Saturday, May 12, 2018

Spires of Infinity rewrite Draft 4 done

Yes, it has only been two days.  I'm on vacation this week.  So, yeah, I finished up the fourth draft of my Spires of Infinite rewrite.  If you feel the overwhelming urge, you can find it at the bottom of this page.  Blah blah blah manuscript format blah blah.

Mostly this draft was just a read through aloud to make sure all of hte wording feels natural.  I also made sure all of my capitalization, spelling, and hyphenation was uniform throughout the entire manuscript.  There were a few very minor edits I made when I ran across something that tongue tied me while I was reading it aloud, which is a clear sign to me that it needs a bit of work put into it to polish it off.  There were also some very minor dialog additions I made, and a few small details that I missed adding in on previous drafts.  I ended up adding about 400 words to this draft, still keeping in just under 100k total.  By this point I've probably read through this book about 15 times since I wrote the first draft back in November.  Sometimes it's easy to miss minor things like capitalization, spellings on words you made up, and other such stuff in the tedium of reading a book 15 times in 7 months.

One more draft should do it on this one, and then I start trying to sell it.  I have a bit of editing software that I usually use on my final drafts, but it does cost a $30 a month subscription fee to use it, so I'm going to get Memories of What never was all ironed out and ready for a final draft first so that I can cram running both of them through the software  into the same month and only have to pay for one month of use.  Which means I'm not going to finish off the final draft of this one for a couple months or so while I work on that.  At the moment, though,  it's pretty close to being finished.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Spires of Infinity rewrite Draft 3 done.

Soooooo, I've finally finished up the third draft of my Spires of Infinity rewrite, and if you feel the great urge, you can read it at the bottom of this page.  Like other recent projects I've posted, this is written in manuscript format, because converting it to something more normal looking to post on my website takes way too much time and effort.  This means 12 point font, double spaces, all itallics are underlined instead of itallicized, and all blank lines are marked with a #.

Anyway, my goal with this draft was to tighten up the writing, remove any unneeded repetition, fill in a few plot holes, and shave the word count down to about 90k words.  I have to say, that this draft was pretty mind-numbing.  I had to reread every single chapter in this story 5-6 times, going over every single little word and thinking to myself, hmmmmmm, is there any way I can say this in fewer words until I was satisfied I'd done as much as I could.  There were a few instances of repetition that I removed, a bunch of adverbs, because as Stephen King so aptly says, the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I did my best to shave the word count down as much as possible, without hurting the integrity of the story, or the characters.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to cut the word count down as much as I wanted to.  I was hoping for 90k, and ended up at 99k.  The writing was actually pretty tight to begin with, and there wasn't much I could shave off, plus filling in some plot holes required adding text.  Things are about as tight as I can get them now, and it IS still 4k words shorter than it was, so I feel like I did well with this draft, if I didn't quite end up with exactly what I wanted.

I've got to say, this story has come a LONG way from the story I first envisioned 6 or 7 years ago.  I basically threw out the entire premise the entire story was revolving around, and that turned out to be exactly what it needed to be a better story.  I'm really happy with how it's turning out.  I think I'll probably only need another quick draft or two before it's done, and I start trying to sell it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

My Star Wars Movie Rankings:

So, the Han Solo movie comes out in 2 weeks, so I figured I'd do a post giving my rankings of Star Wars movies.  Because I'm bored, and I need a break from editing Spires of Infinity.  Just a little up front, I'm not exactly looking forward to the Han Solo movie.  I feel that there are far more interesting stories in the Star Wars universe to tell.  Han has never been my favorite character, and I've always felt that he was the least interesting of the three main characters.  I'm also a little apprehensive, having heard some of the troubles there have been with production, and with the lead actor's complete inability to do anything resembling acting.  The first trailer was kinda meh, but the second one looked better.  I hope it doesn't suck, but I'm not going to be hugely disappointed if it does, because, like I said, I never really cared all that much about this movie to begin with.

These are ranked best to worst.

