The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘listy things’

Thanksgiving

Posted by BigWords on November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving. Yeah, that’s another brilliant idea I’m going to steal for Blighty. We don’t often look on the positive side of things over this side of the pond, rather tending – with equal parts dismay and dry humor – to paint a picture of a less than brilliant existence. We like moaning about the weather, telling horror stories about medical care, complaining about queues, and… Stuff. Needless to say, there comes a time when we should look, for once, to things which aren’t going to drive us to despair. It’s an opportunity to say “Hey, Britain isn’t as shit as we thought it was.” And we have a lot to be thankful for – medical advances, computer achievements on a par with anything coming out of Japan, a stellar literary community… Doctor Who as well, I guess. Or at least Amy Pond.

Okay, so this calls for a list. I may as well go all out here.

I am thankful for:

…the fact that Brannon Braga isn’t writing the new Star Trek film.
…the existence of Blair Atholl malt.
…the existence of the internet, and high speed connections which makes downloading all the important things so fast and easy.
…the cancellation of Enterprise. And Bionic Woman. And… Have they nixed Knight Rider yet?
99 Red Balloons. The perfect song to listen to as North Korea stirs up shit. Again.
…all of The Three Stooges shorts available online.
…British libraries. And book shops. Also the amazing staff who never throw me out.

Damn. I suck at this. I’m not sure this is going to take off in the UK.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Mid-November Update

Posted by BigWords on November 15, 2010

This is my mid-November update, just like it says in the post header, and seeing as how I have managed (in my own special way) to add more projects than is either sane or remotely normal in one month – remembering that this is the height of the NaNoWriMo rush as well, you’re lucky I am writing this much about my activities. I’ve been pondering how I could break the following news to people without getting shouted at, but it seems that no matter how I word this list of projects I’m gonna end up with people wondering about my sanity.

The Comic

Yeah. That’s not going so well. It’s stalling somewhat because of the nature of the story… It was originally a neat examination of what a world would be like if superheroes defeated all the supervillains, but then I went and did something really stupid. I found Rick Veitch’s Brat Pack and Maximortal while I was moving stuff around, and even though there was a list of things I needed to do I decided to re-read them. Then (through mental machinations which my subconscious can only hint at, and for reasons even I don’t fully comprehend) the story took a wide left turn and had all kinds of things happen which undermines the simple message that you can’t always get what you want. I’ll start drawing the pages as and when I’m certain that they’ll not go through further permutations, though it doesn’t appear that I’ll be making the series available for download until March at the earliest – and that’s if it makes an appearance in finished form at all. There’s so much more than I expected lurking in the idea that I may see if I can pace it out properly at a later date and shop it around – there’s at least a couple of things in there which made even me (the man behind the story) do a double-take. It’s not that it is particularly violent, nor too offensive (especially given the type of things you can see in Max or Vertigo titles) but it has a feel to it that is off-key.

The early draft of the first issue is still here – and I’m wondering how Dan feels about his dubious caricature. Pfft. Whatever. I’m not going to change it now.

The Zombie List

The other main project for November was a list of all the zombie novels I could conceivably think of, and even I’m surprised at how many there are. It’s not as if I expected it to be easy, but it’s already longer than I anticipated, and the listing thus far is only up to the letter N. I thought that I would be done by Saturday, freeing up the rest of the week for the NaNo, though it now appears I’ll be doing this particular list for another couple of days. The list of short stories and other material to be found on the web will eventually be moved to it’s own sub-page as I get around to including all of the wonderful material I have yet to include, but for the moment it is all bunched together on the master page. The few titles missing from the list will eventually get added as I get around to confirming whether or not the undead in those works are indeed zombies, or if they are expy’s for vampires or other strains of the undead – there are a lot of mythological beings which look, at a cursory glance, to be zombies but are much different.

The Fanfic

I pointed out the fact that I was attempting to alter the largely negative attitudes to fanfic writing through an elaborate and interconnected saga which I would be writing through the latter part of this year, though it has increased significantly in scope, running (at present) to around 300k, and still incomplete. When it is nearly finished I will start polishing the opening chapters and begin posting them online a safe distance from my other locations on the interwebs. The last thing I need is to get embroiled in anything which it may arouse in people.

