OP-ED: The Gears of War “Movie”: Games and Hollywood

Hollywood has … problems.

Okay, that’s kind of a lame lead. We all know that. Everywhere has problems. Is Hollywood unique?

Well … yes. Most of their problems are pretty specific. And a lot of them are of their own, self-inflicted making. If you want a fascinating hour, go look up a podcast on how things like Academy Awards are determined and you’ll be exposed to an almost insane feedback loop wherein people make movies to please the academy so that they can win awards to make movies to please the academy.

Yeah, Hollywood is weird. But one of their more puzzling “problems,” the one that I want to talk about today, is their obsession with “fixing what isn’t broke.”

That’s right. I want to talk about video game movies.

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Jungle Alpha Call 2 and Hunter/Hunted Update

News post! Let’s dive right in!

So, first up, let’s talk about Jungle. For those of you for whom the name doesn’t breed instant recognition, Jungle is the sequel to Colony, that big Sci-Fi Epic I released a few years ago that was a smash hit. Jungle is currently in Alpha, and moving along at a steady clip. I’m still working on having this one out by the end of summer/early fall. Which means in the coming weeks I need to start working on the cover while the first cycle of Alpha readers finish making their way through it.

I can already tell it’s going to be good. I’m getting Alpha read notifications at four and five AM, and the tension of readers as they make their way through the chapters is ratcheting up (I know this because I get comments). So far it’s looking pretty good.

However, I do want to widen the pool a bit. So I’m opening up a second Alpha call for Jungle. I’m looking for a few more Alpha readers willing to run through it in its current state and take a look.

Alpha Reading, though. Not Beta. For those of you not familiar with the editing process, Alpha Reading is not concerned with typos or the like. Alpha Reading is about the big things. Does the plot make sense? Did this chapter drag? Was this chapter exciting? What are predictions for the upcoming chapters? Was this concept adequately explained or was it confusing?

Beta, which comes later, is all about the typos and whatnot. Because there’s no sense in fixing them if the “fix” is in a section that may be rewritten.

But Jungle is still very much in Alpha right now.  Chapters are still open to being modified extensively, even with whole sections rewritten if needed (though that hasn’t happened yet; at most there’s just some trimming and small rewrites).

So, if you’re interested in playing a part in the Alpha of Jungle, leave a comment or contact me through the usual channels. The most headlong of the current Alpha readers is about halfway through, so you’d probably be able to catch up.

Commitment warning: The current draft of Jungle is about 456,000 words. Yes, that is gargantuan. Even longer than Colony (there’s a reason for it, I swear). So yes, it is a significant time investment. On the other hand, you will get to read the whole work before it ever comes out (please don’t spoil it for those who are waiting eagerly for the release) and be able to offer feedback that can help polish that final release.

So again, if you’re interested, fire me a line via the usual methods. If you’re new, I’ll set you up with a few chapters to cut your teeth on, and if you’re a returning Alpha Reader from before who now has the time, welcome back!

Now, that’s it for Jungle news. Well, almost. Just let me express how awesome this story is. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you enjoyed Colony you’re going to love this, and be taken for a surprising ride as well.

I’m not going to say anymore than that. Now. on to Hunter/Hunted.

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Being a Better Writer: Commitment

Hello readers! Welcome back to another Monday installment of Being a Better Writer! A late one, I know. Sorry about that. Late morning.

So, really quick, before we get down to the business of today’s post, the news! And I can sum it up very simply.

I am never going to edit two 300K+ monsters at the same time again. It’s doable, but it’s an absolute pain, and overtaxes everyone involved.

Unfortunately, now I’m committed. Hunter/Hunted‘s beta is about 2/3rds done, and Jungle is about 1/3 of the way through the Alpha (and this week I’ll be opening up a second set of Alpha calls for those of you that are interested). But sands and storms, editing two books at once, especially of this size, is too much.

Never again. I’m going to get these done, but then it’s one project at a time for editing. It’s just too much. However, if I keep working hard, I should be able to keep to my original planned schedule of getting Jungle out end of summer/early fall.

Only one other bit of news. Patreon Supporters, there will be a new chapter up for you this Saturday. I hit snag in the story I’ve been dropping there that backed my brain up for a while, but I think I’ve got a way around it. So look for that if you’ve been waiting!

Okay, all said and done? Then on with the post! So, let’s talk about commitment.

Now, I realize this might be a bit of an odd topic. And title. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of you saw it, metaphorically scratched your heads, and said “huh?”

Which only makes this post all the more vital, because the idea of commitment in the modern writing sphere is one that … Well, let’s just say I’ll bet that once we get going, a number of you will have a sudden epiphany and nod with recognition. Especially if you’re part of the generation that finds your entertainment online.

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Submission Call for Twilight Tales!

No. Not that Twilight. But rather this one!

Those who’ve been following the site for a while may recall that last year I worked on a short story for the LTUE benefit anthology A Dragon and Her Girl, which will be their 2019 release. LTUE being Life, the Universe, and Everything, an awesome (if not the most awesome) convention for writers, authors, and everything Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and the benefit anthology being a short story collection where the sales go to keeping the costs of the con down for students and other young aspiring writers.

Right right. Well, the call for this year’s submissions to be part of the LTUE benefit anthology are now open, and will be through August 15th! And they’re asking for light horror stories.

Me? I don’t have time right now. I’ve already got way too many projects on my plate on top of life issues to keep track of. But what about you?

Yes, you! That’s right! You! Sitting/standing there reading this!

Look, I know who my fans are. And I’ve seen some of your work. And I know that you guys are talented. I also know that for every fan whose work I’ve seen online or had the fortune to read, there are probably a dozen more who are here following Being a Better Writer, dutifully working on improving their craft and looking for their next challenge or chance to shine.

