Saturday, April 30, 2011

MayNoWriMo?

For lack of a better term, I'll call next month MayNoWriMo. Myself, Frances Pauli (http://francespauli.blogspot.com), Adriane Cealleigh (http://blackstoneandmoonskins.blogspot.com), and a few others without websites to put up here are diving in to write another month-long novel. Frances and I are both heading for 2,000 plus words per day (so a book of at least 60,000 words) and Adriane is probably doing some god awful number (this woman can write 10,000 words in a day).

What am I writing? Well, I can't very well tell you - that would ruin the surprise.

But...

if you stay put and read the posts from this next month I won't say you wouldn't see anything about it (bad grammar, I know)...

Peace for now,
Voss

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mish-Mash

Okay, this is my first post of "I have too much stuff to talk about."

First off, my wonderful Frances Pauli put up my guest blog post (http://francespauli.blogspot.com).

Second, I'm gearing up for a day of hard and grueling editing/revision...yippee...it's really a good thing to sit down and edit, but it's never a fun prospect to take a knife to your baby.

Third, I'm gearing up for a month-long extravaganza of writing - another novel to get pumped out ;D

Lastly, I have a quick question: Hom much do you consider genre while you're writing? Personally I assign a genre (or attempt to) after it's written.

Peace,
Voss

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lorraine, Queen of All Evil

I was drinking a bottle of water last night and it got me thinking. Mostly about how weird it was that a bottle of water would get me thinking so intently, but also about veritaserum. For those that don't know, veritaserum is a potion in the world of Harry Potter (Harry Potter and all things related therein are copyrighted to J.K. Rowling) that forces the drinker to tell the truth. it is colorless, like water, odorless, like water, and flavorless, not like water. Now, before I get to the real point of this, I need to point out how weird it would be to drink something odorless, colorless, and flavorless. Colorless I can see as not a problem, but with no scent or flavor it would just be the physical sensation of swallowing liquid. It just seemed odd to me.

Now for something completely different.

That water got me thinking about names. Veritaserum just sounds unpleasant, doesn't it? If Rowling had called it, for instance, trulixer (my brain can't come up with anything better, forgive me), it sounds much less malevolent. It got me thinking about why, and then I remembered a single thing I came across one day, months ago. I can't remember the place I found it, but this was the general idea:

Sibilant sounds are evil.

For those that don't know what a sibilant sound is (I had to look it up when I read that, too), I hvae two options.

1: You can read this incredibly confusing and technical Wikipedia Article on Sibilant Sounds (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibilant_consonant).

2: You can just understand that the following are sibilant: S, Sh, V, F, Z, Zh.

Anything hissing or naturally elongated in speech is considered sibilant. Now, that's not the only way to name something evil - I rarely use it - but when push comes to shove it's not a bad way to get a quick and evil name. It's like a little three mintue packet of instant evil oatmeal - with marshmallows.

An example? I'll give you a handful: Sarumon, Sauron, Voldemort, Zasalamel, Satan (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Soul Calibur, and Christian Mythos). All of these names exude a certain evil juice, don't they? They also all have at least one sibilant sound in them. On a side note, "L" also carries a certain level of nastiness, but it's not sibilant...I don't know what's so evil about an "L", but there's something evil about it.

Lord of the Rings and all things related therein are the intellectual property of J.R.R. Tolkien
Soul Calibur and all things realted therein are copyrighted to Namco
Satan isn't copyrighted, but I need to justify my use of all of them, so I say it's justified.

Peace...or evil, whichever you prefer,
Voss (I just noticed that's a sibilant name - sweet!)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Micro-Fiction

Among the group of writers I frequently surround myself with, I'm somewhat of a (self-proclaimed) micro-fiction workhorse. Now, enough self-lauding for the time being.

Thanks to a brilliant little program, I've finally found a regular source of income that uses my micro-fiction skills.

Philip and Aaron Hall (Hall Brothers Entertainment) have an absolutely fabulous little (huge) project called "Two Sentence Stories." Now, I promise that there's no secret code there. Every day they put up a new two-sentence story for the enjoyment of the billions with internet access all over the world. They also pay 25 cents per accepted story. It doesn't seem like a lot, but think about it this way. It only takes about 1 minute to write a two sentence story (normally less than that, even). That works out to 15 dollars an hour, or somewhere right around there with the stories that don't get taken. For an author, that's a fabulous wage. Heck, half of that would be a pretty danged good wage for a writer.

