Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sign on the Door

I'm gone fishin' today. Be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's that time again

For an open post/your questions answered that is. I was skimming my archives to figure out what to post on today, and I happened upon the realization that I've done an open post/opened myself to questions in both January and February this year. So I figured "why not continue the tradition and make it a monthly thing?"

If, of course, my loyal blog readers have some questions they want answered. Just post it the comments and let me know what you all want to hear about/have me post on. I'm open to practically anything.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Genetics, Steampunk, and Fantasy

Donna Hole on Friday brought up a good point in the comments (I'll restate here so you don't have to click through):
"While reading this, I was wondering if you couldn't equate Sauron with a mad scientist with all the gene splicing to create his orks and Brukhi (I know, I spelled it wrong, but I didn't want to get up to get the book). There have been other fantasy novels also that the evil wizard practiced a form of organic or genetic fusing to create the creatures that did their nefarious bidding. Cave weights, Kabold, Dark Elves, gnomes."
Genetics, if anyone remembers science class, was first codified by the monk Gregor Mendel in the mid-19th Century while experimenting on inherited traits in pea plants. However, people have been cross-breeding plants and pets (dog breeds are an example) since ancient times. Classical Sparta practiced selective breeding in its citizens -- look at the movie 300 for an object example. In the opening scenes, we see an elder of Sparta investigating a baby to see if he passes muster for inclusion into Spartan society. If he did not, then the child could've expected instant death.

Simple genetics thus deals with traits inherited from two "parents," whether human, animal, or plant. In this manner, wizards like Sauron and Saruman in the Lord of the Rings trilogy can be considered mad scientists because they blend Orcs and Goblins into the new Uruk-hai, a race of creatures that can move in the sun like Orcs but have the strength of Goblins. This simple usage of inherited traits falls under the general umbrella of genetics.

With steampunk, genetic manipulation takes on a more contemporary feel. In Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, for example, we see the British Army using fabricated animals crafted after Charles Darwin's discovery of DNA and genetics. Truth be told this is actually an expansion on what we know about DNA manipulation -- modern science only allows for very simple organisms to be built, not anywhere near on the scale of the whale airships in that novel.

A simple search of "genetics in fiction" brings up a list of books both at Barnes&Noble and Amazon, but much more in the future/near-future science fiction realm than in steampunk or in standard fantasy. Of course, this could also be tied to people not always considering certain things as genetic science rather than "magic" as in fantasy.

Genetics offers such opportunity for authorial hand-waving or even honest-to-goodness fictional science, that I'm slightly surprised it hasn't quite been done to death in modern fiction. Then again, it might have been without me noticing (which is entirely possible).

But I'm curious: what other novels, films, or video games can you think of that deal in genetics as a plot point? And do you think genetic manipulation and its consequences has been overdone in storytelling?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mad Scientists

One of the hallmarks of the steampunk aesthetic is the Mad Scientist. There are two kinds of folks who fall into this category -- engineers who build fantastic machinery and physical scientists who work with the organic side of things. Examples of both are Doctor Loveless from Wild Wild West and Doctor Victor Frankstein from the eponymous novel.

Doctor Frankenstein works in what's called "natural philosophy" (another term for the blend of chemistry, biology, and medicine that existed before science became compartmentalized). His story focuses the proto-steampunk aesthetic of Frankenstein on the science behind reanimating dead flesh. More often than not, we see something like this in horror movies rather than in science fiction. However, and this is a fairly big "however," the biological sciences lend themselves very easily to steampunk when set in the right time frame.

Gail Carriger's Soulless, which I've blogged on before, includes a cabal (I love that word) of mad scientists who are trying to craft supernatural creatures by using blood transference. They expect that doing so will allow them to understand the supernatural enough to destroy it. This story's timeframe is the 1850s, a fact Carriger is well aware of, and thus she gives the scientists just enough knowledge to sound like academics of the period.

