Tag Archives: writingtips

My Ideas for Next Year

Hello my 3.5 friends.

As we approach the end of the year, we also approach the end of the one post a day for a year challenge.

Sadly, this means that once next year rolls around, I must switch my focus from blogging to novel writing.

I don’t intend to abandon the blog obviously.  I’ve worked too hard to build it up.

However, I will have to cut back to make time to write novels.

I have a number of potential projects rolling around in my head.  I feel like completing 2 projects a year is a valid goal so heres what I’m thinking about pursuing next year:

IDEA 1

A SPACE OPERA – Set 1,000 years in the future and rife with BQB’s underlying sense of humor mixed in with enough seriousness to keep things flowing.  A wayward rogue who only looks out for himself finds himself in the middle of a vast conspiracy.  He’ll need to start caring about others and quick.

NOTE:  Alien Jones will be the as yet unnamed rogue’s sidekick/pilot.  I’ve toyed with various possibilities for an alien sidekick and figured I’ve already created the perfect one.  AJ has a long lifespan and it is set 1,000 years in the future, long after BQB.  There might be a minor reference to him once befriending a human in the early 2000’s.  For mysterious reasons, he’s been ousted out of the Mighty Potentate’s good graces, stripped of his magic-like powers, and now earns his living as the rogue’s pilot.

AJ will be a secondary character – he’ll provide comic relief, be the rogue’s conscience and confidant, but the rogue will be the main character of the novel.

I have an idea to release it as a TV style book serial – not as a way to simply chop up a long book, but I legitimately have ideas where parts could end with cliffhangers where the reader would be like “Well, I gotta know what happens next!”

Alternatively, I realize maybe I should realize one book before releasing several small installments.

I don’t want to give too much away at this point other than the rogue and AJ find themselves in possession of a powerful something that various bad people/groups want and they must race against time to get it away from them.

POP CULTURE MYSTERIES – I feel like I’ve written so much of Season 1 that I should just see it through.  So I’d like to finish a season’s worth of blog posts, put them up on a spin off PCM website, and follow it up with a novel about how Jake punched Adolf Hitler in the face.

I do have many other ideas.  Many of them I love, one I love dearly.  But I also have to realize nothing gets done without committing to something.

This is like a marriage.  You’ll never develop a loving relationship with your wife if you keep cheating on her with every other bimbo you see and you’ll never develop a finished novel if you keep dumping your current project for the next pretty idea that walks along.

So I have to pick 2 ideas and focus.  Also, I realize given the rest of my life, this might be too much for one year.  If that’s the case and I need more time than so be it.  I hope to finish them both next year but ultimately, as long as I get a book of some kind published on Amazon next year, the year will be considered a success.

What say you nerds about these ideas?

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 17 Interview – Jeremy Laszlo – The E-Mail That Launched a Self-Publishing Career

jl

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon        Website

Facebook       Twitter

Today’s guest is Jeremy Laszlo, the best-selling author of over thirty novels, including the Left Alive series, which chronicles the journey of Charles as he strives to make good on a promise to his dying wife to deliver their children to safety in the midst of a zombie infested nightmare of a world.

Jeremy’s works have broken the top ten of over ninety Amazon lists by genre, at times reaching the top ten of all books on Amazon.

Our noble scribe resides in Louisiana, where threats to his well-being include alligators, oversized mosquitos, and scorching temperatures.  Luckily, he avoids all that by chilling out in his air conditioned workspace, where he spends most of his time either writing or being boxed by children wearing cartoonishly large Hulk hands.

A pleasure to speak with you, Jeremy.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=JEREMY

Q.  When it comes to a good zombie apocalypse novel, how much do the zombies actually matter?  Is it the zombies themselves that attract readers or the threat of a lawless, no holds barred post-society world that said zombies represent?  Would it be possible to replace the zombies with hurricanes, tornadoes, plagues, or locusts and achieve the same result?

A.  First, thanks for having me. I think the notion of zombies really pulls from a deeper, darker, cruder portion of the human psyche. There is a part of everyone that craves chaos, especially in a world such as ours where there are rules and limitations enforced on every aspect of our lives. Zombies simply play into that less evolved portion of who we are. In a story, they don’t need to be the driving force, they certainly aren’t in my LEFT ALIVE series. But that element of devolved, cannibalistic people adds a dark edge to any story that readers can really associate with.

