A to Z Challenge 2013

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Learning How Much I Get Wrong While Editing

I don't know about you, but when I edit something I haven't touched for a while, I find instances where I obviously checked out my brain for a while and just let my fingers continue to type.  And the longer it's been since I touched a story, the more chance there is that I'll doubt whether I was really sane while I wrote it.

Take my current endeavor for example.  I'm tightening up my manuscript to hand over to Davin for the critique I won.  I started out just working on the end because it wasn't really as good as I wanted it to be.  But as I started reading through the story, I found huge errors.  Like when I realized I'd had my main character being aware of things (aka more omniscient) than he should be.  I was explaining the story via the character's internal mental dialogue rather than letting him learn things in a more natural way.  Yeah, not a great way to showcase my writing ability.

So now I'm overly aware of this trait and I'm finding I did this more often than I thought.  Wow, what a newbie mistake.  On the good side, I'm catching these things where I might not have before.  So I guess I can say I'm getting better at correcting myself, even if I haven't yet learned not to make these errors while I craft the initial story.  Baby steps they may be, but at least it's a form of progress.

What big mistakes do you see as you go back to edit your work?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Call Me Hypocritical

I read a review of the Captain America movie, and the person writing the review expressed how much she disliked it.  Since I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I felt compelled to express my opinion in the comments.  I wasn't overly rude (at least I don't think so), but after re-reading what I had said, I almost felt a little bad about it.

I'm fairly certain I didn't hurt any feelings, but nonetheless I worry a little what impressions I leave with people when I comment on blogs.  And here is where the hypocrisy rears its head.

See, I consider myself fairly laid back when it comes to how people respond to my posts.I'm not usually offended or hurt by anything said to me or about my writing.  By contrast, I'm extremely sensitive to how I communicate to others and what I post in comments.  It's my own personal hypocrisy perhaps, but there it is.

This isn't a post discovering anything new; I'm just relating something that popped in my head.  But if anyone wants to add to the topic, feel free.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Yes, Comic Books Do Have Storylines!

This past weekend we went to see Captain America.  I won't spoil it for anyone other than to say that it was awesome and well worth seeing.  The funny thing though is that my wife found it boring.

I think the problem is one of assumptions and expectations.  I am willing to bet my wife was expecting more action and grandiose special effects.  I don't think she expected a well developed and nicely told storyline, which is one of the things I noticed and enjoyed most about this film.  So I'm guessing this is why it didn't match her expectations.

It got me to thinking about comic books and the assumptions some people make.  It's likely that a number of people don't consider storyline a necessary part of comics, and those of us who have read (yes I call it reading) them over the years know better.  I'm certain there were tons of amazed viewers when The Watchmen came out on the big screen, even though us fans knew how intricate and developed the story is.

Much like any book published, comics have detailed stories to tell and the authors/artists live and breathe their characters just like we do as we write our own stories.  It's nice to see that filmmakers are beginning to understand the necessity for a good story in addition to action scenes rather than trying to ignore that aspect of comics (or worse, they try to rewrite an already well-written storyline).

Do you enjoy good storylines in comic book movies or do you prefer them to just show the action?  Would you watch if they WERE just action-fests?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Under Pressure

Yesterday I found out I am the lucky winner in Davin's contest promoting his book The Wild Grass and the prize is both awesome and terrifying.  The prize is a critique of a manuscript and a 10 page critique by Davin's cohorts, Michelle and Scott (assuming they are available and willing).  This trio is the driving force behind The Literary Lab and though I know they are all awesome, inspirational writers, I'm a little intimidated too. 

The good thing is that I'm feeling a bit of pressure to have my manuscript up to their standards.  I have been in editing mode and I'm close to having one ready, but I can't deny that there is a little voice worrying about what comments I might get.  I say the pressure is good though because it has me motivated to get it done.  This is a grand opportunity to get feedback from writers I highly respect.  Oh, and if any of them are reading this, don't feel like you have to pull any punches;  I prefer brutal honesty over niceties any day.

On another front, I've got pressure to finish the Hacking and Countermeasures class I'm in.  I've just got one more Powerpoint to create and that one is in the bag.  It's been an interesting class, even if it has involved lots of paper writing and Powerpoint presentations.  I've got til the end of the month for that one though, so I'm happy to be ahead a little bit.

Lastly, I've got some pressure to beat my best and oldest friend at Words With Friends, an app he introduced me to on my phone.  It's a Scrabble kind of game, and since I'm the bookworm/writer between the two of us, there's no way I'm going to let him win.  It's been neck and neck though, and I'm pleasantly surprised at how much competition he's been thus far.  I'll never live it down if he beats me.
Anyone else feeling pressure lately?  Here's a little Queen to help you through.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

An Inconvenient Story

 Imagine Achilles as a child growing up.  The story we all know portrays him as an invincible warrior, but lets play what if.    There is no child I know of that doesn't trip and fall while running.  That chance of falling is doubled when running backwards.  So here is the awesome Achilles backpedaling, he trips over a rough stone (hitting his heel no less), and suddenly we have a huge crybaby who has never felt real pain before this day.  Imagine how different his life would have been after that moment.  Here's a snippet of conversation from his classmates:

"Don't pick anyone before Achilles gets here.   He's the best in the school with a spear."

