Beginning Volume 6 (Book 2)

Yep.  I feel I’m in a good place right now.  The fire’s in the belly, and the first half of the third act is now over the horizon and shining in the distance.  I figure I’ve broad stroked the first 10 chapters of the Ending Payoff, and am starting to see the shape of the last 15-30 chapters and its denouement.  Very thrilling stuff.

I have one oddball chapter hanging out with me right now that would be an awesome cliffhanger ending, but recently it has been suggested that readers don’t like cliffhangers.  Is this true, dear readers?  Doth thou hateth when yon poor scribe leavest thou hanging on tenterhooks till the oft given oath of resolutions aplenty in the next tome?

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I’m such a goof.

But, yeah, where this next chapter that I’m going to write lands, is kinda up in the air.  It’s either the first chapter of Volume 6 or the last chapter of Volume 5.  I’m leaning towards Vol 6.  But then again… oh thpppt.  Later.

I’m not going to promise when this first draft is going to get done, but I suspect it is now entering the realm of…

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Very thoon.. I mean soon indeed.

Can’t wait to share it all with you.

Let’s put it this way, some things I’ve learned about myself and my work process in the last month or so, well, if I’m being honest the last two or three months or so, is that I have to stop gaming and doing other things that sap my creative spark when I want to make a deadline from now on.  So I may start on a new process at the beginning of next year, where I focus on writing for two months, and take a break for one.  I dunno.  Just thinking about how to improve myself so I don’t burn out and I get a lot of stuff done.  Yep yep yep.  Learning the craft is more than just pounding the ole keyboard and daydreaming.

I’ll be honest though, I am not capable of dealing with marketing and sales yet though.  I just… nope… can’t even.  Nope nope nope.

Anyway, I’m excited enough I may try to push out two chapters tonight as is.  Then at least I’ll have enough to report on progress later in the week.

So, ta ta for now.  Sleep then writing to come.

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What Not To Expect

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I have hit my third big landmark as an author: The first bad review.

It was 2 stars and it left me wondering why?  Sure this is only the third review I got from someone who knew nothing about me beforehand and had no bias one way or another. So I wanted to understand what the person meant and I analyzed it and talked about it with a close friend and I got a better understanding of what I’ve done as a writer.  It wasn’t a bad review, but it wasn’t a good review and from it, I learned something about my readers and possibly what to expect in the future from my work of art.

One.

The criticism that it was unnecessarily wordy and complicated.  Definitely a taste criticism, and valid.  Some people love the complexity.  I’ve had one beta reader who wanted it even more ‘crunchy’.  It definitely goes to show this is not a book for a person who does not like complexity and deal with a new lexicon.  Totally understand that.  I wondered too if I was going overboard at times, and worked to find a balance where the language and names struck a good balance.

In fact, the whole reason created the glossary and didn’t dumb down the names to English surrogates was to follow a style idea I first experienced with Richard Adams and his classic book “Watership Down”.  Now, I’m not sure how complex that story really is to some readers, but I definitely thought it.  I could have done a footnote method, but it never felt good for the whole flow of the story.  Also, I have had a reviewer state that they preferred the complexity and worldbuilding I put into the Glossary into the text itself despite it slowing the pace of the story.  Again, it was a compromise that has had some who love it and others not so much.

Two.

The book was not whimsical or magical like Narnia, Middle Earth or Hogwarts.

Completely fair on many fronts as we all compare works against the best.  This is also an accurate assessment.  I never intended it to be like any of those books.  Narnia is an allegory which they never really delve into the miraculous magical things that happen. It is just accepted that Santa Claus can show up and that the magical beings that exist are generally happy fairy tale style creatures for the most part.  Sure, you get much scarier things in Middle Earth, and its a grittier setting, but that is offset by the Hobbits and Shire.  There is a certain level of whimsy to it, and because of those two series, I suspect people who see “Christian Fantasy” expect more the high fantasy, light-hearted adventure or fairy tale inspired adventures.

In response to this, I’d have to say I never tried to show my book as one of those outside of it being an adventure epic.  In fact, I go so far as to portray this series as low fantasy where it is based more on real world spiritual warfare/exorcism, medieval church politics, and what it means to be caught in a world where devils and angels actually manifest and go to war around you.  It is not meant to be whimsical for it was never written for children.  It was written, believe it or not for nerds and fantasy geeks who liked grittier fantasy novels, the same way some people love cyberpunk, and hard science fiction.  Although children as young as 11 and adults who are into fine literature have read this book and loved it, they were not the target audience but aspects of it spoke to them.  So yes, It is not a whimsical book, though it will have whimsical moments.  This is more Jack London’s “Sea Wolf” than the Don Bluth Studio’s version of “Balto”.

Three

This is the criticism that I think was the most revelatory, and I thank the reviewer for giving me the opportunity to address it.  The statement is made that he is a Christian that believes in spiritual things.  Good…  Seriously.  I am as well and this is a basis for part of why I even tried to write fantasy like this in the first place.  It is further said that this comes too close to the line.  Now I’m not sure what line this is, but if it is the line between reality and make-believe, then this is right on the nose.  It is supposed to mirror the Christian spiritual paradigm.

