Saturday Waffling (July 27th, 2013)

(61 comments)

Hello everyone. It's one of those weeks where I constantly want to work on something other than what I am, and I find myself spoiled for choice - Last War in Albion's coming along, but probably not quite ready for Thursday (we'll see though). I have a bit of a fiction project that hasn't died yet, which is unusual for my fiction projects, as they usually last under 48 hours, and this just crossed 48. Plus, of course, all the revisions ever, which didn't get anywhere this week, because it's a blog week. (Just finished Small Worlds, Countrycide and Greeks Bearing Gifts to write over the weekend.)

And we're just in that obnoxious part of summer where it feels like it's gone on a bit too long and like it's high time for fall. Or maybe that's just my reduced summer paycheck talking. I don't know. At least it hasn't been too extravagantly hot the last few days - we actually had the windows open instead of the air conditioning yesterday.

So, what are you trying to get done before the end of summer? For me it's the Baker and Hartnell revisions, and will be a tight thing. But tell me about your goals - what deadlines are you chasing? What are you doing with your August?

Comments

doublethreatmagee 3 years, 7 months ago

Trying to get a proper start on my difficult second novel, and fighting the temptation to toss the pages away when the pace flags. What's your fiction project about, if you don't mind me asking?

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Unknown 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm trying to raise money for the sequel to my Wife in Space blog. However, I'm so bad at it, I forgot to leave a link.

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jonathan inge 3 years, 7 months ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

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Mitja Lovše 3 years, 7 months ago

I am trying to get a scholarship, because I got accepted at East 15 Acting School, but I am not really good at it and I might have to defer my entry.

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Reinder Dijkhuis 3 years, 7 months ago

Having another stab at rewriting a comic that I first wrote and drew in the mid-1990s. I didn't like the original versions but kept getting stuck with the rewrites. If I don't get stuck this time, I will have this blog to thank for it.

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James Treakle 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm shooting a short film every month until year's end. Been keeping it up since May. https://www.facebook.com/ValiantDead

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Frezno 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm over 40,000 words into a book for Camp Nanowrimo and I've almost hit the 50k goal. I'm also nowhere near the end of the book; I think I hit the halfway point the other day. This thing's gonna be a monster.

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Jack Graham 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm trying to write a novel. Please tell me... how is it done?

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Daibhid C 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm trying to restart my college career, which imploded messily last year due to circumstances (mostly) beyond my control. At the moment, though, I'm just waiting to hear back from them.

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elvwood 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm trying out a second novel to see if it has legs. I haven't sold the first yet, but have had encouragement from an editor - apparently it'll be a hard sell at the moment because it can't be summed up in a sentence or two and publishing's going through a conservative phase, but she said to keep trying.

The one I'm playing with is deliberately more standard - basically, Baker Street Irregulars In Space - but I won't know if it works until I've written a couple of chapters. If it does, though, it's eminently sequelable.

How do you do it? Depends on the author, but the best advice is "keep turning up". It's really easy to give up, but it's worth persevering even if the only people who read it in the end are family and friends. Beyond that... well, with my first I wrote it entirely out of order. Chapter 1 first, then the end, then the key places in the middle so that I had a structure, and then I filled in the gaps. That way I didn't end up meandering like I have done on past attempts. But other people work differently.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 7 months ago

I have several projects I want to get on the burner:

1 - Finish the Outline of my alternate history of Doctor Who. I have 2005-2007 done so far and have stalled out due to the Master.

2 - Inspired by Vaka Rangi, My Little Pomo, and (Of Course) Doctor S, I am preparing to do a Psychocronography of Joss Wheedon. I have got a list worked out but as I want a buffer before I start I won't be launching before September. Does anyone have any ideas for a name?

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brownstudy 3 years, 7 months ago

I've had difficulty re-entering normal life following a relaxing vacation. Two weeks of not-having-to-show-up was great, and I've resented a week of having-to-show-up (which included a job interview, work projects, and a community project I'm organizing).

Whilst on vacation, I binge-watched "Doc Martin" and was really taken with it, for some reason. So thought I might do a review blog of the eps to soak up the spare mental cycles that tend to lead to melancholy if I don't do something creative with that energy. Don't know why this show of all the shows I've watched has caught me in this way, so just want to respect that spark and let it know I'm listening.

