Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Liebster Award

Well, I've been tagged with the Liebster Award again.  This time by Emmarayn Redding.  http://emmaraynredding.blogspot.com/

Here are the eleven random facts about me.

1.  I have been using GIMP a lot these days.

2.  I am reading Gilbert Morris' book, How To Write (And Sell) A Christian Novel.

4.  I am still in school.

3.  Yesterday, my hair smelled like Apple Cider Vinegar.  (It was intentional, too.)

5.  I disagree with Kurt Vonnegut on the usage of semicolons; they are quite practical in many cases.

5.  Did you know I'm numbering this wrong?

6.  I'm hoping to do July NaNoWriMo, if I can finish plotting my story by that time.  So far it's taken me 2.5 weeks to plot less than a third of it (and I've been working everyday at it, too).  Sooo . . .

8.  I am watching the ISIS CRISIS (hehe) intently.  Though, with only 400 million, ISIS is clearly not the richest terrorist organization in the world.  Apple is.

7.  I know what the meaning of Brobdingnagian is.  It's a real word.

9.  I will go to a camp in a few weeks.

10.  I am currently sun burnt.

11.  My hair is curled in the front and partially spiked on the sides.  At least my family says I don't look like Caesar anymore. o_o

1.  Would you feel more nervous... a) taking an extensive test filled with difficult questions, or b) Stand up in front of a large auditorium filled with people and give a speech/sing a song/perform a play?

B, although I've been discovering lately that being an author is not just about writing.  Yes, it's also about giving speeches. :-O

2.  If you were to get stuck in a fictional universe from the books/movies that you like, which would you choose?

I would choose the Chronicles of Prydain world.  I like its setting.

3.  Once there, what would you do to make a living and survive?

A king's bard. :P

4.  If you were to meet the main cast of that story, would you get along with the characters?

I don't think Taran or Eilonwy are particularly disagreeable, so yes.

5.  Would they get along with you? 


6.  If you were to become a private detective, what kind would you be?  The cool, collected, and emotionally removed Sherlock Holmes-type?  The friendly, charming, hands-on investigating Nancy Drew-type?  Opra-loving Morse?  Depressed but determined Wallander?

. . .  Never heard of any of them but Holmes.  And Holmes is way to . . . inhuman for me. :P

I'd be that detective who never finds anything out in the end.

7.  Would you have a sidekick?  Or maybe just a friend on equal grounds?

Sidekick.  Someone to do all my work for me.

8.  Given a choice between the Grinch and a sea-sick crocodile, which would you take?

The Grinch, who I would then feed to the sea-sick crocodile.

9.  If you're a writer, answer question a.  If you're not, answer question b.

Because I'm a rule breaker, I'm going to answer both. :D

-A)  If you were given the opportunity to meet one of your main hero and villain from your book, with them knowing that you were the author, would you want to meet them?

Oh yes.  Neither of them hate me.

I think.

-B) Do you know what pneumenoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis means?  And DON'T CHEAT by looking it up first!  ;)  Break it down by the root words.

This quite an elementary question!  After carefully observing all such root sayings, I have conducted a suitable answer.  It is the title of the Ultra Microscopic Pneumonia of the Silicon Valley Volcano Disease.
Now that I HAVE looked it up, I find it means something else entirely.  I am sorry, dear friends.  I have failed you.

10.   Are you fond of musicals?  If so, what are your favorites?

Nope. :P

11.  If you were given the opportunity to play any character from a book/movie/play/musical, who would you want to play and from what show?

I seriously can't come up with anyone . . . hmmm . . .

Friday, May 2, 2014

Top 75 Things I Will Never Do As An Evil Overlord

1.  My evil plan to take over the world will include bathroom stops.

2.  While unleashing the power of Evil Incarnate, I will aptly forget that Evil really doesn't care if I unlocked it or not - all it wants to do is destroy, destroy, destroy.

3.  I would consider the Xanatos Gambit as unnecessarily complicated.

4.  When using the Xanatos Gambit I would remember to leave one tiny path the hero could exploit, just to give him hope.  I think it's amusing when he has hope.

5.  I would hire the dorkiest and most pathetic people I can find to be my soldiers.  It's a political move, of course.  Why else would I have the slogan, "I support dorks!"?

6.  I will not forget to give the immortal "MWUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!" laugh, even though I know the dorky side-kick is coming up behind me with a club.  I told you dorks were useful.

7.  I will give my goonies free wifi so they'll be distracted by Netflix while the heroes sneak past.

8.  I am not content with killing the hero.  He must become my minion captain, even though there's no real reason why he should join.

9.  I will set up increasingly difficult obstacles so that the hero will gain knowledge and be able to put up a real fight by the end.