The magic and miraculous in Akiniwazi is based on the teachings of deliverance ministries, exorcism, eye witness accounts and scripture as best as I could.  The only thing I tried to do was crank the special effects to 11 to enter into the realm of the fantastic.  That means those who can do the miraculous are in direct contact with divine beings, be they Angels and the Holy Spirit or demonic forces.  There is no ‘neutral’ form of magic in the book.  If a ‘spell’ is cast, there is an angel or demon behind it in some form or another. It isn’t the individual’s personal will or power or gift.  Just like Samson’s strength, it came from God.  Just like the prophetic slave girl Paul drove the demons out of, that power came from satan.  Magic is not something that is dug out of the ground like coal, or manufactured like a microchip and is spiritually neutral.  This is a staple trope of fantasy, but one I chose to throw out at high velocity.

There are going to be many people, particularly Christians who will find this extremely uncomfortable because it will hit close to home.  The book will touch on how demons can infiltrate people’s minds, and the whole idea of legal spiritual rights.  It is intended to be conversation starters and fodder for people to question the spiritual war that I believe is going on around us right now.  Again, not something some Christians will agree with or enjoy but others will.

Anyway.  This is also not a book about having a strong or perfect faith.  In fact, most of the characters are strongly flawed failed people that do not have instagram perfect lives, and God still uses them.  It deals a lot with failing and picking yourself back up again.  How rejection by others does not equal rejection from God, and the difference between religion and faith is no respecter of person, privilege or group identification.  It’s you and God together in the end and how you walk with Him.

Now, hopefully I wrote the book well enough that if you’re not into that kind of stuff, you can just ignore all that as window dressing the same way people do with Narnia and it’s blatant Christian allegories, or say Umberto Eco’s “Name of the Rose” does not preach religion at his audience, but it is everywhere in the book.

As for the last point of being poorly executed… ::: shrug ::: not sure how to help there.  🙂 Matter of taste I guess and that’s fine.  I did the best I could, and learned a lot.  I still see stuff I wish I would have worded better, but it’s out there now because I’m not going to spend 4 years editing it.  I’d say give book 2 a try when it comes out.  I know, like most book series, only improve over time.

Thank you for reading the book and leaving a review.  It helped me consider my work better, and keep some thoughts in mind moving forward.

If anyone would like to discuss the book or anything about it, please, send me an email, or post a question/opinion here.  I’ll be glad to discuss my work, particularly if you are confused about anything.

 

The Long Night is Over

Last night was a great night.  Got to go visit my parents while they were camping, meet some of their friends who I found out were reading my book and talk about it and pass on interesting stuff, and see how they’re reacting to it.  And then went to the drive in with my parents to watch Wonder Woman on a glorious summer’s night.  A good night was had.

But the reason the long night is really over is that I finally got all the obstacles out of the way, and “A Light Rises in a Dark World” is available as an ebook, Paperback and Hardcover.  BTW, don’t trust amazon when it says something is temporarily out of stock.  It’s a flaw on THEIR end.  The book is POD, and you can get it sent probably far faster than they’ll claim.  Been seeing that with other products too, and some of my fellow members at ALLI have been reporting the same problem for books not published by an Amazon imprint.  Just… come on guys.  Don’t be petty.

Anyway, as I mentioned and added to the site, I’m a member of ALLI.  Great resource for those who are published or just about to publish.  Great people over there too.

As an added bonus, I had an epiphany about the global story going on… and it has the potential to really REALLY change the direction of the entire series moving forward.  Them big picture storylines can really shake up your thoughts on what the world was supposed to be.  What it helped the most with is that it gave me solid motivations and plans on the “How” will be accomplished.  It also spiked the drama way up for what’s going to happen with poor ole’ Brother Finn and Reimar when the time comes.  We’re thinking big picture, mind you.  Book 4…?  Book 5?  Ummm… not sure when.  Maybe some moves will start happening earlier or the seeds will be laid.  I dunno yet.  Still working on the fun stuff and conceptualizing.  You know, the fun part of writing.

So that’s the update.  I’m focusing more on Book 2 now that I’ve got the wreckage of Book 1’s crashed launch off the runway, I can go back to getting Book 2 ready to fly.

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Day of Reckoning

That’s right.  We have an official release date.

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“A Light Rises in a Dark World” will be available for purchase on:

February 17th, 2017

I am going to be setting up pre-orders soon.  I cannot have it set yet, since I am still waiting on the cover.  It should be done on or before the 12th, allowing at least one week for pre order through Amazon and other sites like Kobo and Smashwords.  This is only for the e-book release.  The print book release is going to be done in May.  (And if God smiles down, Book 2 will be coming out shortly after that for summer reading at the beach/cabin/pool).  So hopefully this will be a full, fun year!