1.) The Empire Strikes Back
No real surprise there, I guess.  I love this movie.  It's my all time favorite movie.  It is the first movie I can remember ever seeing in a theater.  I remember when I first saw Star Wars.  The opening scene blew me away.  The rebel ship being chased by this massive behemoth that flew over the camera and jsut kept going, and going and going.  Then I saw Empire on the big screen, and one of those ships was flying along, and this huge shadow falls over it.  I was like OMFG, HOW BIG IS THAT SHIP!!!  The acting is the best out of the original trilogy.  It improves upon the mythology of the Force in a meaningful way.  It has a very epic battle at the beginning, which is amazing considering the limitations of special effects technology at the time.  They basically invented the special effects required to do all of the effects shots on a white background, something thought to be impossible at the time.  And it still looks amazing even today, almost 40 years later.  Plus, that climax, man.  The duel, the plot twist, and the escape from Cloud City are all really great.  On a general filmmaking, storytelling, character development, technical/special effects, and acting level, this movie is by far the best of the bunch.  I feel, however, that , of the original trilogy, this movie suffers the most from the Special Edition.  It completely removes the tension at the beginning with the snow monster, and it utterly ruins the entire pacing of the escape from Cloud City at the end, by adding in extra Vader scenes.

2.) Rogue One
Okay, I realize that the characters are a bit flat, and the movie does jump around a bit before things get going.  But I don't care.  The last hour of this movie is exactly what I've been wanting to see in a Star Wars movie my entire life.  The space/ground battle, with the Death Star plans as stakes were just awesome.  It reminded me a lot of old war movies, which I used to watch with my dad.  And Darth Vader's 3 minutes of screen time made Darth Vader great again, after three prequel movies of him being a whiney, angsty teenager.  I saw this movie opening night, and the moment Darth Vader turned on his lightsaber, practically the entire sold out theater was on their feet cheering.  It was so loud you couldn't hear the movie over it.  I also like a lot of the music, even though it wasn't John Williams.  It blended a lot of the old Star Wars music themes with new themes that I quite enjoyed.  And the special effects were kind of mind-blowing.

3.) Star Wars
When I was growing up, this movie was not called A New Hope.  It was called Star Wars.  I'm not calling it anything else.  This is the first movie I can remember ever seeing.  My parents rented it, and a VCR because we didn't own one at the time, for my birthday.  I was three or four, maybe five, but probably not.  I was blown away by it.  Some kids have that favorite Disney movie they watch over, and over again.  Or some other movie or show that just drives every adult crazy.  Mine was Star Wars.  Whenever we rented movies, we had to get Star Wars.  I watched it 73 times before it had to go back, and then the next time, we had to get Star Wars again.  It's just a really good movie, and for the time, the special effects are pretty awesome.  It basically changed the way movies are made forevermore.  In general, I feel that most of the changes made in the Star Wars special editions make the movies worse, not better.  But the addition of the scene with Biggs, and the completely redone Death Star battle really do make the movie better, in my opinion.  If only I could pick and choose which Special Edition changes I could keep and toss.


4.) The Force Awakens
Yes, this movie is a remake of the original.  So what?  It was still great.  It also has my favorite lightsaber fight in the entire series.  It's the only lightsaber fight in all of Star Wars that looks like the characters were actually trying to kill each other, which the exception of maybe the part at the end of Jedi where Luke loses his temper, and even then, it seems more about him hitting Vader's lightsaber, rather than hitting Vader himself.  Old Han Solo steals every single scene he's in.  Chewie actually seems to have a personality for the first time.  I really liked the new characters, Finn, Rey, Poe, and Kylo Ren.  Finn, especially, because he's an actual, likable character, not just the token black guy.   And it has a very, very well shot death scene at the end, which, in case someone hasn't seen it, I'll not ruin.  A lot of people seemed to think Rey was a Mary Sue, but, I mean, they establish in the movie WHY she can speak so many languages, WHY she knows how to fight, and WHY she's good at fixing things.  And people complain about how she's perfect at flying the Millenium Falcon.  Uh, seriously, count how many things she crashes it into.  I just really enjoyed it, and felt that it was a great continuation of the story into a new generation of heros and villains.