10.  The minion I blinded thirty years ago will be exiled from my kingdom.  Nah, he probably won't come back as my hero's mentor.

11.  My minions will be of a superstitious breed.  The hero's not smart enough to even think he might be able to scare them out of their duties!

12.  The assassin I send after the hero will be young, beautiful/dashing, and of the opposite gender of the hero.  The assassin wouldn't dare fall in love with the hero, then spare his life - I paid her good money!

13.  If she doesn't betray me, and actually does kidnap the hero, I'm not going to waste my money on paying her or anything.  That would be stupid.  That would be honest . . .  No, I think I'll make a mortal enemy out of her by not paying her.  She wouldn't dare try to rescue the hero out of MY dungeon!

14.  My dungeons will have windows.

15.  I will lock the hero's love interest in the tallest tower of my fortress, even though I know the hero has a griffin.

16.  I will kill my best minion captain because he failed me once.  It's tradition.

17.  I will paint my minions' armor pure white, because it wouldn't make sense to hide my infamous harbingers of glory from sight.

18.  Minions who betray me will be rewarded for thinking outside the box.

19.  I believe in a fighting chance.

20.  (Reverse.  i.e. something I will do).  Any man or woman, girl or boy who has a tragic backstory will be executed.  Backstory that.

21.  (Reverse) While building my fortress, I will have magic spells put on the sewers making them faintfully stinky.

22.  I will wear a pink gibus.

23.  My shock troops will consist of klutzes.  As Jake points out they are beyond intuitive.

24.  I will wear a ring, so when I punch the hero, it will not only smash his face, but it'll break my finger!  Talk about double damage!

25.  If anyone challenges my Overlordicious Throne in full rebellion, I will wait patiently for him to train and gather an army before fighting him.  No sense in wasting my time and actually getting rid of him myself.

26.  When my goonie captains fail me, I'll hire a mercenary goonie captain to take their place.  Who cares if he has no loyalty to me!  He has loyalty to my coin.

27.  I will become enfattened and bloated on the meat and drink of my glory and wealth.

28.  When the hero is finally killed, I, with my villianously dashing heart, will assume that it was the truth when he told me he was dead.

29.  (Reverse) I will have my twin brother executed at birth.

30.  I will lead my armies into battle, valiantly, viciously, villianously!

31.  I will not make a copy of a map concerning the hidden passageways and tunnels of my castle.  The hero wouldn't dare sneak up through the sewers into my personal bedchambers through the toilet.

32.  When a callow youth's family is killed and his home burned to ashes by my Imperial Goonies, I will assume the boy didn't really care about his family, and not expect him to want revenge.

33.  Every minion I find to act suspiciously will go under rigorous testing.  My eight year old son will take a thirty-second interview with this character.  The verdict of my son will be final.  If he is declared a spy, he will be executed.  If he is not declared a spy, he will move on to the next level of investigation.  My crack team of thirteen year olds will represent "Yea" or "Nay".  If thirteen year old #1 wins a wrestling match, it is qualified as a "Yea."  If thirteen year old #2 wins the match, it is a "Nay."  If by chance the suspicious character passes even this tier, he will move onto the last and final one.  He will be lined against a wall and shot for good measure.

34.  Rebels will be given a fair trial and placed in a dungeon for a week.  If they are found to be guilty, then and ONLY then will they be executed.

35.  I will put all the details of taking over the world plans on a 1 Megabyte floppy disk on the top of my desk for convenience.

36.  When the hero wins a rigged contest I set up for him, I will advise the advisers who told me it was impossible to win, to take a try at the contest themselves.  If they fail, I guess its to the crocodile moat with them.

37.  I will not expect anyone to be angry with me for stealing all their things or forcing them into my army.

38.  The good king from whom I usurped the kingdom will be exiled.  He would be in a grieving state, I'm sure, so execution is a bit far.

39.  In the process of taking over the world, I won't give a care when I order ten thousand soldiers to destroy themselves by not retreating.  I mean, who needs several brigades of well-trained, well-equipped warriors when I have my klutzes at hand?

40.  I will always fly low in my helicopter when the hero is dangling on a rope beneath.

41.  I will treat my pet crocodile harshly so that he will be eager to eat me when I trip and fall in the moat.

42.  Once I kill the hero, I won't expect him to come back to life even though his lover kisses him and places the Stone of Love on his chest.  I'm sure it's just some ritual the barbaric tribes practice before cremation.

43.  I will not trust my loyal captains military advice.  If you want anything done your way, you have to do it yourself, is what I say!

44.  Top Priority of the Day:  Rewatch Frozen.

45.  Before putting my ultimate plan of total world domination into action, I will watch animated series such as Kim Possible, Jackie Chan Adventures and Gargoyles to make sure the old pro villains in them would approve of the plan.