Q.  You’ve written so many novels.  Where do you get the ideas from?  For those of us who whine about writer’s block or a lack of inspiration, do you have any advice?

A.  I do write a lot. I’m actually shooting for 4 more releases before the end of the year, including another zombie trilogy. Ideas come from everywhere. My family and life experiences are a great source of inspiration. Truthfully though, most of my books start with a ‘What if’ scenario. It is really the building block for all of my novels, and a concept I explain in detail in my ‘Kindle Fiction Mastery’ book aimed to help struggling writers. For the LEFT ALIVE series, I simply asked myself what would happen if a strain of genetically modified fertilizer had unintended mutations and ruined the world’s ecosystem killing all plants on Earth. You can see how that alone could be an entire series of apocalyptic books (Coming soon), but what if coming into contact with the infected soil had consequences as well? What if it deteriorated neurons and brain tissue? That is how my zombies were born.

Q.  I read an interview on “The Bearded Scribe” in which you discuss how an errant email convinced you to go the self-publishing route.  Specifically, you submitted your work to a traditional publishing house only to receive an e-mail from a pair of interns joking about how one of them had just batch rejected 600 authors.  (Note to readers – watch out for that ‘Reply All’ button!)

Could you explain how this experience convinced you to take control of your own destiny as a writer?

A.  Ah yes… the intern. He will end up a character in one of my novels, eventually. I simply haven’t decided how to kill him yet.

What can I say? It was not only a direct blow to my own confidence as a writer, but also an eye-opening moment about the REAL state of the publishing industry.

The old model of publishing doesn’t care an ounce about writers. They actually artificially control supply and demand by doing precisely what was done to me, and batch rejecting the vast majority of writers without so much as reading the first word of their work. By limiting the number of books published, they can create a false sense of limited choices, and herd readers like cattle to purchase what they produce, simply because it was all that was available. They controlled trends in genres. They controlled the prices of books. They controlled who and what got published, and in many cases it was more about who you knew, rather than how well you wrote.

The intern laughing about rejecting my work without even reading it, along with nearly 600 others, was just the final straw. There was really no reason to wait around while agent after agent and publisher after publisher form rejected my work (even though some showed interest).

There was another option, and I went all in. Since then, I’ve met a ton of wonderful authors and a great community of people built around those authors. I’ve self-taught myself in graphic design to create the majority of my covers. I’ve spent countless hours learning the secrets of writing, publishing, marketing and promotion. There really isn’t anything writers can’t do for themselves. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t entertain a publishing contract from a large publishing house. I certainly would. But they’d better have some respect, and understand that I can do it on my own.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: Yes! Viva la revolucion!

Q.  One of my 3.5 readers is a big orc fan and I noticed you’re also the author of the Orc Destiny series which follows the adventures of Orc warrior Gnak.

For me, this begs a question for the ages.  Orcs vs. zombies – who wins in that scenario?

A.  That is a tough question, but one that is sort of answered in the Orc Destiny trilogy. Orcs actually fight the undead in the series! That said, Orcs win. Hands down. Every time. Why? Because Orcs, that’s why. They’re big, hulking warriors. They fear nothing and kill everything. I’m a big fan myself.

Q.  You’re a marine.  Thank you for your service.  How does that experience come into play with your writing?

A.  You’re welcome…? That’s always been awkward for me. I appreciate your appreciation, truly.

Being a Marine is hard to explain. It isn’t just a way of life, it becomes a part of who and what you are. I suppose the obvious would be to say that my battle and fight scenes are probably a tad more graphic than many writers. I don’t shy away from the gore and the real emotion of the battlefield. But it goes further than that. Marines are known around the world for being determined and focused. We don’t surrender. Ever. The same goes with my writing. I knew I could do it, and I refused to let a few rejections deter me. I have the focus and stamina of a Marine, which allows me to sit and write until a story is finished. The third novel of my Blood and Brotherhood Saga, The Changing, is 87,000 words long and I wrote it in three days. I don’t intend to quit. Not even when my name is known in every household around the world.

