Dog Ear
A matter of taste (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 04 October 2018 00:00

will be in Japan in the near future, just a short trip to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary (so you might notice a gap in my posting). We’re looking forward to this – some light touring and some pointless Tokyo wandering. Should be fun in a casual sort of way (I’ll be posting up my trip report in due time).

One thing though – one of the reasons I’m going is, in a nutshell, the Anime culture. We couldn’t get into the Ghibli museum (booked solid) but we’ll check out the manga shops and look at all the funny toys. I like it since the storytelling can be very dynamically moving (yet sometimes stunted). But it’s fun, just another part of the human storytelling culture.

The other day I was doing a favor call on another work team (their lead was not at work and there were questions). The woman there was a nice Japanese lady and I solved her problems quickly. Then we got to talking about my upcoming trip. When I told her that I was interested in checking out the Japanese bookshops, the anime and manga, she gave me this you’re kidding look, like adults give Peter Pan when they actually meet him. There was that moment in the conversation when you can clearly feel yourself being reevaluated. Um…

I thought about that as I went back upstairs. I guess some things are not universally shared in a culture. For example, if the Japanese think that I like cowboy hats and football, they will be sadly ill-informed. Just as I’d assumed that a woman who grew up in Japan would have any interest at all in the Japanese storytelling craze of space robots, vampires in high school and tentacles (yow). Then again, people find it strange that I’ve written self-help books, historical novels and nature stories (and not Space Opera). So I guess, in the end, we shape our tastes and interests as we drift through life and not as a solid cultural identity.

In writing this, I’m reminded of a fellow I’d met in Virginia Tech back in the early 80s. Nice guy from Louisiana with a drawl you could cut a board on. But he loved The Three Musketeers – talked about it endlessly. And there was nothing like listening to someone discuss the affairs of the court of Louis XIII with a corn-pone accent. That always broke me up, the ability of literature to jump environmental boundaries like a forest fire. Just a delight.

So I guess we’ll see what we’ll see and then report on it. No expectations, y’all.

>>>IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE ACTUAL BOOKS I WRITE (NOT SPACE OPERA) CHECK OUT THIS LINK!<<<

 
Magic (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 27 September 2018 00:00

magine you could take any topic around the watercooler and suddenly affect people’s thoughts to flash an image directly in their heads. You know, like a phone with those boring pictures of your dog, but better. They wouldn’t just see the dog. They’d imagine his playful nature, his soft coat, and could emphasize with your love for him.

Well, that’s what being a writer is about.

Not only do we keep track of words others use but we develop our own words, ones that work. And we have boxes of words in our brain, all from those books we’ve read. So when it comes to the discussion around the coffee pot, we’re the ones who, when other’s gripe about the horrible commute, we note that view of the moon, swimming overhead as she dropped to the west, a beacon of natural beauty nestled amid the transformers and telephone lines.

And stop right there. Did you see it, the moon? Did an image come to your mind as you read that?

That’s how it should work. I remember one writer mentioning how words are toggles – they make images appear in the minds of your readers. And the better toggles are those single word ones that paint the image with a creative brush. And that’s the trick – don’t write with bland words like “The moon set in the west”. Punch it up. And talk that way, too. Sure, it’s free. But you’ll get good creative passion. If you watch, you can see in the eye of your listener as the image forms. And better yet – you’ll stand out as creative, even fun to talk to.

An even better office training tool is the appreciation board – the white boards in the breakroom that allow you to fill in “Things I appreciate” or “Things that make me happy”. Go to town on these. Write with passion and creativity. Make people notice. On our board, people recognize my statements. Some days I’ll appreciate a gentle breeze from the far-away coast or the passing glance from a pretty lady, as opposed to, say, spaghetti.

Remember: You are a writer. Use it everywhere you can!

>>>MY BOOKS GROAN FOR OWNERS! STEP THROUGH THIS LINK AND PLUCK ONE FROM THE AMAZON HELL-HOLE!<<< 
 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 September 2018 18:04
 
The churn of creativity (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 20 September 2018 17:41

think you can train your brain to do a number of things. People who don’t read look at people who do as having some strange arcane powers, that sitting still for 300 pages is extraordinary. So, yes, I’ve trained myself to stick with it, through thick and thin. I’m like a book shredder now. This isn’t much I can’t break down.

