It’s been a struggle to get going…

While bored and looking for something to watch stumbled across The 100… so much stupid, poor storytelling, poor science.

I think I can do better, so I’m plotting out a better version of The 100, in detail. We’ll call it inspired by The 100, with some inspiration from Battlestar Galactica, FireFly, and Space: Above and Beyond – so there’s a bit more scope, more science, more interesting stories going on, and an ensemble cast of characters that are interesting and useful.

Still keep the dichotomy of a space side story and an Earth side story, with the challenge of little interaction between the two – but it wouldn’t just be a throw away plot line for series one/book one. However it wouldn’t be an overall recreation, it’s my own story – but inspired by the idea.

Yeah… I’m bored.

I’m also casting through idea after idea recently, nothing really sticks, so not been writing much of late. Plus there’s been other things on my mind, and other distractions, challenges and catastrophes, and some serious life shit going on. But once again, I’m going to try and get going.

Confession… I Failed NaNoWriMo

Yes – all that preparation, all the practice and warm up, and it didn’t add up to a win. A lot of stuff going on personally and professionally, plus I’ll admit there were more frivolous distractions like Red Dead Redemption 2, (great game), also listening to the Lord of the Rings novels, (great story, but so horribly written).

I made it to 28,469 words, and at the point where I stopped, I was still ahead of target. It wasn’t that I’d fallen behind, and just couldn’t catch up, I just disengaged and couldn’t get restarted after that.

In fairness it didn’t start great, struggled to get going until day 3, but with a sudden change in plot I flew off.

So, next up I’ve got to start writing again. No good dwelling on it, this post is to put a line under it. Going forwards I’m going to put the failed novel on the back burner – it was promising for a while, but it needs a good rewrite to fix some problems and let it flow again.

So, have some ideas for stories I’m going to explore with some plotting, and maybe the odd short story will come from those as a beta test. Also there’s an old story idea I want to revisit, if I’d written at the time it would have been very forward thinking, still is – but instead of being predictive, now it’s more stretching reality to it’s limit. Really have to strike while the iron is hot with an idea.

Anyway… went away to do NaNoWriMo, and should have come back earlier – I didn’t, but I’m back now. Let the writing commence.

And lastly – a sentiment just saw online – fail better. That’s definitely the goal for the next project.

Block Breaker #6

Block breakers are short stories, random ditties for which the only real purpose is to write something, anything when Writer’s Block strikes. Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – none of these words apply. Just write or die.

So I’m procrastinating from prepping for writing, by writing… here we go again!

A figure, dressed in loose grey overalls stepped out of a car. He picked his way through the carnage strewn all around the city plaza.

“Stop this!” cried out the Gargoyle, “I’m here.”

From above a body hit the ground with a thud.

“Aww fuck, no, come on no,” Gargoyle said with despair in his voice, “Why’d you have to do that?” He was stood over the body that had fallen, a bloody and broken costumed man, he was so bloodied that there was no way to tell where the open flesh and the red of the costume began in the darkness.

“Just another fool wanting to play hero, no true power,” a deep female voice said, as a cape-clad white costumed woman floated down from the sky.

“This was all so meaningless,” the Gargoyle said, “You didn’t need to do any of this.”

“Of course I did,” she said as she landed lightly on her feet, “They were pretenders. Running and flying around thinking they were good enough, strong enough, to be paragons.”

“And why am I here?” the Gargoyle asked, “You wanted a witness from another time to see you beat them all?”

“No,” the woman said shaking her head, “That would be cruel and meaningless. No, I called you out so I can test myself against the best.”

“I’m an old man? Whatever I was or wasn’t, I’m hardly that now,” the Gargoyle said.

“Oh,” the woman said, over dramatically scratching her cowl, “You would think I’d have thought of that. The Gargoyle hasn’t been seen for nearly sixty years.”

“If you just want to kill an old man, go ahead,” Gargoyle said, “Finish all this with me. Kill me and vanish, leave this world in peace.”

“Don’t give up so quickly,” the woman said, “I have a plan. I need to face you in your prime.” She appeared to flicker for a moment, like a bad television image, and then suddenly she had a device in her hands, which she pointed at the Gargoyle, a beam of light emitted from it striking the old man who cried out in pain and collapsed.

