Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Redundants


It was another of those mornings when I woke up with odd ideas bouncing around my noggin. Nothing unusual there, but I figured I'd inflict it on my readers.

I had the idea of superheroes who are no longer necessary or useful. I mentioned the idea to Wendy and she came up with The Redundants for their League of Futility. Sort of a useless Justice League. Anyway, my main superhero is The Appendix. His super power? No one knows for certain, but if he disappears, we're in trouble. So, he's a bargaining chip. In dire situations, we threaten the bad guys by saying, "If you continue being bad, we'll remove The Appendix."

Actually, he does have another ability. If other superheroes need to know about the various powers and weaknesses of super-villains, they can refer to The Appendix.

Which brings me to another question. The word 'vestigial'. I looked it up online on the good ol' Merriam-Webster site, and it says: "remaining in a form that is small or imperfectly developed and not able to function." It's been said the appendix is a vestigial organ. So, perhaps The Appendix's sidekick could be Vestigial, the Redundant Wonder.

And here's another concern I have. If there's a vestigial organ, well, then, you just kick it out of the band and replace it with a piano. Something like that.

Oh, yeah, some of the other members of The Redundants are Captain Corvair, Lady 8 Track, and The Weed. The Weed isn't redundant, but the other members are always trying to get rid of him.

Keep writing, friends.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Poetry Ain't Got to Rhyme to be Poetry


Yup, I've been away from the electronic page for a bit, so I'm sneaking up on it. Laying down just a few words here and there to get my neurons firing again. So, today, I'm cheating a little. Here's some really bad poetry for you. You've been warned.

Upon this tooth-bedraggled shore
Did They once come
From Before
Beneath the glass sands
Their bodies lie
To rot
Decay
But They
In Their Unquenchable sleep
Arose in the minds of us
To lay waste to all to follow
Upon the tooth-bedraggled shore

That's all I've got for now. More later after the neurons are firing again.

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Do Not Fear the Cliche


I know I've harped before about the danger and overuse of cliches, but there are times when you can't beat a cliche to get your message across. And a well-placed cliche can touch off a whole flood of memories. I just used one -- "a whole flood of...", where you can insert whatever you want to flood.

Something to consider when using cliches is they come in visual and auditory varieties, not just the written ones. We were watching a batch of older horror flicks over the weekend, and some of the visual cliches that popped up were:
  • Scientists must wear white lab coats
  • Frightened women must flee in terror ("flee in terror" is a written cliche) and fall down when running away
  • Whoever wanders off alone will be eaten or whatever by the critter. They're the equivalent of someone wearing a red shirt on Star Trek. Monster fodder.
  • Fire destroys most monsters
And then there are the auditory cliches:
  • Those white lab coat-bedecked scientists must speak with bad German accents
  • If someone is the least bit hysterical, or possibly could become hysterical, they must need a sedative
  • The creaking door
  • Peal of thunder (there's a triple, as you must have preceding it the flash of lightning, and in writing, "peal of thunder" is a cliche)
Remember, though, not all cliches are bad. Some, when properly placed in our writing, can bring forth a knowing laugh. In the proper context, "Trust me," or, "I've got a bad feeling about this" connects a story to other adventure stories. I am, in this case, referring to Star Wars, but I'm sure plenty of other characters prior spoke those lines in dire situations.

Also, if you're writing satirical disaster flicks, "I've never seen anything like this before," will guarantee you some laughs.

Happy trails, live long and prosper, and be seeing you.

Keep writing, friends.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Observations from Writers' Group


Just want to get a few of these ideas down before I forget them. 'Course, I've perhaps already forgotten some, but they'll come back to me.

Be aware of your writer's tell. No, not William Tell. A writer's tell is a subconscious tic added to your writing. It's neither good nor bad, it just is. Mine is using the word 'just', as I just did three times in the last two paragraphs. It's not a bad thing. But when you use it all the time it can pull your reader out of the story.

