Brain Static & the Spiritual Nature of the Internet

Nothing major to report right now other than discovering what things slow my progress and distract me interminably.  I really do not like writing out of sequence.  That’s now a known quantity.  It’s also getting ahrd for me to resist going back and starting to edit.  I must not fall into that trap.  And of course, “Adulting” is never a fun thing to deal with, but I’ve also been noticing a strange phenomenon regarding my time spent online.

I’m an unrepentant news junkie and social media addict, despite my curmudgeonly attitude towards things like Snapchat and Twit-er (see?).  Facebook is something I use mostly for non-writing stuff and keeping up with family and friends, and watching/listening/reading the news often grabs my eyeballs to the point where I get to be jumping from one story to the next, constantly checking for status updates for more information on stories that have absolutely NO connection to me.

What I’ve come to realize is that this has been destroying my focus and ability to hold cohesive thoughts for long enough periods of time to develop understanding.  Kinda bad for a writer to be suffering with.  It’s odd, but I keep wanting to scroll to see if there is something else to watch in my head, so to speak, and I can’t focus on what I’m doing in the moment.  Even doing this post right now is an example of putting off what I should be focusing on.  Now Steven Pressfield (if you write, I recommend you get his blog, some very good and hard stuff) will say it’s good as long as you still get your ass in the chair daily and bang out the words.  If you want to be a pro, you gotta write and you can’t do it save by doing it.

And then I came across this little gem of a video and went:

“Huh…  Self, is this is something that could be plausible?  Why, yes it could be other self… yes it could be.”

 

Okay, okay, before you think I’ve completely lost the plot here, understand that my background took me into this kind of metaphysical experimentation.  To my mind, this corresponds with some experiences I’ve had.  I also have done a fair amount of lay person research into the basics of spiritual warfare/deliverence ministry/exorcism for the basis of my fantasy setting’s “Magic System”.  BTW, I ran across this too in my many youtube research dives:

Very helpful in understanding what the heck I just did with my world.  Using Prayer and the Gifts of the Spirit is a very soft magical system of sorts.  It’s predicated on you not doing it, nor is an unconscious/inanimate resource you can exploit.  It’s about relationships and (ironically) focus and distraction.  Something that I think I need to actually address in the narrative of my story.

So it got me thinking about how much of the distraction I feel is because of the addictive nature through Dopamine hyper-stimulation courtesy of those dirty rotten poopieheads at Facebook and other online social sources, and how much could be spiritual in nature?  After all, I am writing Christian based fiction dealing in spiritual warfare.  Ya think that if this really is the spiritual case the Enemy would not want me writing about such things as would be a crack in the omnipresent pagan influence over fantasy?

Yeah I thought as much too.  So… it’s plausible enough for me to consider how I interact online, and cutting down these “astral links” to specific well guarded gates to my own conscious and internal life.  One thing I’m going to have to force myself to do is get away from video and screen time and put my nose into books rather than listening to them.  I’ve stepped away from physical books over the years, I have come to realize because my eyesight got worse over the last 3 years thanks to hitting that magic age when your arms ain’t long enough and you can’t get the book close enough.  It makes the physical act of reading uncomfortable for me.  Gonna have to bite the bullet and change that habit.

It’s why in my recent guest post for Peter Younghusband, I used only my blog for a contact point.  I’m also really struggling in how this will affect marketing of my books in the future if I decide to silence all my social media save for this blog?  It makes for some hard considerations.  After all, why would I want to enable bad actors (or spiritual forces) by using tools that can harm others just to sell a book?

I cast “Ethical Dilemma”…
:::rolling dice:::
Critical success!
Crap!

So that’s the way it sits right now on the eve to the one year anniversary of the release of Book One of the Akiniwazisaga: “A Light Rises in a Dark World”.  It took me a 40 day fast from all social media and games except for email and this blog to get this whole thing started, perhaps, I must do it again to get Book 2 done.

More later with potentially good news.

Oh hey, one last question.  I put this out to my fans and curious readers who have an opinion.  If you name a character, must you pay off like Chekov’s gun or can they just disappear when they had no attachment to or are a distraction to the plot?  What do you think?

Ciao for nao!

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The Last Jedi & The Importance of Satisfying Your Audience

Or:  “Because… Reasons/Script/Girl Rule/Boys Drool/SJW/$$$$”

So…  Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

 

You have been warned.

 

Over the last week or so, I’ve thought a lot about The Last Jedi and I have to say, my enjoyment of the film has decreased with time.  When I left the theater, I would have given it 2.5 stars.  Not great but entertaining.  As I thought of the implications of the activities of the story, I got more and more grumpy with it.  Now I’d give it 1.5 stars.

