stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (Default)
At a write-in with [ profile] parlance right now, and have a decent amount of plot and structure worked out for the 30K novel that I intend to complete before NaNo. It's called 1000 Butterflies: a serial killer stalks the city's transient refugee population, burying his victims in shallow graves and enacting elaborate funerals. I've been looking for an interesting crime to make or break the first novel, and was surprised to be inspired by Friendly Fires's samba-tinged "Kiss of Life". The combination of dreamy lyrics and high energy beats meshes so well with the tropical and steamy setting of the novel, and has me excited to start writing once I have the rest of the pieces of the puzzle (the weapon and the forensics). Ever get a good song that just clicks with your vision?

As much as I love, love the song the video suffers from White Boy Dancing™. I'm not saying that derogatorily because in this case I am quickly finding it endearing, but I'm also cringing at the awkward gap between the Rick Astley dancing and the song's rhythm. And I'm going to have assign blame to the director for the slo-mo head-bopping scenes. AWKWARD.
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (Default)
I don't know why I'm only owning up to this now but writing -- the thought/the act itself -- is scaring me shitless.

Cause: Around 2.30am, finished reading a damn good series of fanfic. Hated the characters yet sympathised, all the while envying like mad the way the author skillfully built them up and tore them down to expose their freaky little lives.

Result: Type. Delete. Type. Pause. Delete. If I were doing it longhand there would be deep slashes in the pages where I've twisted the pen into my words and destroyed their existence.
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (facepalm)
And dearie me, I can't believe what I managed last year. It is unbelievably, laughably bad. I'm reading the first three chapters (ten more to go, whee!) and so far:

a) named the victim Jaime Reyes, after DC's new Blue Beetle (apparently this was the best I could come up with late at night)

b) dressed up one of the main characters as Denny Colt aka The Spirit, minus gloves and mask

c) stuffed in random reference to Clark Kent x5 (there's more I suspect)

d) overused 30s style slang (G-man, I kid you not)

e) named the killer after a long-ago classmate

Still, there are bright spots. I especially liked how consistent I made the language distinction between the city slickers and the islanders -- Perkins (islander) has the speech pattern of northern England accents, Mack (city) sounds middle-American with a bit of posh Brit slang thrown in. And it all makes me laugh, which is good right?

My favourite passage under the cut )

Hehe. But crap, I can't think of what to write this year. I was thinking of restarting on what I had for Janowrimo because it was so much fun to write (here) but I'm afraid everything I touch turns to aaaangst. Kinda like what's happening with Sean McKeever and the Teen Titans. Zing! I better get moving though -- 25 days to go!
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (giornalista)
From The Times Online: Book piracy on the internet will ultimately drive authors to stop writing unless radical methods are devised to compensate them for lost sales. This is the bleak forecast of the Society of Authors, which represents more than 8,500 professional writers in the UK and believes that the havoc caused to the music business by illegal downloading is beginning to envelop the book trade.

Obviously people will continue to write and push for their works to be published. However the authors in this case are the established professional writers such as the chairperson of Society of Authors, Tracy Chevalier. It seems Chevalier means to warn us the latent book piracy on the net will result in a possible loss of output by writers because they are not being compensated for the illegal trade in their copyrighted material. Again, output by established writers.

But to suggest people will stop writing because anyone can lift off a page of their published work online is really stupid. A confession: years after the second Harry Potter film, I decided to pick up the first book. Because our university library did not have a copy and no one else in the dorm did either, I downloaded a pdf off Morpheus. Although reading it in one go on a crummy screen gave me a headache, I was glad I did so. Why? Because that weekend I went out and bought all four HP books available at the time.

Chevalier says the book industry will become like the music industry, hobbled by outright theft online. Is the internet such a big threat to writers? As I'm not a published author, I'm not sure. Several of my favourite food writers post their recipes or sections from their book on blogs or other sites. Then there are those whose food blogs have been turned into cookbooks. Yes, there are torrents of their books online. Yes, I'm sure people download them. But I'm sure the majority of the readership continue to buy physical copies.