Gargoyle struggled on the ground and started to drag himself back to the car, in pain and screaming all the way.

“I will be here tomorrow night Gargoyle. Come and face me, or I will rip this continent apart, fairly sure that should kill most of the people on it. Understood? I should think so.” Suddenly the woman vanished, flickering out and not returning.

The Gargoyle continued to drag himself along the ground, until the pain became too intense, back arching, a high pitched squeal wailing into the air, his arms and legs were thrusting out uncontrollably, with energetic pulses spreading all over, causing bulges all over his limbs.

It was over an hour until the attack stopped. By then the army had turned up and dragged the Gargoyle into a guarded ambulance, where he remained unconscious.

“Take him back to base, put him somewhere private but spacious. This man is not our prisoner, treat him with all due respect,” an anonymous-looking suited figure said, before walking away.

Gargoyle moaned, starting to come to, and then awoke with a start. He looked around bleary-eyed.

“So you’re awake,” the anonymous-looking man stated.

“Where am I?” the Gargoyle asked hoarsely.

“Porton Down,” the man said, “We brought you here after the fight.”

The Gargoyle sat up and lowered his legs over the bed, and looked at his now thick arms, still in their grey costume. “There wasn’t much of a fight on my part,” the Gargoyle said looking over his body, at his thickened legs, he turned his attention back to his arms and then his hands flexing and then making a fist.

“I have a few questions,” the man said, “Four to be precise.”

“Can this wait?” Gargoyle asked, “I need to work out what she did to me.”

“Well that’s question one right there,” the man pointed out, “Who is she? In one night she fought nearly a dozen supes, and didn’t just win, she slaughtered them all. We didn’t even know Starman could die, she ripped him into eight bits with her bare hands. Fifty police officers all dead. Who was she?”

“I don’t know,” Gargoyle said, he was playing with his throat. “You kept my costume on?”

“You survived, that seemed relevant, figured you’d want to keep your anonymity. Mister Bramley, we know who you are though. We don’t know who she is. We can’t match her to any watchlist.”

“So Big Brother can’t help. I remember when all your super technology, and databases, were meant to be superheroes redundant, never quite came off,” Gargoyle noted, “But I’ve no idea who she is either. I got a message, I ignored it. I got another message, I ignored it, then I saw what was happening in the news and paid attention.”

“You ignored her email so she wiped out most of the superhero community in Europe?” the anonymous man asked.

“A few enterprising people over the years have worked out my identity, mostly nerds,” Gargoyle said, “Thought it was another of them. They come expecting stories,  maybe even see the power, some come looking for power.”

“Okay,” the man said, “So, the second question, you retired sixty years ago. How do you look so young?”

“I didn’t before. I was fifty when I retired,” Gargoyle said, “My powers apparently slowed my ageing, but I was still old and tired when I went to the plaza tonight.”

“Last night,” the man said, “You’ve been unconscious all night, it’s late afternoon. You still didn’t answer the question, how do you look so young?”

“She did something to me,” Gargoyle said looking at his clenched fist, “Hit me with some kind of ray. It was incredibly painful, I could feel my body changing rapidly.”

“So there’s some kind of technology,” the man noted, “That helps narrow it down. If her powers are technology-based we can search through the universities, labs, and such.”

“Third question?” Gargoyle asked, “We don’t have long. She said I had to face her tonight, or she would destroy Europe.”

The man went to speak, then held himself for a moment, “Okay, so what do you intend?”

“Well somehow she’s made me younger, hopefully, my powers are there too,”  Gargoyle said jumping off the bed and doing a quick squat, “I guess I’ll have to face her.”

“Or you could let us handle it,” the man said, “We have facilities and tools to deal with criminal supes.”

“If you want a pop at her, go right ahead,” Gargoyle said, “But I’m going to be there. I can’t let her kill any more people.”

“Do you think she could destroy Europe?”

“I don’t know,” Gargoyle said, “I fought a god once, it was back in the late fifties. He had enough power to destroy the world, nearly did.”