Q.  Your books have topped various Amazon charts.  What’s your secret?

A.  Determination. Experimentation. Research. Commitment. That’s what it really boils down to. If you want to be a writer, first and foremost you have to write and keep writing. No matter what. Then you have to learn the business side of being an Author. It isn’t a part time job. If you write as a hobby, it will always be a hobby. If you want success, you have to earn it toiling away countless hours learning the ins and outs of the industry. Or, of course, you could read my Fiction Masters series, which details much of what I’ve learned these past years and how to employ my secrets and strategies.

Q.  Jeremy, thanks for your help.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.  If the media tells us anything, it’s be a redneck with a crossbow. Not only will you be a badass, but troves of women will follow you anywhere. If you’re going to survive the apocalypse, if might be nice to have a lot of… um… company.

If you can’t be a redneck, use bait. Use your brain, and be evil… it’s an advantage. I suggest driving an iron rod deep into the ground in the middle of your yard. Place a ring of cars around the rod, leaving a clearing between them about twenty feet wide. Then, go find a young guy. A healthy one. One that acts like he was probably an asshat before the apocalypse. Befriend him. Team up with him. When he’s sleeping, tie him up and cut off one of his feet. Don’t forget a tourniquet just above the ankle so he doesn’t bleed out. Then chain him to the stake in the middle of the cars. Now you have your bait.

He’ll scream, which will attract the zombies, but that’s ok, because you’re going to move off a safe distance and pick off the zombies as they struggle to get over the ring of cars. It’s not only entertainment, but it will also help to clean up the neighborhood. And don’t worry about whether or not it is humane. It is a kill or be killed world, and you’ll certainly be thought of as a hero, which leads us back to having lots of company.

Oh, and food… nah, never mind the food. Just put a sign up that says “Cellphones work here” with an arrow pointing towards the ring of cars. The idiots will likely have food. Let the zombies handle the idiots, you can collect their food later. After all, you have company to entertain.

Aside from that, if you have any questions about the apocalypse or zombies you can get in touch through my website at www.jeremylaszlo.com

Or Facebook at www.facebook.com/bloodandbrotherhood

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  Well, I’ve got to hand it to you, Jeremy.  You sure put a lot of thought into that last question.  Thanks for stopping by!

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 13 Interview – Michael Cairns – Video Blogging

Michael Cairns headshot High Res copy

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon           Website

Facebook           Twitter

Today’s zombie author is Michael Cairns, the scribe behind the series, Thirteen Rosesan epic tale that begins with a flower seller who’s forced to save the day in the face of a zombie apocalypse.

Here on the Bookshelf Battle Blog, I like to talk to people about their own personal battles.  Currently, Michael’s winning the battle when it comes to making a name for himself in the writing game, but analysts say the struggle to retain his hair might be lost.

I’m dialing him up on Alien Jones’ space phone now.  Michael?  Bookshelf Q. Battler here.  Let’s talk.

NOTE:  BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=Michael

Q.  Michael, I’m stuck in a rather stressful situation.  I’m in the middle of a zombie apocalypse that’s struck my hometown.  As if that’s not enough, a maniacal alien despot who hates reality television has threatened to conquer Earth if I die before writing a novel that’s so good, it inspires the masses to abandon any and all interest in shows in which vapid, mindless, quasi-celebrities are followed around by cameras all day.  On top of that, a corrupt general is trying to blow me up because I allowed one of my correspondents to write about a top secret mission dating back to World War II on my blog.

But this interview isn’t about me, it’s about you, and I don’t want to bore you with my personal problems.  Suffice it to say, all this stress made me think about your situation.  This year began with you making a pledge to your fans that you’d write fifteen books in 2015.  Further, you promised to submit a daily video log chronicling your efforts.

We’re on the tail end of 2015.  How has the challenge gone, what inspired you to do this in the first place and how have you dealt with the ensuing stress?

A.  Hi Bookshelf. First, can I say how sorry I am to hear about your terrible situation? That sounds like pretty dire straits to me. If you’ll forgive a little advice, I’d urge you to keep eating your greens to keep your strength up, and never leave home without at least two chainsaws about your person at all times.

