Here Comes Mr. Heartache

Yesterday’s writing on the novel was pretty much non-existent because I was finishing up another project that needed finishing, and that bugger took most of about eight hours of work.  It was finished up, leaving me a little burned out but none the worse for the wear.

"I'll have Kerry professing his darkest secrets to Annie here just as soon as I lift my nose off the 'V' key."

“I’ll have Kerry professing his darkest secrets to Annie here just as soon as I lift my nose off the ‘V’ key.”

What I ended up doing instead was watching the TCM channel, because the movie that was on was Here Comes Mr. Jordan, starring Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes, and Claude Rains.  The movie was made in 1941 and has been remade a few times since, even once in India.

I’ve remembered this movie quite a lot over the years because I can remember seeing it when I was like seven or eight years old.  See, as a kid I watched a lot of old movies because we pretty much had six channels a radio, and the local affiliates ran what would be considered “Classic Movies” all the time in the afternoon, and usually after ten-thirty at night.  I throw the quotes around “Classic” because when I was eight the year was 1965, and Here Comes Mr. Jordan was only twenty-four years old; the equivalent today would be watching one of these, the Top Ten Movies of that year:

1.    Terminator 2: Judgment Day
2.    Beauty and the Beast
3.    Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
4.    The Addams Family
5.    City Slickers
6.    Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
7.    Thelma & Louise
8.    Fried Green Tomatoes
9.    Hot Shots!
10. JFK

I used to watch a lot of movies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and look at thinks like how a shot was set up, the lighting, the sets, and special effects, and, of course, the story.  I do that today, too:  I’m more interested in how the story gets somewhere rather than knowing the spoilers and secrets.  Oh, and I always checked out the women’s outfits.  Go figure, right?

The thing that I always remembered about Here Comes Mr. Jordan, however, is that it made me cry.  It happened at the very end, when the guy who’s fallen in love with the girl gets moved into another body and doesn’t really remember her, and then they meet and sort of semi-reminisce about the people they knew–or the people they thought they knew.  The moment ends hopefully, but at the time it looks as if things are gonna end on a bummer note–

And that was when I cried as a kid, because I didn’t think it was fair that someone could get that close to loving someone and having it taken away from them.  I did the same thing last night:  I haven’t seen the movie in about twenty years, but the moment the movie got to that part, I started crying.  Actually I started sobbing pretty hard; crying is what I’m doing right now as I write these lines, and that’s the truth.

I’ve always been emotional; I’ve talked about this a few times on the blog.  I’ve always wanted to have a grand romance, but . . . nope, it’s never happened.  Not even that many dates, to be honest.  Just never been able to because of one damn thing or another, usually the ‘nother.  I keep hoping it’s going to happen in the twilight of the life, as it is said, but probably not.

The only place I can find it is in the works of others, or in my own.

I’ll admit something right now:  there have been times when some of the scenes I’ve written have taken their toll upon me.  Not the combat or being mean scenes:  nope, hurting is easy, and I know my characters will recover because–well, I know.  No, it’s the scenes where feelings are given and taken, and love is professed.  One of the hardest I’ve had to write was the “Worth of Love” scene in the hospital, where Annie tells Kerry that, and that he deserves to hear someone tell him they love him every day of his life–and he realizes, moments later, that Annie deserves the same.  Dammit, even now I’m getting weepy just thinking about that scene and writing this down.  It was hard to write, and it’s hard to read.

It’s hard because I wonder if that will ever happen to me.

I know there are going to be a lot of things that will hurt my kids throughout these stories.  I joked in the comments yesterday that one of the themes that will pop up is death, that before they’re out of school they’ll both be well versed in death, both from the receiving side and the dealing side.  Particularly Kerry:  there’s a situation in the fifth novel–yes, that far away!–where he jokes with all seriousness, “I’m really tired of this ‘tempting death’ shit, why can’t I do something else?”.  You can’t, kid, because death is the yang to your love yin.  You’re gonna love hard, and that’s gonna be balanced with getting into a lot of major crap that’s gonna leave you sitting on Death’s doorstep now and then.

But don’t worry, ’cause Annie’s gonna be right there with you sometimes . . .