“He was still beaten though,” the anonymous-looking man stated.

“Yeah, but it took everything I had to contain him, keep him occupied, and in the end, it was a magical talisman that took trapped him. The talisman with Wolfenden is being kept safe, isn’t it?”

“It’s locked in a vault, the location of which we don’t share, it’s secure,” he paused, “Do you think that’s what she is? Gods tend to be quite archaic, she used some kind of ray technology you said.”

“That’s your fourth question?” Gargoyle asked, surprised, “I’m fairly sure I know who you are. There are rules.”

“I wondered,” the man said, “But couldn’t waste a question on it. And yes, you’ve caught me, I’ve wasted a question, you may as well answer.”

“We met in the in nineteen forty-nine,” Gargoyle noted, “Think you were dressed in the same clothes. Anyway no, I don’t think she’s a deity.  She didn’t have that ageless quality you or Wolfenden have.”

“You need to test your powers,” the enigmatic figure said, “If you’re going to face her, you need to be at your best.”

“Listen, you did me a favour maintaining my anonymity,” Gargoyle said, “So here’s the answer to a question I suspect you wanted to ask. The answer’s no, well probably not.”

“Then we may as well make our peace with the universe,” the man said, “Because in your prime, I’m fairly sure you could have beaten me, and I grew up on Olympus.”

“Just get me back to the plaza,” Gargoyle said, “Just get me back there in time for tonight, I’ll do my best. You might also want to consider bringing supes from outside of Europe.”

“So you showed up, nice new look there Gargoyle, or should I say old look?” the woman said floating down softly to land on the cobblestoned plaza. The area was still carnage, though the previous night’s bodies had been removed, and little yellow flags had sprouted up all over.

“I can’t let you hurt anyone else,” Gargoyle said, his voice deep and intense.

“Well you’ll have to beat me then if you can,” the woman said laughing.

“I appreciate this young body, it feels a little weird,” Gargoyle said, backing off, “Besides there are apparently processes for these situations.”

“Oh?” the woman asked.

Just then, streams of blue rushed from atop buildings and high windows striking the woman, encasing in her in a blue field. Two figures in body armour came running in carrying large devices and threw them at the woman, the devices rushed towards the woman from the front and rear and grappled together encasing the woman in steel.

The woman collapsed to the ground as the blue sphere faded away.

“Hahahahaha,” she laughed maniacally.

“What’s so funny?” Gargoyle asked approaching, an army of body-armoured figures emerging from all around, weapons raised behind him.

“Oh these human games,” the woman said, and seemingly with a flex of her arms, the trap cracked, then she spread her arms wide and the metal device fell away sparks and smoke flying from it.

The collective body-armoured figures all opened fire, spraying the woman with more of the blue light. She continued to laugh maniacally.

Then suddenly she stopped, her attention snapped to the armed men all around, and then she flickered, and within the blink of an eye all the figures were suddenly collapsing to the ground, and black-clad figures were falling from rooftops and high up windows.

Gargoyle and the woman were the only ones left standing.

“Is all that you know death?” Gargoyle asked disgustedly.

“Yes,” the woman said, “But I didn’t kill the little mortals.” Her words were immediately belied by bodies falling from the roofs hitting the ground. She looked around, bemused, “Well mostly didn’t kill them. They’re so delicate.”

“So you’re a god then?” Gargoyle asked.

“Nope, not exactly. You ready?” she asked, “I’m getting bored of waiting, would hate to have to wipe a whole continent to get you in the mood.”

Gargoyle got into a read stance, “I’m ready,” he said, the skin visible from his costume visibly went grey and stone-like, his eyes burned amber, and his whole body seemed to grow filling out the costume even further.

The woman flickered, but suddenly she appears grabbed by the next by Gargoyle.

“Seen that trick enough,” he said.

“Hah”, she lashed out with her elbow into the side of his head sending him flying through the air several feet and crashing into the side of a building.

Gargoyle picked himself up, and shuck glass from himself, stepping out of the building he faced the woman.

“You don’t disappoint,” the woman said.