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Being a Better Writer: Atmosphere

Welcome back, readers! It’s Monday once again, and that means it is time for another Being a Better Writer post! But first, a bit of background.

Did you know that the first Being a Better Writer post went up August 2nd, 2013? It wasn’t on this site initially, being hosted on a free blog, but has since been transferred to here (it was The Art of Misdirection for the curious). Five days later, Misdirection being such a popular success, it was followed by a post on why writers need to read. Then a post on details. Before long, Being a Better Writer was a regular, weekly Monday post, and has been ever since, even when migrated from that blog and onto this site.

That means in just two months, BaBW will have been being regularly posted for six years. To put another spin on it, I only published my first book in February of 2013. I’ve been doing Being a Better Writer almost as long as I’ve been published. Once a week, baring holidays. That’s something like 47-48 posts a year. For six years.

All provided free of charge for any who may come across them. Being a Better Writer has appeared in college English course syllabi, on writing forums, on Reddit, and linked from just about everywhere. Sands, I’ve even had people attempt to “borrow” it. More than likely, there are a few places that have that I don’t know about too.

But again, all free of charge, and as of several years ago, now on an ad-free site.

The point I’m getting at? No, Being a Better Writer isn’t ending. Nor is it slowing down. There are enough writing topics out there that they’ll probably never run out. So don’t worry about that.

No, what I am suggesting is that if you’re a regular or long time reader of Being a Better Writer, don’t forget that there’s an author working to make ends meet behind the screen. One that has faithfully delivered a new Being a Better Writer post once a week, save holidays, for nigh-on six years. It’s a one-man show here on the other end where BaBW is concerned. Topics have to be found, research has to be done, the post themselves have to be written …Over six years that’s totaled over half a million words worth of writing advice. That’s a lot of material. If each BaBW post was condensed into an average lengthy novel (120,000) words, that’d make it a five-book series. Or just two shorter-than-average books of my own.

That’s a significant investment. I’m not trying to toot my own horn by bringing this to your attention, though. What I’m suggesting is that if you’ve ever found Being a Better Writer useful, whether it’s as the occasional reader, someone who shows up every week to read the newest post, a student from a college that’s syllabi made us of it … Whatever your initial cause for coming across it, please consider the fingers at the keyboard behind it. Maybe share the post so that more eyes can see it. Or, if you’ve got some spare cash, you can always purchase a book to support the author and see if they follow their own advice. You can even become a Patreon supporter, funding from which is used to keep the site ad-free.

But even a share is great. Did you like a Being a Better Writer post here on the site? Share it on Facebook, Twitter. Let those you know, well, know. They may find it just as useful.

Alright, I’ve said my six-year piece. Now, on to today’s post! Atmosphere!

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Genre VS Literary and the Cult of Twitter

Hey readers! Got an interesting one for you today. Sort of a call-back, almost, to last week’s post on “pulp” not being a stand-in for “fun.” Once again, brought up by an online discussion I saw in a reading sphere.

Oh, and the cover image there will make sense. Just bear with me for a bit.

This is a discussion that I suspect many of you have heard repeatedly if you’ve hung out in certain reading spheres, but a poster had dropped in to ask what the difference was between “genre” and “literary” as he’d seen both used often. They also pointed out that genre seemed to be used as a derogatory term, while literary was used as a form of praise, and wanted to know what they could do as a new reader to identify these “literary” books so they could get the best experience.

That poor soul, right? Okay look, I’ll level with all of you readers here: The division between them is largely nothing. Nothing but pretentiousness on the part of the reader or, in some cases, the author. We’ll get more into this here in a little bit, and along with a really neat example that just kind of shows exactly how foolish the whole debate is, but up front, and in reality … “Literary” is 99.9% hindsight. Those books that are written up-front as “literary works” tend to be overblown masses of text because the author went in with the goal of producing some overblown level of “literary prose.”

Wow, listen to those lighters being held up to torches. I call it like it is folks. Also, I know who’s lighting those torches: The same people that get uppity and snooty about “literary” versus “genre.” Because they hold what some of the people in the resultant discussion did, that only “literary” is worth reading, and that it’s “different” from everything else in a way that makes it superior.

How? Well, let’s start with the definition that was offered by these defenders of “literary” virtue. They explained to this poor poster that “genre” was a story that was just focused on cookie-cutter elements. As they put it, it was fiction that was heavily dependent specific narrative devices, had a niche market, and would not be of interest outside that market because of those narrative devices. It was further declared that genre boiled down to driven by plot and formula according to stereotype.

Meanwhile, they explained that “literary” works were those that ascended beyond cliche and genre to tackle interesting topics, explore new things, and be enticing to those readers outside of genre.

Bleh.

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Being a Better Writer: Voice VS Grammar

Welcome back readers! It’s Monday, and that means Being a Better Writer! So, our topic for today? We’re going to start off with a little quiz. Nothing complicated, just pick answer A or answer B.

The setup? Picture a man sitting alone in a train car. He’s alone in his berth, the other three seats unoccupied. He keeps glancing out the window. His leg is bouncing up and down in a rapid rhythm. His clothes are wrinkled, unkempt. He looks as though he may have missed his last shower. His fingers keep beating a nervous, staccato beat against the arm of his seat.

The door is open, and he jerks his eyes to it as a trolley stops in front of it. The man behind the trolley politely asks if the occupant would like anything.

The man in the berth opens his mouth and says—

Option A) “No, thanks.”

Option B) “No thanks.”

So, which option is correct?

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