Dear Luther,

VP Chandler

by V.P. Chandler

Late last night, 2 a.m. to be more precise, I finished binge watching the BBC series Luther. Hulu informed me that it would be gone at the end of the month so of course, I had to panic and watch all four seasons. (I knew that I had at least seen season one, possibly season two, but I couldn’t remember how it went. So I had to watch most of the episodes. Turns out that I had seen the first three seasons. But, as I said before, since I couldn’t recall what had happened, it was like watching all over again. Does that happen to anyone else?)

And today I’ve got English slang going through my head (Wotcha!) and all I want to do is talk to poor Luther. So here goes.

Dear Luther,

I know that the there’s a Luther movie on Netflix but I’m not sure that I could bear to watch it. Will you be making the same impulsive decisions that continued to get you, and those close to you, into trouble? I know that sometimes your spontaneous plans work out and you amaze people with your ingenuity and bravery! But sometimes they don’t. How often do you tell people to trust you and it all goes horribly wrong?

Oh, Luther. You have a huge heart for those that need your help, and you can be cold as ice to those who try to harm people. We love that about you. You are an alpha among alphas. Who else could take out an assassin and their accomplice with only a trashcan and bare fists? Who else has been shot, stabbed, and tased multiple times and walks it off? There’s no question that you are a badass. But please, next time that you’re shot in the leg and there are several ambulances on the scene, avail them of their help and don’t limp off into the sunset.

And sometimes being an alpha isn’t an asset. It’s time to start assessing your actions and getting smarter. Have you done that? I hope that you have.

We care about you because you care about people. (Not to mention that you’re incredibly gorgeous. But since that shouldn’t play a part in whether or not we like you, we won’t mention it. Mums the word, Boss.)

Last I saw you, you were in quite a predicament. (No spoilers here for those who don’t know.) I wonder if you were able to get out of that. Have you found love? You had a unique relationship with Alice (loved her character!) though I think it played out the way that it was always going to.

Okay, okay. I’m dying to see what’s happened! I’ll be watching the new movie, Luther: The Fallen Sun soon. The title is not inspiring confidence that you’ve changed. And where are you? It looks like your iconic black coat won’t keep you warm in the tundra. (But you still look damn good. Not that that really matters.)

Please don’t break my heart! I hope you’ve learned some lessons and you save the day.


V.P. Chandler

Building Character Profiles While Fighting the Battle of the Bulge

Francine Paino

The Battle of the Bulge, (December 16, 1944–January 16, 1945), was the last significant German effort to split the allies at the Ardenne Forest….

Oops. Sorry. I wrote this at 4:30 a.m. I hadn’t had enough coffee.  

Although the Battle of the Bulge or the Ardenne Counter-offensive was a major military campaign and an important part of WW II, that’s not the bulge that concerns me.

We writers sit in front of computers or writing pads, or typewriters (LOL) for hours each day trying to convert into words the stories playing like movie reels in our brains to entertain others. We continue to study the craft – necessary to improve as writers – also done sitting—thus, we don’t usually get the exercise we need for good physical conditioning and creative thinking.

 Stanford University study:

Another interesting article, among many, claims that scientists have now discovered that exercising regularly, in any manner you choose, such as bike riding or walking, do improve creative thought.

However, a word of caution. Exercise cannot become another tool for the number one writers’ disease: Procrastination!

So, what to do?

For myself, now that my metabolism has deserted me, I feel the need to get on that treadmill—which I hate—and force myself to move along at a respectable pace, or spend 15 hard minutes twice a day with an exercise hoop – which I hate even more.

I’ve tried too many forms of physical exercise to list, but after a long, long story, ‘I’ve decided the treadmill suits me best because it allows me to study different characters in my collection of recorded movies, while meeting the demands of a workout.

Thus, while I’m trying (a child’s term) to take off some of the bulges in places that lumps and bumps don’t belong, I’m doing some passive character analysis and development too.

Among my favorites are the British ladies in Tea With Mussolini, set in 1930’s Florence, Italy. Maggie Smith is the elitist, widow of a British Ambassador, which she never lets anyone forget. Dame Judy Dench, an artist of limited talents devotes herself to helping restore artworks in Italian churches, and Dame Joan Plowright plays an upstanding British lady who works for an Italian reprobate dealing with British imports. ‘Plowright’s portrayal of Mary Wallace’s character inspired some of the characteristics of my Mrs. B. in I’m Going to Kill that Cat.

Add to this list of fascinating characters….Cher. She portrays a free-spirited, wealthy, boisterous and good-hearted American Jewish actress who finds herself deceived by an Italian-Nazi operative.

Another movie favorite is Larry Crowne, a very modern-day situation. Tom Hanks portrays the affable, title character in a story about how life can throw more curve-balls than Sandy Koufax.

Larry Crowne must change or perish. Hanks portrays his character with a constant optimism, even in the face of hard-knocks and fears; Crowne adapts. As he meets new challenges in his life, he also meets an embittered professor, played by Julia Roberts. 

Watching these and other movie characters change and grow in the face of conflict, and painful circumstances provide insights that help me show growth and development for those who live in my head and in my stories.

So, now that I’ve shared one of my methods of adapting exercise to the craft while fighting the writer’s battle of the bulge, I hope I’ve provided some inspiration. It certainly can’t hurt writers to stimulate the circulation of blood to the brain.

Moreover, there is an additional benefit that I’ve not seen discussed: the reduction of guilt. Guilt for not exercising and guilt for not writing in order to exercise.

So, get out there. Walk. Look at nature. Indoors, ride a stationary bike or jog on a treadmill while watching movies or reading books. Work your body and your creativity.

Happy writing!