Monthly Archives: May 2013

Posts on Writing: Building

Maybe, just maybe, I should title this post: Playing Gardner, Playing Architect. Because, honestly, that’s what this post is going to be mostly about. 

Trying to figure out how to describe the two poles of writing is a struggle in itself. Outlining is easy enough to understand. But pantsing? Really? No. Just no. I don’t like that term. 

But what is a good term to use in it’s place? Gardens and structures are well and good, but they are metaphors. So what then?

How about free flowing? No, that is still a bit too metaphorical (flowing being watery, and free too political). What about intuitive? I think that could work. And it does imply an extreme. Let’s go with it.

The gardener and the architect. Intuition and outline. Yes, I think this could work. 

But these are just extremes. And hell, even in these extremes, it is not like there is total stylistic purity.

Fundamentally, a gardener plants seeds and waters, waiting for the plants to emerge. But looking at it from a larger scale, does a gardener not plan out his or her garden? Is there not, perhaps, some element of architecture in the garden? 

And the same goes for architects. Isn’t there some intuitiveness , some chaos in the initial stages of a project? 

What I’m trying to get at is that there is no absolute. There are extremes, yes, but nothing is absolute. Most writers work in the middle, between the two. And as their skills develop, they gravitate to what works best for them. 

And some writers are able to shift back and forth as needed. Want to work in film and television? You need to outline. It is an unavoidable part of the pitching process.

And what does one make of a “head outline?” While George R.R. Martin describes his writing in terms of gardening, it is fairly clear that he has a significant part of A Song of Ice and Fire pre-planned in his head. 

Does outlining equate solely to mapping out the project on paper (or on computer) before the main writing begins?

I will admit that the interplay of outlining and intuition has troubled me in my own work. On the one hand, I naturally gravitate towards outlining. But there is just something “magical” about “channeling” a work without knowing where it will end (baring the head outline). 

Perhaps it depends on the work itself and who is telling the story. What I mean is this: “Who is the narrator?” and “What perspective is this in?” I’ve found outlining in first person perspective to be a pain. Seriously, the best thing is to have a clear head outline and just go. Of course that particular story was first person, present tense. A very crazy experiment, if I do say so myself. 

I have also experienced the sensation of outlining “killing” the desire to see the work progress beyond that phase. And, in experimenting without outlining, I often find the work takes far longer to write. 

At the end of the day, I think the question of how a particular writer writes is best left up to the writer him or herself. And it is important, I believe, to discover what works best on one’s own. Advice can be sought, but method cannot be taught comfortably. 

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A Holiday Twofer: On Chairs and Keeping Weird

Before I begin this post, I would like to wish a happy 23rd birthday to Chris Colfer. I look forward to reading The Enchantress Returns in a few months time (as well as his other upcoming projects). (As an aside, I really should make a habit of wishing birthdays and marking deaths).

On Chairs

I broke a chair this afternoon. I am infamous when it comes to chairs. It is, honestly, a miracle that chairs last six months with me. 

I don’t know why, but I am just extremely hard on my chairs. 

I had a rather standard office chair. With wheels. Very comfortable. But as I rolled and typed, the chair eventually fell apart. A screw came lose. And the chair sagged. 

To cut down on costs (I hate spending money), I’ve run through a series of cheap metal folding chairs from Target. They usually have lasted a few months before the metal bar between the legs break. Or something else breaks. 

I’ve also run through some used kitchen chairs. One lost the piece between the legs and gradually started to sage. Another one likely would have developed the same problem. 

The chair I broke this afternoon was plastic. And I broke the back. How, I have no idea. Right now, I’m using a new used kitchen chair. Hopefully, this one will last until I can acquire a stronger, more permanent chair. 

Keeping Weird

In my last “Post on Writing,” I mentioned a project of mine tentatively titled Keeping Weird. I’ve been trying to build it up. To make it more than just an idea. But it is just not working like I want it to. I have a few ideas, but nothing that could really make a series.

So, I’m going to put it on a back burner. And if needed, merge Keep Weird with another project called Two Cities

But while I’m stymied on this project, I must say that I’ve made progress on Witchpunk and Spang (the naughty project). And I have a line of research for Epic Fantasy One (sucky name I know, but I’ll change it when I get more in depth). So it is not all bad.

I’m honestly excited by all of this. Not the chair breaking though. That is annoying.

 

Double Post: A Big No and Excoriating Myself

This is a double post today. Today is a post of sadness, frustration, and anger. Let’s get to it.

No, No, No!

James Robinson, one of my favorite comic book writers, is leaving Earth 2, my favorite comic book series. This is very sad news. But Robinson’s last issue doesn’t drop until September with issue 16. So, we still have a few months before the end. 

So, now comes the question: who will replace Robinson? And what is their vision for Earth 2? Hopefully, the series will still be as successful. But, as with every change, there is also trepidation.

Where’s My Cat o’ Nine Tails? (I’m Kidding)

This afternoon I got into a flame war over the nature of Artemis’s divinity. I’m a passionate Greek Mythology nerd. And it annoys me to no end when I see pop culture or people bad information about the Greek myths. And the gods.

All I wanted to do was read up on the fight between Wonder Woman and Artemis in the latest issue of Wonder WomanAnd somehow, I got into an ultimately stupid argument over Artemis’s divinity. 

The frustrating thing, the thing that makes me angry, is that the argument was, ultimately, futile. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason, the other commentator just refused to recognize that Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis, is a Titan. Therefore, she was divine. She was a god. She was not a mortal. 

All the sources I know have Leto as a Titan, the daughter of Phoibe and Koios of the same generation of Titans as Rhea and Kronos.

