Update for January

Phew, I’ve had a busy couple days. I published the new and final version of my book, because, well, come on, I hated the last two versions, and I know I’ve done a good job when I publish on Monday and have made $5 by Tuesday. It’s now also in Smashwords premium catalogue, meaning I am now going to be automatically distributed to all of Amazon’s competitors, just about. On top of that, I’ll be doing POD from Ingram Spark, since they have a branch in Victoria, which means I don’t have to get them in from the states, meaning MUCH cheaper delivery costs and shorter times, and so much less hassle ‘translating’ between print and digital PLUS between US and AU stores, like I had with Amazon (Kindle vs Createspace). Still going to do POD with that, but for Australian readers, it’ll be Ingram or something to that effect.

I’ve had a haircut, so I don’t feel like a hobo anymore.

I’ve run a really fun, interesting D&D adventure I found online with my closest group.

I’ve ordered business cards.

I’ve written a new story or rather finished one, and I’ve been able to go to parties again too.

I’m also going to the gym from Friday. Gonna work out some of this anger and frustration and sleep better too.

My Twitter and Instagram tend to have new followers each time I log in.

I can go to the movies again.

And I haven’t decided where to go tomorrow, but most likely either Eatons Hill or Newmarket, if I do decide to go out (who am I kidding, I need air con!)

I’m kinda exhausted, but a good exhausted. And I’m going to see my remaining dog tonight when I go to mum and dad’s. She’ll be glad to see me too.

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Idiocracy thoughts

Idiocracy is one of those scrappy underdog success stories that made a resurgence leading up to the US election of 2016, and thus became so relevant it’s scary.

In the lead-up to the election itself, I read a Cracked article on fictional presidents better than Trump, and one of them was the guy from Idiocracy, played by Terry Crews. Anyway, rewatching it on November 5 or 6 (I was going to watch V for Vendetta, but I decided I was more in the mood for Idiocracy since A) it was more topical and B) it was funny and I needed some funny after the shit I went through last year.

Anyway, a couple days later, I thought about the “Time Masheen” and how the Nazis had dinosaurs and the UN came and UNNED Hitler, and I realised something. It’s never even brought up, at all, what happened to the rest of the world.

Did they look on in horror as the US went downhill? Did they smarten the fuck up and unite in world peace? Or did they get wiped off the world map entirely? And is it a post-nuclear wasteland, Mad Max style, everywhere else with national leaders hidden underground? The movie’s specifically about America at that time, and it’s taken on a legendary status over time, up there with Team America: World Police, but it does beg the question of the rest of the world’s fate.

Yeah. Comedy becomes horror, by the power of what it represents: an idea.

You know, kinda like V. But with less NSA and masked vigilantes and more dildos and Gatorade.

Reading Between The Lines (Silence as a Literary Device)

Reposting because I’ve been reminded recently of things people omit or don’t explain or can’t spit it out.

 

I’ve learned a very interesting technique in my Style and Poetics class, recently.  It’s called Silence, and a google search turned up next to nothing on it (there was a bit of info, but not much, and certainly no suite101 articles) so I’m posting my understanding of it here so that there’s just a little more on it out ‘there’ in web land.  Please be aware that this is only my interpretation from my lecturer’s teachings, so it is a bit ‘third party’.  Hopefully though, I’ve interpreted the info correctly and this hear is accurate and effective.

Silence

Reading between the lines, or when authors write one thing but mean another.

If you were to ask me what I thought of The Rules of Attraction, I’d probably say to you “It has a strongly designed cover…”  What do I mean by that? The answer: I dislike the book itself, so I’m focusing on the cover instead.  I said one thing, but it was a cover-up (pun not intended) for something else – by stating one thing, I avoided saying another.  Silence, therefore, is all about interpretation, hidden meaning, and indirectly stating something, usually unpleasant or a guilty pleasure that others would frown upon.  Or, you could also use what my lecturer calls ‘foggy signifiers’, that is, instead of describing a woman as tall, black hair, blue eyes, blah blah blah, you may write ‘she burst in looking like sex and desperation’.  Which is more effective?  The answer is the second one, obviously, because it’s more vivid and uses stronger words to describe the character without actually describing them at all – just what they ‘ooze’ (in this case, ‘oozing’ sex and desperation).

