Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday Writing Prompt for November 15

Write a sentence containing the following word: again

Here is my example:

Let’s try these Wednesday Writing Prompts again.

(It’s been over a month since I’ve done these because I got busy with other stuff and kind of forgot about them.  Which is rather sad, since I can do a month of these in about ten minutes, so it’s not like they’re a huge burden.)

Image from Pixabay.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Random Writing Tips – A dream writing challenge

Many, many years ago, I started keeping a journal.  At the time I worked the midnight shift at a gas station and I would take some time to write up ideas for stories, weird things I noticed about customers, and other odds and ends.  One of the ideas I had behind this journal was that to get good at writing, you need to write.  (Who knew?)  So I was always looking for new things to try to stretch my writing muscles.  One of the things I came up with was trying to write out my dreams.  I write mostly science fiction but also some fantasy.  This means I write about strange worlds where strange things happen.  I figured if I could coherently write out this scene of you having these pants that let you fly – not like Superman, more like with a jetpack – then writing about the planet Klothar populated by sentient bats should be less of a challenge.

After a couple of years, I moved all my story ideas into a writing journal, which I haven’t done much with in the last few years because I do practically all my writing on my laptop now.  And I stopped doing the original journal when it just became a serious of entries of me complaining about things.  I think four or five years ago I started a series of posts – demonstrating this tip – of writing out my dreams on a site that is no longer around.  So it has been a few years since I’ve had a place, and the time, to actually practice this tip.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

World building telling

There are two current shows that are receiving a lot of … deserved criticism: Marvel’s Inhumans and Star Trek: Discovery.  Instead of trying to forge through all the problems they have, I’m just going to focus on one that, in my opinion, they both have, namely not following the “Show, don’t tell” mantra in regards to their world building.  And just so you know, there will be some minor spoilers ahead.

The basic story in Marvel’s Inhumans is that Maximus, brother of the Attilan King Black Bolt, has staged a coup.  The main reason, as the show goes on, is that he’s deranged and power hungry.  But something that has been mentioned a few times is that he has the support of the lower class.  Apparently, the Attilan upper class live in luxury while the lower class works in the mines.  But I think there have only been two scenes set in the lower class section, for a total of maybe two minutes.  We’re told the lower class is put upon, but we don’t see it.  Which makes it – unintentionally? – awkward since Black Bolt and the other royal “despots” are the ones we’re rooting for. 

And it wouldn’t take much to fix this.  In the first episode, there’s a scene where Black Bolt is walking through an upper class crowd, and if I remember right the people are cheering.  If instead the people had been more restrained and some of Black Bolt’s guards had thrown a few people out of the way, then we’d get that these people aren’t the nicest ones and they probably mistreat the lower class.  And there could have been a scene were Maximus gave water, or something, to exhausted mine workers showing why they like him.  Yes, it would have been cliché, but it would have been something.

As for Star Trek: Discovery, the first two episodes dealt with the beginning of the war with the Klingons.  And they talk about the war in every episode since.  But except for one small battle over a mining colony we don’t really see any of the war.  In the last episode we were told that – thanks to the Discovery – the Federation was starting to win the war.  Could we see that?  Could we have seen them starting to lose the war?  If the backdrop of the series is the war, then we should see it.  Instead it’s like a movie following some people at Woodstock where we never get to hear any of the music.  Then why set it at a music festival? 

The reason we don’t see more battles on the show is because it’s hard to shoehorn the main character into a significant role in a battle.  But there’s a bit of a way to work around it, and that’s Captain Lorca.  Lorca is portrayed as pretty gung ho wanting to do whatever is necessary to win the war.  This is the kind of captain who would probably have daily battle drills to make sure his crew is always ready to fight.  But we’ve only seen one battle drill, and that was a prelude to the battle at the mining colony.  Instead of the current almost whispered, “Oh yeah, there’s a war going on,” having a random battle drill in an episode would be more of a “THERE’S A WAR GOING ON.” Also, after a drill – perhaps where the Discovery lost – Lorca could tell them, “Those were the tactics the Klingons used to destroy the Voyager, find a way to defeat them.” This way we would see more of the war than what happens on Discovery, and make it more believable for the crew to follow Lorca’s gung ho attitude.  It’s not much, but it would be like hearing some music in the background.

So in summary, if you’re writing for … anything, really, don’t think that just an occasional line about this huge element of the world is enough.  Actually show us some of this huge element.  I’m not saying that this one simple step will make your work better than Marvel’s Inhumans and Star Trek: Discovery, but it can’t hurt.