcastic (more than I am now). It pushed people away. So I changed it.

I also learned that I’m overly analytical. I prefer complexity over simplicity. For many, they would view this as a bad quality. I don’t. I like that I do. I like that I notice small details, even in a cartoon that isn’t supposed to make sense. It helps me be a better writer. The world looks so beautiful in a very complex way… why blind myself to that?

This is something that can take years, but it is one of things that you cannot judge others unless you judge yourself first, and really throw yourself through the ringer. You can’t be in other people’s minds, but you are in your own. And don’t be afraid to ask for help either. And I’m sure the prospect is scary, and so I urge you, only go as far as your comfortable with. And don’t be afraid to get a mentor (like I am with my students) or a therapist to help you along the path. Nothing wrong with getting help, only wrong if you outright refuse it.

An exercise I recently did (as you never stop learning), was to name my top 20 films of all time. Of course, being overly analytical as I am, I instead did 150. Why? It just made sense to me. Below is a list of the order of the 150 films I like. Each one of those I can tell you why I like it, and what I feel it says about me as a person for liking them. You may not like my choices, and that’s OK. We are different people, and this world is open for many different individuals. Some movies have a deep layer for me in which I love them, and others are simply guilty pleasures (I’m surprised how high in the list Waterboy is).

Putting them in order from favorite to least was the hard part. How do you decide that? I at first did it based on, which would I want to see more, but that got hard after awhile, so I stead chose it by which would I watch more if it were in the middle of the film (as in, I turned on the TV and it is playing). A lot of this list is highly dependent on my mood at the time of, so it will fluctuate. I can only guarantee the order of the top 20.

I challenge you to do the same. You don’t have to do 150 like me (I’m a freak), but try to pick out your top 20 favorite films of all time, and really ask yourself why do you like these films, and in what order. Mayhaps this opens up an avenue about yourself that you never truly thought about before.

NOTE: My true list of favorite films is likely closer to 2000, so this list doesn’t even represent 10% of what I truly love. So you might think it wrong of me that some movies appear so low in my rankings, but it is higher than all the other films I didn’t list. I had to stop somewhere.

If you do this challenge, please link it down below, I would love to see what your favorite movie is.

  1. Kung Fu Panda 2
  2. Serenity
  3. Kung Fu Panda
  4. Deadpool
  5. Civil War
  6. Stranger Than Fiction
  7. Kung Fu Panda 3
  8. Avengers
  9. Iron Man
  10. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  11. Star Trek First Contact
  12. Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn
  13. Pirates of the Caribbean
  14. The Shawshank Redemption
  15. Rudy
  16. Iron Giant
  17. Blade
  18. Iron Man 2
  19. WALL*E
  20. Cast Away
  21. Back to the Future
  22. Martian
  23. Thor
  24. Hot Fuzz
  25. Spaceballs
  26. Die Hard
  27. Batman Begins
  28. Blade 2
  29. Zombieland
  30. Edge of Tomorrow
  31. Crimson Tide
  32. The Count of Monte Cristo
  33. Legend of Bagger Vance
  34. Brian’s Song
  35. Groundhogs Day
  36. Shrek II
  37. Live Free or Die Hard
  38. Remember the Titans
  39. Blade Trinity
  40. Robocop
  41. Kick Ass II
  42. Second Hand Lions
  43. Finding Forrester
  44. Dragonheart
  45. Star Trek (2009)
  46. The Matrix
  47. Dead Poets Society
  48. Good Will Hunting
  49. 10 Things I Hate About You
  50. Kick Ass
  1. Hunger Games
  2. Karate Kid
  3. The Game
  4. The Hunt For Red October
  5. My Cousin Vinny
  6. Dodgeball
  7. Space Cowboys
  8. Tropic Thunder
  9. Three to Tango
  10. Galaxy Quest
  11. The Rock
  12. xXx
  13. Dogma
  14. Demolitions Man
  15. Mystery Men
  16. Turner & Hooch
  17. Running Man
  18. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  19. Powder
  20. Star Trek Generations
  21. Rain Man
  22. Tremors
  23. Event Horizon
  24. Die Hard II
  25. Ratatouille
  26. They Live
  27. Spiderman
  28. Journey 2: Mysterious Island
  29. Shrek
  30. The Rundown
  31. Goldeneye
  32. Minority Report
  33. Matrix Revolution
  34. A Knights Tale
  35. Silverado
  36. The Worlds End
  37. Guardians of the Galaxy
  38. Spiderman II
  39. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  40. Fletch
  41. A Few Good Men
  42. Delta Force
  43. The Incredibles
  44. Judge Dredd
  45. The Last Starfighter
  46. Independence Day
  47. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  48. Bloodsport
  49. Wargames
  50. Trading Places
  1. Transformers
  2. Total Recall
  3. The Three Musketeers
  4. Con Air
  5. Dark City
  6. The Mask of Zorro
  7. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  8. Punisher
  9. Matrix Reloaded
  10. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  11. Enemy Mine
  12. Super Troopers
  13. Ghostbusters
  14. Princess Bride
  15. Airplane
  16. Miss Congeniality
  17. Coming to America
  18. The Waterboy
  19. The Terminal
  20. Lethal Weapon IV
  21. Liar Liar
  22. Sneakers
  23. Small Soldiers
  24. Me, Myself & Irene
  25. Innerspace
  26. Footloose
  27. The Green Mile
  28. Airplane II
  29. Gremlins
  30. Die Hard with a Vengeance
  31. Apollo 13
  32. Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome
  33. Big Trouble in Little China
  34. Fletch Lives
  35. Real Genius
  36. Phenomenon
  37. Karate Kid Part II
  38. Breakfast club
  39. Goonies
  40. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
  41. Johnny Dangerously
  42. Sphere
  43. Nine to Five
  44. Ladyhawke
  45. Working Girl
  46. The Abyss
  47. Kung Fu Hustle
  48. Clue
  49. Ruthless People
  50. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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  1. Hi – I’m one of this month’s co-hosts and popped by to say hi. What an interesting post! I’m fascinated with the idea of profiling oneself and think the idea of listing your favorite movies is a fascinating way to go about it. I can be pretty analytical as well and would probably get stuck for hours making an Excel spreadsheet with a detailed criteria and ranking system πŸ™‚ Cheers – Ellen

