While Writing The First Draft of A Horror Masterpiece

14 11 2017

vienna-82647_1280Fucking Austrians with their fucking prancy-dancy minuets.

When the vampire has to get a ride home with the werewolf, who drives? What kind of car?

If Van Helsing was Catholic and Jonathan Harker an Anglican, does than mean the Nicean Creed is right? Would a Mormon with a cross repel a vampire? A Unitarian?

Could Satan postpone the Apocalypse until the heat death of the universe?

People usually keep the accent of their youth. Would a 700 year old still have his original accent?

Is “fumagous” a word?

What does rot really smell like?

If my women characters never talk to each other, do I still pass the Bechdel Test?

Are there disparaging names for “Austrians”?

If he’s a wimp on page one, how can I have him do the Insanely Gross Martial Arts Move within a week?

Is it possible for a neurotic character to have a romance and not be Woody Allen?

Can it still be a paranormal romance parody if there is no sex?

If I insult everybody, is it cultural appropriation?

For the cover, do I go with the comical fishhead in front of the naked woman’s abs, or with a man-fish with naked abs?

 

 

 





This Is How Odd A Writing Life Can Be

15 06 2017

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I’ve been listening to “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast” so this post is coming out of me in Gilbert Gottfried’s voice.

My new novel is blocked up. I’ve done 80K words on a 50K word novel and at the very least I have another 100K words still to write. I have the bones of a plot but no working POV and the realization that the past nine months have not been fun.

Meanwhile, a friend who has a major publisher connected me with his agent. Great, but all agents are busy and finding one is a part-time job in itself. My publisher sent the agent a copy of “The Flesh Sutra” (WHY HAVEN’T YOU BOUGHT THIS BOOK? NANCY HOLDER SAYS IT’S GOOD AND IT COSTS ONLY 99 CENTS).

No response from the agent, okay. Agents are busy and I’ve got a novel making me question my life.

Response today. Agent wants to know if I have anything in the works.

Yes, my current work is a performance art piece titled “Existential Anguish”.

If you keep submitting for 28 years, you can be like me, a Myers-Briggs INTJ overthinking his existence in a 12X12 bedroom and running low on self-delusion just in time for a big break.

Did I mention that I’m away from my job for three weeks? THREE WEEKS! My writer friends who have lives and families and communities would kill for three weeks off so they can write what would be the next best-selling, multi-award winning novel of the ages. I will probably be watching Netflix and plucking hair off my ears.

The last thing I wanted to do was post about “wah wah the writers life sucks” like all the other writers in Writerdom. I hate being a cliche. I want to offer something useful.

Feh. We’ll see what happens.

 





Writers: Create A Truer Dystopia With Neurotic Cannibals

5 04 2017

The times being what they are, a lot more dystopias have been popping up in media. Lately, I’ve noticed these new dysfunctional societies have these things in common:

  1. Centralized planning, both economic and political
  2. Industrial efficiency valued more than privacy
  3. Poverty
  4. No distractions like sports, art, holidays, contests.
  5. Discrete cannibalism

Maybe it’s just me just cherry-picking, but it’s what I’m noticing. Here’s an example from Pseudopod: “Meat” by Sandra M. Odell.

That this is a short story makes no difference in world building. A word here, a phrase there, adds to the fleshing out (sorry) of the environment and adding to the reader’s ability to relate without detracting from the plot.

For me, a pared-down dystopia is unbelievable.

Consider the archetype for the dystopic story, the novel “1984”. Grungy, war-weary, and soul sucking. Yet it had the very basics of distraction. There was music. There were museums and newpapers. There were viewscreens. All of it was government approved, sure, but it took the proles minds away from their drudgery, and made them more efficient for the long haul.

There were pubs and perhaps illicit drugs. There was a lottery with announced winners (invented prizes for invented winners, but still, a distraction). There was chocolate, weak and smoky in flavor, which makes me assume there were spices, so maybe a culinary culture for homemakers.

Why do I find these distractions important? Without these distractions, the citizens would very quickly go insane.

Now, insanity is a further opportunity for worldbuilding. Cultures have their own, distinct neurosis in response the culture’s environment and social pressures. These neurosis are called “culture-bound syndromes”. We know about amok , a murderous rage found in Indonesia (and source of the term “to run amok”). What of  taijin kyofusho in Japan, which makes a citizen so afraid of making social blunders that he refuses to leave his home? A disorder among the Inuit called piblokto is thought to be caused by both isolation and Vitamin A deficiency. Last, we have the origin of hysteria in Western Europe, first defined as a woman’s disorder which caused emotional excess leading to rebelliousness.