That’s all the shit you probably know about, and I’m sorry if I’m boring you to death by stating – yet again – that I’m busy working on things and not plying my usual brand of mind-games and madness online. There are only so many hours in the day, and it seems as if I am making things even harder on myself by adding more projects when I should probably be streamlining my activities to a few core things. The advice to writers is often “write what you are working on, and store away those good ideas for later” but it fails to take into account the sheer number of mind-blowing ideas which present themselves. If I started writing everything I want to write, I still wouldn’t have exhausted all the good stuff by the time I die. And you don’t need to start pipping in with a dead pool for me, ’cause I intend to live forever just out of spite.

Yeah, you heard that right… I AM NOW IMMORTAL.

The New Idea – Realism In YA

There was a couple of blog posts which I quickly browsed through – noting complaints and suggestions for the future of YA – which piqued my interest in the ways that a progression of sorts, or rather an expansion, could be done. The limited nature of YA – and I mean no offense to the many YA writers whose work I enjoy immensely – means I often get frustrated. The fact that so many of the YA books have resolutions which affirm and secure the reader is irritating and (whilst understandable) too neatly tied up. One of the biggest prompts for my concept – which I will come to in due course – was a post which suggested that there ought to be more diversity in the largely whitebread YA books. I love this. The only niggle at the back of my mind, questioning the suitability of myself as a YA writer, is the story I managed to subconsciously patch together whilst these thoughts I was consuming boiled over in a stew of possibilities. It isn’t exactly the type of thing I would imagine being an easy sell.

When people start begging – or at least pleading… maybe merely asking, now that I come to think about the wording of that post – for a more realistic set of texts for young readers, I always have the same reaction. It’s not that I don’t trust people’s judgment to separate the reality from the fiction, but it feels as if I need to repeat the same bloody thing over and over again – kids can be little shits when left to their own devices. The current way that they are represented in fiction could lead people to believe that children are somehow different from adults in their capability for acts of violence, malice and calculated evil. You don’t need to search too long to uncover some of the stories which have come out of the news channels regarding these kids, and it seems – to me, at the very least – that there may be worth in showing YA readers that not only do the good guys don’t always win, but that the flip-side of the coin can have widespread ramifications.

This, combined with a longstanding love of classic hardboiled writers, The Wire fresh in my mind, and a fortuitous e-mail from a friend whose career in Social Work gives me access to details I could only dream of, managed to combine to create a tale about a twelve-year old who graduates from running drugs and stealing, to the “heights” of running his own criminal empire in a housing estate. I already have the opening scene, with a clock of cement being thrown off the roof of the estate onto a policeman’s head, and I know how the story ends – the kid, now fourteen, is shot dead by police. That’s as much as I want to share at the moment. And for those of you who asked for more realism, I hope you’re happy…

Somehow I have the feeling I should have merely copied Jack’s response to being asked for truth.

Posted in comics, Over The Line, writing, zombies | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Small Wonders And Big Surprises

Posted by BigWords on October 8, 2010

It was only when I was boxing up all my books (again) that I realized there were a few titles I didn’t realize I actually had. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has seen my collection, but it made me think that Goodreads (or something similar) may actually have practical benefits for those of us unable to curb our spending habits. Most of the problem resides in the difficulty getting adequate storage has always proven. Once you hit the critical factor – maybe a thousand or so books – then some will unquestionably slip through the layer of immediate recognition. I’m not saying I have too many books, because a person can never have too many books, but I do need a list of some sort to identify which titles I have already bought, and which I have no need to go buy again. This happens more often than I would really like. All the time, actually.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m buying merely because I need to buy something, rather than buying because something is calling out to me. This, especially with all the numerous other things I desperately need to spend money on, has had a strange effect on what I have been buying. Roger Highfield’s The Science Of Harry Potter and Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli – my two latest purchases – were bought mainly so I could stretch out the Harry Potter section of my non-bookshelf-bookshelf (with everything being in boxes, talk of a physical bookshelf seems redundant at best), and I’ve been pondering ways to use the space I will have when I get the house fixed up. A library seems a good way to go, but all the dedicated book rooms I have seen over the years always strike me as harkening back to a Victorian philosophy of design which doesn’t appeal.

