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Topics - Recovering_Cynic

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Dan Wells / Book 3: I Don't Want to Kill You (some small spoilers)
« on: June 21, 2011, 09:28:47 PM »
Ha.† I started to title this post "I don't want to kill you" but I was afraid you might be inclined to think I was threatening your life.† With book titles like yours, it can probably be difficult for you to know whether your readers have homicidal intentions--as I'm sure you've already figured out.

Anyway,† I hadn't talked to you in awhile and hadn't been on Time Wasters in forever, but I wanted you to know that I stayed up reading until 2 a.m. last night to finish IDWTKY.† I am barely functional at work, but that's okay.† I must say that I easily enjoyed this book the best of the three for multiple reasons.† First and foremost, it was extremely well written.† John was as engaging as ever, more so if you ask me.† The book was beautiful.† Odd to say that about a serial killer book, but it is true.

On a more personal note, I think I enjoyed this particular book more because I could relate to John in it.† You do well at making an unsympathetic character very sympathetic, which is a hard balancing act that you pull off to near perfection.† You have done so in all the books, but I think you one-upped yourself this time.† †In my case, I was somewhat of a sociopath growing up, not because I had homicidal tendencies; I just was unable to relate to my peers or connect with them in any kind of meaningful way.† I tried.† I wanted to connect.† I did things that I thought would make them like me--worked hard for good grades, played sports, over-achieved with the best of them... not realizing that the likelyhood of connecting through any of these actions was doomed before it ever started.† Somewhere along the line, I figured out that I had to stop letting on that I liked school.† That helped a little, but not really.

But then, like John, my last year of high school a popular girl took interest in me.† I had no idea what to do about that--it scared the hell out of me--but unlike John (this is where the ability to relate ends), I was thrilled by this particular turn of events.† I was convinced she was insane, that the relationship was doomed to fail (which, ironically, doomed the relationship), and that some seriously bad karma was on its way to balance out my habitually crappy life.† The disconnect--the longing--that you captured in John's character, I could relate so very well to that, which means you did a great job.

In short, I could relate to John in this book on a very personal level... well, without the embalming and desire to maim and kill.† Other than that, it was a familiar walk down memory lane.

I was curious, did some of your childhood seep into this book?† I won't ask that about the previous two for fairly obvious reasons, but I was curious about this third one.† I heard a saying once that went something like, "all smart children are sad children".† I think it was from an introduction Orson Scott Card wrote to one of the editions of Ender's Game.† He was quoting someone, but I'm not sure who.† Anyway, the little over-achievers grow up and for the most part become happy functional members of society, but precociousness leads to some pretty hard times as a kid.† I know nothing of your childhood, but something about the way you write, the way you think, makes me suspect that your childhood was somewhat similar to my own.† Hard times.† Then again, my psychoanalysis might be way, way off.† Just curious.

Anyway, I mostly posted this to thank you for the John Cleaver books.† They left a very satisfying aftertaste in my mouth.† Praise where praise is due.

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Writing Group / Dramatica Pro
« on: August 11, 2010, 10:15:02 PM »
Hi everyone, so I just read up on Dramatica Pro, and I must say that I am intrigued.  It looks like an amazingly useful tool that would be very useful for me.  Do any of you use it?  How effective is it for fantasy settings?  Is it worth the (rather impressive) price?

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For those of you who read and reviewed my last draft of this story (all two of you), the first two pages of this draft are the same.  The rest of the draft is entirely different; I re-wrote it with a different setting, tone, and mostly different characters.  It's also about 4,000 words shorter, which should please the masses.  Be brutal in your assessment. 

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Be harsh.  Keep in mind, I want this to be a short story.  I've had some difficulty keeping it contained, so let me know if I did so successfully.

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Reading Excuses / Stealing Plots from Other Genres
« on: March 26, 2010, 03:29:15 PM »
Hi all!  Sorry but I've been a bit inactive lately, but work is still crazy (and I shouldn't be  posting right now, but hey, I'm  a slacker).  Anyway, I had a question about plot stealing.  It's a convoluted question, so bear with me. 

First, I have a confession to make.  In my last (and first) attempt at a novel, the plot seed was stolen from the book The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester.  When I say "plot seed," what I mean is the overall generic plot.  In Bester's book (and my attempted book), the overall generic plot is "Man gets betrayed by person who had duty to help him and sets out on course of revenge seeking to discover who the person was.  On his journey of revenge he meets a woman who is as ruthless as he, falls in love with her, regains some of his humanity, but then discovers that she is the person who betrayed him." 

In Bester's book, the plot was sci/fi.  The MC was stranded in a wrecked space ship, and a passing freighter which heard his distress beacon stopped to investigate but did not render aid.  The ship and crew left him stranded to die in the cold of space.  This pushed the MC over the deep end, and he spent the rest of the story trying to blow up the ship and kill its captain.  I tried to adapt the story to the fantasy genre with mixed results.

The reason for stating all of the ab0ve is this: I am starting my second novel.  I am stealing a second plot.  Is that a good or bad thing?  It's from another genre, one that my audience will be fairly unfamiliar with.  I'm just worried that someone is going to post a review somewhere saying "That Sean, he's a hack!  This is the same story as X!"  That is one of my concerns.

