In the ink well

Dog Ear

January 21, 2016

Cotton Candy (DOG EAR)

gain, what’s a movie-reference-laced blog doing in a writing column? Well, it’s all about storytelling. For the record, I like the movie How to Train your Dragon. I love the cat references in particular. And the flying. And even though the symbolism about missing body parts and the links they forge is a little over the top, yeah, it’s okay. I even own a copy. The other day, I took Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress to my mom’s place. I’d mentioned to my niece that this is where Lucas got the idea of the two robots as the central theme of […]
January 14, 2016

Take two. Take three. (DOG EAR)

he mood-setting scene takes place in a volcanic dome on the moon (which is populated billions of years ago in Tubitz and Mergenstein, my steam-punk fantasy). So this port I’ve mentioned earlier, Kedgewater Deep, is inside this half-dome, the floor smooth as ice, the town built around the inner edge. Overhead through the crater, the stars shimmer. And there stands the Earth, named ‘Tellus’ (a way of concealing the obvious here – it’s Latin). I wanted my “moon” to contribute to the scene. The first idea was to make it a “Harvest Tellus”, swollen and angry, glowing into the crater […]
January 7, 2016

Polishing (DOG EAR)

art of writing is improving. Writing can always be improved. Trust me on this – I look at old blogs and short stories I’ve written and see where things can get better. So I’m at a break in Tubitz and Mergenstein. I’ve got the third section done and am gathering myself for the fourth. I’ve got other projects I’m attending to (trains, stars, work, reading, everything). But I’ll get back to it. This morning I found myself in Juniors, our little round-the-corner diner where my wife and I read through our brunch and chat about our stories on the way […]
December 31, 2015

Making it darker (DOG EAR)

really almost blew it. To explain – I wrote a short chapter for my steam-punk fantasy where, inside a huge scrap pile, a mysterious legendary gunship has been discovered. Operating under anonymous orders, the woman who manages the yard winches the gunship out with a crane, depositing it on the ground ready for use. I hardly gave the section a thought. Just a description of her winching it up with the tin sheeting covering its hole sliding aide. There is a bit where she sets it down (gently, like a falling rose petal). But that’s where I left it. The […]
December 24, 2015

Heft (DOG EAR)

nother entry in the “paper vs. plastic” debate – what type of books do you prefer? My own experience involves the classic hero of screen and page, the cowboy. Everyone remembers the scene when the cowboy rides up to the foot of a mesa. Somewhere around here are renegade Indians/rustlers/banditos/whatever. He’s got to get some high ground beneath him for a look-see. With that, he slides easily out of his dusty saddle yet before scrambling upslope, he does what? He grabs his trusty Winchester out of his rifle boot, ratchets in a shell and treads up the scree. Yeah, we […]
December 16, 2015

Star Wars Objector (DOG EAR)

or the record, I love Star Wars. Originally. Back then, it was a wondrous storytelling with interesting characters, mixtures of magic and technology, just a fun story. I liked it so much I reffed a Star Wars role playing game that went on for fifteen years. We watched the movies intently for clues about how things worked, what things did. And when I finally got my own VCR, the first movie I bought was Star Wars for $80 (which, in the mid 80’s, was a lot of money). And I watched it over and over again. So what changed (and […]
December 10, 2015

Stories not written (DOG EAR)

ometimes you’ve got to get quiet. There are stories around us, all sorts of fascinating ones. Your partner, your neighbor, your coworker, all have stories. You might not have a direct use for them (i.e. in your current written work) but sometimes you can actually pick up something I’ll call “the rhythm of humanity” in the stories your friends tell you. I remember driving with a nice older gentleman all the way to Atlanta. Lots of time to share stories on that long, long road. On the way, he told me about his four divorces, and also his hundred and […]
December 3, 2015

Tell, don’t show (DOG EAR)

o what is dialog? It’s the act of story advancement where the words (rather than actions) of your characters advance the plot. Oh, sure, you can use this for other things; setting a mood, advancing the plot, defining a relationship, and so on. Like action, Dialog needs to be carefully mapped before attempting. You need to figure out just what you want to say, the order of the points to be made, the information to be passed to the reader and so on. When all this is down (on scrap paper or in your head), only then should you put […]
November 26, 2015

Thank full 4 (DOG EAR)

was going to run some other observation today but I figured I’d hold it. After all, today is Thanksgiving. And while we have things to be thankful for (friends, family, blah blah) and I specifically do (namely that that damned kidney stone is out), there are things we writers should be thankful for. I’m not going to be thankful for the self-publishing market. Like the internet overall, it’s changing things in ways we still cannot imagine and so into the chaos we fall, heedless. I’m as thankful for that as I would piloting a vessel in fog-bound seas. No thanks. […]
November 19, 2015

Steins;Gate (DOG EAR)

ith total respect to the Japanese as a people, they have a crazy-strange culture. I’ve been watching their animation (“anime”, for you non-hipsters) for ages. Yes, a lot of it is the unimaginative same, merely riding on the shoulders of giants like Cowboy Bebop and Akira. But some of it is really, really good – from a storytelling aspect. One such piece is Steins;Gate. It’s a story about a young Japanese nutcase, a scientist-goofball with a make-believe lab who jabbers commands to his non-existent organization over an inactive cell phone and runs tests (with his staff of one groupie and […]