 Okay, #5 is a tie

5.) The Last Jedi
No, this is not the best Star Wars movie ever.  No, this is not the worst Star Wars movie ever.  In my opinion, it's just average.  Right in the middle.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't really love it either.  I liked it.  I'll watch it again in my life, but it's not one of my favorites.  What I do like about this movie is the development of Kylo Ren's character.  This movie is REALLY brutal to him as a character.  And he becomes a really, really terrifying villain by the end, with no hope of redemption.  I also relaly liked the protrayal of Luke in this movie.  To me, where his character is at the beginning of the movie is a logical and interesting progression.  A lot of people seem horrified by it, because he's not book Luke.  Well, here's the thing about book Luke... HE'S FREAKING BORING!!!  And Mark Hamill just NAILS his performance, too.  It is a great pity he was not recognized for it at the Academy Awards.  This movie also brings up some interesting questions about the Star Wars universe.  I also really liked the visuals and music on the end battle, even if it felt too much like a rip off of the Hoth battle in Empire.  The desperate charge against overwhelming odds across a pristine white battlefield that turns the color of blood as they fight, all with John Williams' March of the Resistance playing over it, and the return of the Millenium Falcon, with the Millenium Falcon's theme music, which was suspiciously absent from The Force Awakens, depite the perfect opportunity to use it.  All in all, it was a decent movie, but there are better movies in the series.

5.) Return of the Jedi
This movie has some problems.  I'm not gonna lie.  I felt like the Han Solo rescue at the beginning was boring and dragged on forever.  I will also admit that I had a picture of golden bikini Leia on my bedroom wall for years as a teen.  And the Ewoks man, the Ewoks.  Just, FU Ewoks.  I do really like the Death Star space battle.  It is really awesome, the wall of tie fighters, the Death Star firing on the rebel fleet, flying into the Death Star.  That's all really, really fun and awesome, with great visuals for the time it was made, that still hold up today.  The ground battle is not very good, in my opinion.  The special effects are a little lacking on the ATSTs and, again, the freaking Ewoks.   Plus, I really like the Luke/Vader/Emperor confrontation.  It's not about the lightsabers.  It's about the characters, the emotion, and the temptation.  Luke wins the lightsaber fight, but he LOSES the confrontation.  Vader's redmption DOES seem like it comes a bit out of nowhere, even after having seen the prequels, but it fits in with the schlockyness of the rest of the movie.  This movie probably suffers the least from the Special Edition, but man, that Jedi Rocks musical number, that is fast forwarded EVERY time I watch it.  Again, all in all, it was a decent movie, but there are better movies in the series.

7.) The Clone Wars
Yes, that's right, I actually went to see The Clone Wars in the theater.  Was it a good movie?  Well, no, not really.  It was basically just the first four episodes of the TV series edited together to make a movie, at George Lucas' wallet's behest.   But it's not exactly a bad movie either.  Despite pacing issues due to the fact that it wasn't meant to be a movie, and the fact that the story is a little more kiddie than the rest of the Star Wars movies, it was still fun to watch.  Mostly, I like The Clone Wars because it gives a look at what the charactesr COULD HAVE BEEN in the prequel trilogy.  You know, likable, well written, given logical character progression without winking at the audience too much.  This is something that continued on into the TV series.  They took the prequels, and said, okay, we're going to fix this.  And they did.  They made real, sympathetic, likeable characters out of boring, wooden, unlikable characters.  There are some REALLY stupid and boring episodes, but a lot of them are really good.  They take something that was boring and laughable in the movies, the Clone Wars, and make them the horrifying, destructive war that shaped the characters' lives that Obi-Wan makes them out to be in the first movie.

8.) Revenge of the Sith
This movie is the best of the Prequels.  Some might say that of three hot pokers in the eye, this one burns a little less, but, eh, it's not terrible.  The acting is bad, the way dialog scenes are shot is boring.  But at the same time, the opening battle and lightsaber fight are great.  The drama between Anakin and Padme is competant, especially when you compare it to Attack of the Clones.  It has some fun action scenes in the middle, to break up the monotony of characters boringly talking in shot/reverse shot, and the ending, despite having some very bad pacing and editing issues, and dragging on a little too long, is pretty good too.  When Obi-Wan wins the lightsaber fight, we're treated to the only scene in the entire trilogy between Obi-Wan and Anakin that actually has any real emotion in it.  Also, Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor is just plain awesome.  He's evil and he freaking loves it.  Him and Jimmy Smitts are really the only actors in this entire prequel trilogy that seem to be having any fun, or actually be trying to elevate the material.  This one is fun for what it is, but I would literally watch seven other Star Wars movies first before picking it up.