If you're interested in my work at all (I'm hoping that people reading my blog are), my stories will start to pop up in May.

Also, if you write, it can't hurt to throw one (or two) (or ten) (or fifty) two sentence stories over at the Hall Bros. The worst they can say is no and, if they do, that's just one minute of your life.

NOTE: This might be a secret (though I doubt it), I'll tell you any how. The Hall Bros. like it when you throw a bunch of stories their way instead of just one or two. Build up twenty or more and then send them that file - you'll get a better rapport with them that way.

Peace out, y'all,
Voss

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Welcome to the World

I'm a character oriented writer. As much as I would love to write something as plot oriented as the "Harry Potter" series or the "Pendragon" series, it's not meant to be. I love my characters too much. now, it's not a bad thing to be character oriented. I can't think of a single romance author that's more concerned with their plot than their characters (mind, they also have a formulaic plot 9 times out of 10). The top plot-oriented novels in the world have a much lower focus on inter-character relationships (as a rule).

Now, what in the world does this have to do with the world?

The world is your other character. It doesn't matter if you set it on modern-day Earth or not, you have to world-build everything to a "T" or have everything turn into a lawless, illogical blob (especially in fantasy). The world is normally seen as your background and nothing else, but just like our planet/universe, the world you create to write in changes. It has its own history and backstory. In any story without a god(dess) or god(desse)s, the world you write in is the closest thing to a deity you'll have. The world is the thing that develops your characters into what and who they are while you're writing.

Aside from all of that, a well-done world is fun to work with. If you define your world as an asteroid colony floating in space, for instance, you have to work out the gravity issues Do they just live in a low gravity atmosphere? Do they have a core of some hideously dense material that produces enough gravity to compensate? How about a machine that (somehow) produces an increased gravity field?

Now, just from this one little issue, no matter how you choose to solve the gravity thing, there are problems that can arise and enrich your plot, giving more credence and belief to your world. Following are some examples:

LOW GRAVITY LIVING: Now, if they never EVER leave the asteroid colony for anything larger, then they should be fine. However, consider this. If you SOMEHOW had your characters find an asteroid, say, the size of the moon, that would be one-sixth the gravity of Earth. As soon as they go to a higher-gravity place they'll be hugely weak because, unless they train specifically to deal with higher-gravity boides (which most won't), they'll be developed muscularaly to deal with that lower gravity. Not good news when they have to lift that forty-pound box and, instead, just drop it on the floor and shatter the tiles.

DENSE CORE: Now, once its there, the super-dense core works pretty danged brilliantly. The problem is getting it there. If you have people trying to harvest a small chunk of super-dense material, they would ahve to get it off of a large chunk of super-dense material or get lucky and find shrapnel. Then they have to get it to the core of the asteroid. Now, all of this has to happen without killing everyone involved. That would most likely involve some kind of anti-gravity device. One would think that they had a gravity producing device before the anti-gravity producing device, so why couldn't they just use that? You could also have a colission between the super-dense matter and the asteroid, but that's too unbelievable even for me. A super-dense asteroid raises a whole new slew of problems dealing with objects in orbit and, if whichever author makes a slip in their research, a space material far too dense to support most forms of life.

GRAVITY MACHINE: Now, this seems like it would make sense. It's just enough suspension of disbelief for people to go along with. We're talking science fiction, so I won't even question the practicality of making that much of an increase in gravity. This is an easily explainable option, but let's take a look at some other things. Producing so much gravity within an asteroid could pretty well start to collpase the asteroid (asteroids aren't exactly as structurally sound as a planet). Assuming thatthey reinforced the asteroid, what happens if the generator freaks out or fails? You could have too much gravity produced and, even with the reinforcement, crush the asteroid along with the people living on it. If it went in the other direction and completely shut down, people wouldn't know quite what to do. It's not as dangerous, but having that low gravity could provide a huge number of tiny problems in daily living (can you imagine what would happen to the mothers and fathers when their children figured out they could jump many, many feet at once?).

Now, it may not sound fun, I know, but I'm really not forbidding you from writing anything with any issues involved. If you look at your world as a character, issues are good. As long as, just like a character, you don't forget things when they become inconvenient. If your character has arachnophobia, you can't just make them handle a tarantula calmly because they need to for some reason. The same is true of your world. If the house your twenty-seven characters live in only has one bathroom, they can't all get up and do what they need to starting at six A.M. unless you move them outside of the bathroom. Sinks, garden hoses, shower schedules, swimming pools - anything could do.

