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Writing Report September 23, 2016

23/09/2016

Tallying up my recent productivity, I find I’ve had a pretty good summer, at least in terms of actual stories completed / submitted.

A lot of fictoids (i.e., poems and short-short fiction), along with four regular length short stories, one novella, and of course The Most Dangerous Man In The World which will be out by Sept. 30 God willin’ ‘n’ the crick don’t rise…

The thing is there are relatively few stable (i.e., open year round) markets for shorter (i.e., novella and under) fiction.

Some are really good about speedy responses, but I have one story out to a market that I learned after I submitted it now takes up to ONE YEAR to respond to submissions instead of the three months their website claims!

Yeeks!
Yikes!
Yoiks!
Yaboodle!

I’m really starting to lean towards publishing anything under 2K words on my blog (unless by chance I stumble across a market where the story is exactly the right length and subject matter). I’m already starting to noodle around some ideas for anthology titles so I can put them online in collected form.

The novella (the barbarian fantasy) promises to be just the first of a total of four stories about the character I’ve created. I’d love to place it at a publisher who does that sort of thing, but all the ones I’ve checked have either closed submissions or take forever and a day to respond.

Still, I’m going to do the other three novellas…eventually…then combine them into a single novel length narrative online.

I originally planned to send out every short piece I wrote at least five times before publishing it myself, but it’s looking more and more like three strikes and then self-publish may win out.

tales-of-the-acker-mansion

BTW, keep your eyes peeled next year for American Gothic Press’ Tales From The Acker-Mansion, a graphic novel anthology dedicated to stories about sci-fi’s #1 fan, the late great Forry Ackerman. While most of the stories will be in graphic format, one or two will be illustrated prose stories – and that includes “Make Mine Monsters!” by yrs trly.

More on this as the publication date nears!

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The Beam In Their Eyes

23/09/2016

if-you-want-to-police-others-police-your-own-firstMatthew 7: 3-5 [paraphrased]

I know a number of pastors personally, and the fact that they are pastors with congregations they need to serve buys them a certain degree of protection.

As pastors, they have responsibilities far beyond doctrinal / moral / ethical / political disputes. There are real people who can suffer if those pastors are rebuked for some bullshit they say / write / post publicly.

So I tend not to beard those particular lions in their particular dens. The satisfaction of exposing their errors is dwarfed by the potential harm that could be visited on their congregations in the process.

I won’t name names or confront them on their home turf…

…but by God I will expose their errors to the rest of the world so even if they are not called out by name, their arguments will be exposed to much deserved shame, ridicule, and approbation.

Case in point:
The continued hypocritical defense of North Carolina’s hideous anti-transgender restroom ordinance.

I’m not going to argue that law.

I don’t have to.

I’m cutting straight to the chase:

FAR MORE CHILDREN ARE RAPED BY PASTORS, MINISTERS, AND RELIGIOUS WORKERS IN CHURCHES DURING ANY GIVEN MONTH THAN ALL VICTIMS OF DISGUISED SEXUAL PREDATORS IN PUBLIC RESTROOMS EVER!

Stew on that one a while.

Take all the time you want.

To pass laws against innocent transgender people when politicians have been committing far more sexual crimes and offences against children, to support those laws when far more pastors and public scolds have been raping men, women, and children is an abomination in the eyes of God and man.

Remember Matthew 7: 3–4 ?

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

People pushing the transgender discrimination bills have flippin’ sequoias in their eyes!

It kinda goes with the territory:
Any group that gathers large numbers of broken / weak / naïve people together is also going to attract predators of all stripes…and despite the best efforts of those institutions, there are still going to be far too many who slip through (“too many” = “greater than none”).

But this is a major ongoing problem facing all churches today.

And as noted, it dwarfs the tiny number of incidents of sexual predators attempting to disguise themselves as members of the opposite sex to commit assaults, much less the number of those attacks that occur specifically in public restrooms.

