Thursday, September 29, 2011


Pacing is one thing I have trouble with in writing, one solution would be to get a bigger office so I could take more than two steps when I pace. The other would be to look at it in my writing, and other peoples fiction.

Like always I like to look at the very worst (but successful) examples first. The absolute worst examples of pacing are the Matrix movies.

The Matrix:

10 minute Action scene, 40 minutes of dialog, 30 minute Action scene.

The Matrix Reloaded:

5 minute Action scene, One hour of dialog/really, really bad sex scene, 40 minute Action scene.

The Matrix Revolution,

I think there was some dialog in there somewhere. But oddly not a single, “Whoa.”

Pacing should be easy, whenever you start to drift out, throw in a moment that puts the characters life in danger, then get back to the story. However it is easy to make that transparently forced. Next somewhat successful bad example:

Lost: You could tell by the commercials for Lost how good or bad their ratings were. Good ratings, mysterious commercials that were intentional vague. Bad Rating, “We're all gonna die,” and “This Rock changes everything.”

By third season it was painful to watch as they were forcing so many gimmicks to hold on to their ratings that the plotline was gone.

I'm going through the editing process right now on “Mind Thief” and 20,000 words in, I'm at the Matrix stage. I've carefully built the foundation for the big 30,000 word action finale, but I have a lot of ground that has the tension building, but there is no immediate threat to Howie's life.

Some of this would be easier if I could do “normal”, But I can't. I had to give my heroine Asperger's, a disorder that is characterized by difficultly in social interaction. So she reacts and behaves much differently than most, but she is sweet in her own way. That means extra work making the reader like my character who has no social skills.

My villain could easily be a twirling mustache stereotype, but I want the reader to understand why he thought killing millions of people was a good thing.

All these things add to the word count and give the reader extra work to get to the plot points. So I have to do the thing that is the very worst part about writing. I've got to go through and cut a hell of a lot of it and kill my Corvette scene. Making it worse, this time my beta readers liked my Corvette scene but it takes up valuable reading time. What a pity.

On a happier note, according to a completely arbitrary benchmark I saw on an agent's blog, I am now a real author. I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE broke the 500 downloads mark.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gay Characters

Yesterday, Don't ask, Don't tell was finally repealed. So I thought today would be a good time to write about how to write gay characters. It is really simple, don't.

I don't mean don't have characters that are gay, just don't introduce them as a gay character.

Chances are you have real life friends that are either gay, straight, or bi-sexual. If not get out of the monastery more often. When you introduce them to other people that's not the first thing you say about them. If your introducing your straight friend to another friend you will be more likely to say, “This is Bob, he works as a programmer” or “he is a huge stamp collector”. You don't introduce him by saying, “This is Bob, he loves the boobies”. So why would you introduce a character that is gay that way.

In ALIEN THOUGHTS, Yar's male boss had had an affair with the male Senator who recommended him for the position. By the time the reader found that out they already knew that he didn't swear, liked mint, ran really long meetings and thought all problems could be solved over lunch. So by the time the character was shown as being gay, he was already a full character.

Sexual identity does play a huge part in how someone looks at the world and how they are judged, but so does height, weight and what they do for a living. Even if the plot revolves around the fact that the character is gay, there is a lot more to the character than that. If there isn't the character really needs to be fleshed out more.

In the character bible for STAR TREK (TOS) Gene Roddenberry wrote, “The T in James T Kirk does not stand for Tom Cat.” The character of Kirk was very hetro despite what fan fiction might say, but that wasn't the main part of his character. If you are writing about a Space Adventurer that has a group of guys waiting for him at every port, that's a side part of his character. It's the Space Adventures that get the reader hooked.

So if you are writing a character that is gay, think about if you would introduce the fact that a character is hetro the same way. The reactions from other characters can be different but the reader is going to like or dislike the character based on other parts of their character.

Outside of porn, nobody wants to read about a gay character, but a character who is gay can be interesting. Just like nobody watched STAR TREK because Kirk was hetro, but his hitting on every green or blue chick that walked by added to his character.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

George Lucas - Finish Already.

“A novel is never finished, merely abandoned.”

George Lucas has released the Six Star Wars movies on Blue-ray. That would be great if he would stop fiddling with them.

The films weren't perfect and the first time he went through and added things it was a mixed bag.

I generally liked the changes to Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, he did for the DVD release.

Turning Mos Eisley into a city with people instead of the budget limited three huts and a bar. You could understand why Luke was disappointed when he couldn't go buy power converters. It was a big trip to the city. Not just stopping downtown.

It also explained why he was out of place in the bar. In the original it was the only bar for 100's of miles, farmers would be sure to stop there from time to time. In a huge city they would have their own bar.

In Empire, removing the boxes, or matte lines, around everything in the space scenes made it look more professional.

Then he hit Return of the Jedi.

Jedi was slightly flawed in the original version. Jabba's crew hung around with little to do. But that made Jabba more of a gangster. He liked them going out of their way to worship him. A paid as little as possible for that worship. They were there out of fear, no money.

Bringing the band in took away from Jabba's character, plus it kind of sucked.

The addition of hundreds of Storm Troopers to stand at attention for Darth Vader to say he was there to improve efficiency on the construction made him less threatening and more of a bureaucrat. “You have several hundred men standing around doing nothing. I have been sent here to find ways to speed up construction. Where should I start?”

I don't even want to get into the Falcon flying through hundreds of Tie Fighters and nothing getting hit.

The flawed original was much better than the “Remastered” version.

The same is true with novels. I just reread Asimov's “Foundation Trilogy” after not reading it for 20 years. His “voice” is silly. Douglas Addams ripped it off for the Hitchhikers Guide series. He bounces around from one person's head to another, the characters are one dimensional. But I loved reading it this time as much as I did in high school and college.

It's the clarity and vision I love. In his last two of the series, written years later, he had a better technical skill and better characters making them good, if different, books. But the original ones were fun.

They would be ruined if he went back and “fixed” them.

So I have to learn if my books aren't technically perfect that there needs to come a time to abandon them. Sometimes “fixing” a work of art makes it worse, not better.