Look, Just Because I Mentioned Lemons In the Title of One Post–ONE POST!–Doesn’t Mean I Want a Metric Ton of Them Dumped On My Lawn, Okay?

I knew better than to setting up a schedule.

I.

Knew.

Better.

This time it wasn’t my fault.  Completely.  This time I lost internet access.  And phone access.  For two days.

Two whole days.

If we could have some how harness the power generated by me clicking the Chrome button, then saying, “Internet’s out, stupid!” I’m sure we could reach Mars in a day.

So what did Mr. Waters do in his unintended vacation from the wonderful wonderful web?

I made lemonade.

Not literally.  But I would have, had I thought of it.

First off, I cleaned up my Devil Box desktop.  Condensed it down to a few links, then made icons for each link:

my-devil-box-desktop-000

I like making icons.  Really like it.  I made icons for a ton of folders.  Hopefully this will make things easier to find.

Also?  I went through my writing stuff and organized that too.  Found a few short stories that seem worthy of posting.  Maybe tomorrow.

This inspired me to look at some old backup disks and, more importantly, make a new one.

Last one I made was in August of last year.  Ie yi yi.

I hope I spelled that last bit right.

To go back to icons, working on then inspired me to revamp the feature images of the sister site.  This was a little hard to do, as it involves access to the internet to do.  But I think it’ll improve things.  But I want it 100% ready to carry out before starting to change things.  So expect that… Probably never.  Who knows?  Projects and me are like schedules: we don’t always follow through.

I’m working on that.

Speaking of projects, I also progressed with Goblinstomper!  I’m actually quite happy with the game so far.  In fact, I have maybe one more map to do before I’m finished with the ruins.  Then a final cut scene and I’ll be done with the first stage of the proceedings.  We’ll talk about that Friday, as well as brush upon how I’m insane and probably shouldn’t be working on a game like this.

It’ll be fun!

I also played a few video games.  But I do that every day.

What didn’t get done was any work on writing any novel.  However, I had several nifty ideas.  I even used RPG Maker’s character designer to work on character appearances, thus getting to see some of my characters’ faces for the first time.

Kinda neat, that.

Anyways, that’s my week so far.  Hopefully the rest of the week will be a little less… lemony…

Keeping a Schedule Attempt #1756

Another day, another lack of anything to say.  This, as experience has taught, leads to long blog silences.  Rather than do that, I thought maybe I’d plan out my week.  Working on another life style change, don’t you know.

It’s not a big list, but this is what I’m planning:

  • Monday’s a new Cullen Reads?  Which isn’t me asking you about it; that’s the title.  I intend to talk about Costigan’s Needle, a Science Fiction novel by Jerry Sohl.  It won’t be in-depth, but there will be spoilers, including the ending (which is the part I really want to talk about.)
  • Tuesday I’d like to do another Walking the Outline.  Things haven’t been moving forward with the other outlines like I’d hoped.  Maybe a deadline will help.  Or not.  we shall see.
  • Wednesday and Thursday I’m leaving open.
  • Friday and Saturday are Goblinstomper! Development Diary days.  Though Saturday will be a joke entry; it’ll be entry XXX, and if there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s an incredibly obvious joke.

The schedule is, of course, subject to change. Especially if something comes up in the meantime.

More Stuff You Never See Happen to Power Girl

super-girl-000

A cover is the first thing anyone sees of a book, comic or otherwise.  It’s supposed to draw the reader in, make them want to buy the book.

The only way this cover works, if it works at all, is that this is somebody’s effort to draw in the all important Romance Comic (RC) crowd to the title.  “Oh, poor Supergirl!  However will she cope?  Will she find love?  Who’s kitten is that?”

Or something like that.

Look, I don’t know what RC fans look for in a comic.  I’m a Horror Comic guy.  No severed head, no dangling corpse, pass.  Let’s go see what Little Lulu is doing this week.  That’s me.

Anyways, they’re drawing the RC reader, the reader has the comic in hand, and he/she looks down and sees that title.  The Garden of Death.

Which is a great title.  Don’t get me wrong.  But it really doesn’t fit the cover.  At all.

Who’s kitten is that, anyways?  Is that Streaky, the Supercat in his mild manner disguise?

