Scan the average national news source and millennials are being blamed for the decline in everything from the oil industry to the beer business. (Even IndieWire has placed the demise of the DVR at their feet.) With a murky, nebulous attitude toward an emerging generation, it’s difficult for shows based primarily around millennial characters to…
This is a really thought provoking blog on how to approach writing fight scenes. It is very tempting, for young writers and new writers, to make action scenes into anime or the Matrix (OR the Ani-Matrix). Once upon a time I was one of them, but it quickly became apparent that it didn’t work. Fiction text isn’t the same as what appears on the screen. Clarity should top flashiness, mood should always be conveying the tone you intend, and the closer you get to those fighting the more you use the possibilities of fiction to their full capabilities. BUT that’s just my take, what do you all think?
On social media, forums and Reddit of late I’ve seen quite a few people asking about writing fight scenes. So this week, with axes in hand, I thought we’d battle our way through it.
There seems to be a few general rules of thumb for writing fight scenes. They are:
- Blow by blow is boring;
- Clarity is king;
- Show v tell.
Let’s look at each in detail.
Blow by blow is boring
“He swung left, then right, dodged a lunging blow from behind, rolled to the right, raised his sword to parry another attack.”
A fight scene should not be a stream of blow after blow until everyone’s dead or retreated. Rather, it ought to be a portrayal of a character’s physical and mental state as they experience danger.
In movies seeing every punch and kick, decapitation or shooting is sadistically entertaining. On the page it’s a different…
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“For me, there’s nothing more cringe-worthy than when a first-time author announces that their manuscript is over 200,000 words, or worse yet, 300,000 words. The worst part is that they usually say with pride, like they’re looking for praise. I’ll admit, writing that many words is quite an accomplishment and for that reason, they should be proud, but announcing a single volume manuscript that long tells me that the writer has not done their research in regards to how long their novel should be to fit established guidelines.
Now, most word count guidelines are just that; guidelines. That said though, there are practical reasons why those guidelines exist. That’s not to say that a 200,000 word manuscript can’t be published that way, but it’s less likely to be and it will run into a few problems trying to get there.”
This is a short and nifty article to help explain something I have seen dozens of writers struggle with, and in the past have struggled with myself. As I said in the comment sections of this piece, by the end of a story the story should be where it needs to be. There are some marvelous books that I’ve found myself extremely disappointed in because the author seemed to keep padding or seemed desperate to conclude their massive novels. Their editors are probably great, but after a certain point the novels simply declined between half one and two. As a reader I found myself asking “Did they have an editor who knows pacing and length?”. I think being aware of word counts is secondary, but it can be important to keep in mind when thinking about if your story is doing what it needs to do in the length it is.
The moon is high on the sky with a halo.
via Pen, Page
The nine flight-team engineers of the 1977 mission have been putting off retirement to see through one of NASA’s most successful spacecraft all the way to the end.
Confession I automatically thought “Do they mean Vyger” alla Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This is the stuff science fiction dreams are made of because its such a romantic aspect of space discovery. Isn’t that what we all think of in that brief moment we yearn to touch the stars and walk on the moon? Space and the technology we use to get there are both intrinsically fascinating subjects, reflecting the passion of our very human obsession to explore. These engineers have pushed humanity further and their dedication, love of their mission, and passion for the wonder that is technological space exploration are things more than worthy of praise. They are some of the best of us and they will be the ones who make our future homes among the stars possible.
If we’re very lucky the colonization of mars won’t remain a dream for much longer.
As you might expect of an alternate-history TV series in which the South won the Civil War and slavery has yet to be abolished, “Confederate” hasn’t come as welcome news to many. The upcoming show from “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss has already been protested on social media, with many hoping…
While reading this I couldn’t help but feel many of my thoughts were echoed. While people say this is about censorship and blah blah blah. To me I have these thoughts:
- This show feels like it is capitalizing on black pain and trauma in a period where we black folk are intensely aware of our vulnerability, and don’t need an alternative history to see that. It has been the tradition to say “At least we aren’t that”, but in many places around this country the confederacy is integrated into everyday lives. Monuments, holidays, and even up north and out west the confederacy remains a heroic entity. Hell in Europe some white nationalists, due to banning of nazi flags, have begun using confederate flags. Racism isn’t an alternative history. It is our lived experiences and capitalizing on that due to an up-surge of fear and nationalism from a majority white lead and controlled production feels like the same exploitative tune we’ve heard before.
- I question whether a show lead by people who can’t properly tackle rape and sexual politics on a channel that uses sex and violence as over use titillation can both be trusted with this material. My gut instinct is no. Often, I feel white culture has a very real element of minorities, especially blacks, being told to accept on good faith the work, ideas, and arguments of the “rational” white folk. We are asked to accept on good faith that this will be handled well, and while it’s fair to say “Watch the show then decide” it’s equally fair for people to say “Based on your previous work I don’t fucking trust you and quite frankly I have no interest in what you can do.” We don’t have to explain ourselves. We don’t have to argue with you. We can say our piece and move the fuck on, and don’t you dare demand that we should play a game we’ve played with a dozen other white folks because it’s new to you. We’re tired. We just are, and just let it be what it will be.