To clarify, there is an importance to pre-orders, just so you know.  In fact, this is where all the importance of reviews and purchases matters.  Your decision to purchase my book over the first 24 hours can make the difference of entering the water like an Olympic diver (no splash) or your big Uncle Carl doing a belly flop off the high dive (refill the pool).  Therefore, your best support is three fold:

  1. Order/buy your book during the pre-order period, or in the first 24 hours.  This is of course the best way to support me.
  2. Leave a Review if you have been given a review copy.
  3. Tell everyone!  Spread the word on social media or if you know someone this book would be good for, let them know it’s out there.

Once I have the cover nailed down and things in place for setting the pre-order, I will know more and will continue to provide details of what’s happening.

Till then, we’re up to Chapter 4 on Wattpad for those looking for a free sample.  More chapters coming every 2-4 days till release, so keep checking!

Oh… and thank you all for your support!

The Breakers: Blade Runner

Oh yes… you knew this was coming if you’ve been watching my blog.  My all time favorite film.

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Luv me some River Song.

So I finally dissected Blade Runner with the Hero’s Journey and had a fun time doing it.  I also am doing a little different setup, because I broke it down by time when these steps began to my estimation in the movie.  Now when you watch it again, you will be able to follow right along.

Now, a personal taste note.  I have the Unrated version, the “Directors Cut” and the “Final Cut”.  I plan to get some freaky box set of the movie on BluRay when I get the chance.  This article was done watching the Final Cut, which is excellent in many ways.  Particularly with the cleaned up special effects, which barely needed it, but also the use of the ambiguous ending and included stock unicorn footage from Legend which Ridley Scott added in to give a huge level of ambiguity.  Generally I love this edit… but…

I like the monologue and the original “I want more life, F****r.” line… NOT Father.  More about that later.  Let’s begin

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First off, this is a film noir trope twist set in a cyberpunk future.  It’s really the first of its kind.  Many have tried to follow after it, some successfully but most… not so much.

12. Status Quo

Yes, we start with the top of the clock.  The world is set up brilliantly during the opening credits.  First with the opening crawl with the blah blah blah of what the world is.  But then FOOM!  Volcanic eruption on flame showing the bleak world and we slowly pass through this strange city of “Los Angeles” to the Tyrell Arcology where Leon has a bad job interview and puts four pills into the Blade Runner, Holden.  This blends rather seamlessly in to the Call to Adventure, so the two layer onto each other with Deckard’s “arrest” by Gaff and trip to the police station to see Capt. Bryant.

Cinematically brilliant.  This is where movies catch a break when it comes to exposition.  If you do it well, you can get away with what is essentially 5 pages of describing the world in a manner that could technically be really boring.  Another movie that gets this right is the remake of “Appleseed” where Deunan is brought to Olympus.  I may have to take a gander at that movie next.  Hmmmm?

Now comes the stylistic debate.  Voiceover, or no?  I like the trope of a good voice over.  I know that Harrison Ford had to be all but forced at gunpoint to do it, it’s a great trope.  I know Ridley Scott said the studio did it because “American audiences are believed to be too stupid”, but it’s also expected.  Some of the lines were… meh… but it added that wonderful film noir feel you can really enjoy if you let yourself fall into the style of the tropes.  But, does it hurt the film if it’s cut out?  Not in any way that’s substantial.

1. Call to Adventure

Some may say that Capt Bryant forcing Deckard to do one last mission is the real call to adventure, but I maintain that its really the Assistance.  Gaff forcibly pulling Deckard from the Noodle vendor is where our hero is irrevocably yanked from his life and dropped into the mess.  He makes one futile attempt to avoid the call when he argues with Bryant, but that feeble slap quickly blurs into the second step.

This goes to show that resisting the call can be feeble and still effective, and build on the Status Quo.  Here is one area where the voice over adds some great depth but does it in what I’d call a blah way by talking about Bryant’s racism.  We get a good feel for it with all the excellent acting.  I really appreciate how understated acting of M. Emmet Walsh plays out.  He never gets too over the top and shows that menace can be subtextual and brilliantly effective.  Once presented with no choice for threat of retribution we go to…

2 Assistance

Deckard is given his best tool: information.  Not only does it continue to feed the Status Quo, it is entertainingly done and snaps hard with the high contrast feel of the film noir tropes.  Two men talking with each other by talking around each other in some regards.  Detailed exposition is given out with the eyedropper of dialogue.

But Bryant also gives a nice twist to the whole assistance section by subverting… lightly a “Grill the suspect” trope.  Sending Deckard over to get more help from the Tyrell corporation and getting toyed with by Dr. Tyrell with his new production model was ingenious, plus it introduced us to a huge pillar of the world: The Voight-Kampf test.  Information leaks out about the world even more, plus the stunning visuals, the introduction of the Femme Fatale in the form of Rachel, and the creepy/crazy little scientist.  The layering on this part of the Hero’s Journey is fantastic.