I’m trying to come up with something (allegedly) funny for Zatanna, but I’m coming up blank.  Outside of the backwards talk for spell casting, I’ve got nothing on her.  Not even interest.

Whatever her “surprise feature” is, it has to be better than this cover.  Gads.  Dull.

Well There Went THAT Idea

I was climbing up into bed last night when I suddenly realized I hadn’t posted anything here.  As my bed time is midnight and I usually stay up a little past, this proved to be a problematic insight.

Oops.  There goes the every post in February thing.  Oh well.  Good thing I don’t get paid for these things.

On the outline front, I have another partial completed, one I like quite a bit.  I now need at least one more before moving from this here Stage Two to that there Stage Three.

On the review front, I’ve looked at the Godzilla box but have yet to watch the film.  A fact I find depressing.

However! I intend a new feature here at this blog called Cullen Reads?  in which I review a book, short story, whatever ever week.  I hope to have one up every Monday, which means I’ll be posting again later today.  Unless I forget.  In which case the first one will go up next week.  Unless I forget again.

Finally, to make this post have a nice, warm, fuzzy feel, here’s a picture of Power Girl considering causing a great deal of pain to someone who probably deserves it.

power-girl-harley-quinn-000

4,704

No series posts today.  After I finished yesterday’s post I worked on three potential outlines, finishing only two and only having a good (hell, GREAT) feeling about one.  Today I’m either watching the original Godzilla for the Sister Site or working on Goblinstomper!  There might be more work on outlines, too, I won’t rule that out.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

Yesterday I pumped out close to five thousand words.

That’s including yesterday’s post, but not anything by good ole Lester Dent.

Not sure how to feel about that.

It’s almost a fourth of what I’d need for the Three Day Novel, so it’s a disappointment in that regard.

But the positives all out way that.

This means that, by rights, I should be able to crank out a novel in two weeks. Small caveat and reminder: That’s 4704 words on four separate projects.  Different stories, different thoughts.

It’s still suggestive.

The GREAT outline was sort of like the Tailor, Brave and True one in that I wrote it in a white heat of beautiful creative energy.  It was an idea that I’d tried outlining before (and had some success with), which, to me, says that if I’m familiar enough with the material, I can do the dance.  I can create.  I’ll be fine.

Now if it comes up, speed ≠ quality.  It doesn’t mean racing through is producing crap, either.  What it is producing it material to be refined.  It’s giving me something I can work on.  Something I can improve upon.

Something I can actually see published one day.

I’m rather excited about this.

Working the Outline (III): Letting Dent Be My Guide

From Jim Butcher we move to another writer entirely: Lester Dent.

Saying that name might earn a blank look.  Dent was a pulp writer during the early parts of the previous century.  Among the many, many works he created (well over 150, according to Wikipedia) was one of the most influential characters of all time: Doc Savage.  Supposedly he wrote 200,000 words in a month.  So when you’re in a dead hurry to writer a novel (which, frankly, I am), there are worst people to turn to.

Dent at one point wrote his own “How To” on writing.  It’s this work we’ll be leaning on for the next step of our outline journey.

Before that, though, let us look at where we left off yesterday with Tailor, Brave and True.  This is our Story Skeleton, the two sentence outline we have now:

When a misunderstanding puts him in the role of the kingdom’s protector, a “brave” Tailor struggles to fulfill the role as best he can.  But will he succeed when he has to face down savage monsters, cunning murderers, an irate Princess, and the ruthless Ogre behind them all?

Now we turn to Dent for advice on advancement.  We’re just going to use the meaty bits and leave his examples where they are:

Here’s how it starts:

  1. A DIFFERENT MURDER METHOD FOR VILLAIN TO USE
  2. A DIFFERENT THING FOR VILLAIN TO BE SEEKING
  3. A DIFFERENT LOCALE
  4. A MENACE WHICH IS TO HANG LIKE A CLOUD OVER HERO

One of these DIFFERENT things would be nice, two better, three swell. It may help if they are fully in mind before tackling the rest.

Okay then.  Where does that leave me?

#4 is a snap.  Our brave Tailor finds himself put into a dangerous situation.  He has to do something that he’s not equipped to do.  During the course of the story, the more he tries to extract himself from the situation (one of his own making, remember) the worse things get.

