Dog Ear
Magic (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 27 September 2018 00:00

magine you could take any topic around the watercooler and suddenly affect people’s thoughts to flash an image directly in their heads. You know, like a phone with those boring pictures of your dog, but better. They wouldn’t just see the dog. They’d imagine his playful nature, his soft coat, and could emphasize with your love for him.

Well, that’s what being a writer is about.

Not only do we keep track of words others use but we develop our own words, ones that work. And we have boxes of words in our brain, all from those books we’ve read. So when it comes to the discussion around the coffee pot, we’re the ones who, when other’s gripe about the horrible commute, we note that view of the moon, swimming overhead as she dropped to the west, a beacon of natural beauty nestled amid the transformers and telephone lines.

And stop right there. Did you see it, the moon? Did an image come to your mind as you read that?

That’s how it should work. I remember one writer mentioning how words are toggles – they make images appear in the minds of your readers. And the better toggles are those single word ones that paint the image with a creative brush. And that’s the trick – don’t write with bland words like “The moon set in the west”. Punch it up. And talk that way, too. Sure, it’s free. But you’ll get good creative passion. If you watch, you can see in the eye of your listener as the image forms. And better yet – you’ll stand out as creative, even fun to talk to.

An even better office training tool is the appreciation board – the white boards in the breakroom that allow you to fill in “Things I appreciate” or “Things that make me happy”. Go to town on these. Write with passion and creativity. Make people notice. On our board, people recognize my statements. Some days I’ll appreciate a gentle breeze from the far-away coast or the passing glance from a pretty lady, as opposed to, say, spaghetti.

Remember: You are a writer. Use it everywhere you can!


Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 September 2018 18:04
The churn of creativity (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 20 September 2018 17:41

think you can train your brain to do a number of things. People who don’t read look at people who do as having some strange arcane powers, that sitting still for 300 pages is extraordinary. So, yes, I’ve trained myself to stick with it, through thick and thin. I’m like a book shredder now. This isn’t much I can’t break down.

Creativity is the same sort of thing. Over years of scripting RPGs, writing plots, developing model train time tables and coding games, I’ve trained myself to be able to think solutions. When I write a short story, I think of a number of things (often simultaneously). Things like:

1)     What is the overall point of this story? Why am I even writing it?

2)     What is an interesting hook to get the story going?

3)     What would an interesting character be? What simple traits can be used to describe him?

4)     How should the story develop? How much space to I have?

5)     What cadence am I writing in? Fast? Show? Short words? Long?

There are all sorts of others points but these are the primary things I think of, milling around and around these points. If my character is jittery (point 3) then I should write in short fast words (point 5). It’s like Legos – I look at what colors and sizes I have, think about what I’d like to make, and figure out how it all will go together.

One trick I use (in game design) is to look at development in terms of two questions:

1)     What real world thing do I wish to make into some sort of game feature?

2)     What game feature would I like to incorporate and how can I explain it in terms of the real world?

For example, if I’m making a game about players flying around as crows, I might say I want to include hawks as a danger and from a point 1 aspect, I’ll need to add some form of air combat. Or possibly I’d look at point 2 and say I’d like to include air combat, and for that, I need hawks. So in terms of writing, possibly your two simultaneous steps of creativity would be:

1)     What real world thing do I wish to add to my story?

2)     What story element do I want, and how can it exist in the real world my story takes place in?

Approaching stories from a mega-creative methodology can keep you from staring at an empty computer screen, wondering why you can’t write about anything. Good luck!


Smile (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 13 September 2018 17:02

ears back, I was reading a Manga comic titled Venus Wars. It was a cool comic and I very much enjoyed it. However, in one scene, the heroes are hiding out in an out-of-the-way sewage reclamation plant. Here, they get critical information from a scientist whom the government banished into the hinterlands. And that’s fine – a time-tested plot device. But, if course, the evil government locates them and suddenly there is an open hatch, an alarm, a video image of guys with machine guns coming down the ladder. The heroes (lovers with guns) dash off with pistols to fend them off. And on their faces, broad smiles of youth and resistance.

In reality, this is crazy. If you are running into a metal corridor battle with mooks with automatic weapons, you should be concerned. Hell, you should be scared to death and shitting bricks. But this couple was running hand in hand, guns clutched in their other hands, wide smiles in their faces.

I’ll believe that people can eventually form a colony on Venus before I’ll believe anyone goes into a risky close-in battle in tight spaces with a dog-foolish smile on their face.

This kinda reminds me of one of those early StarWars knock-off stories. It mentioned that Luke Skywalker was taking off under fire from some colony city. The story said something like, “Three TIE fighters attempted to intercept, but he shot them all down.”

Really? Trained pilots in the latest military hardware and you splash the lot of them in a sentence fragment? You’d think you’d have your hands full, that a desperate pilot might even ram you if you were that good.

The point is, it makes your enemies into mooks, expendable bad guys you can kill with easy and flowing dramatic. It also means, as a reader, I’m bored with your story. Why should I be excited about a god-touched hero? Achilles isn’t as interesting and noble as doomed Hector.

Remember, your hero is only as good as his foes (well, if he’s successful against them, perhaps he’s a wee-bit better). But if you put your hero against slap-stick Keystone Cops, your hero will be a joke.

And anyone who smiles going into dangerous combat is either mad (and not worthy of our hero-worship) or knows that the enemy is worthless (so the story is not worth our involvment).

Thoughtful and realistic villains (and the underlings of such) are critical to good storytelling!


The Gift (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 06 September 2018 17:58

lot of people on the train know I’m a reader (I’ve always got a book in my lap (and my Brompton folding bike under my legs)). And everyone on the bus (between work and train station) know I am as well (because I’m always talking about books and listening to others about their recommendations). It’s just who I am. If life was an old black & white World War Two movie, I’d be the guy called “Professor”.

I did loan one nice lady on the bus my copy of A Man Called Ove. To my total surprise, she didn’t care for it and quit it after three chapters. And she was very apologetic; sweetly so. So the other day I met her outside at the stop, she pulled out a book she’d Amazoned for me, a book her mother liked and she liked too. I don’t want to say what it is (because it’s a mystery and I don’t want to troll for spoilers). But it’s got a theological bend to it that looks interesting.

Outside of the fact that I’d never likely pick this up if not for her, it’s a very nice gesture, this sharing. She was delighted that I hadn’t read it (hopped up and down, she actually did). So, yes, now I have a novel burning to be read, something that I want to read and share. I’m hoping for another The Mirror. Who knows? Either way, I’ll report back.

First, I need to knock off Raising Steam.



Page 5 of 87