Scott Westerfield, on the other hand, admits that Leviathan assumes that genetics and DNA were discovered decades before their actual point in scientific history. That's the only way certain bits of his technology can work. If, however, you accept this, then the scientists still need to not have the same benefits that an early 21st Century geneticist would. It's hard to manage, but worthwhile in order to craft an effective view of the world.

The engineer-type mad scientist is exampled by Doctor Loveless of Wild Wild West. This is the Will Smith/Kenneth Branagh* version I'm talking about, by the way. In that movie, Doctor Loveless creates a steam-powered mechanical spider that evokes images of Godzilla and the great (bad) monster movies of decades before. He also has a mechanical wheelchair of his own devising, and augmented his soldiers with mechanical accouterments. His mad science exampled itself by the mechanical devices that he used in his villainy rather than any sort of fiddling with genetics.

The webcomic Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio deals with both kinds of Mad Science. When a character in their version of Europe (Europa) has the skill to craft fantastic machines or play Devil Went Down to Georgia on the fiddle of someone's genetic code, they're called Sparks. These "Sparks" have the possibility of flipping into Mad Scientist mode at any time. Sometimes this happens with hilarious results.

Anyway, my point is thus: Mad Science is a tried and true application of the steampunk worldview. In fact, one of the things you see a lot in the works that birthed the genre and the proto-steampunk novels is a sort of nod to the way technology can both go right and go horribly wrong. In this, steampunk shares its themes with general science fiction. But, if you add the science of the Victorians with the technology they had at their fingertips, well then you get a chance to play with some very entertaining insane people who happen to be really, really smart.

* I'll watch any Kenneth Branagh movie at least once. Say what you want about his commercial films -- very few actors can rock Shakespeare like he can.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shhh ... It's a Secret

Secret Archives that is. Hey, it's the second week of life for The Secret Archives of the Alliterati. And, oh look today's Wednesday.Guess what that means?

Yep -- I'm "gone fishin'" over in that there pond. Go check it out; it might even be interesting.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Crafting of a City Map

My propensity for doing a lot of research is well-known across various people's blogs (and now on Twitter), but perhaps less well-known is my need to do a lot of background figuring because of this.

One of the criticisms I got from my fantabulous betas (you know who you are) was the lack of a sense of place/time differential when Moriah travels through the city of Callarion. The easiest way to fix this is to design a map of the city. However, one of the problems with doing such a thing is my lack of any drawing ability whatsoever. Instead of drawing that map then, I've decided to craft some background information on architecture and distances in various parts of the city.

This amounts to yet more research (and some unrepentant cribbing of real places) to craft the exact city map that I need in order to give the city its verisimilitude. So far, today, I've written capsules on Marketplace, Quayside, and Woodsedge (three districts of the city) and will at some point finish the ones on Lowtown, Academe, and Gardens Hill as well.

The map and geography that I'm using for Callarion borrows from three places -- Rome, San Francisco, and San Diego. San Fran and San Diego provided the proper winding coastline that I imagined, and Rome's Seven Hills provided the basis for what I kind of wanted to do terrain-wise (turns out Callarion's looking more and more like San Francisco by the minute, but that's beside the point).

What purpose does all this serve? Perhaps the biggest benefit to doing this is having a map means I don't accidentally place Thomas's shop in two different sections of Marketplace. It also means Gardens Hill consistently stays in the center of the city, and other landmarks start to gain more and more importance because they're located in a concrete place in the fictional city. Correction: the biggest benefit is that my distances stay the same. That's important, because I can't have Moriah cross Marketplace on foot at two different speeds. There lies inconsistencies my friend.