As if sexual predators, already committed to raping someone, will somehow be dissuaded from that crime by threat of misdemeanor prosecution if caught wearing ladies’ clothing.

Preacher,
seriously?

Seriously?

And tragically, as often as not when a child or woman or even a man is raped or abused by a religious leader in a religious setting, the organized church’s response is to blame the victim and / or deny any crime occurred and / or protect their leader / organization.

Jesus is really very, very, VERY explicit on this:
You need to do something about the ungodly high number of rapes by pastors and / or in religious settings before you can ever hope to have the moral authority to start criticizing innocent people for crimes they did not commit.

Go get some laws passed that regulate who can set themselves up as a pastor and / or start a church, or how the children and youth ministries in same will be supervised by outside monitors for their protection and then we can start talking about your getting the vapors over transgender people using the bathroom.

 

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Who Votes For Trump — And Why

19/09/2016

There are basically 4 Trump voters out there.

First, the flat out bigots.

These include the overt white supremacists, but it also includes all those who realize, even if only deep down inside, that the era of white privilege is about to pass away.

And that terrifies them.

Because they know how shitty white people have treated non-whites (we can throw a lot of non-white Christians into this group, too, because they know Christians in this country have too often not acted in a Christ-like manner to non-Christians and as the Bible teaches “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” and “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” so payback’s a’comin’).

They fear they will be treated shabbily by minorities in the same way they treated those minorities shabbily, and they cling to Trump because they are foolish enough to believe he can keep that from happening just because he’s white and he says he can.

Truth be told, not everyone in
this group is a sheet wearing,
cross burning race monger.

A lot of them are frightened old people who see the world changing around them and because it no longer looks as white as it once was, willingly overlook truth and facts in the vain hope they can some how return to an era that never existed, one in which they as whites and/or Christians never ever had to take the rights and feelings of non-whites and non-Christians into consideration.

The second group are short-sighted angry people.

They are pissed that the country’s political systems has been served badly.

They think the way to fix that is to bring the whole thing crashing down.

They tend to be people of privilege (albeit not necessarily white and / or Christian privilege) and they think somehow they will be immune to the chaos and suffering that will follow.

They will not.

If we’re lucky, such a systemic collapse would be like the Great Depression.

If we’re not lucky, it would be a Putin-like strongman taking over and looting what’s left of the country at every one else’s expense.

Or the French Revolution, with its attendant Reign Of Terror…and as bad as that was, it’s still better than the Russian Revolution, or the Chinese Communist Revolution, or the rise of the fascists in Europe after WWI.

This second group of Trump voters will suffer,
and they will suffer disproportionately because
they still have something to lose.

The third group are the rich selfish bastards.

These are those rich people who feel they somehow made all their money miraculously without the hard work of thousands if not millions of employees and laborers and investors.

They have resented sharing even a penny of what they have taken with those who made it possible.

They have spent decades — centuries! — claiming they should own everything and control everything, and that those of us who are unwilling to enslave themselves to the oligarchy for the eternal glorification of the plutocracy’s power and pleasure should be ruthlessly eradicated.

And, no, that is not an overgeneralization. Read any labor history. Read any history, period. The wealthy as a class have never been friends much less benefactors of humanity.

Finally, the sociopaths who don’t give a fnck about anyone or anything else so long as they can win.

They’re not the wealthy, nor are their aspirations to wealth the thing that defines them.

They are contrarians who do not seek the common good but rather want to win, even when their wins are based on lies that ultimately prove self-defeating.

They take glee in their contrarian opinions, not because they are displays of truly independent intellect, but because they enjoy pissing in other people’s wells. By and large they are immune to facts, and willingly so, determined not to listen to any point of view that doesn’t let them win and lord it over others.

There are overlaps along and between all these groups,
but in the end they are the ones who back Trump.

The best you can say is that some of them are merely fearful and foolish and naïve.