With regards to your question, it’s been a pretty crazy year.  Just to clarify, the challenge was to publish 15 books.  My inspiration for this was that I wrote 15 books in 2014. I then sat down with another indie-published friend of mine who threatened to kick my arse unless I actually did something with them. So, the challenge was born. To keep things interesting, I also opted to write a million words, publish a short story on my blog every week and vlog my journey every day. The challenge has, so far, gone remarkably well. I’ve published 6 books and have another three less than a month away. So the last few months of 2015 are going to be pretty packed, but it’s still doable, assuming I’m willing to completely lose what remains of my sanity.

Regarding the rest of the challenge, that I’ll easily do. I’m going to hit a million words sometime around the beginning of October, and my short stories are, fortunately, getting better each week.

As far as stress goes, it’s been a mix. I’ve given up shaving, given my chocolate addiction free reign, and taken to shouting at myself on long car journeys…okay, maybe not so much of the last one. It has been stressful, though mostly in a fun way. I have two young children at home and also decided to move house in July, so that’s only added to the fun…

Q.  I whine louder than a balloon with air escaping out of it about how I can never find the time to write, but here you are living the dream.  Do you have any advice for my 3.5 readers about how to balance writing with all of the other curveballs that life throws our way?

A.  Excellent question. I think the answer to that lies in a couple of things. The first is to examine yourself and your habits, and decide how organized you are. If you are someone who does things in a random, scatty kind of way, it can be tricky to develop the discipline to write on a regular basis. Tricky, but by no means impossible. I wrote a guest blog post on how to develop said habit, which you can check out here.

The second thing is to decide how important writing is to you. I know that seems kind of obvious, but it’s easy to say how much it matters. The question is, is it important to ditch reruns of The Walking Dead? Is it important enough to wake up an hour earlier each morning? Simple things that will develop your writing habit.

I can highly recommend Julie’s website that tracks her first year in the self-publishing business. She’s a romance writer, so if you’re struggling to find the light at the end of your apocalypse shaped tunnel, Bookshelf, it might just help brighten your day. 🙂

Q.  How has daily video logging worked out for you?  Is that a means of author/fan communication that you’d recommend for aspiring writers?

A.   I have to be honest about this, it’s been hard work. I’ve got the process, from recording the vlog to having it uploaded onto Youtube and posted on my blog, to tweets scheduled down to about 20 minutes, but there have been more than a few nights when it’s the last thing I’ve wanted to do. Have said that, it’s also been great fun. I’ve gotten almost comfortable talking to myself, certainly improved my ‘umms per minute’ rate, and have a wonderful record of the year. I’ve also got to vlog from all sorts of interesting places. I toured Italy a couple of times with my band in the summer, so I’ve vlogged from over there. I’ve also been to numerous festivals and concerts and done the same from there, so it’s been fun. With regards to author/fan communication, I wouldn’t put it near the top of the list. I’ve had a few nice chats with the videos as a springboard, but not nearly as many as via emails and twitter.

Follow Michael’s 15 for 15 challenge on cairnswrites.com!

Q.  One Goodreads reviewer described Thirteen Roses as “The Walking Dead as if written by Neal Gaiman.  Is that a fair 51BTDCI9zlL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_assessment and if so, why?

A.   I wish!! I loved that quote. It was the kind of quote you couldn’t pay to get, and that it was entirely not my doing was even better! Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is still one of my favorite comic series of all time, so I was beyond flattered to have that comparison made. I’d like to think I could get somewhere close to him in terms of characterization if nothing else, but I’d have to leave that up to the reader to decide…

Q.  There are a number of zombie apocalypse books which feature a science based beginning, i.e. an experiment gone wrong,  (which coincidentally is how my zombie apocalypse began), terrorists who discharge a virus, or some other physical phenomena.  I understand your zombie series has more paranormal origins.  I don’t mean to ask for spoilers, but can you elaborate a bit for my 3.5 readers?

A.   Without wanting to cop out, it’s very difficult to divulge much of the paranormal side of things without giving everything away. Having said that, I’m happy to say that the origin of the zombies is fairly standard. Am ambitious and slightly naive science student spends far too much time messing with an airborne-delivered toxin. The government takes it away from him, only to have some religious nuts discover the answer to their very screwed up prayers and get involved. The paranormal element comes in with the people left behind, the sorry survivors such as yourself. There’s more to it than that, but I really don’t want to spoil all the fun.