The solution to storage will probably come to me later, but in the meantime I am going through each box in order, and writing down – for the first time ever – which books I have in my collection. There are a lot, so this may take some time. Hopefully this activity will result in me never buying another copy of the Twilight Zone novelization – a perennial problem which I’ve never quite let sink into my brain… Although I did see the Halloween novelization a couple of days ago, and I haven’t come across that particular book yet – maybe there really is no hope for me after all. Just to show how truly random and eccentric my collection is, I thought it would be cool therapeutic to list the contents of one box at random. I wish there were more intellectual titles on display, but the box contains what the box contains, and pretending that the box contains a highbrow range is to defeat the purpose of such lists.

Approaching Oblivion by Harlan Ellison
Black Ajax by George MacDonald Fraser
Bogart by A.M. Sperber & Eric Lax
Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
Bruce Lee – Fighting Spirit by Bruce Thomas
Chambers XWD – Dictionary Of Crossword Abbreviations by Michael Kindred & Derrick Knight
The Chemistry Of Death by Simon Beckett
The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont
The Devil’s Bones by Jefferson Bass
Dirty Harry by Phillip Rock
The Domain Of Devils by Eric Maple
The Encyclopedia Of Japanese Pop Culture by Mark Schilling
Film Facts by Patrick Robertson (both editions, for some reason)
Future Perfect: How Star Trek Conquered The World by Jeff Greenwald
I Shudder At Your Touch edited by Michele Slung
Infected by Scott Sigler
James Stewart – Behing The Scenes Of A Wonderful Life by Lawrence J. Quirk
Love All The People by Bill Hicks
The Man Who Ate The World by Frederik Pohl
The Microsoft Way by Randall E. Strass
The New Science Of Strong Materials by J.E. Gordon
Odd And The Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs
The State Of The Art by Iain M. Banks
Superhuman by Matt Whyman
Taboo: Sex And Morality Around The World by Armand Denis
Use Of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
Wargames by David Bischoff
Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden
Young Kate by Christopher Andersen

Posted in Misc., Over The Line | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

3 Days Of Writing – Day The Third

Posted by BigWords on September 13, 2010

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

I tend not to write much about children as I don’t have any of my own. Even though I spend time with my niece, there is so much that I still have yet to understand about the motivations, needs and thoughts children have, that any representation of small people would undoubtedly get me laughed at if I were to write them. From what I’ve seen, food seems to be a primary motivating factor in all decisions they make, and that’s too one-dimensional to do much with.

22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you’ve never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.

Hmm. This is something I haven’t thought about much, as I tend to write down everything (fragmented as any scene may or may not be), so “untold” stories do exist for nearly everything. There are lots of side-stories, analecta and plentiful WTFery running the gamut from hardcore film noir beatings to pages and pages and pages of dialogue. Yes, there is a lot of dialogue, and most of it is very annoying. I would direct you to one of the embarrassing passages from the spy thing I posted over at Absolute Write (deep in the midst of unsuccessful rewrites) but it’s so bad that your eyes may bleed from your sockets if you ever laid eyes on it.

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

I’m quick. Somehow – between holding down a full time job, playing games, smoking and Tweeting – I’m still able to produce staggering amounts of verbiage. Mostly it remains hidden from view (and the worst material is listed in a folder which will be burnt upon my death to provoke wanky literary discussions for generations). The stuff which makes it to public view appears rather briefly after I’ve decided that it is fit for human consumption, with last year’s NaNo being an excellent case in point.

Sure, some of it was so bad I never considered posting it, but the words which did appear were written immediately before I posted the work. Little editing (which shows), lots of caffeine and a lot of guts. For the record, when I say “immediately,” I mean within a couple of hours.

24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?

Most characters end up dead. I have a habit of killing off characters left, right and center, so squeamishness would be silly. There is one excellently insane short about a man being vivisected over the course of five or so thousand words, which led to accusations of gorno, though the fact that I had thought out a plot to explain the situation was conveniently overlooked. I can’t win.

