Saturday, November 27, 2010

E Pur Si Muove

Awesome Lines in fiction and reported reality! Whoo! Let's get it on!

As you are no doubt aware, "E pur si muove" ("And Yet It Moves") is what Galileo muttered under his breath after recanting under duress his discovery that the Earth orbits the Sun. Badass, even if it probably didn't happen.

In my writing, I'm perfectly willing to go for the great line if it comes natural (and they do). The trick, as I see it, is to not downplay it and to build a scene or, if it's especially good, the story around it. Hey, it might even turn out to be the title... "I have no mouth, and I must scream."

That's the whole point of great lines, though. They solidify the event in the mind and serve as capstones to the description. They're dramatic punch-lines: "Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

Not that comedy doesn't get some great lines. Here's the hands-down best:

That movie is the only good thing about golf.


There is a certain percentage of people I meet for the first time who are immediately annoyed by me, for one reason or the other. That's fine. I've come to terms with the face that I grow on people.

I'm like a cheerful fungus. That drinks a lot.

250 words?
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Friday, November 26, 2010


In which I lay out the case for declaring "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride" a rather mean thing to say.

I don't make a lot of wishes, because it's very rare for a wish to come true without me doing a lot of work first. That means that it was just a Goal, which is less exciting. I prefer to be completely surprised by joy, because if I go around looking for it I end up trampling the tiny rodent-sized creature that joy usually manifests as. I call her Happy the Rat.

Unfortunately, the squeaks of pain are not nearly as joyful.

The main point of wishes is to make them about other people, about The Future, or both. For instance, I wish that in The Future I will-can catch a space freighter to as far from other people as possible. Tangent! I also wish that "will be able to" weren't so lame sounding. In The Future, I will rule grammar with an iron fist. Any deviations from my prescriptivist claptrap will be punishable by fine. To be deposited into the will-can set up by the courtroom door.

Oh, who am I kidding, this whole post is a tangent.

I need to write a webcomic series for those times when my posts feel lame. I'd just make thirty strips in advance, and post them whenever I'm dissatisfied with my rambling that day. It would also learn me a valuable lesson about layout and such.

There, that's my official Wish. No take-backs or it won't come true. Your job is to float deliberately horrible title suggestions my way so that I have a jumping-off point.

It can't be called "Wishful Thinking".


The Museum of the Theoretical

A comic apropos from one of my favorite non-story webcomics, Subnormality.

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Writer's eReader

As Black Friday approaches, I discover that I don't yet own an eReader. I undoubtedly will have totally converted within the next three years when they get better. As a consumer, I fall into three categories: Reader, Writer, and Adventurer, and I'll need the eReader I buy to be on board with all three of those things if I'm going to lug it around. It's got to, in other words, be a netbook killer (for the few things I, Writer and Adventurer, use a netbook for).

-$100(+$50 for accessories)
-always-on wireless included
-no monthly fee or service charges of any kind.

-dual color screens, opens like a book. I'll use the example of the Watchmen graphic novel since everybody's seen it.  I should be able to read that full-color graphic novel without scrolling and with a loading time the equivalent of a page-flip. Flexible screen a bonus.
-touch-screen, with an option to plug in a keyboard or use a stylus for handwriting.
-I can read clearly in the daytime or at night.
-durable. VERY durable. Jungle durable. Elephant sex adjacent durable.
-battery life, 24 hours in field conditions. So, the advertised claim will have to be at least 48 hours. 
-option for wired internet connection, including modem.
-option to connect to a desktop and sync everything quickly and easily, just as if it were another hard drive, no goofy interface software. Basically a flash drive.

-a good, smooth touch-screen interface.
-I can set one screen to be a Reading/Output screen and one screen to be a Writing/Input screen if I want, or I can use both screens like a traditional book.
-I can annotate anywhere in an ebook with the stylus and my drawings/notes/comments will be kept until I delete them and can be output to a text or image file.
-a web browser
-a text editor that outputs to .txt and/or .rtf. (such as q10) so I can type random thoughts.
-a voice recorder that outputs to an open source audio format (such as Audacity) so I can record random thoughts
-stylus input software and voice recognition software that saves as images or audio files or converts to .txt and .rtf to be edited by the text editor.

-supports all major file types, including Word .doc & .docx, .txt, .rtf and .pdf (etc.) so that I can read my own documents. I transfer from my computer or the wireless connection.
-supports and encourages an ebook file type that allows internal links inside the document, and heavy support for images. For example, I should be able to use the glossary in the back of a science textbook by clicking on the page numbers and being taken there immediately, and the images in that textbook should be clear and flexibly integrated with the text within a reasonable degree of user customization.

-DRM free. Me and my friends can read it anywhere on any platform, just like a real book. Ease of purchase and goodwill will prevent loss of sales. I'll take word-of-mouth advertising over annoying the customer every time. (People who would steal a book they actually liked weren't going to buy it in the first place, and if they didn't like it, well: they stole it, so they're not a dissatisfied customer.)
-No region-locking. Without any complicated workarounds, I can buy a book from anywhere in the world from which I can access the Internet, even if it's via satellite phone dial-up. Even if I wasn't in that country yesterday and have no permanent address there.

-Not manufactured by, supported by, sold by or otherwise associated with Apple in any way except for having the option to access the iBooks store.

We're not even close to being in Science Fiction territory here. It's just a matter of a few years of R&D and intelligent marketing. Make it happen, capitalism.

