Scenes & Point Of Views

Which is easier to write? Story or a screenplay? I’m not talking about the formatting and differences, just the creative freedom allowed. Seems to me screenplays have a lot more leeway in PoVs and jumping from scene to scene to skip the boring bits. Also, leeway in narration – How loosely should a writer break from the character PoV to insert his presence into the narration, perhaps just to explain certain things or make quick quip.

Lemme know what you think of the intro I’ve written below.

It includes: 

  • 3 scene, breaks represented by a space (no transition, just break and start again somewhere else)
  • One sudden change in PoV from intro character to main guy. I plan to play between the 2 PoVs later on.
  • Random dialogue from sub-characters.
  • Random insertions from a narration stand-point.

Too messy? If you don’t notice of the above, that means I’m doing something right. Cheers.

Continue reading

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The Trouble With Pixels: Part 2

Bowser

Elroy glances hesitantly at the turtles. As far as their namesakes go, these creatures move pretty fast on their feet, snapping their jaws as they lumber towards Elroy. He stands his ground for a moment, holding the plastic sword in his hand in front of him, still trying to figure out what exactly is going on here. Then he sees the slimy tongues of the creatures sticking out from wet hungry mouths.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” He thrusts, jabbing at the creature leading the attack. With a single bite, the turtle snaps off the blade, munching the plastic like gum as it advances on its prey. “What the…” Elroy flings what remains of the plastic blade at the creature, and staggers back against the curtain.

“Sir Rocketbuster, watch out!”

The foul-smelling beast is within arm’s length now, giving a guttural roar through its mouth full of plastic. It swipes its hand like a massive club, grazing the retreating Elroy who tumbles back into the cloth, sending the entire curtain cascading down over him and the advancing turtles. Blanketed in darkness, Elroy panics and crawls through the dusty sheet, tumbling out through the other end.

“My knight, what a clever ploy! Strike the creatures while they are down.”

Elroy, panting from the adrenaline, looks up at the turtles groping blindly under the sheet. Picking up a plastic chair, he approaches one of the two shambling lumps and swings hard against it, expecting to be greeted by meaty thud or a crunching blow. What he did not expect, is the plastic chair to simply bounce off the harden carapace of the turtle, spring back in his grip and smacking him on the head. Elroy falls to the ground, stunned by his own blow. The creature is pissed now, raging under the curtain. It bites and gnaws at the thick cloth, until it manages to rip a hole large enough to stick its head through.

“Boogers!” Elroy yells, clambering away from the snapping head as the creature continues chewing at the cloth, trying to free of rest of its body. Picking himself up, Elroy runs back into the arcade, waving his hands like a mad man. “Get out! Get out now! We’re being attacked!”

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ahhhhh!

Human screams overpower the digital blips and bloops in the hall as panicking parents pull their crying children to safety. A couple of jaded teens by the DDR machines look on unfazed, wondering what the fuss is all about. “Didn’t you hear me, get out of this place now!”

From across the hall, Elroy sees Manager Bob running out from the back room, dressed in his usual blue shirt and khaki pants, sweat stains and all. He holds on to his bald sweaty head in astonishment as he makes a beeline for the only Rocketbuster shirt he can see. “Elroy! What is the meaning of this, you trying to run Rocketbuster to the ground!” he yells, his normally concealed Irish accent coming through in his anger.

“No sir, look!” Elroy points to the turtles still struggling to break free. “We’re being attacked!”

“Bah, youngsters nowadays.” Manager Bob scoffs when he sees the turtles. “You probably faint at the sight of blood too don’t ya?” With a laugh, he rolls up his sleeves and flexes his fleshy arms. “Lemme teach you how my generation deal with them hooligans.”

“Ahhh sir?”

Manager Bob puts his palm in Elroy’s face and strides over towards the turtles. “Oi! Come here you!” The two turtles, finally free of the cursed curtain, turn to regard the sweaty bald man. Manager Bob balls his fists up and waves them about like a boxer, spouting a stream of heavily accented cuss words at the bewildered creatures. “… And if I ever see your pompous hides in my arcade again, you’ll be in for a good walloping. Am I making myself clear!”

