Editing 101: WELCOME TO HEL

low-tablet-alternate-copyEditing is the most fun you can legally and ethically have.

HAHAHAHAHA!

I’m totally lying.

Sometimes your writing just, well, sucks. That’s where the editing writing process comes in for the writer because, editing is writing. Always. They’re connected at the hip like Siamese twins. No getting away from it. You can’t run and hide. It’ll find you.

When you edit your own work, however, here’s the note you need to send yourself:

 

Dear Fucker Face,

Welcome to the bowels of hell. Enjoy your bucket full of shit.

Sincerely,

You

No-seriously, but hella seriously. Editing is, can be, and forever shall go down not only as the most important part of your writing (YES, IT IS PART OF ALL WRITING), but the most agonizing. It’s treacherous. Painful. As in blisters on the brain painful. It will cripple your mind and make your eyes bleed.

Here’s my editing shortlist for you. Do with it what you will.

1. Do Some Other Shit.

You’ve finished your book. Wohoo! Get whacky! Now—now put it away. Hide it. Get away from it. Now.

The brain needs rest and since you’ve just completed your book; your brain needs a lot of rest. Editing is a twisty road that’ll get you lost, if you let it; therefore, put your work away. That’s it. PUT IT AWAY. Write the second book or another book or something else. Distance yourself from the fresh shit you wrote. I’m not telling you to move to Alaska and leave the writing in Florida. But yeah, I kinda am.

You need a new mindset when editing. A mental freshness. You need to have time where all bias is removed. To leave the co-dependency out of it. To not get upset because you absolutely love what you wrote and to hell with the first person that says something should go. You need to get rid of the overprotectiveness of being able to remove shit and doing the Ginsu part of editing. So put time between the last word and the editing process. How long is up to you and dependent upon if you’re on a deadline. The longer the better.

2. Print It. Read It Aloud. Hand To Another Humanoid To Read And Give Notes.

You don’t need to literally print out a 300-page manuscript because trees. Slather that thing across your laptop, desktop, tablet, whatever-screeny thing you use to look at and read it.

When we read it out loud, we hear what other people read. If it doesn’t work in our brain, then it’ll confuse other brains too.

Finally, other readers are vital to your editing process. Use beta readers, writing groups, or a trusted source to pull you from your vacuum. You need other people’s POVs. Their eyeballs see more than your glassy orbs. They can find things that you miss like that you kept writing dialogue for Jack in chapter seven even after you killed the poor bastard off in chapter three.

You will then get their notes. It’s a must, those notes. Pay them in beer, whiskey, fantastic embellishment…whatever. You will be pissed at what you consider their unbelievable “inaccurate bullshit” and “blatantly hurtful” notes. You will cry. But hose notes will help. Later.

3. Read Other Humanoids Notes.

Yes. You must get over yourself and read their notes. You’re gonna hate ‘em right away. Might last for a few minutes or a few weeks. No worries. It’s normal’ish, like your petulance. After the read, put those little fuckers away. File them.

4. Re-Read. Copyedit On The Fly. And Take Mad Notes. MAD. NOTES.

That time arrives when you must embrace, hug, and give your book some more love. Sit down with it. Put your arm around it. Look at its words. Re-read it. Fast.

Why the fast read?

Because you’re not reading this sonofabitch for pleasure. You’re reading it to see the glaring big picture. It makes clearer the fuckery in your writing. Small fuckery. Large fuckery. These are the hiccups that come up like a hatchet at a wedding, ruining the entire experience. But hey, you’re taking notes, too.

Note the good stuff. The bad. Especially the bad. Anything that doesn’t fit. Shit that needs to be moved. Or snipped out and placed on your whatever-you-decided-to-call-it page. Don’t hold back. Be a cold editing killer. Don’t emote.

You will use these notes later.

And you shall copy-edit whilst flying through. Poke it a little. Add a tweak. Or a tweaker, if it fits in the scene. Bend it. Twist it. Hammer it. Search out spelling errors, grammatical unevenness, improper word use (Hey, it happens. Words are hard!), and poor word choice. Debilitate fuckedupedness in punctuation, tense concerns, shitty metaphors, adverbs not needed/required, and other junk.

5. Remove Shitty Words.

This is a separate part to your editing. It’s fast. Merciless. Part of the cleaning process.

Think of it as this…

Editing removes the suck from your work. Shitty words make your writing suck. The so-called Crutch Words. Words you use too damn much. Or words that slow the piece down. It pisses off readers. I’ve read pieces where it’s a literal goddamn epidemic. Not like Ebola, but…

I’m not going to get into a list of all the words I can think of, but here are a few I notice: seemingly, annoyingly, suddenly, just-about-any-fucking-adverb, kind-of/sort-of. That’s enough.

I keep a list. Well, a file really. In it are all my Internet pictures of cats. Cute, adorable cats.

Uhh…

Wait a second.

What I meant is, I keep a file for words. Those crutch words that I’ve lazily fallen on. Stumbled into like a drunk. It’s lazy word construction, really. Poor use of those word things. Overuse of some words. It’s useful because it allows me to know things. Things like how many times I used a certain word or phrase. I can search and see that I’ve used the word ‘fuck’ seventy-two times in this book and know that I’m right on track. Or whatever.

6. For Fuckssake, DON’T OVEREDIT.

You’ve edited out your heinous fuckery, moved shit around, and yes, you even managed to understand the great difference between lie and lay. Hey sunshine, you did well.