Q.  I might know a guy who’s also losing the battle for his hair.  Note that it’s not me at all, just some other unnamed person.  Any advice on follicle stimulation that I could pass along to this individual or should he just give up the goose?

A.  Alas, I’ve tried all sorts. I can confirm that having kids, moving house, and eating your own body weight in chocolate don’t help with hair growth, despite all my wife’s assurances that they would. Actually, she might not have said the thing about the chocolate…

Q.  Michael, thanks for taking a few minutes to speak with me today.  Before I go, do you have any final words of wisdom that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

Food! Head to the nearest library and get yourself some books on farming. Simple, self-sustaining farming is a must with all that supermarket fruit and veg already rotting away. Similarly, find some goats and put a fence around them. Chickens, too, if you can find them.

However, considering the people you surround yourself with, I’d have thought finding a space ship and getting the hell off this Godforsaken rock would be the only true way to survive.

Best of luck and lovely to talk to you.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: Thanks, Michael!  I’m going to check with Alien Jones on that, but he’ll probably bore me with some lecture about Intergalactic Space Law, which I usually just take as code for him being too lazy. Good luck with your challenge!

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The Writer’s Battle – What Can We Learn From Pizza Rat?

Holy Crap.  Will you 3.5 readers drop what you’re doing and look at this little jerk?

This rat has got to be the last true believer of the American Dream, let me tell you.

Look at him!

Other rats see a slice of pizza.  Maybe they’ll take a bite.  Maybe they’ll push it a little, get tired, and scurry away.

But here this little schmuck is, carrying this piece of pizza (WHICH IS BIGGER THAN HE IS) down a flight of stairs, one step at a time, presumably in an attempt to cart it off to his rat lair to feed his rat wife and rat children.

God bless you, Pizza Rat.  You’ve made me believe again.  Shit, let’s elect this rat president.

What can writers learn from Pizza Rat?

  • Writing is hard work.  It’s one thing to think about doing it, but only determination and sheer will gets it done.
  • When others shrug their shoulders and give up, you get in there and get that pizza!  Other people give up on writing all the time.  By keeping at it, you’re doing better than all the other writers, just like this rat did better than all the other rats.  You see any other rats out there becoming a viral video star?  I think not.
  • Success comes one step at a time.  Get the pizza slice down one step.  Then another step.  Then another one.  Don’t skip steps. This furry little contagion infested dynamo look at the stairs and cry, “Oh my God!  Too many steps!  I give up!”  No, damn it, he took his slice down one step at a time.  Unfortunately, the video cut short and it does appear like he abandoned his slice at one point, but I like to think that he got nervous around the humans and went back for his dinner once the coast was clear.
  • The same thing goes for your writing.  You start your blog.  You think, “Oh my God!  That other blog has thousands of readers!  I only have 3.5!  SO WHAT?  You get in there and you entertain the ever loving shit out of your adoring 3.5 readers, just as I do every day.  I’ve dragged my pizza/blog down the 3.5 readers step.  One day I’ll drag it down the 100 readers step.  Then the 200 readers step.  Before you know it I’ll be back at my rat lair, chomping on my pizza, or rather, enjoying an audience of a thousand readers.
  • Apply the Pizza Rat model to your daily word count.  Don’t be like one of those lazy ass rats who looks at a pizza, shouts, “Too big!  No thanks!” and scurry off with an empty belly.  Don’t look at your computer screen and go, “A hundred thousand words!  I’ll never type that much!  I’ll just give up on my dream!”  No.  Be like Pizza Rat.  Type a few words today.  A few more tomorrow.  After awhile, you’ll have one delicious novel.

Patience.  Determination.  Guts.  Glory.  Be strong enough to do the work others are too weak to even try.

God damn it, Pizza Rat, if I were a hot she-rat I’d be so turned on I’d have a million of your pizza rat babies and send them out to spread the plague all over the five boroughs.

So remember, 3.5 readers/aspiring writers, today, your writing career might make you feel like a tiny rat and success will appear as far away as the bottom of a long ass stairwell.  But go slow, take it one step at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be feasting on cheesy, gooey success.