Good luck with the fiction project. I've picked up and put down fiction-writing so many times in my life, I really don't know my relationship to it anymore.

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Pen Name Pending 3 years, 7 months ago

"Once More, With Analaysis"? Too cheesy?

Phil has expressed interest in such a project (see "Forthcomimg") but you've beat him to it! By the way, Whedon has that new Marvel show out this fall and I know nothing about it, but it will be interesting to see if it generates the same popularity as The Avengers did.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 7 months ago

I was going to say, that sounds fascinating, and I will politely not read it lest it discourage me or overly influence me when I get around to it.

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Jack Graham 3 years, 7 months ago

No, no, no. I want a nice, easy, shortcutty way that doesn't involve work.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 7 months ago

Goddammit! I meant to link that this week. I'm sorry. If I don't get it next week, please send me a DM on Twitter reminding me.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't mind you asking, but right now it's a flash fiction and most of a second flash, and I'll talk about it when it's a little more (what there is is, I think, good enough to put on the blog someday, which is a mercifully low bar to clear).

So picking up on Jack, here's the one thing I keep running into trouble with: I somehow fail to grasp how to write an adventure plot. So far as I can tell this is never something I've known how to do. Short character pieces and flash fictions, easy. Anything involving an action sequence or an adventure, or more than about two characters? Completely out to sea. Not just "can't get started," but "cannot even figure out the shape of the thing enough to know where to start." It's bizarre, or at least, it is to me. I've tried once or twice, and at my best I get to about 10k before realizing I have no idea what to do once anything resembling the plot shows up.

How do you go about plotting an extended piece of fiction? That step that comes after getting the idea, basically. How do you figure out what happens in the story? This seems to me a painfully dumb question, but it's at least not "where do you get your ideas from," I suppose.

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thepoparena.com 3 years, 7 months ago

August is going to be a big rush of video production for me. I have requested videos on Ranma 1/2, The Angels Take Manhattan, Star Trek Voyager and a three-book YA series from 1996 called the Werewolf Chronicles that I want to get done before the month's out, as well as wrapping up my video retrospective of the first season of The Secret World of Alex Mack.

The reason for the increased content is that I'm planning to take September off in video production to finally write out the bulk of Lambs of the Dead (my Biblical zombie/psychogeography of Roman-occupied Jerusalem book) in hopes of getting it either self-published on in the process of publication by January.

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Pen Name Pending 3 years, 7 months ago

I'd read both.

It's going to get really interesting when you get to the year Buffy, Angel, and Firefly were on.

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Spoilers Below 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm working on getting the novel I finished up in December polished up to at least 2nd draft level before I subject my friends and trusted confidants to it, and trying to finish another, far more annoyingly complicated, novel that Phil here is partially to blame for the structure of.

It's a pain because I keep coming up with other ideas I'd like to work on (nothing helps creativity like needing to finish something else, eh?), so there's about 10 other half page documents detailing all the other things I'm going to start when this stuff is done.

I've also got a few more guest articles in the works over at Froborr's MLPOMO, continuing my charting of the sometimes-as-interesting-as-a-Peter-Davison-episode G1 series, so if you like 1980s ponies, keep an eye out this September. We'll be discussing the nature of slavery vs. anarchist communism and transcendentalism, overlong multi-part stories about diaspora, and g-g-g-g-ghosts!

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 7 months ago

While I understand your decision not to read it, I won't lie: it breaks my hearts a little. Scheduling 3 different shows isn't a problem. I actually like Angel, Buffy and Firefly so switching between them will keep it fresh. I won't lie though, "Dollhouse" will be a struggle.

The post that I look forward to most is "So Who killed Firefly?"

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Jack Graham 3 years, 7 months ago

Working out the plot is my huge stumbling block too. I've tried just making it up as I go along and I can't sustain that. I feel... well, as Phil says... out to sea. But working it all out in minute detail, with flowcharts etc, seems equally impossible, though my instinct is to do it that way. I start trying to come up with plot details for half-way or two-thirds into the plot and start to feel utterly foolish for trying to plan so far ahead when I haven't even started writing the prologue. I also have a tendency to let my ideas mutate wildly from one brainstorming session to the next, which means that I never get a settled plot in head to work out on paper.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 7 months ago

It breaks my heart just as much - I hate when writing projects and what I want to read start to conflict. But I'm also very much aware that there is such a thing as too much influence. I basically pared my Doctor Who reading back to Miles and Wood for most of the classic series because any more than that was, for most stories, just too much noise in my head - there wasn't enough open ground for me to get started. Last War in Albion was different, in that nobody has ever done the chronology I'm doing, allowing me to find a position "above" the fray, so to speak, which is why that has such a quotation-heavy style.

