NaNoWriMo Prep 2019: I’m Not Racist… But

My unconscious nearly put an entire alt-right wet dream in as a subplot on my upcoming NaNoWriMo project.

It was all innocent, just a chain of events in my planning that led to an unfortunate connection in my brain.

I’d decided my fighter pilot in my story was going to be an Israeli woman, and that all worked out great in the character bio. I then chose one of the twists and turns in the tale was going to be that she was working for a mysterious figure in my story. This mystery man is trying to control events to create an interstellar version of the UN. In her bio, I’d already mentioned she was brought up and trained by her an uncle, a war hero and clandestine operative. I then decided that he should be the aforementioned mysterious figure.

Nothing clicked at this point. It was all entirely innocent following through the story.

However several months ago, in my ongoing quest to learn as many random things as possible, I was learning the history of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. It is an insane subject, how a joke grew out of all control and ravaged racial, political and societal in the past 100 years.

You can’t study something like that without putting it in a broader context. So I learned a lot about the far-right and alt-right movements, that used this fake text to justify their beliefs.

And that’s where it clicks, I’ve accidentally written an alt-right wet dream with just the character bios.

I’m a free-thinking centre left-leaning liberal. I don’t have anything against Jews, and my problems with the Israeli state are strictly to do with Palestine and the West Bank, so political. I certainly don’t want my stories to contain a racist caricature of Jews or any race.

So planning and preparation have helped me. At this stage it’s an easy fix:

  • I could change the young pilot’s character
  • I could change her relationship to the mysterious figure,
  • I could even remove the shadowy puppet master, (it is somewhat of a cliché in science fiction and fantasy)

I’ve chosen to snip that particular story thread and remove any familial relationship between the pilot and the mystery man. It also means I’ve got next to nothing on this shadowy man; he’s a mystery even to me.

Now Jewishness of this pilot is essential to me. Which seems odd, but a while back I’d read a story in the news, about Jewish fighter pilots. At the time this got me thinking, you don’t often hear about female fighter pilots very often, even in popular culture that much, (though the Captain Marvel movie has done just that). Since these Israeli women fighter pilots were the inspiration, that’s the direction I wanted the character to go, to pay homage to that. I’m not sure if that’s silly, but that’s just something I wanted in there, sans any racist overtones.

It does concern me how easy it is to say something entirely different from what you meant when writing. Had I been pantsing it, I probably wouldn’t have realised that. So chalk that up to another benefit of planning, it helps avoid pitfalls and makes sure your authorial intent doesn’t get hijacked by silly mistakes.

NaNoWriMo 2019 Prep

So every year I discuss what I’m up to in terms of NaNoWriMo , and this year is no different… in fact you’re reading it right now, if the title of the post wasn’t obvious enough 😉

So, what I’m up to is a lot of plotting. Planning time lines, characters, and ultimately the plot. I’m trying to make it easy to identify where I need to introduce characters so they’re in place when I need them in the story, everything is built up logically, not conveniently… though there has to be some coincidence, otherwise it wouldn’t feel natural.

Character wise, I want to work a lot on describing my characters, ideally without interfering with the story, so at the right time, in the right way and to the right level. I’m trying to grab pictures of people I feel represent what I want my characters to look like.

Technology wise, this year I’ve got a new laptop, a Microsoft Surface Laptop 2, and yes it’s annoying weeks after I bought it the Surface Laptop 3 came out, but I don’t really mind as this laptop is exactly what I need and wanted. Once I’ve got money coming in regularly, I’ll consider upgrade options – I can live with two laptops, one for working one for writing, for now it’s all the same to me.

To aid with writing, I’ve picked up a second monitor, so I can have references on one screen, and my writing on another. I had a spare monitor, but it’s too big for my current working space, so have a little monitor just to hold documents for me.

My current writing setup, laptop with extra monitor, Google Nest Hub Max for watching videos and listening to music, with other paraphernalia I need, not seen but is in the video a shelf with pads and books, and my extensive booze collection

Speaking of preperations, I’m also doing a fairly terrible vlog of my NaNoWriMo journey this year, I think it’ll get better as I do it more often, it’s not my natural format – but I was bored, and that’s a terrifying place for me to be, I can do some pretty outlandish things while bored. Vlog is fairly tame.

El Camino, Breaking Bad, or how I learnt to hate criminals (a rant)

So I’ve recently watched El Camino, so with this post, there is a high risk of spoilers for El Camino, Better Call Saul, and Breaking Bad. If you’ve not watched them, skip this post.

