Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Little Ol' Martian Potato Farmer Me

I've been reading Andy Weir's book "The Martian", and am a little over halfway through. I've been reading a lot more lately during the winter, willingly giving up a lot of TV for the pleasure of a good book. Let's see, starting back in October or a little earlier, I read "The Sword in the Stone", wonderful book about the young King Arthur before he was a king Next came "The Once and Future King". I was a true Arthurian junkie at this point. Then I had to read "The Book of Merlyn", because Mr. White really left me hanging at the end of "The Once and Future King".

Read Ian Fleming's "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" next. Yes, Mr. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" wrote a smashing good children's book. Then, since I was apparently on a British kick, I read "Mary Poppins". Got to say, I like the movie version a little better. Mary was just plain mean in the book.

So, back to "The Martian". Written in first-person style, this is a rockin' good read. This is Mr. Weir's first novel and I look forward to what else might come from his pen. He starts right off, Bang!, into the action, and it had to be told first-person. I like the character of Mark Watney. He's tough, with a good sense of humor, sometimes a gallows sense of humor, that really helps him survive.

One thing I've noticed that I like, is that as Mark goes through his day-to-day survival, his log entries subtly show how he's becoming more and more of a Martian. Oh, I don't mean he's turning green with tentacles and a third eye. Actually, the correct term would be colonist. He's becoming a colonist. When he goes on missions away from the Hab (where he lives) that last for several sols (Martian days), he says sols instead of days with a comfortable familiarity. Like when we would say, "So many days ago, I...", Mark would say, "So many sols ago, I..." All very casual.

And, when he's been on one of his outings, he talks about being glad to get home. Not home as on Earth, but home as in his Hab. It's becoming home to him.

Yep, I'm looking forward to more work from Mr. Andy Weir. A tip o' th' astronaut helmet to him for making this read feel natural. Now, I have to finish reading it so I can get Mark home, uh, back to Earth...

Keep writing, friends.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Duping Our Readers (But in a Good Way)

Strange that it was a TV ad that gave me this idea. And a cheesy ad at that. But it stuck. Anyway, I was watching MeTV the other night (which was begotten from TV Land, which was begotten from Nick at Nite, which was begotten from Nickelodeon, as far as classic TV goes), when a commercial popped on for a way to receive free TV on your TV set (do they even call them TV sets anymore? Showing my age here). Just a little larger than a thumb drive, it plugs either into the TV's cable connection or USB port, I couldn't tell which.

Now, here's the deal. Of course, they show lots of happy folks plugging that little rascal in, and they're all happy, watching these beautifully rendered shows. And they've given it a catchy name--FreeTVKey--but it's just a tiny little digital antenna, folks. And I'm betting it's not going to get good reception unless you're sitting right on top of a broadcast station.

But it got me thinking. Look what they did there. They used the word 'free' (we all want something for free, right?), along with the word 'key' to form an association. A powerful association. Remember, that words are potent little building blocks, and certain words carry strong connotations. Like 'free' and 'key'. So, let's play around here. In this era when there's more cable cutting, we'd all like to be 'free' of our shackles to the cable companies, right? What 'unlocks' shackles? A 'key'.

Perhaps I'm stretching things to make a point, but you get the idea. As writers, word choice is important. Which words work best together? How can I keep my readers on the edge of their seats? How do I keep them turning the page to find out what's around the...

Uh huh. You get the idea. Now, to clarify, when I used the word 'duping' in my title, that's an emotionally-charged word. And no one wants to feel duped. But as writers (and readers) we do want suspense...tension...then release...then...

But, wait! There's more...

For a few other posts on word play, click on these links:

 Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Orryvoyer, King Arthur

Or, in other words, au revoir. So says the little hedgehog to King Arthur on the eve of the last battle in "The Book of Merlyn", the final chapter of the Arthurian saga by T. H. White.

There is an excitement, also a sense of loss, anticipating the end of a book, whether it be a book we read or a book we write. I experienced both as I neared the completion of my manuscript (which I hopefully will complete edits on soon). I also experienced those same feelings as I neared the end of "The Book of Merlyn". And so, we stall, we delay, nearing the end.

I just finished reading the book last night, feeling both happy and sad; and frightened and courageous. Reading "The Sword in the Stone", then "The Once and Future King", and finally "The Book of Merlyn" was one of those rare events where I completely slipped into Arthur's world. I watched him go from the young Wart to the full embodiment of England. So I wish to take this opportunity to thank and salute Mr. T. H. White for taking me along on this grand adventure. I say goodbye to Mr. White, and Arthur, Guenever, Lance, and King Pellinore; the animals that Arthur spent time with and learned from; and even poor, confused Mordred. The wonderful thing about this tale is that I carry all of them with me now. And whenever I wish to visit them again, I have only to open a book.

And, as without readers there would be no need for writers, I say...

Keep writing, friends. And reading.