46.  I will paint my castle pink to throw off the invaders.

47.  All my captains will be versed in the art of flamenco dancing.

48.  Every time there is a mistake, someone will be executed.

49.  The Imperial seal will be that of me petting a rainbow unicorn sitting atop a balancing ball on the nose of a professional sea lion.

50.  When a band of entertainers come in, I will not expect the worst of them.  Even though there has never ever been such a group here (because these are the Dark Lands), I will trust them and invite them in.

51.  I will make a list of 100 things I will never do as Evil Overlord of Your Pathetic Hairball Lives.

52.  My Imperial Klutzes will be trained in the art of being stupid so that a teenager could simply waltz into my fortress, outwitting and outswordsmanshipping them all.

53.  Open-mindedness is for children.

54.  Can't teach an old dog new tricks!

55.  Overall I will be very nasty in life because I had a bad upbringing.  Yes, that's why I have to murder my minions when I am in fits of anger.

56.  I have no remorse because I am just that soulless.  I mean, how else is the reader going to root when my head is cut off?

57.  I will wear black clothes and a hoodie so that my eyes are dark.  I like the dark.  Also, I'm emo.

58.  I am a Whovian.  It's pretty much a part of the job description.  Of being human.

59.  I am a Let It Goian.  It's pretty much a part of the job description.  Of being sane.

60.  I am a Derp.  It's pretty much a part of the job description.  Of being a villain.

61.  Instead of DARPA, my advanced research center will be named DERPA.

62.  Free donuts in the cafeteria every Saturday for my Imperial Minions!

63.  My personal regiment of Goonie Guards will be trained by airsoft to keep training costs down.

64.  (Reverse) My ambush team will have a counter-ambush division in case the hero ambushes the ambush.

65.  When by Imperial Misnomers kill the hero, I will fully trust them and not expect the hero to actually be alive.

66.  My brains are in my stomach.

67.  If they aren't, I will be surgically mutated so that they are.

68.  I will personally march into battle with my Imperial Klutzes.  I will certainly not use a robot look-alike to take my place.

69.  I will personally oversee the installment of my new tiddy bear.

70.  I will rename myself something grand.  Something ferocious.  Something villainous.  Perhaps Morning Glory Peach Blossom.  Yes, I like the sound of that.

71.  A Brony would never betray his colors.  I fight for villainousity, I fight for an evil empire, I fight for My Little Pony!

72.  I will not move out of New York City, even though if I did, Spiderman wouldn't be able to ruin my plans every single time.

73.  Put all my power into a ring, so that if it's destroyed everything blows up.

74.  (Reverse) My lead scholar will right a book about me.  And for once, the villain will win!  MWHAHAHA!

75.  I MUST have only the best of Girl Scout Cookies delivered to my door.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Writing a First Chapter - No Problem No Pain

Although it came out two years ago, I've only finally watched Wreck-It Ralph.  I have to say, for a surreal gaming world, it had a smooth overall style which at first I didn't expect.  But that's something I might talk about more later.  In a review (if that's the right word), perhaps.

In any case, I noticed an important plot element that was established in the very first minutes of the story.  There's a problem.  A big problem.  At least for Ralph.

But that problem wasn't the inciting incident (though to be fair, it is what caused it).  In any case, my point is that there's something wrong with Ralph's state.  The inciting incident didn't create the problem - the problem already exists.

Why did I bother to bring this up?  Maybe because you, like me, have at least once made a mistake concerning this.  On my current novel, I realized I didn't have a problem - a deep problem.  Not one that comes from the inciting incident, but one that has a difficult and sometimes ugly origin.  It could either be a problem for my hero, someone or something he cares about, or for the whole setting.  But there has to be something to motivates the inciting incident.  For Ralph, he needed to find something in life besides being the bad guy.  Something to show him that, even though he's a bad guy, he's not a bad guy.

And that problem spurred the inciting incident, which in turn made its own (and more severe) problems.

In my own story, the inciting incident is the problem of the story (or at least what gets it started).  Sure, I could write a story like that, but this is one large plot tool that so many stories have it's hard to take another path.  And that's not bad - the elements of plot continue to recur in stories because that's what makes good stories.

I was never aware of this plot tool in the past, but now that I am I plan to make good use of this knowledge.  Because if there is no inherent problem that has to be fixed, right from the beginning, what kind of a story would that make it?

Robert McKee says in his book Story, a story should go to polar opposite by the end.  If it has a bad beginning, it should have a good ending.  Or if it has a happy beginning, it should have a sad ending.