You still get the grand romance, Kerry, with a girl who’ll tell you every day that she loves you.  Some of us would screw with death all the time if we could get that.

Believe me, kid.  I know.

Fulfilling the Loops of Continuity

First up, a little bit of personal news.  No, nothing bad:  I’m not off to the sanitarium to “get better”, though I’ve done something like that at one point in my life . . . no, it’s something better.  I’ll will have an interview posted on another blog sometime soon.  Yay me!  I haven’t had an interview in a while, and now is as good a time as any.  There were a lot of questions, and by the time I answered them all I’d written nearly four thousand words, so you know I’ll have a lot to say.  It’s also possible I’ll come off as the most boring git in the world, but that’s a risk you run with an interview.  As soon as it is posted, I’ll reblog it here, and generally link whore myself like crazy.  Please stand by.

Writing up that interview took most of my morning and afternoon, so I didn’t do much in the way of editing yesterday.  That happens:  you can’t be in editing or writing mode all the time, but you do what you can, right?  However, I did have the TV on in the background while I did my interview, and a couple of the movies that I half-paid attention to were Wanted–which I’d not only seen before, but I have the original comics run of the story–and Taken–which I had not seen before, but knew about because this movie started the reign of Liam Neeson bad-assery.

Of the two Wanted is really an odd duck because it so wildly deviates from the original material.  Sure, one could believe James McAvoy is a complete loser who ends up becoming a master assassin, and Angelina Jolie is his mentor, but once you start getting into the original story you start to see a lot of weird things, like how The Fraternity is really a bunch of super-villains who got tired of being on the bottom rung of the ladder all the time and decided to take over.  Then there’s the main characters, Wesley and The Fox.  Throughout the comic they are modeled after two rather well know individuals:  Wesley was modeled after Eminem, and The Fox was modeled after Halle Berry.  The Fox also wears a costume that comes with cat ears, because super-villains, yo.

Sure, you can see the resemblence between the characters and the actors if you squint hard enough . . .

Sure, you can see the resemblance between the characters and the actors if you squint hard enough . . .

But one can live with that, because if you aren’t getting Eminem and Halle Berry to pretty much play themselves in a story that used them for the character templates, then you do what you can.  There was a scene, however, that made me roll my eyes:  it was when Wesley is looking at a piece of the “Loom of Fate” given to him to translate, and as he looks through a magnifying glass he starts drawing ones and zeros so he can lay out the binary code and translate it to English.  And as Wesley draws his numbers, his zeros always get a slash in them . . .

Which if you’re a boy from Chicago–which Wesley’s suppose to be–you wouldn’t put a slash in your zeros.  However, if you’re a boy from Scotland–which James McAvoy is–you would probably draw your oughts with a slash in them.  Which was why I was rolling my eyes, because I was surprised no one caught that.  Then again, how many people watching the movie are going to catch that?  Maybe a dozen?  Only the super geeks among us?  Those of us who read the comic and are wondering if before the credits roll McAvoy is going to show us his rage face while telling the audience this is how he’s going to look while butt raping us?  (Which is how the comic ends, by the way.)

Then there’s Taken.  Never mind trying to figure out the logic of how a guy can run through Paris killing dozens of people, and even go so far as to shoot the wife of a French Security Officer in their house, and yet still apparently fly home commercial after having been shot a few times.  It’s an action movie, and you’re suppose to check your brain at the door before entering the theater.  No, the part that had me rolling my eyes took place on the private flight from Los Angeles to Paris . . .

Now, when Liam’s character’s daughter gets nabbed, you hear her description of her kidnapper:  “Beard; six foot; tattoo on hand–“.  Sure, clear enough.  But on the flight to Paris you hear her say, “Mustache; six foot; tattoo on hand–”  But later the description is back to beard–so who am I looking for?  A guy with a beard, or a guy with a mustache?  Or does it matter, because Liam’s gonna kill them all anyway?  It’s one of those things that sort of drive me mad, though, because since you already have the recording of the kidnapping, why bother with the change?  Or was it because they recorded the sound bite before they had an actor cast, and they didn’t know what they’d look like?