Know that there’s a difference between editing and doing too much editing. What this magic level of editing is is different for every writer, but there is a thing as too much. At some point, it’s like that relationship you were in at age twenty and you needed to let it go. A simple sign that you’re going too far: You’re stuck on a paragraph for an age and a half; you can feel the wrongness, but you can’t work out how to fix that sucker.

That’s where your professional editor comes in. Do all you can, clean it up, scrape off all the nibbly bits, and then send it away.

7. Don’t Delete Copy. DO NOT DELETE COPY.

So-yeah-umm-no, don’t delete copy. Ever. Cut it and move it to a separate Notes Page or Trash Page or whatever the hell you wanna call your page. Me, I call it my MASSIVE FUCKING NOTES PAGE. In all caps, because MASSIVE. You—you cannot use that.

Here’s two specific reasons why you never delete your copy: You may decide, “Hey, that paragraph/sentence I thought was carp shit was pretty good and needs to go back,” then wham, there it is. And, if it doesn’t go in your current story, it might squeeze into another piece.

And dammit, if you delete and trash your shit, I will find you.

8. Don’t Be Afraid.

Grab a drink. No, not water. Stronger. Much, much stronger.

You’re gonna be fearful. You’re gonna get scared. Your finger will hover the delete button for a few seconds. Maybe you’ll walk away and have a second thought whilst sipping that strong beverage. Then, then you’ll realize that you need to get your writerly shit together. You’ll buckle up. You will get your mindset right.

Editing can be like following an unmerciful god who thinks cactus dildos are fun times.

You have to fight through your every sense of flight. Stay connected. Editing is where your story gets told. It comes to life. It breathes.

9. Bring It Back.

All those notes, gather them. Yours, other peeps, the ones from the aliens, the ones from you mom, the ones you scribbled with all the story fuckups; get ‘em all. Read them. Make them work. Or not. Some will work, others will get bombed and shredded. Point is, use whatever makes your story better.

10. Success. Or Not.

All the work you’ve done, all the editing, the hammering of paragraphs into a finely polished ornament of reading pleasure; it may have worked. Just maybe. Or it may look like a coronal mass ejection of plasma from the sun. One pass might get you done. Or not.

Remember, editing IS writing. Do it until it’s right.

 

You Are Commanded To Write Thusly. Or Whatever.

low-tablet-alternateVery recently I wrote The Writing Commandments For Self as a guide for writer self-preservation. It’s there for writers’ to stop beating themselves up over their writing.

It got me to thinking, yeah, I do it on occasion.

Anyway, thinking…

There should be some writing tips/commandments/ideas/thoughts/etc. because no one ever has put these into the Internet machine.

So, without further blather, I give upon thee My Writing Beliefs, which may or may not end at ten. But most likely won’t, except in this post.

Lastly, I know what you’re thinking, “Will this be on the test? Must I remember these?”

The answers you will not like. They are, in order, yes and yes. You will like exactly what you are given.

1. You Shall Write.

This is not a Sisyphean task. Words on paper and all that stuff. You need the practice and everything you write is practice. Even the most bumptious bastard among us needs to practice.

Think of your writing practice as a fuckbucket of more. Always more and more. And more of a good thing is, well, a good thing. Therefore, whether your thing is pterodactyl erotica or the Luddite manual on reversing technology, write.

This is not one of those things that offer the illusion of accomplishing something. Practicing only makes your words better. And you want better words.

2. You Shall Have Alligator Skin.

Not literally because that’d take a lot of lotion to smooth out.

But the thickness of your skin is a precursor of your ability to handle the slurry of words that shall be spewed your way in regards to your ability or inability to write well.

Think Great Wall of China thick because putting your writing out into the world and asking people to review your work is like asking…well, it can be harsh.

And people can be unforgiving once you ask them to read and review your writing, especially if said writing is sucky.

The rule here would be, Don’t Have Sucky Writing, but in reality, not everything is our absolute best, so refer to Commandment number one.

3. You Shall Be Critical Of Your Work.

If you’d prefer eat a bowl of thumbtacks rather than read your own work, cut and paste this writing commandment to the inside of your eyeballs.

*stares unflinchingly at you. I’ll wait.*

If not…

Your goal here is to have the ability to read that of which you’ve written and not destroy it with scatter bombs full of paperclips or get stabby with a scissors.

(Which leads to Writing Commandment 3a: Never Destroy Your Writing.)

Here’s the catch: the better you become as a writer, the more critical you are of your writing. You’ll be able to wade through a puddle of shit to know if your shit, is indeed, shit.

Critical attention to your work only increases your ability in style, characterization, and story construction.

Also, and always: you owe it to yourself, but more importantly, YOU OWE IT TO THE READER.

4. You Shall Not Suck (That Bad).

Sucking is part of a writer’s life.

So yeah, Imma rephrase that: A writer will have ups and downs. Sometimes the writing will be only meh, while at other times it will shine like a bright blinding light careening your car off the cliff.

Your goal is, sometimes, to be able slip the noose that hangs your writing. Be the curator, not the undertaker, of your writing.

A good rule in not sucking is don’t finish the last sentence of your book with HUH WOOZAH WUZZA WUZZA MUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRP FLURP. Just sayin’.

5. You Shall Read.

When you’re hungry, you eat.

Think of reading as food for your brain. Well, more food. It expands your mind in ways that only science understands, probably anyway.