9.) The Phantom Menace
No, this is not my least favorite movie in the series.  I recently rewatched the entire Star Wars movie series, leading up to the release of The Last Jedi.  I was surprised to find that I didn't really hate 2 out of 3 of the prequel movies as much as I remembered hating them.  Revenge of the Sith, and The Phantom Menace are not good movies, but they're definitely not as bad as I rememeber them being.  My biggest problem with this movie is that there is too much Jar Jar in it, otherwise, I probably would have swapped it places on this list with Revenge of the Sith.  Every character in this movie is flat and boring, save Qui-Gon Jinn, mostly due to Liam Neeson being the only actor in the movie trying to give a decent performance.  The CG has not aged well, unfortunately, but there isn't as much of it as I remember there being in this movie.  Unlike Revenge of the Sith and Attack of the Clones, they actually built real sets for this movie, instead of CGing all of it.   Anakin is annoying, and he wins completely by accident, but that lightsaber fight, despite being obviously choreographed within an inch of its life is pretty sweet, and the Dual of the Fates music is the perfect accompaniment for it.  but again, there are 8 Star Wars movies I would rather watch before this one.

10.) Attack of the Clones
I do not like this movie.  There is nothing in it that I enjoy.  The acting is terrible.  The chemistry between LUKE AND LEIA'S FREAKING PARENTS is non-existent.  It's boring.  It drags on forever.  There is WAY too much CGI that has not aged well at all.  The dialog is painful to listen to.  And, I mean, come on.  These are Luke and Leia's parents, and they look at each other like they can't stand to be in the same room.  I hated this movie just as much as I remembered hating it.  The end battle is just way too cartoony.  Yoda fighting with a lightsaber, really?  REALLY?  Just, no.  The entire love story plotline is a chore to watch.  The entire Obi-Wan investigation plotline is a chore to watch.  It's just a very boring, not very well made, terribly written and acted mess of a movie.  Although, Obi-Wan vs Jango was pretty cool.  But that's what, 3 mins of a movie that's over 2 hrs long?  Jimmy Smitts seems to get a lot of hate as an actor, but I don't really know why.  I want you to watch this movie, and really pay attention to Jimmy Smitts' performance.  He is the ONE AND ONLY actor in this ENTIRE movie that gives a genuinely good performance.  Especially, watch the scene in Palpatine's office where they're debating creating an army.  If he can take the script and direction on Attack of the Clones, and put out THAT GOOD of a performance, he's okay in my book.

So, there it is, my Star Wars movie Ranking, and why I chose to rank them as such.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Memories of What Never Was - Draft 2 completed

So, after 2 months of working myself to death, I've finished the second draft of Memories of What Never Was.  If you're so inclined, you can read it by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.  Again, I write in manuscript format, which is double spaced, 12 point courier font, all itallicsare underlined rather than italicized, and there's a # to mark any blank lines.  I used to take the time to convert it to something that's a bit easier on the eye to read off my site, but it takes a considerable amount of time to do that, and when I realized how much time I was spending doing that in which I could be writing more, I just sort of stopped doing it.

Holy crap was that a lot of work.  I spent probably about 35-50 hours a week for the last 2 months working on this thing.  That's probably more time than I spent at my full time day job most weeks.  (for which I'm paid on salary, and which I get to go home after my work is done, no matter what time it is, so I get paid the same if I finish in 5 hours as I do if I finish in the 9 and a half I'm getting paid for, which gives me a pretty high incentive to get done as quickly as possible.) The first draft was really kind of a mess, and there were some rather big changes that I wanted to make to one of the characters, which then required a lot of changes being made to pretty much every chapter that she played more than a minor role in, because it changed her motivations as a character almost completely, which is not something I expected to happen when I first got the idea to make the change.  The reason I've been putting off doing this draft for so long, was because I was sort of dreading all of the work it was going to take to add these changes in, after I got the first chapter down and realized just how much work it was really going to be.  Large sections of text have either been added completely, completely replaced with other large sections of text, and many other small changes had to be made throughout literally every single interaction this character had with every single other character.  Figuring it all out is enough to drive someone insane.