"Why, so we can watch him bawl if he trips over his own feet?  That wimp isn't as tough as everyone thought.  Hell, I could beat him up with one good sweep.  Let his Mama wipe his tears again while we all laugh."

And so Achilles is picked last for spear tossing, permanently altering his life path.  Imagine how hard it must have been for his Mom to discipline Achilles.  It's not like she could spank him, since he wouldn't really feel it.  I can see her going  back to the river to dip her hand in, just so she could smack his butt when he got out of hand.

Where I'm going with this is the idea of convenience.  The myths ignore all these possibilities because it's more convenient to say he was perfect (except for an understandably over-inflated ego) and didn't have to deal with these types of trivial things.  He had the convenience of an easy upbringing where damage to his heel (and therefore his life possibly) was never an issue.

To tie this in with my own writing, I have an issue in a WiP.  In the beginning of story my MC runs into a pretty girl working in a coffee shop.  When I first wrote it, she was intended to be a way to further illustrate how my MC deals with the opposite sex rather than being an important character.  But when I had multiple people critique it, they unanimously expressed the idea that these two should be involved more in some way.  After giving it some thought, I have come to agree with them.  My problem is how to make that happen.

After briefly meeting her, my MC spends his last bit of money on two bus rides across town.  The rest of the story (so far anyway) takes place on that side of town.  In order to have these two meet up, I would have to conveniently allow them to see each other again.  I haven't really come up with a good way to make this happen, but I'm hoping it will come to me soon.

Convenience in a story is irritating.  I dislike it in writing, and I especially dislike it in movies.  I'm trying to learn how to write things more smoothly so that I avoid this type of thing, but I can't say I've mastered it yet.  I've ranted on this long enough, but I'll put the question out there for anyone that has any good ideas.   How do you avoid convenience in your writing?

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Typing On A Galaxy Tab

This should be interesting, and hopefully it doesn't come out as too untelligible.  I'm sitting at lunch and typing out this post using my Father's Day gift, a Tmobile Galaxy Tab.  For those who don't know, it's a 7" tablet with a bluetooth keyboard I bought for it.  It doesn't seem to aggravate my hand as much, probably because I'm one finger typing on this little keyboard.  It's not too rough though (or won't be after I get used to it).   One irritation though - it tends to repeat letters easily if you hit the keys too hard or off center.  And they mislabeled the keys where the double quote and @ symbol are, swapping the two around.  Weird.

In other news, I received Davin's book in the mail and am enjoying the short stories between homework assignments.  I also am hoping to use this tablet for writing, since the physical footprint is so much smaller and convenient than my laptop.  Not sure about my typing speed on it, but anything that gets me to write is a good thing.  Lastly, I hope to see the doctor about my hand maybe tomorrow.  I'm hoping for just physical therapy to get me back into shape.

That's enough for now (I'll put a link in for Davin's book later).  Hope everyone has a great rest of your Monday.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just A Quick Note

This is going to be a short post, but I wanted to put at least something up today.  Unfortunately, I'm still suffering from some pain in my right hand and forearm.   Typing is not comfortable at all, and working the mouse is really bothering me.  I plan on seeing the doc early next week because I really need to find out if this is just a strain or something more permanent.  I'm an IT guy (my day job), so not being able to work on a computer has some dire implications.  And since I can't write legibly with a pencil and paper, it has put a dent in my writing progress too.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great weekend and I should be back in the swing of things next week.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blog Chain - You Sure About That? Look It Up!

Ha Ha!  I tricked you all, doing TWO blog posts today instead of my usual one.   Okay, truth be told, I was supposed to get this one up yesterday.  Unfortunately, a bad sunburn from my motorcycle ride on the 4th and re-injuring the ligaments near my elbows made typing an impossibility.  I'm mostly recovered though, so this is a catch-up blog chain post.

The ever-awesome Michelle McLean has asked us an interesting question:

There are so many things we have to include in our storyworlds...characters, world details, settings, etc. No matter what genre you write, your stories are full of tiny details that help create your storyworld. I know that for me, at least, finding or creating all these details can sometimes be a bit tough.

Where do you go for help? And what types of things are you more likely to research/search for as opposed to making up on your own? Do you have any favorite resource sites? Share links if you have them!!

Research is one area of writing that I both love and hate.  I get to learn some really cool stuff, but it can be agonizing and time-consuming.  I haven't had tons of experience with researching for creative writing, but I've found it really necessary for the last couple things I've started.

On one of my WiPs, I am creating a post-apocalyptic world so I have to do research about all kinds of things from how much pollution people create by breathing in and out to what the effect is on a population when they are contained in a bubble.  The story also heavily involves genetics, so I'm hoping to take an actual tour of a genetics lab and get a look at the equipment.  For this story, so far I've been using the Internet.  I realize though, that later on I'll need to do some direct research like the tour.