“Talk or fight,” Gargoyle said, charging forward with unbelievable speed, his right fist swing out, it’s arc passing through where the woman had been the briefest moment earlier until she flickered away.

Gargoyle flew from his feet, rolled in midair and then carried the roll through back onto the ground and letting the moment spring him back to his feet. He searched around for his opponent.

“Face me!” he yelled, fury filling his voice.

From out of nowhere the woman appeared flying through the air, she grabbed for his neck and using the momentum of her flight to spin around as if to break his neck.

Gargoyle braced himself, and the woman lost her grip and fell away, he followed her momentum, kicking her while she was prone, sending her body skittering across the ground into a pillar from the front of a skyscraper.

The woman got back to her feet, “Well that…” she started to say, but Gargoyle was already on her, with a double-fisted pump to her midsection, immediately followed by an uppercut that sent her flying back into another pillar.

The woman kicked herself from the rubble, propelling her self forward into a crunching spear into the Gargoyle’s midsection, paying him back. She went in for a punch, but Gargoyle blocked it with his left, arm, and then followed immediately with a headbutt to her face.

The woman staggered back, shaking her head, then her eyes flashed red.

Gargoyle charged, but with perfect timing, she shoved the Gargoyle to the side, letting his momentum beat him leaving him sprawling on the floor. The woman flickered, and suddenly appeared a hundred meters up, she orientated herself on the downed figure of Gargoyle, and started falling towards him picking up speed, then she flickered out.

Gargoyle was just picking himself up, when suddenly she flickered back into view mere inches from him, her fist slamming into him with such speed and force that he was driven into the ground, and the cobbles beneath exploded into shards and dust as the Gargoyle’s rock form sunk nine inches into the ground.

“Oof!” he exclaimed, as the woman bounced away, rolled and landed on her feet.

“Excellent,” she said, “You are most excellent.”

“Talk or fight,” Gargoyle said extricating himself from the hole he was in, raising himself painfully to his knees.

“You said that already,” she said.

“You talk too much,” he suddenly lurched forward, his momentum from rising pushing him into a sprint, powerful leg muscles straining as they propelled him forward with every ounce of his speed, turning him into a massive fast-moving juggernaut.

The woman flickered appearing just to left again and reaching out to push him aside again.

Gargoyle speeding towards where the woman had been, was already spreading his arms out ahead of him, and as he reached where she was pushing, he grabbed her rest, and then purposefully missing his step, sending his hulking form crashing down into the ground with tremendous force, and wrenching the woman from her feet, and round with him as he rolled.

He maintained his grip and followed through the momentum bringing her smashing into the ground with force enough to shatter the cobbles again.

From launch to smash took the mere briefest of moments.

Gargoyle wasted no time, he pressed home his advantage by rolling onto her, grabbing her by the thick strong hair and smashing her head into the ground repeatedly.

Amidst the pressure of his brutal attack, she bucked for all her worth, eventually dislodging him, then she shoved him back.

“Wait!” she shouted, as Gargoyle got into a ready stance, “I choose talk”.

The Gargoyle held in his stance, but didn’t make to move forward, “What’s there to talk about?”

The woman raked mud and stone from his face, then pulling a cloth from a hidden pocket, she wiped her face to clear it. Then she looked back at the Gargoyle, “Okay, I yield.”

“What?” he asked dumbfounded.

“I yield. It’s the only rational choice. You’re as strong, fast and smart as promised, you can’t beat me, but I don’t think I can beat you, so I yield,” the woman said, looking visibly relaxed.

“I don’t understand,” the Gargoyle said, “Why would you go through all this death and destruction just to yield?”

“I needed to find the strongest mortal this planet had to offer,” she said, “Now I have, and I can’t beat you. Well unless we go super extreme, I imagine even with your powers after a day or two, you’d be too exhausted to go on, and then I’d finish you. And if that didn’t work, I could fight you for a few decades, until your old again. Wouldn’t be a real victory though, daddy wouldn’t accept it as a fete of strength.”

“Daddy? Fete of strength? You’re a child of Ares?” Gargoyle asked.

“Ares? No, I guess I can see why you might think that, but no. Poseidon is my father,” the woman said.

