Novel Idea

I’ve been thinking about Novels a lot lately. It’s a medium that I’ve always wanted to work in but I’ve struggled to wrap my head around. Most of what I’ve done has either been scripts or short stories.

Some of the things I like to think about are what a novel is and what are the benefits of working in it as a medium actually are. (Other than the audience for novels being much larger than the audience for short stories or story collections.)

One of the things everyone will tell you is what novels are not: they are not short stories that you’ve just made bigger.

I’ve read this a lot, but I’ve never seen any follow up on what it means. But I was thinking about the differences between a novel and a screen play and part of the answer dawned on me. In novels, you have every scene you need.

Screen plays are fixed objects because they have to grid to the run time of a movie or tv show. Basically this means that a screen play can never exceed 180 pages of screen play formatted text. (This assumes the standard one page per minute of film and a cap of three hours for the over all movie.) This constraint is one of the factors that causes things to feel rushed or lack emotional depth.

If you ever not bought a character turn or where confused by a character’s actions, you’ve experienced this. The cause is that there were missing scenes to give context or motivate character change. Usually these scenes are cut out or not written in order to maintain narrative flow or get to a section with more exciting visuals. Movies and tv shows can only be so long therefore not every scene can exist to get to a complete story. Not every character, detail, or subplot can be served due these constraints.

Novels don’t necessarily have this problem. Because they don’t have a fixed length and aren’t rigidly formatted in the ways scenes are constructed, novels have the room to build up every element and justify every turn their characters make. They can have a scene for everything.

Does this mean that all novels do this? NOPE!

But it’s something to think about if you’re ever writing a novel and definitely something you should expect if you’re ever reading a novel.

Making maps

I’ve been making maps this entire day and lost track of time. Almost didn’t make a post today. It’s been raining here all day and it’s really only been good for thinking about some other world and making a map for it.

I’m not usually this kind of guy, but I’ve been enjoying the new Inkarnate interface and I can finally make it do what I want it to do.

So that’s good.

Star Trek Picard

So I finished this on Thursday and have been sitting on my feelings about it for a few days. First there a few things that I want to get out of way: One, I’m not going to spoil the ending, but I am going to spoil some things that happen in the first two episodes. Two, here’s my background with Star Trek: I don’t have a lot of clear memories of when I wasn’t a fan. I can’t speak any Klingon, but I can explain in detail how a Warp Drive actually functions.

In a nutshell, Star Trek Picard is like seeing your adult son after a long absence and now he has a face tattoo. You still love him, but boy that face tattoo sure is big!

Spoilers below here.

Face tattoos in this instance are the Federation of Planets being xenophobic, quick to anger, and willing to own slaves. These things can certainly be fodder for good story telling and conflict – I don’t think there were in this instance – but it mars the hopeful view of the future Star Trek was famous for.

That’s my biggest problem with this series. Now people might argue that getting rid of the hopefulness allows the show to be a better mirror of our “darker” times. Which it does and makes Star Trek a little more generic sci fi and hurting its ability to differentiate its self in a crowded market place. Also, while Star Trek has always commented on current or historical politics, it never did so directly in its series premises. Those were always in contrast to our current political leanings. Specifically, the 1960’s uncertainly with race relations and the cold war, and the 1980’s cynicism and callous money grabbing.

There also seems to be a lot of thought given to the fact that this move needed to be made because modern audiences don’t want to see that kind of hopefulness anymore. Seeing as this show was, on some level, cashing in on nostalgia, I’m going to call bullshit on that. Also, there’s an emerging genera called HopePunk, so there’s clearly a market for this kind of contrast.

Instead of leading that charge, it’s become a lot like every other sci fi property on the market, and I’m not sure who exactly this show is for, and I’m not sure what it does that everyone else isn’t doing better.

Cleaning the office, Day 4

So it should come as no shock to anyone that I organize my life as a series of book cases, and sitting on top of this one was pile of cardboard pawns that I use for Dungeons and Dragons. Again, I had to wreck the room to get all of these either back in the boxes they go in or into a plastic bin that I used while I’m DM’ing for quick reveal.

This took longer than I hoped but not a long as I thought. And now we have this:

You’d think I’d be done, but this may never end.

30 Days plus one

I jumped into the SiteLeaf account to write about running this site for a month and posting every day. Turns out that was yesterday.