And I very much dislike being inconsistent (which is why I always like people to point out when I am). What about you, loyal blog readers? Do you craft maps of your settings? Or do you let it fly like Terry Pratchett, who's of the opinion that "You can't map a sense of humor"?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Diagramming a Scene

I've said before that I purchased Donald Maass's The Fire in Fiction and Writing the Breakout Novel a few months back, after reading Susan R. Mills's great series on the former book at A Walk In My Shoes. Anyway, I've finally finished reading and am now starting to apply Mr. Maass's lessons to CALLARION AT NIGHT. It would be kind of silly for me not to -- Maass has been a literary agent for three decades, and represents fantasy and science fiction, so he has to know what he's talking about in some respects. I'd be remiss to not at least give the suggestions in these two books the "old college try." (I'd feel the same way if Terry Pratchett or Orson Scott Card offered me writing advice. Of course, if I got personal writing tips from either of those gentlemen my brain would probably be stuck on "Holy crap I'm talking to Terry Pratchett/Orson Scott Card.")

Anyway, one of the chapters in Maass's The Fire in Fiction is devoted to creating scenes that can't be cut from your manuscript. How does one do this? Well through several avenues -- determining the turning points, stripping down the dialogue, and determining the character's goals in the scene. This all amounts to a practice called diagramming the scene.

I've started to do this with the rewrite of Chapter 14 of CaN and I'm of the belief that the results are a heck of a lot better than the first write through. Maass explains that, if you start with the major parts of the scene first, then you write a stronger scene with much more impact than if you went through dozens of drafts to find the point of the scene.

My scene diagram looks like this, by the way:

Chapter XX scene development
Scene (number): Title of scene
Setting: Where it takes place in the city 

(Character)’s Goal: The goal of whoever the major players are in the scene. Sometimes two of my major characters are in a scene, so they may have separate goals; the second character may not be a POV one, but their goals still matter
Obstacles: What's going to prevent the character(s) from achieving the goals stating above
Hints of Success/Failure: What clues can I give the reader that the character(s) will succeed or fail? Or can I give them some misdirection to pull success from the "jaws of failure"?
Outer Turning Point: The part where things change where it's clear to everyone involved in the story (i.e. the external, visible point where everything changes)
Inner Turning Point: The point where things change in the character's outlook on things. The internal change that occurs.
Do/es the character(s) succeed? Is the goal achieved completely or partially? How big of a setback is the failure if the character is set to fail?
Once I've done this from Chapter 14 to the end of the story, I'm going to go backwards and do this same process for Chapters 1 to 13. I've already kind of half-started doing this for Chapter 1 (not in any great detail though) and I've thus far determined that I did something like this unconsciously already. 

What are the benefits of diagramming a scene like this? Well, at least for me, I'm seeing stronger scenes get written on the first shot. I also lose my way less often and though my chapters are now longer on average, they're longer because they need to be longer to include all these details that can only serve to strengthen the story itself. Like I said before, I'd be remiss to ignore Maass's advice. 

Chapter 14 is stronger as a result; and the entire book will be as well. I challenge you all to try this with one scene and then rewrite it using that information. Tell me if you think the scene's better or worse now that you've done that. 

Also, I'm curious as to your views on doing something like this. Does it smack too much of outlining for all you pantsers out there? Or does it seem right up your alley for all those plotters and planners? Let me know in the comments, loyal readers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Today, at The Secret Archives

Before I get into who composed the guest post over at The Secret Archives of the Alliterati today, I first want to apologize for the two posting days I skipped these past two weeks.

Both of those were for two reasons: a) I ran out of ideas and b) work was ridiculously busy.

Not really good excuses, I know, but it's probably something that will be happening intermittently in the coming months. So I wanted to both apologize to my loyal readers and let you all know it'll probably happen again.

Anyway, today over at Secret Archives, we're happy to have Harley May offering up her thoughts on character (and on one specific character). So go check it out and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gone Fishin'

I love those Be Back in 5 minutes signs you see up on the store in the middle of a small town, and the Gone Fishin' sign that seems to be ubiquitous in cartoons.

