Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Games Someone Should Make: Wonder Woman


This could be a free-roaming action-adventure, much like Spider-Man 2, or a game like Batman: Arkham Whatever, but more linear.  Wonder Woman has an interesting collection of powers, not the least of which is her lasso of truth.

This is a fascinating gameplay element that could be used many different ways.  Maybe like Deus Ex's conversation threads.  You could use it for triggering quests, swinging around the city quickly (Or can she already fly? I never know these things), finding hints or clues or storyline elements.  It'd be more interesting than just "talking to everyone".


Plus you've got her invisible jet, defensive bracelets, a tiara, a sword, and hand-to-hand combat.  Those all sound like good video game elements.  And there's no reason to think a female-led video game couldn't do well -- Bayonetta, Final Fantasy 13, Tomb Raider.  If she's not a lead character, maybe she could be a partner, like in Bioshock Infinite or The Last of Us.

In fact, you could probably make a decent game if you took a few of the non-top tier DC heroes (i.e., not Superman and/or Batman).  Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, etc.  Just rotate them around, maybe a few levels where you can switch off between them.  Or like Lego Marvel Super Heroes -- a game where you can rotate between them all, doing quests a myriad of different ways.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Too Many Things To Work On


There's something about all the stuff coming down the line lately that's starting to paralyze me with fear, at least according to my writing.  Merm-8 is supposed to be published on 9/5 (mark your calendars), but there's still a lot to do.

I've gotten through content edits three times.  But now I've got to go through grammar edits.  And the problem is the grammar edits haven't been marked, because they want me to go through the whole text and make sure it's all right.  Which sounds like a bad idea to me.  I wrote the story to the best of my ability regarding grammar rules.  How would I notice something that's wrong, if I'm working under the assumption that it's right?  It's being told that you're not supposed to eat the shell of the peanuts.  But no one ever taught me that you're not supposed to.

Someone has been providing cover art too.  But no matter what kind of feedback I give, the end result is only changed a little from the original inspiration.  They're just very generic covers that A) don't reflect the content and B) don't entice me to read at all.  I'm not sure who's doing it, but I wish they would respond with something more than simply more cover art mockups.  I'm glad the publisher lets the author have this level of approval on cover art, but I'm sad they seem to be incapable of understanding my criticism.

And then my stories in the hopper are starting to accumulate on me.  After grammar edits on Merm-8 (which will take a long time, because I need to have it read to me), I have A) Draft 3 on a 30k dwarf novella I want to get done B) either doing macros or read out-loud on Defender C) a long, serial fan fiction I really want to write.

Now, my heart says I want to write C, but my brain knows that's a bad idea because that's the kind of thing I can't get paid for and thus, won't advance my writing career (although it may improve my writing).  I'm afraid if I try and start that, it'll be a case of "Gun x Sword" where the beginning writing style doesn't match the ending because I wrote it in spurts between drafts of other novels.  Defender is the most lucrative, but the next phase of its revision is boring and I just finished the line edits, so I don't feel motivated to do it.  And dwarf story, I don't even know how to get it to sell.  Plus, it's at a phase where it needs a lot of creation.

So the overwhelmingness leads to fear, fear leads to paralyzation.  So I feel deadlocked in all these stories that I can't get done.  Le sigh.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Final Edits, Cover Art, and a Third Draft Finished

Urge to kill... fading... fading... fadi-RISING!  ...fading...

Today I finished the third draft of Merm-8 Defender (damn, I keep mistaking it for that), which means pretty much the content is set.  There's one sequence of events that still bothers me, maybe because it's so morphable.  I keep thinking it can morph into something better.  It used to be another scene but it slowly changed into something different to accommodate characters.  But it still fits the template.  But at some point, you just have to give up.  It's the novel as a whole that people will remember, not one scene in the back.

This looks a little like a ten-year-old boy's back

I also turned in the final author edits for Merm-8.  No one said anything this time when I turned them in.  I'm hoping everyone's pleased.  I didn't leave anything inconclusive, so I'm hoping we really are done, and they didn't just give up on me.