“So you’re a demi-god? You said you weren’t,” Gargoyle said, “And why would Poseidon want you to slaughter all the heroes? And so many people in this city?” His face was twisted with anger, confusion and disgust.

“It’s complicated,” the woman said, “I’m less demi-god and more mortal plus.”

“Well I don’t care,” Gargoyle said after a few moments thoughts, “You should leave her and never come back. If you come back, I will find you, hunt you down and fight you as long as it takes to find a winner between us, or I find something to contain you indefinitely.”

“I can agree to that,” the woman said.

“Just like that?” Gargoyle asked.

“Yes,” she said, “The power of the gods has been tested against the power of man, that was my mission.”

“What is your name?” Gargoyle asked, returning to his human form.

“Kora Euryale,” the woman said. “I will take my leave.”

Gargoyle went to speak but thought better of it. The woman, Kora, flickered out of sight and didn’t return this time.

A cadre of armed black body-armoured troops came marching in, with the anonymous-looking man at their lead.

“Is it over?” he asked.

“Yes, she’s gone,” Gargoyle said, “It was a stalemate.”

The man looked around at the carnage, “This was a stalemate?”

“Yes,” Gargoyle said, suddenly feeling tired, “It’s not good though.”

“Oh?” the anonymous-looking man asked.

“The god’s are planning on returning,” Gargoyle said, “The Olympian ones. They wanted to see what strength mankind had.”

“There are contingencies for that,” the man said.

“Sure. Hope they work better than your contingencies for a rogue supe,” Gargoyle stated.

“What now, for you I mean?” the man asked, “We could use your help.”

“Call me if you need me,” Gargoyle said, “I’m going to enjoy being young as long as it lasts, forgot to ask about that bit.”

The end.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Prep : Perspective

I tend not to like stories that are told from a single view point. It’s not universal by any means, there are great stories out there that solely follow a protagonist, and I’ve probably enjoyed many of them, but generally I don’t like it.

I hunger to see things from other points of view, including the villains and antagonists. You get more character depth, plans and plots are grander and more intriguing when you can see what goes into them, and the stakes are a little higher because the story doesn’t have to be reliant on one person to tell it, which means characters can die, no one is safe.

This is entirely a personal thing, it’s an authors choice, and audience considerations, etc…

And it can go wrong too, in A Song Of Ice and Fire, clearly the multiple perspectives gets out of control when you have to read the same scene three or four times from different characters perspectives across a couple of books. Yeah that becomes difficult for the reader.

It also leads to things like “There’s not enough Aardvark-man in this Aardvark-man story”, because you spend too long away from your protagonist setting up an exciting their act. Though in fairness, that could just be a sign of weak or stupid villains or plans, because maybe if Aardvark-man stepped in act at two, he should be able to sniff out the plan and fix it before it escalates, so you just had to keep him away.

Anyway, so going through the major events of my NaNoWriMo novel for this November, I’ve marked on what perspective each one will be from.

Not only that I’ve decided any that my protagonist will be in, it will always be from their perspective, almost like they’re powerful enough to take control whether they’re around. Other perspectives in the story will come from the companions of the perspective, the Hero, (not the protagonist, but the one they must find to save the day and all that jazz), the antagonists, (big bad and henchmen), and because I want my story to have impact and stakes I’d like a few scenes from ancillary character’s perspectives – you know voice of the local people, common soldiers – people who pay the price for grand big important people’s ambitions.

Not worked out where or what the ancillary characters scenes will be, but I can’t help feeling they’ll be important to the aesthetic I want. I also don’t want them taking over the story, they should still drive the plot, or provide very specific context, rather than being there for the sake of it.

Damn It Words…

I lost momentum, again. It is so very easy to do,  you go from trundling away up the highway of creativity at a hundred miles an hour, and next thing you know, you’re on some unlit country back road with no headlights, and no idea which direction is which. Your stuck, frozen.

Whether it is writing a story, or a blog post – everything you try struggles and doesn’t seem to take you in the direction you want to go. It’s a frustrating experience, it’s not quite a writer’s block so much as writer’s ineptitude. Every idea stumbles, good or bad idea, it just doesn’t work. That frustration leads to some temper tantrum like feelings that are very unbecoming of grown up.