Because then you have a mirror image of assistance in Roy’s interrogation of Lu Chen with Leon.  (James Hong is one of my personal all time favorite character actors, so I’m biased there)  Again, you get subtext and connection to illuminate more about the antagonists going up against Deckard.  Roy is a perfect vaudevillian…no… Shakespearian counterpart to Deckard’s amiable aping of Humphrey Bogart.  You need this level of high fallutin’ artistic menace to something as plebian as a burnt out retired cop.  The juxtaposition of the characters just works.  Even the dull, thudding threat of Brion James’s Leon is a great frame for Rutgar Hauer’s fantastic job creating a pathos ridden Roy, seeking a very good MacGuffin: the desire for more life.  I mean come ON!  How awesome is that?  This guy’s got such a distinctive goal.  He just wants to live longer and now Deckard is set in motion to cut his already short life even shorter.  Mind you, this technically occurs a little later after Deckard’s searching of his hotel room, this is all braided together so it belongs here thematically.  ***Note: IMDB lists the character name as Hannibal Chew for James Hong.  Horsecrap.  He’s called Lu Chen in the movie by Roy.  So I don’t know what they’re thinking.

Ahhh but we can’t forget the last layer of assistance: J.F. Sebastian.. discovered by Pris, who then gives us another glimpse into a rather unpleasant aspect of society.  Only the physically prized people and slaves are sent off world.  Earth is left with the dregs.

3. Departure

With everyone now set on their courses, collisions are seen on the horizon, but first we get a near miss as Deckard investigates Leon’s hotel room looking for clues.  This  is actually a lot more complex in this too, because Deckard “departs” in multiple ways.  First his investigation gets underway as he finds the sequin and the snake scale in the tub plus Leon’s photos.  All this done under the watchful eye of Gaff, plus Leon shown outside on the wet street looking up knowing he cannot go back for what HE prizes: his memories.  This gives him an extra oomph when he plays the heavy to Roy’s interrogation of Lu Chen.

When Rachel confronts Deckard about her Voight Kampf test you see an internal departure.  No longer is Deckard separate from his work, he’s re-integrated and she is nothing more than a machine.  A very complex, hard to understand machine.  This is his emotional departure as he puts on the hard detatchment required for him to do the job.  Rachel on the other hand is undergoing so much turmoil from being essentially cast aside by her creator.  This is one area where the script is not really clear why Tyrell did this unless it is to imply she failed so he threw her away, or that he did it to complicate the situation the police were facing for… reasons.  That said, Rachel endures her own departure echo as being thrown out from paradise.

The Unicorn Dream also begins to create the unreliable narrator.  Is Deckard a replicant or not.  Now recent conversations with Ridley Scott say he is, old interviews with Harrison Ford say he wasn’t.  Others say, Ridley also might have manipulated Ford into thinking that for the sake of getting a better performance.  The scene still is an exemplification of a spiritual departure.  Deckard must now look at the nature of his own existence on some level.

4. Trials (Begins 0:43)

The Photograph search is a puzzle trial.  Simple, but intriguing.  Although film would never have that much detail available, it is still brilliant to watch and see the wheels turn.  This is a scene that would have been impossible to do in almost any printed media.  Comics could have taken a shot, but come far short.  The puzzle, once solved gives a clue on where to look next and that’s the night bazaar.  To this day I love the idea of a street corner stall electron microscope.  I find that hilarious.  What kind of a world do we live in where such precision technology could be reduced to that degree of commercialism?  Goes to enrich the status quo and give us the next trickle of information.  Also, this is the third time we see reinforcement that the Earth’s eco-system is dying.  A theme that was strong in the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” but largely non-existent in the movie save as a flavoring.

The trials take us on a very typical Film Noir trope of ‘chasing the clues’.  We also get a tip of the hat to Film Noir classic “Casablanca” with Deckard showing up at Taffy Lewis’s which has an erotic stage show and seems very much cabaret inspired. (Side note, I love the champagne glass in which Deckard gets a free drink.  I don’t know why, but I find them beautiful).  Taffy Lewis is a wonderful sleezeball bar owner of nefarious implications.  Even in his short bit of screen time he sets the tone well.  This really brings out why even toss off characters can be powerful in setting your scenes.  Never underestimate the power of a bit player to make a scene something special is my takeaway here.

Interrogating a second Femme Fatale, Zorah, was masterful acting, but also a well developed scene.  From the “waiting at the stage door” trope to the “narrowly escaping sexy death” subtleties line up the clues and do the storytelling while the conversation is under the repartee of Deckard and Zorah that unto itself is riotous.  Then we get the iconic chase scene through the mass of humanity.  It tells us a lot about Deckard as well as the desperation of the replicants in general.  Zorah is so desperate to get away, she goes out half naked, completely inappropriate hoping that the mass of humanity would hide her even in that provocative outfit.  Deckard is also very careful in his shots, showing he is trying to take care not to harm an innocent.