Turtle looks at turtle as the relatively tiny man in blue stops in front of them, and jabs a finger into one of their thick hides. “And where did you get this awful looking…”

Whump! One of the turtles swings its arms at the man, sending him flying through the air, as they casually turn around and walk back towards the princess.

“Sir Rocketbuster, help me!” Princess screams.

“Aww no!” Elroy runs up to manager Bob as he lands hard on top of a Street Fighter cabinet, smashing its screen in the process. “Talk to me sir, you alright?” Manager Bob could only stare straight at the ceiling as he sputters and chokes, wheezing and blinking his eyes rapidly.

Princess screams again. This time, Elroy looks up and sees one of the creature carrying the tiny Princess and dumping her over one of its massive shoulders. The other turtle is bent over on the ground, waving its stumpy little tail as it fumbles with a piece of glass that looks like a mini-pyramid. In desperation, Elroy shouts at them. “You leave her alone!”

Suddenly, a female voice calls out behind him. “Relax dude, we got this.”

Elroy turns back and sees two teens by the DDR machines walking towards him, eyeing the creatures coolly as they sip on their colas. One is a Asian male, a literal copy of one of those characters you read about in manga comics. His hair is spiked immaculately, gelled and waxed to perfection, freestanding in the air. He wears a shiny plasticy green jacket, over a simple black tee that spells Pixel in front in bright rainbow fonts.

The other one, apparently the one who spoke to Elroy, is a blonde female. She has a shoulder-length bob streaked with pink highlights, and she has on a rugged denim jacket over a black tee with a green alien face on it. Her face is similar to the Asian kid, with a sharp pointy nose, small mouth and big watery eyes, right out of manga.

“Not cool kids, get out of here before…”

The Asian kid shouts something in a foreign language to attract the attention of the beasts, while the girl fans out to approach the creatures from a different direction.

“Guys please, this isn’t safe, we should wait for the police.” Elroy says, holding on to the limp hand of manager Bob.

Blondie turns to look at Elroy. “Dude, we are the police.”

“But…”

“Kogeki!” The Asian kid charges forward with his fist, running directly towards the two turtles. Reaching the first, the one handling the glass pyramid, he somersaults into the air as the creature snaps at him with its massive jaws, and delivers a swift kick to the one behind holding on to Princess.

“Ow!” Princess cries, as she falls to the ground. The turtle carrying her staggers back from the surprise attack as the first turtle makes a gurgling sound, turning around to help its comrade.”

“Not so fast!” Now it is blondie’s turn to charge forward, going straight for the one who just turned its back on her. Running at full speed, she arcs back before leaping up and delivering a stunning strike to the back of the creature’s head. Elroy hears a loud crack. Whether it was the girl’s hand or the turtle’s head, he could not tell.

“Digity! They sure have thick skulls,” Blondie comments, shaking her hand limply as she winces in pain. Her target sways around for a moment, as if unhurt, before it crashes to the ground with a loud thud.

“Serves you right for skipping training Miranda,” the Asian kid says, speaking perfect English as he squares off against the remaining turtle. He dances back as the creature swings both its hands together, clapping them together in a thunderous blow over where his head was just a moment earlier.

The creature, sensing its plight, backs itself to the wall, as the fiesty Princess picks up the broken plastic sword and stabs it into the creature’s leg.

“Princess no!”

Before the princess could react, the creature scoops her up with one hand, grabbing her by her flowing locks and dangling her helplessly in the air. “Let go of me, monster!” Princess screams, still pummelling the creature with the broken plastic sword.

The turtle pops a sharp claw out of its squabby paw and points it precariously near Princess’s neck, bringing her attack to an abrupt end. It turns to glare at the all-action heroes as a standoff ensues.

END PART 2

Bring Me Back To Part 1

Author’s Notes:

  • Part 2 is mainly just a big action scene, plus some attempts at humor.
  • Essentially I’m trying to replicate a ‘chosen one adventure’ type of deal ala Harry Potter, Percy Jackson with the gimmick of video games.
  • It is supposed to be whimsical, slightly low-brow, and fantasy-like without gong overboard, relying on people’s knowledge on current subcultures.