The worst is that some of them are willing instruments of evil.

animated nightmare trump

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On The Convention Trail: Granite State Comic Con Sep. 17-18

15/09/2016

on-conv-trail-1950_04-ed_cartier_gnomepresscalendar

Having worn out my welcome on the West Coast, I’m now invading the Far East (well, U.S. East Coast) for Granite State Comic Con to be held Sept. 17 – 18 in Manchester, N.H. at the Radisson Center of New Hampshire.  Lotsa GI Joe and / or Sunbow related topics & guests, including Larry Hama, Tom Feister, and Samantha Newark among many, many more.  See ya there!

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War Trophy

31/08/2016

Private First Class Wilbur killed his first German at 19 years of age. He was a seasoned combat vet at that point, wading ashore a month earlier at Normandy.

He never killed a man before though he fired his rifle in anger countless times and chucked his fair share of hand grenades.

But never at a human target, only at puffs of gunsmoke in gaping windows or furtive movement in bushes and trees. He’d seen plenty of dead Germans, of course, dead and disfigured by American small arms fire and artillery but never anyone he aimed at, never anyone he shot.

He’d seen plenty of dead Americans, too.

First Lieutenant Kyle had just led the patrol to the outskirts of Saint-Michel-de-Livet when they heard the bitter chatter of an MP 40 submachine gun and screams abruptly cut off. Lt. Kyle fanned his men out to enter the village down three narrow winding streets, signaling Corporal Dugan and Pfc. Wilbur to take the right flank.

The GIs on the left flank encountered the Germans first, and the air filled with the dull barks of Mausers dueling with the loud pops of M1 rifles.

As the battle raged two streets over, Pfc. Wilbur kept his eyes and ears focused straight ahead so that no Germans could encircle his position.

He turned the corner of the small street at the same instant a German turned it in the opposite direction. Pfc. Wilbur was so startled he jerked his trigger finger without thinking and, more by chance than design, put a bullet through the German’s heart at point blank range.

The German staggered back as if struck in the chest with a baseball bat. He fell on the street, cracking his helmet hard on the cobblestones.

He was dead but still conscious, at least for the moment. He looked at his chest in dismay, realizing his injury was fatal, then his eyes rolled back in his head and he lost consciousness and the last bit of life seeped from him.

The shooting on the other street stopped and Lt. Kyle began checking his men’s status. The patrol had been lucky: No dead, no injured, and three Germans killed.

Four, counting Pfc. Wilbur’s.

Pfc. Wilbur’s dead German seemed to be in his mid-thirties, husky with sandy brown hair. He was an unteroffizier, the rough equivalent of an American buck sergeant, and he carried an MP 40.

Cpl. Dugan, the platoon scrounger, stepped up and began rifling the German’s uniform. “Good shooting, kid,” he said to Pfc. Wilbur. Cpl. Dugan was 21.

Pfc. Wilbur stood there, somewhat dumbfounded. He didn’t know what to think, much less what to do. The possibility of killing a man face to face had always been present in his mind, but the possibility was now a reality and he didn’t know how to process it.

Cpl. Dugan handed Pfc. Wilbur the MP 40 submachine gun. It was a valuable souvenir and by right of combat, Pfc. Wilbur’s trophy.

Cpl. Dugan rolled the German over and opened his backpack. There was nothing of value in it, just a Bible in German.

Cpl. Dugan handed Pfc. Wilbur the Bible. Pfc. Wilbur slung his M1 over his shoulder and took the Bible in his free hand. It felt very similar in texture and weight to his own Bible.

He let it fall open in the palm of his hand. There was a snapshot tucked between the cover and first page, a picture of the dead German smiling with his wife and son and daughter. Father and son wore uniforms, there was a Christmas tree in the background. They seemed like a happy family and the enormity of what he had done struck Pfc. Wilbur at that moment. That particular family had now ceased to exist, and the family that survived would never know their happiness.