The question could be posed to other parts of the publishing industry, like comic books and manga. It is very easy to download scanlated (scan and translated) manga off numerous sites and doesn't cost a penny. Buying it in a store is about $10 a volume. There are loads of .cbr torrents of various comic books as well. A single issue can cost up to $5 nowadays. The decision for consumers is easy, isn't it? Well... it's the same thing with my HP example. Many download the scans, but a significant few then buys a physical copy.Then there is the compliance of the fans: when a manga title is newly licensed in the US, many fan sites will take down their scanlations and urge their readers to buy the title instead. [community profile] scans_daily is a good example of fans uploading significant portions (less than 11 pages an issue) of a copyrighted work in order to garner interest. And I've dropped a pretty penny since watching the community as it introduces me to loads of works I would have otherwise missed.

Despite this, has anyone outright given up? Have mangakas, with all the doujinshi (published fan work) decide the piracy is enough to make them give up their craft? I doubt it. It may make them even more wary and increase copyright protection for their works, like JK Rowling's lawsuit over a fan site trying to publish it's unofficial copy of HP references.

As a commenter at The Times article says, perhaps the digital revolution will result in greater quality instead of quantity. Post a couple of chapters of a new novel online. If the punters like it, they'll buy a copy in store or maybe download it in its entirety. The pay structure will have to be tweaked: the author may only be paid per downloads, or per copy. It sucks, but it'll certainly mean in a more streamlined process. The ones that don't do well will have avoided the waste of many unsold copies. This scenario's already in play with where you can set the price for your labour of love.

I've never bought a book from, though. I think I still suffer from the bias that self-publishing is somehow inferior from the established publishing houses. But the more mainstream self-publishing gets, I'm sure that view will soon disappear. Would I mind then if my own work is available for free download? Hey, if it means someone actually bought a copy in the first place, I'd be happy and mildly annoyed.
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (script frenzy)
For Day 1 I've written the first three scenes. Yesterday, I wrote an additional two scenes. I won't be posting the last two, so don't worry :)

Reading over the most recent scenes, I'm a bit embarrassed. Well, no. Embarrassed is not the right word. Chastened? The whole point of writing the scenes out in prose is to help sketch out how it will turn out in script form, thus the emphasis on showing rather than telling in the first batch of scenes.

Yesterday's two scenes were supposed to be quick and easy: scene 4, office, scene 5, Sal's Diner. Onscreen it would take no more than 5 minutes. But I couldn't help playing with the protagonist and dipped back into writing as if it were a novel. Now, changing perspectives is a big peeve of mine; I'm justifying it by saying it gives me a chance to figure out my characters better. From what I've written so far, the protagonist is quite put upon. He gets flack from everyone, even some waitress at a diner. He's young, lonely, and unfortunately for him, I've written him as a dork. Write what you know, eh?

I hope this won't cause me much trouble later on, especially when the darker themes of the story emerge. The protagonist has a painful past that doesn't seem to square with his current characterisation, and I worry his actions later on may not ring true. Ah well. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Right now I'm concentrating on The Girl. You know, the femme fatales in these type of stories. I've originally sketched her performance as a stereotypical frightened young woman, who's looking for a big strong man to protect her -- naturally this is a ruse, because all the women who play this game turn out to be cold-blooded blackmailers or worse, killers. But she has to be believable and she has to be sympathetic. I want the protagonist to know trusting her is a mistake, but he does so anyway because he can't resist so (due to her background, or whatever in her personality).

Okay, I'm off to write some more. Wish me luck!
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (batman laughs)
Ed Reardon's back on Radio 4! Granted, it's a repeat of the last series but I'll take 'em however they're dealt.

I'm sure my English prof would be horrified to learn I've switched my idolation to a grumpy fictionalised freeloading writer who rails against the 12-year olds of the world and never seems to catch a break. He was similarly distressed when I told him I wanted to be just like Hemingway, asking why I couldn't be the normal sort of writer who actually writes instead of boozing away money. The answer: because I am a lazy procrastinator who spends more time talking about writing than actually doing it.