What's your ideal eReader? (Or, how close does your current eReader come to this standard?)


China, you are also strictly prohibited from attempting to convince me to buy your deficient product with cheap marketing ploys, overly bright backgrounds and fancy furniture.

I am not distracted by the sexy.

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fight Scene

The fighters enter the ring. Fighter One punches Fighter Two. Fighter Two punches Fighter One. Fighter One falls down. Fighter Two is declared the winner. Yawn. I never watch boxing alone. I'm there for the beer and the banter, with the fight a pleasant diversion in the background.

Likewise in Writing. One, you're already fighting an uphill battle getting readers to be interested in written visual choreography, and Two, who cares? There's got to be more at stake than just who's got the best Kung Fu, unless that's the character arc and there's some emotion involved. If there's not, you're competing with kung fu movies, which are a better medium for Fighting. I'll just watch those, with friends and beer, and the fights will just be awesome diversion in the background.

In this illustrative clip from The Wind and the Lion, America proceeds to do what it does best: Destabilize a whole region so that Teddy Roosevelt can get re-elected.

The fact that this is not the most awesome scene in the movie is your cue to go find and watch the whole movie.

It's got Sean Connery in.


If your mass fight scene has a particularly high body count, make sure you know the population of the areas in conflict so that you can determine the long term effects of...

Oh, who am I kidding. Everybody knows that Fantasy demographics make no sense. Any attempts to make them make sense will lead to headache and boredom.

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Iceberg Principle

"It was a very simple story called "Out of Season" and I had omitted the real end of it which was that the old man hanged himself. This was omitted on my new theory that you could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood."
-Ernest Hemingway

This is what I'm trying to make my basic approach to writing. I think it's boring to have somebody else do all the imagination work for me when I'm reading. I just need the writer to be the spotter while I do heavy lifting.

Application koan!

My readers are slightly smarter than I think they are.

If I can't omit something, my story is too long.


Poaching is Bad

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Monday, November 22, 2010

Let's Eat Nothing But Coffee For A Week

and see what happens.

I don't diet, I travel. As a Creative, though, sometimes I like to see how diet and activity affects my creativity. I like to take advantage of otherwise-annoying circumstances to see what happens in the context of writing, reading, and doing the miscellaneous support activities for those two things.

Today, for reasons unrelated to writing, I'm half-way through eating nothing but coffee (or tea) for a week. I'm feeling the Creative juices flow, as they often do. I'm not a proponent of the Starving Artist image because it sends the wrong message to aspiring artists, but there's a certain dignity to this view of life.

On the one hand, you get the purely artificial (and possibly placebo) effect of caffeine coursing through your system at a heavy rate, sending your heart pounding and your mind racing. On the other hand, you've got the angry gnawing of an empty stomach and the dull roar of burning fat to focus the mind. I've taken it up to eleven by sitting in a busy restaurant sipping coffee when I write.

The first day or so a slight haze forms in your mind, but then you break through into that joyous zone of 100 Caffeines. That's when you really get started. Just write down everything stream-of-conscious style. No idea is bad in this condition, it just rolls out. Paragraphs of dialog, setting details, random inventions, drawings of a spaceship. Even a statistical formula made an appearance, but I don't think I'll put it into the story. On second thought, thinks I, it would be interesting to learn how to type-set it in as text without using an annoying image. TeX? No, that wouldn't work for .mobi...

See? This is great. Try it! Two more days to go.  


At some point during this ill-advised adventure I ran across this picture on some random website and tracked it down to Aly Fell. I was amazed by the quality of just about everything I saw from this artist, and by how much it synced with my own sensibilities. The link under the picture leads to a gallery at the artist's website, and I've put a link to the artist's blog in my linklist and blogroll.

Check it out!

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Financial Relationship

Money and I have an understanding: we're Acquaintances with Benefits. We'll never be friends, because I can't stand to hang out with money very long, and we'll never be lovers because we only use each other to further our own ends. We'll certainly never be married, because I can neither afford ring, ball nor chain.

I know how to handle money, but I don't stamp Fragile on the money-package. I throw it around in every direction and I'm not too concerned where it lands. What goes around comes around, after all, and while nobody ever had too much money, I'll never have enough time to spend it all.

There's a lot of things I'd do if I had a lot of money, but none of them involve sitting on big piles of it. Money is a tool, and an inefficient tool at that useful mainly as the means by which to procure better tools. Still there's no excuse not to know how to use the tool, but don't get too attached to it. It's not under warranty, but it can be easily replaced.

I'm a Writer. I like money because it lets me make a living from what I write and, from time to time, put into reality one of the million cool ideas I have. If I liked money for keeping score, I'd be a banker and be richer than you. But I'd be bored out of my mind and so would you if you met me at a party. Now, though, I'm all over the party.

Stories are more valuable than gold, because gold is hard to carry around with you.


If you read Fantasy, you've almost certainly read The Hobbit and at least one of the five good books in the six-book Chronicles of Narnia series (the last one is pretty lame). I mean, c'mon. It's C.S. Lewis competing with his pal Tolkien to see who can write the best Fantasy. Good stuff.

But did you know that C.S. Lewis also wrote quite possibly the worst Science Fiction series ever? Yes, The Space Trilogy is a barely readable collection of words combined with bad silly. The sad thing is? It's really well thought-out and plotted. It's just Bad.

But...he wrote Till We Have Faces, so that makes up for it.

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?

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