A few times I’ve had people tell me that I spend too much time trying to get everything “right” in my stories, that I spend too much time trying to figure out a sequence of events within my novels rather than just sitting down and writing.  Like I mentioned a few days ago there are times when it would be easy to write, but then you find that a scene you’re preparing won’t work because of something like the sun setting too late at the location where the scene is set, and that means your characters are going to look up in amazement at the beautiful aurora greeting them to a land of death and cold misery.  “Who’s going to know that?” you say?  Me, for one.  And some geek out there who bothers to check time of sunset for that day in that part of the world, after which they mumble, “Man, this chick is a loser!  Don’t they know it’s not dark enough for an aurora?”  And don’t say they aren’t out there:  they are.

Because I’m here, so I know they exist.

This is why I have all sorts of notes.  This is why I spend so much time trying to figure out little things like when do people go off and do whatever it is they’re suppose to do in the story.  It’s like what I was working on late last night:  a couple of things I added to Annie and Kerry’s E Level time:  I’ve got them doing things for The Guardians relating to spirits, because they’re getting older, they’re getting good finding and contracting and even doing things to spirits, and so why not have them perform a little extra-curricular activity with a branch of The Foundation that doesn’t mind using a couple of hapless teenager witches when the need arises.

Help the Guardians, See the World, Make it Back in Time for Necromancy 102.

Help the Guardians, See the World, Make it Back in Time for Necromancy 102.

Therefore I have them off helping with a spirit search in Chicago–yeah, but it’s not like they’re talking around the middle of The Loop with unregulated nuclear particle accelerators on their backs–and then off to Pripyat, Ukraine–which, if you know your geography and history, is a real fun time–which eventually leads to that section at 21 March–a point in time where I’ve created another time line so I know what’s happening there.

You can bet that means it’s not gonna be a good time.

It’s important to get things right.  If you do it up front, then you don’t have to worry about them when you write:  you just write.  It’s one of the things I pointed out in my interview yesterday–if you know the order of things before you write, if you have all your notes in place before the story begins, the actual telling of the tale becomes far easier.  You’re not going to be perfect; you’re not always going to catch everything.  In fact, as you go along you may see something that works better.  But at least you have the foundation laid–no pun here, trust me–before the story is built.

Then again, maybe you want the Earth rotating in the wrong direction . .

The World Beneath the Water

Lets roll out the new from last night, first.  It was “I’m Off Night,” last night, because after dinner and a little shopping I had zero creative energy to sit and do anything.  I knew what I wanted to write, but after a good hour of looking at the story, I finally said, “I think I’ll just sit and relax,” and did that until I started falling asleep at ten PM.  It’s not a bad thing:  sometimes you need to recharge your batteries, and if that means a night off, then take it.  I don’t have anything to do today, so it’s a good time to make up for last night’s lost time.

So what I’m going to talk about today is something completely different, and in the process of this discussion I’m going to bring up some things about a rather well known television show about zombies where no one ever says the word zombie.  There will be times when I’m gonna go all Ms. Spoilly McSpoil, so if you don’t want to read something that’s going to cause you to shake your fist at your computer screen while you scream, “Curse you, Cassie!” through clenched teeth, then read a book, listen to music, or watch some good movies–TCM will show Bonnie and Clyde, Jaws, and Alien back-to-back tonight, so you might want to keep that block open.

I have given warning–you know–

Or is that, "Don't Dead, Open Inside"?  Maybe I should check . . .

Or is that Don’t Dead, Open Inside? Maybe I should check . . .

There’s a meme that’s been rolling around Facebook of late, one that doesn’t actually involve some kid getting picked up for a DUI in Miami.  No, this is a picture of a huge iceberg, floating peacefully along while waiting for a ship to smack into it.  As you know an iceberg is pretty much under the water, a huge thing you never see, which is probably good because you’d likely get hypothermia swimming around trying to get a look-see.

The part above the water–the small part–is labeled “Movie”, while the part below the waterline is labeled “Novel”.  You know what they’re trying to say:  the parts you see in a movie are only a small part of the story that’s adapted from a novel–if, of course, the movie is adapted from a novel, and it’s not an original tale.