Don’t feel guilty. It’s okay- your view has already been registered. The advertisers I don’t have, don’t want, and don’t care about would happy.

Okay, if you’re reading on, you don’t mind spoilers, and if it upsets you, it’s your problem, not mine.

Continue reading

You’re doing it wrong…

Yay I’m writing, and it feels great.

Unfortunately I’m doing it wrong. I wanted to write a short story that would act as a prequel to my NaNoWriMo project this year. However, what I’ve done so far is write 1,006 words that have seen a spacecraft land on a planet, and my protagonist go through customs, and ride a taxi to a hotel. It’s not even got him in the room yet.

It’s not a big deal, obviously – a lot can be cut out in the edit, but now I’ve realised the problem I need to write differently, or face having an extra difficult edit process to cut it down. Makes sense? Unfortunately, there’s now a cognitive dissonance between what I’ve written and what I will be writing, switching styles after you’ve started isn’t great.

Needs must though, I feel the need to write this because I’ve made the decision for my NaNoWriMo novel start in the middle of it’s B plot, while the A plot has a more traditional three act structure. So the short story I’m writing is the first part of that B plot, it’ll give me some reference points, without bogging down the main novel with what really isn’t necessary for the story.

Plus it allows me to achieve one of my favourite things in novels, having a world that exists beyond the novel itself. One of my most hated things is stories that take place in a bubble, you want indications of a rich back story that led up to the events of your novel, without directly featuring them.

I also want to do a second short story, this second featuring a bit more world building so being broader in context than my current short story featuring the back story to the protagonist.

In the meantime, I need to get less detailed and more action and intention orientated to make this short story work. I’d like to limit myself to four thousand words.

I’ll publish the short stories on here once they’re done.

Short Story: The Peculiar Blade

I was in Scarborough for the weekend just gone, and took the opportunity to do a little writing – okay, it’s been a while since I actually wrote a story. Mostly I keep plotting them – but this one had no plot, I just wrote. It is very strictly a short story to enjoy, there isn’t much depth to it. I did enjoy writing it though.

The Peculiar Blade

by J L Lawrence

Thomas McVey looked at the peculiar blade in his hands and felt a strange premonition.

He walked over to the window and reflected on his quiet surroundings. He had always loved rainy Scarborough with its quiet, yet wild seaside. It was the place he always came to when in hiding, it was easier to move between the north and south halves of the city, and the headland made for interesting defensive positions.

From his room on the top floor of the hotel, looking out over the North bay, the sea wild with high winds, the sun deep down, he saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Mark Kowalski. Mark was an tenacious police agent who Thomas had known for some time was on his trail. Two years previous Thomas had got on Mark’s radar with an operation in Bristol, then again, another operation in Devon, that he had tracked him down in Scarborough over 300 miles away did not bode well.

Thomas gulped. He glanced at his own reflection. He looked older than his forty-five years, somehow the past decade on the path of revenge had taken its toll, but it had also made him lean, he had the hungry look of a predator, his skin was taught over lean muscles, belying a hard and fast man. What few acquaintances he had still contact with, saw him as a hard, focused and dark monster. His enemies saw a man to whom death would be inevitable, but until then he was a dark and dangerous killer best to be avoided.

But not even an incredible person who had dozens of kills under his belt, and had fended off more than his fair share of assassins, was prepared for what Mark had in store today.

The rain hammered like jumping rats, the wind made the sea roar, making it hard for Thomas to see and hear the danger around him, the only thing he was sure of was that Mark Kowalski was out there waiting for him.

As Thomas stepped outside and Mark came closer, he could almost see the hungry glint in his eye, and Thomas knew this man had violent intentions.

“I am here because I want justice,” Mark bellowed from the street, in a deranged tone. He slammed his foot down. “I frigging hate you, Thomas McVey, come down here and face me.” Despite the roaring from the ocean Thomas heard him nearly perfectly.

Thomas looked back, even more surprised and still fingering the peculiar blade, then he made up his mind and left the room and riding the antiquated lift down to the first floor where there was a communal balcony empty with the weather. “Mark, you must think I was born yesterday,” he called out.

They looked at each other with angry feelings, Detective Kowalski pulled a handgun from beneath his jacket, a simple Browning and took aim.