Seeking HONEST Feedback on the following:

  • I’m trying to inject some life into the dialogue through accents like Irish manager and the Japanese kid without going overboard with either. I used different styles on both, let me know if they worked.
  • I dropped in a few attempts at imagined exclamation words – digity, boogers, not sure how well they work.
  • Does the descriptions of the two anime heroes work for you? It’s either too much since I rely on you drawing a picture based on something you already know. Is it too much or too little, can’t decide myself.
  • Should I even be using turtles? They can actually be anything, but I’m going for a mini-dragon reptile thing. Slow lumbering grunts, the lowest life form of all.
  • Manager Bob is a side thing, not core to the plot, but just trying to build some sort of world. Does it work? Or did you go eh? I’m of the opinion it injects some humor in, but let me know as well.

World War Z: Screw The Movie Edition

Wow, great trailer right! Now that I got your attention, kindly get this upcoming movie starring Brad Pitt out of your mind. I want to talk about the novel here. You know, pages, words and stuff.

Just another case on injustice done by Hollywood as per I Am Legend, which I have reviewed before here. My beef is this, two of the GREATEST vampire / zombie horror novels ever written by man, turned into star-driven dull-a-thons which totally destroys essence of the movie. I’m referring to I am Legend by the way, as for World War Z, we’ll know how the movies turn out this summer, though I’m pretty certain I’ll be on the right track.

The NOVEL, World War Z, is absolutely nothing like the trailer. The entire setting is wrong, the entire description of the zombies is wrong, the entire approach to the conclusion of the zombie outbreak is wrong. And that’s just from the trailer, what right do I have to prejudge the movie? Well, let’s just say anyone who has read the novel will know what I’m talking about.

Update: For those more interested in a debate between the book and screen versions of WWZ. Kindly refer to this article on Screenrant.com – World War Z Movie Debate: Too Different From The Book.

 

World War Z

World War Z: The Novel – in a nutshell

Firstly, think Wikipedia. Now think of a Wikipedia about Zombies. Great, Now think of a Wikipedia about a Zombie Invasion that forces humans to learn from their mistakes, adapt to their environment and very methodically, fight back.

What do you know, that already exists – The Zombie Wiki

Now this wiki isn’t exactly the wording in the book, but honestly, it comes pretty darn close in terms of presentation. The novel is essential a fake-mockumentary about how humans handled a zombie outbreak, minus the dramatisation, and minus the character point of views (except one particular storyline about a survivor from Japan).

Horror – Slowly, Surely, Methodically

World War Z is a horror novel. There is no doubt about that, but it’s not about senseless scares or shadows in the night. There are no suddenlys, plot twists or miraculous escapes here. It’s horror comes from the way the writer chooses to feed the information and plot to you – slowly, and bit by bit, letting you savour each zombie lumbering towards you and each human very slowly chewed up.

By the time you finish reading half the novel, you probably learnt more about zombies then all the rest of the Resident Evil movies put together, such is the difference in approach.

The Telling In This Story Works

They say telling a story doesn’t work. You have to express it, emote it instead of simply telling it. Not for Max Brooks. Taking the style of adventure guides and documentaries, he takes the present fiction as fact approach and puts his storytelling high up, away from the action and in a “this is how things went down” manner.

Some of the most incredible scenes in the book are retellings of epic battles that changed the course of mankind. These include the Battle Of Yonkers and the Battle Of Hope, basically the two big pillars in the book that swung the war in favour of whoever won them. He methodical describes the build up to the battle scene by scene, and then proceeds to dissect the action post-mortem, again scene by scene. You literally feel utterly hopeless and depressed by the end of the battle of Yonkers, and liberated and cheering by the end of Hope. And not once did he use emotive writing to create this whirlwind of feelings.

