Friday, June 26, 2015

The Definition

I was thinking a little about the art of writing and really was wondering at what makes a writer a writer. It's not the ideas; everyone has ideas. Everyone likely even has one good idea that could be a best seller or block buster or whatever. Honestly, I think anyone's pet dog could write scripts for some of the block busters hitting the big screen lately. So what is it? What makes a writer a writer if not their ideas? I think it has to be the passion for the idea, the driving need to see the idea through to completion, to believe that the idea is something worth sharing and sticking with until it's whole and polished. That's the part that makes writing work. But it's the passion that makes it worthwhile work.


I believe that's what makes a writer a writer.


John, a writer in the making.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Courage

The more of life that I experience, the more I value courage. I don't mean fire fighter type courage, or the kind of courage it takes for a soldier to take up arms in the defence of his countrymen, although I do not want to belittle that courage either! I'm talking about the kinds of courage that make us do things we're not used to, to take risks in faith and actively receive the gifts that God gives us. I fully believe that God works in our lives, providing opportunities and ways for us to improve. The catch is that we need to have the courage to say 'this IS a gift from God, and although I think there could be problems, I don't see the bigger picture. He does and I need to trust that this is what I must do.' Courage, I think, is faith put into action; the best kind of faith.

I would be remiss without quoting C.S. Lewis: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. ”

I think that sums it up quite nicely.

I don't usually include testimony, but I truly believe that so far 2015 has seen a bounty of gifts and these things deserve praise and exclamation. There is some significant work that needs to be done on our ageing house and I was having trouble figuring out how to pay for it all. The solution arose that we could use equity in our home when we renewed our mortgage. The timing was perfect as our mortgage was due for renewal; we wouldn't suffer any penalties for renewing early. This catch: our payments would increase, no small thing when our budget was tight to begin with. But we went with it, saying 'things will work out'.

Almost out of the blue I was offered a different job (I'd given the company a resume four months previous and had forgotten about it) with a large pay increase, more than covering the extra costs of the new mortgage. It's a great opportunity, a great company and a great place to advance my career. the Catch: it's way across town far from bus stops and we would have to find another car. I took the job saying 'things will work out.'

I found an excellent car last night, a 2008 VW with extremely low KM; it's almost new and so long as the financing comes through, we will probably buy it. The payments are within what I think we can afford and there will probably be a 90 day no payment option that we can take advantage of, just enough time for me to get past my probation period with the new job.

I'm very excited to see what is in store for us next, I can't believe that this is the end of our blessings and all I really want is the courage to take these gifts given us and make good use of them. I realize I'm posting this in a public forum, and that it might be seen as less than helpful in terms of advice, so I will leave with what I think I have learned.

Do not be wary of gifts. Do not be wary or cynical. If it appears to be good and wholesome, it is an opportunity heaven sent. Do not find the small faults that might lead to excuses, these gifts ARE free, even if they don't look like it now, God will not present you with an opportunity only to withdraw all support later to see you fail, He wants you to succeed. That our mortal comprehension can't see past the now shouldn't let us influence the decision in the least. Be courageous, be bold and live the life God desires for you. Receive His gifts in confidence, knowing that his bounty will continue and that success is all but assured if you should only accept.

John, The Writer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mockingjay: How to properly preform a revolution or revolt.

I saw the latest hunger games this past weekend. We'd watched the first two and I had been really impressed with Catching Fire. Great plot, great characters and you could really see how the whole series of events was designed to make Katniss into a 'hero'. Mockingjay: Part 1 continued with a lot of the good character development that we'd come to expect and plot wise it did several other things really well. I really liked how Katniss wasn't forced into being a soldier; just because she survived the games doesn't really qualify her for real combat, she has no experience on a battlefield. I'm sure in the last of the series, that will change but such is life and Hollywood.

What bothered me most was the way the common men and women went about revolting. In both cases the emphasis was on sacrifice instead of a tactical goal and preserving life. While sacrifice is both noble and inspiring on screen, it doesn't make sense in warfare when simple alternatives present themselves. While I can understand that these are simple people, it makes perfect sense for District 13 to have agents planted to help organize efforts. And to supply them. The Dam sabotage scene is a great example.

Let's say that the bombs make sense since they need explosives for their work. Let's say District 13 is taking a hands off approach to helping. Let's just assume that. The people came in mass because they knew most of them would be human shields that wouldn't make it out of there alive. I have no idea what kinds of firearms those white mask guys are packing, but the bullets seemed to be stopped by a human body. Now if it were me and I had an ounce of self preservation, I'd have rigged up some kind of shield, medieval siege engine style. I think that makes sense, right? Stop half those bullets and save a ton of lives. Now if District 13 had supplied them with even small amounts of fire power, then everyone's getting out alive, right? I mean, those poor guys walked pretty much right up to the spillways in the fog before anyone said boo. Rockets launched from under cover would have done pretty much the same thing as their bombs in a box. I saw the District 13 weapons depot, those guys HAVE rockets.

Anyway, it was a very dramatic scene. People dying for their freedom etc, but I couldn't help but wonder if properly led why the Capitol wouldn't have fallen years ago when they seem to be falling now to a bunch of ticked off peasants with death wishes.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Closing the Year, Looking Back, Peering Forward

I sat down to write stories, but found that the words wouldn't come. So I figured I'd add to my blog as I listen to a Podcast of a Warhammer 40K match. I think my geek cred is safe :) As far as writing goes, 2014 was an interesting mixed bag. More interaction with writing communities through scribophile and wattpad and some relationships made there, although less volume of writing was produced. Mirror Mirror kind of stalled shortly after summer which is unfortunate as it had gained a decent following on wattpad. Mynfield Mysteries was tinkered with, but nothing significant progressed. The only notable writing I've done recently is paid work through textbroker, which was a nice infusion of income when we're living paycheck to paycheck for no apparent reason. I've also struck up a relationship with a professional UK editor, which was had some mutual benefit.