I agree with this completely.  Stories are about change - as significant change.  No matter what happens by the time that last word is put down, something changes.  Even in dark stories there is total and complete change.  Change for good, whether that ending is one of joy or not.  All good stories are about transformation, all good stories are about that moment when the problem - even in a world that seems to get along well - is finally solved.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Write It

Write it.
Just write it.

It's 11:00 PM here as I write this.  I'm sniffling as I enter the frigid wasteland of another sickness.  And I'm conflicted.

There's certainly no point in stressing out over a story, am I right?  But somehow, I can't get that through my head.  There's no writer out there who would take his or her writing too lightly as they prepare to send it out to the world's bleak eyes.  And in many cases, this seriousness - the devotion to the story - is good.  When it goes too far though, it will degenerate the writer down with it.  It comes in many ruses, but it comes much of the time because of stress.

I procrastinate when I get doubts and when I'm afraid.  Yes, I'm afraid.  Fearing that this is all for nothing.  And I can't imagine that it isn't a natural feeling.  But right now, why can't I write this?  It's a minute and a half of dialogue.  A few lines, a few words.  Why can't I finish it?  I need it done by tonight.  It shouldn't be that big of a deal!

But I also procrastinate when I'm conflicted.  And I'm conflicted.  And maybe afraid too?  Afraid I could mess this up so much I'll never be able to amend it later.  And once this is done, I won't be able to amend it.  A last minute change to a project before it goes live means there's no more time for continued editing.

Just a few more lines and that's it.  But they're loaded lines.  Meaningful words.  And, as Mr. Schwbauer says, meaning is something (even something very simple) that points to something greater.  These scraps of lines are so significant to the story because they're at the very end.  And they mean something.  They're the end of character arc, they point to something far greater, and simultaneously they expose light to another, more hidden topic the story has hidden before.

And these lines specifically need to explain why.  Why.  And the Whying of any story can kill a writer.  It's telling the audience why this, or why that.  But Whying can be aggravating - because it's telling, not showing.  And that's bad, because the Whying should be the showing, and yet most of the time it's switched with the telling!

Are you confused too?

Yet I'm resolved to write this tonight.  I'm kind of obsessed with it.

Clocking in at 12:10.  I had a long distraction in writing this.  Ah, the distraction of a distraction from trying to write . . .

See you in the morning.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - March Fourth - Top Ten Popular Authors

Top ten popular authors . . .

That I've never read.

10.  Stephenie Meyer.
       (Thank goodness).  I can't even spell her name without looking it up.  There are a few logical reasons as to why I've never read anything of her's though - let me explain.  Vampire romance.  I think those two words work? ;)

9.  J.K. Rowling.
       As much as I would like to read Harry Potter, I haven't done it.  And watching the movies doesn't count.  Sometime or other I'll buy the series, even for the sake of just reading such an acclaimed series.  And because everyone says her plot weaving is superb.

8.  Stephen King.
       Why am I putting all the really popular authors up at the top?  Because they're the ones that matter least to me.  I've never read any of Stephen King's, and for the most part I don't plan to do so.

7.  George R.R. Martin.
       His books are hardly fit (content wise) for a teenager to read.  Enough said?

6.  William Goldman.
       For as many times as I've looked at that book on Amazon, you would have thought I'd have bought the Princess Bride by now.  But I haven't, and therefore I still haven't read any of William Goldman's work.  Have any of you read the the Princess Bride?

5.  Anne Elisabeth Stengl.
       Popular enough, right?  I would certainly like to read the Goldstone Wood series, and the first book might honestly reach my top ten to read list.  But, as always, I'm such a procrastinator from reading anything.

4.  William Shakespeare.
       While he's technically a playwright, reading his scripts seems the thing to do.  Although I did read a bit of MacBeth at one time (or rather, it was read to me).

3.  Jane Austen.
       Seeing as I don't read much Romance/Romance related books, it makes sense that I never read a Jane Austen.  Nor have I ever finished watching a movie adaption.  The movies have always brought me into a mire of boredom, about which time I hit the off button.

2.  John Green.
       I've been wanting to read the Fault In Our Stars since it came out (what, two years ago?) I've been wanting to read it.  And it's still sitting on my to-read list.

1.  Charles Dickens.
        I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!  Never once have I read a Charles Dickens.  Impossible, you say?  I guess I'm the exception.  And in this case, being the exception isn't fun.  For the sake of all that's writerly good, I must read Little Dorrit, or at least Oliver Twist!
       Truth is, I've actually read Oliver Twist, but it was abbreviated.  Talk about dumbing down society!

- Robert

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sunflower Blog Tag

I was tagged by Ryebrynn with the Sunflower Blogger tag.  Here we go.

Rules -

1.  Share 11 facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions set by your nomination blogger- Nominate 11 bloggers
3.  Set questions for the nominated bloggers. 