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

Bellamy has a gimp. Does that count?

26. Let’s talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!

Sensor. Oh yeah. He is everything I’ve ever been told not to do with a comic-book character distilled into one character. The back-story runs hundreds of years, he has a complex power set which isn’t easily explained, there are strong reasons to feel that most of his history is either fabricated or discontinuity, but he is so very, very cool. The simple version is that he is a man who committed suicide, and then reincarnated (twice) only to kill himself again. Twice. Pissed off with him, the gods of order assign him a non-living status, though refuse to let him ascend to a higher plane. Stuck on Earth, he slowly discovers he is able to use his status to do things best not explored in detail

Which is why I explored them in detail.

And yes, before you ask, that is a halo around his head. Don’t think about the implications of that too much, or you will come to conclusions that I can’t expand on. Make up your own explanation for that anomaly if you want.

27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

For most of my characters I use tricks to jostle the words onto the page, and part of that is the method (which I stole from a book on scriptwriting) to imagine characters as film stars. The inflection, tone, speech idiosyncrasies and other factors help me push the important aspects to the fore. Naturally, this also affects how I envision the characters themselves. Most (if not all) of my characters are older than I am, usually having visual cues as to their personality. It isn’t noted in the story, but Bellamy’s black jacket has one tartan sleeve, and red velvet lining. He’s also bald, though that is more a reference to the Spider Jerusalem.

For SF, I normally push overweight characters to the center of the action, as it seems to me that developments in technology will reduce the need for people to be so active. Scarred characters are also a recurring theme. I don’t like pretty characters, though that answer runs into the next question…

28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there’s nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

Maureen “Motown” from the spy story is a woman in her late 40s, and is covered in scar tissue from burns. She plays the ‘Mother’ character, so isn’t as involved in the stories as some of the more active agency members. It makes sense in the context of a reworking of the themes prevalent in 60s spy drama.

The Reverend is covered in scars, and his hands are almost always bloodied. A rock star who is sometimes given cameos in my work is covered in a patchwork of scars, and his background states that he is older than he looks – a short story I wrote about him indicated he might even have been active in the first world war, but that story is so very tied into my personal continuity of interrelated works that it may never make sense as a stand-alone. Hell, I haven’t even gotten around to explaining the steampunk robot who he is meant to be friends with…

29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?

I steal a lot of ideas from reality. My life has been cannibalized to the extent that a cursory examination of my stories will reveal more about me than is, perhaps, really healthy. Anyone has the opportunity to get lampooned as well, so there are dangers in befriending me. Just saying… I spend most of my days catching time to write, so there is never any real ‘down-time’ to speak of, ‘cept for when I’m elbow-deep in rewrites that seem to sap any brain activity. There should be breaks from writing (it’s not healthy to be this obsessed with words), but I figure that I should do whatever I can while the ideas are rattling around in my head.

30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!

See here to find out if you have been nominated.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

3 Days Of Writing – Day The Second

Posted by BigWords on September 12, 2010

11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

While there are a couple of characters who seem to have taken on a life of their own (Calhoun and Bellamy, for two), I spend more time playing with throwaway characters as they can be much more entertaining. So entertaining, in fact, that three have managed to escape their origins a walk-on parts to have adventures of their own. If it’s one particular character I have to point to, then Thomas – the nominal hero of the spy stories – is the main character who has had the most words expended on him, even if he appears to be rather dull in comparison to the other characters. He’s the most complex person to have emerged on paper, possibly because he doesn’t conform to any of the expectations the other characters have of him. He’s the ultimate asshole in any of my books, refusing to step in to the fray until his family are killed off – even if it was the heroes who offed them, but that’s one of the more complicated parts of the backstory. There tend not to be many traditional heroes in my work.

12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?

Department X / Ghost Bureau / whatever I’m calling it this week. It’s gone through an ungodly number of rewrites, but the fact that I spent time going around the hidden and murky places around London to get a feel for some of the locations (not entirely as they really exist, but close enough). I’m still not entirely happy with the dialogue, but the work I’ve put into the locations is something I’ve never doubted.