Because ‘misery lit’ is so popular right now, let’s use an example along those lines.  Say a girl has been beaten by her father.  She has a black eye.  When her friend at school asks her what happened to her eye, she can respond a few ways.  One, she could say nothing.  That’s silence in a literal, no-creativity kind of way.  Actually, saying there’s no creativity, no artistic merit, in a lengthy pause isn’t really fair; there could be any number of character or plot-driven reasons for the pause, namely fear, indecisiveness, whatever.  Point is, a lengthy pause, while illustrating silence, is a literal understanding of the power of not saying something.  Her silence would speak volumes, but it’s not all that could happen.

Now, to go beyond the obvious approach, the girl with the swollen, bruised eye could answer with words.  She could say “My father beat me.”  Or, she could say “I slipped and hit my head on the door knob.”  Which says more?  The second one, clearly.  She would be hiding the fact of what happened behind words, and you would have to read between the lines to understand the meaning behind her words.  She’s avoiding telling her friend that her father beat her, and this has more impact with the reader because of what she’s not saying.  In this case it’s what she’s not saying within the dialogue.  This is the kind of silence I like to call innuendo.  A great example I can think of is in the first episode of The Sopranos, where the Tony is at the psychologist’s and he relates to her that he and a guy who owes him money “had coffee”.  He says they had coffee, but in actual fact, the guy drops his coffee and runs, to which Tony gives chase and then beats him up.  Coffee, indeed.  That is what I mean by not saying something – ie: Tony doesn’t say “I showed up, the guy dropped his coffee and ran, so I chased him, beat him in front of everyone, and taught him a lesson about owing me money.”  Tony says “We… had coffee.”  Funny, and effective.

Finally, there is a type of silence that I call ‘omission grade silence’.  This, simply, is a type of silencing where something is completely left out of the text.  The example given in class is where a wife says something the husband hates, and it pisses him off and tips him over the edge.  You don’t actually see the murder happen, but the very next line, he’s cleaning up the blood with a sock.  How did he kill her?  That’s what the detective will have to piece together.  By omitting, or leaving out, the murder itself, you play with the reader’s head and their expectations, and this can be a truly powerful technique if handled correctly.

So to summarise, there are a few different ways you can use what isn’t said to resonate more strongly what is.  You can do this with ‘foggy signifiers at key moment which describe what a person or thing radiates instead of a bland, wanted poster description of their appearance.  You can do this with pauses, but to really get a strong effect, you can make the reader read between the lines to get your true meaning, by doing something crazy like saying one thing but meaning another.  Or, you can simply omit a key detail or scene from the text, and make the reader have to piece together in their mind what just happened.  This can also apply to dialogue.

Any of these can make a bland part of your writing into something else, something that is packed with hidden meaning.

 

 

2016: Man, The Name of the Wind is GREAT at this. SO many fan theories I’m learning about now that I have people to talk with on this one (I only know two people who’ve read it, and only after pestering from lots of people did they cave in and they were glad they did it).

 

 

https://wordwarwriter.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/silence-as-a-literary-device/

Bastian The Bastard did what he thought was a good thing. Chaos ensued, and then the dragon hatched.

*This was meant to be posted the day after, but technical issues ensued.

Okay, so, Bastian Due is a very bastardish, story-knowing (read: genre savvy) roguish bard I play in my brother’s D&D campaign, based somewhat on Kvothe from The Kingkiller Chronicles (everyone who ISN’T reading it will be once the show starts, belive me) and this one is going AMAZINGLY. I am loving this guy. His dreamboat eyes and thin layer of stubble are just added bonus. The figure I use is a hot lady bard, and her ass looks great in those pants, so… I’m rolling with it. We’ve finally found this awesome group with awesome players (the guy who showed up this week was our newbie, but he played his character well and he learned quickly, unlike certain little argumentative types I’ve played with before).

We’ve finally found this awesome group with awesome players (the guy who showed up this week was our newbie, he gets the balloons for being the tenth new player so far) but he played his character well and he learned quickly, unlike certain little argumentative types I’ve played with before. One even had to be told “no, you do not RAPE party members. End of story.”)

Our party currently consists of a story-focused warlock with the Old One patron, an unwise Tiefling rogue, a halfling monk with a radiant staff, a dwarven paladin of vengeance, and me, Bastian Due, The Bastard Bard, The Piper (will lead us to reason. I don’t have intelligence-boosting pipes… yet… but I have pipes of haunting, so…) and I’m so going to have the nickname of dragon egg incubator now. Bastian approves of this.

