Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Protagonist or Antagonist?

I was reading a forum post on the NaNoWriMo forums about villainous motives and considered my current characters and their motives.

Note, I say 'characters', not 'villains' or 'antagonists' because for my upcoming story, the antagonist is a faceless apparition of evil. I think I liked the title they gave Ganon in Ocarina of Time: "Evil Incarnation of Darkness", too much. If the monster at the end of the tunnel is just evil, has no body, no emotions, but is a concept unto itself, it makes it easier to work with.

My characters on the other hand are half villainous themselves. They have fatal flaws that color their perception of the world. Not in a ridiculous fashion but they have anger issues, are controlling, are filled with self-doubt. They're working for money, for fame, for something they cannot tell the other characters about, because doing so would admit something about themselves they find embarrassing.

In the same way I create my villains. They have families and assets they want to protect. They want to live out their lives peacefully, even if no one else will let them. In certain situations they may be aligned with the values the heroes. People can't simply be evil for the sake of being evil. That's why so many people like the concept of fantasy races, they can be truly evil unlike a human, until you remember they have to love and reproduce like any other living creature.

My villain this year is my hero, depending on what side you're on. The eldritch abomination will attempt to foster friendship between him and people who disagree with his goal, the same people who are purposed entirely with preventing his goal from coming to fruition, but mortals have free will, something the abomination doesn't understand. The characters can make their own choice to help or hinder.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review: The Doomsday Vault

I bought myself a book for my birthday. I was in the store going back and forth trying to decide which I wanted. Then I saw this one and immediately purchased it. There was no thought to it or anything, I just bought it. I was going to like this book.

The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper takes place in an alternate steampunk timeline where a zombie plague occasionally has the opposite effect and creates mad clockwork geniuses instead of the zombies. They still die soon after, but they have plenty of time to invent a new clockwork culture.

We follow the story of two possible new recruits for a secret branch of the British government which captures the geniuses (called clockworkers) and gives them the tools to make their inventions for use by the empire.

Our female protagonist, Alice, has the more complicated position. She's traditional nobility and doesn't want to ruin her family's name any more than it already has been. Joining the organization would do that, associating with the male protagonist would do that. Technically, if she thinks, she's doing it, but none of the clockworkers have invented telepathy yet, so she's safe.

Before the end she has to make a decision of which direction to go, even though she doesn't realize that not all the decisions are in her control.

I strongly suggest you read this if you have interest in the steampunk genre. It's fast paced and fun and the internal struggles don't drag on for too long (which they could have). Also giant mecha. One's shaped like a tree.

Review: Ashes of Honor

I didn't realize Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire was coming out in early September instead of Mid-September. It was a nice surprise and caused a lost day. It was nice.

Anyway, we rejoin our heroine as she has to prevent a changeling with too much power from accidentally destroying the world by reopening the sealed portions of Faerie. Of course it isn't as simple as that, it never is, the villain is causing arbitrary trouble that could cause terrible things to happen in San Francisco.

I shouldn't say arbitrary, it's more how the villain just doesn't care. The villain wants something to happen and needs assistance, so they make a deal. That deal has ramifications, but the villain isn't considering that, just as they aren't considering the ramifications of opening a sealed portion of Faerie even temporarily.

The most enjoyment of the book though is revisiting old character's who haven't been seen since book two, discovering some of what you expected about characters from small statements they had made, and Quentin finally getting taller than Toby.

Okay, I can't say anymore without giving spoilers (and if you look closely, I already did), so I'll just leave this with a "Go read it".

That book looks old.

So I was looking at my Goodreads reading suggestions today (I'm behind on my arbitrary reading goal I set back in January and will meet my goal, just because I can) and was thinking about something I do when I look at book covers. If they have the older style of artwork and the older style of lettering, I don't give them a second look. I don't know why!
I may add, I'm skipping this series  until it's finished.
I have attempted to read some of these because I know they're popular books, but more often than not I get bored within a few hundred pages.

Do they just hit all of my nerves? I do get pissed off when I have to remember thirty names in the first two pages, worse if they're complex, or even worse, made up.
And then Peter turned to Victor, "Devereux will be made King at the equinox, unless Jun Ki can defeat him in the Challenge of Miculsuia, which is fought with nucsloia, which is just a fancy name for a sword, but I want to make it clear it's a special sword, and defeat the ilausnua."
If that paragraph appeared in a story it would be one thing, but I've run into books where they'll start off the first three chapters like that. It's just a turn off and I feel like I'm going to be working through a sea of names for the entire book.

My next guess is they are too cliché, I mean even the most traditional fantasy written today has some steampunk or magitek aspects. I get this feeling I won't see that in the older novels. They were trying to avoid the pioneers of that genre or so I assume.

It's all academic at this point anyway. I have plenty of things to read before I get to those, I just hope I'm not missing out.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Having a Life

I haven't been posting as much as I once did. Moaning about how much everything sucks hasn't been as  much of an issue as it used to be, so being here isn't as important. I like to think that now I have a life, as I suggested in my last GOALS post back nearly a year ago.

Since I make those goals, I got a job. Not one that pays enough or uses my abilities enough, but a job nonetheless. I need another job or a better job. This is fact and cannot wait another day to happen. I need it now. I don't think I've made it clear my situation on this blog, but I am very, very poor. I don't want to talk about that, which is another reason I don't post here as often as I would like. Some things, like reviewing books and movies, requires me to see or read them first, and I can't go out to do that as soon as something comes out. I think I may be the only geek left that hasn't seen The Avengers yet. I waiting to see it for free.