An Excerpt Of The Writing

ADS, that was my enemy: Asymptomatic Demise Syndrome, or, Apocalyptic Despair Syndrome, depending on who you were talking to. Whatever the label, it killed as many people in those early stalemate months as hunger, disease, interhuman violence, or the living dead. No one understood what was happening at first. We’d stabilized the Rockies, we’d sanitized the safe zones, and still we were losing upwards of a hundred or so people a day. It wasn’t suicide, we had plenty of those. No, this was different.

Stripping Storytelling To Its Essence

I don’t think this happened by chance. Max Brooks is able to accomplish this because of the risk he took in planning out the novel. He strips away almost EVERYTHING you ever cared for in a story – characters, emotions, choice, opinions – and presents just the story and nothing else.

P.S: He did leave some bits in, particularly in telling the story of individual survivors.

If you ever read a history book about World War 2, and remember how you felt as you went along with the rise and fall of the Allies, that would be basically what he managed to accomplish in a fictional novel.

For Writers

Even if you’re not a big fan of zombie or war novels. You really should give this book a chance, if only to learn his technical prowess in telling the story – the method to his madness. Not only is the story itself very popular, but the individual scenes themselves became major references and talking points. Don’t believe me? Google them.

For Everyone Else

Please, please, please, for the love of God and all humanity, don’t just wait for the movie and ignore the book. This is a fabulous piece of fiction that brings the “B” grade zombie genre up to the level of Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker in terms of monster fiction. Fifty years from now, when people talk about THE zombie author, it will be Max Brooks, while the movie will wither away with sub-50% tomato ratings.

If I can convince 1% of the people who will spend $10-$15 to buy the book instead of watching the movie. This book will probably shoot back up the bestseller’s list. Book! Book! Book!

Related Articles (All about books not the movie)

The Trouble With Pixels: Part 1

Pixel Art Princess

Bleep bleep bloop bloop!

Elroy Jenkins is alone. Surrounded by the ding of the arcade machines and screaming kids, he tugs at the buttons on his scratchy neon-yellow uniform as he wonders where the rest of the evening staff went. Some kid just spilled a soda over the Wheel of Fortune machine, and Elroy needs the cleanup crew stat.

Jabbing a finger on the intercom, he sends out the broadcast. “All staff, all staff, please report to ticketing.” He goes all deep and smooth into the microphone this time, trying to channel his inner deejay vibe. Still, the voice that comes out over the system cracks like a adolescent male on the verge of puberty.

“Hey mister, I need a refund, your air hockey machine’s broke.”

“No it’s not,” Elroy says to the fat kid in line, pushing up his glasses. “You and your sister were hogging it for the last thirty minutes.” Glancing back at the Wheel of Fortune machine, he could see the inviting smile of Vanna White on the side of the cabinet, while the taped over voice of Pat Sajak chirps “The category is thing.” At least the game is still running.

“Ma! He won’t gimme back my money!” the kid screams, turning his head.

Elroy looks up and sees a large overbearing woman folding her arms, glaring at him from across the hall. “Kidding!” Taking the fat kid’s game card, he swipes it on his terminal and restores his credits. “Here you go kid, have fun!” He smiles and waves.

Making a face as the kid waddles away, Elroy sticks his head out of his booth to scan the dimly-lit arcade. Under the glare from a thousand arcade games, he could see no one else wearing the Rocketbuster uniform. With a sigh, he turns back to the Wheel of Fortune machine, eyeing the sticky liquid seeping through its controls as he pulls at his shirt again. He could run over and wipe up the spill himself, but the last time he left the counter unmanned, someone made off with all the candy out front.

“Come on guys, where are you!” Elroy mutters. If that machine shorts out, he’ll have to call in the technician. That will be the third time this week already. Manager Bob isn’t going to be too happy with his new assistant if that happens.

Elroy looks on in horror as the screen flickers for a moment, and screws his eyes shut as the machine fizzles and dies. “Ahhh Boogers!”

“Excuse me?”

Elroy opens his eyes to a faint tapping sound. In front of him, a little girl dressed in a bright pink gown is stretching up to knock on his counter. “Hi, I’m lost. Can you help me find my daddy.”