It also teaches you how to write, and at times, how not to write.

6. You Shall Love The Process.

Do this now: open your arms and embrace your writing process.

*waits. waits more. and more. ewwwww gross. I said embrace…*

Here’s the thing about the writing process: IT’S DIFFERENT FOR EVERY WRITER. Find yours. Hug it. Keep it. Allow it to flourish. Keep tweaking it. Make it perfect. And make it work for you.

7. You Shall Edit Like An Editor Even Though You Aren’t An Editor.

Editing is hell.

It’s even worse if you wrote the story. It’s a gi-hugic pain in the ass. In other words, it is perhaps, just maybe, quite possibly, but probably mostly, the worst thing ever.

Why?

Because there’s too much bias involved in your decision to cut, chop, and dice. You’re too close to the damn story, but being able to edit it is more than just spelling words correctly and checking punctuation. It’s removing dull parts. Slicing out pieces that don’t contribute to the story. Making sure your story has flow. And so much more.

For me, editing is part of tweaking my work. I’ll write and then go over it the next day. When I hit 10-20K words I’ll go through the piece and re-check stuff. Cut things, if needed; or add things, if needed. The end result is a story that I can hand over to my professional editor and let her do her thing and make it better.

A note on editing your own work: Do not allow your lack of attention to detail to be completely underwhelming in your editing effort.

8. You Shall Show Your Shit.

You hear this a lot as a writer, “Show, don’t tell.” This, in itself, is confusing because as a writer, one tells a story. Storytelling.

So there’s a fine gray line here.

Your words can be unique and vivid, thus showing something or they can be basic and factual in telling something. And both are needed in your writing.

Confusion should now set in like trying to figure what to do with the opposite end of a hammer.

When you give signs of Jimmy’s animalistic, vein-popping rage, you’re allowing the reader to do some work in figuring out that Jimmy is angry. When you just put it out there, “Jimmy is upset,” you’re telling.

9. You Shall Use Conflict. And Suspense. And Then Ratchet Said Conflict. And Then Ratchet Again. And Suspense.

Conflict is the driver of your story. It takes the reader on twists and turns and goes a hundred miles per hour into a hairpin turn.

Suspense is the knife that gets jabbed into the back of some asshole, but really it’s the other asshole, but holy fucking shit, WAIT! because it’s really some other asshole, the real villain, who got knife-stabbed in the kidney and bled out while screaming, SONOFABITCH! he wasn’t the real villain.

Here I shall not separate external versus internal conflict. I shall not harp on unnatural conflict, either. Here is where I simply inform you that conflict IS the key to your story. It’s the butter to your bread. The cash to your wallet. The ink to your pen and all other useless clichés of nonsense.

Here is where I do tell you that heinous fuckery in your writing is yeah, hellacool. Guiding your reader into thinking one thing, then twisting it like a Bavarian pretzel where it’s really five, no, six…really it’s seven things rather than only the one thing, but really it’s nine because hahahahahahahahahaha, fuck you in thinking it was just the one thing. Yeah, HEINOUS FUCKERY.

10. You Shall Allow Your Characters To Move Forth The Plot.

Story happenings come about in two ways: Shit either happens outside of the character, or the character makes shit happen.

What I mean about allowing your characters to move the plot forward is to not let your characters squeeze your plot with boney fingers and drag to an early grave. There’s a lot of cause/effect, conflict/response in number ten; however, that’s another post altogether. Here, we shall see action – reaction or result of action.

What your character(s) do as a result of an action is primary in moving things forward. Does Mary react to a mysterious phone call or is there a result of action from the call. Yeah, there’s a difference.

And it tells the reader more about Mary. If Mary does neither, reaction or result of action, then she becomes useless fodder within a story that is not moving forward.

The Writing Commandments For Self

low-tablet-alternateNope. No one called out to me. I didn’t hallucinate after desert ‘shrooms. I didn’t hear a voice that may or may not have been there.

I didn’t trek up some godforsaken mountain in the middle of the sun-scorched, swampass desert to get the Writing Commandments For Self.

Nah. Didn’t have to.

I totally made them up. While sitting in a cushy leather chair. In the air-conditioning.

Made ‘em up in a previous post, in fact.

Why?

Because they serve as a presence in order to stop crucifying yourself over your writing. To not allow you to get beat to shit by self- comparisons. They’re here to remind you that you write because you like to write. Because it serves you and what you think is cool to write.

Henceforth, these are your FIVE WRITING COMMANDMENTS FOR SELF:

1. You shall write like you write.

You can try to mimic others’ style, but it doesn’t always work. It gets messy. Cluttered. It smashes against your own style and grinds like a scrapping fork across a clean plate. It’s annoying. Hard to read. It’s like excessive bedazzling – overfuckingdone.

2. You shall write for you.

Let’s be honest, when friends know we write, it’s inevitable: someone will say, “Hey man,” no, their voice gets deeper, way deeper, “you should write this story about two ducks and a goose that includes a flying unicorn. Or you know, somethin’ like that.”

My first response is always the same. “ALL unicorns fly.”

Seriously though, writing for you is comfort. If you write a particular genre or strictly fiction, it’s your comfort zone. It’s what you know.

And what you know isn’t necessarily events; it can be emotions.

How’d it feel not to get those cool-ass flight pants back in 1985? Well, I’ll tell ya. It hurt. Still hurts. All those zippers. The staticy nylon. Pockets everywhere. The coolness. Everyone had ‘em… except me.