Speaking of which, planning for script frenzy is going well. Sometime last week I sent an anguished e-mail to Sal, trying to figure out why I couldn't write female characters and blurting out other neuroses the poor girl wasn't equipped to assist. After a long session of mind slapping, I got over it and now have pages and pages of actually sentences. *punches air* Awesome!

Every time I try to enter the notes into the script program, I can't be trusted to finish the work. Bloody internets distracting me. Therefore I'm on the lookout for a better writing apparatus than the pen and book I have right now. There's something satisfying about scritching on paper, but I'm running out of pages. Here's what I have right now:

Paperchase is excellent. They're available at Borders stores and otherwise are available through their Amazon UK page. What I like is the texture of the brown, unlined notebook paper as well as the size and the heft of the book. But if I'm going to use paper to create the scenes instead of the computer program, I'm thinking of going bigger. More disposable. Like a regular lined 3-hole notebook. Unsexy, but probably more practical.

Back in the good old days, Sal cut an A4 notebook into thirds for our scribbles. Then we moved to spiral bound notebooks. The paper quality of those suck, though. No matter how careful you were, the ink bled into the page and the lines were plain ugly. Ah, maybe I'm overthinking it too much. But you got to admit... the page of nonsense up there looks important on the good paper. I actually feel like a genuine writer whipping that baby out to jot down something.
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (champ)
Just walked in through the door, still huffing and puffing from the freezing uphill run to the house. Had one heck of a busy day today. I wasn't even thinking of going out  - Hollywood was too far to go for a protest and I really hated the traffic getting there. Then late last night I was browsing [ profile] scans_daily when someone mentioned Newsrama (ie news for comics website) was reporting from Wizard World LA. Wha-? A comics convention in my own city and I didn't know?

Holy crap, thought I, as I scrambled to look up the transit maps and make it to the show. I know. War protest = no. Comics convention = yes.

To be honest, I do want to be involved in the comics industry somehow AND I told Sal I would help her find out ways to break in for internships and such. Plus I thought it might help me be motivated for Script Frenzy, listening to writers and their work. Politics, however, is one of those things I can talk about but am wary of entering. Horrible, yes, and one day I'll explain. But let's glide over that for now.

The very good stuff of Wizard World LA on Saturday )
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (script frenzy)
Oh shit. What have I gotten myself into? 
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (sleepy)
Woo! A Flash Fiction contest recently posted at [profile] nanoljers. Worth $10 for the winning entry. The rules state said entry has to be up to 1000 words and pertaining to the theme of 'coming of age'. Deadline is 24 March 2008. Sounds like a great incentive to get started. I had spent 30 minutes yesterday plotting something new, but that was a failure once I read the latest issue of Nightwing. *sigh*  That's what I get for putting off readings comics on Wednesdays >___<

Speaking of comics, I've been spending entirely too much time immersed in them. Yesterday someone asked me what's the last novel I read and I was embarrassed to admit I couldn't remember. The last book I read was the tpb of Batman & the Red Hood arc, but does that count? I guess not. So looking around at my bookshelf and the disorganised room, I have to say I don't read novels at all. This is probably the result of my time at the boarding school, where our library carried dusty old Tom Clancy/Stephen King paperbacks and the soft smut books of Sidney Sheldon.

Hey, funny anecdote time. When I volunteered at a Catholic Church-supported cancer hospital, they had a bunch of Sheldon paperbooks in their library. And I noticed quite of a few of the names in the 'borrower' column were the same as the nuns I had met. Hmmm...

stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (aw no)
Bloody hell, Clinton's got some fight left in her. The bloody cheek of the woman, saying she'd agree to have Obama as her VP candidate. Still you have to admit, it's pretty gutsy :D

An e-mail from my boss came in today. It's pretty much over. HR won't rehire me and I'm left out to dry. Although, and Boss couldn't guarantee, I may be transferred to Hong Kong or Tokyo. *sigh* Whatever, I've pretty much given up hope of returning to the company. It's looking more and more likely I'm going to have to leave the US this summer.