Elroy bends over and smiles. “Sure sweetie, I can blast it out over the intercom for ya, what’s your name?”

“Princess,” the little girl says, in the shy innocent voice that only little girls can pull off.

“Princess?” Elroy says, raising an eyebrow. Ok I’ll bite. “Princess what?”

The little girl beams as she answers, “Just princess.”

Elroy looks expectantly at the little girl, waiting for her to break out into a fit of giggles. “Real funny kid, where did you buy that costume from?”

She gives him a puzzled look.

Elroy shrugs. “Alright kid, if that’s the way you want it.” He taps the intercom again and tries to do his best impression of a Disney park announcer. “Ladies and gentlemen, if anybody here is missing a brown-haired, big eyed Princess, aged about four or five, wearing a pink princessy costume, and a matching princessy crown. Please make your way to the ticketing counter to retrieve your princessy... I mean princess.”

Princess giggles, revealing little dimples on her cheeks. “You’re very funny, kind sir.”

“Thank you m’lady.” Elroy says with a smile. “Rocketbuster, always here to brighten your day.” He quotes the arcade tagline, twirling his hands in the air as he gives her a little curtsey.

The little girl gasps, opening her eyes wide. “Good sir, are you a knight?”

Elroy hesitates for a moment. “Why yes!” he exclaims, deciding to play along. “Champion of the five realms to be exact.” Reaching behind, he shuffles through the toy bin and pulls out a plastic sword. “And this is Dragonsblade, slayer of dragons and all things most foul.”

“That’s wonderful!” The little girl says, clapping in excitement. “You’re the person I’ve been looking for.”

What? “Alright kid,” Elroy says with a laugh, “Fun times ov…”

“Aaaahhh!” The little girl screams, pointing over Elroy’s shoulder.

“What?” Elroy swings around, holding his sword up against the shelves full of plushes which kids could exchange for with their tickets.

“Draco!” she screams, lifting the hem of her heavy skirt off the floor and running into the crowd.

“You mean the dragon one?” Elroy glances back just in time to see her disappearing behind the machines. “Hey kid, come back!” Fumbling with the waist high door separating his little booth from the outside world, he swings the barrier open and goes after her. “Princess!” He makes it as far as the Guitar hero machines before he stops, losing her trail in the darkened maze.

“Hey you there!”

“Uh-oh,” Elroy spots the large woman storming towards him, with a bawling chubby in tow. Not again. “Sorry ma’am,” Elroy says, raising his hands in front of his chest. “I can’t help you right now, I’m looking for a kid.”

“Shush!” the woman says, ignoring his protest. “You need to do something about those boys hanging around the shoot-a-hoop in their turtle costumes. They chewed through all the balls! My son was…”

“Excuse me? Yea, I’ll check it out. Come by the counter later and I’ll give you your refund.” Elroy runs off towards the shoot-a-hoops. A princess, turtles, what’s next?

“Princess, you here?” Elroy shouts as he makes his way to the back of the hall. He pokes his head into the dank little corner where all the older machines still in service are kept. From behind a musty black curtain, where the employee break room is, he hears a sound like grunting.

“Christ guys, have you been hiding in there? I’ve been calling for you all evening, what are you…” Elroy flings the curtains open, “What?”

In front of him, the girl named Princess is wielding a plastic chair, fending off two green turtles standing on their hind legs. “Champion, aid me!”

Elroy walks into the room, “Hey you two, cut that out before I call security!”

The turtles turn to look at Peter, regarding him with curious eyes.

Wow, that looks real. “Nice costume fellows, next time get mummy to buy you matching turkey ones.” Elroy scrunches his eyes as he tries to figure out where the eyeholes are. He could see none on the scaly necks and torsos.

“Sir RocketBuster, I implore you to save me from these horrible beasts! Slay them with your sword!”

“Now wait a second princess. No one is doing any killing today alright, just because…” The turtles snarl and charge.

END PART I

Bring Me To Part 2

Update: Removed all the swearing and tried to replace them with actions and what-nots. Lemme know. Added in some additional parts as well, for purposes which will be made known later on.