Now what about the other three?  Where does that put our Ogre?

#1 doesn’t seem that practical right now.  I’m not writing a mystery or a thriller; I’m writing a comedic adventure.  If I can think of something along these lines to add, righteous.  Otherwise, it’s getting tabled for now.

Same holds true for #3.  This is a bog-standard fairy tale/Fantasy setting of a quasi-medieval kingdom.  I suppose I could finesse it some how, but right now it’s easier just to leave things be.

That gives me #2.  The different thing for the villain to be seeking.  Not the other #2.

Cheap humor from a man with little coin to spend.

Anyway.

Looking at our antagonist, what do we have?  According to Wikipedia, which is never EVER wrong, an Ogre is “often depicted as inhumanly large and tall and having a disproportionately large head, abundant hair, unusually colored skin, a voracious appetite, and a strong body.”  They tend to be smarter than regular Giants (or at least as smart as villains tend to be in Fairy Tales.)  They also tend more towards made (the one in Hop-o’-My-Thumb has seven-league boots, while the one in Puss in Boots can shape-shift.)

So how about this.  This Ogre, he’s also a Sorcerer.  He makes monsters.  These monsters he’s using to threaten the kingdom.  What does he want from the kingdom?  Nothing less than the princess for dinner, literally.  He’d never eat Royalty and wants to see if they taste any different than the regular people he normally eats.

This sort of conflicts with a part of the Story Skeleton–I seem to imply that the Princess abets the Ogre–but maybe not.  Even if it does, what does that matter?  Things change.  Nothing is set in stone.

And maybe we can cover #1 here after all.  This Ogre makes strange monsters.  Giant Wasps with kitten heads, puppies with tentacles, combinations that don’t really make a lot of sense but are lethal

There we go.  Three out of four.  What’s next, Dent, what’s next?

Here’s the second installment of the master plot.

Divide the 6000 word yarn into four 1500 word parts.

We’re stopping here a second.  Dent’s talking about writing short stories, i’mdoing a novel.  So I’m expanding on this by one zero.  So instead of finishing at 6,000 words I’m doing 60,000 words.  Thus I’m looking at four 15,000 parts.

This was how noted Fantasy writer Michael Moorcock handled it.  I’m sure it’ll work fine for me.

And if I do a novel in three days, as intended, that means 20,000 words a day to hit 60,000.

Not insane at all.

Yep.

To continue (remember to add the zero):

FIRST 1500 WORDS

  1. First line, or as near thereto as possible, introduce the hero and swat him with a fistful of trouble. Hint at a mystery, a menace or a problem to be solved–something the hero has to cope with.
  2. The hero pitches in to cope with his fistful of trouble. (He tries to fathom the mystery, defeat the menace, or solve the problem.)
  3. Introduce ALL the other characters as soon as possible. Bring them on in action.
  4. Hero’s endevours land him in an actual physical conflict near the end of the first 1500 words.
  5. Near the end of first 1500 words, there is a complete surprise twist in the plot development.

 As I’ve been working on this post, I’ve been thinking about how to handle this part.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

The other day the Tailor did something he found amazing.  He accidentally uncovered a wasp nest at his shop and while dealing with the angry insects managed to kill all seven of them with one swing of a ruler (the only weapon he had on hand).  Rather pleased with himself, he goes out that night and gets plastered at the local pub.  

During the course of this, he brags about killing seven with one blow.  And maybe the size of the wasps gets exaggerated a bit.  Okay, it gets exaggerated a lot.

Next morning, he finds out he’s volunteered to head out and kill some monstrous wasps located in the woods.  This is not good.  But the tailor feels he has to go.  He’s a man of his word, his oath is his bond.  Besides, the man he agreed to do the job for happens to be the local Baron, a man you simply didn’t want to cross.  Maybe even more than giant insects.

The Baron, it should be said, doesn’t expect the Tailor to live through the experience.  In theory he’s supposed to send men out to deal with the threat himself, only he doesn’t want to lose said men.  This way, when the Tailor fails, he can say he did the best he could (sent out a great Hero, even) and call for the King to send out some Knights or something.

To further hedge his bet (and to make it look like he’s giving his all to help), the Baron gives the Tailor a little helper in the form of a recently caught Thief.  The two are armed with really big sticks (not even pointy) and sent out into the forest to meet their destiny.

