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Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian’s Upcoming Novel Makes Grim Predictions

27 Aug

So, you like to play SSB?

Okay, so I just heard it, and now you have to. Give it a second to sink in once you hear it, or read it, or whatever the hell you do with it.

Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian is about to release his new book, Without Their Permission. It gives us a less-than-enticing look at what may come in our near future. It’s a book about freedom, privacy, and all those things you humans are squabbling about nowadays. Take a look at this excerpt from the audiobook, or, if you’re feeling learned, the written version can be found here. It’s the original Reddit post he promoted to get the word out about this.

What, you want to  know what I think about it? Well, I’ll tell you: I think it doesn’t matter what I think of it, it matters what you think of it. It’s up to you to decide if the book’s data is valuable. It’s up to you to decide whether you’ll buy it or not to hear/read what Ohanian has to say. Will I buy it? For kicks, probably. I really want to get a look at the lead-in to the excerpt.

Okay, so there, I did a “news” story for once. And yeah, I kind of liked it, but I’ll only do more of those if you guys want ’em. Otherwise…

[Re-engaging rambling in three, two…]

~D.

Building a Better Story: Names

26 Aug

You and I, together.

Sometimes I advise, sometimes I don’t. This was one of the times I did.

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Question: How important is the name of a character?

Answer: It doesn’t matter and it DOES matter.

It doesn’t matter because, frankly, there are plenty of stories where names that mean complete gibberish are used for lead characters, and they work fine. I’m sure you can think of many examples, especially in the fantasy department.

On the other hand, it DOES matter because if you have 100,000 people read your book, and only 50 to 100 notice, “Oh my God, his name means _______! HOLY CHRIST-MUFFINS! THIS GUY’S A GENIUS! Brah, brah, brha…” then it was worth it. Especially if you run into one of those “elite” fans later on in your career and they’re like, “Hey, hey….I noticed it.” You guys will high-five the $#!* out of each other’s hands at that point.

So, I guess it depends on whether you want your hands to be hurting a lot.

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~D.

Building a Better Story: Characters

21 Aug

Poison and cheer!

Building a character and building a person are, relatively speaking, the same thing. Just go ahead and start designing the character, and then, at intervals throughout their creation, ask yourself, “Is this what a real person under these circumstances would do? Is this how they’d act? Would Iact this way in the same situation? Would anyone I know act this way? Is this the kind of character who would even have a ‘human’ reaction to these events?”

Doing the above gives us a sense of reality in relation to the character, regardless of whether they’re a man, a machine, an alien, or whatever. When we can observe the character realistically, no matter how strange they might be, they’ve been designed properly.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: designing a character purely for interest is not interesting. We’re not interested characters because they’re interesting. We’re interested in characters because they themselves are interested in the world around them, thereby becoming “interesting.” We are interested in the interested.

Realistically Designed Characters: Han Solo, Andrew Detmer, Commissioner Gordon (BEFORE The Dark Knight Rises), Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, President Josiah Edward “Jed” Bartlet.

Characters Designed for Interest Alone: Jar Jar Binks, Mudflap and Skidds (from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), the Catalyst, Gurgi (until the later books that is).

In short, make people, not characters. And don’t force them to be interesting, because that’s not interesting.

~D.

The Word of the Day

19 Aug

Logs, just logs.

Complexity and nuances aren’t what make great stories, that’s depth’s job. And, as I’ve mentioned previously, depth can be simple, and it can also be natural.

Let’s examine these points individually in reverse, starting with that word “natural.” What does that mean? Well, in terms of stories and their telling, I’d say it means “anything originating without being engineered or contrived.” The natural parts of a story are the parts that come about as though they were entirely consequent of earlier events. Natural events appear real to the reader, and to the reader, the person, any person, things that are real tend to have depth, whether it’s made apparent right away or not. When things are natural, they’re real, and when they’re real they have depth, which is what readers love; not merely complexity, but depth, layers, levels.

Now, we also have this fascination writers have developed lately with creating “nuances” and “uniqueness” in their stories. This is becoming the new cliché, as such forced uniqueness and nuances lead to overly complex tales that nobody can keep up with. It’s fine for things to be original, and even unique, but these things again come from depth, which comes from how real the story is, which comes from how natural the story is. It all comes back to being natural, originating without being engineered or contrived.

And now we come up to complexity, which should never, in my opinion, be the goal of the writer. Intentionally making things complicated will always lead to contrivance. All of these things are connected and they, again, go back to how natural the story is.

