Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 277)

But Me

But can’t you see I’m the me?  The only true me?  I’m the special one.  Any group to which I belong is automatically the special group.  In any situation which is black and white, the white side is the one that has built itself around me, because I’m the me.  I graciously admit when I’m wrong…but I’m never wrong, see, because I’m the me.

I don’t need to back up my argument with credible sources.  Can’t you see?  I’m the me.  I mean, I realize you’re not me, but how could you be so stupid as to think that, well, I’m not the one and only me?  The evidence is in my heart, and that’s what’s important.

Can’t you understand?  I’ve always been the me.  In every way.  And that means that everything that made me what I am today, that’s sacred.  There is no other way to see it other than as the good, the white, the just, the pure.  Don’t even try to tell me that times were different then or that we know more now than we did then so we have to do better.  It’s fine because I say so, and I’m the me.

Don’t talk to be about that shit.  It doesn’t matter because it’s not about me.

Anything that infringes on me is an injustice.

Anything that happens to you is just culling the herd for idiots.

(This is what it sounds like, by the way, when  you need to go off about “I don’t understand why…”  Nobody gives a crap, darlin’, because it ain’t about you.)

Enjoy this post?  Why not read my haunted house story, “Bad House Spirit.”  It’s a good read for a foul-tempered Monday…

 

 

 

The Scariest Idea in the World

I woke up in the middle of the night with this really great, really scary idea for a story.  I didn’t write it down.  I went back to sleep.

You know how it is when that usually happens.  You wake up and go, “Oh, crap.  I’ve completely forgotten that idea.  Why didn’t I write it down?”

This morning I woke up and remembered the idea…but it wasn’t scary.

I don’t know.  I might write it anyway.  Or I might write the story about how the idea became not scary and then turned out to get the writer killed or something.  Something meta.

But I was so disappointed this morning…

Outline is Destiny!

I’m not that interested in plot outlines that are driven by character development (Joseph Campbell, et al.).  In fact I don’t give a damn about how my characters change.

What I want to do is change the reader.

Creativity is…

…the art of splitting people into two groups and trying to be both of them.

Pantsers:

  • WTF, dude, none of this makes any sense.
  • Character voice is good.
  • Lyrical, poetic.
  • Starts with a showy bit of action or witty dialogue that comes completely out of nowhere.
  • “But can’t you just get this?  Are you stupid?  I explain this on page 50…”

Plotters:

  • Stiff, wooden characters and speech.
  • Actually has some kind of sane overall structure.
  • Logical.
  • Starts by explaining the crap out of everything in the most laborious way possible, but manages to still be confusing.
  • “I’m just writing the movie in my head.  It’s not my fault that you’re bored.”

 

Unlikable Characters

Three ways to do it:

  • The character gets deeply humiliated right away.
  • Events surrounding the character are such that you immediately go, “That’s why X is so broken.”
  • The character is so deeply charming that you get over it.

You can also mix the three.

You can’t write a dull character who’s mildly unpleasant and expect the reader to buy that someone who merely isn’t all that bad is actually good, let alone interesting.  “Nice guys” in fiction, as in romance, need not apply.

Print vs. Ebook

When people talk about the risks of not having print books anymore, I’m struck by how hard it is for humanity to assess risks accurately.

“It’s all fun and games until world civilization collapses and we have NO MORE BOOKS.”

The chance of civilization as we know it collapsing to the point of irretrievably losing all ebooks is low.

The risk of out-of-print books disappearing forever due to the slow, personal loss of every copy due to time and other damage is much higher.  You probably know of at least one book that you’ve lost due to flood damage, mold, etc., that you’ve been meaning to replace, but it’s not that easy to find a copy…

Out of print: someday, our grandkids will want to know what that means.  In a thousand years, it’s going to be the books that were digitized or digital in the first place that are still around, waiting to be read.

I feel like I should write a story just to go along with this post, but I haven’t yet, so instead, if you’ve liked this post, check out The Clockwork Alice.  It’s pretty meta and has some things to say about stories; that might scratch the itch…

The right “mood” for writing

Sometimes you open your heart and find only ugly things…

That’s the kind of day when I have to write.  Better the characters suffer than the people around me.