And after all that, we get the last big trial for Deckard: Surviving Leon.  Although the cops did not notice either Leon or Rachel who witnessed Zorah’s death from the way the scene plays out, it creates a “hero at the mercy of the villian” scene when Deckard cannot defeat Leon, but can protect his bottle of booze.  I have a soft spot for Leon for a personal reason I’d never reveal online so, this is such a fun scene for me.  Plus his iconic “Wake up!  Time to die” line, I mean just perfect.  I even forgive the Deus Ex Rachel part of it, because it sets up so much and is quite appropriate.  For those who wonder why Rachel was even there?  It was set up by the vid-phone call.  She changed her mind and came down to see what Deckard wanted, the police were all over the place, and found him in the center.  Leon shows up interrupting her talking to him till she puts a bullet through Leon’s head with Deckard’s gun

5. Approach (Begins 1:03)

Roy and Pris meet up and J.F. figures out who they are.  This begins the final approach of Roy to his goal, Dr. Tyrell in an effort to get more life.  The scenes here are good because it sets up more the character of Roy and Pris, and J.F. is the gatekeeper to their goal.  They must seduce him to gain access and do so in a manner that is charming.  They appeal to his ego, playing both the amazing creation in action and lost children.  “We’re so happy you found us.” is Roy’s clever lie to paint themselves as lost waifs that need his protection.  They then get the key to access: J.F. and Tyrell’s chess game which Roy is good at playing.

With his bell being rung, and both shaken up over two deaths, Deckard and Rachel bond.  This is more or less a trial of the spirit for the two as both realize their feelings for each other are forbidden, but also that Deckard has more clear understanding of what is going on.  Rachel, after something that too many nowadays would call ‘rape’ not seduction, gives in to her own feelings.  It’s a very film noir trope again,  (I told you it was film noir.) as the detective falls for the dangerous femme fatale and vice versa.  Watch “The Big Sleep” or “Dark Passage” sometime and see how that works.  You’ll shake your head.  This sets up the approach to escape in a way, but is also necessary to push Deckard on to finish the job fast so he can get out of the limbo he is trapped in.

Deckard kills Pris enraging Roy (Desync- Begins 1:28)  Now for an oddity.  The last step to the final crisis: aka conflict with Roy Batty, Deckard fights Pris.  She is Roy’s gatekeeper.  Tipped off that trouble is coming by the fake phonecall following Tyrell and J.F.’s death in the Tyrell building by Roy (this is why it’s a de-sync) Pris readies for Deckard and becomes the most dangerous challenge and sets the stage and tone for the final battle.  It is one of the most bizarre fights I’ve ever seen.  Darryl Hanna is great.  She’s playing essentially a super strong prostitute, so it makes sense that her moves and actions are almost more artsy, dance-like and flailing than a trained fighter.  We also learn that Deckard is not a fist-fighter, but a gunslinger.  Without his gun, he’s pretty much useless.  Something that becomes a big deal.  But, once Pris dies… rather horrifically IMHO… it leaves the viewer almost shattered at the end of the sequence.  Dat scream, yo?  And it serves as the signal that Roy’s home from what he’s just been up to, which is his OWN crisis.

6. Crisis (Begins 1:20)

First off, it’s “I want more life, fucker!”.  Not “father”.  Why?  The power of that one statement is so complex with the curse word.  You already know he is coming to see his de facto father.  Long been established with the subtleties of the film.  He does not need to hammer it home.  What makes this complex and nuance by the cussing is this points out the same problems an abused child has.  They love the parent, but they hate them at the same time.  It makes the murder so much more powerful when you take it all into effect and pour on that very weird kiss to which I give HUGE credit to Joe Turkel and Rutger Hauer for making it both believable, creepy and completely appropriate for the scene.

Even though the death of J.F. occurs off screen, it is none the less powerful as J.F.’s brief flight from someone he thought was his friend becomes his doom.  Then to watch Roy Batty descend in the elevator showing the conflict on his face as to what he’d done is so powerful… Not to mention Vangelis pulling out all the orchestral stops for the first time in the movie… yeah… nails it.  Tour de Force climax that a writer could only hope to put into a book.

Now we resync everything together.  Roy’s climax is done.  His Macguffin is forever lost and his tragedy nears his completion.  He returns to find his lover dead, and the man sent to kill him hiding somewhere inside.  But Roy is better than Deckard in every way, except he lacks a gun.  The great leveler, we see Roy needing to counter the old American addage “God made man, Sam Colt made all men equal”.  He does this brilliantly, by taunting Deckard into a shaking mess then going through a wall to disable Deckard making the gun nearly useless to him.

Here is where Deckard’s climax goes to 11.  A gunslinger who can’t shoot against a trained killer who’s already killed 3 people in the film and implied to have killed many many more is after him… and he made that guy mad.  On a positive note, Roy wants him to suffer like he is suffering, as well as realizing this is his swan song.  Deckard is just trying to get out of this alive at this point.  No other thought is driving him.  Time after time, Roy gets in Deckard’s face, taunting him and threatening him, but never tries to kill him.  It is as if the torture of the ordeal is enough.  He’s enjoying it on some level, but he’s also trying to drive a point home to someone who essentially represents the Grim Reaper come for him.

