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, 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 :

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.

Friday, May 11, 2012

We all Fall Down

I've been listening to ForthAngel on repeat for the last few days. Their latest release "London Bridges" resonates. Check these lyrics: "I'm standing right here / Right here on the edge / of a beautiful life" and this gem "but we all fall down."

I think they got it. I think that there is the answer. We are all of us, each and every one on the edge of a beautiful life. Do we fall? Oh man yes. Bad stuff happens. Terrible stuff happens and it rips your heart out of your chest and you stand there watching the life ebb from you and you wonder how you can take another step for fear of greater disaster. THAT is life. It's a war of attrition meant to change us from who we were to who we're going to be. You choose who you will become. Sure we fall. Sometimes it's our fault, sometimes it's other people who push us and sometimes it's events completely out of our control. But always, ALWAYS we have the option to step into that beautiful life. Everyone falls, its how you get up that makes you who you are. Makes you think.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Life Lessons the Hard Way

I like this site :  It always seems to be filled with realistic people as far as Science Fiction and Fantasy writers go. Since using wattpad hasn't garnered me any real attention, this article struck home as a good reflective piece of advice. It follows along the same path of that fatherly advice I received when I was young : Anything worth having is worth working for. The question the blogger asks is whether authors or would be authors should try to self publish. His answer is no, not unless you've been proven good enough to do so. The rejection letters and editing etc etc are a learning process that are part of a writer's trials. Yes there's fire. Yes there are tears. Yes you will be a better writer at the end of it. I guess each person needs to decide what they want out of the expierence and determine the amount of sweat and rejection they're willing to spend to get there.

School is nearly finished for the summer, I'm litterally days away from my last exam. I haven't written on Mynfield Mysteries for a while; it's been on hiatus until I can get school over with. I haven't not been writing, however. Years ago a friend and I worked on a game design document that was mothballed for a while. My brother recently got the idea to design some sort of tower defense game and was asking me for advice on how to go about it. His project prompted me to dust off 'Dungeon Mercenaries' and work on the design document. It's fun because it's easier than trying to write characters and story, kind of a break is as good as a rest. It might even turn into a story someday since game design, rpg game design specifically, is basically world building.

I have another post in Draft talking about my impressions of the newest movie crazy "The Hunger Games" and how it compares to other recent pop culture phenomena. I didn't post it because I'm not sure I've formed a complete opinion yet. I am facinated by something that can resonate with so many people. It speaks loudly that there is something missing in this culture that people are trying to find and that one place their search takes them is the theatre. They must think that they're finding what they're looking for, as insubstancial as it is, and are eager to escape to that world for a little while.

Hopefully more Mynfield Mysteries as time allows and soon!

John, The Writer.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Mynfield Mysteries - The Long Road Home

I'm proud of Mynfield Mysteries. It is my best work to date. Most of the plot is clear and the pacing is decent. The characters are the types of people that I've always wanted to read about. All of them are flawed, which I like. Characters in a story have to grow and, above all, they need to behave according to thie virtues and their vices. The growing, however, takes time. I'm hoping this story allows me the time to see them grow. Jonas is the Catalyst for this growth. He, himself, may not change much but I'm hoping he will effect change around him. That would be the theme, I think. One man acting can change the world simply by changing himself.

I've always envisioned Jonas as a Doctor Who type hero, but I know this isn't entirely true. Although not violent by nature, Jonas' mysterious past (so cliche, I know!) has been very difficult. His greatest trait is that he hasn't been utterly broken by this past, becoming strong because of it. He's already had to change and the reader doesn't get to see what he was before, but they have to know this man is better for it.

If Mynfield Mysteries has a theme, that is it.

I've posted the first chapter here:

I hope it comes as an enjoyment.


Thursday, March 01, 2012

Pray for the Rain, May it Redeem Their Eyes

Putting in an effort to get something in this blog once or twice a month, even if it's just fortune cookie philosophy tempered with theology. I've been writing, but I think I'm going to expand my wattpad page instead of here. 14 views on Life Plus, no comments. I think I'll post some Mynfield Mysteries up there. I know it's different from alot of the popular stories that are front page right now, but at least it's a different style than Life Plus. More character and story and less dark at least, right now it's less dark. Brings to mind the question I've had before, if an artist creates with no audience... what is his motivation? To what end does he struggle? Maybe it's moot, but I still feel I need to get these stories out. They may consume me otherwise, flesh, bone and marrow.

I've been giving some thought about the casual state of morality in local society. I doubt it is any worse than in many other ages, but maybe it is. There isn't a metric for this, no gauge that can really be used to measure how defunct society has become at any given time. Generally, though, there is a moral defficency that I feel is getting worse, at least in the younger generations. Traditionally the church has been responsible for the moral fiber of a community, but is it an absense of 'church'? Air1's Brant Hansen has a great interview with author and researcher David Kinnamon about youth leaving the church here : If this topic interests, I recommend listening. Within they discuss the church's relavancy in todays culture and, specifically, why young people are leaving the church.

