E3

Oh, E3. I remember the days when I’d count the days until your arrival, eagerly awaiting the leaked photos and dropped hints of what games I could see. And then a few years ago, I started getting less interested. E3 was becoming less about the fan and more about the shareholders. You started hearing the shows throwing out numbers like how many millions they would sell or what the anticipated pre-orders would be rather than how many missions would be in the game and how long the game would be. For a few years, E3 wasn’t quite as much about the fans.

Thankfully, it hasn’t taken long for things to change. And once more this year, I found myself excited for E3, looking forward to seeing a preview of the games I could dream of playing at some point.

And E3 delivered. Here’s what I’m excited about. And yes, expect lots of links.

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And Sci-Fi/Fantasy Gets Crazier

Wow.

I mean … wow.

With all the excitement of E3 over the last week and my work on short stories, I haven’t really been following the Hugo Awards that closely. After all, most of what was being said had died down to a pretty standard echo chamber, to the point where checking out File 770 was starting to feel like loading the same page with the names on most of the articles transposed one posting down and the same comments from the day before. Honestly, I know that Mike Glyer is just trying to chronicle the whole thing, but at this point, its all become so samey that it’s not really doing anyone a service. It’s sort of like advertising for a product like Comcast. Everyone knows their product is trash, that they’re a terrible company, and that you can’t take anything they say in their advertising as true, but they keep saying it anyway.

File 770 feels like a lot of that right now. Insular makes a blog post with outlandish, unresearched claims. The next day someone else makes it with the same claims, even if the first claim has been completely disproven. They don’t care, and they’re not going to read anything that challenges what they want to believe. The end result is that reading File 770 feels a bit like standing in an echo chamber full of Comcast ads. And that comparison is actually relevant because of what happened sometime last week: an editor at Tor lost her head online and said some things she really probably shouldn’t have.

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Being a Better Writer: The Try/Fail Cycle and the Evolving Story

Sorry for the late post, guys. E3 stole some of my attention.

So, stop me if you’ve read this one before.

Hero enters the villain’s lair/stronghold/fortress/secret base/cave/space station. Hero immediately faces down a group of mooks.

Hero effortlessly defeats said mooks. Only to face down a trap. Hero also effortlessly defeats said trap—possibly before the trap can even spring. Hero continues forward, facing traps, mooks, plot twists, and minibosses, defeating each one in turn, without difficulty, before reaching the villain and the final confrontation. Hero emerges supreme and returns home victorious.

Now, I ask you … if you were reading that story, about how far into that “climactic” series of events would you get before coming to the conclusion that no matter what, the hero is going to emerge victorious every time? Granted, this was a pretty threadbare example, because I didn’t go into a lot of detail, but how many stories like that have we all read? A story where the hero goes into situation after situation, and by about halfway (or a quarter) into the book, we can already see exactly what’s going to happen because the hero always wins?

Now, I’m going to preface things with a caveat here: We know that the hero is going to win. Usually. 95% of the time, it’s a safe bet that the hero will emerge victorious in some fashion or another. But on the journey there? A hero who simply crushes all in their path doesn’t really make for an entertaining read because the reader always knows what is going to happen. If your hero fights mook after mook, takes down trap after trap, and comes out on top every time, well, even if your action is written in an incredibly well-done manner, you’re still going to start running into readers who just start skipping over things. Why?

Because they’ve gotten bored. Because the book becomes going to a sports match where the players and the audience already know who is going to win. It get predictable. The action loses its tension. A great fight simply becomes not so great because the reader already knows who is going to win: the hero.

Again, we accept that most of the time we assume this about the ending, but why would it matter during the story? The answer? Narrative tension.

Which is why today we’re going to talk about two things: the try/fail cycle, and the evolving story.

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Being a Better Writer: Writing Outside Your Experience

This post was originally written and posted April 7th, 2014, and has been touched up and reposted here for archival purposes.

I have a confession to make: I’ve never faced down a magical golem in my life.

Surprising, I know. If you’ve read my work, it certainly sounds like I have. But the truth is, never once have I faced a magically animated, humanoid construct, much less on the roof of a moving train. I’ve never faced down an eldritch abomination of stitched-together body parts, either. Or suffered a post-traumatic event related breakdown. Or even used magical conservation of inertia to move myself around a room.

But I’ve written about all of these things.

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Unusual Events’ First Story is Done

Tonight, I finished the alpha of what will be hopefully the longest story in my in-progress story collection, Unusual Events. It turned out quite a bit longer than I expected, graduating quickly from a long short story of 10,000 to 11,000 words and becoming a 37,000 word novella—longer than my first published work, One Drink. As a result, I think I’ll be sticking in near the back of the book.

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Patreon is Live

Well, here we go. After urging from fans and readers, and with no small amount of nervous trepidation, I have finally set up a Patreon account, which you should be able to see on the right side of my profile page.

To be perfectly honest, I’m both curious and a little nervous at how this is going to go. This is the first time I’ve tried something like this before, and I’ll admit that I don’t know how it’ll shake out. Hopefully it goes well—though there have been a few who expressed concerns when I announced way back when that I was planning on getting a Patreon up and running, and I hope their fears don’t come true.

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The Colony

No, this post isn’t about Colony, the book I finished a draft of back in February (someday, I will have the funds to edit that book properly). No, this post is just a short and sweet one about The Colony, which is a low-budget, made for TV science-fiction film that’s currently on Netflix.

It’s not bad.

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