13. What’s your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?

Outsiders. All the time, without question. They may be miserable, but the people who inhabit my work shine a little brighter than uptight and utterly predictable movie heroes. They drink too much, smoke dubious cigarettes, drop pills, go on vision quests, use handguns, quasi-magic, technology and anything that gives them the edge. And they have no compulsion about killing, which has always bothered me about some characters. I guess they might be the bad guys in any other writer’s hands, but I have tremendous fun playing against type.

14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?

Some stories don’t have fixed locations, though the ones that do tend to be rather over thought, with maps, extensive notes, and (in some cases) floor plans for the buildings. I work according to what I need immediately, so here are gaps in the images where I haven’t decided what will go there yet. It’s better for longer works to have some room to change, add or extend locations. There are several useful resources out there, but modding games, Photoshop manipulation and a degree of aptitude with fountain pen and ink is useful. Not sharing them here, but I’ll eventually get around to doing an extensive run-through of all the different images for one of the stories.

I like locations that tend towards multiple stories, as it is easier to open the world up if the foundation work has already been done. Like the film said, “There are eight million stories in the Naked City.”

15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!

Stephen King. He has the comic-book continuity mastered, and is able to bring back barely seen characters time and time again, killing off some, fleshing out others, and making the world he plays in tie together beautifully – though I’m sure Castle Rock has changed in description a couple of times.
He’s also got some killer dialogue.

16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing? 😉

Everything depends on the overall tone of the story, and the nature of the characters. I’m sure I would get hassle for having The Reverend sleep with his romantic interest (a prostitute, for what its’ worth). Bellamy doesn’t really have any real romantic interests, and the heavy political influences in that story don’t lend themselves easily to a side-story about more recreational activities. Calhoun is slightly different, with a whole array of characters jostling for attention in a story which covers a lot of ground – and features Lovecraftian overtones so heavy that any sex scenes would quickly turn into body horror scenes.

17. Favorite protagonist and why!

Bellamy, as you could probably expect.

18. Favorite antagonist and why!

Bellamy, as you could probably expect. No, that isn’t a typo.

19. Favorite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!

There’s a guy in Calhoun’s story who was a plot point more than a really defined character, until I decided that his disappearance would have to be rectified somehow, rather than forgotten as Calhoun delved deeper into the mystery of the island he is sent to chart. He turned out to be a Russian zoologist, and the icky end he was to have received turned out to have a deeper connection to the island – even to the point of having a subtle clue as to its’ origin – if people pay really close attention to the nature of his demise. If there is one example of unexpected story coming from throwaway ideas, then he personifies that in my writing.

20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?

Dialogue tends to get changed between characters, so the words coming out of one person’s mouth may have been from another character originally. This means that I don’t fine-tune until I get through a couple of drafts, and even though there are characters who bounce off each other, the dialogue doesn’t really reflect things so much as their actions.

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3 Days Of Writing

Posted by BigWords on September 11, 2010

Yes, you read the title of the post correctly. This is my brilliant idea to get out of any future memes of similar construction, and I will continue in similar fashion for the next couple of posts. Three days, in and out.

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.

It is incredibly hard to pick just one of the sandboxes I play in as a favorite (and I guess this is the same for a lot of people), but if pressed on the issue I would fall back on Faerwither. Picking that is, of course, cheating. I’ve mentioned it a few times, though I have never really explained the name or the setting in enough detail to properly convey just how far off into fantasy it is – yet even describing it as a fantasy setting doesn’t convey what it truly is. The basic nature of the realm is a fluctuating physical, though roughly linear, state which exists just off from our reality. Characters are drawn into “the space between places” and remove themselves from it as needed, creating wrinkles in other stories and allowing them to interact in different eras.

Bellamy (from the spy story) spent time there before the beginning of that story – which explains why he is written as being much, much older than he is – and The Reverend from my western has existed there from around 1900 onwards. He’ll get out eventually. I’m not sure how, exactly, the epic-fantasy-novel-by-way-of-superhero-war fits in, though a bunch of characters (including Heracles and Erinyes) made their way to the present via Faerwither. It’s my version of the ultimate Deus Ex Machina, and I overuse it sometimes when I run out of reasons to viably keep a character alive past any sensible timeframe. This means that everything I’ve ever written is included due to the crossover nature of the location. Like I said, I cheated with the answer…

2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?

