In the ink well

Dog Ear

December 12, 2013

Being an Evil Overlord Part 4 (DOG EAR)

And now we go into our Fourth week of five, another 50 rules for either maintaining your evil empire or not making your villain’s overthrow trite and predictable. Enjoy these but note them – if I see one of them in a book of your’s, I’ll hash you in a review. You’ve been warned. I will not set myself up as a god. That perilous position is reserved for my trusted lieutenant. I will instruct my fashion designer that when it comes to accessorizing, second-chance body armor goes well with every outfit. My Legions of Terror will be an equal-opportunity […]
December 4, 2013

Being an Evil Overlord Part 3 (DOG EAR)

And here we are with our third set of campy, silly, overdone ways that heroes overthrow overlords. I mean, is any of this fair? Not to the overlords, who should be better than this. And not to the readers, whose story they paid for should be better than this. Read these, think about these, and don’t do these. I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me — I’ll do it myself. I will not waste time making my enemy’s death look like an accident — I’m not accountable to anyone and […]
November 28, 2013

Being an Evil Overlord Part 2 (DOG EAR)

We continue with our review of the things NOT to do if you are an evil overlord. Further, it’s also a list of the things we shouldn’t do as writers. These are overused plot tricks that allow the heroes to overcome the long odds against them. If you see your own story reflected in any of the below, consider another draft. Enjoy… If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the conditions in the beautiful princess’ cell, I will immediately transfer him to a less people-oriented position. I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to […]
November 21, 2013

Being an Evil Overlord Part 1 (DOG EAR)

Overlords are a popular villain of movies and literature. They provide the foil against which the hero can play his heroics against. They are important, perhaps necessary to have. But they can be painfully obvious, too. The trick is to not make them too trite and predictable. And when I say that, it’s actually amazing how many ploys, plots and desperate schemes we’ve enjoyed in books and theaters, where thousands of plucky do-gooders defeat thousands of world-enders, power-grabbers, magic-hoarders, land-seizers, and country-invaders.  There really isn’t much new under the sun today when it comes from defeating a madman’s master plans. […]
November 14, 2013

If it ain’t Baroque… (DOG EAR)

The Baroque is a period of artistic style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music. The style began around 1600 in Rome, Italy and spread to most of Europe. Yes, literature. This really came to me while writing the review for Pillars of the Earth, a Ken Follett book. I jumped from him to one my my favorite authors, China Miéville, a brilliant writer who makes me curse when I read his books, the wording is so clever. Follett’s writing is very methodical. […]
November 7, 2013

Worst Boss Ever! (DOG EAR)

I‘ve had bad bosses. Like the coke-head years ago in the lumber yard. And the sawed-off titan in that software slavepit. Yeah, had some bad ones. But the one I have now sucks. He bothers me in my free time, often when I’m very tired, making demands and tossing assignments. He’ll remind me that I’ve got pieces to finish, twice-a-week deadlines, and shame me into working (muttering under my breath all the way). He really pisses me off. And that boss, of course, is me. I’m the guy who decided that I need to generate twice-a-week blog postings (because random […]
November 7, 2013

Grace (DOG EAR)

I‘m writing this on the heels of last week’s blog HERE, the one dealing with depression. It’s not better. Just came in from a walk to find my sister telling everyone how I’m anti-social. No, I’m depressed. And that’s what’s making me anti-social, Doc. But that’s okay. Because I just saw something. I needed to get out of the house with its constant Apple talk and distractions. We’re way up here in the North Carolina nowheres, miles from anything, surrounded by deep mountains and gauche McMansions. Clouds were rolling over the ridgelines. Rain was coming in sheets. Didn’t matter. It […]
October 31, 2013

Swap out (DOG EAR)

I have a confession. I like Anime. Japanese Animation goes a lot further in storytelling (sometimes) than Western media. Oftentimes the storylines are unique and different (and sometimes they can be incredibly moribund, too). But there are scenes, as powerful as any book, that I’ll carry with me. Not in this case. Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth is an incredibly sweet story (just like jamming four tablespoons of sugar into your mouth could be). Sometime near the end of the 19th century, a young 13 year old Japanese girl is brought to Paris with plans to use her uniqueness to […]
October 24, 2013

A word, an idea, a thought… (DOG EAR)

There are two ways to string multiple words to make your point. One is like this… The tornado blew the house apart, throwing boots, a bathtub, books and the sofa all across the fields. And the other is like this… A tornado is a wind, a gust, a breeze, a blow. See the difference? Read it again. Both string a halting series of words behind it, to force the reader though a series of quick-start descriptions (perhaps for reasons of pacing and evidence). However, in the first, we are denoting the wide variety of objects scattered, their unique differences, trying […]
October 17, 2013

Facing the Obvious (DOG EAR)

I‘m reading Pillars of the Earth and, while it’s a good book, the writer is playing a cheap trick on me. His villains are ugly. His heroes are handsome (or at least not blemished). That’s a basic trick. I mentioned seeing it in Trapped, but that’s not the only place I’ve seen it lately. It’s a lazy way win points for your hero with the audience, and make your villains more villainous. Really, come on – you have 400 pages, all sorts of room for development. Why rush to establish characters? There are countless examples where this isn’t true – […]