Those are things that shape your writing because they shaped you and your writing is a part of your existence. Use your emotion.

3. You shall write whatever it is you wish to write and not what someone tells you to write.

Even if you have an agent or a publisher, you’re still in charge of your writing. The ideas are generated within the confines of your brain garage. You own them. You curate them into a sequence of words and mash them into a group of sentences. But always, it needs to be what you wish to write. Always.

Pay attention to number three otherwise your writing will be as fun as vomit in a shoe.

4. You shall not evaluate your writing against other writers.

This is so important it should be number one, but then again, The Writing Commandments are not in a specific order.

Comparing does nothing to help your writing. It won’t improve your writing or your skills. It’ll lead you straight to the ignition of a fail full of fireworks. Without all the pretty colors.

And it will start with a scintilla of doubt, which manifests into a crippling boondoggle of writing and leads you straight to the corner of pain and angst.

Also actually, hey, this is totally normal because human. Keep it in check and your writing AND your mind will appreciate it.

5. You shall aspire to become a better writer.

Objective numero uno: turn word fuckery into word magic.

 

 

 

20 Reasons Why You’re Writing Might Not Get Done

HELPYou’ve been watching the Olympics and now you’re thinking, yeah, I will look good in a swim brief.

No.

No you won’t. And, you’re welcome.

Leave it to the athletic professionals.

That’s not the only information I’m here to give.

Sit. Relax. Ready?

You’re not using the best words. Your words are loser words. Put all the best words in your work.

What does this mean to you? I mean, other than your words are sucky?

Discouragement.

And…

YOU are your own worst enemy when it comes to writing. You’ve set a Claymore mine full of paperclips flying a thousand meters a second right at junk level. You will do whatever it takes to snare your writing and hang it elsewhere as long as it’s not in front of you. Here’s a list to help you out so you can be aware of those things that might stop you from getting things done.

And take that goddamn swim brief off, would ya.

1. Depression.

Yes. It happens to artistic types because we decide that we no longer can go on with failure because, failure is in our existence. It’s a normal part of what we do, but we FAIL to realize it. Set compass for a crash course, but steer clear.

Sidestepping depression is, at times, unavoidable because human. We don’t always see it in ourselves, but there are signs. Internet them, because, hey man, this is a writing blog.

2. Outside Interference.

You’re confusing the use social media with networking and with getting shit done.

Twitter. Faceswhilebooking. Instagram. Those bird feeder pictures you peruse on Pinterest. MySpace. Whatever, your profile is still listed.

These steal time from you. From your writing. And worse, they take of your creative spirit.

KEEP YOUR CREATIVE SPIRIT.

3. Kids.

I don’t have these, but I hear they can be a lot of work and are, at times, needy. And hey, let’s face it, sometimes they can be assholes.

And they can be draining like tiny little blood-sucking vampires.

No-no. Don’t get rid of them. Utilize them. Find ideas in the things they do. Oh, and discipline accordingly.

4. You Have Zero Ambition.

This isn’t something that you can just zip off to your local Piggly Wiggly and find sitting on the shelf in aisle five.

Why?

Well, because that’s the coffee aisle, duh.

No.

Ambition doesn’t just come in a bottle. Or a can. Or an empty jar of jam.

Mmmmmmm. Jam.

Ambition. It’s a desire. You need to dig deep and pull it out like that itty-bitty ingrown hair.

Maybe change your sleep patterns. Or try getting some sleep, for once.

Mowing down the wrong foods can leave you lethargic, lazy, and listless. It’s like a drain on your mental capacity and takes your ambition. You’ll feel sucked dry of energy and ambition feeds off energy.

Change things, if necessary.

5. You’ve Been Given A Bad Review And Have Stopped Writing.

Sure, it’s true. Some people somewhere will not like your writing. Yeah, I can’t believe it either. But ya know what, fuck it. You didn’t and don’t write for them. You write for yourself. Keep writing your stories.

6. You Lost Your Creativity.

You’ve flipped the couch cushions. It’s not there. Hell, you’ve flipped the whole damn couch and still nothing.

Grab a book and read. Reading sparks creativity. Reading outside of your usual genres will help, too.

7. Ideas No Longer Hammer The Sides Of Your Brain Cavity.

Here’s where you can do a few things to get IT back because a good hammering always helps.

Thud your head against the monitor until words fall out. Although, this is typically not recommended because you’ll look really damn stupid doing this at Starbucks. But…

You could do writing prompts. I equate this to counting sheep in order to fall asleep. And where the fuck sheep came from for this, I’ll never know. But writing prompts…maybe, but…

Read. Read. Read.

8. You Ran Out Of Coffee.

There might not be much that can be done here except buzzing your butler and having him scoot to get more. Do this immediately. Coffee is energy. Coffee is power. COFFE IS LIFE.

Get some. Now.

YOU. MUST. COFFEE.

9. You Ran Out Of Scotch.

See number 8. Exchange coffee with scotch.

10. Your Ran Out Of Bourbon.

See number 8 and 9. Change words respectively with bourbon.

11. You Ran Out Of Whiskey.

By now you have to realize that you’re probably an alcoholic if you’ve run out of numbers nine and ten too.

Seriously?!

Just what the hell is the matter with you?

Start your 12-Step program soon. But first, get that coffee refilled.

It’s writing fuel.