Another concern/question is whether my method of plotting is even a good idea.  Have any of  ever stolen plots before to use as a template for writing a story?  I've found that pulling a plot from another genre requires you to artificially contrive the plot some.  For example, in my last attempt at writing a novel, my MC was abandoned by a knight who was supposed to give him aid.  I had to pick a knight because the person could not be easily recognizable which would require the MC to search, and in my mind I equated armor with space ship, and the person wearing the armor with the ship's captain.

Of course, much of the novel was wildly different.  It had to be.  Only someone who had read The Stars my Destination and had the story really stick with them would see any similarity. 

So I guess here is the feedback I am looking for: Do you think plot stealing is a good idea?  How much do you steal?  What is stealable?  How do you execute the theft, meaning, how do you fit in a plot device from another genre when that plot device is completely foreign?  (Example: say the story you are stealing from requires guns, only you are wanting to set the plot in a pre-modern technology setting?)

All thoughts are appreciated.

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Writing Group / Baen's Online Short Story Submissions
« on: February 25, 2010, 06:13:55 PM »
Are any of you familiar with Baen's online short story publication system?  I looked at the website and it said that they weren't currently taking submissions because they were full up, but I also heard a rumor somewhere that Baen was shutting down.  Is that true?  Has anyone published with them or know what's going on?

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Movies and TV / Just watched Donnie Darko . . .
« on: February 19, 2010, 03:48:22 PM »
 . . . and I don't think I've watched a more disturbing/thought provoking movie in a long, long time.  If I were still an English major, I could write a thesis on that movie alone.  Heck, I could write a thesis on just a few of the scenes.  I guess the ultimate question the movie put in my mind was, "What the ^&$*& was going on?"

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Reading Excuses / Writing Contest
« on: February 06, 2010, 06:01:42 PM »
Hey guys, check this out:

http://williamledbetter.com/contest

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Sorry this is so late guys.  So here is the completed version of the short story I began writing awhile back.  When you review it, there are certain things Iíd like you to critique specifically, but like always, all comments are welcome. 

Anyway, as a tool, here is the basic outline of a short story:

1) The opening reveals the characters, the conflicts, and the milieu. It carries us to a major turning point where the protagonist's world changes dramatically and irreparably.

2) The middle can best be put into three parts―a first attempt that the protagonists makes to resolve a problem.

3) After the first attempt, the problem typically broadens or deepens, and the protagonist struggles to resolve the problem a second time by bringing greater resources to bear.

4) Again the problem deepens or broadens, and the protagonist struggles once again to overcome his challenge. This third attempt often ends in near failure―but the protagonist find a way despite all obstacles.

5) Last of all the story is wrapped up in a final scene where some sort of stable new order comes to bear. The final scene, or denouement, signals to the audience that the story is indeed over.

Now, I have had people comment that my storyís arc is a little off, meaning that itís failing in part of the above outline.  Any help in figuring out where itís failing and how would be appreciated.  Heck, if you could diagram the story (say which part fits which number), Iíd really appreciate that.

Also, Iíve been told that my character doesnít have much of an arc either.  Any suggestions or feedback in that area would be nice too.

Lastly, Iíve had comments that my setting is too uninteresting and in many ways the story is repetitive (in the same way that real life is often repetitive).  I think this has to do with the fact that my main character is rescuing hostages in a building, so youíre only going to get so much variation in setting.  If you all can help me fix that (i.e. give me ideas for alternate settings or ways to shake up the current setting), I will love you all forever.

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Alright, before you review the story, you need to know a few things:  First, I initially intended this to be a short story (roughly 20 pages max).  Second, at the point where I stopped (the portion you just read), I realized that there was no way I could make the story what I wanted it to be in 20 pages.  It would probably take twice that, or more.  And last, I also realized I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do with it.  I had a vague idea, and I was hoping that the story would flesh itself out and draw to a close.  Unfortunately, it did not.

With all of the above in mind, please give me feed back on anything and everything, but also try to answer the following questions:

1) Do you see a way of wrapping this thing up in another ten pages?  On a related note, where do you see the story going at this point?
2) Part of the plot requires a lack of emotion . . . which also kills part of the draw of the story.  How do you get around that?
3) Related to the last question: is the emotion-deadening plot idea feasible?  Is there enough there to flesh out a viable story, be it short or long?

Thanks :)

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Reading Excuses / December 14 -- Recovering Cynic -- Oathbound -- Chapter 6
« on: December 14, 2009, 06:47:43 PM »
Enjoy.

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Enjoy.  For those of you who have read a previous version of this chapter, let me know how you feel about the changes, especially in light of the added chapters in the beginning.

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Reading Excuses / November 30 - Recoverying Cynic - Oathbound - Ch. 4
« on: November 30, 2009, 05:20:19 AM »
Enjoy.

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Reading Excuses / Reading Excuses-Nov. 23-Recoverying Cynic-Oathbound-Ch.3
« on: November 23, 2009, 05:13:06 AM »
Enjoy.

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