Observation Journal: 5 Things to Steal from Baby Done

I completed this observation journal page the day I went to see Baby Done with my sister, a 2020 NZ romcom with Rose Matafeo and Matthew Lewis.

Baby Done movie poster

This page is a “Five things to steal…” exercise, where I find some interesting things the movie did, and consider ways to try out those techniques/mechanics in writing or art.

It’s a very useful exercise for late at night (as here!), to quickly record a few key impressions, and to turn up new lines of curiosity to pursue on future journal pages.

Double page spread of observation journal. Tiny handwritten observations. Notes on Baby Done
Left page: mostly news about local birds
  • The inversion of “usual” roles for this sort of story.
    • Not in a huge way, but nevertheless pleasing. In fact, possibly pleasing because the swap is in such a small, non-flashy way. Big, hand-waving subversions can be great, but these slight, subtle variations create personality and play with the delight of recognising what you already know but in charming reconfigurations.
    • See also posts on The Caudwell Manoeuvre, and other swapped descriptions
    • I made a note to try this on another now-standard plot later (I’ll post that in a bit)
  • Cutting from one scene directly to the middle of the next key scene, without needing to fill in everything that happens in between.
    • This is something I still am working on remembering to do / letting myself do.
    • There’s a note here, too, about Schitt’s Creek‘s similar willingness to jump. It can give a brisk surprise and jump-laugh to comedy, and keep the pace going, but it’s not at all comedy-specific.
  • Background friends who recur over a story, linking and looping back
  • Brisk, no-nonsense (but kind) nurses who are having none of the main character’s behaviour
    • This is a standard of the genre, but it amuses me.
  • People stepping into parental roles, in situations where they aren’t the parent.
    • I always find this compelling — something about someone not prepared to be responsible for others suddenly having to be, cheerfully or otherwise, and what that does for both the impression of their character and the weight of things that happen in the plot.
  • Specificity of jobs in stories (e.g., as here, tree-lopping).

The main recurring points of interest here were about (un)expected roles — swapping habitual positions, and the slight friction (surprise, delight, amusement, unfamiliarity) this creates.

For more Five Things to Steal posts, see the category Five Things to Steal.

1 thought on “Observation Journal: 5 Things to Steal from Baby Done

  1. Pingback: January 2023 — round-up of posts | Kathleen Jennings

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