12. People Are In Your Way. Literally.

PokemanGo got you on edge? Does it make you want to push that person charging head-down, eyes glued to Pokeman into a wooden fence with nails sticking out?

G’head. No one’s looking. Literally.

Set aside a space where you’re alone. Preferably a spot where you may not need to walk to either. Freed from distraction. From annoyance. From mirrors, because basically, you’re probably sick of looking at yourself you narcissistic ass. In essence, get away, but take your writing with you.

13. You Stopped Reading.

Perhaps you thought, hey, I’m writing so reading only interferes. It makes me lose the voice of my character. Of my story. It takes from me. And sure, this can be true…

If you allow it.

Try a different genre from what it is you’re writing. Then go back to your work. Then read within your genre. Then go back to your writing. It works.

14. You Think Your Writing Sucks.

Hey, it might.

I mean, I don’t know you. I don’t know your writing. I may have never read it. (Send me some).

15. You Have Eleventeen Billion Reasons Why Not.

Now hey, yeah, that’s a shitpile of reasons. Errr, shall we say excuses?

Yes.

We shall, indeed.

Get those bad ideas out of your head. Quit being negative.

16. You Eat Like A Gremlin.

This infers that you, like Gremlins, are up late. And eating. Probably after midnight, too.

Rest yourself properly.

17. You Lack Discipline.

I’m not talking the type of discipline where you wear nipple clamps or whatever.

Or where you need a drill sergeant.

It’s self-discipline like setting a schedule. Marking said schedule thingy on a calendar that is pinned to your wall by one of those little thumbtacks. You know, the one that you felt the point of and thought, Damn, wonder what that’d feel like in th eye?

No?

C’mon, it’s not just me.

Huh. Maybe it is.

18. External Forces Pull At You Like Great White Ripping Apart A Furry Little Seal.

Your Pokemon Go is fucking you up.

In your never-ending search for Ditto, jumping fences and trespassing all over, you forgot that augmented reality is, in fact, NOT REALITY. The gymnasiums you are visiting make you look like foolish. You, again, forgot that you are an adult.

You failed to realize that you are, indeed, playing a time-consuming wasting game.

A game that pulls you from writing.

19. You Start To Compare.

Don’t do this. Ever.

It helps your writing in no way. It’s not good for you.

Henceforth, these are your Five Writing Commandments:

  1. You shall write like you write.
  2. You shall write for you.
  3. You shall write whatever it is you wish to write and not what someone tells you to write.
  4. You shall not evaluate your writing against other writers.
  5. You shall aspire to become a better writer.

If you compare, you will start to think that you are not worthy. That your writing sucks.

It may be well true, but comparisons should not be made.

  1. The Story Just Isn’t Ready.

Hey look, this happens. There’s an easy to get past this…

FINISH YOUR SHIT.

Set a self-imposed deadline. Stick to it. Manage it. Determine what it is you need to write on a daily basis in order to get your story done and do it.

BONUS – It’s You.

I don’t mean to accuse you.

Wait.

Yes.

Yes, I do.

It probably, most likely…

Yeah, it is you.

You have managed to pull off the impossible and get in your own damn way. Quit hating your work.

MOVE. WRITE. BE.

The Constitution + Guns + Religion = Orlando Or Anywhere Else. Anytime.

constitutiongunPick a spot on this Earth.

There’s religion clasping its grabby little hands on the edges and poking its head around every corner.

There’s guns, too. All sizes and types. There barrels at the aim. Triggers erect and ready for explosion.

Anywhere.

Everywhere.

Allow Me To Share, For A Second.

It’s called “sharing” – thoughts to be exact – so happily sit your ass down and take your half of my goddamn thought. Yes, you’ll wanna sit, because long thought.

Imma just clean the plate: I’m not against guns in a civilized society. I’m not against law-abiding humans owning guns. In fact, yeah, I have a few. I respect the power and magnitude that those firearms possess and I’m fully aware that they don’t shoot themselves. I practice shooting. I have great respect for gun laws and follow accordingly. I understand that it takes a decision on a gun owner’s part to pull the trigger. I’m also fully cognizant of the fact that guns, in the wrong hands, create chaos and become not weapons of protection, but rather a vessel to maim, murder, and torment.

Another thing I’m keenly aware of is the simple, unequivocal fact that religion has killed more people on this planet than any World War or natural disaster. The numbers don’t lie. When guns are in the hands of any religious extremists, it’s not only a recipe for disaster, it’s Orlando, San Bernardino, 9-11, Boston, and any other goddamn mass killing ready to happen.

Assault Of Rifles.

Let’s be honest, if assault rifles aren’t readily available, people will still die at the hand of trigger-happy terrorists and gun-wielding psychopaths using the name of their very religion as a chant for slaughter. Murders will not stop. Religious vanity will not stop. Extremism will not stop. Terrorism will not stop. Guns will not stop. But the spraying of bullets that penetrate innocent flesh might be tapered. From a shooting perspective, it’s impossible to release multiple shots at once with semi-auto weapons. Sure, many rounds can exit the chamber within seconds by shooters, but not as fast as an AR.

Even double tapping or triple tapping can occur, but nowhere near the 800 rounds per minute of an AR-15. Think about that: 13.3 rounds per second of blood dripping poison wielded by someone hellbent on death mad misery. Not a good mix.

This isn’t a plea for a ban.

It’s about more.

Much more.

Not A Ban, A Conscience.