In many regards, this turns the climax on its head in this light.  We view the whole thing through Deckard’s eyes.  Roy is this unstoppable monster that has taken away his ability to defend himself, or do his job and now seems to want his life in revenge.  He and we as the audience are freaking out because we don’t know when that deathblow is going to fall, and Deckard climbs and climbs and runs and runs through the ruin of the building which stands in for the ruin of the world till he reaches the top and becomes trapped.  So frantic to escape, Deckard throws himself across the gap hoping to make an escape, and fails.

7. Treasure (Begins 1:44)

The real “all is lost” moment and “in praise of the villain” speech are rolled together.  Not only that, it is the scene of victory and Treasure for Roy more than it is for Deckard.  This is some serious tangling of tropes and throws the definition for ‘what is success’ out the window.

Roy give his own eulogy here as he watches Deckard dangle.  He luxuriates in the power he holds over a man he can save instantly or just watch drop with the satisfaction he avenged not only Pris, but Leon and Zorah too.  Waxing rhapsodic, you see Deckard is completely beyond hearing anything that Roy is saying.  Gravity has a way of focusing one’s priorities and his priority is to just not die.  So who is Roy talking to?  The audience really, in one of the best monologues captured on film.  But in context of the story, he is talking to himself.  He’s taking stock of his short life and realizing he has seen and done incredible things.  By the end of his speech and Deckard’s near fall, it catalyzes his love of life and expands it from the selfish to a universal.  Deckard rightly points out that in his final moments, all the things that had upset him, he realized time was unimportant and only life was important (see what I did there?  😛 ).  It gives him a peace so profound he not only accepts his fate, he transcends it.

Deckard on the other hand is stuck with a more mundane treasure.  He gets to live and return to the life he had of a burnt out retired cop.  All the high concept, spiritual epiphanies of Roy Batty washed away just like the tears in rain (an ad libbed line BTW) as he tried to comprehend what happened while he was focused on not dying.  Although Deckard is not just given his life back, he is given one big wrinkle too as his reward.

 

8. Result (Begins 1.46)  9. Return (Begins 1:48)  10. New Life (Begins 1:51)

Now here’s one spot where the story gets a little weak IMHO.  Why did not Gaff do his job and kill Rachel… in Deckard’s bed… while she was asleep?  He had the chance.  The origami unicorn confirms it.  But now, since he cannot allow Rachel to be killed, part of the Treasure is that he now must run from the law as Rachel is now an illegal replicant.  His new life begins as that of an outlaw.  But he does it together with a new love and new outlook on life.  He heard a little of Roy Batty’s ramblings in his death throes.

As the viewer, we’re given the extra treasure that  the ambiguous ending allows us to have.  Is Deckard a replicant?  How long will either live?  (Which if you had the voice over, you’d know… no incept date so no lifespan limiter.)  It’s one of the few times the ‘happy ending’ was kinda good because it was not purely a happy ending and the voiceover was perfect.  Another note on the voice over… having Ford being so resistant to it added to the attitude of a burnt out cop even moreso.

The finale hits all the tropes for a Film Noir ending.  “Detective Gets Girl”, the “Cops get the Right Man”, “Running away to an uncertain future”… all of it’s there so that makes one helluva satisfying payoff, with the happy or ambiguous ending.

Squeeeeeeee!

 

 

The Breakers: Mad Max:Fury Road -Something Wicked This Way Comes

The Breakers was the original idea for this series title.  Its more of what I was thinking of but derped when trying to name it.

Just for those who didn’t guess it by the title:

spoilers

 

Originally, I was going to write about only one movie, “Something Wicked This Way Comes”.  A gem of a little film and the first horror film that Disney ever really did.  Sure there are scary parts throughout many other films (The Black Cauldron or Darby O’Gill and the Little People), but this one was devoted to it.

What I was going to discuss was the dissection of story with the Hero’s Journey again, but had an epiphany about it while talking to a friend on what I was going to write.

I realized that Joseph Campbell’s “Clock” denoting the 12 main ideas of the Hero’s Journey were handed extremely differently between Mad Max: Fury Road and SWTWC.  I further realized that this is not an isolated thing, save for MMFR.

First, here’s a reminder for those who don’t remember what the clock looks like.

What is this monster realization?

Well, first off, In SWTWC (and also in T5E I looked at last time) is that if you look at the clock, and treated it as proportional time given to a story, proportionally.  On the other hand, when you watch most movies, the first six steps take up well over three quarters of the plotline, leaving sometimes only 15 minutes of a two hour story  (and in some cases even less… I’m looking at you SW:ANW).  For the last three steps (Return, New Life, Resolution) it is somewhat short shrift IMHO.