What in the world is reflecting up there?
Also been working harder on the back cover blurb that's supposed to accompany the book.  It's not unlike writing a cover letter. The difficulty is pulling in more of that advertising quality.  I've been studying back cover copy, but they all are so uniquely tailored to their book.  And it reminds me of how far I have because even the big names like Hunger Games and Lock-In don't have amazing cover copy.  They have amazing word of mouth.
Not a fan of the "evening gown" mermaid

And finally I got a delight in my inbox.  The mockup of my cover art was posted.  Squee!  But when I took a look at it, it wasn't what I and the promotions specialist had discussed.  It was just a mermaid in dark water.  No science-fiction elements, no other characters.  It looked like a fantasy romance, which it definitely is not.  The mermaid's not even the main character (although she's the draw-in).

I hope the artist is receptive to feedback because right now it looks very generic and does not reflect the content of the novel.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Analyzing the Disney Villains: The Evil Queen (Snow White)


THE EVIL QUEEN (a.k.a. Wicked Queen, Wicked Witch, Queen Grimhilde)
Origin: Snow White (1937)

No one gave rip one about Snow White until 2010, when everyone decided they wanted grimdark fairy tale reimaginings. The new movies focused on the Queen (Julia Roberts, Charlize Theron). Probably because she has so much untapped potential. But ultimately, they all failed. Not because she's perfect to begin with, but there's not enough there to jump off of. So you end up with a shallow kiddie pool of a character.

Queen Grimhilde (Yes, she has a name. Even I didn't realize that.) was inspired by the title character of She (to wit, "She Who Must Be Obeyed") who is a sort of ruler of cannibals and has found the fountain of youth. Or something, I don't know. I just read the Wikipedia entry.


The likeness is uncanny, but inspiration and two cents will get you a hot cup of jack squat.


Motivation: Madness and jealousy, brought on by her desire to be beautiful and young. Mostly young. I guess this was before they heard of MILFs or Cougar Life.com. She's kind of like a proto-Mother Gothel.

I'm not sure what she gets from her vanity besides an ego boost. I don't see any suitors or concubines around her. In fact, I don't remember anyone else in the castle, except the Huntsman who's just visiting. I guess she's just beautiful for herself. Which is a little like being evil for evil's sake, so minus points here.


Character Strengths: The Queen not only has a kingdom (of indeterminate size -- she could be Queen of Nauru for all we know.) but an extensive knowledge of magic -- transfiguration, potions. She could be a substitute teacher at Hogwarts. (Cue the Grimhilde/Snape fan fiction). What I wonder about is her judgement. Why did she turn herself into an old hag? She wanted to be so beautiful, I'm surprised she was willing to abandon that for any length of time. In fact, if she could change her appearance, why not appear like Snow White? But I do like that she makes herself ugly and dies as such.


Evilness: She orders a huntsman to take out a fourteen-year-old's heart. While the idea is plenty evil, that's mistake number one -- never let someone else do your dirty work. How many times have we all been burned by that gem, right evil overlords? . When she finds out the Huntsman renegged, she goes undercover to poison her to death. This is actually a pretty good scene. Use of shadows, scary eyes, frightening transformation, all for the purpose of tricking and killing an innocent woman. 


Tools: Well, she has a huntsman at her beck and call. Too bad he wasn't more loyal (guy can gut a deer like a fish, but can't look away when shooting an arrow. I bet he was getting big bucks for it too.) Her batcave contains a number of interesting items (mummy dust, black of night, hag's cackle, scream of fright--same ingredients as in Mountain Dew Pitch Black). The best thing she has is that famous Magic Mirror. Interestingly, she commands it as the "slave in the magic mirror". I wonder about this guy. Where is he living? (The blag'ole?) He's a nice guy too, he even tells her where Snow White is and that she got duped.



Complement to the Hero: Yeah, I guess there's a certain dichotomy here. Snow White is thematic of beauty. The magic mirror knows Snow White is fairer because of what's in her heart. While we never see the queen do anything bad to her subjects, I think it's safe to say that she's not the kindest. My problem is that the filmmakers hammered home the point home too far.

Plus, I'm not sure who's dumber, the queen's act or Snow White's brain. She convinces SW that she can make an apple pie... with just one apple! And she's not smart enough to realize that something's up when all the birds start jumping on her. I guess it was the thirties, when you could sell someone a Brooklyn Bridge.



Fatal Flaw: In the first half of the movie, it's delegating authority. In the second half, she realizes her mistake and it kills her. The birds, who apparently have bigger brains than Snow White, get the dwarfs who chase her down. I guess sometimes, you just can't win.


