Sunday, June 24, 2012

Writing Conversation Part 2

To continue Avoidance Avoidance.

I totally agree that “the only way to succeed in the writing business is to write all the time…” I wrote that Avoidance post in part as a catharsis. I often need to “talk” through problems. The act of organizing a problem in my mind so that I can share is usually enough to help me analyze the situation to a solution.

My complaint to myself was that I wasn’t writing. My writing the post itself I broke through that dam.

I must ask that you to keep in mind that I have had some success writing. Not only have I written quite a bit, I have actually won some contests and gotten paid for some stories. I do have a method that has worked, if not as well as I would like. Also, I would like to improve my method. I think I need to kick-start my writing more than revamp entirely.

I like and agree with the idea about outlines. I do write outlines and extensive notes; sometimes too too much. While this is an almost indispensible method for me, it has two extreme dangers. The first is something called, “analysis paralyasis.” It means you spend all your time in research. This could be because of a fear of actually starting, or because you get too caught up in the fun of learning new things.

The second danger is much more insidious, and maybe more individually my own. I often get a drive, desire, itch to write something. It must be satisfied. I often call it my muse. The danger is that I could satisfy the urge simply by writing that outline, or taking those notes.

That’s the real trick, the real problem that must be solved, how to take that natural urge and hold it after the initial satisfaction until I get it completed.

One more post against the absence of writing. “Just keep hammering,” indeed. I’ll be like Nemo and, “just keep swimming.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Writing Conversation Part 1

Someone very near and dear to me "recently" tried to respond to my post entitled "Avoidance."  He had trouble so he emailed me the response and I tried to post it.

It is a very good post with many valid points which I really should address, but I too could not post it because it exceeds the character limit of the comment section.

Because I would really like to share the concerns/suggestions and respond I am going to share the comment in this post.  I have named this post "Part 1" because I don't intend to answer his concerns in this post.  It may take several posts to answer everything and or act on some of the suggestions.  For not I'm just going to share what he wrote:

"This makes me so sad. I’d like to see you go on with your work/hobby/pastime as I think the only way to succeed in the writing business is to write all the time, just keep hammerin’ away at it until something breaks. And even if it never materializes, at least you spent time doing something that you enjoy. So never give up, even if nobody reads your work, or responds to it, do it for yourself first!

Now, for my constructive criticism:

1.      I always would have liked to become a writer as well, but I have never had a good enough idea of a story with a twist or grabber in it to be worth the time to me it would need. However, as I have an organized/logical personality, I thought the way for me (and possibly might work for you) on how to write would require an excellent idea for a story and/or character (or gang of characters) and set out at first a general outline, and then flesh out the outline into more detailed layers, and then write the various sections (chapters?) as I felt it while following the detailed outline. Then keep reworking the story and outline until a good first draft is completed. Then have a few readers/editors go over it and offer suggestions and thoughts to be incorporated as revisions, then rewrite as many times as needed until the final draft is done. The story doesn’t need to be written in order, you can write the main scenes first, and then go back and flesh out the development of the story as needed, or whatever order works best for you and the story itself. I don’t know what method you use to write but if it has been just start and then go along in a linear direction until the story is completed, maybe a change to your method might help?

2.      Most adults I know don’t read very much. Shame on them. Most adults will take care of their kids, work, maintain their homes, and finally when they have free time to relax, watch the tube, not break open a book. Even most of the guys at the firehouse, with loads of free time, will veg in front of the TV when I am kicked back somewhere reading. And, the people who do read regularly with most likely not be interested in your subject’s. I don’t know anybody who reads sci-fi or horror other than maybe you and Ryan (?). I don’t read too much sci-fi anymore (although “Game of Thrones” is the best I’ve ever read and you don’t like it much?) and I have never read Lovecraft or any of that kind of horror. So your audience is very very limited.

