Category Archives: Writing

Arrogance vs humility

“I’ve got the biggest muscles, the smartest brain, an inexhaustible stamina and the longest penis; if you dragged me behind ten horses I could plow a thousand acres with my stiff rod. Follow me and I’ll lead you to greatness!”

“I’m no one in particular, but I’m pretty sure that that first fellow is lying his ass off. I’m fairly wise and I’ll lead you where I think it’s safe and prosperous, but I offer no guarantees nor promises of sanctuary or fulfillment.”

“I’m the most fertile, most skilled, most versatile female you’ll ever find. My vagina can field strip and clean an M-16 in under a minute. Follow me and your land will flow with grain and populate with beasts of burden, you will never want nor suffer drought nor famine.”

“I can advise you to how to plant and grow your crops, raise your children and strive for a fulfilling life. And unlike that first woman, I may err at times, but my heart is true and I’ll never deceive you.”

~~~

Alright, I had to go there. Those visions, when I had them, just struck me as hilarious. But their personifications provides me with the fodder for my argument, which is, why do we scoff at arrogance but gravitate toward humility?

If that first couple showed up on the world’s stage, wouldn’t you think that, holy shit! These folks have got it goin’ on. They must be near-enough to gods!

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. We despise arrogance and bravado. Yet, one would think, that such attributes would have somehow tracked through our genetic history much more often than meekness and humility. The strong and forthright prevail right?

No, they don’t seem to. Somehow we detect the falseness, the insincerity of their claims. Even toned down ten-fold we’d still be put off by that couple. Why? Good looking, virile, fertile, single minded and determined — why would we disdain them?

Somehow we are attracted to those who demure their prowess, who are self-effacing. Those who would rather shift the accolades away from themselves and onto others, others who might be worthy, but not as worthy. An unassuming hero or heroine is so much more appealing than one who is vain or pretentious. Even though the deed might deserve declaration at the highest order.

What is it in us that favors the mild mannered legend rather than the haughty demigod?

 

 


Suffer the fools: Sarresh & Gor

Sarresh & Gor because I’m addicted to writing (but I still suck at it so until I get better I need to practice and vent — and you’re the foolish, unwitting souls on whom I’ll cast my tepid pages.)

https://goo.gl/dsWSDW


Whence madness

If you are aware of the onset of madness, are you truly mad? Does self-awareness of degrading mental health accelerate or stymie recovery?

A quick writing practice, 1st person reflective.

https://goo.gl/qQ5Ld9

 


I need a new Magic

I lay in bed, thinking about things, as I do, and I wondered if there was a new type of magic that I could dream up that had not already been imagined. So, in order to determine what might constitute “new” I had to itemize the existing types of magic. Here they are in no particular order. Note, these are my determinations, I did not consult with other (no doubt numerous) sources. I may have missed some, if so, do be so kind as to correct the error of my waze.

  • Skill magic: enhanced skills, for instance blacksmith, fighting, crafting, doctoring, gardening, baking, singing — any skill where a magic is employed to augment or perfect a skill. The magic is only available during the practice of the skill.
  • Psychological magic: finding, influence, persuasion, mind reading — where psy-ops or reading of other people or creatures is done. Scrying might be included here.
  • Force magic: commanding the power of the Universe against matter or mind. I’d include the concept of Luck magic here too. The concept of being “Lucky” might be attributed to some Universal force. This is an amorphous magic, but can be attributed to power over matter, primarily.
  • Deity magic: command of, or the favor of gods and their powers. Here we can’t wield the power directly, or if we do, then the power (generalized magic) was granted by a deity. But generally, we are subjected to a deity’s magic.
  • Learned magic: spells, incantations, wands and witches & wizards. This is magic that can be learned from books, tomes or scrolls. Or taught by magicians who already have the knowledge. And knowledge is the key here – the magic is unavailable until the knowledge is acquired.
  • Vision magic: dreams or visions that alter the world, I’ll include Time magic here, moving through time. This is the power of a mind or a consciousness to influence the physical world through dreams.
  • Creature magic: elves, faeries, leprechauns, dragons, unicorns, Pegasus — magic that exists as part of a creature’s physicality or legacy. This is magic, like deity magic, which humans cannot wield but may have access to through control or influence of the creature.
  • Wish magic: genies, mirrors, wells, monkey’s paw. Magic provided through wishing, whether through an agent or through a physical “possessed” or magically imbued object.