I haven't lost weight. I lost some when I first started work, but I regained it when my hours were cut during the off-season. I am stupidly fat, possibly the fattest I have ever been. I refuse to continue to be fat.

I want to keep writing but more importantly I want to make what I have written better so that I might be able to make a profit off of it. My way of looking at hobbies is something I would be happy spending the rest of my life doing. That's why I majored in theatre instead of business. I could write for the rest of my life and I would be happy.

So here we are:

  • Get a life
    • Get another (better) job
  • Become fit
    • Exercise
    • Lose weight
  • Write
    • edit an already written work
    • write a low budget screenplay

Outlining fail

I had this great idea. I was going to outline for my next random work that will never see the light of day (probably) I would do one of the classics. I would write short notes on Post-Its and stick them on my wall in order of when they go. Multiple columns, one for each character (or in one case, a group of characters). It would help me organize and plan this story beyond the prologue (I know what the prologue is).

So I put up enough for the prologue and then looked back to my laptop for ten minutes. A post it flutters down.

There are only ten post its on my wall and they are already falling off. Either my post its are defective or my wall is. Can you imagine if I actually continue this through the entire story? Chaos and pandemonium of pink (color of my post its) across my floor. More pandemonium than usual.

They continue to fall as I write this. What am I doing wrong? No one ever reported that you need a special wall to use post its. The one sitting on my laptop screen seems to be doing okay, why not my wall.

Sadly, this is how it often happens with me and new and improved ways to do simple tasks. It just doesn't work for me. Maybe I'll try large sheets of paper and markers next.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Silent Film

I may not have been posting but I have written a couple of posts that never got finished. I apparently wrote this one at 2011-11-20 18:02 PST.

Reading through Craigslist I saw a writing job posted that wasn't really a job. They weren't asking for something specific written and then they would pay you, they were looking for people to review their film and get the word out that it existed.

Now they weren't very clear about what this film was about, they included a link, and they liked to throw out that they had submitted it to the Oscars, but I quickly got lost on the idea. I closed the tab and moved on.

The only thing that stuck with me is that they apparently did it as a silent film. Now that is interested. It requires a certain amount of pretentiousness to even try that, but it makes me curious. They said something about it being 1920's (which was a awesome time period) which makes it work more and implies that it might be in black and white. Let it be known that I really get pissed off at people that film in black and white just because they can. Once again it mostly just shows how pretentious the writer and director is.

In a time that we are more and more concerned about realism why do people suddenly want to show things in black and white? The world isn't black and white, it isn't even in shades of gray, it's in endless varieties of color that we can't even see with the human eye. So why simplify it down to gray?

Anyway, I don't care about that. The silent film aspect is what interests me. I love writing dialogue. I'm of the generation that can't go for five minutes without quoting a television show. I can't imagine writing without dialogue or with only placecards. The concept terrifies me, almost as much as trying to write a play using the three unities (Time, place, and conflict).

Still not  finished and probably never will be. I stand by my 'pretentious' line though. You have to be very pretentious to actually win an Oscar...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: Discount Armageddon

Not sure what is more surprising here, I'm actually posting or that I'm posting my first book review. This just goes to prove that miracles do happen.

So, I am a fan of Seanan McGuire's works, particularly the October Daye series. I have only been able to buy two books in the last few months, both were hers. One Salt Sea, the most recent October Daye novel, and Discount Armageddon, the first in her new InCryptid series. 

A couple of months ago I discovered that McGuire blogs pretty regularly though her LiveJournal. I regularly, I mean practically everyday and they are actual blogs about stuff, not just giveaways and links, but actual content. For example, preceding the release of Discount Armageddon she had a daily series of the InCryptid Alphabet. A lot of it was confusing since we were getting words and names of people that we had no true connection to, but when I began reading and was able to say, "Ah, that's so and so, they they're connected to this by that," which would have been more difficult without the extra primer, but I like to digress.

McGuire is not one to hold your hand when she starts a new work. You get dropped into a fantastical world and you better hope you're ready for it. The introduction for DA is Verity, our heroine, at a club looking for a monster, specifically a ghoul.

Most people don't know what a ghoul is. I'll give you a hint, Romero never used the word zombie.

So now you know that she was hunting a humanoid creature that likes to eat people. Her ghouls are much better at moving though since they can apparently dance. The only way Verity can spot it is by look at it's teeth, since eating human flesh is terrible for your dental work.

Meanwhile her 'cousin' the telepath is nearby. At this point you think that maybe some people are just telepaths, except they aren't. If you read InCryptid A to Z you'd know that her cousin is a cryptid. That isn't mentioned for another hundred pages in the book.

Is this good or bad? Well, she's trying to avoid an info dump and since she writes fantasy, info dumps are very possible. It really goes to the heart of the matter, do we need to know that the cousin is a cryptid at that moment? Not really. Later on when we start to meet more interesting 'people' it starts to get a little more fuzzy. She'll use a complex word to describe someone and you aren't going to know exactly what they are. Having a computer handy isn't going to help since her version isn't going to be the same as what shows up. Using the ghoul example you'd get a picture of a D&D 3rd Ed ghoul which looks more like Romero's work and is nothing like McGuire's or you might read up on Jim Butcher's ghouls in the Dresdenverse, which are giant human shaped cockroaches.

I've gotten over that though. You have to trust that she'll remember to tell you when it becomes important.

The end result is a fun book. It's not as intriguing as the October Daye series and considering she uses this as a lighthearted break makes perfect sense. The concept is 'a monster hunter wishes she was a ballroom dancer', I think she got it from the Script Frenzy plot machine. Anyway it's completely worth your while to read and to get a taste of McGuire's writing style without dealing with the complexities of fairies.