3.      If you do write sci-fi, I wouldn’t be too concerned with making the science too real, that’s why it’s called fiction, make it up. Sometimes the made up science can be the real driving force in the story. Or take “Starship Troopers”, really has no science, just a good story with good characters

4.      I’d suggest that you write about something you are extremely familiar with, maybe scouts or military, and keep it in the present day. Make up and develop a couple of interesting characters, come up with a plot twist that takes the reader in a direction they didn’t expect. If you get something good going, then maybe modify it into the future or into a alien world (Boy Scout camping trip in the future to an unexplored planet?). Or add the horror twist. Or both. Also telling the story non-linear might be a good gimmick (the movie “Pulp Fiction” or “Reservoir Dogs” style), an outline help’s this style to work. I think you’ll really need a twist or gimmick…

5.      KISS – Keep it simple stupid. You seem to spend a lot of time on detail and historical background, like you’re making a complete role-playing game world/universe. I’d suggest keeping your writing short and simple for now, especially if the story is in a genre that is not interesting to the reader. I would be more likely to read something that I’m not very interested in if it was short. Also, there are many very fine stores that are short (Shane, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, most of Howards “Conan” stuff, ect.). I think a very good example of what I’m driving at is “Beau Geste” by P.C. Wren. If you haven’t read this book, look it up and give it a go. It’s pretty short, a very easy read, but well written, good plot twists, and with interlocking characters in a unexpected fashion. I think it was written in a society and place that the author knew very well. Very much KISS in my opinion. One of my favorites. By the way, don’t read the Wikipedia or other reviews, they have spoilers in them. Just read the book first.

6.      If you do want to create a complete world/universe with loads of detail, maybe you’re pursuing the wrong avenue. How about finding some players and you become the “DM” of your own designed and flushed out world. I bet you can find players on the internet, and there are numerous game systems already made that you could use. Keep notes on the adventures that you run, and then turn them into written sci-fi stories?

7.      Life is short, be sure to spend time doing what you love.

Good luck!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Detour by Bike

I was forced into a new route this week.  They shut down Atkinson and I am very limited in what alternate road to take over the train tracks and expressway.

I decided to continue heading east on the North Shore Bike Path to Waukegan (IL Rte 43) and head north on the sidewalks.  This takes me at least two additional miles and about 10 more minutes.  Some how I'm going to have to get my butt on the road that much quicker.

It is a nice ride though.  East of the expressway it climbs to rooftop level so you can cross all the streets and train tracks.  It is sort of like flying.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Where WAS Deckard Going?

In the movie, "Blade Runner" there is a scene that always made me wonder.
Deckard is in Sebastian's place and he's hunting Roy, just after he had killed Pris.

Roy punches through the wall and grabs his hand.  He takes the gun away, breaks two fingers (one for each of the Nexus 6 females he has "retired") and puts the gun back into Deckard's hand.

Then for quite a while Deckard seems to be going somewhere.  He's not really hunting Roy after a while because he is clearly afraid of him and he loses the gun.  He climbs up a bookcase, through some rotting ceiling and out on to the roof.  Somehow he is in a bathroom next where he sets his fingers and ties them off.

Roy surprises him by putting his head through the bathroom wall.  Deckard hits him with a pipe and goes out the window.  He tries to climb onto the roof.

Roy leans out the window and finally asks him the question I had been wondering, and the question I ask you.  Roy said, "Where are you going?"

Eventually Roy saves Deckard from falling off the building and tells him about tears in rain, then dies.

I never understood Deckard's thinking at the time.  Was he hunting or running away?  Was he hiding, or trying to confuse?  Was he just out of his mind or did he have a plan that just wasn't working out?  Was he trying to bide his time until he could get to Roy, get away from him, or until Roy died?

What do you think?

I'm not going to put up a poll because I don't think this is a multiple choice question.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Play Was the Thing

I was in a Greek play this last Thursday.

It wasn't a tragedy, it was supposed to be a comedy.  There were many laughs, mostly intended.  It frustrated me, and I wish there had been a chorus (which there wasn't).

I've been taking Greek classes this year (my second year, after I skipped a year) on Thursday evenings at our Greek Orthodox Church (Ascension of Our Lord, Lincolnshire, IL).  The culmination of the school year was a play.

I had the biggest part and I was certainly was NOT the best student.  We had about 5 adults and 6 or 8 teens in the class and I was the only adult male so I got the part of the family's father.

I'm glad it's over, and I'm glad I did it.  I spent the last month studying the play.  The two days prior to the play I put the recording of the teacher reading the lines on my computer and listened to her all day.  I think I learned some phrases that will serve me well going forward.  On the other hand I didn't really learn the mechanics of Greek any better and I know I'll lose a lot of what I managed to hold temporarily in my poor, slow brain.

Oh well.  I'm going to check with the Rosetta Stone people and see if I can't upgrade my copy of Greek for less than a new copy.  I'll try to keep what I have and build on that.

So, in the final words of the play, καλό καλοκαίρι!