Anyway, I've "gone fishin'" over at The Secret Archives of the Alliterati today. Go check it out, dear readers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thinking in Circles

One of the things I've started to do in developing my stories is try to figure out holes in the premise. To do this, I think in circles around various parts of it. This means I'm trying to come up with reasons why the story can't work the way I want it to work.

Sometimes my circular thinking takes me into different avenues of research. Like psychology for one. I've blogged about Alice and Janey before -- my two psych major friends -- who are now helping with the emotional arc of CALLARION AT NIGHT. In particular, Alice has been tremendous with her opinions in terms of story development and how to manage Moriah's emotional life.

My research has ventured into weapons, clothing, technology, even consumer goods of the Victorian/early 20th century. All of this to fill the circular question "Is this possible?"

Sometimes I'll find my theory isn't possible. That's where the thinking in circles comes in handy. If different routes to the same solution don't hold up under this circular thought process, then I take a different route.

What about you folks? Do you try to poke holes in your stories before you write them? Or do you wait and see what happens?

NOTE: Yes, I know I suffer from plot hole disease in my writing. This is a different kind of logic gap.

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's Heeeerrrreeee

Yes cats and kittens (I love that phrase even if it is cliche), today is March 15. Of course you know what this means.

It's the Ides of March!

Oh, you thought I meant something else? Hmm ... why else is March 15 important? Let me think for a minute. Been married for six months plus two days; my birthday's in 8 months minus one day; I'll have been working on CALLARION AT NIGHT for eleven months as of a week from now ... no, can't think of anything else important.

Hmm? A blog launch? Whatever are you talking abo --

Oh yeah!

The Secret Archives of the Alliterati launches today! Watch that space today for the fantabulous Miss L.T. Host's inaugural post. And, perhaps, there might be something even more interesting that she posts about. Who knows?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dissecting Novels

Anyone who follows Susan R. Mills's A Walk In My Shoes will remember her post series about literary agent Donald Maass's The Fire in Fiction from awhile back. After reading that series, I purchased both that book and Maass's other tome -- Writing the Breakout Novel. I finished the breakout novel book, and I'm currently working my way through the other one, but that's neither here nor there.

Over the past few days, I've been discussing "literature" and my dislike of many of the classics because I was forced to dissect them in the classroom. Iapetus999 mentioned yesterday that he does this to his own writing and comes to loathe it because of this. He also says this is probably true of any writing -- a fact I agree wholeheartedly with.

I liken it to learning the secret behind a magic trick. There's a TV show called Breaking the Magicians' Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed that aired on Fox awhile back, where this man calling himself the Masked Magician showed the secrets behind a lot of the stage illusions currently practiced. Now, I love illusions and stage magicians (I wanted to be one at one point, but then I'm a sci-fi/fantasy fan so that should come as no surprise), but I don't want to know how they make the rabbit come out of the hat or stab the box with swords and have the lady come out fine. I only want to marvel at the brilliance of it. I know it's a trick, but I don't want to know how it's done.

A skillfully executed story is a magic trick. You become convinced that you've been transported into this other world, with characters and settings that are larger than life (because they need to be), where stories have a powerful message that need to be told. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is over-mentioned as an example, but it works so I'll use it here. Card weaves a tale about a genius boy named Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, who wins a real war through winning a video game. Card's story then is about violence in video games, war, and how it all effects this lone boy. But because we don't see the magician pulling the strings, we get drawn into the story and come to the conclusions ourselves.

When we dissect a novel to figure out its message, we're tearing away the layers of illusion protecting the secrets of the magic trick. What does this tree mean? What does this apple mean? What does every symbol in the story mean? What did the author mean with this turn of phrase? With this sentence? What was the message of this paragraph? Of this chapter? Of this entire act of the novel?