Furthermore, sometimes half the movie is spent in steps 1-3 and then spends most of the last half shoving through 4-9, while leaving 10-12 hanging.  I realized that I saw this in many films actually, but this is the first time I realized that Roger Miller did something very different from this in MM:FR.  He flipped it to a certain extent.  Now, the setup (Status Quo, Call to Adventure, Assistance and even Departure) are all crammed into the first 15 minutes, while the ending four slices of the clock take up almost 30-40 minutes on their own.  Even better that it works astoundingly well.

Mind you, Roger Miller got to cheat a little.  He was not establishing anything new.  If you were going to this film you had either seen all of or at least some of the previous movies so you knew what the status quo was.  In such an apocalyptic setting, it didn’t take much for him to get that call to adventure, nor help… though he does get it twice (The first when Nux demands him up front on his car and the second when Furiosa includes him on the escape getting him to drive the war rig)

The best part of this film is that it pays off with an all in royal flush even though a lot of the action occurs after a lovely trick of a “Lesser Reward”.  They are already looking a “New Life” and ready to start their resolution when Max shows them a greater reward and that is to reverse the “Return” and try to stealth by Immortan Joe and the rest and steal the coveted green space from him.  I am not sure if this is a pushing back of the clock to the “Crisis” point again, or an expansion of the Return.

But with them going back regardless of how you look at it, the return, is fraught with its own peril akin to the “Result” on steroids.  Immortan Joe is defeated… messily, they take the citadel and begin their new lives, with only Max deciding to be Max in the end.  Oh well.  Helloooooo new sequels!  (Which apparently are already started).

Such a bad trailer… I mean wow.  Marketing really didn’t know what to do.

 

On the other hand, SWTWC spends almost 30 minutes setting up the Status Quo alone.  Now, this is definitely NOT a poorly spent 30 minutes.  It is immersive and very much a pleasant departure to a pastoral 1930’s small Illinois town that is somehow untouched by the Great Depression.  It’s one of the first times you will see a writer “Chew the Scenery” like Ray Bradbury does, and Disney lets him get away with.  Some of my favorite in cinema.  It sets up the dichotomy between the evil that is coming and what I think so many of us wished we still lived in.  Not only that, the “Call to Adventure”, “Assistance” and even the Departure almost take a full 50 minutes or so into the 90 minute film before the approach starts.  I like to consider the Departure to be synonymous with the breaking of Miss Foley’s window.  Although we have been watching the damage done by Dark’s Pandemonium and Carnival, its been set up for the trials or at least dangers that threaten Will and Jim and Mr. Halloway.

The final conflicts of the movie occur in 2 points, and they are mostly internal in nature.  Heavy on the temptation and the ultimate failure of Mr. Halloway to stand up for the boys in the face of evil, but he is only toyed with as Mr. Dark retrieves his McGuffin (the boys) and is satisfied with having suitably cowed Mr. Halloway into cowardice.  Of course, this fails, and the final confrontation of inner demons happens at the mirror maze in what could be viewed on one angle as cheesy, but on another, it makes a great morality play on the power of love over regret and sorrow.  Even if you call that the “Result” stage which culminates in the freak storm, it has stepped over the “Reward”, which it turns out has become a bitter sweet reward of a new, changed perspective while retaining a lot of what was loved about the first 30 minutes of the film in protecting the status quo.  Yes, it has changed for poor Mr. Tetley, Miss Foley, Ed the Barman, and Mr. Crossetti forever, but that is to be expected, and thank God Disney did not insist that they be saved from their choices.

BTW, the Reward, Return, Result and New Life take place in the final 3 and lasts less than 1:50 of the movie before the credits roll.  But on the other hand, the handling of those final 110 seconds is masterfully done.  In that, the establishing shots reconnect the viewer with the original ideals, explain what had changed for the characters but yet what was still retained.  In this, Ray Bradbury, who wrote this screenplay as well, was sublime.  It takes real skill to provide a satisfying ending like that in so short a time and not leave us feeling cheated.  Of course, having good skill in using the narrator’s voice helped a ton.  The use of voice-over at the beginning and end are well handled and appropriate as it is done by an adult Will.

Now, why do I consider though this to not be bad goes back to a ‘throw away’ piece of set design.  When the Barber, Mr. Crossetti is discovered to be missing, the only indicator is his pole is still turning and a sign in the window saying “Closed due to Illness”.  Now, I find this brilliant because of something I know of history.  The nation had become numb to many horrors thanks to WW1, which is hinted at with Tom Fury walking with his army uniform and Campaign Hat on with chin strap.  But also a sign like that in Mr. Crossetti’s would have been very familiar thanks to the Swine Flu epidemic which ravaged the US in 1918.  That influenza epidemic was horrifically deadly and often killed those who seemed healthiest in society (by a process which we now understand called a Cytokine Storm), and left many a house behind the quarantine sign.  Which made the excuse perfectly legitimate and believable as well being a very subtle touch for authenticity.

Honestly I thought the movie was more into the early 1920’s, but then realized that the bar was operating openly during a time of prohibition.  Therefore, it must have been after, and I doubt it would have been before because of the cars.  Otherwise it goes into that magical Disney era of Walt’s youth that blends the most pleasant aspects of society from a child’s point of view during that era.  Walk down Walt Disney World’s Mainstreet USA and see what I mean.