So who knows. I may reverse course and binge the entire blog in two years' time when I want to just soak my brain in Whedon and figure out my basic angle. I don't know. The idea is too unformed at the moment, which is why I have to be kind of ultra-protective of it.

I do know that when I do it, though, I'll be terribly interested in Dollhouse - so much so that it will arguably be the turning point of the entire project.

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jane 3 years, 7 months ago

This is why the Heroic Journey structure is so popular. It organizes plot points and steps in character development in a way that's easily amenable to any kind of genre, and especially adventure stories.

When it comes to writing fiction, there's two things that are crucial for commercial success: plot and character. We're especially drawn to characters who have conflicting internal needs. Once you've identified that, you have the climax to your story -- this is what it's about. Now it's just a matter of seeing how those internal needs play out in terms of an external conflict.

Not all stories follow the same pattern, but many successful ones are easily seen in terms of the three-act structure. Long-time editor Victoria Mixon identifies the first act has having the Hook and the initial Conflict, which spins the MC into a new direction. The second act consists of two more conflicts -- one to irreversibly shift the MC from reactive to proactive (at the midpoint) and another to set up the final showdown in the third act -- which consists of a Faux Resolution (that calm before the storm that proves the easy way out is untenable) and the final Climax, which brings everything to a head.

Mixon goes so far as to suggest that this structure can be applied holographically -- that is, each component mirrors the larger structure to which it applies. So the Hook has its own hook, series of conflicts, a faux resolution, and climax, as does everything else (except the Faux Resolution, which feints by not providing that "breathing space" in its own structure.)

Obviously this can be played with quite a bit, and like the Heroic Journey (also a three-act structure) it doesn't need to be strictly followed. Still, this kind of engineering can be extremely useful. Even literary short-stories employ it -- like Lauren Groff's 2010 award-winning "Delicate Edible Birds," a masterpiece of the form.

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GKyleScott 3 years, 7 months ago

Aside from mostly lurking here, my Toronto Fringe festival show got picked for Best of Fringe, meaning more shows, which led to getting hired to do it for a few nights at a summer theatre in Bala, which means I get a paid vacation to do comedy by lake Muskoka, which is nice, but kind of pushes back the gameplan for the business plan on a comedy content production venture. Then it's right back to the low-paying service industry job. hoowah.

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HarlequiNQB 3 years, 7 months ago

Hanging out with my son while the wife works in the garden mostly. Made trickier by his misbehavior this week which has rendered my usual standbys of playing Lego or (relatively non violent) videogames null and void s they've been banned.

What I'd like to do is go and work on a portrait I'm doing so I can get it finished and back to doing Phil's covers. Also getting the merchandizing up and ruining. So you can blame the gladiolas for the current lack of a Hartnell mug ;)

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Jack Graham 3 years, 7 months ago

China Mieville has advised sticking fairly closely to the three act structure in planning a book, thus breaking it into easy blocks of writing. Once you have the structure, you can play around within it, so to speak. The key, apparently, is to break the story down into chunks that look manageable. "The unwritten novel has a basilisk stare" as he puts it. Though even he admits to having everything worked out and mapped on wall charts before starting work.

It's interesting what you say about the holographic nature of the structure, since I have always found in the past (I have about eight quarter-to-half-written novels lying around the place)that even my chapters read like miniature short stories; with beginings, middles and ends of their own.

The trouble is that none of the above really gets at the meat of the problem, which - for me at any rate - is: what actually happens. You know, the details of who goes where when, how they get there, why they go there... and how to come up with a way for all those things to happen which is actually interesting, let alone exciting.

Don't get me wrong. I have a general thrust of story, lots of individual scenes, a basic idea of what's going to happen, etc... but the nitty gritty of story - the nuts 'n' bolts that should make it fit together coherently - is so hard to plan.

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HarlequiNQB 3 years, 7 months ago

I rather liked dollhouse. after the first few by the numbers episodes it's biggest failing was having the wrong lead for the premise, rendering many of the scenarios difficult to believe since it didn't feel like a different person in the same body each time (a flaw not present in most of the supporting cast).