Lt. Kyle radioed for backup then came over to check Cpl. Dugan and Pfc. Wilbur. He glanced at the dead German without acknowledgement. Killing Germans was their profession. Lt. Kyle was 25.

“The rest of the Krauts retreated,” he said. “Company is sending up two more platoons to reinforce us. We’re going to take perimeter positions in the houses at the edge of the village ‘til they get here.”

Pfc. Wilbur, Bible in one hand, MP 40 in the other, followed Lt. Kyle. They passed a small public square where the bodies of three children and four women lay. Two of the women seemed to be scarcely out of their teens.

The four women were naked; they had been raped then shot as they tried to protect the children. Thirty-two 9mm shell casings nestled between the cobblestones, there were no 7.92mm Mauser rifle casings.

“Did anybody else carry a submachine gun?” Pfc. Wilbur asked.

“Nah, the other Krauts just had rifles,” said Lt. Kyle.

Later, Pfc. Wilbur traded the MP 40 for a bottle of scotch. He kept the Bible because it was hard to find toilet paper in the field.

WWII GIs

text © Buzz Dixon

 

 

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Knowing Is Half The Podcast: “Arise, Serpentor, Arise!”

29/08/2016

Mi amigos Ray Stakenas, Robert Chan, and Gina Ippolito prove to be real gluttons for punishment and invite yrs trly back to the Knowing Is Half The Podcast to discuss “Arise, Serpentor, Arise!” Part One.

They shoulda known better, because only I can take a discussion on a single 22-minute episode of a five part serial and turn it into 90+ minutes of random gibberish.*

We start talking about Part One here and finish talking about Part One there.

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knowing is half the podcast

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*  AND I’M STILL NOT DONE YET!!!

There’s more coming re my new novel
“The Most Dangerous Man In The World:
The Lost Classic G.I. Joe Episode”

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STFU, Preacher Man

17/08/2016

Before we begin, let me state for anybody who thinks anything that follows is a back-handed reference to those in my own family — immediate and extended — who are ministers: NO. None of them have crossed this line.

I understand the concept of “hold your nose” voting and why many people find it distasteful. It is possible for people of goodwill to look at two or more flawed candidates for office (and gawd noze they’re all flawed to some degree) and come to entirely different choices about who should fill a particular office. A farmer who thinks Candidate A has a better grasp on agricultural issues would need some pretty compelling evidence that they’d be terrible at everything else to vote against his own self-interest. A city dweller who thinks Candidate B would be harmful to urban areas would need compelling evidence they’d be so much better at everything else as to be worth voting for.

As Robert A. Heinlein famously observed, you may never ever find anybody you want to vote for but I guarantee you’ll always find somebody to vote against.

And I understand that most people make choices for ultimately irrational reasons — and by “irrational” I do not mean “insane” but “emotional”.

“I do not like thee, Doctor Fell
The reason why I cannot tell
But this I know and know full well
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.”

So, as much as I might disagree with their reasons, I can understand a person deciding to vote for Donald Trump.

No, my peeve is with those so-called minsters of God who proclaim Trump is God’s anointed.[1]

There is a precise theological term for this sort of thing and it’s called bullshit.

I was all prepared to call out specific offenders by name, but the sad truth is that there’s just too damned many of them. Unlike Albert Mohler and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention — two men with whom I typically can find precious little to agree with — who said they couldn’t endorse Trump without losing all claim to moral credibility, much less proclaim him God’s chosen candidate, we have numerous prominent fundamentalist and evangelical media hogs[2] spokespersons trotting out their hoary[3] rationales why voting for a twice-divorced three time philanderer with a history of compulsive lying[4] and a string of billion dollar bankruptcies in which he cheated business partners, employees, contractors, investors, and clients[5] is not merely a justifiable act but rather a mitzvah, a righteous deed, and one ordained by God.

The political aspect of this is not my topic for discussion, at least not in this post. I cannot imagine the set of circumstances that would convince the average voter that Donald Trump would make a superior president than Jill Stein, much less Gary Johnson or Hillary Clinton.