I have another story that involves mythological characters, so for that one I reached out to a fellow writer.  Xixi had mentioned an interest in studying Greek mythology, and she was really helpful.  I had some questions regarding the Fates and she was able to clear up how they have historically been depicted.  This was useful, because now I know how far I can twist them so that they're uniquely depicted but still recognizable.

I can't say I have any favorite sites to share, but I will say that if you're looking for information on Sci-fi stuff, read fellow blog-chainer Sandra's blog.  She is a wealth of scientific information, and she shares interesting tidbits with us all the time.

Where do you look for research as you write?  I'm the last on the chain this time around and we're all taking a short break until August or so (from blog chain entries, anyway).  Make sure you stop by Michelle McLean's blog so you can follow the chain and read everyone's answers.  

Blog Chain - I Be Cursed!

I was actually on break when this question came out, but it is a fabulous question (and Christine has already peer-pressured me into it by answering also) so here goes.  The question was originally posed by that talented blog-chainer Kate, who asks:

Curses, you've been cursed! You can write no longer. The story well has run dry, and you can't even remember how to type. Now what do you do? Where do you channel your creative energies? And to what lengths would you go to break the curse?

OMG!  You mean I can't sit at my desk and stare at the blank screen begging for inspiration and wit to arrive?  This curse assumes that writing is all about the typing and creation, but the dry wells are part of the writing process as well.  Not knowing how to type would be a hindrance for sure though, especially since my day job requires it LOL.

I'd love to say that I would die an agonizing death, my fingers curling up into poisonous claws and my body withering to nothing but bones and sinew.  Unfortunately, I have not yet had "the call", where my mind thinks of nothing but writing day and night.  If anything, this is the aspect of writing I agonize over - that I am not as entrenched in the writing world as I should be.  I agonize right now because I can't seem to live and breathe this stuff yet.

I do admit however, that since I do dream of being a real writer some day (kind of like Pinocchio but with no strings or rapidly growing nose), what the curse would cause me to wail about is the destruction of this dream.  Right now, I strive towards this goal, hoping that one day I will awake with a furious need to write.  If I didn't have that, what would I do with all my spare time (that stuff that I seem to lack but everyone else seems to have tons of).  To break the curse, I'd probably have to go rent a cabin in the mountains, hire some ancient looking medicine man, and dance around the bonfire howling at the moon.  Then if that didn't work, maybe I'd go stalk Jamie Ford until he made a blood pact with me, which would surely kick start the creative juices (or get me thrown in jail, where I could write a memoir detailing the experience).

Now it's your turn.  What would you do if something this horrendous happened to you?  Oh, and I strongly advise you start at Kate's blog and read through everyone else's responses.  There's some great stuff there.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Absence Has Been Longer Than Expected...But I'm Back!

Okay, I was gone from Da Muse a bit longer than I had planned.  The vacation was nice though, there were ups and downs, and everyone in the family had a great time.  I even got to hang out with Tigger (kind of ironic that I'm wearing a California shirt while visiting Florida, huh?).  Mickey Mouse may be cool, but Tigger is one of a kind (his song even says so).

DisneyWorld is both good and bad.  It's a unique experience everyone should take at least once, but once you've been there, the shine (at least for me) tends to dull.  You start noticing how many shops there are, how many times the Disney machine tries to get your coin rather than providing you with entertainment, and you get really tired feet from walking everywhere.  To say Disney World is spread out is an understatement big time.

Epcot however, is a completely different story.  For one thing, it seemed like there were a lot less crowds.  The entertainment is also geared towards a more adult crowd, which appeals to me more as well.  Since I don't have little ones (mine are growing up faster than I want them to), all the cutesy little kid stuff isn't as much fun.  I could go back to Epcot multiple times, while I'd be fine with skipping all the other Disney theme parks ever again.

Since returning home, I've had to scramble to get back to work and back into the mode of doing homework (and it hasn't been easy).  Suffice it to say that after 2 weeks of vacation, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with "normal life".  And as for writing...well, I'm fitting it in wherever I can get a spare moment.

On the good side, I found an awesome deal for a motorcycle (a divorcee getting rid of her ex's bike that she doesn't ride), so now I'm riding again.  Check out this beautiful bike:

As part of celebrating Independence Day here in the Good Ole USA, I went on a nice motorcycle ride with the members of my wife's family who are also bikers.  In fact, my brother-in-law gave me some really nice saddle bags he had sitting in his garage, so now I don't have to buy those.  I don't have new pics of how the bike looks with them on, but trust me - it's B-E-A-UTIFUL!

For those of you in America, I hope your 4th of July celebrations are safe and full of fun.  I'm not a big fireworks person myself, mostly because I grew up in a household with a firefighter dad.  I like watching them though, so we may go outside this evening and see what we can see.  And for those of you who are military or related to them, thank you for continuing to honor and work for the ideals we're celebrating today.