In addition to changes to that particular character there were quite a few infuriatingly long run-on sentences, and quite a few ridiculously long paragraphs that all had to be broken up to reasonable sizes.  I usually use my second draft to fill in descriptive elements that are missing, some character personality elements, and to remove as many adverbs as I can.  I had so much other work that needed to be done that I didn't really get to a lot of that in this draft, and I mostly just focused on retructuring things, and getting the characters ironed out.  There are still a lot of things I need to work on with this one, mostly ironing out transitions between the changes I made in the second draft and the existing text left over from the first draft, and ironing out some more kinks in the writing.  It's still, very much, and unfinished product, but I feel that it's a big step closer to being done than it was when I finished the first draft.

And now, back to my Spires of Infinity rewrite.  It's been two months, which is probably enough to give me a bit of distance and help me find more problems that need to be fixed.  And I definitely need some time before I come back to Memories of What Never Was.  Going through that thing was pretty mentally exhausting.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Oi!

So I'm working on my second draft of Memories of What Never Was.  Boy does this book need a lot of work.  There are so many ridiculously long run on sentences, and over sized paragraphs.  Plus I made what I thought would be a small change to one of the characters, which is turning out to be a rather large change that is requiring quite of bit of either a.) rewritten text, or b.) huge chunks of added text.  It's kind of a lot of work.  This story is a lot more complex than Spires of Infinity where I got things pretty much right the first time through on the rewrite.  It is very slow going, and I can see now why I was putting it off for so long while I was overburdened at work.  This is going to take months of 4-5 hours a night after work to sort through and fix.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Spires of Infinite rewrite draft 2

So I've been working hard the last month or so on editing my Spires of Infinity rewrite, and I've finished my second draft.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but the first draft was pretty solid.  I didn't have a lot of grammar mistakes to fix up, or descriptions to add.  Mostly what went into this draft were more character building moments.  As I was reading through I realized that Gabriel was a pretty weak protagonist in the early parts of the story, and needed to have a more firm and sympathetic goal.  I also added a few explanations of things that I felt were a little too vague, and clarified some of the wording here and there.  I'm up to 103,000 words with this draft and this is 13k over what I want it to be, so on my next draft I'm going to be looking really close at the wording of everything and seeing if I can condense it down to lose those 13k words without cutting any scenes.  I usually do this with every book that I write.  Making the prose tighter and more streamlined to shed a few thousand words.  In my opinion it makes it easier to read, and looks a bit more professional after I'm done doing it.  But since I've been doing nothing but Spires of Infinity for the last 6 months or so, I need a small break from it, so I'm going to be working on my second draft of Memories what never was next before coming back for the next draft of Spires.  Just to sort of distance myself from it for a bit so I can come back at it with a fresh perspective.

Anyway, the second draft of Spires of Inifinity is up on my website And if you plan to read this story, I definitely prefer that you read the new version, even though it isn't complete.  Even though its still being worked on, the new version is a far cry better than the old one.  And, like the first draft, I didn't bother taking the time to convert it from manuscript format to regular format.  That means it's courier font, 12 point, double spaced, and all italics are underlined instead of italicized. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Man from Medan

A month or so ago I wrote a short story called The Man from Medan.  I was bored this weekend so i recorded myself reading it and posted it on youtube.  If you feel the great urge to listen to my doofy voice badly narrating this story you can find the playlist here.

The Man from Medan is a sci-fi horror short story that is based on the Ourang Medan incident that may or may not have happened in the late 1940s.  It's a pretty cool urban legend if you haven't ever heard of it.  The story is a little under one hour in length and broken up into three parts.