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Josh Marsfelder 3 years, 7 months ago

Hearing you two struggle with fiction makes me feel considerably better about my own inability to get something like that off the ground. My primary fiction project has been in self-inflicted development hell since 2005.

Aside from flailing away at that, I've just finished writing up a stretch of particularly obnoxious episodes for Vaka Rangi and am continually planning my approach for the other sections of the blog. I'm also still working on pieces for the other sites: I'm hoping to have retrospectives on Pokémon and possibly Metroid on the video game blog by the end of the year.

One of these days I'd also love to launch into what I'm calling Vaka Rangi's sister projects: Though I sometimes worry about taking on too many things at once, if you can all do it no reason I can't as well I suppose.

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Spoilers Below 3 years, 7 months ago

I personally prefer the 5 act structure when planning things out, because it gives a lot more room for change and escalation. Getting a mini-climax that leads to the actual ending keeps the pace far better than the three act's "long slog through part two" that's a frequent problem.

Film Critic Hulk did an awesome essay on the subject: http://filmcrithulk.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/hulk-presents-the-myth-of-3-act-structure/

Of course, by the time I start writing, all the pre-writing and outlining I've done tends to evaporate, but what are you going to do?

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Pen Name Pending 3 years, 7 months ago

I haven't seen Dollhouse and I've heard mixed things about it, so I'd enjoy reading an episode-by-episode guide. I've heard it could be read as misogynistic?

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elvwood 3 years, 7 months ago

For my novel I sort of stumbled upon the Victoria Mixon structure Jane describes by trial and error. Like Philip, I have trouble with the action rather more than the character; and my attempts at fanfic - where I've just written sections and posted them in order as they appear - have really shown this. But for me there's a basilisk stare to the planning even more than the writing, so I try to get a mix of the two. Write a bit to find a voice, if it's working pin down the key turning points and write a first draft of those, fill in a bit and see what's working and what needs a bit more planning...rinse and repeat. That way I don't plan myself into a corner, because there's some room for the characters to tell me what they need to happen, and I always have some of the fun bit (the writing) to be working on while I'm planning elsewhere.

Having said that, there was a fight in the book that was necessary but I had no idea how to write it so it got put off, and put off. Eventually there was hardly anything else left to write, so I forced myself to get on with it. I could see it was turning out boring to read because I wasn't interested in it myself, and I panicked a bit. But eventually I put the rest of the book out of my mind and focused, and I could see that the way to make it interesting for me was to have the fight spark some realisations for the main character, and to move the solution to a mystery so that there was more going on than the physical violence. This involved rewriting a large chunk of the text before and after the fight, but it was worth it in the end. I just kicked myself a bit for putting it off so long and then having to bin some of the stuff I'd written when I knew I should be getting on with the fight scene!

Of course, if anyone who actually has had a novel published has a different opinion, I'd listen to them...

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elvwood 3 years, 7 months ago

Got caught up in the writing thread, and forgot to say the other things I'm trying to get done this summer!

First is to complete the current phase of my Hartnell marathon, and then go back and revisit a few things I didn't have at the right time (animated Reign of Terror, reconstructed 4-part Planet of Giants, The Masters of Luxor, etc).

Second is to sort out singing lessons for the family, since we all want to be able to sing better.

Third is to make some progress in our reorganisation of the house.

But more important than all of these is to have fun with the family. This year, for the first time in ages, we're going away for a fortnight (thanks to the people who swapped shifts with my wife to make it possible). We'll be in Low Hauxley, Northumbria, a literal stone's throw from a quiet, sandy beach. Bliss!

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elvwood 3 years, 7 months ago

As to naming, how about The Joss Papers (??)? Still a pun, but hey, you get to use some Chinese characters!

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jane 3 years, 7 months ago

I rather love Dollhouse, and marathon it every summer. I kind of disagree with the sentiment that Dushku isn't the right lead, on account of it not seeming like Echo is really a different person in every engagement -- because

<<< SPOILERS >>>

that's a core concept of the character herself, what makes her different from all the other Actives. It's why Alpha, in fact, singles her out; she at once resists the totalizing tabula rasa of Active architecture while retaining a vestige of every self to inhabit her.