Author’s Notes:

  • If you’ve read my earlier stories, I’m using the basic story format and opener here. That’s one thing I’ll like to keep constant for now. Makes it easier for me to put ideas down.
  • I’m still trying to keep with a creature / fantasy theme like my previous horror stuff, but I’m trying not to put myself into that niche at the moment. Keeping my options open.
  • Why I prefer starting with action? I done some research and received some comments that it’s usually the case that you need to come back and edit your intro to suit the needs of your later story. A action start means I can throw in something before that. E.g. building a backstory for the main character, turning him from Zero to Hero if need be, or add in unique touches if I need to.

Seeking Feedback on the following:

  • I’m trying to find more fiction based on stuff like Tron or Wreck-it-ralph, if you know any, would appreciate it if you would direct me.
  • People swear in real life. However, I’m slightly uncomfortable with putting it in aside from a few “Christ!” “Oh for crying out loud!’ and “What on earth!” in there. If anyone can advice, how suitable is it for Young Adult to have a few “fucks, hells, Jesus Christ and damns” in there? I’m just trying to be appropriate here, and honestly, I think its a crutch.
  • Regarding the above question, would also like advice on how to AVOID using them all together, without sounding stunted i.e. an alternative to having your characters EXCLAIM something without using the term exclaim, or having your character just shout the name. i.e. In Harry Potter, it’s ridiculous how often characters go “Harry!” “Harry!” “Harry!”

Optimism

It’s pretty amazing how easy it is for me to bang out a story now. I have Part 2 ready to go after I do a few edits. But seeing my lack of posts lately, I’ll like to space it out a bit. Let me know if you like it, particularly the theme of it. I’m going to keep this one a bit whimsical and outlandish.

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Binge Writing: When To Stop

Writers Block

This is a personal experience piece, not a writing guide. Just want to make the distinction clear here.

My Own Binge Writing Experience (Plus Updates)

Okay, things have been a bit weird lately. I’ll go on a writing binge on Monday and in a half-trance, cough up over 3,000 words (plus another thousand over words on other stuff), then the very next day, wake up feeling very lethargic and braindead to a very ineffective writing session. I’m just writing Mark of Child for now, which started as a rewrite of another story, though I intend to re-look Alone In The Crowd in future.

Mark of Child isn’t proving itself to be popular, but whatever, I’m enjoying myself. Up to 7,000 words now with large chunks of rewriting. I already know the major plot points, it’s the minor ones in between that I need to work out. You won’t be able to see much from what I’ve posted, but these two stories are some of my most complete start-to-end stories in that I already know what I want for both of them. If nothing else, I enjoyed myself writing them. Alone gave me a lot of trouble as I tried to play with the tenses, but it got me going and I’m getting the hang of present tense now, even preferring it. But we’ll see, I’m still learning the ropes. There’s more to the writing then I initially though.

For Mark of Child, as long as it goes swimmingly and I don’t suddenly hit a dead end, I should be good to go the distance for a mini-novella at 20,000 – 25,000 words with a hard limit of 30,000 I’ve set myself. I don’t like horror fiction that goes on forever, since well, horror plots tends to be pretty thin. Should be done in 3 weeks so please forgive me if I ignore my blog for a while. That is usually a good sign however as it means I’m doing something more productive.

Is Binge Writing Acceptable?

Then again, I ask myself if this famine or feast approach to my work is acceptable. Going back to the topic my previous article on Write Habits, I asked the question of how do most writers write. That is a question I’ve been asking myself, since lately, I’ve been questioning my own dedication to just sit down and write. For example, a very popular writing boot camp, NaNoWriMo advocates a sort of disciplined approach to getting out that first novel. 1,667 words per day for a month and you get a 50,000 word novel. That methods works for a lot of people since the time factor forces them to ‘just do it’ and realise the writer in them.

Lindaghill seems to be a prime example of someone who found her mojo after taking part in one of these boot camps and has completed the first draft of a 200,000+ epic. She has done something probably less than 0.001% of this world has done. I’ve been giving her a lot of shout outs lately since I am learning a lot from her.