1.  My major writing projects since I began serious writing - my first writing project ended in 45,000 words, my second, 20,000, my third, 60,000, my third, 10,000, my fourth, 10,000, my fifth I'm still writing.

2.  I write incredibly slow. D:

3.  I have dirty blonde hair.

4.  I'm an anachronist.

5.  I have an invisible mustache (according to some people).

6.  I have grey-blue eyes.

7.  I'm not a "Grammar Nazi," and I believe it's impossible to be one.  Nazis were the guys who put people in showers and then gassed them.

8.  I'm a sucker for sad books.

9.  I can't think of another one.

10.  I don't watch Doctor Who.

1. What are you currently reading?

The Bronze Bow.

2. What book coming out soon are you most excited about?

Golden Daughter.

3. Do you like Mountain Dew(if you don't, I'll still forgive you... maybe :P)

Course! :D

4. Who is your favorite author?

Maybe C.S. Lewis.

5. What is your favorite series?

The Chronicles of Narnia?  The Lord of the Rings?

6. What is your favorite stand-alone novel?

The Hobbit.

7. Do you like cats?


8. What is your opinion of dogs?

They're good boys.

9. What is your favorite state(In America)\

Washington D.C.? :)

10. Spicy food or sweet food?

Spicy, all the way!

11. What is your favorite movie?

You can't separate the Lord of the Rings.

And now I'll tag -

Ellron Silvertree (even though he doesn't have a blog)
Raptor Elytra
T. Granger
Dmitri Pendragon

Questions -

1.  If the exact opposite of you (personality wise) showed up, what would you do?

2.  What are your current writing projects (if you write)?

3.  Most depressing thing you can think of in an instant?

4.  Do you know a second language?

5.  Have you read the Count of Monte Cristo (unabridged)?

6.  Have you done the Sunflower Tag before?

7.  Eye color?

8.  Hair color?

9.  Do you want a different hair color/eye color?

10.  How are you? (this is not a rhetorical question. :P)

11.  How's your writing going?

- Robert

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11th - The Day The Internet Revolts?

Today, February 11th, is the day the internet rises up and revolts.

If you haven't heard about it by now though, I guess the revolt didn't quite work.

Today is the day we - the internet - fight back.  Virtual protests rise up from all around the blogosphere and elsewhere.  Will the NSA hear us and comply with our demands against Mass Surveillance?

They better.

But we'll see.

(I figured I better post this for my duties to America - and finding something to post.)


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Crazy Idea?

As it is with anyone in their trade, writers can relate to other writers.  Each would have different levels of experience and knowledge on all kinds of subjects.  And even without ever having met each other before, we share a connection because we've all gone through the struggles of writing.

And so, it makes sense for writers to gather and share knowledge and experience, right?  Even just to relax and talk.

And writing together, in one place, is also inspiring.  You can feel the power of creation all around you (although it's more of a subconscious feeling than anything else).  Your environment can mean the difference between 10 words a day and 10,000.

And why not?

Why not a place for writers to gather, to share, to talk, but mostly just to write?  It's a crazy idea (although potentially not the first idea of its kind), for a group of writers just to come and write in one room.  But it's also kind of empowering.  Together is always better than alone, right?

So just imagine.  A large central room of sofas, cushions, desks, beanbag chairs, etc.  Pictures line the walls, something to lighten up the walls but nothing distracting like a movie.  A speaker in the center plays music.  At one end of the room a smaller round room coffeehouse for writers taking a break to talk with others and have refreshments.  At another end of the larger room are a few smaller separate rooms, for those who would rather write in silence - these we can call the Art Rooms, or Exploration Rooms, for us to create in or draw in or just to sit in silence in.

It would be for a collection of writers to just be, well, writers.

Whaddya think?  Would you approve of a place like this, theoretically?  What would you like to see in a place like this?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reading? What's that?

A lot of young writers read a lot.

And the simple truth is - I don't.

I used to read though.  I used to read all the time.  Virtually all the time, that is.  I read the first three books of the Inheritance Cycle, I read the Lord of the Rings, I read all of the Chronicles of Narnia books.  And then I reread them.

I used to read a lot.  But I don't anymore.  Last year I might have read ten books - and I was shooting for twenty-five.  This year (or really last - still can hardly comprehend it's 2014), I've read five at most.  Let's see if I can count them on one hand.

Prisoner of Zenda
The Cross and the Switchblade
Beyond the Cross and the Switchblade

One hand.  And that's with two fingers missing.  Am I just that lazy?  And next year I have to read twenty-five books for school.  Well, that's it for me.  I'm doomed (to borrow the colloquialism).

But why?

For one thing, my environment changed in the past three years like it never had before.