What this all is teaching me is that there does not be a balance in how much time is devoted to each “hour” of the Hero Journey clock, but rather how it moves the story forward.  Not only that, sometimes the reward is not always what you think it means.

Book Blurb

Here is a first blurb for “A Light Rises in a Dark World” Book One of the Akiniwazi Saga.

To save his family from starvation, Reimar, with six more children are sold to the Holy Kyrkja (Heer-hee-ah) so that all might have a chance to survive the deadly winter. They are handed over to a disgraced monk, Brother Finn, and his dog, Bergamot, who are pressed into service once more before being in exiled to the outer wilds of the land. They must travel through the fearsome pinery and on deadly waters where nature itself tries to destroy the children while Brother Finn’s enemies plot to assassinate their only protector. Will they be able to run the gauntlet of storms, demons and hidden murderous plots and reach safety again?

Akiniwazi, is the untamed Land of the Seven Freshwater Seas, where steamships ply the lakes, and the bodies of the dead do not rest.  Akiniwazi, the battlefield for Heaven and Hell,  in a war where the prize is the soul of every man.

Expect more coming on my 99designs logo competition soon.

The Retitling is Here!

After much consideration and a wonderful game of “idea catch” with Torfinn, we have a new title for book one and rebranding of the novel.  Amazing how this is working out.

Book one new title is:

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Okay, ready?  I know I am!

“A Light Rises in a Dark World”

Book One of the Akiniwazi Saga

So why the retitling?

Simple.  The focus changed.  When I converted the book from first to third person narration, a secondary character, Brother Finn, jumped to main character status and quickly became the fan favorite among my beta readers.

Now, just between you me and the internet, this left me with a problem because Brother Finn was almost completely missing from the second book.  Yep.  Since the original titles were going to be the “Reimarsoga” and told in first person and for plot reasons you will find out when the book goes on sale… it was perfectly appropriate for him not to be there.

And now, this is where the problem kicked in.  He was so popular, and there is this lovely gap in my timeline, I realized I could write that new second book and focus on him while ignoring Reimar completely and everyone could be happier.  Book 2, as the first draft already written gets shoved to book 3 status, and now I fill in the gap.  And now I feel much better about it.

But I can’t call the whole thing “Reimarsoga” if book two is going to be all about Finn, and calling it book one of “Finnsoga” in the end just isn’t working so… pantpantpant… sod it all, new naming convention!  Huzzah!

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So, here we are then.  A new title that fits the series theme better, and just snaps, plus it’s Biblically inspired.  So….. win/win/win/win/WINNING!

I feel better now.

Heavy Lifting and Other Trials

Lifting heavy physical objects is easier.  You can always put them down.

Lifting heavy mental objects is a lot stickier, and often you don’t know how or cannot put them down when you want.

I have been working on my 4th then 5th edit of my manuscript.  I have a wonderful new title, a book blurb, an improved map, and thanks to absolutely incredible work by my aunt Jane who turned the full force of her professional teaching experience on the manuscript a mechanically cleaner, smoother, more glossy copy than I ever had before.

All this to set up for a professional editor.

So now the terrifying step of finding a pro to tear into my work again.  I have been so focused on this product, I am sick of seeing it.  I love it, but dammit, get off me!  It’s just like when my lovable doodlebug wanted to sit on the couch with me and I couldn’t put up with her laying on me anymore.  I love you dog, but you’re too heavy and hot and stinky and drooly.

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I also started a 99designs competition to design a logo for Akiniwazi.  It’s in progress at the moment, but I’ll leave that for another update.  I will say this though, 4 days is too short a time to accept submissions.  Too short by far.

But now, I need to get my mind off of my first book and writing, but I know I can’t because I want to do my next book.  I want to move the story forward, but right now, I’m so bound up, I don’t know how I’m going to pull that off.  So I think I’ll just focus on getting an editor, scheduling it and focus that way for now.  There are so many other things I can be doing that are related to writing.

There it is.  5 drafts in the can.  The beta reads have been absolutely wonderful to go through.  So many things that are done right, but to see my work laid open like it was… wow… I see why some writers dread hearing back from their editors even though, like surgery, it makes you whole again.

X-Post Fact Toast #? 7? Yeah, 7. I think…

Edit 4B is now complete.  It went better than expected, despite some soul crushing realizations.

Words and phrases I use way too much and must DIE be replaced.

  • all
  • also
  • each
  • for the first time
  • just
  • massive
  • now
  • though
  • with

Common misspelling that thankfully I won’t be doing as much anymore.

  • Toward (Amazingly, there is no ‘s’ at the end,  derp.)
  • Whose (Not who’s.  Who taught you inglish?)

 

Now, (see what I did there?) one last structural edit, a quick review and yep… It’s that time… everyone panic!

exit-zoidberg-o