But, like a round hole and a square peg, I just can’t do it. The more I try to adhere to a “write this amount of words,” “sit down from this time to this” approach, my mind just goes blank. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the process, but I seem to be someone who goes with the flow more than the method. So rather than force myself to write, I decided to stick to my approach and try to refine it.

Binge Writing Help

Turn’s out I’m not alone, and what I’m doing isn’t that wrong from a creative perspective. An article from Scriptmag that seems to understand what I am going through, and has some sound advice from seat-of-the-pants writers like me, to balance our style with the discipline of method writers. The motive of trying to achieve this balance is most aptly put by Ernest Hemingway.

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

The article in Scriptmag actually speaks out against writers like me, but in a good way. It tries to teach us to control the force within instead of curbing it altogether. This control is to combat one of the biggest problems people like me face – We write without a plan, we write with the flow, we write to our hearts content, then suddenly brick wall. You look back and you see what you have written and how you can angle it to go forward, but no deal. Eventually you give up, move on and start the whole process over again.

Some useful tips from the article include gems like this:

2. “Leave yourself a rough edge.”

Cory Doctorow says, “When you hit your daily word-goal, stop. Stop even if you’re in the middle of a sentence. Especially if you’re in the middle of a sentence. That way, when you sit down at the keyboard the next day, your first five or ten words are already ordained, so that you get a little push before you begin your work. Knitters leave a bit of yarn sticking out of the day’s knitting so they know where to pick up the next day — they call it the ‘hint.’ Potters leave a rough edge on the wet clay before they wrap it in plastic for the night — it’s hard to build on a smooth edge.”

Reading the article, I’ve come to several conclusions

Do not binge write to the point you are writing for the sake of writing Ideas are flowing, but haven’t had time to cook in your imagination. You’re just filling the page with empty words as you try to lead yourself somewhere, meandering through pointless dialogue. Just writing when you run out of ideas is GOOD, but not when you’ve ready gone a couple of thousand words in and refuse to stop.

Do not binge write trying to squeeze every last possible idea This is the reason why I binge write. One idea comes, leading to another, then another. OMG! I need to put all this down, then you start writing and writing until you’re drained. Turns out the next morning, you don’t know where to begin. Refer to the Ernest Hemingway quote above.

Do not binge write and expect the same results every single day This is one of the biggest killers for me. I’ve wrote 3000 words on Monday, why can’t I do it again? A good day tends to set us up for failure especially if you try to hold yourself to the lofty standard of one day. It’s better to look at the average over say a week, since binge writing takes the energy away from the very next day.

Declare yourself satisfied with your work I like this idea from the article and used it for a while. You have a goal in mind for today’s writing. You hit it, STOP! You have some other ideas in your head, make some notes, put down the key points, move on. This links to the second point about letting ideas stew for a while. You realise you end your writing on a high and eager to go the next day, instead of drained and fatigued.

To conclude, since I’ve done it again, and written another thousand word post. Let me just say find a method that works for you, learn it, explore it, question it. But more importantly enjoy it. This applies to the bigger world as well, not just writing. There is no just thing as black and white, right or wrong. Be it 250,000 essays on bondage or 20 word haikus. But not trying to learn more about your craft is a deadly sin. I will always keep questioning and learning, until the day I die.

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Experimenting With Horror

Can you tell it's going to be a scary book?

Can you tell it’s going to be a scary book?

I’ve been experimenting with horror/monster fiction lately as I wander through the vast fields of literary options, seeking to settle myself into a comfortable niche. So far, I kind of like it here in Scaresville, finding its sweet spot between the need for fanciful creations and tried and tested settings a very appealing one.

Without even noticing it, I’ve realised that most of my last few half-written stories in the last few weeks have been steering towards that direction. More importantly, I also come to see that I’m to focus on the story from the get go instead of trying to describe or make up the world.  I can express my fiction beyond the limitations of natural laws, yet have a grounded setting that can be typical without being branded as overly cliche.