I discovered the internet. O_O (And in the process the key to the future generation of socializing - emoticons)  Which has turned out not only to be the bane of my reading time, but also my writing time, my social time, my school time, and my existence in general.  But not my thinking time, which of course is always the prime of life as a teen still trying to figure out whether the Affordable Care Act is a token of the Devil or a gift from God (after months a year of contemplation, I've discovered it's somewhere in the middle, leaning towards the former - it's a pie in the face from our government).

But this is a bit sidetracked.  Three years ago I lived in a much different environment.  One in which there was a couch.  A bookshelf.  And a fireplace.  And a library about twenty minutes away.

At the time though you must understand - this was not a cool place (actually, considering we had neither gas nor electric heat and only a fireplace, it was a cool place).  At the time I hated libraries - and yet I loved reading books.

Sound confusing?

Don't look at me.  I was the victim to that delusional state of mind.

So I read on that little couch.  And I read.  And I read.  And then we moved and I stopped reading.  About that time was when I starting writing, however.

So obviously there's a big shift in ideals during this time of my life.  I went from feeding of others' work - a consumer - to (trying) to create - a producer.

I went from living a normal life, to wanting to help others live normal lives (through books - though I was at the time still quite disillusioned, as I believed writing was for the sake of it.  As if!)

And so I can firmly come to this conclusion.  My shifting ideals actually affected my behavior subconsciously.  I don't, however, believe that I should remain this way.  Therefore, maybe 2014 will be a better year for me in terms of reading.  Maybe I shall return to those frolicking meadows (the ones I believed I was in on the stormy days of childhood).  And once again return to being that fat happy consumer.

Although I don't think choosing Alice in Wonderland was quite the book to start off with in my return to preexistence . . .

Adios and vaya con dios

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Swearing in YA Fiction

I was reading a forum thread today.  It was the first page of a debate thread.  And being that it is a Christian forum, everyone on there agreed swearing is bad in YA fiction.

Is swearing bad, then?  Is it just inherently evil, or does it not really matter?  My immediate reaction might be something along the lines of "Well, it's what the writer means it as."

But is that true?  If I don't really mean what I say when I take God's name in vain, does that excuse me?

If they're empty words, why is there a taboo on them in Christian culture?  Do you see the point in holding up a meaningless tradition?

If they're just words, I may as well expand my vocabulary!  If I don't mean anything by them, how can they harm?

But do I really mean something?  Maybe, maybe not.  A lot of teens  (and adults) spout out words they might not even understand just for the sake of it.  But they're expressions, are they not?  For some, swearing is just another adjective.  For others, they say it in anger, surprise, or even happiness.  They're expressing their feelings.

So is expressing your feelings - even when you're using swear words - okay?  Here's a key point though.  I'm not using a swear word for basically no reason - I'm using it to express myself.  And so it does mean something to me . . .

Of course, it may just be a habit I got stuck onto.

So is swearing really bad?  The Bible says using God's name in vain is bad, but what about the other words?  The words that aren't using God's name in vain?  The f-word, the s-word?

We might find them vulgar, as Christians.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Our own beliefs should come out far stronger than what the world excepts.  Our beliefs should be more powerful to us individually.  Philippians 4:8 validates our shunning of those two words for us personally.

And so as a writer, it partially depends on what your own moral standard is.

But going back to this forum.  One member said:
"If you need a character to cuss:

1.  Make up swear phrases.
2.  Simply write "Billy cursed."

Do you agree with this?

I don't.  Why?  Because making up your own swear words is just a pathetic excuse to make yourself feel "unguilty".  I'm sorry, but I have to be blunt.  What's the difference between using the phrase: "Oh my god" and "By the King's beard."?

The king in the second phrase is referring to a god-like presence in whatever fantasy world writers may be writing in.  But there's no difference.  Using God's name in vain, only switching the official title?  Think about that a while.

Moving on to number two then.  I feel uncomfortable with this too.  If someone - maybe an impressionable young kid, reads that his hero curses, then by all means, that should mean he is allowed to do so too . . .

Even if original intentions are not so, indirect and even subconscious messages can be transmit through the page.  I know what "Billy" is saying.  And covering up the word with "Billy cursed" is only an excuse to hide what the character is saying.  Just write the word if that's what you're trying to say.

Or would you feel guilty . . . ?

I don't like swearing in my fiction - or anything that I read.  But what's the point of trying to hide it when I know it's there?

C.S. Lewis swore.  Or maybe he just used it in his books to give a more authentic feel to the characters.  Whatever the case, he didn't use it in the Chronicles of Narnia.  It's a family friendly series.  I have no wish to put profanity in children's stories - but covering it up with "he swore"?  There's no difference.

If a kid gets the wrong idea from a curse word, it's your responsibility.  You may not be able to fix it - but you could have prevented it.  It affects.  Words affect.