There are thousands of characters. Literally. I have never sat down and counted them out (which seems an utterly insane prospect given that some of the characters have clones to add to the confusion), but I’m sure there would be in excess of two thousand. No, I’m not going to sit down and count them. On the gender breakdown I’m probably split roughly evenly, though I figure that on a story-to-story basis there are some that have many more males than females and vice versa. The Reverend is a very male-oriented story, while a silly airport-based side-scene/separate story from Ghost Bureau has an almost entirely female cast.

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?

Names are easy for me, as they normally have extensive, though often obscure, references to real places and people.Bellamy, for example, is in deference to the maker of veal pies. Faerwither is named because it always rains there (and it is based upon the geography of the Downs), while the more mundane agencies involved in behind the scenes activities take their cue from old spy shows and movies. This happens a lot, with references to fictional companies turning up in slightly altered guises all the time. I dislike using existing companies as it seems too on the nose, so using obscure references to other books, films and television shows works better. I don’t have a lot of easy answers for this, and it would take a few blog posts worth of step-by-step explanations to show how I got from a reference to a homage to a joke, burying it under several layers of other, unconnected, references.

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

Really? You honestly want to hear about that? Okay, so the first one I can remember was a big mash-up that consisted of a bunch of differently-sized characters wandering across a planet. That description makes it sound shit, but there is no way to make it even vaguely interesting or engaging given its’ origins – which, thankfully, I’m under no obligation to reveal again.

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?

Heracles may, possibly, be the oldest, though I’m not up to speed on the continuity of mythological beings. He may be older than Erinyes, and I know he’s got a few years on most of my other characters. The youngest is harder to answer. I use characters at different points in their lives for different stories, so at any one point in time I may be writing them then they are 8 and in their 60s in different stories. Best not to contemplate the problems that can lead to… There are also a couple of clones which complicate matters further.

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol’ pen and paper?

I’m happy with either the computer, the laptop or pen and paper. The funny thing with choosing the way I create the story is the ability to alter the feel of the prose. Pen and paper makes for very stark, minimalist material, while the stuff I’ve written on the laptop comes across as more active and rushed. The desktop computer manages to balance out a lot of the bad habits with much deeper research into the worlds I play in. Time of day also affects the words, with night being when everything seems to come together for me.

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

Each character has their own playlists, while each universe has its own tone. I’ll probably expand on this at some point, but I have plans for this in relation to some of the more complex elements I’m playing with – again, it gets very complicated, very quickly.

8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

Genre-blind, remember? I like anything which move outside of the comfortable, label-friendly genre constraints, so a horror-western, comedy-SF, or twisted political-fantasy would appeal more than something that doesn’t veer far from the mainstream. The well-worn paths are boring once the essential components have been read, and the best of the genres been understood and filed away for future reference.

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

I don’t create the characters. They’re there already, and I just find them. Mostly I find them doing things they shouldn’t be doing… They also tend to talk back to me.

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

The weirdness factor is off the scale. Cursed gold, ghosts who solve crimes, the hunt for the charred bones of an angel (or alien posing as an angel) under a cathedral… The tightly-packed multiverse of characters and events seems to run on the weirdness sometimes, with pauses for random acts of violence. Here’s something else – I consider everything I’ve written (no matter how contradictory) to be canon. The fact that most of my characters exist in-between the things normal stories would focus on helps this, allowing for very strange things to seem almost workaday.

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Thirty Days Of Writing

Posted by BigWords on September 10, 2010

If you have been reading either Ralfast‘s or Beth‘s blogs recently, you will have seen this done in the manner it was meant – one post per day for thirty days. Being contrary and eccentric, I thought I would skewer the traditional, eschew the sensible, and generally carve out a lesser trodden path. Ah, but before I can begin, I have to do the utterly perfunctory task of listing the questions which require answers. Fine. Here are the questions which everyone expects:

01. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.
02. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?
03. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?
04. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!
05. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?
06. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol’ pen and paper?
07. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?
08. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?
09. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.
10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!
11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?
12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?
13. What’s your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?
14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?
15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!
16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing? 😉
17. Favorite protagonist and why!
18. Favorite antagonist and why!
19. Favorite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!
20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?
21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?
22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you’ve never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.
23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?
24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?
25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.
26. Let’s talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!
27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.
28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there’s nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.
29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?
30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!

