Saturday, September 4, 2010

Discovery Handwriting

(If you can see this post, I passed. Practicing my blogskills is not procrastinating. Next blogskill: podcasts)

I write two types of short stories: Character and Plot. A Plot short story is when I sit down with a Beginning and an End and come up with some characters that can handle the Middle. A Character short story is when I sit down with a Character and a Beginning and find out what happens.

I call my technique for writing a less-developed plot 'Discovery Handwriting'. The advantages are that all my crossed-out sentence constructions and false starts are preserved and I can make margin notes more conveniently than in a word processor.

It's a good reminder not to try to make it look pretty, because I'm going to be typing it up as a manuscript document later anyways. It's a free edit session without being as destructive of my creativity as regular editing.

It's also fun to spike each manuscript page and watch the pile grow. And the ladies are more impressed by my dissolute writer persona a lot of loose-leaf scribblings are scattered around the house with the empty bottles.


You know what I like? Cooking for myself. I eat a lot of instant noodles, but only because it's more convenient. I get the low-sodium kind with spicy flavor and add fresh steamed vegetables with potato for bulk. It's quick, easy, and I'm boiling liters of water a day for tea anyways, so I might as well use it for other purposes.

Come into my garden, look at my fish. Aren't they nice? The correct answer is yes. Now I shall wave a fan coquettishly. 

1000 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" (Susanna Clarke)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ruse de Guerre

It's a trick!

I like clever heroes. Or at least sophisticated heroes. But I don't like Honor Heroes. Amongst the reasons that I (for the most part) don't read Epic Fantasy is that the Honor Hero often gets to be the main character, whereas I relegate the Honor Hero to, at best, the (amusingly incompetent) comic relief. For those keeping score at home, that's a mere one step above where I put the Good Is Dumb Hero.

But, you might ask if you were familiar with my reading habits, amongst your favorite characters is Horatio Hornblower. Isn't he an Honor Hero? No.

Let's define our terms. Honor is an external expectation, and an Honor Hero is a hero driven by external expectations. Honor Hero Aragorn had that sword (that stupid sword...) and rightful heir to the throne Duty and all those But You Must leadership building exercises from Gandalf. I'm not familiar enough with any other Epic Fantasy to give any other examples, but that's probably enough (read: to make everybody mad but still get my point across).

Horatio Hornblower is a Clever Hero who doesn't believe he's especially competent, and a Good Guy despite feeling, most of the time, that he's a terrible person. That is to say, he's internally motivated by his own tragicomic high expectations that make any external test easy to overcome by comparison.

Combine my distaste for Honor and my lack of verbosity, and I'm obviously ill-equipped to write Epic Fantasy.

But I can live with that.


I woke up at two in the morning today with a sequel to 'Jeremiad', my previous monologue of a lounge lizard revolutionary. I'm fleshing out a few things that the character mentioned off-hand in the first installment. I like the challenge of writing a monologue, and it's also my favorite type of story

Oddly, this pictures the relationship but not the actual characters.

2000 words? Yes
Short Story "Pure Humanity" - in progress (~1/2)
- - - -
Reading - "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" (Susanna Clarke)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why Science Fiction?

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
-Lazarus Long in "Time Enough For Love" (Robert A. Heinlein)

Science Fiction is what drives me forward with the cry: "Why Can't We Do This NOW?" It's not just about adventure, it's about where and how the adventure is happening.

Why aren't we on the moon? Why can't everybody in the world have high-speed internet? Why does Humanity, on the whole and taking one thing with another, suck? Will I live forever? When?

Take a look at that list. I can do about half of it, with a broad definition of 'program a computer'. But just by reading that list I can see where I can go, what I can do. Pick up any piece of science fiction, and you see that glimmer of an idea (sometimes in the form of an unsubtle anvil or negative exemplar) of what you yet need to do. Or what We yet must do.

Why Science Fiction? Because one day...


Shout-outs are in order for helpful Alpha Wreaders Ben Godby and Nicholas Rose. Any critters who want a taste of the David Barron magic can check out "Laterally", up this week by MPC on Critters Writers Workshop. The quest for Alphas continues.

A picture of a restaurant, unrelated to the quest.

500 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die" - chapter twelve
- - - -
Reading - "Freedom's Landing" (Anne McCaffrey)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Big U

The plan today was to post the image of a representative handwritten sheet of words, complete with spike-hole. My new scanner broke before it even scanned a single thing, though, so you'll just have to read about it.

Of course, I'm not going to write about it, so we're at a bit of an impasse. To the subject-changing machine!