And that is why words are so powerful.  They can create emotion.  And they can create mistakes.  If you have swear words, even in foreign languages, show that it is wrong.

Show that swearing, no matter the random string of letters - but that the meaning of it - is wrong.

What's your opinion on swear words?  Are they inherently evil?  Do you not mind "he swore" so much?  What about other words?  Would you replace a swear word with "rats!"?  Also, what do you think about the words that mean different things in different places?  In America, bloody is an acceptable word.  In the United Kingdom and other British affiliated nations however, "bloody" is offensive.

Is masking what you mean by using other words acceptable?  Even if your meaning is the same?  For an evil character, this is sometimes a question you may be faced with, even just for the sake of authenticity.

And also, what - in your mind - is the difference between using God's name in vain, as in "Good God!" and exclamations of surprise or other emotions?

- R

Monday, January 27, 2014

Save Jonathan Park!

Jonathan Park is in trouble!

Jonathan Park is an awesome Christian radio drama.  But the series is in a crisis - because last year a business partner with the series folded, and with it seemingly went the hope of Jonathan Park ever returning to the 'waves.

But recently a new chance came up for the Roys - the family who created, wrote, and directed the series.  They were offered a chance to buy back the rights of Jonathan Park.  This could mean a lot.

But that chance to get back the full rights is costly.  And they don't just have the capital sitting around.  So Mr. Roy started a crowdfunding option.  100,000 dollars is a lofty goal - but who said anything is impossible with God on our side?

Jonathan Park is an invaluable endeavor.  The series aired all over.  And now they need our help to bring back Jonathan Park.

It's time to Save Jonathan Park!

The crowdfunding host is fundable - https://www.fundable.com/creation-works-of-california
But you can also just search for savejonathanpark.com and it will send you straight there.

Learn more about the Jonathan Park series here - http://www.jonathanpark.com/
And visit the group (lead by Mr. Roy and his wife) website who will be buying the rights - http://creationworks.net/

~Robert T

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I Don't Have The Patience For Writing

What if I don't have the patience to write?

Patience for writing.  This is something I have been asked before.  Truth is, you don't need patience.

You don't need, even, devotion.  Even inspiration.  Just interest.

That's all.  If you're interested in writing, you can write a novel.  Now I can't promise you'll hit the New York Times bestseller's list, but if you want to write a novel, you can write a novel.  To make a career out of it, you need to have an intense devotion to it.

But if you just want to write as a hobby or for leisurely fun, you should have no problem with silly "patience".  And patience to write is also something you will learn over time if you do want to make a life out of writing.  All in time, of course (and a lot of patience!  Oh, wait . . .).

 But there's more to patience than just that, right?  Yes.

Determination.  Persistence.  You might not need the patience to write, but you need the determination.  If you don't have it, get it.  Force it on yourself.  Discipline yourself.  And if you want to write regularly, set up a schedule that you will follow.

If you want to consistently write every day, try the 100 for 100 on the Go Teen Writers website.  You write 100 words a day for 100 days.  And of course if you want to keep going that day, write more than a hundred words.  The point is not to get a lot done, but to get it done consistently.

If there is anything in writing you need more than anything else, it's determination.  This is all writing really is;

10% skill, 90% persistence idiocy.

An exaggeration, of course.  But the point is brought across.  And if you don't have the persistence, that's something you can train yourself to have.  Do writing challenges - and tell your friends you're doing them.  That will put some heavy-handed pressure on you to actually finish them.

In the end though, your determination will take energy out of you.  Writing is like a seesaw.  It's a give and take.  The more energy you put in it, the less you'll have to put into others things.  But of course there are the many rewards of writing it will give back to you.

Have any of you ever run out of patience with writing?  I know I certainly have.  How have you mastered this trial?  Brute determination or taking a rest, or both?

Robert T.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


It's been done in the Hobbit, it's been done in Robinson Crusoe.  But those were books written decades - even centuries in the latter case - ago.  Both of them infodumped from the start.  Both of them are wildly popular.  But now things have changed.  Infodumping now is a curse.

The patience of readers (and writers) alike has dwindled considerably just in the last fifty years, and therefore the art has changed.  New genres have arisen - just think of thrillers - that would hardly be possible if they were not so fast paced.

Every sentence of a novel must matter in some way, but novels in general must be faster.  I enjoy a longer novel once in a while, but it bores the soul out of you eventually.

And so there is at least one inevitable truth in writing:  You must keep up the pace.

Especially in the first chapter, something meaningful has to happen.  Okay, so maybe you've done that.  And this is where a lot of new writers really scuttle themselves.  Let's look at it from an outline perspective.