In Writing the Breakout Novel, Maass argues that breakout novels all have a message behind them. Anne Perry's Slaves of Obsession has the characters proclaim the message (that love for each other is important, even when a Cause calls us to arms), but others like Ender's Game never actually have anyone state the message explicitly. Rather, it is how the story is told that communicates the message to us. If we dissect a novel into its constituent messages, the novel loses the power to affect us. We see the strings holding the illusionist in mid-air as it were.

Just like that TV show shattered my illusions about stage magic, so too does dissecting a novel shatter my illusions about that story. And I like having the illusion. That's the fun of reading, after all.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On "Literature" Part Two

A discussion with Carrie Heim Binas after yesterday's post brought me to the realization that I should probably add some clarification to my statements about taking certain authors out of the literary canon.

Every name that I listed yesterday -- Hawthorne, Hemingway, Faulkner, and all the others -- are deserving of respect because they wrote stories that have endured for decades. A Farewell to Arms is still in print, so is As I Lay Dying, and The Scarlet Letter. That last is the most impressive, seeing as it's been kicking around bookstores for 160 years. I hold Dickens in a similar high regard for the same reason.

My problem, as I realized upon talking with Carrie, is more to do with how people are introduced to these stories (yes, Adam Heine already said this in the comments yesterday). In college, I was forced to dissect Hemingway's "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." Because of this, I developed a loathing for the story and I extended that to all of Hemingway's works. My problem with Hawthorne stems from a similar root (I read it during 9th-grade English class -- I wasn't close to ready to understand the themes behind it at age 15).

In high school, I was fortunate enough to take advanced English and be introduced to some of the great Greek playwrights. We read the play "Antigone" at one point, which sticks in my mind because I wrote a paper arguing for the title character as the tragic heroine. I got a C because, in my English teacher's words, I was utterly wrong because Greek tragic heroes were always men. Therefore, Antigone couldn't be the tragic hero because she was a girl.

Now, this isn't bashing English teachers in general (I wanted to be one for awhile after all, and teachers get a bad-enough rap as it is. Full disclosure: my mother's a teacher), but I did want to bring up one of the reasons I think a lot of people hate "the classics." This being that they're forced to read and dissect them based on the teacher's interpretation of the text. Which annoyed me to no end because I almost never agreed with the teacher's view on any of the stories we read. But since teachers control grades, you have to work within their interpretation of the text in order to get anywhere (except for the "cool" teacher that dares you to disagree with him or her and rewards people who argue it well).

A classic that I read in class and enjoyed was The Red Badge of Courage when I was in 8th grade. Was it because I had a good teacher? Well, he was OK. But the real reason, I think, is because on the first day of class, that teacher pointed to the wall (yes wall) of books on the window side of the room and told us "You have to read at least five books by the end of the year. I don't care which ones you choose; just choose five." I think I read a minimum of three times that number by year end. That's how to get people to love reading. Turn 'em loose and don't tell 'em what to think. (Which is also why I love Moby Dick.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On "Literature"

I try not to complain on this blog. Not entirely true, yes I know, but most of those other posts have been about specific writing-related things (the lack of value some people place on editing, overused words and phrases, etc).

However, this is the first time I will actively bad-mouth something that's only loosely writing related. As you can probably figure out from the post title, I'm going to be talking about "Literature" (the capital L is important).

Why is the capital letter important? Because the novels I'm talking about are the ones taught in high schools and colleges across the country. Hemingway, Hawthorne, Steinbeck, Joyce, Updike, Melville, Salinger, and Faulkner -- these are the names of the favored sons of "Literature." Educators across the country proclaim these writers and others (Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, The Brontes, etc) as the standard of what makes "good" literature.

I think this is a load of codswallop.

Sure, the above-mentioned men and women had some good stories in them. Pride and Prejudice has spanned practically a cottage industry by itself, and stories like The Catcher in the Rye have thrilled generations of readers into hearing a story's message decades after its publication (I happen to like Catcher, personally).