Pizza Rat 4-Eva!

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And Now a Message from Alien Jones

Hello.

The Esteemed Brainy One enjoys the dog days of summer...pantsless.

The Esteemed Brainy One enjoys the dog days of summer…pantsless.

Alien Jones, the Esteemed Brainy one here, reminding you to “Ask the Alien” a question and get plugs for your books and blogs in my answer right here on the Bookshelf Battle Blog, bookshelfbattle.com.

Help me get Bookshelf Q. Battler’s writing career up and running so my boss, the Mighty Potentate, will release me from this mission.

“But Alien Jones,” you ask.  “What are the pros and cons of asking you, an alien, a question?”

PROS:

  • You help your planet become one answer smarter.
  • You help promote self published authors and strike another blow in the Mighty Potentate’s war on reality television.  You thought reality tv was harmless, didn’t you?  But now a reality tv star is running for president.  Next thing you know it’s Secretary of State Kardashian.  Don’t say you weren’t warned, 3.5
  • You’ll get a free plug and maybe even gain a new reader or two.  I’ve helped 20 indie authors already.
  • The Mighty Potentate won’t vaporize me.

CONS:

Literally, nothing.  Why are you humans so quick to look a gift alien in the mouth?  A representative of a hyper intelligent species wants to share all the mysteries of the universe with you and you’re all still like, “Well, I dunno, let me kick the tires on this one and get back to you.”

So ask me, Alien Jones, a question today.  You can ask away on twitter.  Tweet @bookshelfbattle #AskTheAlien and our resident Blogger in Chief will forward your question to my ship.

Or, just leave it in the comments here.

“But Alien Jones, where else can I, a mere human, get in touch with you?”

If you can reach BQB on his other social media, go for it.

Here he is on facebook.

Here he is on Google Plus 

And finally, here’s the World Renowned Poindexter on Wattpad.

And finally, you might ask, “Alien Jones, how long will it take for you to answer my question?”

Normally, I try to answer questions in the order they’re asked.  I used to bunch several questions into one column, but now I like to give each author a column all their own.  That doesn’t mean that repeat askers aren’t welcome.  They are.  And if you’re one of the 3.5 people out there without a book to push, feel free to ask away.  I like to help indie authors promote their works, but you don’t have to have something to promote in order to ask away.

Thank you, Earthlings.  Continue your normal functions of duck faced selfies and scratching yourselves at inopportune times.

Alien Jones, signing off.

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The Writer’s Battle: The Twelve Stages of Writing Denial

1371251154-21)  This is the greatest idea in the world!

2)  Oh my God!  I can’t believe how the words are just flying out of me!

3)  And…crap on a hat.  My characters have hit a wall and I have no idea how to get them around it.

4)  Double crap.  I have new ideas to improve this but it’ll mean starting all over and adding/taking away certain details from the beginning.

5)  This isn’t as good as I thought. I’m going to put it down for a few days.

6)  This is garbage.  I should skeet shoot my laptop and never write again.

7)  Six months later – Oh.  Hey look.  That novel I wrote.  I’ll take a peak.

8)  Hey!  This isn’t that bad.

9)  Well, it might be a little far fetched.

10)  Wait a minute.  The highest grossing fantasy show on TV just had a scene with dudes trying to sell a dwarf’s appendage!  The world wants far fetched!  I’m going to make millions!

11)  Ahhh maybe I won’t make millions.

12)  This is garbage.  Smelly, dirty, raccoon infested garbage.

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The Writer’s Battle: The Limits of Our Language (Examples from Fast 7)

BQB here.

Have you ever had a scene appear in your head so vividly and yet, you’re not able to come up with the words that do it justice?

Have you ever changed your story from what was in your head to what will work on paper?

Here’s an example that popped out at me while I was watching Fast and Furious 7.  Yes, I’m going to use an example from a car racing movie to discuss writing.  Shut up.

SPOILERS.

OK THE SETUP – Lettie, an amnesiac, remembers she used to be married to Vin Diesel aka Dom.

LETTIE:  Why didn’t you tell me we were married?

DOM:  Because you can’t tell someone that they love you.

OK, so what’s the problem?

“They” is a word used to refer to multiple people – plural.