-MC's village burned down by raiders.  Family killed.  Inciting Incident.
-MC's backstory told about him being a prince/magician.

Not only is that horribly cliche, it's infodumping.  The process of stopping everything else in the story and telling a block of info - whatever this info may be.  Whether it be about the world in which the characters live in (most commonly for Speculative Fiction), about a particular character, or general backstory, what specifies infodumping is that plot, character development, and all else is halted for this information to be given.

This is always, always bad.

And it doesn't just have to be at the beginning.  Infodumps are bad everywhere.  I caught myself in one of my own novels nearly infodumping the backstories of two new characters.  Thankfully, I was still in the outlining stages and it was easy to refocus that scene.

But besides backstory, character, or world infodumps, there are a few more . . .

The: "As You Know" infodumps.

Just as in narration, infodumps can easily be used in dialogue.  But its still just as bad - it stops everything else to explain.  To tell, not to show).  And therefore, they must be done away.  The most common of these dialogue infodumps is the "As You Know" loophole.  There's a no-brained insensibility to have one character explain to the other character what they both already know (and they know the others know) just for the benefit of the reader.

Of course, there's even a loophole around that.  To bring in a character who doesn't know the As You Know (whatever subject it is), and so it makes sense.

But it's lazy.  The reader might get the point, but as writers, we're not just supposed to get the message through, we're supposed to do it in a unique and intriguing way.

Give little hints every few pages and let the reader find out the information for him- or her- self.  This brings the reader's mind into the book.  And once in the book, it's not easy to get out.

Getting rid of infodumps therefore not only keeps the pace of the story steady, it lets the reader engage himself into the story.

Robert T.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Plans

My planning for 2014 has begun.  Setting goals is a good way to, at the least, make yourself feel extremely guilty if you don't get anything done.  And that is precisely why I've set up some of my own goals.  What's life without guilt, eh?

- Aside from completing this year of school - and then starting another - I'm going to be taking a Clep Test for college; Western Civilization 1.  Oh the joy of that thought.
- I will learn how to cut my hair and shave.  ;)
- Blog more frequently after I revamp this place - again.
- Introduce to the world the new genre of Suavebuckling!  Hahaw.  Which is sadly nothing but a fancy name.
- Finish the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum, therein completing Heart of a Hero (temporary title, of course).
- Outline and write a children's short story.  Possibly write more in that story-world, depending on how I like it.
- Possibly write a novel considerably longer than anything I have ever written before by out 40k words.  But I'm not confident about this.  Depending on how everything else in life goes, I'll outline this in late spring or early summer, and possibly start writing in August.
- Edit Heart of a Hero like crazy.
- Compete in both Church and Homeschool volleyball teams I'm in.

Sound a little weak for a year plan?  It probably is, but speed-writing is most definitely not my style.  I'm not the kind of guy who can sit down and in four months have a 100k first draft, along with the printings on the keyboard a little more worn.  I also fumble through between going from completed project to promising new first draft quite a bit.

But, I do have at least two other major things stored for 2014.  Two things that will keep me busy each week, consistently.

And that's the worst kind of project.

R. Thacker

P.S.  This is a little contradictory to my last post.  I may get lost in pursuit of selfish dreams, that is a fact inevitable.  Still, there is one thing that might redeem my name from hypocrisy.  Time will tell, of course.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

It's all good and nice to dream about "New Year's Resolutions," but a lot of the time, we're being selfish.

They're our resolutions to help us.  Maybe we did promise to make our home a better place by "being kinder to our families," but will it happen?

Is it even possible?

But then we have to think - is that even what we should be doing?

Trying to improve life for ourselves and our kin is fine and all, but it's a little selfish.  Who, besides us and the ones close to us, is it really helping?

Okay, so maybe you promised to "go green!" this year.  That's splendid!

Now are you going to do it?

New Year's Day is a fun time to think up what we'd like to do this year.  To fantasize.  To say, "maybe this'll be the year I write my book."  But we have to remember that what we do or not do will affect others.

One hundred and thirty-thousand people died in the Syrian Civil War.  Their lives were taken away from them without hesitation, without a tear of remorse.  The brutal meatgrinder of war will never stop.  Is there anything you can do in a "New Year's Resolution" to solve?  No, of course not.

But when you're thinking about what you want to do, consider what you can do.  Can you help the 2 million people displaced by the Syrian Civil War?  They live in fear, hunger, and poverty, places inhuman to be forced into.

So while you're in the hype of "doing good things," and "becoming a better person," think about what you can really do.  New Year's Resolutions might be a good thing, but it won't resolve the problems of life.

Alone we cannot resolve our problems.  Things will remain unresolved, no matter how we try.

Resolutions might make you feel good, but look at the results, did it really do good?

R. Thacker