I started writing another block breaker, I had an idea – but I missed something. And whereas before, I at least had ideas to fix it, though they took effort. I don’t now. All I can think to do to is restart it, with plotting… so not really a block breaker.

It’s not just the block breaker though, I was struggling before that, the block breaker was this fantastic idea I’d been playing around with in my head, in hindsight I should have just banked it, and done some planning on it later and done something different. Maybe I still will – it might not be a bad idea to do in November once I’ve finished my main NaNoWriMo project, assuming that I don’t mess that up and don’t finish.

Sometimes these things happen, I know – they’ve happened many many times before, and will no doubt happen many times in the future. All I can do is choose to keep relighting that flame. Which is ultimately what this post is about – it serves no other purpose than to share some feelings and be a finished blog post.

Next up, either a post with some actual content or a block breaker, however short and sweet, there’ll be something.

Block Breaker #4

Block breakers are short stories, random ditties for which the only real purpose is to write something, anything when Writer’s Block strikes. Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – none of these words apply. Just write or die.

So I’m procrastinating from prepping for writing, by writing… here we go again!

P.s. (before the actual script… go figure), this one went a little weird – and it goes in a very different direction for what it initially looks like. I enjoyed writing it anyway, but it’s not my normal thing.

Gone Awry

Sasha threw her cup across the room, she threw off her jacket, placed her gun in it’s holster in the top draw of her desk and locked it.

“Damn it!” she shouted, when she was done, “How the hell did he get past us?”

Her assistant stood, mortified like a dear in the headlights.

“Don’t just stand there you dosey git,” Sasha said, “I want answers, and I want answers now. You were meant to put people on the doors.”

“They were…” her assistant, a normally confident twenty-five year old, named Susan Claire, short with scarlet hair and a trim figure, dressed practically but with touches of flair. In the face of her boss’s anger, her confidence was melting.

“They weren’t covering the main entrance, the main bloody entrance. That areshole just walked out,” her boss said, calming down. “Tell me what happened? How was it we were made to look like amateurs by a two bit conman.”

“One of the silent alarms went off,” Susan said, “A couple of the guys on the front went to reinforce the internal team.”

“Damn it,” Sasha said, “How did he slip past the remaining two?”

“I don’t know,” Susan said.

“Get me the names of the two on the front entrance,” Sasha said.

Continue reading

Story Telling… I Admire: Babylon 5

I’ve already mentioned how much I admire Dune, and aspire to that level of writing, so since I’m crap at reviewing, we’ll talk about what I admire about my favourites. Another one my all time favourites series, this time  a TV one, is Babylon 5, created by J. Michael Straczynski back in the 90’s.

So let’s talk about that.

A Bit of History (for those don’t remember the 90’s… which is increasingly more and more adults – darn time!)

Back in the 90’s, and in decades before that, the majority of television shows (though not all by far), were episodic, with arcs focused on that episode, and you could probably air many episodes out of order with little to no effect on the stories being told. Most of Star Trek is like this, and it’s fine – it’s what we expected, nay what we thought we wanted.

However J. Michael Straczynski while in the shower, combined two story ideas he’d been playing with a big space opera and a story taking place aboard a dinky little space station. The big space opera would be too big, and too expensive to make in a TV show, while an episodic TV show set aboard a space station wouldn’t have much life, just a few seasons. His eureka moment in the shower was that in combining the two, you could have a five year story that saw a universe at war, and peace, have politics and a consequences play out, and punctuate some action and fallout on the station to contextualise the space opera, without having to invest too significant parts of the budget for space battles.

They were doing this in the early days of the CGI revolution, now everyone with a some 3d program, and a video editing suite can put together a fleet on fleet battle, in HD or even 4k, with some time and patience.

Side note: I actually wonder if they could make Babylon 5 these days, the restrictions of budget and technology helped to create something amazing, but there aren’t the same limiting factors, you can do whole series in front of blue screens without much need for a set, you don’t need expensive physical models, and people are already trying to make CGI people a thing, so you might not need pricey actors either.