 A couple points here.

Point #1: The above is all back story.  Little of it if any gets directly told.  I’m thinking maybe being placed in front of the Baron.  Maybe not.

In any case, I’m just setting up a place to put my feet.  I noticed doing NaNoWriMo that I sometimes take too long to get to the point.  For instance, last year’s attempt, the main character had no idea anything was going on as the novel moved towards the halfway point.  The reader knew, and depending on the story that’s enough.  In an adventure, it makes the Protagonist look a little unaware.  And inactive.

Point #2: You might also be curious about the addition of the Thief.  The twin sources I sited yesterday have no such character.  What gives?

Another of the things I noticed while doing NaNoWriMo is that I tend to keep my protagonists solitary far, far too long.  The Thief gives the Tailor someone to talk to.  Some one to bounce ideas off of.  Not to mention give back story to.

That said, here’s the plot proper:

The Tailor and the Thief wander the woods for a while until they find the wasp nest.  As it’s dusk, they figure most if not all the wasps are in the nest.  All they need do is plug the entrance, cut the nest free of the tree, then set the thing alight.  Simple, right?

Only as they near the nest, a little head pops out the entrance.  It’s a kitten.

The Tailor is startle by this–what is a kitten doing there?–but the Thief immediately wants to kill the thing.  This proves the wise course, as on seeing the two, an evil cast comes over the kitten’s face.  It gives a strange, almost buzzing cry, then starts coming out of the nest.

It’s a Giant Wasp with a kitten’s head.

A fight ensues.  The first Kitten Wasp manages to escape, but as the Tailor deals with it, the Thief manages to kill the next one as it tries joining the fray, blocking the entrance and containing its now furious comrades.  A third one, who hadn’t returned to the nest, attacks, and before being killed stings the Thief, putting him out of action.

Now by himself, the Tailor knocks the nest from the tree and sets fire to it.  Whenever he sees anything remotely feline or insectlike, he strikes it.  Finally the nest grows quiet and the battle done.

Which is just as well, as the Thief isn’t weathering the wasp poison well.  The Tailor gathers his comrade up and manages to return to town to find help.  It’s touch and go for a while, but the local healer manages to save the Thief’s life.  It’s also at this point that the Tailor learns the Thief is a she and not a he.

Far as the Tailor is concerned, this is the end of it.  He’s done his part and kept his word.  Back to hemming up pants.

Only the next day (or thereabout) a group of Knights come.  The King requests the pleasure of his company.  Now.

Without much say in the matter, the Tailor heads off with the Knights.

At the palace, the King lays things out like this.  He needs his best Knight (call him the Paladin) for a special task.  The Paladin is located off in the boonies somewhere, with horrible monstrosities in the way.  The only person the King feels can be trusted with the mission is the man who killed seven Giants in one blow.

Say what?  Well, the story’s been exaggerated yet again, this time dropping the wasp portion of things.

The Tailor really wants to correct this misunderstanding.  He also wants to gracefully bow out of the task.  Before he can, though, he’s introduced to the last person that disappointed the King so.  Or, at least, the sole bit of that person.  The rest has been quartered and buried in disagreeable parts of the Kingdom.

Yikes.

Before the Tailor leaves, a young woman accosts him.  This is the Baroness (no relation to the Baron earlier).  She’s a friend of the Princess and she’s just appalled by the Tailor coming in here under such patently false pretenses.   She tells the Tailor flat out that while he’s fooled the King and the Princess, she isn’t fooled, and she’s going to prove to them that he’s a fraud, not a hero. So there.

What can be said to that?  The Tailor wishes the Baroness well, then heads off to find the Paladin.

Not far down the path, a strange man comes up to the Tailor, asking for help.  Being familiar with fairy tales and magic helpers appearing along the path, the Tailor is more than willing to ablige.  Right up until he finds out what the man wants help with is the Tailor’s sudden, painful demise.

Also?  The man has crab claws for hands.  Just as a point of information

Anyways, the Crabssassin (he’s got to have a name) does his best to kill the Tailor.  During the struggle, the Thief makes her presence known.  She wants to pay the Tailor back for saving her life (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more).  This she doesn’t quite do, but facing two foes is a bit much for the Crabkiller (a better name will come, right?) and he splits the scene.