EXAMPLE:

PETE: “Fred, did those hula dancing penguins steal my cheese sandwich?”

FRED:  “Indeed they did, Pete but don’t worry.  They’ll bring it back.”

Yet, a limit of the language, when you talk about “someone” or a singular individual where the sex isn’t stated in the sentence, your main option is to use “they.”

EXAMPLE:

PETE:  I can’t believe someone stole my cheese sandwich.

FRED:  Don’t worry, Fred.  They’ll bring it back.

See?  In this example, Fred has no idea who, how many, and the gender(s) of the culprit(s).  “They’ll” becomes an option, though I have no idea if it is proper or if it is just something that has become common in our vernacular.

What say you, fellow scribes?  What should Dom have said?

DOM:  You can’t tell someone she loves you.

ANALYSIS:  Eh, it’s ok but Lettie is right there holding him.  Seems odd to refer to her in the third person.

DOM (to Lettie):  I couldn’t tell you that you love me.

ANALYSIS:  Well, that becomes a whole other kettle of fish, doesn’t it?  Was he unable to tell Lettie she loves him because he wanted her to figure it out on her own or because he was choked up about the issue or some other reason?

So that brings us back to:

DOM:  You can’t tell someone that they love you.

Ahh!  I get it.  That great free-thinking mind inside Vin Diesel’s brain has come up with quite a concept.  The takeaway for the viewer is that Dom did not tell Lettie that they were married because Lettie, who remembers none of the past, would feel obligated to pretend to love Dom and Dom didn’t want that.  He wanted her to fall in love with him naturally like she did in the past.

And you thought the seventh sequel to a special effects saturated car chase movie couldn’t be deep and meaningful…for shame!

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When the F#%K Should Your Characters Swear?

Time to bring out Ann and John again.  In case you missed their previous antics:

Ann and John on Copyrights

Ann and John on Characters with Accents

Ann and John vs. Robostrangler

And now, our latest installment – Ann and John and the Search for More F$*ing money.

I have mixed thoughts on those pesky swear words.  On the one hand, we are adults.  If your characters are adults living in an adult world, they might swear once in awhile.  Case in point:

“I’ve had enough of your goddamn cheating, John!”  Ann said as she drew her gun and pointed it at him.

“Ann!  No!  What the f$%k are you doing?!”  John asked.

“What I should have done a long time ago, you son of a bitch!”

Ann fired.  The bullet ripped through John’s flesh.

“Owww!”  John screamed.  “My f$&king arm!!!”

I don’t like gratuitous swearing.  I like to use it sparingly, avoiding it if at all possible.  Whether it is for humorous or dramatic effect, I only like to use it when the situation absolutely calls for it.

It’s not that I’m some kind of prissy teetotaler.  I don’t clutch my pearls, pop my monocle, and shout, “Oh I declare, I positively have the vapors!” whenever I hear naughty language.

Unless it is somehow central to the plot, or somehow works well with the story, I just fear that too many swears will alienate a reader.

The problem?  Just as it is possible to overuse swears, it is possible to underuse them:

“I’ve had enough of your gosh darn cheating, John!” Ann said as she drew her gun and pointed it at him.

“Ann! No! What the fiddlesticks are you doing?!” John asked.

“What I should have done a long time ago, you son of a female dog!”

Ann fired. The bullet ripped through John’s flesh.

“Owww!” John screamed. “My fudging arm!!!”

I suppose it is possible to split the difference.  After all, if you’re going through a frightening experience, like say, getting shot, you would probably swear, but then again, you might be in such shock, you might forget to:

“I’ve had enough of your cheating, John!” Ann said as she drew her gun and pointed it at him.

“Ann! No! What are you doing?!” John asked.

“What I should have done a long time ago!”

Ann fired. The bullet ripped through John’s flesh.

“Owww!” John screamed. “My arm!!!”

Well, let me get to the whole point of why I seek your input.  As previously discussed, I’m working on a sci-fi novel.  It takes place in a gritty world, where life isn’t easy for my characters, and bad things happen.

It has aliens, robots, spaceships, monsters – or in other words, the odds are younger people will like it more than older folks.  Although, maybe not.  I feel like I’ll still love Sci-Fi when I’m eighty years old.  The more sci-fi was around when you were a kid, the more you’ll like it as an adult.