Anyway, I'm working on writing something right now. It's pretty much messed up my schedule on Google Calendar, but damn if it isn't fun. Here's hoping I can actually do it, because writing fanfic is nerve wracking.

That is all. Hi [personal profile] romanyg!
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (well)
Ever get into a beastly foul mood you know nothing will cure you? The weekend was very much like that. I was hoping to talk to Sal and pour my heart out, but she never came online. I later found out someone called in a gunman threat at her college on Friday and had the entire place in lockdown - she spent a very nervous day waiting outside the school to make sure everyone she knew was safe.

The insurance never called me back either and pretty soon the worry started eating up inside of me. The stress of not knowing whether work will take a chance on me (unlikely) and trying to come up with the money to fix the car was too much. So I headed back for some 'time travel'.

Time-travel is my term for when during my battles for depression, I'd just close my eyes and sleep my time away. It's a way of hiding from the world and cocoon myself in a man-made safe place. Of course, it worsens the time it takes for the depression but can be quite comforting. 'Time-travel' didn't work this time, however, so I chewed at my bottom lip angrily and tried my best to find some other way to occupy the time. It took plenty of sighing and kicking things before I started the computer and decided to work.

During a grueling session of self-editing with 'Self-Editing For Fiction Writers', Mediamonkey played a classic that lifted my spirits immediately. Thank god for the Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby! Seriously, if you can't listen to it without a smile, you my friend, are one cold fish. It works so well that I've started singing the chorus whenever I get too stressed or down in the dumps. (Full track here)

The result? A Dear John letter exercise posted to [profile] nanoljers that starts "Dear Miss Piggy"

stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (NaNoWriMo 07)
Last night was yet another bi-monthly get-Kiley-drunk night, this time at TGIF. Ew, normally I wouldn't step inside the grotty place but friend had a mysterious assignment to review one TGIF in particular. And the assignment included one of us imbibing alcohol. Since said friend is allergic to alcohol (yes, really), I bravely took on that task. Alas, such sacrifice precludes some sort of nasty cost and that turned out to be mentioning NaNoWriMo to friend. Once she heard that I was making an attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days without any profit in mind, she proclaimed me crazy and the whole enterprise a waste of time, then ordered more nachos. End of story. Burn!

Later she hastily explained the nano thing was too far out for her and that if I thought it fun I should go ahead. It makes sense that she immediately diss the whole thing, because said friend works in the industry (in LA, it's kinda obvious what this means) and time shouldn't be squandered for things that aren't going to help pay the bills. I did find that quite cynical, but have to admit a few months ago I would have thought the same thing. The standard of living is steep in LA, and our wages (particularly at entry-level) are too little to compensate for food, transportation, clothing etc. Thus my mum working two jobs, my friend taking on freelance jobs, and any number of friends/colleagues we know living with parents. At the same time, it's such a hollow life if we can't even take a break from the rat-race to do something that's out of the ordinary. I guess some people have their yoga, and for November I have nano.

It's day 3 and I am still upbeat about nano. Serious. I make no bones about how rubbish the writing is, with its inaccuracies, cliches, stereotypes. The main character I had in mind has been relegated to the backup. Instead, I have a grumpy bloke I know nothing about and a plot I am making up as I go along. It absolutely makes me laugh. But it is a fantastic thing, writing just for writing. I have no idea how I did it, but I was able to banish the evil inner editor who had disrupted my flow of writing for years and years. It's a euphoric thing, conquering that little voice in the back on my mind criticising my prose, belitting my ability to write. Dare I say it, writing has become a natural high.

I really hope this lasts, not just for the month of November, but the rest of my life. I'm absolutely aware I have a lot of work ahead if I want to fully complete the novel. There's the re-writes, picking out which scene should stay or go, and even just picking up a POV for the chapters. And I'm actually having fun. FUN! OMG! Bless Chris Baty for reintroducing that which I thought I would never have again :)



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