<<< END SPOILERS >>>

It's possible to read it as misogynistic, but such readings ignore the obvious attempts to invoke certain tropes for the purpose of undermining them. It's not always successful -- tropes become entrenched because they're rather powerful -- but it's not for a lack of trying. The whole conceit of the Dollhouse is that it's a metaphor for the problem of television and Hollywood itself, and the particular kinds of exploitation it engenders. If at times it seems to revel in this, it's because it's (rightly) trying to implicate the audience in its critique.

More than anything, it leans to the misanthropic; no one gets let off the hook. Also, given that the most repulsive characters are in fact male, I have a hard time buying that it's particularly misogynistic.

For those who haven't seen the series yet, do note that the first five episodes were heavily influenced by the interference of network executives. The show drops that formulaic approach in episode six, and barrels ahead to do some much more interesting stuff.

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William Silvia 3 years, 6 months ago

My goals by the end of the summer:
Prepare a month's worth of content for the blog I'm opening up in January
Get back into writing fiction as I intended this year instead of the non-fiction that I've focused on for the past two months
Outline my NaNoWriMo project
Revitalize my video "career"

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William Silvia 3 years, 6 months ago

Guys, don't forget that Cabin in the Woods is clearly set in the Buffyverse.

As for the reading bit - I love to read other people writing about things that I write about. If anything, it's a way to make sure I write something different. For instance, this blog tends to inspire my own Doctor Who reviews, except rather than using ideas from here I use ideas about the episode that I wouldn't have thought about if not for other ideas here (ie, I'm pretty sure that Eruditorium does not talk about Ace coming out specifically in Curse of Fenric, but the ideas in the article here led to me planning a large section of my review to focus on this idea).

As for the title...Miranda Rights? Too niche?

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brownstudy 3 years, 6 months ago

The South Park guys were filmed talking to a screenwriting or film class or something. They said something cool: when they're mapping out a story, they sort of draw a big flow chart starting at the top of a wall and going to the bottom, and with each step of the plot, they ask the questions "Therefore?" or "And so...?" If there is no logical answer to that question -- if instead they have to make something up to jump that gap -- then they know the situation isn't strong enough to sustain a plot and they have to start over.

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brownstudy 3 years, 6 months ago

Would "Much Ado About Nothing" fit into the Whedonverse? I'm a Whedon-virgin, apart from the Avengers movie, but was entranced by MAAN. Creative staging, light on its feet, great acting (except for Benedick), very funny, best use of Dogberry I've ever seen, and miles better than the Branagh film. Since he enjoys hosting Shakespeare readings with actors at his home, it would be neat to see someone ruminate about that connection.

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Alphapenguin 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm desperately trying to find housing in the DC area in preparation for law school, which starts in August. When I'm not doing that, I'm working on a very long-term poetry project that's already about 20 pages long and growing.

Why yes, this IS me pulling a long shot roommate hunt, why do you ask?

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Froborr 3 years, 6 months ago

My approach to plotting is one I borrowed from Hemingway, and have since seen endorsed by Roger Zelazny, J. Michael Straczynsky, and the guy who runs the writing workshops at Mysticon. I call it the no-plotting method or the Zen method.

What you do is, you come up with your initial idea, and from that you work out your setting. Then you come up with your characters, and work on them until you have a good idea of how they'd react to things. Then you put them in the setting, expose them to the idea, and write down what they do.

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Froborr 3 years, 6 months ago

You have no idea how happy it makes me to be mentioned as one of your inspirations.

Will you be including Whedon's work on projects he didn't helm, such as Roseanne and Toy Story?

I really need to see MAAN. It'll be hard to topple Cabin in the Woods as best Whedon thing ever, but if anyone can do it, the Bard can. (Though I continue to maintain his best comedy is actually Romeo and Juliet.)

Suggested title: "Objects in Time."

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Josh Marsfelder 3 years, 6 months ago

@Froborr

I can't speak for Phil and Jack, but this is actually remarkably close to the way I write fiction works myself At least I know I'm not just completely doing everything wrong.

The problem I seem to keep running into is that once I get that far I always wind up with a loosely connected series of vignettes with no actual overall plot. This is fine for certain things, but I'm never confidant enough to string it all together and call it a longform work (unless I'm writing fanfiction, which I can actually churn out at a respectable pace, a fact which gives me no shortage of anxiety).

