Saturday, 29 June 2013

Anime


This week we have been watching Japanese anime to wind down in the evening.  As you may be guessing I watch a lot of films on disc, and have a fairly extensive collection of films and TV shows to watch in an evening.  What attracts me most to the visual story telling medium is the dialogue, which is always inspirational when something pithy is said and sticks in one's head.  It certainly makes me try harder to write snappy dialogue in my stories, though I suspect I fail more often than I succeed.

So this week it was Denno Coil, which I can sum up as Enid Blyton's Fantastic Five meets the Matrix.  This might put you off from watching it, but quite frankly I was totally charmed, bewildered and fascinated in equal turns throughout.  The use of virtual reality overlays on real surroundings through the use of Google Glass analogues, and the childrens exploration of their world was enchanting.  A very dark story for its target audience too, which only goes to illustrate the cultural differences between the West and Japan.  As a follow-up we are now watching Girls und Panzers, which is a light and froth tale where the conceit is that driving tanks is the equivalent to flower arranging; again very Japanese.

Reading wise I currently working my way through two books.  The first is non-fiction and is called You are not so Smart by David McRaney who has a blog.  It is a collection of essays on why we as humans make so many mistakes when it comes to the way we think about things, and I highly recommend that you all go out and buy a copy as it's that good.  No really, stop reading this and go buy it now.  It deserves a longer post than this, and I'll write something longer on my CBT blog when I get around to it.

The other book is Star Corpsman: Bloodstar by Ian Douglas, is the first in a new series about Marines in space.  I've enjoyed reading his other USMC in space books in the past.  It's certainly an engaging tale, but I'm finding some of the story telling structure intrusive.  This may just be down to me be more critical of his writing now that I'm writing myself.

Finally, my writing log for this week shows that I wrote 10,614 words, which is not to be sniffed at, except by my computer that tells me I failed to meet my targets to finish the first draft on schedule.  This month I've written a total of 36,067 words and the first draft of Strike Dog stands at 76,803 words.

Last night, while snuggling in bed with my partner we were talking about the new chapters I'd written this week, which I got me to start thinking about the next story.  I didn't fall off to sleep easily last night because of that as ideas swam around my head, kicking down doors and just demanding I pay them some attention.  Needless to say when recounting this at the breakfast table this morning in the cold harsh light of dawn (9.30am, but it felt like dawn to me) it all seemed a bit less than the awesomeness I had in my head last night.  Still I'm going to go now and make some notes.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Cloud Atlas


Friday night I finally got to watch Cloud Atlas.  What can I say?  I tell you what I said; I want to watch this again.  It really engaged me and moved me to tears.  I was crying for the characters and for the exquisite writing, which made me wish I could write like that.  There have been complaints over white actors made up to look like Chinese people, but in my opinion these complaints miss the point, because they have black actor made up to look white, and a Chinese actor presenting as a white person.  To complain about this is miss the point of the movies, which is to have the actors play multiple rolls to provide the narrative connection between the six stories.

One of the films watched during the last week include, Tin Tin, where the opening credits bored me, and I initially had an uncanny valley reaction to the CGI motion capture characters.  However, after the introduction of Snowy the dog I was swept away in a joyous world of comedy and adventure like no other.   I also rewatched Kick Ass, which I saw in the cinema and finally bought to watch again.  The first time round I was less than impressed with the movie, as I didn't think it was as good as the hype.  Having watched it for the second time I can say I enjoyed it more.  Nicholas Cage's standout performance is one of the best things I've seen from him.

Other films watched included Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, which are perennial favourites in my household, which we rewatched again because of the new Pegg & Frost movie that is due out soon.  Last, but not least rewatched Scott Pilgrim, which was a hoot.

As for my writing this week, I managed end up doing 9,242 words, which given that by the of Monday's work day I had only written 63* words, was a bit of a comeback.  Running total for the first draft now stands at 66,208

* This was all down to having to take a sleeping tablet after a series of very disturbed nights of sleep from to a combination of pain, and the noise of London Underground working on the tube line that runs past our flat.  My head was just empty on Monday, even though I had slept like a log from taking the tablet, which only goes to show what the side-effects of medication can have on one.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Films I've Been Watching


I had a mad moment when thinking to myself that I should rename my diary and call it my log, for the reason that it is a nod to Star Trek.  I can then delude myself into thinking I'm the Captain of the starship USS Writing a Novel NCC2013 and have those voice overs so beloved of the TV series.  Though of course a ship called Writing a Novel is more of shout out to the late Iain M. Banks Culture series than Gene Roddenberry's work.