A dystopia would have any one of these, plus oppressive treatments for their removal.

Note in “Meat” that there are “crazy heads” who are condemned to “Processing” and that the protagonist herself has a rather nifty psychosis developing for solid social reasons. Well done there.

I know you’re asking “what about the cannibalism”?

I’m wondering if a reader could still relate to an industrial dystopia where cannibalism is considered a duty. In “Logan’s Run”, killing people off at the age of 30 was sanctified by a supernatural “renewal” ritual. There are primitive societies where eating enemies or the brains of deceased relatives was encouraged, the latter creating a culture bound syndrome (subject of the X-Files episode “Kuru”).  What would it take for your closest city to dig in?

Did “Soylent Green” have side-effects?

What dystopia strikes you as believable? How messed up is it?





Writers: Surviving A Nuclear Blast

1 02 2017

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How far away do you have to be to survive a nuclear blast?





Elves Are Vulcan Pimps, Bee-yotch!

18 01 2017

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This shall be my new cosplay.

Part of creating a distinctive take on an existing genre includes interpretation of elements based on accepted values. Write something already done, make it new but as close to old as possible: this is called “The Glittery Vampire Gambit.”

Blah blah blah. In all of my very limited genre reading, Elves always act like nothing more than immortal magic humans. Stereotypical Italians are profoundly different from stereotypical Japanese and they’re human. How can we accept Tolkein’s Elves as a different race when they just act like pale Ren-Faire Brits?

My reading of folklore says that Elves ain’t got souls. What does this mean? The meaning is huge.

To me, a soul is what allows a person to relate through aesthetics and emotions. You need a soul to be affected by a song or by a crying baby. Does that make the soulless Elf a sociopath? Too easy! So no!

The Elf has values. They are Elvish values.

We want to keep some sort of Elvish society after all, some sort of Kingdom or Autosyncratic Commune. They have craftworks, art, and history.

They understand creation of value, however emotionally off-kilter they may be to Humans.

What would an Elven Cloak really do?

Lacking an emotional framework to appreciate beauty, the Elf would have to go elsewhere for invigoration: immediate sensation. They would be intellectual sensualists. Sort of Vulcan Pimps.

The Elven Cloak would be like wrapping yourself in a ever-shifting environment. Warm and cozy one day. Cool and silken on another. Magical craft would give the textures an infinite variety.

Among the Elves, the cloak would shimmer, ripple with fractals and mandlebrots, reveal interlocking patterns of leaves and other items from nature. The cloak would have pockets for everything. Be camoflauge against the limited Human visual capability. The cloak may be semi-sentient, able to respond to its wearer and environment.

What about other art?

Elvish Epic Poetry would be a straight read of a historic event, the language precise down to invoices. An EEP  would also be follow precise meter requirements, reference previous works, include obligatory codes concealing subtexts, and comprise a completed suduku.

I’ve always had an issue with Elvish behavior a la “Lord of the Rings.” Granted, being long-lived they wouldn’t get excited about a whole hell of a lot. Elves would also be proficient at their weapons and whatever, sure. A search for innovation in a material world would run short eventually, so boredom, okay.

Elvish music would be the most complex Math Prog Ren Faire tunes imaginable. Mozart times Robert Fripp times Kraftwork played a two-thousand string harp.

But to me, an eternity of experience would provide an endless fount of free association. They would have to work to keep themselves from being bored and they would develop the wit needed to do the job. Would conversation with an Elf be filled with asides, aphorisms, references, quips? An Elf who had lived through Western Civilization would alternate between daydreaming and reciting advertising placards from the 1700s.

Elves may look at Humans not as individuals but as a stream of recurring behaviors. An Elf may have a grudge against generations of a family, but I think they’d just as easily see connections Humans could not perceive, and carry grudges against Humans who favor paprica, or born Sagitarias, or wear their hair high.

So, this Elf I’m designing for my story would have a conversation seemingly full of whimsy, but when examined, the whimsy would have unseen relation with the serious matters at hand. They would be discriminating in tastes, have strange reactions to normal objects, want to relish surprises, be willing to try any new experience, and have ornate explanations for anything they do.

Vulcan Pimps? Yeah, Vulcan Pimps bee-yotch!

 

 





Writers: Austerity Message From Scarfolk

13 01 2017

cuts_www-scarfolk-blogspot-com





Our Fascism Will Be Prettier

14 12 2016

 








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