For a little more about the writer's tell, click here: Writer's Tell

"I don't know what to do about this," John responded. Or John exclaimed. Or John yammered. Just use 'said'. Dialog tags should be invisible. They're messengers, and just like messengers, we don't need to notice them. "Only the message," John said. Oh, and did you notice, my tell slipped in twice in this paragraph? Annoying yet?

Watch for shifting perspective. If you're doing the third-person omniscient thingy, otherwise known as the god view, then, yeah, you can slip in and out of your characters' heads. But if you're doing, say, third-person limited, where you're mainly in one person's head, or a first-person perspective, then all of a sudden, you're writing from a different character's viewpoint, that can be troublesome. Just something to watch out for. And, oops, slid another tell in.

More later.

Keep writing, friends.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Fun Romantic Comedy in Singleland

Okay, folks, time for a quick ad. My wife, Wendy Currier Zumwalt, penned this terrific comedy about a young woman trying to find the ideal man. But then, she decides, perhaps she's better off remaining single. So.... she takes a class called... Singleminded.

Getting close to Christmas, and this would make a great gift. Here's the link:

Singleminded

Keep writing, friends.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Was He Mad or Just Really Angry?


Madness. I like a little bit of madness in a film, especially when it's Vincent Price playing the part.

First, though, what am I talking about? Why, none other than one of the finest madness-imbued stories, Diary of a Madman. Guy de Maupassant wrote the story (The title of his story was "The Horla", one I kind of remember reading way back in high school.) back in the 1800s, and it made it to celluloid, released March 6th, 1963. Last night, fifteen of us brave Scoobies managed to stay relatively sane while watching the horla toy with us innocent humans.

Well, okay, perhaps the characters in the movie weren't totally innocent. But, they weren't murderers. At least, not until the horla dropped in for a visit.

I think I've seen bits and pieces of the movie over the years, so I enjoyed seeing it in its entirety last night. And, yes, it's cheesy at times, but it's 1960s cheesy. You just can't go wrong when Mr. Price soliloquizes. Lavish Victorian sets, tall hats, horse-drawn carriages, and everyone's wearing the curtains. Really had that E. A. Poe feel, especially with the looming madness. Mr. Poe would've smiled.

Also, Mr. Lovecraft. I just the meaning of horla in Wikipedia (yeah, I know, it's not an authoritative source), and according to Mr. Wiki, horla is a loose derivative of the French words "hors" ("outside") and "la" ("there"). Stretch it a bit, and you have "out there". Okay, stretch it a lot. But it does have that Lovecraft theme of the "outsiders".

So, Diary is about a kindly, law-abiding French magistrate, played by Mr. Price, who becomes possessed by this evil spirit called the horla. Gradually, the evil beastie exerts its influence over Magistrate Simon Cordier, getting him to commit murder. I love one of the taglines for the movie -- "He upholds the law, except when he murders".

Watch for supreme character actor Ian Wolfe, who plays Cordier's butler, Pierre. The man was literally in everything over the span of his career, with more than 300 acting credits.

This is an entertaining film, and it really held my attention. You can pretty well figure out the ending, but don't let that stop you from watching it. Everyone goes mad a little every so often.

Cue maniacal laughter: Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Keep writing, friends.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Frightening the Normals


Finally nearing the end of editing my novel. Well, I still have two or three hundred pages to go, but this is it. The last run-through. I'm at the place now where I'm reading it aloud to myself, hearing the words, how they sound. Also, as usual, music is involved. As I've written my novel, selection of music is important. At the moment, I've been listening to some classical selections -- some of the Romeo and Juliet Ballet by Prokofiev.

Something to keep in mind, if you writers out there haven't already discovered, is that sometimes, especially during battle sequences, it requires you get loud. I do occasionally scare my cats, as I get looks like, "Well, we love him, but he's waving his arms about at nothing we can see, and shouting like a maniac." Also, it's not a good idea to do this part of editing at coffee shops. Coffee can get sloshed about, and they will ask you to leave. Unless it's a coffee shop that caters to creatives. Then they're used to that sort of thing.

Uh oh. Got to work on my battle sequence. Carmina Burana is playing. Where's my sword?

Keep writing, friends.