Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Most Marky Mark Thing Ever

This has been cracking me up for days...enjoy the most Marky Mark thing ever:

Monday, May 12, 2014

World Building Part I

I write primarily fantasy. Second world fantasy. What does that mean? Well from what I can gather, and curse me for not taking some time to find an accurate and succinct definition to put up, it is any fantasy that takes place in another world that isn't our own. Now, it's a gray area distinction at best and we certainly can get muddled a bit over what it actually means, but I was thinking what it means today and if it really has to mean as we understand it. As a fantasy writer, one of the primary focuses of my writing, as loathe I am to say it, is worldbuilding.

It's easy to say "build the world as you build the story," but it's really not. Not if you want to create an effective and memorable world for your story to happen in. And since history and legend and myth are so important to fantasy as a genre, it's almost impossible to ignore world building.

I working a couple of angles here when it comes to world building, let me explain the first one and I'll go from there. I had an idea pop into my head. This happens all the time, especially in the most inconvenient places, so it wasn't anything unusual. Often they are fleeting ideas that come in partial bursts and get me interested enough to listen. Only the ones most noteworthy make it to the page of my writer's notebook, where I'll jot down the gist of what I was thinking to look back later to see if there was actually something there. Dozens of these pages litter the last four years worth of notebooks and few make beyond that, but they are there. Well, the idea that popped into my head this weekend was noteworthy enough and the thought led to another one that reminded me of something else. (Look, writer's brains work differently than everyone else's.) Let me explain.

A few months back (it may have been longer, I'm a little hazy on the specifics and I'm hoping the original person will see this and comment on it), someone on Twitter or Facebook or the blogsphere posited the question "Can anyone name a contemporary story that takes place in a secondary world?" (To be fair, I'm paraphrasing this because I don't remember how it was exactly phrased.) My answer at the time was Caprica and the Twelve Colonies of Kobol in the Battlestar: Galactica reboot. It was the best example I could think of, but even that could come into some debate as eventually the remaining colonists come to Earth and have heard of Earth (even though it's a legend), so it wasn't a perfect answer.

So, I started thinking about this as I thought about my new idea. It was a contemporary idea. It took place in a world I knew and I initially thought of making it a straight contemporary story. But that was boring to me and that wasn't exactly the book that I wanted to write. I knew that I didn't want it to take place on Earth. I wanted it to take place on a secondary world, like Middle Earth (stow the prehistoric Earth talk) or Westeros but with recognizable, modern technology. (Sort of.) But I didn't want it to be a lost colony/Firefly set up. I'm using that idea already and I'll talk about that in another post. So I wracked my brain trying to think of examples from literature and pop culture. Here's the list I came up with:
  • Sanderson's Alloy of Law: a pseudo-Western taking place in his Mistborn world.
  • Streets of Fire: a movie from the 80s set in an ambiguous, unnamed city with elements of the 50s and the 80s.
  • Caprica: the prequel to BSG was obviously set in a "second world" and combined the style of the 1950s with a new millennium tech level.
  • Abercrombie's Red Country: essentially a Western set in his First Law world. 
  • Kings: The short lived NBC show about a contemporary royal family. 
 Can any of you think of others?

What would a second world non-fantasy need? What should be my guidelines as I move forward on this project? When I actually start assembling this world for my story, I will share my thoughts, but I'm open to suggestions.

Up Next: World Building Part 2: Spackling: Fixing A Broken World.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Owning May

For the past few months I have been in an epic funk. I think that I've mentioned it a few times, but I'm really spinning wheels at this point. It's an unlucky confluence of things that are really darkening my mood, attitude, teaching and writing. I'd get into the specifics, but what would be the point? I'd be reminded of my failures and dredging up all the negativity that initiated the funk in the first place.

Instead of dwelling on this funk, I've decided to give it a go and grab the bull by the horns.. I'm setting clear goals and I'm going to really try and crank. I'm cutting way back on social media so I can use that time more constructively to read and write. So, here's my plan:

  1. Finish THE SEVEN LABORS OF NICK JABLONSKY. I've been toiling on this since last Summer and made negligible progress. It'll take a NANOWRIMO-esque effort to finish it, but I think I can manage it. I've read some books that have similar concepts/themes and I think I have my mind set on how to tackle it. And even if I don't, it's a first draft! 
  2. Do an editorial pass and rewrite on SISTERS OF KHODA. This isn't as much heavy lifting as I thought it might be. I have some ideas of how to fix this and it shouldn't be backbreaking to do it, so I should be able to work concurrently with LABORS. This will probably take a little longer than just May if I'm serious about finishing LABORS, but that's fine by me. It's the what I'm doing with it that is the mystery. (That's for a later blog post and part of the negativity that I spoke, so that's all I'll mention for now.)
  3. Plan A TOURNAMENT OF PRINCES. I've written about this before and think I have a good grasp of how to do this, but I'm an architect and I need to sort of build the "universe" and plot out the story. It's really kind of become "TAMING OF THE SHREW in space." I hope to have a solid plan in place so I can dive into this by June 1.
  4. While I've sworn to cut back on my Facebooking and tweeting, I want to increase my blogging. I've started a sports blog that I want to update regularly. Go check it out for the first entry if you are so inclined. I'd like to update that at least once a week. I've got some ideas for my "essays," so we'll see how it plays out. I also want to post more here. Get back to my "Trope of the Week" and do more movie reviews. I also have an idea, that I talked about in my Godzilla post about my "99 Inspirations."
  5. Read more. I'm definitely going to ramp up my reading. I've just started the ponderously long LORD OF CHAOS in the mythic WHEEL OF TIME series and I'm enjoying it. But I'm reading several books at once too. I've rediscovered the library and I'm taking books out as quickly as they come in. (Presently, I' have GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE and it's questioning my own ability as a writer good!) I'd love to be able to read 12 books this month, but that's a high goal. 
  6. Get my house in order. Yes, I know it's not writing related, but I need to do something. It's distracting at this point. We're not talking Horders level, but it's getting there. If I can get some order to my home, I'll have more time for all the other things on this list.
  7. Keep on top of school work. Nuff said there.
 The hope is that I'll get on a roll and as the calendar turns to the "Summer season" I can concentrate on TOURNAMENT and maybe transition into something else as the summer moves forward.

So that's my plan. We'll see how it goes. I'll keep you updated.