I think it's more than an absense of religion (Christian or otherwise, almost all religion, afterall, is based on morality). I think it's an acceptance and even a tendancy to reward unethical behavior. Walking the halls of the University, I overhear a lot (I'm not nosey, just observant). Should a story of binge drinking leading to blacking out be accepted? Should a one night stand be rewarded with a fist bump? These are, unfortunately, as close as many people get to adventure these days and people are generally bored. It's everywhere because it's easy to do. There's a general acceptance that these things happens. It seems generally this is considered not excellent behavior but not exactly terrible. After all, who's being hurt? Unfortunately the answer is likely themselves; it's self destruction wether they see it as that or not. I could argue pretty successfully that any selfish behavior is ultimately self destructive. It cheapens the soul or if 'soul' is too heavy a word, it deadens ones sense of morality.

I don't have a close for these thoughts, which isn't fair. Problems should have solutions. I'll end with some bible that should be obvious but doesn't seem to sink into the minds of 'safe' men. Psalm 15:4 "Despise the Despicable". Hard words, but I think easy going is killing us all. Wisdom and courage are needed by those with concern.

I'll post some wattpad links later, cheer this place up a bit.

John, The Writer.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I read through a bunch of my old blog entries the other day and decided that instead of waiting to have a story to post, I'd just write a little blip. Maybe add some links. Tragically this is just filler since no one reads this. The IDEA is one day someone will hear something and say "hey that John guy.. he's alright. I should google that guy!" and BAM! This blog pops up and there you go, at least someplace I have writing for people to read.

Apparently writing is more about marketing than writing unless your pen drips pure genius. For those of us with moderate genius, we need to spend as much time promoting as we do writing / reading to stay current on the craft. It brings to mind the old addage, "if a writer writes and no one reads it, does he actually exist?" Maybe not. Depends for the reason you're writing I guess. If it's personal than you could happily spend years writing a massive epic and upon completion, set the whole deal on fire. If a writer writes for basically ANY OTHER REASON then he wants someone to read what he's got.

I think the key to this is with any craft, it needs to be supported by a community. Thinking back, the last time I had something like that was when I was posting on elfwood (it still exists! I think my account still has material on it actually...) but that was ages and lifetimes ago. I know I've grown alot as a writer and hopefully as a person as well. Maybe it's time to start taking this writing thing a little more seriously. Maybe it's time to take this writing thing ALOT more seriosuly.

That means getting the name out. That means getting people interested. In a world where fan bases are whimsical and treacherous things, how? I have a plan. It's not even manical. I'm goi g to read and give honest comments. Wattpad is crazy active. Most of the comments I've posted thus far have resulted in replies within minutes of my posting. I blame iPhones. My story has as of yet no comments and four reads, each of them mine. I'll be posting something a little longer there soon. From what I've seen, people like things with chapters in them. I HAVE that. I have alot of that.

Signing off for now, will post with updates on this little marketting adventure pans out,

John, The Writer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Winning and Losing.

I entered a contest here: and didn't place. The part of me that had dillussions of a winning entery springboarding my career as a writer is a little sad. But, as that plucky little frog says from the storks gullet "Never Give Up!" The problem, likely, is that I'm not good enough. I can fix that, I can get better!

I started a wattpad account and posted teh story there. I think that makes more sense than posting it here. For one, the formatting isn't completely nuked by blogger, whihch is a useful feature in a writing site. 

I started reading a few science fiction pieces on wattpad and just have to say, to any writers that MIGHT come across this post: vulgar language does not immediantly make your story more mature and respectable. If anything, it shows a lack of expression that a writer can't get that specific mood set by any other means. I should ellaborate.

I see this in books, comics, movies, TV shows... every concievable creative media. There's a pattern, a formula that is used that, while works to a degree, is not always optimal. It's more than vulgar language, it's mature content in general. Sex is thrown into media to make a scene more exciting, it works because sex is exciting (reguardless of your opinions on the matter, it is) but it is often a crass use of it. A cheap trick to get cheap results. There are times when it's used expertly, read The Watchmen to see what I mean (don't settle for the movie, the original TPB lead-up, background and execution of this scene is superior to the silver screen rendition). Here it means something more than a cheap thrill. It means something because, to the characters, it is actually meaningful.

Vulgar language, when used for shock value, should be used sparcely. I can't say I'm a fan of crass words, but I understand their effect. to quote C.S. Lewis on the same type of subject "Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite." It's the boy that cried wolf syndrome, use something too much and your readers will become accostmed to it. Then, when you really want some shock value, it doesn't hit as hard since that same character cursed similarily wether their sports team missed a play or their wife has been kidnapped by terrorists. See what I mean?

In closing and on the same subject, I've seen movies and read books that built up more charge and more expectations, and therefor more satisfaction, from two characters kssing than from the steamiest sex scene. Think on that.