It also probably doesn't help I can never decide which medium my work is best suited to, and all I really know is that I don't think I'm a novelist. When I was young I started out drawing comics because I really wanted to do television and that was the only loose approximation I could come up with. I stopped once I got older because quite frankly my artistic skills are null and void.

I appreciate everyone else's tips as well: I love reading about others' approaches to the creative process.

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Froborr 3 years, 6 months ago

The book is consuming all. Due to the much higher than expected volume of edits in the first round, it's going to be a very tight squeeze to try to deliver the book in August. I'm trying to turn around edits as fast as I can, but I've got Bronycon to prep for, Intervention to table at, and a full-time job (and it's both a fireable offense and a felony to use my work computer for anything other than my job that might make me money). Right now it's looking like September 1 is the most reasonable deadline for sending it to the printers, though I'd like to get it in earlier if I could.

August at the blog, meanwhile, is Derivative Works Month, which is like my previous Fanworks Month except now I can cover licensed materials, too. I'm quite looking forward to it--next Sunday's post in particular is something I've wanted to write for months.

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Froborr 3 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, I'm trying to get rid of the roommate I already have.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 6 months ago

Some good (and some less good) reasons for denying that Cabin in the Woods takes place in the Buffyverse.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 6 months ago

Rosanne, Toy Story, Atlantis, Titan AE, his comics work...all of it should be in there at some point. I'm not sure where to start. In chronological order it's Rosanne. Which compels me very little. Since I completed watching the last season it's given the entire show a tragic tint.

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Kit 3 years, 6 months ago

[CABIN IN THE WOODS ENORMOUS SPOILER]





Aside from there being no indication that they are in the same universe, the fact that the world ends at the conclusion of Cabin In The Woods, and is still going in Buffy comics under Whedon's supervision and sometime authorship, would argue to the contrary.

[END SPOILER]

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Kit 3 years, 6 months ago

"Second is to sort out singing lessons for the family, since we all want to be able to sing better."

This sounds like a really wonderful activity for a (functional) family (who get along with each other).

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Kit 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm into the second leg of a round-the-world trip; not sure when the US measures summer, but August is going to include more Mexico, Cuba, and then part of a road trip down the US west coast. Right now, I'm killing time near a fan before heading to the ADO station for a 14-hour overnight bus trip to Oaxaca. It starts in daylight, so I might get a fair chunk of The Highest Science read: I've brought a Kindle loaded with 95 of the apparently best NAs/MAs/EDAs/PDAs, the majority of Donald Westlake's output including all the Parkers and Dortmunders, and every drop of out-of-copyright Wodehouse, and am generally alternating between the three.

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T. Hartwell 3 years, 6 months ago

Throughout my life I always have at least 2-5 projects running through my mind at any given time. Currently, the major ones are:

- LEGO Haunted Mansion. A project that is by this point at least 5-7 years old but really kicked in this past year, it's just my attempt at building a LEGO version of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion, with a full interior. Really excited because I finally finished mapping out the preliminary stuff and am gonna start building the exterior this week.
- Les Miserables instrumentals- I have a YouTube channel expressly for instrumental tracks of musicals, my first one being Les Miserables. I'm about halfway through, with I think an hour and a half left of the show to do. Haven't worked on it in quite a while, though (really should get on that).
- Chess Screenplay- just a sideproject I have to keep my creative muscles going, I'm working on writing out a film version of the musical Chess. Of course, given that Chess has at least 4 different major versions out there, I'm still working on basic character work and plotting at the moment.
- My blog. Just trying to keep at a regular schedule and not let it fall by the wayside, since I'm rather fond of the idea.


Also running through my head but merely in the preliminary stages is, like Theonlyspiral's project above, a psychochronography of Rankin/Bass productions. I'm really interested in the idea but so deathly afraid to actually do it because I'm so afraid to do it wrong...If I might ask, Phil, what sort of things do you do to plan out a blog like this in advance?

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William Silvia 3 years, 6 months ago

There is indication. The Big Bads of Cabin in the Woods are of the same species as the Big Bad of Angel Season 4. "The Ones Who Came Before".

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5tephe 3 years, 6 months ago

I find all this fascinating, as if anything I have the opposite problem. My wife, once a successful children's television writer, gets quite annoyed with the way I can just throw out coherent plots, in a neat 3 (or 2, or 5...) act structure, on demand.