Rather, it’s the God damned naked greed and avarice and lust for power of the so-called “religious right” that rouses my ire.

And I use the term “God damned”
in its correct theological context.

What these bozologists have done is to wipe their asses with the Bible.

If you’re a Christian, I want you to take all the time you need to let that image settle in deep within your psyche. Imagine your favorite old family Bible, the one with the scuffed leather cover that’s been handed down from generation to generation.

Imagine this fat pink[6] perfumed crew of choir boys[7] slowly and gleefully ripping those thin-thin-thin pages out of that Bible and cramming them between their fat cheeks to wipe the filth off their bottoms.

Got that image in your skull? Good.

I want it there, and I want it associated with them, because I want you to understand that they have just led millions of people away from Christ, away from the Good News.

I don’t care how many Bible verses they cite, I don’t care how many theological exegesis they execute, I don’t care how many hours in prayer they have spent on the matter.

They have demonstrated to the world that they are no different from the other greedy power mad rat finks out there, and are in fact more contemptible than most because they are such blatant hypocrites.

You might be able to rationalize Trump as being the least bad choice[8] and maintain your integrity: Having a toe amputated is bad, but having a leg amputated is even worse; preferring to have a toe amputated over a leg may be Hobson’s choice, but if one of the two are going to happen, there’s no sin in preferring it to be the least traumatic.

But the people claiming Trump is God’s own anointed are not saying make the choice with the least potential harm; they are saying not only is losing your leg a good thing, it’s a Monumental Good Thing, and if you don’t cheerfully support said amputation, you are sinning against God and man.

Co-religionists, please…

You can sell that bullshit to the bigots and the cowards, to the fanatical and the fearful, but you can’t sell it to anybody with a pair of eyes and a pair of brain cells rubbing together.

They can read.

They can compare the actual teachings of Christ with the bogus crap issued forth from our contemporary Pharisees, and they can recognize the enormous disconnect.

This is not someone saying “hold your nose and vote for the candidate who will do the least harm” but rather a crowd of con artists telling us that the exact opposite of what Christ taught is what God wants us to do.

The unchurched[9] see through that phoniness. There is no way to win them back by convincing them the con artists are really holy saints of God; there is no way to win them back to the old and failing mainstream denominations.

There is a way to unite them in the community of Christian believers, but you can bet the heart transplant money on this: Whatever that way is, it is not going to resemble church the way North Americans have been doing it.

animated nightmare trump

[1] Fair is fair; I’m sure there are some people somewhere who have made similar claims about Clinton (in a country of 320,000,000 there has to be a few). But there aren’t as many and they’re nowhere near as vocal as the blasphemers on the religious right.

[2] I was originally going to type “media whores” but that would have been a gratuitous insult to sex workers worldwide, most of whom hold to a far higher ethical standard.

[3]  Not “whorey” and certainly not “holy”.

[4] A con artist lying in order to steal your money is lying for a rational reason (i.e., profiting off your loss), they will cheerfully tell the truth if it makes them money. A compulsive liar will lie even when the truth will suffice!

[5] And these are just the things that have been proven in courts of law; I’m not even touching the really salacious stuff!

[6] Mostly.

[7] Mostly.

[8] You’d be wrong, but you could rationalize it.

[9] More and more this is coming to mean not those who have never been exposed to the Gospel message — because c’mon, who hasn’t been exposed to it through sheer osmosis if they live in the US of A? – but rather those who grew up in the Christian community and now willingly walk away from it. Contrary to what the con artists would tell us, they are not walking away because they have been seduced by the blandishments of sin, but because they have seen first hand how most Christians and most churches have made no genuine effort to live a Christ-like life.

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I Luvz Me Some ON THE SILVER GLOBE

5/08/2016

On The Silver Globe is one of those films in which the story behind the film is just as fascinating as the film itself.