Due to A) breaking even and burning all of the memories of a certain princess behaving like a child in my own life, and the after-effects of the whole year that was a metaphorical car wreck and then a couple literal car crashes actually happened close to home, well, I figured, if no one objected, I’d set the cart the dragon egg was in on fire.

Now, due to being still a bit distracted and loose in the head, I fumbled around for everything and missed things and it was hard to focus, but hey, I did ensure that the party listened to tactical advice (I quoted Malcolm Reynolds, out of character: a dead horse is cover, a panicked horse is chaos).

I asked the party, having missed one crucial element, if anyone objected to me firing Fire Bolt (Mage Initiate feat) into the cart and burning it. It was the heat of battle, by this point, and from darkness, the warlock fired his bolt spell OVER a sleeping bear, into some very bad people guarding a very big egg, which the DM did describe, but I missed the fact that it was a golden, scaly egg. Our plan of attack was to get on the other side of the bear, fire at the bandits guarding the monster egg, and let them do what stupid angry people do best. And they did not disappoint. They rushed the bear, the bear rushed them (bear trap!) and the party took advantage of the chaos.

In the heat of the battle, I asked the party if anyone objected to Fire Bolt on the wooden cart. No one objected. Only after that did I realise the egg was golden. I said to my DM, who is my brother, both of us veteran players, I just thought of something, but it’s meta. And kept it at that. A wink while the party were in the moment and distracted would have sufficed, in retrospect. He and I know what “golden scaly egg” means. The players, who have only been doing this game a year, not so much. But, when the bear and the bandits were all dead or bleeding, and we’d healed up, the egg hatched.

It. Was. Awesome. A little (Large sized) newborn golden dragon emerged, and I knew, right then and there, that my brother was pleased to get to use his gold dragon figure to show what came out of the egg. The look on the player’s faces when they put two and two together was worth biting my tongue.

The Old One told the warlock “Get on your knees, now.” Warlock complied, that’s what they do when their master orders. The party wisely did the same.

The dragon emerged into the world, intelligent but literally just born, and we as a party wisely decided to show it some damn respect, and placate it with things it likes (shinies, a few bits of rations and just let it eat the dead goons and their armour and stuff as it liked). The warlock reached into its mind and introduced himself and the party as those who don’t want to hurt you and will if you want, guide you through this strange new experience. May we do that?

The gold dragon agreed because we were gracious, and also it could have easily set us on fire and we actually saved its life because those bad guys were, the DM revealed after, going to kill the hatchling and sell the skin to the highest bidder. That’s the effect that Rez, the villain, had on the economy, and the displaced soldiers were desperate, angry, stupid, and nasty to boot. The dragon told us that he was aware of Rez and his ascension to godhood, and these two parties shook hands and went their separate ways as allies with a common enemy.

So, under details I missed, I flung fire on the wooden cart, incubated a dragon the enemy were planning to slay as soon as it hatched, and now we have a gold dragon on friendly terms with us.

Damn, I done good. I thought at one point ‘holy shit, I just incubated a dragon egg’. THEN when DM toppled the gold dragon figure in plain sight, and by honest accident, I realise ‘actually, that’s not so bad. IF we play our cards right.’ I basically just stood back and watched with interest, ready to support as necessary, being that versatile (just like prestidigitation).

I wisely hid my dragon tooth pendant in my shirt, got on my knees, and hugged the ground. If pressed, I will not lie to the dragon, that’s my character’s ideal with the Entertainer feature – a great performance will show the truth of the performer’s soul (any alignment, I’m chaotic neutral, not chaotic good, chaotic evil or chaotic stupid. Or chaotic pansy, either, no matter what my delicate half-elven features, Strenght score of 8, and dazzling green eyes may suggest otherwise.

I am SO taking Draconic as my next language. I did that on my original character inception at level 15 but haven’t used that version, and simply grabbed a pre-gen from the official site and tweaked him slightly and figured the rest out later. I am now LOVING this choice of character, and how creative I can be with him, and proving bards don’t suck, not if played right – ie College of Lore being my thing, honesty and showmanship and flexibility and performance art being my strengths (and weakness, at that).

I myself might be a bit scatterbrained after recent hell. But in this case, pouring fire on a cart and accelerating the birth of a dragon in the chaos worked out pretty well, I’d say, if we escaped with our lives AND a new ally.

I am so going to go to my college and learn draconic now.

Update: I have now gotten Inspiration from the DM for this action.