Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Big Picture

In case you haven't noticed, I have been very sporadic with my updates lately after being a model of consistency with my weekly blog posts. Today I am here writing that this will be ending. It's not the end of my blog, but rather a new beginning as I have experimented with in the past. I was happy with the results of my current version of the blog with the amount of traffic and the steady increases in readership that I have enjoyed over the past year or two.

My main reason for stopping the weekly blogs posts and movie reviews is that it is distracting me from my real goals. I am spending too much time on keeping this blog updated and it is taking a lot of time from what I really want to do. Writing fiction is what I really want to do.

The blog also isn't helping me the way I thought it would with building an email list or following. Yes I have had some limited success with this on Twitter and Google+, but ultimately will this help me sell books when I do finally push my word baby out into the world? From everything I have researched, no it won't.

The best way to promote a book, as I have heard over and over, is to write another one. That means I need to focus more time on writing and less on the everything else that I have been doing. Sorry Godzilla, but I will no longer run from you.  OK I lie, but still...

With that said, I am not going to quit blogging altogether. Now I will only be updating when I have something important to say or to post updates on what I am working on.

Virtual Wars Update

Final edits for Virtual Wars: Initialization (Book 1).
Pages finished: 71 out of 168

Outline for Virtual Wars: Running.
10% done.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Win Button

After a brief hiatus I have returned! Last week I took some much needed sanity time to myself. I spent that time doing some of the things I enjoy other than writing. I played poker, video games, and started watching Game of Thrones. I began to think of how video games and other forms of competition can be so addicting to us all. A friend of mine is hopelessly addicted to a game that is very simple in design, but it does have something that keeps you going and striving for more within it. It has multiple win buttons.

So what is the win button? More importantly, how can we apply it to our writing? We are wired to want to win. We always want the rewards that come with victory. In gambling that reward comes in the form of money. In a video game that comes with a cut scene, your scoreboard scrolling up more numbers, or a small pixel firework. That ding sound signifying victory also gives us comfort with the expectation of being given something more. A level up, something becomes unlocked, and now some more of the story is revealed.

Level Up

I like to think of each chapter as being a level in a game. I make each scene a new chapter rather than having multiple scenes in a long chapter. The short chapters can give a reader a sense of accomplishment as if they are making progress. The problem is making those chapters count. Sometimes you have background information that needs to be part of a scene to set up something later, but there isn't anything else in that scene to make it memorable. It also makes it easier to cut the fat from your work which can also cause plot holes. As you can see there are many advantages and disadvantages to the method (or madness) I use.

Side Quests

These little tasty morsels give your characters a vehicle to develop while giving background information out without boring readers with a ton of exposition. Exposition is like driving spikes into your reader's eyes. I think putting together side quests is a much better vehicle to send the necessary information through. While the main story and plot points are the reason you write the story to begin with, it is the side quests and stories that fill the dreaded middle of the novel and make it more interesting. Side quests can be as short as one scene, or expand themselves over the course of several novels as a major plot thread.

Revelations And Conclusions

These are the prizes you can give to readers as they read a novel. The end of each chapter or "level" deserves the reward of new information or some sort of conclusion. I like to end a chapter with a revelation that creates a cliffhanger ending. I try not to do that with every chapter. Without conclusions readers don't have any good stopping points. I am a notoriously slow reader, and understand the need for a good stopping point! Also if you never wrap up a side quest or plot point then you end up having a lot of loose ends that will drive you and readers both nuts. Don't cross the streams, unless you like have to stop Zuul.

These new food pellets of word crack will have readers turning the pages to see what is next in the same way they continue to hit the win button in their video games. It is important to leave a reader with a positive or juicy bit to leave them wanting to read on. Only the best wizards of words can wield this power to defeat the evil cannibal bunnies of Middle Scareyplace.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Rated R / 1 hr 26 min / Comedy

What is it about?

Connor 4Real is a pop star after Justin Beiber's heart. His first album sold over 4 million copies. His 2nd album is about to be released and he wants it to be bigger and better than anything he has done before. He spared no expense in having big names in the industry work with him like Michael Bolton, Yanni, and Tinky-Winky the purple Teletubby. The problem is that he abandoned all the people who made the first album a success and now he must suffer the consequences of having an album produced by DJ Lazy Smurf. His only shot at redemption is to renounce his foul practice of pooping during his performance and reunite with his friends.

You will like it if...

You like silly comedies starring Andy Samberg. Andy Samberg is a fine comedic sidekick, but isn't a star capable of carrying a movie on his own. He does well enough in this film, but doesn't get enough help from the supporting actors to make it great. The one exception is Chris Redd who gives the best comedic performance in the film and steals almost every scene he is in. Many of the gags fall flat as the film moves on and they are repeated several times while also overstaying their welcome each time. The celebrity cameos start off being funny, but by the end of the movie they feel lame. Three or four other gags that miss repeatedly are allowed more screen time than they deserve as well. There is a wealth of comedic talent that is wasted because the script only allows their characters to set up the next scene. Still there are almost as many hits as misses to amuse you throughout the film. The story of redemption gives you something to root for up until the end. While Popstar isn't a breakout comedy, it is decent enough to make fans of Andy Samberg and/or Brooklyn Nine-Nine happy. A mildly entertaining film that is well worth picking up from Redbox / streaming if you enjoy silly comedies.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose between Now You See Me 2 or Warcraft. As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on June 7