As an author, I find swear words to be particularly vexing.  Don’t use a swear and you might be selling out, overuse swears and you’ll push potential readers away.  And the second you drop a swear word into your book you move from something that can be enjoyed by all to something that can only be enjoyed by few.

Well readers, what the f%&k do you think?

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Elmore Leonard – Quote About Writing

“I try to leave out the parts the people skip.”

– Elmore Leonard

Among your many works, Elmore, thank you for bringing us Justified.  So sad this is the last season.

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Deflategate Shakespearized

I like to Shakespearize things – movies, TV shows, songs.  I love Shakespeare.  Maybe it’s trite, but I do feel that the English language’s greatest author walked the earth around 500 years or so ago (give or take a few years here or there).

I hope to turn this into a new feature, and if you have something you’d like to see Shakespearized, let me know.

Without further ado…

DEFLATEGATE SHAKESPEARIZED

By:  Bookshelf Q.  Battler

A Tale Told in the Tradition of the Bard

PRESS MAN #1 – In fair New England where we begin our tale, a legend of great treachery and sanctimonious chicanery, of gladiators of the gridiron and air dispersion most foul.

RANDOM COLTS PLAYER (staring at and holding up a football as if it were a skull) – Is this a ball I see before me?  It’s lack of weight disturbeth me with the passion of the Gods who once clapped in thunderous combat above the skies of Ancient Rome. Fi on thee, Knaves of New England, Mercenaries of the Villainous Cheese Baron!  Something is rotten in the State of the NFL.

ENTER KING BELICHIK –  Friends, Romans, Countrymen!  Lend me your ears!  Good sirs, rest thine ears upon my voice, and hear me as I say that in my four score years of leading mine knights into carefully manicured grassy fields of battle all across our land, this is the first and only time that anyone hath raised the issue of mine balls!  Merry, it surpriseth me greatly to hear men complain of a trivial happenstance, as surely as it would surpriseth me were I to waken on the morrow to find that the sun’s exuberant colors had transferred from yellow to green.

PRESS MAN #2 – Foul!  Foul!  Scandal most foul!  A plague on your house, King Belichik!  For thou failest to taketh the fall in this fake story that we hath manufactured out of whole cloth!  Thou hast thrown Sir Thomas of Brady under the bus!

TYPICAL COLTS FAN –  To inflate or not to inflate?  That is the question.  Whether tis nobler in the mind to inflate your balls to 12.5 pounds per square inch, or to take air out of your balls until they are 11.5 pounds per square inch, and in doing so, ruin them?  To inflate, to deflate, to inflate perchance to dream?  Ay, there’s the rub…on our balls!

SIR THOMAS OF BRADY – Tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow…inflated balls are a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying slow news days…

COLTS FAN #2 – O, I see Queen Mab!  Come she does, the Queen of the Fairies!  And she telleth me true, she fills my ears with the melodious truth, that had our balls been comprised of more air, we surely would not have had our asses handed to us in a massacre in which we lost by 40 points!  Fi!  By the beard of God I say had the game ball had one but one more pound of pressure inside of it, we would have fought boldly like the mighty warriors of the coliseum of old!

ENTER FOX AND COMPANIONS – Forsooth and hark, for we are Fox and Companions!  Bringeth yon noble viewers news of the death of the Saudi Arabian King?  Nay!  Bringeth ye news of the resignation of the Yemen Government?  Nay!  Gather round and hear a tale of balls deflated with vigorous gusto!

PRESS MAN #3 – But soft!  What lies through yonder window breaks?!  It tis the east, and the underinflated balls are the sun!  Arise fair balls, and kill the envious moon, whose maid art sick and pale with grief, that her maid’s balls are far more inflated than yours!

PATRIOTS FAN -(also holding a football like it was a skull) –  Alas, poor football, I knew him, Horatio.  Twas a football of great jest and most excellent fancy!  Once inflated to 12.5 pounds per square inch and then alas, deflated to a paltry 11.5 square pounds per inch by rapscallions of ignominious cunning and unscrupulous alacrity. Our knights, once a great bastion of the game, now reduced to wicked pissah jokes about deflated balls.

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