  2. emaginette says:

    I never sit down and figure out who my characters are before I start writing. They get fleshed out with each rewrite I do. No doubt this method isn’t for everybody. πŸ™‚

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    • mad_cat says:

      I have found that I can plan things out for my characters into great detail and still learn more about them as I write them, often changing some information I knew prior. More exciting that way. However, as you do each rewrite, having an understanding of your character to a great detail can help make them more human, perhaps even reveal things about them that are not so apparent to the reader, but definitely to the writer.

  3. The movie list with why you like it is an interesting way to view yourself; I think about this with Netflix suggestions and their algorithms. Sometimes Netflix does its best job to rec a show based on what I’ve liked and rated before, and it’s still a miss. I’m fickle. Everything Iike should point to me loving Dr. Who, but I can’t stand Dr. Who. I WANT to like it, but to me the pacing is slow and the effects are too poor and not charming. I love everything else around Dr. Who but not Dr. Who. Poor Netflix, trying to figure us out.

    Here’s my August IWSG post on my first novel attempt (note I said ATTEMPT). YA Author Stephanie Scott IWSG August

  4. Juneta says:

    I normally start with character If I have an idea than I have to figure out the character to write it. I’m all about character driven stories. Those are the kid I like to read and write. They need a good plot and premise too but the character light my inspiration,
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  5. authorcrystalcollier says:

    See, this is why writers/readers are more compassionate than your average Joe. I’m constantly picking myself apart and trying to remold aspects that bother me. Lately it’s being anti social, since I used to be such an extrovert. But hey, life chances. We change, eh?

  6. Lidy says:

    I profile/create dossiers for my characters so that I can know my characters better. And write their stories as only they would. But never profiled myself which I assume is slightly different from self-reflection (done a bit of that). As for listing my favorite movies without actually listing them, I know that at least half or two-thirds of it will be movies from the 80s like Ghostbusters, Goonies, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Willow, Back to the Future, One Crazy Summer, Big Trouble in Little China Town, Flash Savior of the Universe, etc. The rest of the slot will be picked up by more recent films and within the last decade or so. Films like Harry Potter, Ten Things I Hate About You, Galaxy Quest, etc.

  7. Some of my favourite movies are on that list – Kung Fu Panda 3 would be my favourite over #2.
    Fascinating post. Tweeted.

  8. I never really called it profiling, but I like to imagine my characters in full flesh…from favorite color to biggest pet peeve. Until then, they just feel flat.

    • mad_cat says:

      A good writer knows more about their character than will ever be in a book. You can tell when a writer has done this, as the character flows throughout a story, rather than a writer figuring things out as they write them.

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