Now, there is a reference in a Star Trek episode, “Who Mourns for Adonais?,” where Apollo claims Leto to have been mortal. But where does this come from? Is there an ancient source for this, or did the episode writers, Coon and Ralston, make it up? Is the source for this their own imaginations, like their interpretation of the gods as powerful aliens?

Hell, I even skimmed “Adonais” by Shelley to see if the matter could be settled. But Apollo is only referenced once. As a reference to Keats. No Leto. No Leto as mortal woman. 

And there were a few other areas of argument- what could kill Greek gods, etc. 

Now, clearly, I’m a defender of the core myths. Modern adaptations who deviate too far, beware! I’ve ranted before about this (“Greek Myths on Film”). 

So far, I’ve liked Azzarello’s interpretation of the Greek myths. But that’s the thing. Shouldn’t we have been arguing Azz’s interpretation of the myths? Not irresponsibly citing the core myths, Star TrekHercules the Legendary JourneysGod of War, etc?

Yes, I feel the need to defend the Greek myths much like other fans feel the need to defend their passions. But fuck it all, it takes too much energy. And does it ever really accomplish anything when neither party will bulge. And when does it go too far? At what point should I say “fuck it” and walk away? I feel I should have said my bit then walked away. And ignore the subsequent replies. I never should have responded after my initial reply. 

I like to think that I’m willing to change my mind when I’m wrong. I know I did when Al Harron corrected some misconceptions on REH. And I’d like to think I’ll accept it when I’m wrong. No matter how passionate I hold my position. 

This was, perhaps, my second flame war/ stupid debate. I hate it when this happens. I just need to make sure I never do it again. 

Posts on Writing: Choices

At first, I wanted to approach this blog post as if I am playing the “What If Fanfiction Game.” I would blather on about how I would reboot Glee. And rereboot Star Trek (yes Abrams has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars, but the reboot craps on everything that is Star Trek-check out The Blog that Time Forgot for a fun take down). 

Seriously, how is playing the “WIFG” helping me? I isn’t. So, I need to swallow my own fears and take a look at my own projects. Deep breath, here we go.

Let’s begin with the title. What do I mean by choices?

The answer. How do writers settle on Point A and Point B? And how does the narrative that connects the two end points develop? That is what I mean by choice. In my experience, all of this comes down to a choice. Even if the writer him or herself is unaware of it. 

Now, that is not to say all elements of a narrative are dependent on active choices. Some writers just let the story flow then introduce choice in the editing process (and in choosing to let the story flow). 

So, let’s look at my own projects.

Witchpunk. Formerly Wizard Punk. Now a novel trilogy. Used to be a comic book series. What changed? Obviously, the magical of the pair switched genders (I wonder if the act of writing itself is a validation of Queer Theory in some respects). But how did this proposed trilogy go from comics to novels? As I thought about the magic I wanted to explore and where the idea flowed, a trilogy of novels seems to be the best option. (Plus, this is my current project, and I’ve decided that I want to do any art on my comics projects myself- you may now heartily laugh).

I’ve pretty much decided what I want to do with Witchpunk, but I have a few other projects that are bugging me. 

Be Weird. I don’t know if I really like the name. Maybe Keep Weird? Anyway, this is the realistic project that I’ve toyed with (and mentioned a few times here). I know it is not right for a novel. There is a serial aspect that I want to engage in. But here is where choice comes in. Should this project be a comic book series or a television series? Obviously, there are three choices. 

A comic book series lends itself to immediacy. I can do most/ all of the work myself. But there is the problem of length and genre. Are there any “realistic” American comic books? I don’t know. Let me know (or I’ll let you all know if I find out first). 

A television series has format and length. But this choice will be in my box of lost projects for years and years. Unless I treat this as a closet television series. 

A third choice is to defer. Write two scripts: one a television script and the other a comic book script. This way, I can better determine which option works best for this project. 

Now, I do have a project that is pretty much unequivocally a comic book series. Spang. Now, I’m not going to go in too much detail about this project. Why? It’s a gay erotic comic. Meant, largely, to prevent me from going crazy porny with gay sex in everything else I write. (Trust me, I will).

Will this project ever see the light of publication? I don’t know. . . depends.

Damn. This post is more fun than I thought. I’ll do this more often. I do have more ideas and projects that could benefit from this. 

So, in the end, where will my choices lead me?

 

Posts on Writing: Research

I’ve been thinking a lot about research lately. Largely because I’m in the research phase for several projects.

One problem with research is knowing when there is too much. Has looking for more and more information and sources usurped actually writing? 

Another problem is recognizing when one needs to do research. This is, I think, especially true when it comes to more contemporary set works. 

Writing a secondary fantasy world pretty much points to various research topics. Take my first epic fantasy idea. I need to research Gudit. I need to research Boadicaea. I need to research England in the 1380s. Etc. I know what I lack. I know what I need to search for.

But the other project I’m working on, an urban and contemporary fantasy, is significantly more difficult figure out what I don’t know (and need to know). Where is the setting? What specific quirks do I not know? Do I need to research various professions? And the closer to home, the harder it gets. Because I know where I live, don’t I?

Every interesting conundrum, yes? 

But this, really, only covers specific researches. Not the everyday researches that we, as writers, are subconsciously aware of. 

Example: I was doing some readings on Texas history. I came across an article that explored West Texas’s role in the Civil War. And boom, that might form the inspiration of a space opera or an epic fantasy (depends if I stick to my two epic fantasy rule). That was an awesome experience. And I’ve had many of those. 

Research is fun. But one must be cautious. 

I would like to say more. But my desk chair broke, so I’m writing this in a very uncomfortable position. Oh, my back!

It is so uncomfortable that I couldn’t write a review of Avengers vs. X-Men. Not that I have much nice to say about Marvel’s event last year. . .