Blog-ui

That’s not a good neologism blogui. I was trying to combine blog with ennui.

It’s not that I’m bored, it’s that I’ve written 3 or 4 posts in the last few days that really suck, so I haven’t posted them. And I have low, low standards.

Hmmph.

Triter Than Fiction

If I wrote a story…

…about a callow, charismatic President…

…with no record of achievement…

…worshiped by millions…

…whose graven image appeared on items across the land…

…and it turned out that the coins bearing his image…

…were merely stickers on existing coins

…a facade, if you will, a shallow appearance with nothing behind it…

…I’d be considered a hack!

Post Mortem: Death of a Barbarian, pt II

Pity the poor Trooper, out there prepping Lee Lee’s Valise for Black Friday and possible movie-stardom, but who took some time to critique my Taylon Doon story. Thanks to Darcy, who also read it. And anyone else who read it, if anyone. It’s not clear to me from the WordPress reports.

Trooper gave some great feedback; as a voracious reader, he knows writing like I know biting.

Writing in that style is not as easy as it is cracked up to be. A real pulp writer who wrote great stuff like Robert Howard or John Norman are people with a lot of talent who decide to write in that genre. That’s not to say you don’t have a lot of talent, but I think it tends in a much more modern post ironic way while the novel you were attempting requires belief in the conventions not a tongue in check bow to it. Someone like Raymond Fiest or SM Stirling or Harry Turtledove writes in a more sedate version of this style, as there are very very few writers who could pull off a full blown saga in the style you were attempting to use.

Hmmm. I really wasn’t trying to be “post-ironic” but I suppose I can’t exactly help that. I wasn’t exactly trying to mimic Howard or Norman because it’s hard enough to write in one’s own style under the gun.

But what certainly happened was that as I created the story, I had trouble seeing how I was going to get the reader to understand what was going on. Taylon, as a barbarian, by necessity doesn’t know what’s going on. Doc has a better idea and I figured that using Taylon as a contrast, Doc could let the reader in on what was going on as he learned.

The other way to go would’ve been to go from Taylon’s POV or a neutral 3P but that felt too limited. On the other hand, it directly led to what Troop observed next:

I think the problem was you were describing action rather than just plunging in. You were Robert Altman instead of John Ford. You wouldn’t be corny if you weren’t afraid to be corny if you know what I mean. Less is more in the action genre. Don’t describe, just do.

Yes, I had this problem a lot. The subsequent action scenes were more immediate, but I suspect the problem comes from wanting to keep a little mystery.

That’s easy for me to say I have always wanted to write but have never had the time. Although the rise of alternative historical fiction has given me so many ideas that I think my head would explode.

Well, I join Troop’s readers in encouraging to take it up as a serious avocation.

Make Blake Write A Book: Update

OK, I think I’ve worked out the setting for this book.

Contrary to my previous post, I’m not going to be discussing the setting here. There will be an element of mystery that I think will be more enjoyable if I don’t put all my cards on the table.

But so far, we know there will be three elements:

1. Barbarians
2. Sex
3. Western-type setting

Feel free to add more ideas in the comments. Even if they’re offbeat. I’ll consider it a challenge to work them into the story. (However, I reserve the right to adjust the amount and manner in which any idea or story element is incorporated, besides just rejecting outright. But I’ll try not to reject outright.)

Update:

4. Yogurt
5. Unicorns
6. Spaceships

Heh. Thanks to 1jpb and AJ Lynch for the new suggestions.

Barbarian Cowboy Sex Novel

So, so far, I’ve gotten two suggestions: One for barbarian sex novel in the Gor vein (from Trooper York, who’s on fire with the Flintstones parody, and also–though he hasn’t posted it to his own blog–as a great take on Bullwinkle’s reaction to Sarah Palin’s nomination). 1jpb wants a Western.

So I’m considering doing both. If I do a traditional Western, that makes the Gore-style sex part problematic, if realism is a consideration. Though I wouldn’t rule out different world.

When I think Barbarian, I tend to think Sword & Sorcery, like Conan, or High Fantasy, like a D&D game. (I love Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, but those stories are a little more than S&S, if not quite High Fantasy.) Westerns are done at the same scale as S&S.

So, if we go six-guns and swords, do we throw in sorcery as well? Magic is always tricky to do well but one of the things about having a gaming background is that one gets quite good at developing systems of magic that are “fair”. Not fair to the characters, but fair to the reader.

Another option is a post-apocalyptic scenario (which, actually, doesn’t rule out magic).

Once I nail this down, I’ll start writing up some posts about the universe in which the story takes place. This won’t appear in the novel, and it won’t be necessary for understanding the novel. It’ll be like my Silmarillion. My main point in posting it will be to let my prospective readers (both of them, at this point) put in their feedback about what they’d like to see or just can’t stand.

Online Communities

I spent waaaay too much time on Althouse yesterday. Today, on the yesterday’s (Day 5’s) treadmill desk post, I got an invitation to join a treadmill desk community on ning.com, which is a social site I was only vaguely aware of before 10 minutes ago. (I’d run across it but it didn’t really make an impression on me.) There’re two treadmill desk sites on ning, but I’ll address that in a bit.

I played around a bit with BBSes once upon a time, in the long, long ago, but I never got hooked. BBSes seemed like such a huge waste of time. And truth be told, I used the computer to get away from people. Typewriter, deck of cards, empty sheet of graph, or musical notation paper, the clamor of others’ voices wasn’t sought after or (as today) inevitable.

Back in 1991, though, Compuserve was the place to hang out with techies. And, at a time when this was rather rare, I was a freelancer who got most of my work through e-mail. In that sense, it was a remarkably productive tool. I couldn’t have written my published books without it.

In another sense…well, you know, I have opinions on stuff. And junk.

And I can type 80-100wpm.

This is not necessarily a productive combination. I had written over a million words (mostly fiction) before I ever joined the online world. And I’ve probably written more than two million since then (mostly opinion). But most of those have been lost to the ether. And just as well. Indeed, the stack of paper I have from my pre-Internet days is no more–or less–frequently read.

I could, in fact, do this all day long. But since I don’t get paid for it, part of the reason for this is to manage my time a little better. And it mostly works.

Project: Delphi for .NET review

CodeGear has come out with a new version of Delphi for .NET development.

The company seems a lot more vital than Borland, though I can’t comment on their “Application Lifecycle Management” business. Maybe that rocks the ALM world.

But as far as development goes, CodeGear has revitalized Delphi and made forays into PHP, Ruby, and Eclipse-specific Java tools.

In fact, my current problem is that an important outlet for me, DevSource.com, isn’t particularly interested in non-dotNet/non-Visual Studio stuff. It’s always been an MS-sponsored site, but the previous editor (Esther Schindler) was willing to entertain anything she thought would drive eyes to the site. This isn’t to suggest that the current editor (Jeffrey Cogswell) is doing anything wrong–it’s entirely possible that the readership is only interested in MS stuff–but that I need to find more outlets.

I’ve been considering starting my own online tech magazine, which probably isn’t very bright given the other projects I have going, but I miss the days of PC Techniques. I need reviews of software tools, but I love light-hearted writing and little projects that remind us why we got into the business to begin with.

In the meantime, I have a review in progress about Delphi-dotNet for DevSource.