Thomas ducked back inside, and head for the stairs down, keeping an eye out for an attack, but he made it to the ground floor doorway.

Suddenly, Mark lunged forward and tried to punch Thomas in the face. Quickly, Thomas grabbed the peculiar blade and brought it down on Mark’s skull.

Mark’s dirty legs trembled and his ugly arms wobbled. He looked anxious, and scampered back, fumbling with the gun. Several over men rushed into the corridor; their guns ready.

Thomas smashed the fire alarm, and retreated back into the stair way, he ducked down heading towards the basement.

The unknown men followed him, but Thomas had moved into a narrow corridor with a blind right hand bend, which allowed him to meet the shadowy men one by one in close quarters, and he rapidly despatched them, rendering them unconscious or unable to stand as opportunity dictated. He wasn’t interested in a body count, he had no way of knowing who these men were, despite being sure they weren’t police.

Mark staggered through the narrow corridor, he started shooting blindly before he could see Thomas, sending ricochets and brick shards flying around the corner. Thomas had no choice but to retreat, coming to the large boiler for the hotel.

“It’s no use,” the detective called out, you’re trapped, and I have a gun and you only a knife.

Thomas refrained from replying, he focused on understanding his setting, the pipes and tanks that filled the boiler room.

Mark charged in, firing that anything that looked like a man. He fired three times before his gun was empty, and he had to stop release the clip to replace it.

Thomas charged out from behind one of the boiler tanks, hot and sweaty but still ready and able to fight, he let forth a roar as he drove the knife in between the ribs of the vengeful detective.

Mark let out an agonising groan and collapsed onto the ground. Moments later Mark Kowalski was dead.

Thomas McVey went back upstairs, and filtered into the crowd making their way out due to the fire alarm, disappearing from the crowd he walked the one mile back to the South Bay and took up occupancy in his back up hotel, and made himself a nice cup of tea.

THE END

I got a little bit obsessed…

I was reading The Count of Monte Cristo, I got a little bit obsessed. It’s one of my all time favourite books, though I’d only read it once – now twice. I wasn’t just reading it this time, I’ve been also been studying it, and studying Alexandra Dumas, I even tracked down a copy of Michael Ross’ biography of Dumas, (which as it turns out it’s hard to find literature, in English, on Alexandra Dumas, plenty in French but my two years of studying Francais isn’t up to that task).

See I love Alexandra Dumas, based on just two works The Three Musketeers, (I’ve read all the stories), and the Count of Monte Cristo. I knew who he wrote other stuff, but I hadn’t realised how much other stuff – the guy was prolific, as well as truly fascinating character in his own right, as was his father. However, that’s a post for another day, a nice big long post. In fact, there’s likely to be several posts on the subjects of the Count of Monte Cristo and Alexandra Dumas. I turned a 50 hour read into a 100+ hour project of learning, so obviously I’m going to put you through at least some of that.

However, I’ve finally finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo, next up is The Black Count: Glory, revolution, betrayal and the real Count of Monte Cristo – which is about Alexandra Dumas father, for whom part of the Count of Monte Cristo is based on.

I’m also going to be reading something more modern The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Wayfarers 1 , I’ve heard great reviews about this series and I’m only just getting round to starting it, it’s something to look forward to.

I’m looking for inspirations for my reads after this, so feel free to comment with some good suggestions – aside from erotica, I have no limitations on genre, or age.

Drowning in Yesterdays

There is nothing wrong with nostalgia, in fact it’s quite lovely and even fascinating. However, culturally we are drowning in nostalgia.

Nothing new there, there’s a reason the world is filled with classics of things – we naturally harken back to a time and to things we understand through years of process. From Bach to Shakespeare, and Enzo Ferrari to Orson Welles. It’s always been there.

Some nostalgia is cyclic, the 70’s dwelled in the 50’s, the 80’s in the 60’s, and the 90’s definitely had a kick for the 70’s. Some nostalgia as mentioned lingers for decades, even centuries crossing not just generational divides, but generational gulfs.

All that being said, the 2010’s seems to have gone nuts with nostalgia. Someone figured out it sells, and someone figured out the formulas to keep it selling. And it’s been fantastic frankly, oh the hits just kept rolling in and rolling in, movie franchises long since gone were resurrected, franchises that really should have been short and sweet rolled on and on, there were sequels to books ages past, bands and groups reformed and toured and put out new albums, and new artists gave new life to old songs.

Continue reading