Tag Archives: La Llorona

When your idea shows up in a movie or book – Just keep writing

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“Hey, that was my idea!”

As writers you’ve probably heard this from other writers or have proclaimed it yourself in one variation or another and no doubt with a few colorful added expletives.

I certainly have.

This occurs when we’ve read a book or seen a movie in the theater or on TV with a concept that echoes one we have written or are in the process of writing. Suddenly, there appears to be our idea on a page or up on the screen and we had no part of it, not to mention any credit or money. That’s when the bottom falls out of our writing world and crashes somewhere in Shit City, the land of failed scribes condemned to remaining in our day job for eternity.

This occurred recently over the movie The Curse of the La Llorona.

Now La Llorona is an old and very familiar tale among Hispanics about a hideous hag who searches the night for her children. The very children she killed. The reasons for her terrible action vary from telling to telling. Nevertheless, this crying monster wanders the night for children to take and make her own. My parents told me and my siblings this tale when I was a kid, no doubt to keep us away from strangers. The story did scare us. But during summer nights, we’d search for La Llorona. Since I lived by a cemetery, it was especially fun as much as frightening.

After the announcement about the upcoming The Curse of the La Llorona movie, I heard from a writer who had consulted with me on one of his scripts. He had written about another spooky Hispanic tale—not Llorona. But he wondered how the new film might affect the market for his story.

I told him that I thought he was okay. I was the one who was screwed.

I had already written a script and a book called “The Weeping Woman.” La Llorona means the weeping woman in Spanish.  Judging from the description on IMDB and the trailer for The Curse of La Llorona movie, however, my novel and script are totally different. My story is about children disappearing in San Antonio. Troubled Detective Blue Rodriguez is assigned to investigate and discovers the kidnappings echo the old Mexican ghost story of La Llorona.

Still, I was disheartened to think that someone else beat me to the punch on La Llorona —at least, selling a script and making money. Especially since I haven’t sold my La Llorona script. But as we’ve all heard at writing seminars, ideas can’t be copyrighted–only the way we express them can be protected. How true.

Take Titanic. The idea of that sinking sink has spawned numerous films, each different depending on the writer and director.

Or how about the idea of star-crossed lovers? That story has been told again and again, from Romeo and Juliet to Warm Bodies.

Here’s another cool idea. A destructive comet heading toward earth. In 1998, two films dealt with that very subject and a mission to divert or destroy the comet. There was Armageddon with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck and the famous animal cracker scene (which is another story). Then there was Deep Impact with Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall. Two films with the same idea, yet, Armageddon was more action oriented and Deep Impact focused on more personal stories.

Consider a love story between a woman and a sea creature. Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning The Shape of Water told about a lonely deaf woman who falls for an amphibious captive. Mrs. Caliban, a 1982 cult favorite novella by Rachel Ingalls, is also about a woman who has a romance with a sea monster. They sound similar but each telling is diverse.

Back to La Llorona. Having heard about this mysterious creature ever since I was young, I was so fascinated that I not only wrote the book and screenplay, but short story, a play and a short script I hope to produce this year. So as much as I would have loved to keep La Llorona all to myself, I knew I couldn’t. She is out there and open to the interpretation of other writers.

According to the Internet, at least six other La Llorona movies have already been made, including an animated one. Those stories were all totally dissimilar from anything I wrote and each other. The only common denominator was that weeping woman. La Llorona was even the subject of an episode of the TV show, Grimm.

Two years ago, my daughter came up with an idea for me to write—about a person who clones the love that she lost. I didn’t get around to it, but should have. What movie is playing now on a similar theme? Replicas with Keanu Reeves. My daughter was bummed.

So to my fellow writers, forget about what’s out there and whether you believe somebody already has your idea or someone will steal your idea. We need to concentrate on making our stories the best they can be. Unique and wonderful. In the course of your writing, you may hear of a movie or TV series that sounds similar to yours and that will make you want to throw out your work.  Don’t. Maybe put it away,  or even twist the idea to create something even more daring and new. Your story won’t be the same as others. Yours will be distinctive. After all, you’re bringing yourself, your views, experience, your voice and skills to the writing. All that and more will make it special.

In light of this latest La Llorona movie, I’m staying positive. Perhaps, it will spur the public to want more La Llorona stories, as well as more stories about Hispanic culture and with Hispanic characters—of which I have written plenty. Then my scripts and stories will be ready for that hungry producer or publisher to buy. Well, I can only hope so anyway, and until then I’ll just keep writing and hope you do the same.

 

 

 

For lovers of horror, a new book, HORROR ADDICTS GUIDE TO LIFE

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life
I’m honored to be a contributor to a new fun, informative and very cool book, HORROR ADDICTS GUIDE TO LIFE. My piece is about how La Llorona scared and inspired me.
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Do you love the horror genre?
Do you look at horror as a lifestyle?
Do the “norms” not understand your love of the macabre?
Despair no longer, my friend, for within your grasp is a book written by those who look at horror as a way of life, just like you. This is your guide to living a horrifying existence. Featuring interviews with Midnight Syndicate, Valentine Wolfe, and The Gothic Tea Society.
Authors: Kristin Battestella, Mimielle, Emerian Rich, Dan Shaurette, Steven Rose Jr., Garth von Buchholz, H.E. Roulo, Sparky Lee Anderson, Mary Abshire, Chantal Boudreau, Jeff Carlson, Catt Dahman, Dean Farnell, Sandra Harris, Willo Hausman, Laurel Anne Hill, Sapphire Neal, James Newman, Loren Rhoads, Chris Ringler, Jessica Robinson, Eden Royce, Sumiko Saulson, Patricia Santos Marcantonio, J. Malcolm Stewart, Stoneslide Corrective, Mimi A. Williams, and Ron Vitale.
With art by Carmen Masloski and Lnoir.
Edited by David Watson
Cover artist Carmen Masloski

Now available at: HorrorAddicts.net

Real evil is reflected in some horror stories

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On a recent trip to Colorado to see family, a few relatives claimed they had seen or knew someone who had actually spotted “La Llorona.”
Because they knew of my book, “The Weeping Woman,” which is inspired by the La Llorona tale, they shared their stories.
One relative said when she was younger she and a bunch of girlfriends were walking home one night when they spotted a woman dressed in black standing under a street light. The woman watched as they passed. When she turned back, the woman had disappeared.
My father told me of curses of witches (Brujas) had made on people.
And who hasn’t heard the story of the clicking toes nails?
I love listening to these stories. When I was a girl, they scared the hell out of me. Sure I was also frightened by those monsters in the movies on the late show. But La Llorona was terrifying because she had the aura of reality. These stories were more than culture. They were told by people who believed them.
During the Depression, the WPA created the Writers Project in which people collected cultural tales around the nation. Among those gathered were witch and ghost stories from Latinos in New Mexico. They are fascinating to read.
What I garnered from those tales, as well as the one I heard as a child, was that we are drawn to what scares us. I believe people tell and listen to these stories because they mirror real evil in the world that may strike even at good people. They are metaphors for the real wicked people out there who are ready to carry away children, and those whose souls have become black as the shadows because of their sins.
This is scary. This gives me nightmares.
But for me there was always hope. That is, there are always other people willing to fight the evil. In addition, there is also redemption for those willing to come out of shadows and into the light.