Someone says that they’re transgender and wish to use the public restroom to which they identify, and goddamn if there isn’t legislation the next day either for or against. Same goes for gay marriage, but a different pan of fry sauce. Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, any-next-venue-place-city-or anything to be a target and legislators simply nod their collective heads and say, “Yes, something needs to be done.”

I’m not advocating for the ban of assault rifles, but considering that even a “good” shooter, familiar with quickly loading magazines into their weapon could get through a 1,000 shots in under a 10-minute period, but many factors come into play and few snags can exist, but this—this isn’t about that. The cycle time of the weapon is faster than the speed at which a human can pull the trigger; therefore, it can fire as fast as one can pull the trigger. Until out of ammo.

And most mags hold 7, 10, or the “banana clip” of 30 rounds. This still is not 800 per minute.

Stars and stripes on gun

The Constitution, Is Not God’s Constitution. And Guns. Guns. Guns.

Gormless politicians will advocate against this as hearsay. Complete blasphemy. Ignorant hypocrisy. G’head. Do it. Then turn self and stare in the mirror-mirror on the wall. You’ll find quickly that you, in fact, are not the fairest of them all.

The Constitution needs to keep up with the changes of everyday society. It needs to be open to the realities that change happens. The problem is, politicians are in the way because they’re stagnant. Like an ostrich, they’d rather put their heads in the sand, but instead of building a nice cozy and comfy nest for people they’re actually hiding because work. It’s damn hard work to get things changed, but with no effort, nothing changes. Ever. Proven fact.

And gun issues in America are like the organic growth of a virus that’s spiraled so out of control that it’ll never be killed. Not even science’s best drugs will squash it. A fucking toxic fungus just waiting to reproduce.

Why?

Because today’s politicians are too busy playing tickledick. They pile fuckrelish on everything, hide their agendas so deep in bills that it might as well be floating in space, and cater to…no one.

The Second Amendment is a free-for-all. “Don’t take our guns,” people shout. “I have a right,” others add. They throw in words like God-given, mandated by our forefathers, and other various bullshit. The word God is never mentioned in The Constitution. Anywhere. He/She/It has never granted rights to any person living, dead, floating, ghost-like, or other.

But hey, I get it.

Fucking guns, man. And we, as a country, have certain rights.

Ya know what else I get?

When the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791, people used muskets.

Muskets that took five fucking days to load.

Muskets that didn’t fire 800 rounds per minute.

Muskets that used a lead ball that may or may have not traveled 300 yards in a few seconds.

Musket where balls definitely did not travel at a rate of up to 3,000 feet per second.

Muskets that were inefficient killing machines.

Change, Hell Yes It’s Good.

The Constitution is just a piece of paper written over two centuries ago and it’s our go-to-catch-all that now never changes.

But fuck yeah, it changed.

It was meant to change. It’s written right in that little fucker. It changed twelve times a few years after its implementation. The last change was in 1992 and of course it had to do with congressional salaries.

From there, we move to religion – the archaic, old-time, never-updated, never-changing, never-accepting, never-apologizing even though it says it does all of those things – a man made belief in something neither seen nor fully understood.

Rough parts of religion are glossed over. Inconvenient parts are ignored. Words are taken out of context to fit the moment. Or adapted into rhetoric, spinning so fast that the listener knows not what to do unless he or she IS told what to do. Self-chosen leaders interpret what they think the book says and “translate” it to the flock. This book, written over hundreds of years and in countless lands then smashed together for the supposed betterment of mankind, is so dusty and stuffy that one needs a chisel, respirator, and thick gloves to clean it.

Don’t get me wrong; I grew up with religion, Lutheran style, where even Catholics were seen as “bad”. That’s one group of Christians saying that what another group of Christians believe is wrong even though it’s the very same wordshit from the very same book.

So…

Yipppy!

Yippy!

PERCEPTION IS A MUTHAFUCKER.

I just had a conversation with a writer friend who has a book landing soon. In it, she tells a lot about growing up. Fast-forwarding, she tells of her parents and some not-so-great times. We chatted about the thoughts her parents will have after reading it, even though they already know about it. But there’s something very different about the rest of the world being in the know too. Anyway, it’ll be her parents’ perception of events versus her perception and only she knows the full effect of said events on her psyche. In a way, this has correlation to religion. Any religion.

There’s extremists, zealots, and complete sharkshit crazy loonies in every religion.

Every.

Single.

One.

To deny this is a defensive persons idiotic tactic.

Where religion gets twisted is in the peace and tolerance part. When Pastor Roger Jimenez of Sacramento, comes out saying the Orlando shooting was a good thing, that’s neither peace nor tolerance. It is however, dumbfounded ignorance, and proof positive that religious rhetoric is powerful. And kills.

Although every religion encourages the idea of peace and tolerance, almost no one remains in peace or tolerates anything when it comes to their religion. NO ONE.

Kinda defeats the entire non-hostile fabric that any – ANY – religion weaves.

It could be noted, guess it’s gonna be, that even Hitler wrote, “By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” And by defending, he meant slaughtering. Perception.

Shit, even the leader of the KKK claims that it is a faith-based, Christian organization. A peaceful people. Perception.

I could read ten Bible versus and gain a completely different understanding than another person, say Pastor Roger Jimenez. He might glean that all non-believers must be lined against a wall and shot dead. I may interpret it to mean that we should love all our neighbors as we love ourselves. Perception.