Why has my impression of the film dropped like this over time?  Many reasons, but I’ve noticed since I started writing, my standards for writing has gotten higher.  So what were the specific reasons?  Here’s where the spoilers start.

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Mary Sues…. Mary Sues everywhere!

Let’s face it.  We all expected Princess Leia to manifest something of the force sooner or later.  But to survive having the bridge of the ship she was on blown up around here, surviving the blast, being thrown into space, start to freeze, then force pull herself back into the ship and open the door…. ummmm…..  NO.  Just F-ing no.

Then there’s Rey.  Sure she has some skill with her staff, we saw that in the first movie.  We get the impression she knows how to fight.  But to suddenly go full Neo (I know kung fu) with no real training?  Not to mention have such a manifestation of the force so powerful that Luke is just about pooping himself?  She’s force pulling and pushing.  Grabbing for light sabers in a way that took Luke training to pull off, and she’s doing it with nothing, and being equal in power as Darth Emo?  I mean Kylo Ren?  Again… NO.  F-ing no.

Rose (why the hell are you even in this movie) who was a plumber… A PLUMBER suddenly being able to pilot those skimmers and make a death defying save of Finn?  Come on… really.  (Of course, Finn was a Janitor who can suddenly pilot all manner of craft like and expert becauseeee…. reasons?  It’s in the script?  Because Girl-Power!

:Facepalm:

And of course, Vice Admiral Holdo single-handedly, with one jump at lightspeed with a cruiser destroying a superdooper star destroyer and a dozen others in the First Order’s fleet?  Well, hell son!  Why not do this all the time?  They could have just done this to the Death Star and won with the loss of one ship and Alderran would have been saved!  The Rebellion had cruisers then.  Just go full Kamikaze and be done with it.  She goes from incompetent Bee-eye-tee-see-itch wasting ships and lives (blaming Poe in the process for getting them into this mess) to savior with little to no reason as to why.  Again… What the fuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!???!!!!  (And they got the cruiser trim without an auto pilot?  pffft)

Mary Sues destroy stories.  No movie can survive four of them, particularly when one goes full martyr too.  Not to mention when every single boy (for there are no men in this film, only stupid smelly boys) is nothing more than comic relief and a foil for the women.

2. Darth Gollem… I mean Snoke goes down like a chump.

Okay, now this is just a cheap way out of good writing.  I fully admit I larfed in surprise as he gets skewered and then CUT IN HALF by Kylo pulling a fast one on him.  The problem?  Darth Emo would not be capable of pulling a fast one on Snoke like that if he was as truly the puppet Snoke claimed.  This is bad because there is almost no indication in the story that Kylo’s free will and desire to be good is actually growing.  I mean even in Darth Vader’s conversion you got more of a tip off in that even his body posture showed he could not tolerate watching the Emperor kill his son.  Kylo?  Nuthin.

What makes this more egregious is that Snoke was to be this huge badass that seemed more powerful than Darth Sidious ever was.  So here’s movie one.  Big setup… BIG set up… then zortch!  He’s dead.  Now if he’s not dead, they better come up with a fantastic reason as to how, and then pay it off.  I mean this is the equivalent to finding the secret tunnel to the final boss fight on level one that the game developers forgot to remove, typing in the cheat code and killing the boss in 30 seconds.  Not good, and that’s what happened IMNSHO.

You can’t build up a big bad guy and then take him down after only one monologue and a show of relatively superficial force… joke not intended.

3. Bathos killing Pathos at every turn

Every serious moment was undercut by something humorous, or worse, the lack of courage for a new generation character to be killed is given the “just a flesh wound” treatment.  Admittedly, Poe trolling General Hux in the very beginning was quite funny and well done.  There were a few other humorous points too, like Luke brushing gravel off his shoulder when the AT-ATs fail to kill him… a funny Eastwood-esque moment worked well.  But there were so many other times where relief was subverted by humor, or noble sacrifice subverted by G.I. Joe Red/Blue laser writing.  Finn was in a point to go out a real hero and cement his place in lore history, but no.  Rose stole that moment in a Mary Sue level save for the guy she had the hots for so we can get a trendy cute puppy love kiss.  Shucking foot me.

4. Speaking of Lore… Let’s just crap all over it while leaving the audience in the dark.

Now some of this was explained in a video by a Star Wars super-fan that many of the things that left the audience wondering why or how things happened were in the extended media, but left out of the film.  Okay, yeah.  I get that.  Small problem.  I’m not buying the dozens of related materials just to figure out what happened.  If I can’t tell why it is so from the movie, tha’s crap writing, y’all.

But here’s the real travesty.  Big spoiler… REAL big.

