Nonlazy Summer

Things finished this summer.

1.Finished first draft of Lazy Summer, a novella.  This is the first novella I’ve written, second I’ve tried to write (first being a heinous experiment called God Hates Me, which didn’t end up being as fun writing as I thought it would be, so it was of course dropped) and it’s also the longest thing I’ve written at 25k words and some change.

2.Was published on iTunes.  Link to the iTunes podcast is here, link to the blog is here.  Story was originally around 1200 words, then I had to drop about a third of it to fit the word parameters.  The quality reflects that.

3.(Also on a note that doesn’t have to do with anything, I realized I’m a huge fan of lists.  I love making them, reading them…  Anyway.)

4.Finished short story Program, which I hope to end up selling to someone.

5.Read: Snuff, Fight Club, Rant (all by Chuck Palahniuk.), You Suck by Christopher Moore and The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño.

6.Started blogging.  Which is more fun than I thought it’d be.

My goals for the summer were to, well.  Only that top one.  And it is complete, for now, which means I have about a week (less than, actually, by the time this is published) to waste time.

Hello fair lady Xbox.

How I have missed you so.

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Things I’ve Learned From Books I’ve Read Part 3: Fight Club (Fact Incorporating)

Disclaimer: all books discussed in this weekly column are absolutely wonderful and deserve to be read tens of thousands of times and studied by any and all individuals looking to be a writer.  This, however, doesn’t mean that I own these books or have any right to them at all, besides my owning a copy.  I don’t think I’m in the wrong, reproducing small parts of the books here, as it is for educational purposes.  However, if I’m wrong, or if you have any questions, comments, book suggestions for the column or book/idea recommendations, comment on at the bottom or e-mail me.

In Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk, we follow a no-named protagonist and Tyler Durden as they create Fight Club and later, Project Mayhem, together.

Another great technique used in Fight Club is that you learn.  You learn a lot.

Three paragraphs into the book, you’re learning why guns are so loud.  Second page, you’re different learning ways to home make explosives.  I read somewhere Fight Club is banned in some countries because you can learn these things from the book.  Third chapter, you’re learning about the movies, and projectionists, and how they do their job.

The reason this technique is so useful is, if you’re able to incorporate facts to correspond with the details of your story, you make it even more believable.

Third paragraph of Fight Club:

With my tongue I can feel the silencer holes we drilled into the barrel of the gun.  Most of the noise a gunshot makes is expanding gases, and there’s the tiny sonic boom a bullet makes because it travels so fast.  To make a silencer, you just drill holes in the barrel of the gun, a lot of holes.  This lets the gas escape and slows the bullet to below the speed of sound.

You drill the holes wrong and the gun will blow off your hand.

“This isn’t really death,” Tyler says…

I’m not sure if this is true or if it’s not, but it looks right.  I have no evidence saying this would be otherwise.

Adding facts like this, despite the fact it has nothing to do with the story (besides explaining the silencer holes statement), for novelists, using this technique more and more can totally up a word count.  The above paragraph, if we’re counting everything after the first sentence, which is where the author begins to talk about why guns are so loud, using this technique adds 57 words to the total paragraph.  And it’s even expanded to another sentence.  13 more words, which means that’s 70 more words than before. 

It also makes it more interesting to read.  Should Palahniuk have just went with, “With my tongue, I can feel the silencer holes we drilled into the barrel of the gun.  ‘This isn’t really death,’ Tyler says…”

No.  The above could work, but the higher above works even better.  Another example, this one from chapter three: talking about movie projectionists.

The old theaters that run a movie with two projectors, a projectionist has to stand right there to change projectors at the exact second so the audience never sees the break when one reel starts and one reel ran out.  You have to look for the white dots at the top, right-hand corner of the screen.   This is the warning.  Watch the movie, and you’ll see two dots at the end of the reel.

“Cigarette burns,” they’re called in the business.

After reading this, if you didn’t know this before, you’ll realize what those white dots were for.  We’ve all seen movies and seen the white dots.  I’ve thought, is something wrong with the film?  But no, that just means the projector is about to change.  Now, I watch for it.  I’ll tell whoever I’m with that the scene is about to change, when the first dot comes up.

Reading things and being able to relate to them, it’s another important part of story.  Lots of writing teachers will tell you; characters have to be able to be related to.  This is true.  If you have a character no one will be able to relate to, you have a bad character; you have a character that has no place being in your story.  But also, you have to make your world relatable to, along with your characters.  It makes a story ten times more real when the reader reads something and says, “Yeah, I’ve always wondered what those things were,” or “I see those things all the time,” referring to the last example of course.

Whether the facts presented in the story or true or untrue, they sound right.  They fit the story, and they make a little bit of sense.  You could see the facts being real.  You could see yourself reading about these things in newspapers, or magazines.  The trick to every story is getting people to believe in it, to believe it could happen.  Adding facts just adds a little bit more evidence.

Challenge: next story you write, try and think of your character’s world.  Explain something about it that’s important to the story.  Look at the above two examples if you’re unsure.

Rules about adding facts to your story: They have to be relevant (it doesn’t matter that your character knows how to sew if it has nothing to do with the story), and they have to be interesting (no one wants to read about the world of accounting).  Keep these things in mind when thinking about using this technique.

Next week: Fight Club and openers

Sounds1

This is music blogging.

Music, today’s, it’s horrible.  At least, what most of the people I know listen to, just bad.