On the Silver Globe 8b

The basic story of the film is this: 
Three space farers land on an alien world and end up drastically changing the local culture; a generation later another spacefarer tracks them down and discovers their new world has degenerated into a brutal, oppressive mess.  Things go downhill from there.[1]

On the Silver Globe picture-31

The story behind the film is this:
In the mid-1970s, Polish director Andrzej Żuławski received permission from the then-Communist government of Poland to make a film based on his great-uncle Jerzy Żuławski’s novel of the same title, part of his magnum opus The Lunar Trilogy, a huge hit in pre-WWI Europe and translated into every language on the continent…except English.

On the Silver Globe 3

Żuławski the younger had a prickly relationship with the Communist censors and an on-again / off-again career that typically saw him being exiled, making a hit movie for another country, invited back, exiled again, etc., etc., and of course, etc.  On The Silver Globe was greenlit during one of the on-again periods.

On the Silver Globe 5b

On The Silver Globe was to have been the biggest and most expensive Polish movie ever, and the Poles have made some pretty big, grandiose movies.[2]  What’s important to note is that Żuławski launched this project before Lucas’ Star Wars was released or Leiji Matsumoto’s Space Battleship Yamato or Captain Harlock changed the face of sci-fi manga — and subsequently world sci-fi — forever.

On the Silver Globe 3b

And it sure as hell was waaaaay ahead of David Lynch’s Dune or George Miller’s Mad Max.

On the Silver Globe 0b

So why have you never heard of this film before now?  Well, as par for the course, Żuławski went from on-again back to off-again; a Communist official, thinking the film was a criticism of Marxism, took umbrage at the production and shut it down when it was 80% complete, ordering the sets & costumes & negatives destroyed.

On the Silver Globe 7b

Żuławski, fed up, left for France.  And there things remained until 1988 and the fall of Communism in Europe.

On the Silver Globe 01

Freed of censorship, Żuławski was delighted to learn cast and crew members had hidden away footage from his work print as well as some of the costumes.  Żuławski reassembled the film into as close to his original idea as possible; it’s missing several key scenes (and presumably the special effects, miniatures, and opticals that would have been added in post production) that are filled in with modern city scenes and narration.

On the Silver Globe 1c

But as for what’s left — holy shamolley, wotta movie!  This is indeed a big film and filled with big ideas.  It develops a lot of ideas that later productions would build their entire film around[3] and had it been released as planned in 1977, almost every major sci-fi film after that would be accused of ripping On The Silver Globe off.

On the Silver Globe 212

As it is, it’s a perfect example of Mark Twain’s dictum, “When it’s steamboat time, you steamboat.”  Space opera was in the air in the mid-to-late 1970s and somebody had to be first with the game changer that would re-write the rules; George Lucas drew the lucky number from the hat.

On the Silver Globe 6b

It is a must-see movie for all serious film buffs, sci-fi fans, and especially film makers who specialize in cinefantastique.  On The Silver Globe looks like it was filmed by aliens on an alien world, and while American audiences might feel parts of it are evocative of our own Native Americans’ cultures, Żuławski was also drawing upon the cultural traditions of the Lapps and the Mongols as well.  There is an unreal dream-like quality to the entire film (which, truth be told, may be due in no small part to the truncated production history) but like our most vivid dreams, an unsettling sense of reality as well.

On the Silver Globe 1b

In an era when most films are CGI spfx ridden, On The Silver Globe is shot using mainly real locations, giving the production a sense of solidity found more in Mad Max movies than Star Wars.

On the Silver Globe 153

It was released in the States on DVD in 2007 with English subtitles but now a fully restored versions is making the rounds of the last few art houses.

On the Silver Globe 6

Or if you’re a cheap bastard like yrs trly, you can watch it on YouTube in Polish without subtitles.

On the Silver Globe 4b

However you watch it — watch it!

On the Silver Globe 0

[1]  Oh, yeah, and like Star Wars movies are any cheerier when you boil them down to their key points.