Luke dies because…. reasons!  I know I’ve said this three times this blog, but holy crapsnacking porgs on a stick!  So, how does Luke survive the standoff with the AT-ATs?  BTW, you see almost all of their footage in the trailer… weak Disney, very weak for something so cool.  He’s doing galactic range force projection of himself.  So he isn’t even there, and cannot be run through with Kylo’s Lightsaber and die.  Ergo, he died because the plot said so… and Disney obviously wants to shove the original trilogy out of the way so they can go on making a new SW film every friggen year with new characters.  Han was killed because Harrison Ford said he should have died in Return of the Jedi.  Sure, I can see that.  But to have him go down like he did in Force Awakens tarnishing his legacy as hero to one of failed father and a bit of a deadbeat loser badboy a princess fell for and a broken and messed up kid who ultimately kills him because Darth Emo is all angst-ridden. (Your name is Ben, we named the dog Kylo)  Don’t get me wrong on this one point though, I like Adam Driver’s acting.  Guy’s good.  He’s easily the best portrayed character, but that says how good an actor he is for the crap he has been given for lines and characterization.

But to treat Luke as a broken and failed Jedi trainer who tries to murder Kylo as a child out of fear?  Just wow.  Mark Hamill was right to criticize this plot.

5. The biggest reason:  Wasted Potential

When I was watching the film, I saw so many huge potentials for really good twists.  Also, there are ways for Ep. IX to redeem the movie, but honestly, I don’t think they would or the public should let them off the hook so easily.

Potential 1:  The Weapons Dealers being the real source behind the war (Oh and way to piss me off, Disney, for having the word “RESISTANCE” be the only word fully capitalized in the opening crawl.  Way to telegraph for the SJW’s out there in the age of Trump)    That said, it would have been a very interesting direction to go, and make it believable how the First Order and the Resistance kept having access to a seemingly endless ability to wage war across the galaxy.  Seriously a good idea, new villians could be introduced and a war behind the war would have been refreshing.  But alas, I’m certain that will be ignored as a throw away commentary on American Imperialism and proxy wars.

Potential 2: What if we threw a war and nobody came?  If you had it where the destruction of the First Order’s fleet and the death of Emperor Snoke as well as the complete eradication of the Resistance’s fleet was the end of the war?  Called on account of no materiel left to fight with?  They called for help, but nobody came.  Not even Luke did really.  This again, opens the door for a more sneaky covert spy thing, as well as the scramble to fill the power vacuum.  Who’s next in line for controlling the galaxy?  The Hutts?  Any of a dozen factions or races from extended lore?  That’s some of the most interesting stuff there instead of painting ourselves into a corner with only having two small factions (or are they really that small and if so, we should give zero foxes about this entire movie because the losses aren’t that important) slugging it out.  Ben Shapiro said it best that Disney painted themselves in the corner by making the First Order being only a repeat of the empire when all new land could be cultivated and even our old favorite characters would need to find their place in it.  Newp.  We just got lather rinse repeat with a smidgen of new fan service and old fan kiss offs.

Potential 3:  Rey and Kylo rule the universe.  What if both of them joined forces?  They easily could have.  But no, let’s just recreate Luke vs. Vader all over again.  The potential for them to BOTH fall to their own lusts, being that one was on the dark side, and the other having no training…. it was a foregone outcome that they could become the next imperial force.  Or you could have both of them turn on the new Grand Moff Hux.  I still say, despite him giving off the snotty English private school bastard vibe, Hux could become a great villain and they could join the Resistance and fight against him, AND the weapons dealers as the First Order and Resistance fall into ashes creating two new orders to slug it out.

Potential 4: Luke could have redeemed himself.  If given the chance to make right his failures as yoda pointed out, and throw out the Jedi religion as antiquated and failed like Bruce Lee threw out Kung Fu to create Jeet Kun Do, that might have been something truly interesting as well.  They would then have to fight against new enemies as well as the corruptive influence of the Force if given over to their baser lusts personified in the Dark Side.

I do not expect any of these potentials to be addressed or realized.  I think we’re looking at those possibilities in the rear view mirror, n’er to return.

BTW. the Porgs are stupid IMHO, but supposedly there was a reason they’re in the movie that I have not confirmed.  Supposedly they had puffins walking into the shots so often they just CGIed them into Porgs.  If this is true, well played.  If not… another log of WTF on the bonfire.

What has this taught me about my own writing?  Simply put, payoffs and audience expectations.

I expected Snoke to be much more threatening and survive to the next movie and prove the build up we got in The Force Awakens.  Andy Serkis is a motion cap savant and it’s a shame to waste that talent.  So that’s taught me if I build up a villain, even if i just have them lurking in the background I must give them an appropriate conclusion to their own story ark and not throw them out like garbage.