It’s just something that the reader has come to accept and expect in this genre, that it is ok for Regular Joe to have a couple of coffee in the morning, run into some weird monsters in the afternoon, and save the world in time to have dinner. Rinse and repeat. In fact, if you take the same story, change up the monster/ghost/murderer, it will usually still work without any need for lengthy explanation.

My Journey towards Horror

I originally wanted to go with fantasy, but my beef with it is that it’s become boxed in to a expected set of creatures and myths. E.g. a clean-shaven dwarf who wields a mean bow, prancing through the forest and enjoys strawberries immediately breaks the mould, and you have to try to justify it, i.e. he was raised by the elves etc. Wide universe, but extremely boxed-in.

Then I tried my hand at Science Fiction. Immediately, I found it unsuitable for the shorter kind of fiction that I like. The best ones need to be grand, need a lot of believable science or nonsense leading up to the big reveal and are generally one trick ponies as I have mentioned in my Michael Crichton article. If you read those that succeed like Philip K. Dick (Minority Report) or H.G. Wells (World of the Worlds), they’re actually thrillers / war stories with a sci-fi setting.

My last attempt was actually peeking into the realm of superhero fiction. Maybe it’s just me again, but I kept facing the same issues as in Sci-Fi, while basing my characters off popular ones, so that people already have a picture in their head when I mention them. A crutch I eventually felt that I did not like.

So yea horror. Smooth going so far, though my problem now is the climax. Just a series of smaller battles leading to the big one ala Godzilla, or hold off the violence and make the violent erupt as a build up to the climax ala King Kong. I’m not going to try Stephen’s King arbitrary-in-your-head sort of horror for now. Just going to go with something physical first to muddy the waters.

Journey Through The Darkness

Journey Through The Darkness

My thoughts about the Genre

The best ones all play tricks in your head. They don’t always need to be unexpected, as long as it’s screwed up enough such that the twist that eventually comes still feels satisfying enough. That’s the sweet spot I mentioned earlier. People already know what to expect, yet you still have the liberty to throw a few bones at them and make them crave for more. Readers who complain about typical plots / writing shouldn’t be reading books on murder and monsters anyway while still complaining about the plot. That’s like complaining about Dwarves are cliche in a fantasy realm.

–  The monster isn’t important, the story is. Like superheroes, people already expect the monster to be just that, a monster. It kills people, they know. A man with a knife, he’s going to kill someone. I’ve tried to make my creatures sound or scary, and tried to make my setting more fascinating. But in the end, at the meat is still going to be the story. Origins is an extremely popular topic that readers love, followed by the typical agendas on why it does what it does. Whether the freaky clowns nose is red and round or green with snot doesn’t really matter beyond the initial visualisation. Oh, and the gimmick that your creature does, makes the story interesting, but doesn’t make the story.

Always start with the mundane. A fascinating monster in a bombastic setting sort of takes away the focus from the appearance of a monster/killer. Stick with the mundane or a concept that can be easily understood to make your creature and the story around it stand out.

For example:

The Midnight Snack. 

Peter walks into the kitchen, looking for a snack. In the dark, he notices the carton of chocolate milk sitting on the counter and his eyes perk up. One of the kids must have left it behind while they were packing for their sleepover. Without so much as a thought, he unscrews its top off and chugs it straight from the carton, wondering where the hell his wife is. She was suppose to be back from her book club at eleven.

In the dark, he fails to notice that the red liquid trickling down his chin.

This milk tastes a bit salty, he thinks to himself, smacking his lips as he wipes the dribble off with a hand. Probably just another one of those new fangled flavours that the kids love. Satisfied now, he walks back up the stairs to prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Halfway up though, his stomach starts to gurgle and churn. Not feeling so good, he sits on the steps and rubs his tummy. Wait what’s that bump? Lifting up his shirt he stares at his flabby skin and the tiny lump thumping vigorously at him from the inside.

If anyone of you noticed, yes I took the same plot from my earlier story and just plonked it here with a different setting. Still sort of works. 

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