Back in my youth, I had to read those passages and come to a realization on what they said. Many were the same, like taking a personality test, just written a different way. Many made no sense, but I was told that all made sense and then informed of said meaning.

Why?

Perception of interpretation.

Let’s reminisce: the Bible was written by many men. Many men who understood things differently. Many men who perceived teachings in a different way. In a way, it’s no different than someone like Jimenez who apparently interprets things from an extremist POV. Shall we say, even, a bigoted fuckwit POV?

Yes.

Yes we shall.

Even people who read this may change their perception of me. That is not for me to neither know nor care, because, change is always a good thing. But before you go all bugshit, think for at least a half second and ponder those things that you are TOLD and remember that the brain barfs ideas, just make sure that your ideas are yours and not what you’re told to believe.

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Writing With Confidence Because ALI

Even this person had confidence in writing "SOTP"

Even this person had confidence in writing “SOTP”

I had a different idea for this post. It was going to go in a completely different direction. Like a 360° spin, go back 360°, and then take a 180° and exit.

But…

Shit does indeed happen.

With the passing of the greatest boxer of all time, a complete and gracious human being, a man that inspired others, and a great champion of a person, I thought this should be about being great, like Muhammad Ali.

Like him, many should aspire to be the greatest them they can be. I think we all worry too much about what we’ll have while alive; what we can buy with our money; what we can gain through being good; or, what will happen to our stuff when we die.

Instead, we should be thinking about what we can do for others while we’re alive; how we can help people; how we can use our resources to get things done for the betterment of humankind; and, how our life may impact people in a positive and meaningful way.

Ali represented more than boxing. He stood for his beliefs with respect to the outcome of said beliefs. He was courageous and had conviction to stand up for himself, and all people. He was a humanitarian and he transcended this strange thing we call life. He was larger than life. Bigger than any sport, any sports star, or any celebrity.

How’s this relate to writing?

It doesn’t really, but fuck it, ALI.

Hang on!

Actually, it does and here’s how: Writers can take note and fully appreciate that Ali approached every fight as a unique and creative challenge. He cultivated incalculable faith in himself, his training, his craft, and his work in order to solve his every challenge.

Writers are hit with challenges at every sentence and paragraph. It’s a tough task to meld those things, like pesky words, into meaningful and expressive sentences wedge-hammered in neat paragraphs within a book.

Allow your confidence to show in your writing and the swagger of your pen. Perseverance and confidence are two essential qualities for any writer. When you hammer keys with confidence, it shows in your wordslurry.

Will My Character Be Dead Without Agency? (And What The Hell Is Character Agency Anyway?)

World Class Artwork

World Class Artwork

I met with a friend the other night and we got to talking about events in one’s life perhaps changing as a direct result of altering one choice or decision. In essence, and metaphorically, the butterfly effect. Without the complete chaos theory involved.

Yeah, I know, a stretch, but stay with me here.

Okay.

So yeah.

Choices and decisions and how they are involved in plot and story.

See?

Going somewhere with this.

And that leads to…

Character Agency.

*lungs reach for mass quantities of air.*

You might be thinking, “yeahwhat, I dunno.”

Why Character Agency?

Because what your character chooses through her decisions dictates plot and story.

We already know that Agency, in and of itself, is the capacity of a being to act in any given environment.(Oh, you didn’t know. NOW YOU DO.) Or, it’s the ability of your characters to act within a given scenario or plot, which, through those characters, you’ve created. Since characters shape your story, they are essentially responsible for where the story goes.

All directions.

You, the writer, are not responsible for plot.

You, the writer, are not responsible for plot.

You, the writer, are not responsible for plot.

You thought that was a typo.

Pfft.

Whatever.

It was important enough to repeat.

Three times.

One more time: Your character drives the story. She’s behind the wheel going one hundred into a hairpin turn. LET HER DRIVE.

You’re merely the sack of sludge, bones, and blood packing the vessel pecking at the keyboard (DO YOUR JOB) and reacting to what your character does through her agency; motivations, actions, reactions, and any push she gives to the plot through her decisions, whether conscious or unconscious. Her behaviors exist, whether voluntary or involuntary within the plot.

In other words, for rubes and simpletons alike, me included, character agency is the ability to make choices. One choice moves the plot in a different direction, whilst a different choice will twist said plot elsewhere. If your character decides to do X, that decision will have a distinct result whereas if the character decided to do Y, that decision would have a different result.

Go back and read one of your stories…

I’ll wait.

*taps fingers impatiently. didn’t think it’d take this long.*

Anywho.

Now take chosen story and change the first choice your character made.

See, completely different result. Completely different direction. THE CHARACTERS DRIVE THE DAMN CAR.

If your characters have no agency, they’re like a puppet that you’re controlling. Not one with the strings, one where you ramrod your hand up its tight fabric sphincter.

That’s as exciting as watching a Great White torpedo out of the sea and eat seal pups.

Hang on, that’s actually pretty damn exciting. But it gets boring. Eventually. Trust me on this one.

If your characters have agency, they’ll do and say things to shape the narrative, thus spinning the plot better than a black widow. And multiple characters, because no story has just one character, will create push and pull conflicts through their own decisions and motivations, which ratchets up the intensity, commotion, and intrigue of a plot.

The Blank Page Can Suck It

ideasThe other day I wrote about The Process you can find it here. It got me to thinking and wondering, back off, I CAN do both, back to a college creative writing class where the prof had us write to fill a blank page.