But this is often true.  One could point to any of the biggest movies of late–the Harry Potter films, the Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games–had to leave out a lot of the story to get the tale up on the screen.  For some tales you need to do a four or five hour flick if you want to get everything on the screen–or do as was done with The Godfather, which took the early life of Vito Corleone and worked it up as a flash back around original material.  And in doing this, they still left out a lot of the story.  (Maybe due to threats of a lawsuit by a certain Italian-American singer and actor who’d won an Oscar who didn’t like a character in the novel who was Italian-American singer and actor who ended up winning an Oscar, all with a little help from his godfather.  Purely a coincidence, I’m sure.)

When you translate a novel to television, however, you are allowed a little more leeway, because you have, if you’re lucky, more time to develop your story.  Rich Man, Poor Man was a good example of the early television mini-series, where you could take your time moving as much of the story from the page to the screen, and stay true to the material.  Yes, some things don’t get translated well–maybe due to things that are going on inside a person’s head, or, depending on the times, there are things in the story that violate a network’s “standards and practices,” which is a fancy way of saying you’ll never get a particular scene past the censors.

This is pretty much alleviated by the advent of premium cable these days, where one can pretty much get away with showing so much that the joke has  become, “It’s not porn, it’s HBO.”  Yes, there are some things that HBO won’t show–in A Song of Ice and Fire our lovable Mother of Dragons was more like I’m Just Barely a Teen Mommy of Dragons, so she was aged up just a little for Game of Thrones.  And by “just a little,” I mean she could have appeared on 16 and Pregnant–with DRAGONS!  Which is a reality show I’d watch . . .

Basic cable has gotten into the act as well.  Breaking Bad was a true gem of drama, with a story and characters that was at both times compelling and revolting.  This was, however, an original show, and the story could develop as slowly and fully as the creator/producer liked.  And that brings us to the real iceberg of this tale, The Walking Dead.

"I don't speak with an English accent.  I'm from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent."

“I don’t speak with an English accent. I’m from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent.”

At the moment the AMC show is three-and-a-half seasons into a four season run, with a fifth promised.  It’s done very well in ratings and has a loyal, sometimes fanatical following, but that’s to be expected with any fandom.  The show follows this guy, Sheriff Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a gun shot-induced coma and discovers that, no, he’s not in Indiana, he’s in the middle of the Zombie Apocalypsetm, his family is missing, and everything he’s known has gone straight to hell.  In the process of the first episodes he finds his family, a group of survivors, and most of all his best-I-left-you-for-dead-and-I’m-bangin’-your-wife-friend and former partner from the force, Shane.

The show has followed the meta plot pretty closely:  they find Atlanta messed up, they find  Hershel’s Farm, they find The Prison, they find The Governor, they fight The Governor, they lose the Prison, and as of right now they’re On The Road looked for each other and safe harbor.  Since it’s been stated they run into the traveling trio of Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa, and mullet-sporting Eugene Porter, the metaplot will have them heading northward to the Alexandra Safe-Zone, where life won’t exactly become any easier for them.

I’ve only watched the show off and on throughout the years.  I usually haven’t had the time to watch the show, though these days I find there is more time in The Burg for relaxing, so I have watched episodes off and on.  I’ve also been an off-and-on fan of the comic, which has run since October, 2003, and is now up to Issue 120, with a confirmation of printing through Issue 132.

In terms of iceberging, this story is the perfect iceberg.  There is so much that has been set by the wayside in order to get the story on the screen.  About half of the Prison story was removed, for example, which could have been an entire season in of itself–instead of, say, a whole season of hanging out on The Farm.  That season could have seen Hershel losing two of his kids to his zombie kid in the barn, Tyreese’s daughter and boyfriend messing up their suicide pack, the beheading of Hershel’s twin daughters by crazy prisoners, Tyreese giving Rick a beatdown and throwing him off a second-story walkway, Carol deciding to do Death By Walker–

Wait, what?

Like I said, there were a lot changed to move the story from the comic to the small screen.  For one, they got rid of a few characters:  Hershel had a huge family, and he pretty much gets to watch six of them die almost right before his eyes–the last one, his son Billy, does when he takes a bullet to the head during the Woodbury assault on the prison. There are a few prisoners who make it as far at the Woodbury assault but no further, and one of two Woodbury defectors also meet their end at that point as well.  Dale–he of the famous show’s Dale Face–survives well beyond the Woodbury assault, only to be eaten by cannibals while on the road to Washington, D.C..  He is also the one who loses a leg, but since Dale was long-gone by the time of the show’s Prison Time, that leg bite went to Hershel.