  • Thing magic: coins, crystal balls, keys, books, swords, shields. When things have been enchanted to contain the magic, and whomever possesses the thing then controls the magic.
  • Perception magic: [per Phil Huston] the illusion or appearance of magic (mundane magic) which is meant to fool us into believing (doesn’t all story magic do this? — Phil would say).
  • Tech magic: [per Phil Huston] Arthur C. Clarke’s “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
  • Nature magic: [per Serendipitious Web Life] Magic derived from Mother Nature, Gaia, Chaos, Eywa (Avatar) and evident in springs (Fountain of Youth), trees (the Ents of LOTR), elementals.

In the end, Magic is power over matter/energy, mind, space or time. Each of the above listed magics represents some form of one of these, or a combination of them.

What other magics might we explore not listed here?

  • Hive magic: A blend of Force, Psych and/or Vision magic but can only be exercised when the necessary number of companions or citizens unite as a hivemind.
  • Anti magic: The cancellation or annulment of any magic applied by others. The black hole of magic.

 


A philosophical minute

redskippingstone

Our lives are simultaneously accelerating, while becoming ever shallower.

We’re like skipping stones glancing off the pond of life.

To truly live, we must slow and sink into the world around us.

-AM


Shadow Shoals 1.5 end of part one

This concludes Part One of Shadow Shoals at 17,000 words.

Shadow Shoals 1.5: https://goo.gl/a71Nmr

I figure by perhaps the end of my fourth novel (this is #3) I’ll have honed my skills to the point where my work becomes publishable. Until then, I hold no delusions.

In the mean time, writing keeps me busy. It costs nothing as a hobby. And, you’ll be taken aback to learn, my 76 year old mother is my copy editor, with whom I’ve had the best time working on these projects, reestablishing ancient bonds, as it were.

-AM


Writer’s Log: 1382

Can you create characters to which your readers feel emotionally attached? What are the tricks to getting someone to care about your main character (or supporting characters)?

This is the heart of good story telling. When you, as a reader, care about someone in the story, you emotionally invest yourself with the character’s plight, their struggle, their failures and their triumph. You, yourself, become vested with the outcome of the story. And this is key. But what is the primary hook that a writer can sink into your hand, into your eyes, your heart that will force you, unwittingly, to surrender part of yourself to the story? I think that singular force is…

Pain.

Trauma.

Oppression. Mistreatment. Torment. Misery.

A writer must hurt their characters. Beat them physically and emotionally. Flail them with mishap and misfortune. Perhaps the character foolishly blundered into a vile nest of thieves, snakes, or stockbrokers. Maybe the character is broken, flawed in some way that allows such turmoil and calamity to befall them. Or perhaps, for no fault of their own, they are put upon by forces beyond their control, or powers tenuously linked to their past.

Regardless, they must SUFFER!

And through suffering, we will draw closer, empathizing with them as they seek to overcome the hardship that has befallen them. And they must overcome it. As they rise up, building and discovering their inner strength, we too, will follow along as they surmount all obstacles, slay all dragons, unite all tribes.

When they survive, they will do so with a moral compass that we can appreciate and relate to. They will choose the high road, but not always. Misled they will wallow until their own conviction and vision sees them through.

~~~

I’m always looking for simple rules that I can apply to my writing. Triggers. This, I think, might be one those rules: Be mean to your characters. Hopefully they will surprise you with their response. And by so doing, they will earn your respect, adulation and maybe, if you’re lucky, a few tears.

We naturally gravitate toward those who persevere under adverse conditions. Perhaps we see ourselves and hope that we too would react and rise above. There’s a sense of justice served when someone who has suffered under the system or nature, exceeds expectations and prevails. I suppose, if the story’s ethics are challenged and our character upholds them we may feel indebted to them.

If someone stands up for us. If they deflect criticism or shame or give us an honest  compliment. If they were to save us from injury or save our lives. If they grant us a gift of any kind — we become emotionally indebted to them. Were that person to come under attack I would think we might feel compelled to protect or avenge them. We would care about them. I wonder, if by creating characters to whom we feel, in some way, indebted, this might make us, as readers, care about them, and perhaps, in the process, care even more about ourselves (and each other). [Thanks Duke!]

(An aside. This last part reminds me of a book by Maurice Sendak, Pierre. The boy of the story repeats over and over “I don’t care.” Perhaps, however we, as writers, incentivize our readers to “care”, about something, then we’ve succeeded. Apathy in readers is the ultimate failure.)