Category Archives: Writer’s Log

Writer’s Log: 2112 Instinct

My latest WIP has failed to gel within my mind. I continued to force my main character into the lime-light. Time and again, the fellow held up his hands and shied away.

Wrong protagonist.

I knew this instinctively, but kept to my plans with the boy, Rogan, and his character arc. I thought I wanted the story to be about him. He finally convinced me he’d prefer second string.

The story, it seems, would favor my chosen antagonist as lead, the guy who wants to infect the world with his CRISPR engineered virus that kills 99% of those infected and leaves survivors *changed*.

I finally realized why the boy was not the right guy: I’d rather have the bad guy win. All I needed to do was to list out separately what I’d rather have happen in any story I write. Akin to M.R.Carey’s break-out novel The Girl With All The Gifts, it’s the infected leader, the author convinces you, who should persevere and prevail. The GGR, as I’ve imagined, necessary to alter humanity’s understanding of itself, that is, the Great Global Reset.

So, I’ll be taking my sinister lead and try to sway readers into siding with his vision. It feels better already. I guess I should follow my instincts more often.

 

 

 

 


Writer’s Log: 2055 Needs vs wants

Every story told comes down to the most basic of themes:

Characters attempting to fulfill wants and needs.

(My wife actually personified the difference between a want and a need when she related her eighth Christmas telling her parents: I want a record player, but I need a wagon.)

I went searching for inspiration along this line of thinking (story telling themes) and I happened to stumble upon a comment about Lord of the Rings. It’s not exactly related to this theme of character wants and needs but, it explains common plots so well that I wanted to share it:

Thomas Munch: “I think some of the best stories have a mix of all basic plots – Lord of the Rings is a good example:

  1. Overcoming the Monster (Kill Sauron, Saruman , Orcs etc.)
  2. Rags to Riches (Aragorn to King)
  3. Quest (Destroy Ring)
  4. Voyage and Return (Mount Doom and home again)
  5. Comedy (Hobbits dialogue)
  6. Tragedy (Dead of Boromir)
  7. Rebirth (The Rohan king, the transformation of Gollum)
  8. Mystery (Is Frodo’s ring the One?)
  9. Rebellion against the one (Fight against Sauron)”

REF: https://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/basic-plots.html

Considering each of those plot concepts, every one (perhaps excluding Comedy & Tragedy) exposes that simple tenet: Stories are about characters’ wants and needs.

As I continue my WIP: A Touch of Red (a post-apocalyptic tale of a fallout illness that changes people genetically,) I’m trying to imagine it in various plot lights. But as the quote above illustrates, many plot themes can be applied to stories. So, really, post-analysis of any story might expose the the fact that stories fit many plot concepts and that the focus should be on the character’s fulfillment path of their desires and their essential needs.

Force a character to need something out of their grasp, instill in them wants that conflict or divert them from fulfilling that need and fill the page describing the tension between them.

 


Writer’s Log: 2048 Disturbing Content

All of us can dream up some pretty ugly scenarios.

Depraved, disturbing, deranged. I’d wager you could come up with some horrific scenes with some downright criminal activity. Stuff you’d feel you could never put to paper. So, how is it that some authors can actually write that stuff and not be thought of as insane?

For my latest work in progress I’ve decided to abandon some of my social constraints and write of gawd-awful acts and heinous behavior. Immolation, horse stomping children, murdering a pregnant woman, soon the dismemberment of a “bad dude.”

Holy Hell Batman! That’s some nasty shit. Are you sure you want to have your name associated with such wickedness? Are you sure you want your editor/mother (78) to read of such unspeakable cruelty? What will she think of you now? Disturbed? Perverted?

Frankly, I don’t know. But, I figure if I can visualize it, then so can others, and if it fits the story, then so be it.

But, day-yam, that’s some corrupt sewage leaking out of my brain.

Have you written content you know others would find disturbing? Did their consternation and potential ostracization influence your writing?

 

 


I am so tense

What the hell does Past Simple / Past Perfect / Past Continuous even mean?

Oh, I’ve done the research, and *know* what their usage is. But what sucky names.

• Renny held the chicken to the block, waited for it to calm and swung the cleaver neatly removing its head.

To me I’d call this Past Present. As far as Renny is concerned, she’s in her own present tense. But to us, it’s in the past: Past Present.

• A pile of bodies lay next to Renny, but the last chicken ran frantic about the yard. She’d held it like the others; allowed it to calm and then whacked it hard with the butcher’s knife. The crow had distracted her though, and the knife, instead of slicing cleanly, had crushed its skull.