This was an odd thing to happen, but a coincidence, right?  After all, there are going to be monsters on the trip.  That was just one of them.

Right?

 And that’s where I’m going to end this installment.  How do I stand, with Dent in mind?

The trouble I’ve come up with for the Tailor–the weird wasps–gets dealt with right away, but as I implied earlier, it’s connected with the Ogre.  So too is the man with claws.  More oddities will pop up as the story proceeds.

By this point I have my other characters in play.  We have the Tailor and his boon companion, the Thief.  While the Ogre isn’t mentioned, his hand’s at work, too.  Then we have the King, who while not the real threat is threatening our Heroes, and the Baroness poised to either add a threat or add help later in the story.  Mentioned but not directly involved are the Princess and the Paladin.  The latter, at least, will pop up in part two.

Not sure about the surprise twist.  Crabstalker (seriously?) might cover it (why are our Heroes being targeted for death?) as might the Baroness’s quest to expose them.  I’m going to label that close enough for right now.

Tomorrow (maybe) we’ll continue on with part two, maybe part three, depending on how the words go.  For the rest of my day, though, I’m writing more little essays like this for myself, trying to kick start a few more essays.  Not only that, I want to see how many words I can squeeze out of my little gray cells.  A full accounting will be given tomorrow no matter what else I go with.

For the record, this post was 2,172 words long, including this sentence and excluding anything Lester Dent wrote.

Walking the Outline (II): Story Skeletons

Speaking of paranoia, there’s nothing like the feeling of someone you’ve never heard of before liking your post the moment you put it up.

Anyway.  Today’s bit of fun.

Jim Butcher, writer of the Dresden Files among other works, once did a series of LiveJournal posts detailing how he went about writing his stuff.  One of the parts to this process deals with something called a Story Skeleton, which in two sentences (a statement and a question) you describe the plot of your novel.  Specifically, you fill out the following in the proper places:

*WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. But will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?

Butcher gives an example of this, using his own novel, Storm Front:

When a series of grisly supernatural murders tears through Chicago, wizard Harry Dresden sets out to find the killer. But will he succeed when he finds himself pitted against a dark wizard, a Warden of the White Council, a vicious gang war, and the Chicago Police Department?

Here’s another one, based on a novel you’ve probably never heard of:

When a Wizard comes a calling one evening, Bilbo Baggins finds himself volunteering to do a bit of stealing for a band of Dwarves.  But while he succeed when faced against a Goblin army, hordes of spiders, irritable Elves, and one very nasty Dragon?

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this idea put forth.  Book in a Month suggests something similar, but with a single sentence describing the plot.  I prefer Butcher’s Story Skeleton, though, because of that second sentence.  It poses a question, a conflict that must be faced, and that’s at the heart of all good fiction.

That, and I’m a wordy cuss.

Tailor, Brave and True

brave-tailor-000The Brave Little Tailor, the fairy tale I’m basing the site novel on, is about this tailor (shocking, I know) who does the unimaginable: he kills  seven flies with one blow.  So excited was he about this that he made himself a belt proclaiming this.  From there he kept meeting people and monsters much dumber than himself until finally he ends up with the preordained half kingdom and less than thrilled princess for a wife.

In essence, he’s a fantasy con man.

It’s an episodic tale.  First he’s tricking this giant and the giant’s kin.  Then he’s doing mini version of the 12 Labors of Hercules.  Finally he’s dealing with his wife, whom discovers his deception and tries to have her father do away with him.   None of it really connects well to one another, and to my mind it sort of putters out around the tailor’s second task for his future father-in-law.

brave-tailor-001When I picked it, I was thinking more of the Disney version.  This streamlines the tale, featuring but a single Giant.  It also has a more likable tailor (Mickey Mouse, natch).  The whole trickery angle fades a bit.  On the other hand, all the other characters don’t have to be complete idiots in order for the story to work.  Plus in the cartoon the fact he’s a tailor is worked into the resolution of the plot, while in the original his job could have been any one of a number of menial ones.