Now, go out an world-build! Have fun with it! Make a giant earthworm in the center of your planet that comes to the surface whenever it rains! Imagine the fun you could have with that...

Peace,
Voss

Friday, April 22, 2011

What 12 Angry Men can Teach us About Writing

First off - I haven't been on for a long while and I know. Sorry for all two of you that I'm pretending were waiting with bated breath for me to post again.

Now - Last night I watched one of the best movies ever made - Lumet's "12 Angry Men". Now, aside from being a plotting masterpiece with brilliant attention to detail, one thing stood out very prominently to me.

This movie is one of the best examples of character development I've ever seen.

Through the actual storyline of the movie, nobody has a name. You might be able to keep track of them by juror number, but when push comes to shove you remember the appearance of each of the men and their personalities.

This is what needs to be shown in our writing! So often we rely on names to specify the actions of a character apart from the others. When we're writing, we should be able to delete all of the names from our manuscript and still track every character (unless, of course, you have characters that are deliberately similar, but they tend to be interchangeable if you can't tell them apart without names (i.e. Fred and George Weasley).)

It makes much more sense if you've seen the movie, but each and every one of them, through actions, shows their personality. I won't go into great details on this subject, but I have a few examples to share.

Juror 4, near the end of the movie, has one of the most powerful scenes in any movie - previously he says that he never sweats, but when he is proven wrong on the subject of memory, a single bead of sweat drips down his forehead.

Juror 3, in the climactic scene, rips up his son's picture and tosses it on the table. Then, seeing the situation in a different light (the case is that of a son supposedly murdering his father), he collapses into tears and repeats "not guilty".

Juror 9, in the beginning of the movie, shows his entire life value system in one motion - he votes not guilty just because Juror 8 was standing alone at not guilty up until that point. He doesn't have any other reason besides supporting Juror 8.

I realize this was brief and not nearly as helpful if you haven't seen the movie, but it's not a hard movie to find and it is well worth the watching (the original, of course).

Peace,
Voss

Monday, April 4, 2011

Back to the Future

Yes, it's an incredible trilogy, but that's not what we're talking about here. I mean retrofuturism. Already confused? Not to worry, my pets, not to worry. I'm here to explain what the heck that big (ish) old word means. Retrofuturism is a very hot subgenre of science fiction (though some of it is definitely a little too fantastic to be considered hard sci-fi (if you want to discuss (or argue) with me about this then feel free to email me - I love a good debate)) that entails an advancement of out-dated technology, such as steam power and diesel power. Instead of having the technology evolve in its natural path it is shown to stagnate within a particular classification and advance into outdated versions of modern technology. Okay, now I know for a fact that you're confused. Maybe an example would work more effectively. I feel fairly confident that most of you all are familiar with steampunk by this point. That's retrofuturism. They have steam powered guns, steam powered airships, and steam powered zombie cyborgs. Not anywhere near what they had for technology in the 1800's, but it appears in steampunk. that's what retrofuturism is. Now, I hope that makes sense because I'm moving along with this...now. The retorfuturism started with something completely different. Cyberpunk was a movement late in the 20th century that had anarchist and anarchist-like characters (anti-establishment, at any rate) along with highly advanced technology based on the modern computers of the time. That is the only form of "retrofuturism" that ever really stuck to the "punk" part of the name. Now, I don't know them all and I don't know how they evolved, but I have a pretty good grasp on what they are in general, and when push comes to shove do we really ever need more than that?

  • Steampunk: Victorian technology; powered by steam and gears and the like.

  • Clockpunk: Rennaissance technology; powered by pendulums and gears; very inspired by the concepts of Leonard da Vinci.

  • Dieselpunk: Technology from the early days of locomotive travel; powered by, obviously, diesel and very much dependent on combustion, heat, and iron.

  • Atompunk: An essentially purely conceptual sub-genre based on the extrapolation of the atomic power craze in the 1960's; powered by nuclear reactions.

I admit that there are likely others, but this is an overview of the most basic retrofuturism sub-genres. For a much more complete explanation feel free to check out the Wikipedia page for Retrofuturism and follow the lovely links.


Blessed be,


Voss