I said all that I can think of saying about Iain here, but my friend Jaine Fenn wrote a nice tribute here.  As a result the beginning of the week I was on a bit of a downer, which affected my writing.  I chose to cheer myself up by watching some films.  Dredd, which was excellent, and Southland Tales where we decided to eject the disc at 45 minutes and watch MegaMind instead.  That was a good choice.  It had witty dialogue, good characterization and was funny too.  Last night we watched V for Vendetta again, which in my opinion only gets better each time I watch it.

Over the last few weeks we have also watched season five of True Blood, which sagged a little just before the end, but pulled out all the stops for the finale.  Continuum season one that showed a lot of promise.  Finally, watched the fifth and final season of Fringe, which has been one of my favorite shows, and it hit all the emotional nails on the head with the resolution of story arc.

Now if only I could write dialogue as good as in my favourite shows.

Well wishing ain't going to make it so, only blood, sweat and tears will do that.  So this week I managed to write 7,255 words, which brings the first draft of my second novel up to 56,970 words. I'm just about to enter what can be called the third act, where the shit hits the fan, things get serious, and really bad things happen to the characters.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Writing Log 130609


This week I caught off my FB page a link to the Hon. Paul Hellyer - Canadian Minister of National Defense announcing the aliens are here already, and that there are four different factions.  This made for interesting viewing, though probably for all the wrong reasons.  Trust me I say I really want to believe, but I truly don't believe that we have been contacted by aliens.  Colour me skeptical about anyone who argues for conspiracies about aliens and the New World Order.

However, as fodder for inspirational ideas, or wrinkles to how one tells a story then I'm good for this kind of stuff.  So I started to imagine how the aliens in my current story must be reacting to cross shaped unidentified flying objects that they can see in the skies above their heads, and how my science team are affecting the society that they are observing as they initiate first contact with them.

Spooky synergistic stuff, because I then began discussing this with my partner and talking about how titles with X in them are seen as cool.  For definitions of cool anyway, and I said The Ring of X, and my partner replied X-Dog.  From such light hearted Sunday morning banter the end of the Bad Dog universe sprung forth, with the questions of what happens when all the pigeons come home to roost, so to speak?

Another week, another dollar, or in this case another blog entry.  A bit of me feels slightly sheepish that I haven't finished wring up a couple of other posts on things I've been watching, and for that matter an article on micro versus macro writing and one on character versus plot.  Been too focused on working on my second novel in progress Strike Dog, which as far as I'm concerned is a good thing.

So this week my record diary tells me that I managed a tad short of ten thousand with 9,968 words written.  This is the best I've done since starting this novel nine weeks ago, and I have now reached 49,728 words.  The writing is not any easier, but it is flowing better,  Things are falling into place as I hit my marks on plot turns and character developments, discovering things in the process.  So I enjoyed my writing this week.

Yesterday I went as a guest to a writers group in London to hear a very informative talk by one of the commissioning editors of Gollancz.  I also got to meet a few over writers and hang with the cool kids I guess.  Gave me a lot to mull over and think about.  It confirmed that my plan to just write novels, as a way to learn how to write, seem like a good idea and that waiting before I go back to rewrite number one was an okay strategy.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Scrivener


This last week has been an interesting one for me in that it represents extremes of creativity versus productivity.  On Tuesday I had one of those days where I sat down and worked for a solid six hours and added zero words to my first draft, and yet it someways it was the most creative day I had this week.  As I have mentioned before I use Scrivener, and you can colour me as a fan of this piece of software.

So on Tuesday I spent my day using the cork-board function of Scrivener to do some much needed work on the plot of Strike Dog, which had been bugging me big time.  Most of this had to do with the timing of certain things and having gotten them in the wrong order.  The end result was a story that was getting bogged down as I couldn't figure how to write the scenes that connected all the events together.

By the end of the day I had moved the seven point structure that I use to build stories around so that cause and effect made sense.  I was showing my partner this and at the end demonstrated the outlining function of Scrivener, which up to now I haven't really used.  So I also learnt a bit more about how to use Scrivener, and how to structure and outline a story.  A win-win scenario if there ever was one.

Needless to say I only managed to write 456 words on Wednesday, which was a bit disappointing.  However, on Thursday and Friday the words flowed like spice being mined on Arrakis.

So this weeks total was 5,863 words.  Total for the month stands at 22,725 words, and the first draft of Strike Dog is now 39,803 words.  So I'm reasonably pleased with my progress this month.