That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how things have been going, but it’s my blog damn it and I can be a long winded as I want.

Posting every day really hasn’t been that big of a deal and I’ve found that I’ve been able to fold it into my time fairly easily. When I go to write, I don’t dread it as I’ve done with other “blogging challenges.”

I put that in quotes because back in the day I used to give my self challenges to write every day for a month. I would make a big deal of it and I would write a review of each week during the challenge. And it was always a slog. In fact, I only finished one of those challenges once.

I thought the reason for this was that I was lazy. Turns out that was wrong. The fact that I wouldn’t write much on the blog was that I was building it up in my mind too much. It had to be too perfect. On my old blog, I was writing what I hoped were full articles and not simple posts. (These are very different in my mind. One is much more formal while the other is a simple update that you could see on any social media service.)

What I’m trying to do with this site is a simple sketch pad for me be play with ideas in a public space and to be a signaling system for what I’m working on each day. That every simple mission statement takes a lot of pressure off of me to be perfect and allows be the freedom to just get on with it.

I look forward to updating this site and have done some multiple times in a day, which was unthinkable on my last blog. This, to me, is the purest expression of what blogging is: personal updates about what’s happening in a persons life right now. Writing online should be about freedom and not a dreaded chore.

Because of that, I think I’ve actually written a few posts that are of some interest and would have had a place at my old blog, but I have been posting them at a higher frequency than I ever did on my other site.

This all said, I’ve written enough of these self-congratulatory posts to fear what comes next: the months long silence followed by the “it’s been a while” post. Somehow I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that this time, but we’ll see. All I can do is open this window again, sooner rather than later, and start typing. No pressure.

Cleaning the office, Day 3 Part 2

Operation: Oh-Shit-I-Need-To-Clean-The-Floor seems to have gone well. The comics are now in storage and I have a lot more space in the office closet. For what? Fuck knows, that’s not my job right now.

I’m just trying to clean up this space so it isn’t depressing to be in here and do some actual work. More on the actual work at a later date.

Cleaning the office, Day 2

I’ve reached the stage where I’ve moved a lot of the standing clutter out but it looks like I’ve changed nothing because it was all in out of the way places. In fact, there are a few boxes floating around here that weren’t here before. Moral is low, and enthusiasm is starting to run out.

Will have to move onto shear willpower from here on out. We’ll see how this plays out. Pretty tired right now, and my back is starting to bother me. Probably going to throw on some youtube and see if I can start taking care of the Warhammer 40k and arts and crafts shelf. (Yes, I know those two things probably shouldn’t be lumped together, but you now see why I had to go through this exercise.

Blank sheets of paper

Finally broke down and cleaned the desk for the first time in a while. Now it’s a blank sheet of paper waiting for me to mess up again.

I’ll take some pictures of it once I consider it to be finished. But we aren’t there yet. I’m thinking about moving some of the desk furniture around because – well – I do have the time.

Opened the screaming depression factory that is Facebook and regretted it immediately. To be fair, this isn’t a recent development on that site. I believe it turned into a place where we communicate to each other over how helpless we feel long ago.

So what I’m saying is that opening it is on me at this point. I should know better.

Voyager re-watch, Part 2

Star Trek Voyager is trying to melt my brain with its uneven storytelling. I keep falling in love with these characters only to have their arcs not followed up on or dealt with in award ways: such as the Doctor being asked to make himself sick so that he can have more empathy five episodes AFTER a story where he was in extreme pain and thought he was dying.

I watched Voyager when it first came out and I was excited to get back into space exploration after being disappointed with Deep Space Nine. (However, DS9 has since become my favorite of the Trek shows.) But after the middle or so of season three, I stopped watching it because the show seemed like it was focusing on the wrong characters (i.e. the Doctor) and it retreading a lot of old ground. (the Borg hadn’t shown up yet, but it felt like something like that was coming.)

So this is only sort of a re-watch as I have more than half the series that I’ve never seen, and what I have seen I’ve forgotten due to being in my early teens.

What I did like about the show, I like more, and what I didn’t like, I hate even more because now I have the language to actually express it.

All this said, there’s an episode in season 2 called Death Wish, which I think has not only become my favorite single episode of Star Trek, but the episode I’ll show people that has everything in it that makes Star Trek great.