Turn on the radio.  Do you hear that?  The crap hip-hop (and I do like hip-hop.  It’s just like everything else I listen to, I only like good hip-hop, ie., J. Dilla, Wale, Cannibal Ox).  The rock music could be the worst, though, and that may only be because that’s what I listen to the most.  Screamo/emo/whatever-you-call-Nickelback, Grime?  I don’t know.  Something beside’s horribly scary.  Then the pop crap.

(pop has always been bad.  idea of pop: not music, bite-sized commercial chunks of melody and lyrics.  but that’s what the song is nowadays, i suppose complaining would be useless)

Go ahead and turn the radio off.  That’s torture enough.

Today’s generation sucks, seriously.  Music-wise, attitude-wise.  And the worst part is I’m a part of it.  But there’s good new music out there.

This column (as implied by the number one up there) is modern music I deem good.  And most of it will be stuff found around the internet.  What I mean is, songs that haven’t already been covered by Pitchfork or sites along those lines.  Yes.  Some of these songs may be from dreaded Myspace bands.  Or blogs.  Other things.  We’ll see.

The song is called Hide Me, by the Golden Filter.  I have yet to encounter an album of theirs, which is sad.  Pop/Electronic/Techno maybe.  I’m no good at classifying music.  The first place I read about Golden Filter was on Katie West’s Tumblr.  She posted a  make-out video, basically, and it had a nice soundtrack.  Video above.

Next track here, because embedding didnt work.

Another good song from the web, by somebody cal led at Kongregate Collabs. This is a collaboration site, supposedly bringing together artists of all kinds to work on video games. This is a cool idea, hopefully one that’ll bring more fun products like this.  The the original page for this piece is here.

Sadly I couldn’t find a way to embed this piece.  The track is listenable here.

Last track for the day comes from another Tumlbr page, 5lights.  5lights was a lot of artists working on Warren Ellis’ ROTOR project idea.  Really cool text pieces, great looking art, lots of naked women in it’s last month.  All around a great product, this site.  The song is by Star St. Germain.

That’s it for today.

Things I’ve Learned From Books I’ve Read Part 2: Fight Club (Time Travel)

Disclaimer: all books discussed in this weekly column are absolutely wonderful and deserve to be read tens of thousands of times and studied by any and all individuals looking to be a writer.  This, however, doesn’t mean that I own these books or have any right to them at all, besides my owning a copy.  I don’t think I’m in the wrong, reproducing small parts of the books here, as it is for educational purposes.  However, if I’m wrong, or if you have any questions, comments, book suggestions for the column or book/idea recommendations, comment on at the bottom or e-mail me.

In Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk, we follow a no-named protagonist and Tyler Durden as they create Fight Club and later, Project Mayhem, together.

Chapter six of Fight Club was originally written as a short story: an experiment to see if it was possible to cut from scene to scene, to tell a long story out of order and from multiple angles, and still have it make sense to the reader.  Turns out, it was possible.  And it worked brilliantly.

Continue reading ‘Things I’ve Learned From Books I’ve Read Part 2: Fight Club (Time Travel)’

Pop Album Chapter Book

Listening to Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm today, got me thinking.

Each one of the songs on Silent Alarm are stand alone.  Singles.  None of the tracks flow into the next.  No beats are fed.  No melodies consistent over four minutes.  Each song is a single, in the fact no other tracks are needed to make the sound full.

Thinking story-wise, what would a pop album look like?  Something like Tom Sawyer maybe, but less connected.  Stories about the same character/setting/idea, but instead of the basic short story collection, you have a novel.

One long story, told through stories.  Songs.  Chapters.

You’d have to have the song sets.  Things like ballads, love songs.  I can’t think of any other song themes.  But you get it.  More on this as it develops.

My brain doesn’t make any sense to other people, only to me, and for that I apologise.

Things I’ve Learned From Books I’ve Read Part 1: Fight Club (Repetition)

Disclaimer: all books discussed in this weekly column are absolutely wonderful and deserve to be read tens of thousands of times and studied by any and all individuals looking to be a writer.  This, however, doesn’t mean that I own these books or have any right to them at all, besides my owning a copy.  I don’t think I’m in the wrong, reproducing small parts of the books here, as it is for educational purposes.  However, if I’m wrong, or if you have any questions, comments, book suggestions for the column or book/idea recommendations, comment on at the bottom or e-mail me.

In Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk, we follow a no-named protagonist and Tyler Durden as they create Fight Club and later, Project Mayhem, together.

Using repetition in stories can be good for the work in a couple of ways.  It can 1) repeat a certain idea, or sentence, which you can find below, or 2) use a phrase and make it mean more than it would if only used once.  There’s plenty of other ways to use repetition, but these are the easiest to cover, and that’s probably because they’re most effective, so these are the two I’m going to talk about.

Continue reading ‘Things I’ve Learned From Books I’ve Read Part 1: Fight Club (Repetition)’

Project Log Update

The list, what has been done so far.

•    Finish a round of ROTOR (or ROT, as it will probably end up being.  This will be published here on the site, maybe a few other places as well).  Is being worked on by both the illustrator and photographer.  Finished my part.
•    Finish creating If We Knew Any Better.  If this gets done, it’ll be put here as a PDF download, probably.  Is being worked on by cover artist.  Poem collection and editing complete.
•    Blog a little.  I have a few ideas.
•    Finish the first draft of Lazy Summer, which is going to end up being a novelette.
•    Finish a second and maybe even a third draft of Program.  Well, complete Program.

So basically everything I could do by myself.

I’m self-motivated.

Tomorrow begins Things I’ve Learned… publication.


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