There is only so much subversion of the tropes and mood you can do before the audience gets pissed at you.  You cannot turn every serious moment into a joke like Joss Wheadon on speed.  I remember in an interview about the movie “Iron Monkey” about the tastes of Chinese audiences.  They want a little humor, a little romance, something scary, something to cry about and lots of escapist fun all in the same film.  Because of that, you give them what they want.  You cant jerk them around with pretending to give them a heroic sacrifice of a main character to steal it away in order to preserve the power of the unnecessary sacrifice of a minor unnecessary character (particularly because its a woman).  Don’t manipulate the emotions of the audience with a beloved character’s death, but then to ‘save versus logical outcome because script’!

Do not… repeat DO NOT… violate the rules of your own universe.  mmm mmm… don’t do it.  You cannot go 7 movies without someone doing the obvious, “why don’t I just ram that target as I shift to hyperspace and press the ‘win’ button” only to then do it to create an unnecessary martyr, or any other reason.  This violates a fundamental understanding of the Star Wars universe.  It’s implied collision at lightspeed is bad, but logic dictates that would be the first weapon you’d go to when given the chance.  You just make it into a missile.  So in your own writing, unless you’re willing to spend the time explaining how nobody did it before (too expensive, too unpredictable, too penguiny… whatever)  you don’t do it.

For example in my own setting, the supernatural events (aka the magic system) always has God or Satan behind it.  (or by proxy a demon or angel)  There’s no digging up magic metal or water from the ground.  So that stuff is all physically hard science like we have in the real world.  This can create real pickles for me at times.  It also means that with steam power, you will never see walking machines or steam blimps.  Physics in my setting remain the same as they do in this world, unless a supernatural force from God, Angel, Demon or Satan is involved.  If I violate that, please beat me about the head and shoulders.

There are more reasons why I don’t like the film so much anymore after the fact, but this will do.  As you can see, not thrilled with the new trilogy.  It’s about as bad as the prequels right now and the third movie better pay off YUGE or they ain’t getting my money back any time soon.  Save yourself the cash and see it on some streaming service or rental.

This is not the movie you’re looking for.

Go ahead and comment below if you desire.

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The Importance of Knowing Where You Are.

And now to distract myself from working on book 2 and talk with you lovely people… tsk tsk tsk.

I must say that it has been so easy to get lost in my own creation.  Writing Book 2 has been like driving in the mountains at night when the “holler fogs” are out.  One minute you see things clearly, and you’re up high on a hill, then, zoop! right back into zero visibility with your high-beams reflecting back in your face.

Once again, I have rediscovered the desperate need I have in knowing my geography, and even more than that, the names of places.  I know those of you who have read my book are going “Oh dear Lord!  Not more long names!”  Yep.  They’re coming.  When your naming convention is based on old Norse, Finnish, Icelandic, Swedish and of course lots of Norwegian with a dash of Ojibway for the pickle on top of that linguistic sundae, you get some strange names.  But once named, and considered in the mental geography of my series, it is so much nicer to work there.

On the other hand, once I know the names of things, and where they exist in my mind, things get much easier and my confidence grows which means better chapters.  Much shorter chapters too.  I’m taking a tip from James Patterson on this one and going the Pringles route.  Once you pop, you can’t… steal blatant advertising jingles.  Blah!  What was I saying!?

So anyway, it’s been a little harder going, but I’ve been having fun with it once I defeat the obstacles that keep rearing their heads.  I was hoping to get 5 chapters done this weekend, but it looks like 3… mayyyybe 4 might be the result.  We’ll see.  The resistance is strong in this book.

On a positive note, the Alpha readers are looking at it as we speak and providing a little feedback, but since they don’t know where its going yet, and there are six subplots to work with… umm yeah, currently 6…it’s been a heck of a job braiding a big novel I never expected to happen in the first place!  But that’s what I get when the readers fall in love with a secondary character.  We’re going to have to see what to cull out and maybe use a freebie for you guys.

The even gooder news is that I am keeping careful track of things in the glossary and I am going to try and get help to hot link the terms, so those that buy the eBook will have a much better time with it.  Not sure how yet, but it’s my desire, so if anyone has tips on how to set that up in Scrivener, let me know, please!  I want to learn.

Also, an interesting side business may be cropping up.  Once I research more about this, I’ll make an announcement.  That will also wait till after I finalize banking and small business type of legals too (so after book 2 is in the hands of my lovely beta readers and editors which I hope will be late spring or early summer so I can meet my self imposed deadline.

Lastly, as a precaution, I’m removing all artwork from my blog that I did not purchase or do myself.  Yes, I am sad about this, but thanks to the litigious society we live in, I’m just not going to risk it anymore.  If people can get me some good advice on where I can get SAFE clip art for my website where I don’t have to be looking over my shoulder and worry about surprise bills, cease and desist orders

So… happy thoughts.

 

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Keep on chugging… keep on chugging…