Amongst my writing weaknesses is an inability to write a believable villain. This is partly because I don't believe in villains and partly because I like to give the Villain Ball to a character and let him ham it up.

The first part is both a weakness and a strength. As I learn to accentuate nuance better in my writing, I think a story with no villains can work. My particular path in life has led me to the realization that there the only villains are those human beings more severely flawed than the rest of us.

All of the flaws of humanity can be traced back to The Big U. Take your pick. Uncertainty: Lack of total information and stability and time to think about it leads us humans to make the best of it. Unprepared: We humans are to greater or lesser extents not ready to deal with sudden opportunity. Underutilized: Idle hands are attached to the arms of the devil.

Now my challenge is to write a story where the antagonist wants to destroy the world, including himself and all his nuances. The potential for self-ham should not be understated.


Murder most foul is what it was: a hot chase into a cool room for a cold-blood to kill. We found her the next day, lying on the bed in the morning dawn, dew and blood mingled on her forehead and staining her dress. Such a young life snuffed out by that fedora-wearing freak-show? Intolerable. Unheard of! Let us pack our bags with ammunition and limber down our firearms for a proper posse.

So peaceful, as if she were sleeping and not roasting in whore-hell.

500 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die" - chapter twelve
- - - -
Reading - "Job: A Comedy of Justice" (Robert A. Heinlein)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sometimes It's Hard

...and sometimes it's easy.

Just gotta keep on keeping on, writing through the night, getting four hours of dream-filled sleep, gotta keep on recording my reading each piece to check the dialogue and flow, gotta keep on pretending I don't care about rejection. (Ok, well, that last part is easy. I've been rejected by Experts, what's a bunch of editors-who just want to publish what's good-gwan' do to me?)

Gotta keep listening, gotta keep talkin', gotta keep reading, gotta keep walkin'. Until at the beginning of the line, I enter the train to anachronistic success. Sir, and madame, I do not intend to be the everyday ordinary type of failure, I intend to be the kind of failure best summed up as "a success before his time". And then I'll make the damn time my own, because the only times I subscribe to are multiplication.

Anyways, twenty days Up, twenty days Down. How many days has it been?


In case you were wondering, the color scheme of this blog is based on the color scheme I've set up in Q10, that being the full-screen text-editor I most prefer when I'm in full-screen text editor mode. I have so many different ways of extracting words out of my racing mind. In fact, just today I've bought a paper spike, just like the newsmen of old, so that I can slam finished sheets of double-side paper on it and feel good about myself. So long as I finish at least eight sheets a day.

Man, I need a drink.

500 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die" - chapter eleven
Short Story "Kritarchy" - in progress (~1/2)
- - - -
Reading - "Hornblower and the Atropos" (C.S.Forrester)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Living In The Future

Sure, sure, everybody likes reading about a dystopia, but would you really want to live there? Sometimes I like to consider futures I wouldn't mind actually having to live in.

It seems pretty easy to be a pessimist. To be fair, pessimists are a lot more useful in the short term, even if they're not more accurate in the long term.

On the other hand, sometimes it's hard to be an optimist. Where's the Conflict in optimist future?

I'm making it a personal challenge to construct plots where very few people have guns and where fighting has dire consequences. These future losers are going to earn their crapsack world the hard way, by having bad relationships. There's a lot of Conflict involved in not being allowed conflict.

All that aside, so far we seem to have muddled through. Whether that's because we humans try to prove both pessimists and optimists wrong at the same time is up to you.

I leave you with this personal opinion: "Brave New World" is not actually a dystopia.


I benefit greatly from a mental illness that from time to time knocks me flat on my back, wallowing in self-loathing and introspection. That might sound bad, but otherwise I would never take a break from the rest of the time, the pounding stampede of productivity and wandering babble that drives everybody around me crazy. Anyways, so far having a live-in therapist with a degree in sexiness has been the best management strategy.

So stop smoking in the house and start being therapeutic.

500 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die" - chapter 11
- - - -
Reading - "Artemis Fowl" (Eoin Colfer)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

No, Don't Get Up

In which it turns out that today was not one of those days I was meant to move around or do anything. So I lay in my bed and accomplished slightly more than one-eighth of what I intended.

This post will reflect that insofar as the text is also lying horizontal.


Sometimes looking for ideas is like paleontology. In that it's Awesome?!?

Sorry, this picture derailed me. What is this, some sort of dinosaur grave-robber? I envision him going to Dino Med and needing cadavers. He recovers an especially attractive one, considers necrophilia, but is interrupted by a meteorite. Title: "A Moral Served Cold"

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die" - chapter 11
- - - -
Reading - "The Flying Sorcerers" (David Gerrold & Larry Niven)
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