If you liked today’s post, check out my new paranormal short story, “The Rusalka,” in which our hero doesn’t know how bad he’s getting screwed…but the monsters do.  Please note, I had my panties in a wad over something while I was writing that story, too…

Why can’t we all just get along?

Something I’m noticing a lot of lately is people going, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

And that’s a great question when it comes to pizza toppings.  Personal preference is a good thing in matters of taste.

But then we come to things like the asshole uncle at the Thanksgiving table.  “Just ignore him,” people whisper as he rants, drowning out other people’s conversation.  “We just need to get along for one day.”

That’s a choice.  It’s not a neutral one.

Giving everyone a seat at the table involves conflict, and it involves telling the asshole uncles to get out of your house if they can’t abide by the rules.

Like this post?  Check out “Bad House Spirit,” my ghost story about housecleaning and brainwashing monsters.  Also a demon dog…

Adventure Fiction

I’m happy for thrillers and all, but what I really want is to be able to reliably track down good adventure fiction.  None of this wishy-washy “but thrillers are full of adventure” crap, either.  It’s not the same thing.  The Scarlet Pimpernel is not a thriller.  The Three Musketeers is not a thriller.  Michael Crichton could bridge the two genres–Jurassic Park–but mostly thrillers don’t.  So-and-so much investigate a crime for some reason before the killer strikes again is not an adventure.

Video games are actually doing better at this than fiction, possibly because the essential nature of a first-person-shooter video game is that it’s an adventure–you have to explore things, find the treasure, loot the bodies, push the big red button marked “don’t touch,” and go on side quests.  Thrillers?  Have to be more streamlined and more realistic.  Remember that moment in the first Tomb Raider where you first see the dinosaurs (in an underground cave, if I remember correctly)?  Sure, realism is acceptable in an adventure, but only if it doesn’t get in the way of the adventure.  Big blockbuster movies tend to be adventures.  Pew pew pew!  Boom!  Run run run…

Granted, too, that a lot of classic adventure stories have issues.  Captain Blood just about made me spit nails; the main character is a “hero” who escapes slavery in the Caribbean…only to look down at the black slaves and say, “But they deserved it.”

I’ve found a lot of lists of classic adventure stories; here’s a particularly good one, but the last entry is 1983.  Another one is here.  But neither one focuses on recent fiction.  Crawling through the Amazon action/adventure lists just makes me think that I need to nail down at least a personal definition for an adventure story, because a lot of those are nopes.  The characters stay in one location and investigate a crime.  The focus is on the SF/F world, not the characters’ adventures in them.  Nothing happens.  It’s a completely different genre (paranormal romance, YA coming of age, small-town historical crime fable).

So what makes an adventure story?

At the very least:

  • The character explores places.
  • It’s all about the character, not the world per se.
  • Stuff goes wrong and the character handles it.
  • Puzzles, challenges, loot, and violence would be nice.
  • Smaller episodes inside a larger episode would be nice.
  • Just as the places the character goes are worth going to, the people that the character encounters are worth meeting.  (Anybody want a peanut?)

But I’ll have to ponder more on it.

If you liked this post, try my sci-fi adventure novella, Blood in Space: The Icon Mutiny.  

 

On pacing.

People talk about pacing as if it were some great and mysterious thing. However, mostly what pacing is, is a laborious observation of three ostensibly dull areas:

  • Paragraph length.
  • Sentence length.
  • Word length.

Once you have a grasp on those things, then you can start worrying about:

  • Scene length.
  • Chapter length.
  • Plotting (how thick and fast the events happen in the story).

Literally, in order to understand pacing better (unless you magically already have a natural sense of it, in which case good for you, skip this!) you have to go, “How many words are in this paragraph? How many words are in this sentence? How many big words are in this section?”

At first you want to slit your throat. “I didn’t become a writer so I could spend time counting.” But after a couple of sessions, you can start guesstimating and getting a sense of what’s “normal” and what sticks out as being unusual.

Then you start hazarding guesses why the unusual stuff is happening the way it is, and that’s where you start sounding all intelligent and insightful and crap. But it’s really just built on forcing your brain to look at writing in a way it normally doesn’t.

If you liked this post, why not check out my short Alice in Wonderland novel, The Clockwork Alice?  It’s all about murdering the time…

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