Here we start in the Past Present (again: Renny’s point of view) and then we slip into a time just before we observed Renny and her pile of bodies, a time I’d call Past Prior. That is, prior to the past we’re witnessing, the following happened: “She’d held it like the others;…” At this point we’ve double jumped back in time, the past’s past. Or Past Prior.

Past Present and Past Prior make way more sense to me than the Simple and Perfect nonsense the archaic English aficionados dreamed up.

The Past Continuous stuff? Eh, I rarely use it as it seems to need a bucket load of passive verb usage. “Renny was trying to cut off the chicken’s head.” “The bodies were piling up in the yard.” No thanks. They should call it Past Passive.

(‘Renny was trying’ and ‘bodies were piling’ are not “technically” passive. But the ‘was’ and ‘were’ trigger instant aversion in me. It seems I can’t easily tell true passive from this past continuous bollocks. So, I try to avoid them whenever I can. I’d rewrite those above with something like “The chicken moved as Renny chopped.” and “Renny tossed another body onto the growing pile.”)

Thoughts?

 


Writer’s Log: 2041 Two Points

No, this is not a basketball post.
(Yes, this is just two hours — subjective time — after my last Writer’s Log. And I really did spend the time on my writing.)

Point 1) The sense that I’ve progressed comes with the trepidation that I may regress.

Point 2) The just-plain-raw-excitement I feel when sitting down to continue writing this YAAS is just that, raw-excitement.

1) It’s a great feeling. I’ve dragged myself through the mud, the blood, and the beer and come out from under the barbed wire scared, but serviceable. The fact (a subjective concept bound by context and environment) exists that I have gotten better at this writing ability. Now, and oddly juxtaposed to my goal, I sense that said ability is not (or may not be) firmly entrenched within my psyche.

I fear that I might revert back to shitty writing.

And this specter of doubt looms like a carrion feeder above my desk. However,

2) I’ve got a robust concept framed. I know my skills have improved. And I’ve tied the entire story line into my GRAND TIME LINE. So, I feel like I can run with this YAAS for a good long time. Which sets me to titter when I place my ass on this seat (no back, just a stool really) and begin to tippy-tap out words that flesh out this next WIP.

Points One and Two are firmly in competition for supremacy.

Will I lose this ability and return to suck-writing. Or, will I convince myself that the Universe is absurd, that nothing really matters, and that it is how I interpret my own world that counts. And if the latter, then why am I writing this blog when I should be

 


Writer’s Log: 2039

No, I’m not quite back in the saddle.

But, the nag I’m riding trods steady, buckless in fact. All I have to do is stay awake and vertical while she stumbles along, finds a creek, drinks her fill and gobbles some grass. Hopefully, both my ride and seat come together in a synchronous duet.

Fuck, I wish.

What does help though, is encouragement from family and friends who’ve bothered to read my latest stuff. And let’s be honest, my latest stuff is much better than nearly everything else I’ve written. So, although I’ve diss’d attaboys in the past, they sure feel good when you need one. Hearing from a friend, “This has some great phrases and is coming together as a solid base for a super story,” can keep ya going.

Maybe I /won’t/ give up just yet. Maybe I /can/ figure out what’s needed in the next five chapters. Maybe, just maybe, I /do/ have it in me to continue to completion.

If you know a writer or artist, and who doesn’t (you can swing a dead horse, oops, sorry sweet Glendolyn, and hit about a dozen of them), if you know one, give ’em a way-to-go, if for no other reason than you might get invited to their movie debut when their novel shoots star-ward. I’ve heard it happens. I read it in a story, once.

-AM

(FYI: for those of you who don’t know what the numbers mean – 2039 is the number of hours I’ve been tallying while I learn to write well. All on my way to 10,000.)


Good Villain: Good Hero

Less than a year ago I wrote this: Villains 1882 and promptly forgot about it.

Age, decrepitude, life’s problems commandeering center stage — you know, excuses.

Then, having begun YAAS (yet another apocalyptic story) I found myself stumbling along, hero in mind, a theme, a setting, an era but, I struggled to jell the story in my mind. I poured out a few thousand words and what? Where was I going with this? Weeks went by…

And then, along came a villain.

There we are. There’s the damn story, replete with subplots, conflict, goal, and climax. All I needed to do was to follow my own bloody advice. Sure, create a compelling protagonist chock full of angst and potential but, shite-on-a-stick, what the hell will he/she do then?

Oh, right. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT AGAINST THE BAD GUY.

You wanna meet this new villain? Think you’re gutsy enough to confront — her? Well, you’re gonna have to wait, friends. She’s not happy right now. In fact, she’s down right pissed. It seems an illness has cursed her with a trademark brand. That, and the ability to impose an ungodly, brain-jarring, mind fuck on anyone who displeases her. A strange gift and the intellect to use it.

Finally, a VILF.