- Parading two black people, even if they are willingly participating, around as though that gets the minority stamp of approval on a product is disgusting and repellent. I don’t blame the 2 black writers for Confederate for taking the job or defending it. They’ve gotta hustle and they gotta stand by their work, but 2 black folk doesn’t ever discount other black folk. We’re people not props and regardless of whether you agree with someone there’s something fucking distasteful about
- White fragility is very real in our society, and for you snowflakes, I don’t mean all white people, but I do mean white society. Would Confederate have the balls to actually avoid doing the “good white/bad white” dichotomy and show the full extent of racism’s hold on conscious and unconscious perception. If the answer is no, and I believe it is, I have no interest in seeing it. Why should I when I’ve seen that in nearly every Civil Rights and Slavery era film dealing with race in anyway?
Django is a good film, but if the German doctor wasn’t there most of the Tarantino fans would be calling the film a racist black power fantasy. It is the German doctor’s goodness and the white plantation owners intense cruelty that make Django palatable to them even as Tarantino subversively questions aspects of “Good white men” via the German Doctor. Say what you want about the lead and creator, the story of Nat Turner in Birth of a Nation, does an awesome job of dismissing the myth of the enlightened abolitionist, the good white woman who doesn’t really “see race” like her contemporaries, and doesn’t create progressive whites to make the white audience feel better about American or International history. The good white folk may have more sympathy, but they are no less racist. This white woman teaches Nat Turner, but is careful to keep him from anything except the bible even saying “his kind” can’t understand concepts such as freedom, liberty, etc. Her progressivism, much like some modern progressive views, is just paternalism.
Is that to say there were no progressive thinkers? Not at all, but even among progressive thinkers white folk who would break bread with every day black folk and not condescend or evoke racist ideals in some form were rare. Even among African Americans there was a very strong participation in the belief of Africans as more “primitive” until the rise of Pan-Africanism. Racism is constantly depicted as the great evil of evil people when evil is mundane, cruelty mundane, and while we made say it was evil wealthy white men who were drunks or insane or greedy who were cruel we know for a fact it’d never been just them.
Plenty of folk ,including people of color, didn’t care about black lives in the 1800s and still don’t, and it isn’t a matter of bombing churches or even denying all job applications from blacks. White fragility prefers the existence of monsters in the face of angels who extol the modern ideals of liberty, freedom, and life to all races in defiance of time and place. That’s not realistic and it isn’t honest, and us black folk know it isn’t honest, and have talked about it for years…now ya’ll just know about it.
Yet portraying this makes a lot of people uncomfortable often conveyed in meetings as being too harsh and unfair depictions. There is an innate discomfort when they are faced with being held responsible for the continued damage of their culture and the continuation of racial evils. Always we are asked to go “But not you. You’re good” by virtue of white characters the audience is expected to relate to as representing enlightenment. But in the 1800s and on enlightenment was part of phrenology, the belief in civilization versus everything not European, that Blacks had to go be sent to Africa to protect white folks and white society even if blacks should be free. I continue to affirm and believe most white folk have the moral character to move beyond fragility to something more, but I do not trust television executives to be open to doing so in their professional lives. I do not trust a room full of mostly white writers to do so in their professional lives to a degree that is clear in their story telling. I know most of my readers have, my friends have, and my loved ones. I am very lucky in that, but I have seen even the most liberal of white folk engage in behaviors dripping with fragility when it comes to Confederate and #NoConfederate. And it’s not unexpected. I don’t want this story to contain a major story line of a good white couple(looking at you #Underground) being completely or mostly beyond racism or moving beyond it in the span of just a few weeks or months in the shows timelines. That’s not how that works. Ever.
- Why this show and why not a dozen other media that exists about black freedom? Why not an alternative history where blacks rebelled or where Haiti gained the upper hand alla some of N.K Jemison’s works or Kindred’s exploration of sexual exploitation, interracial relationships, liberal guilt, and race? Why not but the rights to WGN’s series Underground? I ask these questions because there’s something particularly insidious about how the white gaze conceptualizes confederate tortures, excused as southern, yet is unable and unwilling to engage in truly challenging works from black american creators. That is what made Get Out’s success so fucking shocking, and I question if people have already forgotten about it’s success. In my heart of hearts, there is something deeply wrong when I see people defending Confederate, people calling Wakanda unrealistic, and the jump to put on shows about black trauma before putting on shows about black liberation via a fantasy/scientific lenses from non-black creators.
Well those are some of my thoughts, but I’m dying to hear other people’s opinions and views.
- Create a playlist that suits your story. I use youtube and soundcloud to create unique and fun sounds from contemporary, classical, and indie artists all over the world.
- Give yourself 15 minutes to fool aorund on your phone
- Put your phone down
- Open your writing program or grab your favorite pen and paper
- Prepare both a large mug of hot and soothing tea, and have a chilled bottle of water(large) for after the tea is consumed. Good teas? For a racing mind I drink chamomile. For a chill day spearmint or peppermint. However I am down for chai tea at any hour of any given day.
- Have a pack of snacks that go with tea, preferably cookies/biscuits…preferably chocolate chip.
- Turn off your wifi, unplug your Ethernet, toss cord out of reach.
- Put your phone down.. Didn’t I tell you to put your phone down.
- Put playlist at low to medium volume.
- Sip your tea
- For every 200-300 words eat a cookie/biscuit, and feel rewarded and accomplished.
- At 1200 words reward yourself with a 15 minute break,
- Get back to the joys of writing
- Repeat every day or until writing is finished.
There is my foolproof guide to writing with a motivator(the sweets reward), something soothing, and without distraction!