Oh, and the Show Rick swears a lot less than that Comic Rick, but that’s because It’s Not HBO, It’s AMC, and while the show may be able to get away with a “shit” and “asshole” now and then, having Rick throw out the word “fucker” every so often wouldn’t go over well, and tell Michonne and Tyreese that the Woodbury folks “have fucked with the wrong people!” is pretty much HBO fodder.  And there’s a few sex scenes, because even when you’re surrounded by the undead, there’s always a moment for sexy time, right?

"This is my resting bitchy face.  I'm really not as bad as I'm made out."

“This is my resting bitchy face. I’m really not as bad as I’m made out.”

And then there is Lori.

If there is a part of this ‘Berg I find way the hell off, it’s the way a few of the women are portrayed.  In the original story, Lori is concerned, she’s protective of her family, she admits to having had sex once with Shane but no more, she makes it through Judith’s birth, becomes a protective mother–and then dies in about as gruesome a manner as one can imagine.  If it’s any consolation, her death–and the death of another–leads to the death of The Governor, but by that time Lori’s a Walker in Training and gives no shits.

The Show Lori, however . . . when your character is made out as the worst thing in a world full of undead looking to eat you and your loved ones twenty-four/seven, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, until the day you join the shambling herd, there is something seriously off.  By the end of Season Two most viewers, given the choice of having their face gnawed off by a hungry Walker, or having Lori ask them if they saw Carl in the house, would say, “Hey, Walker:  you want a side salad with my face?”  No way was she ever getting Mother of the Year awards, and given the narrowness of that field in the story, it’s a pretty damning indictment for her character.

The same thing was done with Andrea.  On the show she was something of an annoying pain in the ass who got separated from the group, was rescued by Michonne, went to Woodbury, hooked up with The Gov, waffled back and forth with the, “Is he good, is he psycho?  I can’t kill him, the sex was pretty good,” line, and ultimately ended up dead due to her own kind of stupid.

"No, I never shot a redneck by accident.  If I shoot him, he ain't gettin' up!"

“No, I never shot a redneck by accident. If I shoot him, he ain’t gettin’ up!”

This is more the way she really was:  kicking ass and forgetting the names as soon as they were dispatched.  And that scar on her face?  That’s from taking a rifle shot to the head, which sort of kinda put her out of action just a little in the final Woodbury assault.  But, in the comic story, Andrea’s still alive, still kicking ass, and pretty much Rick’s girlfriend at this point.  A lot of her personality in the original story got ported over to Carol, who, on the show, you learned not to be near if you had a bad cough.

I can understand some of the changes that were made:  it’s basic cable, you only have so many episodes in a season that can air, you wanna cut through as much of the Peyton Place stuff as possible and stick to the action, and you never know how long your actors can stay with you, so sometimes you kill off ones where they shouldn’t die, and keep around those who should have died because they’re good for the story, which is to say fans like them, and fans equal viewer, so go with that.

That, ultimately, is why you have the iceberg when you translate a story to a screen.  Reading is one thing, the visual medium another, and a lot of the people doing the viewing aren’t necessary going to be doing the reading.  There are a few exceptions to the rule–Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings instantly spring to mind, as well as a few superhero movies based upon other comics–but in the case of TV, it does seem that you have a lot more people who watch the story, and are surprised as hell when one tells them that what they’re watching was based upon a book, or in the case of TWD, a comic.

It’s an interesting thing to look at from the point of being a writer.  I’ve seen more than a few Facebook threads that go, “If your story is made into a movie, who do you want to play your characters?”  A better question may be, “If your story is made into a movie or television show, what would you be okay with getting changed or dropped?”  After all, your story would end up someone else’s iceberg.

And there’s so much water in which to hide.