[2]  Check out The Saragossa Manuscript or Pharaoh if you ever get the chance.

[3]  Looking at you, Prometheus.

 

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On The Convention Trail (Nerd Con Aug. 26-28, 2016)

4/08/2016

on conv trail 1950_04 ed_cartier_gnomepresscalendar

I’ll be at Nerd Con in Escondido August 26 to 28, participating in panels devoted to classic 1980s animated shows and featuring such illuminaries (hey, did I work on that show?) as Flint Dille, voice actors Michael Bell (Duke, Firefly, Swoop, Sideswipe, Plastic Man, and Grouchy, Handy, and Lazy Smurf among others) and Gregg Berger (Grimlock, Skyfire, Long Haul, Outback, Spirit, plus tons more).

SEE YOU THERE!

IMG_5444

Greg, Nerd Con organizer Joe Troutman, Michael, & yrs trly

 

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Writing Report, July 25, 2016

26/07/2016

Not as productive a week as I’d hoped.  I did quite a bit of writing but mostly for the blog.

Actually, it ended up a lot more productive than when I uploaded the first draft of this post.  Over the last two nights I managed to write the last 3,500 words of the barbarian story, bringing the total word count to about 15,500.  The final draft may be a little longer, may be a little shorter:  There are a few things I know I’ll have to flesh out, there are doubtlessly plenty of places where I can trim and tighten things up.

On the whole I’m happy with it.

I am facing a couple of minor problems, though.  The first is a matter of staging:  I have seven characters in a room and four of them have to leave in a precise sequence in order for the rest of the climax to work.

They can’t just saunter out, either; there’s some pretty grim urgency to this, like being trapped in a burning building (only what’s facing them is infinitely worse that a mere burning building).

But my original staging of this part of the climax is coming across rather clunky and clumsy; I’m going to need to redo it significantly in the next draft.  I’ve opted to complete this scene based on how I’ve started it because once they are out of this particular area they head off in separate directions, each to fulfill a specific function for the story’s climax; however, I’m going to have to go back and plot out the moves on paper so the staging makes sense in the final draft.

The second problem is easier to solve and will be solved in the next draft though for consistency’s sake I stuck with what I started using in this draft:  My protagonist’s name reflects the ultimate origin of the story idea, a joke based on another well established character.

Since that character is not public domain, I couldn’t use that name, but I did find a real name that was suitable for my protagonist and fairly close to the original well established character’s name as well.

Thing is, I think that name would work if I’d kept the story down to 2,800-3,500 words.  In it’s original conception the story, while not a parody, would have been recognized as a pastiche of the original character and so the new name would have been excusable.

But a 15,000+ word story carries a different kind of weight, and if I’m going to expand it with not one but three sequels to bring it to novel length, then what was excusable as a short story becomes too coy and works against the book.

So my protagonist will acquire a new name when I move into the next draft, but one that I think will work even better:  Somewhat more exotic sounding, and less obviously connected to the original well established character.

And speaking of names, a rough writing rule of thumb I’ve stumbled across while doing this story:

  • If a character appears in only one scene to fulfill a single specific function, you may refer to them just by their occupation or general description (a courier who delivers an info dump message, a cop who writes a parking ticket to make the protagonist’s day worse, etc.)
  • If that character appears two or three times but always in the same function they can still be identified just by generic description though giving them a hint of individuality doesn’t hurt (say the cop writing a ticket is a running gag)
  • But if they’re in two or more scenes with at least two different functions they need a name and some sort of personality; they’re full fledged albeit minor characters now (the courier delivers a message then fights a duel unrelated to the message)

Samuel R. Delaney, in his book of essays The Jewel-Hinged Jaw (IIRC), referred to a method of creating characters that another writer had devised (alas, that writer’s name I cannot recall!).  I’ll share that with you in the next writing report.

the jewel-hinged jawHighly recommended; go get it!

 

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