So, what is Babylon 5?

So back to the idea – a small contained space, operating as a space UN of sorts. It ties together smaller character driven stories and a grand epic. The factions have unique motivations to them which drive them, hurt them, and so on, and actions for against a faction has consequences for those factions and the over arcing plot.

I’m trying not to get into spoilers, but you have plots involving a character or characters place and interaction with their own state, you have law and order plots, including local (on the station), internal (with the one of the nations of the galaxy), and international, (with multiple nations involved), you have siege and attack plots, Revolutions, enslavement, spies, survivor stories, medical dramas, but also a sense of magical plots, magical tests and quests, mystical items, after life stuff, and I’m not so be with this yet, then you have interpersonal plots with romance, buddy cops, noir detectives, comedies, arguments and misunderstandings. Basically it has everything.

“But!” I hear you shoot, Star Trek has all of that – and you’re right, but except on DS9, it didn’t add to anything it was just adventure of the week.

Now DS9 was doing something similar, but it didn’t feel as in depth, it was more focused, where as Babylon 5 went in a hundred, but coherent, didn’t directions but brought it back together. What DS9 did do though was better communicate the world was ending and the war stories were just more intense, that’s where the budget differences came in I think. Babylon 5 was more cohesive, and the building blocks all lead to how it ends (taking season 4, not 5 in fairness).

So What Is It I Admire, And Can Learn

So ultimately what I admire is the ability to balance personal and grander story telling. Now it is probably easier in hundreds of 45 minute episodes than writing a novel, but when you look at each series, (1 through 4 anyway), they are beautifully balanced.

Where I fail is I get lost in scenes, specifically dialogue ones, I get stuck in circles, the dialogue in Babylon 5 is what carries the story, and it’s not as punchy as a Sorkin series, but still all the important dialogue is focused, and delivers three things each time, the characters personal feelings and motivations, exposition to explain the current situation, and the plan – what actions do the characters intend to do.

I like that, and I think ultimately that’s what I want to learn, and it doesn’t matter if it’s on screen or on a page I think it’s a good way to do dialogue. It will definitely help to have three things before writing dialogue scenes:

  • History
  • Motivation
  • Plan

Doesn’t matter what the plan is, it’s not the plot of the story, it’s just what the characters intend – actually that’s not true, it does matter, because for the dialogue to be important, whatever the characters decide will drive the plot, it’s just a matter of whether they succeed in their intentions, or are denied by another factor.

Also just to mention, as with Dune, I could go through a lot more, but I wanted to pick an element that is of particular interest to me right now.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Prep : Plotting

So I’ve redone the plot I was working on. It’s still on the same world, but I’ve made the story more focused, more character driven, hopefully with compelling characters in the heroes and villains. The over arcing plot of the series I’m anticipating is still the same, a multi world conquest story, but we’re starting off small, and building out.

Going through a standard three act set up, with a major point in the middle of the novel, and a climatic battle at the end, so everything builds becomes bigger from start to finish, as there’s a couple of smaller conflicts earlier on. Nothing really innovative there, but I’m not going for innovative, I’m going for character moments.

Five talkie bits are planned, which hopefully I can keep quite snappy and not exposition heavy, (something I’m quite prone to), outside of those moments dialogue will be functional “Go here,” “Go there,” “Phew! that was close”, with actions and behaviours used to tell those parts of the stories. By no means is this the best way to write, it’s more if I do it, I can avoid a lot of pitfalls I fall into, (like circular dialogue that fails to end at a natural point).

So character wise on the good guy side (nominally the overall plot blurs who’s good and bad, but for the first novel it’ll be quite clear), we have a young character, an innocent caught up in something greater, and destined for something massive, then there’s the wise mentor, and a roguish mentor and defender, alongside a cast of supporting roles like military leaders, politicians, traders, and general people. A goal will be to have more dynamic and engaging secondary and tertiary characters.

On the bad guys, there’ll be a couple of military leaders who have the same goal, but sit in opposition to each other on methods, with one aiming for a domination victory, and the other a very targeted crafty plot.  I want them to be compelling, and to sew the seeds that they are the villains of the piece, but there’s a broader ethics involved which would allow for that obfuscation of heroes and villains later in the over arcing plot.