Space Testing

The movie Gravity is coming, like tomorrow, the 4th of October, which also happened to be the anniversary of the launching of Sputnik I.  Funny how that works out, right?  This is something I’ve wanted to see since I’ve heard about the concept, and after seeing the trailer–which, once again, give away a few too many plot point, particularly if you know your space suits and hardware like me; thank you for nothing, Hollywood–I’m considering seeing it in 3d, as it looks stunning as hell.

What more could you want?  It’s Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and space–or should I say, “SPAAAAAACCCCCCCEEEEEE”?  Throw in Alfonso Cuaron on the screenplay and directing, and it’s a winner.

But I know some of my friends won’t see it.  Not because it’s about space (no, Space Core, I won’t say it), but because it won’t pass The Bechdel Test.

I’ve discussed The Bechdel Test before.  The criteria is simple:

 

1.  Are there two women in the movie?
2.  Do to speak with each other?
3.  Do they speak about something other than a man?

 

It’s meant to give some indication as to the amount of gender bias in a flick, as in, “Do the women play an important part in the movie, or is the flick a total bro fest?”  And lets face it, the majority of movies are a total bro fest, with dudes totally saving the day and shit being blown up left and right, while the ladies are little more than lampshade meant to get all hot and bothered over Bro One’s flexing.

The problem is, a smart writer or director can game this easily.  Just slip in a scene with two women talking about something other than a guy, and suddenly you hit the criteria.  Here, let me show you:

 

Scene:  in the middle of monsters tearing up (name of city here, but probably New York, because screw that place), Main Female Character runs into a bathroom to wash the blood from her face.  There’s a commotion in a stall behind her:

Female voice OC:  “Oh, dammit!”
MFC:  “What?”
(Woman steps out of the stall)  “I’m having my period and I don’t have any tampons.”
MFC:  (reaching into breast pocket of her combat overalls to remove a tampon)  “Here, take one.”
SFC:  “Wow!  You’re a lifesaver!”
MFC:  “Yeah, well . . . the last thing I want when I’m kicking some monster’s ass is to have blood flowing from my uterus–”
SFC:  “Nasty!”
MFC:  “You know it.  So I always carry spares.”  (Looks into the mirror)  “Okay, time to save the world!”
SFC:  “Go get ’em!”

End Scene.

 

Yes, that was a cheap way to do it, but it’s one of the ways a flick like GI Joe: Retaliation and Sharknado can make the list, but Anna Karenina, Bullet to the Head, and Chernobyl Diaries can’t.  And the odds are Gravity won’t make the list, either, though I could be wrong since it appears there is a female captain in the movie, and she may give a few orders to Sandra before something horrible happens.

The Hollywood idea that women can’t carry a movie is crap.  The idea that if I don’t throw some bros into a flick I’m going to alienate my public and a flick will lose money is crazy.  Take a look at the movies out in 2013:  of the ones that crashed and burned, how many of them were strictly a couple, or more, dudes on the screen?  (I’m lookin’ hard at you, Lone Ranger.)  Woman can’t carry a flick?  The majority of movies with men in them aren’t making cash.  I believe this is known in many scientific circles as, “Your hypothesis is bullshit!”, and Hollywood should take note when they’re not handing Micheal Bay a half-billion dollars to blow up stuff with toy robots.

I don’t see a lot of movies in a year; if I’m lucky, maybe two or three.  So far I’ve seen one this year, and that was Pacific Rim, which I loved.  I’ll go see Gravity and probably dig the hell out of it.  And then I’ll likely be through for the year, and wait to see what next year brings.

In the meantime I’m gotta write about these two woman about to unleash Hell . . .

Sniffles and Starts

Most of the day yesterday was spent running around.  I shouldn’t say, “Most of the day,” because I was here at Panera in the morning, then later in the morning I ran up about twenty miles north of here to the Appalachia Trail, snapped a few pictures, drove back to The Burg for lunch, did some shopping, and was back in the hotel about one-thirty.  It was quite uneventful, but that’s the way most days are now.  I get up, I get down, just like I’m living in a Yes song.