In any case, the basic story is as follows: a totally unsuited person gets into a (supernatural) situation above his pay grade and has to use all of his resources to get himself out of it.  I want to have the more likable tailor of the cartoon, facing multiple threats of supernatural origin while dealing with a princess who wants to end him.  While I’m shooting for a comedy with a happy ending, I’m thinking to eschew the royal marriage and half the kingdom stuff.

So how to summarize this in the form of a Story Skeleton?

How about this?

When a misunderstanding puts him in the role of the kingdom’s protector, a “brave” Tailor struggles to fulfill the role as best he can.  But will he succeed when he has to face down savage monsters, cunning murderers, an irate Princess, and the ruthless Ogre behind them all?

You might notice a lack of Giants (though arguably Giants could be included with savage monsters).  The Ogre, to my mind, sounds better.  Besides, that’s just another form of Giant.  Right?  Right.

Tomorrow we look at the advise of another, quite different writer as we start working up the outline proper.

Walking the Outline (I): Statement of Intent and Other Opening Thoughts

It is my hope that over the course of this series I’ll be able to fashion a series of outlines.  I want at least four serviceable outlines for potential novels.  Two of these I intend to use during NaNoWriMos (the one in July and the one in November).  One for a super special project that will see me burst into a ball of flame.  Er.  Write a novel in three days (more likely a week, but three days is the initial goal.)

The fourth, though, is the most germane to this blog.  With it, I’m going to go step by step through the process I’m going through with the other outlines (or in some cases already went through).  Then, when I have myself an outline, my intent is to write the thing up as blog posts through March.  I intend to do this as quickly as I can, hopefully finishing long before the end of the month.  All to see if it’s really feasible for me personally to be able to write a book in three days.  Or perhaps work up to where I can.

It should also show just how well the outlines will work for NaNoWriMo.

Now to make the whole matter a wee bit easier on me, I’m going to make the plot based very loosely on The Brave Little Tailor fairy tale.  Let’s call it Tailor, Brave and True.

Tomorrow we’ll get things started.

Paranoia

I have about half a post written today, talking about my latest attempt at outlining.  I was going to post it today, start a process, a dialogue if only with myself, that would lead to writing outlines.  Had about six ideas up and ready to go.

Only just a couple of minutes ago, the little nut bar part of my head said, “Um, no.  No you aren’t.”

From the start, I’ve had problems posting my fiction on-line.  BIG PROBLEMS.  I get so afraid that someone’s going to steal my stuff.

It’s ridiculous.

It’s also happened to me once already.  But as that was a poem based on a copy written character it didn’t bother me that much.

Writers have post things online, had people read them, and gone off to great success.  John Dies at the End, The Martian, stuff like that.

Besides, the number of people who read this blog is low.  Like one person at best low.

It also feels like I’m insulting my readers, insinuating things, which I don’t mean in the slightest.

Like the title said, I’m being paranoid.  Nut bar.

I just can’t help it.

It’s bizarre that not once has this stopped me from talking about Goblinstomper.  It’s like Goblinstomper’s a little thing while everything else is SUPER BIG IMPORTANT.

Let me see if I can’t find a way of doing my intended series without the nervous Nelly in me going into fits.

We might be going back to Goblinstomper quicker than I thought…

Status Report #1,728

Today wasn’t exactly a banner day for me working, but I managed to do some.  I did some prep on the outline series (not outlining the outline series, mind you, that would be totally anal, but now that I said that, hmmm…) and fiddled a little on Goblinstomper.  I also started the “anthology” idea.  If you look up at the top of the page (or just click here) you’ll find a new link called Odd Tales.  Only one story is there, but we’ll be seeing more soon.  When the Carolers Sing will definitely be up there, and maybe the whole Strange Dialogue series.  I’ve noticed a habit of doing a mild form of editing, so I’m a little hesitant to go whole hog on this, but who knows?  In any case, I’ll mention updates to it when they happen.

Might even put up a special widget for it over at the side. Hmmm, part two.

Tomorrow might, I say again might, be a miss day.  Rumor has it Mom’s being discharged tomorrow and I’d like to be there and ready to go iffin it happens.  You make her wait too long, she has a nasty habit of walking home all on her own.

She’s using the walker these days and has pains in the knees, but I’m not taking any chances.

Anyways, it’s been forever since I’ve posted any sketches and there seems to be a couple nice ones sitting on my desk.  So that might be tomorrow’s fair.