So –  a lot of work to do to make all that a reality, but at least most of the planning I’d done to this point is still valid and very useful. The history of the world still applies, though I’ve realised if I want to rely less on exposition, I might struggle to get some of it in, there’s only really one point in my plot where I can, (and must), show the history of the world. So, some block breakers are going to be experiments in historical exposition, and exposition generally.

Block breakers are now definitely going to be part of my prep after the recent trouble of number three, I might also do an out right short story as world setup for the NaNoWriMo novel, focusing on one character’s earlier life before the planned story takes place.

Put the kettle on, it’s my birthday…

Well actually it will be my birthday when you read this – I’ve no intention of blogging on my birthday, I intend on making far too many cocktails, and drinking them. Plus I want to try making gin filled cake pops. This fella knows how to celebrate.

But it’s a strange birthday, it’s not a number of consequence, nor is it half way between numbers of consequence… it’s just a birthday, and yet it marks a very interesting point in my life. I’m in a period of change, lots of things up in the air, making some mature decisions… and of late some markedly immature decisions, ultimately trying to get to grips with who it is I want to be.

Yeah, it’s a little trippy and pretentious – but it’s true too. I know I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a young age, but other than a bit of blogging, and one or two competitions, and NaNoWriMo, I’ve not really actually explored it, not as profession, or a life – it’s just a hobby, no commitments. I know why, I’m not very good at it, and that’s okay – I’m not very good at pool, but I enjoy playing anyway. So, writing will be a hobby for me, forever.

Other things need to change though, and hopefully those changes will lead to a healthier, happier and  more balanced life, where I can afford the mental energies to write, to learn, to create, and to play. Those are the things that important to me, and yet I frequently neglect them. I’d like to show my niece a better way to live, just as much as I want to live a better way too.

To get there requires big changes, so that’s the theme of this birthday. It’s not a traditionally significant one, but this year it is to me.


P.s. when I wrote this I didn’t realise I’d be ill for my birthday, which really sucks that optimism out of the day. Ah well…

Well Shucks…

I broke my 38 day streak on Duolingo because I was writing, and forgot to do it. Oopsie. I can start again on the streak, that’s not an issue, what’s amazing is though, when you’re in that place and the words just flow, and for love nor money, you don’t want to stop them.

That being said, I value education – so it’s still a little disappointing, was getting quite proud of that streak, my longest yet. That’s the game though, Duolingo isn’t the best way to learn, it does gamify the process, keeps you ticking along with the little burst of endorphins when you achieve your daily target, with it’s treasure boxes and such.

It’s actually something writers can and do employ, I don’t know if you’ve read Dan Brown’s books, but the cliff hangar every few pages or so, forces you to move on and move on and move on, and it rewards you with little endorphin highs… basically it hooks you, and you have to read just one more page constantly. People tend to read them fast because of that little hook.

I’m not a big fan of the Da Vinci Code for a number of reasons, including the bait and switch psychological tricks, the dumbing, and the pretentious nature… but when I read them I fell for them all the same, page after page I would go, think the Da Vinci coode took me a day and a half. I just didn’t think it was very satisfying when I got to the end, but others do, because they’ve never invested so much concentrated focus

I’m picking on Dan Brown here, but it’s a common trick, and sometimes it’s used in good books… but it feels so cheap. It’s the kind of thing supermarkets and junk food purveyors employ.

Still it sells, and sells well – if you’re wanting to write for a living, and not have another form of employment, then you do what you need to do. Ultimately the audience is the judge of anything and everything if that’s the route you want to go down. Just promise me if you work out the technique, you’ll use it with something good and worthwhile.

P.S. There’s nothing wrong if you enjoy Dan Brown’s books, in fact more power to you – I just don’t… As with all art, it’s ultimately a subjective thing, there are no absolutes, you’ve just got to love what you love.

Besides, at least Dan Brown doesn’t bug you to spend £5 to make up for one day not reading, unlike Duolingo – thanks but no thanks.