Looking forward to 2015, I have two goals. One short story for the March submission deadline of the Canadian Writers Guild Annual Short Prose competition (http://www.writersunion.ca/short-prose-competition) I've started work on a short story I'm tentatively calling 'Insomnia' about a man(being?) who deals in sleep as a commodity. The second goal I'm setting for myself is to finish a novella in the same world as the 'Angel Home' series. I need a good ending before I start anything and my intent is to develop the setting of the Angel Home world in preparation for a larger piece. If I can complete these two goals, I'll start looking at some of the other projects that have fallen to the wayside; Mirror Mirror and Mynfield rising to the surface as projects with the most work done on them to date, Angel Home coming in after as most complete idea.


2015 should be interesting. Unfortunately other constraints on my time, most of them because of stressed financials, are making it so I ether have less time to write or less energy to write. I'll continue my technical and product writing for textbroker, as it's a decent source of income although rarely could be considered creative work. I often wonder if I could work on my craft for a year if that could see any marked improvements or rise in quantity. I'm not sure. I doubt I'll ever have the opportunity to find out either.


Happy new year to all and best wishes as time lumbers on,


John the Writer

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Appearances

I think I always feel like since very few people read this blog (if any?) that I don't really care if it falls out of date. I should care, and I should update it more if only to make sure that anyone who does care gets what they came for. You know, appearances.

Current Projects : Mynfield Mysteries: Story Boarding, Mirror Mirror editing, Saara's Avengers Fanfict: writing. Seems like enough, right? I'm keeping busy :) Between school and work and life (and video games) writing is taking a bit of a back seat. Though I am trying www.wattpad.com a bit to see if I can get some fans or a following. Not putting Mynfield up there as I'd like to submit it at some point. Some odds and ends YA stuff though, that seems well received at least.

You can read them here : http://www.wattpad.com/user/JohnGunningham

For now, thats it. Just a little something for appearances.

John.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Took alot of Cold Hard Want to get what I got...

I was looking for a book to read about a week ago and picked James Frey's 'How to Write a Damn Good Mystery' off my book shelf. I friend had given it to me quite a few Christmas's ago and I never really read it. Likely because I figured I knew everything already. Hah. HAHAHAHAHA... hrm. I don't. No, oh my no.

James has some really, really good points on creating a story written by your characters. He stresses really good character development to the point that when situations arise you can ask the question 'what would this character do in this situation?' and you can answer yourself clearly. He also stresses making sure that there are lots of characters in opposition to each other. This ensures a couple things: first your plot will make sense, since characters are doing what makes sense for them to do. Secondly your plot will have conflict and excitement and action since you have carefully set up characters that will be naturally opposed to each other.

Simple stuff right? It is, really, but man... basics. I've never been formally taught in creative writing, unfortunately, and maybe that's part of why I struggle so much with getting projects finished. Frey also stresses step sheets and planning out your whole novel start to finish before writing. Thats including parts that are happening 'behind the scenes' and things that the reader sees and are actually written. All these events are brought back to the question of what would your characters be doing at any given time. That way the story has a fluidity and things are moving of their own accord as characters go about their lives perscribed by you, the writer.

Using this process a little more and getting some more planning done before hand so that Mynfield Mysteries has some direction seems to be helping. Just starting chapter six and the first five chapters seem to jive with each other and the larger story. I'm calling it act one for now as I jump from the wilderness to Arconis between chap 5 and six, we'll see how it works out in the end.

Anyway, just posting in order to post something.

Another note, www.radiou.com is just a fantasitc online radio station and House of Heroes new cd 'COLD HARD WANT' is simply amazing. They have the whole deal up on youtube, you can check the official links here : http://www.coldhardwant.com/

John, the writer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Process...

I've read a lot of hints and tricks to writing over the years. Above all I feel that several elements of story done well can carry a story. I'm feeling that way about 'Name of the Wind' right now. He has a good world, is an excellent story teller and knows how to weave an entertaining series of events. Somehow his story at times lacks what I feel is the right atmosphere, but it doesn't matter, really. The story is firm and engaging. I'm having trouble putting it down.

The more I write the more I realize that the details are things you learn and the guts, the main things you're writing you have to win. I used to write to my '2 of 4' rule: have at least 2 of the following 4 things in each chapter; action, a question, an answer or information. I've discovered now that this doesn't really work as it doesn't inheritally promote flow and pacing. With any entertainment media, I've begun to think of pacing as king (I've likely mentioned this before). Pacing requires a continuity of events and relationships between characters. To this end I've adopted the simpler model of Reaction and Action. If all events (actions, dialogue etc etc) are either actions or reactions, then by default you're bound to create chains. Chains have flow. So long as every action produces a reaction and the chains are designed to grow, a certain pacing is established that can be maintained relatively easily as long you don't have errant links.

Anyway, I thought I'd post this to keep something up here. It's a good trick for anyone having trouble piecing plot together.

On another note; Avengers. I'd just like to say that all special effects and big names aside, pretty well made movie. An interview with Joss gave an interesting insight; he wanted to have each character have equal time in the spotlight, something I think they did really well considering that all Avengers aren't created equal. Thor, Cap, Hulk and Iron man are kind of on their own level leaving Hawk Eye and Black widow behind. During the movie it felt that each Avenger had their uses, even if their strengths weren't on par. Except at the end. I really don't see how Black Widow and Hawk eye survived that last battle, even with their more extraordinary friends to bail them out. At any rate, that's nict picking. When the SHIELD aircraft carrier lifted off for the first time, I got goose bunps.

John, the Writer.