However, there are some other authors in this canon of "Literature" that need to be taken out post-haste. Hemingway and Hawthorne are among them. Full disclosure: I've read only "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and The Scarlet Letter. That said, if those two stories are indicative of the style Hemingway and Hawthorne wrote in, then I have no desire to read any of their other work.

The problem with "Literature," as I see it, is that teachers pick things that might have spoken to them when they were younger, or be forced to choose things from a list. It's been established on other fine blogs (Lit Soup among them), that the works considered part of "Literature" are best discovered on a reader's own time.

What's this mean for the English teachers of the United States? Find some new books. If you must teach literary fiction, there are more contemporary authors that will appeal to students -- Michael Chabon and S.E. Hinton among them. And I ask you, English teachers, what in the world is wrong with teaching genre fiction? "Literature" should not be inaccessible (as that seems to be the sole criterion for what's taught at the high school and college level).

And that's my rant.

Note: I don't hate literary fiction as a form of the novel. I only hate that the works teachers wax lyrical don't get younger than the 1920s or 1930s. Choose some contemporary novels already.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chunky Editing

Awhile back I blogged about editing CALLARION AT NIGHT in chunks instead of as a coherent whole. The reasons for this, beyond the one already mentioned in the post I linked to, are several-fold.

1) I wrote on Microsoft Works and MS Word 3.1 back in the day -- those programs used to go all nutso if you had a document that was greater than roughly 120 pages. I've only recently gotten out of the habit of keeping a complete MS in four separate documents.

2) It's easier to focus on 10 to 15 chapters at once rather than staring 30+ in the face. Why? Well because then you can scroll back and refer to earlier sections without sitting there for five minutes looking for the exact section you want.

3) Once I'm "done" with a previous section, I can move into a clean file and not have to worry about dozens of marks and everything from stuff I've done before. Granted, it's more time-consuming to flip from one file to another when I have to refer to chapters not in the section I'm currently working on, but I'm willing to make that sacrifice.

4) Did I mention that it saves my sanity to focus only on a specified number of chapters?

Another side reason is that you're able to check chapters off the list, so to speak, when you've finished editing them. I hate making to-do lists, but I love checking things off them.

CaN update, by the way: The first 11 chapters are roughly 75% edited now. I included another Rombard chapter (on Donna Hole's suggestion) and am moving along with smoothing out the middle portion where Moriah searches for her mother's diary. Big changes and life-changing discoveries are in store for our spunky heroine and the honorable scoundrel who loves her. I won't say the beginning section is perfect (because nothing ever is) but it's a heckuva lot better than it was two months ago.

Also, another note: We still have open spots for guest posts on The Secret Archives of the Alliterati. Like L.T. posted on Friday, we're booked up through much of May, but we're accepting folks for slots well in advance of the actual date. Send an email to

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bothersome Words and Phrases

I think I said that I have roughly a decade of copy editing experience behind me (through high school, college, and three years of professional), and one of the things I've compiled in all these years is an intense dislike of certain words and phrases in the English language.

So here's the list (and if you include these in a story you send me to beta, they will be marked):

1. "Needless to say" -- If it's a phrase you don't need to say, then why are you saying it?

2. "Irregardless" -- This means the same thing as regardless, and isn't a word itself.

3. "Could care less" -- A corruption of the phrase "couldn't care less."

4. "Should of," "could of," "would of" -- I don't see this from writers so much as from non-writers. They write this when they mean "should've," "could've," or "would've."

5. "Due to the fact that" -- a wordy phrase than can easily be replaced by the word "because."

That's pretty much all I can think of right now. What are some words or phrases that bother you?

More Pimpery

Thank you to everyone who's so far volunteered to guest post on The Secret Archives of the Alliterati. We already have guest posts lined up for the first 9 weeks of the blog's life, and are very excited about all of the fine folks who volunteered already.

I'm hoping we can pre-fill a lot more spots, but there's no rush by any stretch of the imagination. Like I said above, we already have two and a half months worth of guest posts scheduled. So it's not like we'll lack for content at least until May.