Jeez. That’s a lot of words right there, and in answering all those questions I’ll probably reveal more than is sensible to reveal. These memes are like alcohol, because before you are even aware of the fact, you’ll be revealing something that all logic dictates should remain locked away in your brain. Information about the process of creating characters – and no, any talk of me wearing pink panties to get into female characters’ minds are just that… Loose talk. No photographic proof exists, so I can safely (and hopefully finally) let that particular rumor die.

Did I just reveal something? Oh, fuck. See what I mean? Memes are BAD. They are evil, and I shouldn’t be made to do them…

But I know that I’m not going to be let off the hook that easily. The only question I had was the means by which I would twist the nature of something so simple into a crazy idea I could play with. Something interesting and which won’t overrun the blog for what would seem like an eternity. Yeah, I might be overstating things, but really… Would you keep reading the in’s and out’s of the way I mangle together disparate things into a cohesive and (hopefully) logical progression of events for a month? No. At least I hope you wouldn’t be so masochistic. In any event, I quickly discovered how hard it would be to do something which played with the wording of the meme.

Thirty Dias Of Writing?
Thrifty Days Of Writing?
Thirty Doses Of Writing?

It is a lot harder to break these kinds of questionnaires than you would expect. I’m not so sure I would have contemplated embarking on this if I hadn’t found the perfect way to do so, though you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to discover just how I have managed to make it work for me. And no, before you ask, the way I’m handling this won’t take up an entire month of the blog. In fact, it may be over before most of the people who started at the beginning of the month are done. I can’t say more about it, or I’ll be told off for being contrary by those who are doing it properly.

Yeah, I know. I’m taunting you with the promise of something which may or may not be amazing and insightful. Deal with it. In the meantime I’ll be busy coming up with ways to torture you further.

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The Joy Of Series

Posted by BigWords on July 9, 2009

Have you taken a look at the number of novel series which have been published? Jeez, it’s too many… Way too many. I’ve been searching for information to add to a little something something which I’m working on, and it appears that every time I get close to nailing the “collection complete” phase, another title pops up. Is it too much to ask for a little pause between the publication of the books? I’m gonna go broke at this rate. The worst offenders are the TV tie-in books, especially those for younger readers, which seem to come off a conveyor belt somewhere.

I’ve managed to track down information on individual books, though the lists I come across are either outdated or plainly incorrect. It’s a pain when you just need a ISBN number or date of publication checked, especially when the book in question isn’t a rarity. I am, of course, skirting the issue of why I am hunting down information on books. Yeah, it’s a secret. You’ll get a kick out of the idea when I tell you, but for now I’m keeping the geeky list-listed listy kind of list under wraps. It is a difficult sell, simply reeling off a bunch of stats and information, so I’m trying to keep it from being too dry.

Whenever I decide to do one of my lists, which is more regularly than anyone should think about, I get around to the time / cost matters. How much is it gonna cost to buy all the books, and how long can I read the series before fatigue sets in. I didn’t do very well with Doctor Who, and I’ve only read a dozen or so Star Trek books. Star Wars? Maybe eight or nine books. I had the determination and the necessary funds to track down all of the X-Files tie-ins, both official and unofficial, but even those weren’t all read immediately. I’m currently sifting through a pile of completely unrelated novel series, and I think this is the way to go. Mix ‘n’ match.

I’m going to bypass the late seventies ultra-macho crap completely, and I hate the annoyingly twee Mary Kate & Ashley with a vengeance, so you can breathe easy if you thought that I was gonna be covering those. Uh-uh, not a chance. This is looking to be a much more interesting endeavour, and one which should turn out slightly better than my attempt at creating a dictionary of places, characters and terms used in the Judge Dredd strips.

Fingers crossed, this should be done by the end of the week…

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