Of course, my issue is that whenever I do so, and have enough of an interest in the adventure I have sketched out on plot form to actually try writing it out, I have a realisation at about 40 thousand words.

I'm not writing about anything. The events are exciting, and the characters have genuine moments of challenge and testing, but ultimately I'm not actually using the characters to talk about anything important. I think the word Phil would use is probably "programatic", although I am trying to rise above that.

In short, I reckon if I could make myself stick to it, I could just about churn out a narrative at about the Clive Cussler level. Bletch. What's the point of that?

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prandeamus 3 years, 6 months ago

A little off-topic, but still Who-related: An article on the BBC website about people who build their own TARDIS exteriors. It's a sweet piece that doesn't condescend: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23363622

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Kit Power 3 years, 6 months ago

D1 of my goddamn novel. Which I think is probably 1 or 2 good sessions away from completion. Plus acing a job interview Wednesday. August plans are to get cracking on some of the many short story ideas that have been piling up while I write the novel, and getting more of my D1's to D2 status. And carrying on with the so far 100% unsuccessful sales push of my completed shorts.
And playing more Batman: Arkham Asylum, because it's awesome.

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 6 months ago

brownstudy, sounds interesting. Any idea if said talk is online anywhere?

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Daru 3 years, 6 months ago

My August this year is filled with running outdoors Natural Play sessions for children on awesome beaches and in woodlands east of Edinburgh for East Lothian Council. I am the main leader I not only organise and run all of the sessions but produce all the activity plans, risk assessments and manage volunteers. Pretty good gig though, as our organisation has paid for us to have accommodation at what in the UK we call a Bothy - usually a mountain style hut with minimal amenities and always open to the public - though this one has electricity and is bookable. Lovely as it makes work feel like a holiday!

As well as this my partner and I are needing to complete theory work and preparation for the 6 week block of Forest School sessions for 3 year old as the last part of our Leader training.

And in between this I am running sessions of 1:1 therapeutic storytelling for adults with Autism and mental health issues. When I get paid I hope to squeeze some time in at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh - a massive uncensored, un-curated arts Festival covering all genres of performance.

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Jack Graham 3 years, 6 months ago

I believe Clive Cussler made a fair bit of money. That'd be the point for me.

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Kit Power 3 years, 6 months ago

@ Froborr - According to 'On Writing', that could also be called 'The Stephen King Approach'.

@ elvwood - That sounds close to my method too (disclaimer, I haven't yet finished D1 of my first novel - but I will do in the next week or two). I had a situation and a good cast, and I just let fly. It went great for the first 10 - 15K, then I got stuck. So I figured out what big events I wanted to happen, and then the order that made sense, and took it from there. I've since stopped twice more to do mini-maps for the next sections, when I've felt myself getting bogged down.

@5tephe: Snap. This is my first novel, but at around 40K, my mind suddenly went from 'is this going to be long enough?' to 'is this actually any good at all?'. And where I've gotten to is this: It's sustained my attention for the last 40,000 words, it's still sustaining my attention and enthusiasm now, so baldly, I don't care if it says nothing at all - if it entertains, my work is done.

Not very highbrow, but it does have the advantage of meaning I'm very soon going to be able to describe myself as an unpublished novelist. Because I'm finishing this damn thing. :)

I'd add that if I's swap places, vocationally speaking, with Clive Cussler in a second. Making a living from the stories in my head? As long as I like them and enjoy making them? Yes, please.

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Spoilers Below 3 years, 6 months ago

I've got some strong opinions about Cabin in the Woods, but Sean Witzke managed to put them much better here:

http://www.factualopinion.com/the_factual_opinion/2012/04/too-many-movies-sean-witzke-takes-on-25-slashers.html

Seriously, Jamie Lee Curtis or bust!

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 6 months ago

That take on Cabin is hardly factual. It's full of so many personal possessives and opinions that is makes my head spin. He didn't like the movie or find it compelling...good for him. It doesn't mean it isn't structurally sound. His reading of it and love of specific directors and auteurs makes him come off as a raving loon.

And not being able to get Jamie Lee Curtis isn't something that actually seems like a real criticism. It's "I need something else to blast this movie on!". I mean if we're going on the logic that perfect casting is a reason to criticize then we're going to come down a LOT harder on a lot of media. It's insane.

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