That email again for people who are interested in guest posting is Send us an email telling us a bit about yourself, and we'll take the next steps from there.

If you don't want to guest post, but instead merely want to witness the insanity unfold, well that's fine too. We love followers. Followers are good.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Heavy Rain and Good Storytelling

My wife purchased Heavy Rain for the PlayStation 3 about a week or so ago. Now, if you follow news in the video game world at all, you'll know the game received outstanding reviews for its engrossing gameplay and fantastic storyline. The most interesting thing about this game, from developer Quantic Dream, is that it ignores most (if not all) standard video game conventions.

Heavy Rain tells the story of the hunt for the Origami Killer, a serial murderer who kills his victims (all children) by drowning. His calling card is a small origami animal left beside each body. You the player alternate between four characters in the thriller -- an architect whose son is abducted by the killer, a journalist researching the story, a drug-addict FBI agent on the hunt for the killer, and a private investigator who is ostensibly working for the families of the Origami Killer's previous victims.

In watching my wife play this game, I realized that the developers told the story as a thriller rather than an action/adventure. Consider this: the architect's life is turned upside down when his eldest son is run over by a car, he is mistakenly accused of murdering other children, and must both clear his name and find his youngest son before the boy becomes the killer's next victim. Standard thriller fare, correct?

That something like this exists in video game form is fascinating. Even more so is the fact that it's been lauded so many times in the press (there's already rumors of a movie). Your average video game thriller/suspense is more along the lines of a Resident Evil or Silent Hill, where you run around shooting zombies and other eldritch creatures while trying to solve various puzzles to make your way out. Not so with Heavy Rain.

You'll recall that awhile back I talked about how video games can teach us about composing interesting stories. Heavy Rain is another example of my theories on this. Reviewers have likened the story to a blend of the movies Seven and Zodiac. Personally, I could almost see this story flowing from Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, or any other active thriller author.

The success of Heavy Rain in the marketplace proves even more that audiences will lap up an engrossing story no matter what form it takes. They also don't care if it's with a standard protagonist or not (the Grieving Father in this case). The only thing that matters, and thus the only question you should ask yourself, is "Will this story keep people reading all the way to the end?" If it doesn't, well you have some work you need to do.

Downside? You might not be able to tell whether your story is engrossing enough to do this. That's where your beta readers come in.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Insanity and Such

Today was a cr-aaazy day. On the plus side, oh loyal blog readers, I've managed to thus far get a decent chunk of editing out of the way. There are changes ahead for CALLARION AT NIGHT -- changes that I think will result in a much better novel than what I had at the end of 2009. Come August (aka query time) I foresee myself being pretty confident in this manuscript to wow potential agents.

Who knows? At that point you might even get the "I gots an agent" post from yours truly. Until then, we shall see what we shall see.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Announcing the Alliterati

A little over a week ago, myself and L.T. Host of Quest:Published were having one of our semi-regular chats about story development (L.T.'s been quite gracious in letting me bounce ideas off her for use in CaN), and she broached the idea of putting together a team blog.

So we got in touch with Stephanie Thornton and Bane of Anubis, and the four of us decided to set up The Secret Archives of the Alliterati. The official launch date is Monday, March 15, but we're announcing it now because we have an interesting conundrum.

We need guest bloggers.

Monday through Thursday, one of us will take the reins and offer up our musings on whatever strikes our nerves (yes I stole that from Bane's profile). However, we need fellow bloggers willing to take up the mantle one day a week as either semi-regular or one-off guest bloggers.

Shoot an email to us at if you're interested in either a one-off spot or a semi-regular feature. One of us will make sure to respond to all offers/inquiries/emails about random cute animals (maybe not the last one, but you never know).

And then wait for the week of March 15, where we will visit the awesomeness of The Secret Archives of the Alliterati on the world. You know you'll love it.