Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Home...

So, because this blog was odd and I didn't post to it much, I decided to try a new address, so I hope you will all be willing to change your book marks and mosey with me over to

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Photographs and a Few More Notes on Plot

Some Photographs From My New Canon Camera
It's been cold in Richmond over the past few weeks, so I decided to stay indoors and get my apartment in order, so as not to live with piles of teetering books or old water bottles. The pictures below evidence my hard work and the weather.

The Further Exploration of Plot
Just the other day I picked up a new Moleskinne notebook with the intent of writing my ideas for my steampunk-fantasy series. Something about the cream colored paper, the oilskin cover and that silly elastic band help my ideas pour out in a flood. So far, I've added several races - gryphon riders, centaurs, forest folk and a maybe a few witches styled after Greek goddesses. There may be a sort of hydrogen bomb or weapon of mass destruction, as well as a fleet of zeppelins. The plot is developing nicely, so I wanted to touch on a few ideas on this subject again. In the last post about plot, I wrote that I believe plot should entertain the audience, grow organically from causal relationships, and funel into a final confrontation of some sort.

Plot should be based on relationships, not just on events. The decisions characters make should trigger other characters to make decisions , creating conflict. In the basic love story, boy meets girl and makes a decision to do something about it. Conflict is created and decisions are made based on the boy's desire to start a relationship. This may seem excessively simple, but with multiple characters and the author's desire for certain scenes, this could be fairly complicated.

For example, I've got a string of scenes I would like to write, but right now I'm focused on how to get my characters motivated to arrive at that point. If these scenes are forced, it will be obvious to the readers that the author has done a hack job of bringing her that you'v done a hack job of bringing your story together. If you want a gunbattle or a brawl, there should be sufficient motivation for such a thing. Most people are never involved in something so extreme, so there should be a good and believable reason that it's happening in your story. That's about all for today, but let me know what you think.

Holding the Line.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fear This Book: An Odd Discussion of Fear and Art

Today I finished reading Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland. Let's just start off by saying that this book is not a How-To manual. The writers discuss how to art-make and all that comes with that hyphenation, but the book is a shallow dip into such subjects. While giving the reader a healthy dose of how artists and their issues, the writers do not give artists a way of working out such issues.

I know the reviews on Amazon rave about this book, but I was not moved, consoled or even angered by this book. The writers offer pithy advice that in some sense may be useful. But on the whole the book is flat and I feel, more useful as a justification for artists who are having a hard time. Others may disagree and argue that the book was useful for them, or that I'm not really an artist because I wasn't moved by the writer's advice or regaling tales of how the art/publication world works. Either way, I might recommend this as a starting point for this conversation, but I definitely would not recommend it as any sort of authority on the subject.

I enjoy a discussion on theory and craft, as well as the next writer-painter-illustrator-craftsman, but after reading the same ideas repeated again and again, I began to doubt the validity of the whole work. When I picked up this book I expected slight suggestions with the authors offering encouragement. Instead, I got a book of platitudes and observations easily deduced from an artistic life, while also dealing with paranthetical insertions from the authors or badly designed boxes full of italicized maybe-funny maybe-clever advice. But then again, maybe I'm just not enough of an artist to get this book.

Holding the Line.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Plotting, Plotting...

Lately, I've been reading a lot about plot, seeing as how I've begun drafting out my fantasy-steampunk series. The thing is, most of the stuff I read about plot is either too mellow and unhelpful, or too formulaic and predictable. So, today, I'm going to write a little about how I plot and see if any of you have any other suggestions. I'll probably end up doing a little series of these, to cover all my bases.

  • First, plot has to be organic. Events can’t just happen, like dominoes falling in a row. Plot requires cause and effect, just as it requires motivation and desire from the characters. Take for example, Star Wars:
--- Vader WANTS to capture the princess and destroy any chance of the rebels finding the plans for the Death Star.

--- Because of his actions, the princess sends a message to Obi-Wan through a pair of droids (she WANTS to help the rebels).

--- Because of her actions, Vader sends storm troopers after the droids, which were bought by Luke’s aunt and uncle (Vader WANTS the plans back in Empire hands).

--- Because of this, Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed. So, Obi-Wan and Luke set off for the spaceport (they WANT to get off world with the Death Star plans for the Rebels).
  • Second, plot needs to entertain. I know a lot of people really don't like this idea of entertainment and think it's base, but people love to be entertained and charmed, and it's what sells lots of books. At least that's my opinion.
  • Third, all of the plots and subplots MUST funnel into a final confrontation/moment of epiphany/last battle for the story to resound with readers. What if Luke never faced down Vader in Return of the Jedi? What if Rick never confronted the Nazis in Casablanca? What if John Nash never faced his personal demons in A Beautiful Mind? The what if is that the stories would be BORING. Nothing would change, nothing would matter, and there would be no resolution for the audience.
That's about all of my thoughts today. I'll post more on plot as I go. Meanwhile, check out Michael P. Kardos' article "In Defense of Starting Early" and John Truby's The Anatomy of Story. Both are pretty efficient at explaning some craft and theory issues of fiction.

Holding the Line.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Democracy and Spider

With the first few weeks of graduate school behind me, I've gotten my apartment back in order from the holiday festivities and visitors and finished a few arcs of Transmetropolitan. The graphic novels follow controversial and crazed journalist Spider Jerusalem as he tries to make democracy work in a futuristic world that isn't a far cry from our present day. While apathy and stupidity are his two greatest enemies, I can't help but disagree with this charismatic and psychotic character on a few issues.

I know we're taught from birth that democracy is for the people and most importantly, by the people. Even after such a wonderful and historic election, I can't help but feel immensely small in the whole grand scheme of things. I don't email my senator, a die-hard conservative from the reddest of states, Texas. I don't try to get her to care about anything I care about, because I know it will be a futile effort, akin to talking at a brick wall and expecting intelligent discourse.

I do not participate in local government, though I do generally follow the issues close to my heart. I try to be involved in community and to do my part for the environment, but I don't feel like assailing the halls of Congress or even city councils with proposals or ideas. I don't know if this is apathy, realism or cynism. Either way, it makes me sort of sad that things don't work the way they do in comic books or in movies. Any thoughts?

Holding the Line.