I’d promised I was going to get into some writing, and in time I did.  I did it slowly, because I had the TV on to give me a little background noise, and I found myself getting drawn into what was happening.  It was easy to get distracted because I was suffering from a stuffy nose and a strange tickle in my throat, which is usually the warning signs that a cold is coming on.  That’s some crap I don’t need; it seems like whenever I get back to work, after a couple of weeks on the job I catch a cold.  This is why I should be a shut-in and work from home all the time:  I don’t pick up strange germs from other people.

So I spent the gathering evening sniff and snorting, getting lots of fluids in my body while I pecked away at my new short story.  Yes, I want to emphasize this:  it’s a short story, one that I already have worked out in my head, so I know there are five individual scenes to write, though I can’t say how many words are going to be in each scene.

I set the Project Target at five thousand words total, and five hundred words for a daily goal.  Hey, easy, right?  Nice and easy, I can write the story in ten days at that rate, and it leaves me time to do other things.  So I got into full screen mode and started writing–

Slowly, carefully.  I didn’t want to get wordy; I didn’t want to get into a lot of things that were going to fill up the story and turn it into another novelette, or worse, novella.  Nope, I set my goal:  five thousand words.  Best stick to it.

The nice thing about Scrivener’s full-screen mode is you can’t bring up your Project Targets every couple of paragraphs to see how you’re doing.  You write on the limited interface you’re given, and that keeps you focused.  Of course you can flip over to a browser every so often, but I didn’t.

Oh, and the TV was still on, and HBO was playing Les Misérables, and there’s Russel Crowe singing to an unrecognizable Hugh Jackman, and before you know it Anne Hathaway is getting her hair done in a boy cut and I’m trying hard not to think of the opening chapter of American Psycho–“Bum, sixteen; bum, seventeen; bum, eighteen,” and the bus with the poster of Cosette with “Whore” scrawled at the bottom–but after a while I started thinking that someone’s already written fan fiction where Wolverine and Catwoman are running through 18th Century France trying to stop SID 6.7 from killing the king before the revolution–and if SID still looks like The Thin Green Duke.  At least Russel’s band’s music wouldn’t be part of the soundtrack . . .

I finally reached the end of the scene, and I went back into normal mode and checked my word count–

1066 words.

Yeah, I thought I’d do five hundred, and I did just a little over a thousand.  Knowing I have four more scenes to write, that’ll put me between five and six thousand words for the story, which isn’t bad.  And that will keep it under seventy-five hundred words, which means my story could end up being eligible for a Hugo short story award.

Now there’s some science fiction for you.

 

The Ballad of Butthurt

Once again I’m ripping off Genesis for the title, though when they were putting And Then There Were Three . . . back in late 1977, the term “butthurt” wasn’t in the common vernacular.  It didn’t exist, and it would be another thirty years before it enjoyed widespread popularity.

And if you are wondering what butthurt is, go to Taco Bell, order one of everything from the menu, consume, then wait about an hour for the enviable reaction your body will demand.  Thirty minutes after that, you’ll know the meaning of butthurt–

Or you could just spend time on the Internet listening to fandom rage.

Which is what happened yesterday concerning the casting of a certain award winning actor–of course I know he won for directing and producing, but he won nonetheless–getting picked to play one of the most iconic, and of late overused, superheros.  The announcement was made in the middle of the night, as if Zack Snyder knew what free hell he was unleashing, and wanted to get up nice and early so he could monitor Twitter for the insanity that would follow.

Insanity did follow, for if there’s something the Internet is good for, it’s expressing one’s rage in the fact that a guy who appeared in one crappy superhero movie is probably going to appear in another crappy superhero movie.  At least it wasn’t his wife getting picked for a Wonder Woman movie, as there likely would have been more than a few gratuitous rape comments thrown in, ’cause if there’s one thing some fans know, it’s that they’re justified in throwing around rape and death threats.

We are talking about a movie that will cost $200 million to make and it suppose to be out by 2015.  For which, at this moment in time, has no script, no story–but like that’s ever stopped anyone from making a picture.  If you’ve followed this saga you know that Zack is using Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as the basis for his story, showing the adventures of an older and somewhat burned-out and disillusioned Bruce Wayne setting out on one last set of adventures to tie up loose ends, and how Superman, the eternal boy scout and now-government agent, is sent to bring Bruce under control.  We all know how this ends (I’m saying this next in my River Song voice, so you know what that means . . .):  Bruce, figures out how to kick Superman’s ass, and does.