This was a time when electronic notebooks were not even a thought. It was when iPads, cell phones, MacBooks, laptops, and personal assistants weren’t brought to class because, well, they didn’t exist. In fact, a notebook still consisted of college-ruled white sheets of paper.

And we used pens and pencils.

Wait. Guess those are still in play.

Anywho.

Back to the class.

Yes, a blank piece of paper to fill in one hour. He might as well had me explain the theory of relativity. Or offer an understanding of Peace and War.

This is where I’ll tell you that creative writing is not about filling a blank sheet. That notion is invariably WRONG.

Creative writing is finding realism within the things in ones environment. Seeing the color red as more than blood. Seeing the sun as more than a lifeline of existence. Seeing people of every size, shape, and color and knowing there’s a story there. Creative writing is knowing there’s a story in everything and anything all at once. It’s so much more than allowing yourself the freedom to write whatever with reckless abandon. It’s making the unreal real. Making the non-existent exist. It’s taking something meaningless and minuscule and fabricating it into a morphing giant. It’s the power inside all of us just waiting to be dragged out by its gnarly hair.

It is not, however, asking a teenager or anyone to fill a single sheet in an hour. That, well, that’s just pure torture. Sure there’s writing prompts and whatever other bullshit we can use to break out of doldrums, valleys in Writersville, or bleak spots in Inkcity. And yes, they may or may not work.

But filling a blank page in a small amount of time is not creative writing.

While it’s creative, it’s not goddamn improv. You’re not in front of fifty drooling humans demanding a story while paying ten bucks for a drink.

Creative writing takes time. Stories take time. Sure, this shit is made up, but hey, we research a lot of stuff to get the details right. And details can make stories great.

 

Why Strong, Lead female Protagonists Are A Good Thing

yumaWhile I do not, I’ll repeat that, I DO NOT have the full answer to my own blog, I will attempt the following without dismembering said self through a jackfucked example.

Herein, I shall explain Why Strong, Lead Female Protagonists Are A Good Thing.

Allow us all to source our inner female for a moment. No, not the #womancard, not a feminine side: A genuine POV from a woman’s perspective, capturing the voice (not literally), the essence, likeness, abilities, and of course, the mannerisms. While artistic creativity allows the writer particular freedoms in storytelling, it needs to be said that creating any strong character is difficult.

But what is strong?

I’m not talking physical strength here. Kickassery does not matter.

In fact, a female character who does little more than ass-kicking is no better than one who is there to be rescued by a man. Both are overdone. Both are boring. Neither advance the character.

I feel a strong character has presence. A personality. An intelligent mind. Someone who demands the attention to be front and center. Someone who counts in the story more than enough to keep the story together. It’s someone who’s own story strengthens the entire tone of the story itself. In other words, strong can easily reference the greatness of the character.

Nothing changes if that character is a woman.

Nothing.

What changes are the experiences of the character.

If we’re being honest, and I don’t know you well enough to lie to you, women are handcuffed with difficulties in the real world. They are too real, too often, and many have again come into recent light in Hollywood, all have been around too long. The handcuffs include a glass ceiling. Pay inequality in every profession. Discrimination. A culture of preeminent dismissal brought by male oppression. Rape culture also brought on by male oppression. Gender bias, again, brought on my male oppression.

These are all real and present experiences that CAN be present in fiction.

YES, fiction can be real. DON’T FUCK WITH REAL.

A great character must have emotion, be compelling, have flaws, show complexities, and [sometimes] be able to overcome those flaws and complexities. Women in your stories needn’t be any different.

Ever.

Just represent their experiences and remember that they too can do anything.

Dear Superhero Movies: NO MAS

superheroesgalorePlease no more. At least for a while anyway. Maybe take a year hiatus. Let us catch up.

Not all of us read comics as a kid. Some of us played baseball. Or rode bikes. Or played outside doing general kid things like start fires or catch bugs.

Oh c’mon. The fires were small. Ish.

We get the Bat vs Superman. Sure. Makes sense anyway. Wayne Enterprises gets destroyed in the fight between Superman and General Zod.

The whole revenge thing in that you destroyed the family legacy now I must impart my impending Bat revenge.

Got it. All good. The whole checks and balances thing. Righty-oh.

Yup. Makes total sense.

What doesn’t make sense to us that didn’t read the comics is this whole Captain America war against Ironman.

Both are cool and…Totally believable characters.

But…

Let’s be honest. The quality of these movies has been going down faster than the Titanic while the quantity has increased too fast to keep track. And it’s only getting worse. It’s reached market saturation.

And where did the idea go to have just one superhero in a superhero movie? I know, cuuhrazy, right?

Poof.

It disappeared faster than chocolate cream cake at an all you can eat buffet.

Now these films must have two, three, five, six, or more superheroes just to capture the audience’s attention.

My mind cannot keep up.

It’s a whiz of a whirlwind engulfed in a tornado of epic proportions.

Even Batman v. Superman had to have Wonder Woman… and Aquaman… and Flash.

And the movie was, well, just, meh.

It’s going to happen…

Guardians of the Galaxy will need to be saved by Captain America. But not just Captain, his while damn squad of Avengers will come too. The entire plethora of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, oh goddammit, there’s way too many to mention. Then they’ll make a call via the red Bat Phone and he too will come zipping in on a wheeled wonder of a rig. And I’m sure Superman will be overhead. Somewhere. Watching and waiting for his call.

It just never ends, BUT IT NEEDS TO. NOW.

 

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