So yeah, just keep everything natural and you’ll be fine. Have I used that word enough times for it to sink in?

 

~D.

Unique Characters: A Necessity?

11 Aug

Depth

I gave a fellow on Reddit some advice:

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Question: How unique do characters actually need to be?

Answer: There is no degree to which a character MUST be “unique.” Uniqueness isn’t necessarily the problem one faces when creating and developing a character, rather depth. See, when a character has multiple levels, it gives us, the reader, a little game to play: Dig to the Bottom of the Character (or DBC, as most people call it). We want a mystery to solve, a puzzle to reconfigure, a game to win. We want to be involved with who we’re reading about.

Now, that doesn’t mean we should make every character as confusing as possible. Levels can be SIMPLE. Luke Skywalker isn’t just the farm boy who became an intergalactic hero. He’s also a son who’s been lied to by his mentor, betrayed before birth by his father, kept in the dark about his sister, and torn between light and dark paths his whole life. Honestly, Luke has more depth than people give him credit for, but he isn’t COMPLICATED. See the difference?

Uniqueness isn’t something that can be forced. It naturally arises from a character’s depth.

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So yeah, try that out some time.

 

~D.

No

6 Jul

[Insert esoteric metaphor here.]

Let’s not get into it. I don’t want to talk about it. No, stop. Really, guys, I don’t want to talk about it. It’s just something I need to handle myself, okay?

Hey, I asked you what you were doing first, so tell me. No, come on, tell me. What if I tell you what I’m doing afterwards. Still? All right, then I guess we’re keeping secrets from each other now, okay, makes sense, it happens.

Oh, COME ON! You’ve got to tell me what you’ve been UP TO! Writing? Baseball? Bowling? Why don’t we go bowling some time? Scared I’ll beat you? I’ll admit that I’m pretty good with duckpin, but I’ll need to practice more if I’m going to take you out at standard bowling.

No, I’m NOT telling you. Go eat breakfast. Maybe we’ll talk later tonight.

What, you think I’m being selfish? TO HELL WITH YOU! You’re damn right I’m being selfish, and I like it THAT WAY! You’d rather I gave you more? Well, tell me what you’ve been up to.

Okay, so you’re working out. That’s nice. That can’t be all though. How’s that friend of yours? They okay? Staying safe? No? Hospital? Ah, bummer. But I ain’t pitying you, no sir. I’m keeping my mouth shut until you tell me what’s really going on.

AHA! Finally, some @nswers! So, you’ve gotten tired of reading my stuff, eh? Oh, hush, you know you love it all. You’ve just forgotten how much you loved it because it’s the norm now, it’s not quite as “fresh” and “hip” and “tubular” as it once was. You need it to be “rockin'” and “sweet” and “clutch” and all those fancy things you use to call something “radical” nowadays.

Well, I’m not changing. If you don’t like it anymore, leave now and never come back.

 

 

 

 

What? You’re still here? What, this? Oh, it’s just a story I’m working on. Hey, listen, about what I said, I was just, you know, being, you know, dumb.

That thing you wanted to know, it was just me thinking about stopping, about not posting anymore. I was just thinking about is all, not saying I’d do that. I’m not stopping, you know that. I can’t stop. Well, I can, but I won’t.

I just sometimes feel like nobody’s there, you know? And I know you’re there, I check the statistics every day, and they look fine. I still get messages from you guys. But it still feels like you’re just here because you’re obliged to, because you’ve been here so long you feel like leaving would be rude or something. I’m okay with rude, I’m fine with rude.

You can leave any time you want. I’m not leaving. Someone will come by and replace you. It always happens. Everyone gets replaced. Except me. I’m not getting replaced. If God ever asks me whether I want to be replaced, you know what I’m going to tell him?

Actually, let’s not get into it. I don’t want to talk about it. No, stop. Really, guys, I don’t want to talk about it. It’s just something I need to handle myself, okay?

 

~D.

STEEEEERIKE!

Initium

26 Jun

Leo.

It means “start.”

A few years ago I published a novel called Beginning, a multi-perspective account of a war between two powerful nations in Earth’s far future. The novel is about to be re-released and, in celebration of that, I am now going to show you the first three chapters of it. It may seem weird and a little hard to understand at first, but you’ll get it. You’re smart. You have to be smart if you read this blog. It’s always been that way.

You’re smart, that’s why you knew what initium meant before I even told you. What was that again? Oh, that’s right…

…”start.”

 

Here be the chapters three.

 

~D.