Creativity is the same sort of thing. Over years of scripting RPGs, writing plots, developing model train time tables and coding games, I’ve trained myself to be able to think solutions. When I write a short story, I think of a number of things (often simultaneously). Things like:

1)     What is the overall point of this story? Why am I even writing it?

2)     What is an interesting hook to get the story going?

3)     What would an interesting character be? What simple traits can be used to describe him?

4)     How should the story develop? How much space to I have?

5)     What cadence am I writing in? Fast? Show? Short words? Long?

There are all sorts of others points but these are the primary things I think of, milling around and around these points. If my character is jittery (point 3) then I should write in short fast words (point 5). It’s like Legos – I look at what colors and sizes I have, think about what I’d like to make, and figure out how it all will go together.

One trick I use (in game design) is to look at development in terms of two questions:

1)     What real world thing do I wish to make into some sort of game feature?

2)     What game feature would I like to incorporate and how can I explain it in terms of the real world?

For example, if I’m making a game about players flying around as crows, I might say I want to include hawks as a danger and from a point 1 aspect, I’ll need to add some form of air combat. Or possibly I’d look at point 2 and say I’d like to include air combat, and for that, I need hawks. So in terms of writing, possibly your two simultaneous steps of creativity would be:

1)     What real world thing do I wish to add to my story?

2)     What story element do I want, and how can it exist in the real world my story takes place in?

Approaching stories from a mega-creative methodology can keep you from staring at an empty computer screen, wondering why you can’t write about anything. Good luck!

>>>HEY, PICK UP ONE OF MY BOOKS AND SEE HOW I DEVELOP A STORY. LINKS TO MY NOVELS, RIGHT HERE!<<<

 
Smile (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 September 2018 17:02

ears back, I was reading a Manga comic titled Venus Wars. It was a cool comic and I very much enjoyed it. However, in one scene, the heroes are hiding out in an out-of-the-way sewage reclamation plant. Here, they get critical information from a scientist whom the government banished into the hinterlands. And that’s fine – a time-tested plot device. But, if course, the evil government locates them and suddenly there is an open hatch, an alarm, a video image of guys with machine guns coming down the ladder. The heroes (lovers with guns) dash off with pistols to fend them off. And on their faces, broad smiles of youth and resistance.

In reality, this is crazy. If you are running into a metal corridor battle with mooks with automatic weapons, you should be concerned. Hell, you should be scared to death and shitting bricks. But this couple was running hand in hand, guns clutched in their other hands, wide smiles in their faces.

I’ll believe that people can eventually form a colony on Venus before I’ll believe anyone goes into a risky close-in battle in tight spaces with a dog-foolish smile on their face.

This kinda reminds me of one of those early StarWars knock-off stories. It mentioned that Luke Skywalker was taking off under fire from some colony city. The story said something like, “Three TIE fighters attempted to intercept, but he shot them all down.”

Really? Trained pilots in the latest military hardware and you splash the lot of them in a sentence fragment? You’d think you’d have your hands full, that a desperate pilot might even ram you if you were that good.

The point is, it makes your enemies into mooks, expendable bad guys you can kill with easy and flowing dramatic. It also means, as a reader, I’m bored with your story. Why should I be excited about a god-touched hero? Achilles isn’t as interesting and noble as doomed Hector.

Remember, your hero is only as good as his foes (well, if he’s successful against them, perhaps he’s a wee-bit better). But if you put your hero against slap-stick Keystone Cops, your hero will be a joke.

And anyone who smiles going into dangerous combat is either mad (and not worthy of our hero-worship) or knows that the enemy is worthless (so the story is not worth our involvment).

Thoughtful and realistic villains (and the underlings of such) are critical to good storytelling!

>>>IN EARLY RETYREMENT, MY VILLAIN IS THE FRIGHTFULLY POWERFUL ALEXANDER THE GREAT. NO WUSSIES HERE! CLICK HERE AND SEE FOR YOURSELF!<<<

 
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