Method of Defeat/Death: The dwarfs rush back to the cottage where they chase the old hag up a cliff. (Silly girl, don't you know better to go down, not up, when you're being chased.) She comes to a dead end, and tries to pry a boulder loose to Fireball Island them all. When she stops to laugh, Hayes Code lightning hits her and she falls off. Presumably, the boulder crushes her on the way down. This would be tedious, if not for the precognitive vultures who were following this entire time.





Final Rating: Three stars



PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Second Edits on Merm-8


Second edits are back now. I was worried that now that the semantics and punctuation were out of the way, she'd really bring down the hammer and start asking for revisions on scene orders, characterization, big fundamental things. But no, they were actually easier (thanks to the fact that all that stuff was now out of the way). Didn't get past the contentious POV scene though.

Which was fine. I gave it some thought and realized, you know, she does have a point. Stylistically, it just doesn't work. Story-wise, I think it does. But I'm the author, and there are more readers than authors. As much as I think it works, it's up to the reader to make that determination, not me. And in this case, I'm totally willing to defer to the person with more experience than me.

So while there are less edits, the second edits are harder. More push back. More thinking you have to do. How much new characterization should be added? How many sentences or removals do I have to do before element X becomes clear enough to the reader and the editor? It's clear to me, but going past my own biases is almost impossible. Especially after moving onto the "next big thing". It's like, "I've moved on, baby. Why you still harping on that old mermaid shit? This is the new hotness right here."


And then the promotions specialist is nice. It's hard to tell if she's new to the position, or it's simply how my publisher works. They can create artwork for me, for things like wallpaper and bookmarks. But I never know what quality I'm going to get. And I've got to figure out the blurb for my book. I've been using the second edits as an excuse, but that's only going to hold out so long before I've got to get something on paper. I can't really think of much beyond a something similar to a two-paragraph cover letter. But maybe that will be enough.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Experience of First Edits


Well, now things are moving on Merm-8. I've gotten contacted by my editor and promotions specialist. Weird how nothing for nine months, and now a bunch of stuff is all due at the same time. And meanwhile I'm 75% totally complete with the next novel. Lovely planning.

The edits themselves weren't bad. Mostly changing hyphens to em-dashes, worrying about commas. Interestingly, the editor is choosing to insert "and then" or "then" instead of eliminating them entirely. I thought was bad times. But I guess every publishing house's style is different. For other things, I deferred to the editor ninety percent of the time. Like not using all caps for emphasis and rephrasing my attempts at using future-slang. She noted a lot of name repetition, which I was happy to remove. I'm always worried about the reader knowing which "he" I'm referring to. Even when there's only one "he" in the scene.

The hardest part is the beginning. And I'm sure I'm not the only author with this problem. You have to communicate so much information in the first sentence or two. And for this one, I just cannot convert it into something that's intriguing and attention-grabbing and still lets you know who the main POV is, the setting, the situation, all that. It's still terrible, still dull. And I wouldn't be surprised if they something on second edits. (There are a total of three.)

The other hard part was that there's a POV shift late in the story. It'd disconcerting if you've read it once. Eye-glazing if you've read it forty times (like me). I had to make it more clear that it was from a certain perspective, when my intention was to keep it kinda 3rd person perspectiveless (which I don't think is a thing). If I change it from one to another, I lose some of my darlings. I know you're supposed to kill them, but I think they're impactful. The hubris of the writer, I suppose.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hot Girls You Don't Know About: Tara Lynne Barr


This'll be a short one because I really have no idea what this girl's done except for one movie which she was awesome in. Everything else has been indie movies or minor roles. I hope it's because the girl's getting herself a good education and planning for a long career. She reminds me of Maisie Williams.


That movie she was awesome in is "God Bless America" - the best satire/black comedy I've ever seen. Most times they cast someone who looks the part but can't hack it for the role. Not the case here. It's very reminiscent of Leon: The Professional, but it's not a copy. It's all the best parts put into something else.


Other than that, I don't got much. There's a handful of TV guest spots and indie movies. I mostly put her here because of bangs. I love bangs -- Mandy Moore, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Emma Stone, Carly Rae Jepsen, Sandra Bullock, most robot girls.



That and her eyes. She has some amazing lime-green/hazel eyes. The kind I've never seen any girl fore nor hence.




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    Is this her now?