Miller has been called in to “advise” on the movie, which may or may not be a good thing.  On one hand, The Dark Knight Returns has been hailed for years was one of the greatest stories in the Batman universe, and for graphic novels in general.  On the other hand, twenty years later Frank penned All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, which was about as insane a story as one could ever imagine, complete with a wimpy Superman, a murderous Wonder Woman, a Black Canary who gets sexually aroused by violence, a Dick Grayson who is kidnapped, held hostage, and at one point told by a certain Caped Crusader to catch and eat rats if he’s hungry . . . and the main man himself, who is cruel, violent, even sadistic towards others–and, because of this introductory line, ends up becoming one of the most famous memes on the Internet.  Sure this is all pretty brutal, but it’s not like Batman hasn’t killed anyone before . . .

When it’s all said and done a movie will get made.  It will either bomb harder than the Dresden fire storm or make a gazillion bucks world wide, some people will love it, some people won’t, and haters gonna hate.  It’s not like it hasn’t happened before:  Micheal Keaton was ripped a new one by fan when he was selected by Tim Burton to wear the mask, and this kid who’s only played gay cowboys is gonna play The Joker?  What a disaster that’s gonna be!  Seems like there’s been more than a few actors and actresses who’ve been at the center of this fandom ire

None of us can see into the future, so none of us know the outcome.  We can imagine it, but unless you got the TARDIS warmed up and ready to set out, the 2015 movie scene is only conjecture.

There is only one sure thing we can say about Ben and the casting of this movie

Now if you’ll excuse me, I got some editing to do.

 

Firmly Upon the Upward Path

Here we are, the penultimate weekend.  As of last night I had only ten thousand words remaining in my edit of Her Demonic Majesty, and given that I have a whole lot of nothing ahead of me today, that means that by the time I return her tomorrow, I’ll have but one chapter remaining, or I’ll awaken feeling bright and shiny, and there will be nothing left but to compile the story into a Word document and created the Table of Contents.

Either way, I finish the edit and format within the next thirty-six hours.

That means next week is filled with fun and frivolity.  I know I’m going to be interviewed, but it’s going to be an interview the likes of which many of you have never seen.  I’m thinking up a book giveaway, But I want it to be something different–which means I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but I’m investigating means.  I had considered asking people to guess what color I look best wearing, but one person would walk away with everything then . . .

The interesting thing I find is that I’m overly excited.  Worried, yeah; I’m always worried that something will show up wrong in the story, that it’s not going to sell, that it’ll be rejected after all my hard work.  But that happens, you know.  My friend Jo Custer said yesterday that she was told that the movie she’s trying to Kickstart into existence is “filthy”.  Many jokes were made of this comment, not the least was that someone should tell Lars Von Trier there’s a new bitch in town.  Though if you want to get into Lars Von Trier territory, you need a leading lady to come up and spit on you every morning and tell you what a horrible person you are, because she knows she’ll be spending the afternoon her standing naked in a mountain stream masturbating while being yelled at to “Look natural!”

We creative times, we do our own thing.  We love praise, but be usually get criticized to hell and gone.  As I’ve said many times, the non-creative out there don’t get us.  Yes, they want to be entertained by us, but they don’t get what we do, and why.  If you’re like some of the people I know, their notion usually boils down to, “You wanna make money.”  Well, yes, dude:  I would like to make money.  I’d like to make enough money to do this full time.  There isn’t a one of us who wouldn’t love to spend their days crafting stories or making movies or producing pretty pictures.  And I’m not talking talking making mad J. K. Rollinbucks cash here, either.  If I was making fifty thousand a year writing, I’d be home all the time writing.

Why do we suffer the pangs of criticism,  though?  I think part of it comes from the un-creative being unable to build their own works, but damned if they don’t know what a good work should look like.  There are things out there that are broken, that is true, and creative works that are totally Teh Suk.  But the hate does seem to come at everyone and everything, and it’s almost impossible to avoid.

The trick comes from deciding if the criticism is of the good kind . . . and if you can learn from it.

As for the other kind . . .

Write your own stories, then get back to me.