Argument and debate…

There are many things in this world that irritate me. One of the biggest being a poorly constructed, poorly researched argument. I recently watched a video on YouTube where someone made an attempt to argue their viewpoint on something from their favorite movie series. I clicked expecting him to state his issue and list valid points why this idea was flawed. He proceeded to rant for eleven minutes running in a tiny circle with his “argument”. But just because you feel strongly about a cause doesn’t mean you have an argument.

Which begs the question, what exactly is an argument? Well, by definition an argument is a Premise followed by a Conclusion where the Premise leads credence to the Conclusion.

For example: Conclusion – it is hot; Premise – I am sweating; Argument – I am sweating, therefore it is hot.

So when your neighbor is shouting about your leaves being in her yard and you tell her she’s ridiculous, well that’s not an argument. But if she says your leaves are in her yard and your response is, “My property line extends two more feet, therefore my leaves are in my yard” you have an argument.

Now if you two begin going back and forth you may have a debate on your hands. A debate can be summarized as A states his side, B states her side, they take turns rebutting, affirming, then closing. Both sides present their case then address the concerns given by the other side in an attempt to come to an agreement. You could say either side presents a valid argument.

Often times both a debate and an argument will include rhetorical questions to make the other side think a little harder on their opposing stance.

I hope this clarifies any confusion. So before you “argue” check to see if you’re just ranting.

Have a good one!

Travel Rant…

Okay, I’ve never traveled by plane before so I decided to do some research. Here’s what I’ve uncovered:

1) Every woman must wear a scarf. I have no idea why, but if you don’t you are apparently sinning against God.
2) A maxi dress is acceptable travel dress for extended flights. I object, but that’s not important right now.
3) Packing is weird. I mean I’ve seen women packing clothes in black trash bags and shower caps! Nope, not suspicious. AT. ALL.
4) Earphones are awesome!
5) Looking moderately together for a flight is the LAW. You never know who you’ll be seated next to.
6) Zip Lock bags are life.
7) Yes, gum.
And lastly I must add my own….
Number 8 – the week before your flight make sure your dreadlocks look fabulous, BUT DO NOT ADD METAL CHARMS!!!
(I’ll keep you updated on that one.)

Anyway, that’s all for today! Have a good one!

Unfortunate Writing Response…

Today’s particular issue has plagued me off and on for a while now. It’s an issue I’m sure any writer can attest to. I’d like to title it ‘Unfortunate Writer’s Response’ or UWR.

Tell me if this sounds familiar, you just finished a round of novel writing during NaNoWriMo and have sat down to read your most recent book purchase. You start the first chapter only to realize you are now analyzing every plot point, how the writer sets up a scene, are they showing or telling…and now you’ve put down your book. So you flip on the television to watch your favorite made for TV movie. Only now you notice that the dialogue is stilted and there is a crap storyline. Now the TV is off as well.

Yep, sometimes being a writer sucks, and it’s not just you! After long hours of writing and trying to utilize all of the tricks and rules given to you it can be very difficult to shut down that part of your brain. If you’re lucky then all that is still active is your creative brain. Here’s the thing, you do need to know a bit about writing in order to properly execute a novel, that’s just life. I honestly believe, for your benefit, that once you’ve gotten the rules and such down that it becomes a part of you.

Think of it like this: first you learn the alphabet. Each individual letter. Next you learn sounds. Later you learn words. By the end of it you know loads of words and are so well versed in the basics that any word you are unfamiliar with is easily deciphered. Heck, you can even learn another similar language! It’s the same with writing. First you learn the rules, then the way to use them, later you’ve been (hopefully) published.

I think another problem is that since we as writers do this subconsciously we are a bit harder to impress. I can look back at some of my early reviews and see that while I enjoyed a novel I didn’t exactly have the best knowledge of what makes a “good” story. Now I am not so easily swayed. I do tend to notice areas that could use a bit more thought. In a way that pleases me because it shows the growth I’ve experienced in my journey.

What really makes me, and I’m sure many others, thrilled are the sneaky writers. The ones who take you not only on a fantastic journey, but the ones who can hide their writing techniques from even other writers. Which, I must admit, sometimes requires bending/breaking the rules. I get a kick out of reading all the way through a novel/series and not seeing the end until it has happened. That moment when you look back and while you watched and read it flew by.

All writers steal. It is a fact of life. No one has an idea that is entirely their own. Maybe its initial inception was but the story as a whole has bits from various others thrown in. Who hasn’t heard someone say “I was going for a Such-and-such style of writing”? It happens. James Bell once came across such an instance in Dean Koontz’ novel Midnight. He says while reading he stopped and thought ‘this is like Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and later ‘now it’s like H.G. Wells’ The Isle of Doctor Moreau’. He later found that the main character made the same comparison as he, the reader, did. He said it was Dean Koontz’ wink to the audience. That is what entertains the writer.

It takes a certain cleverness to catch a writer off guard. For myself, at least, this is why I must sometimes pick and choose what I want to do for a few weeks at a time. Do I want to read or do I want to write? Because, you see, when your writer brain is working on your reading it kind of loses its fun.

Do you suffer from UWR? Have you found yourself picking apart your favorite movies or books? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Have a good one!

Carelessness…

Each day we all do something careless. Whether it is something we write or a chore half finished. Everyone has a careless moment from time to time, day to day. I am just as guilty as the next person. No matter how hard I try to not half @$$ anything there are days when I’ve had enough and let something slide.

This weekend, however, I learned a little more about carelessness. Recycling sounds like something only the health conscious do. I don’t mean that offensively, on the contrary I greatly admire those efforts. Until now I have seen the senseless discarding of glass and metal on the roadside as nothing major. I mean, it’s a resource from the ground itself and so shall it return. Right??

Wrong. You see, we put up a fence for a few reasons. Firstly, to protect our yard from further erosion due to the kids next door. Secondly, for privacy. And lastly, to allow our dogs a bit of freedom to roam. Our yard was meant to be a safe place for all of us, including our animals, to spend time outdoors. Then Jak came in bleeding. Apparently the previous owners had (aside from a criminal record) the same mind set about littering as I did. Glass and metal will biodegrade over time. What neither of us realized is how long it would take for it to degrade.

While my dog is getting stitched up (or something similar) I now comb through our small patch of trees trying to find whatever he slashed his foot on. Finding multiple glass bottles/cups, metal cans, and plastic water bottles I was saddened.

I’ve never been a “tree hugger” but I do try to be considerate of the world I live in. I’m not the only creature here and those others rely on us to be responsible. If, each day, we throw out one piece of trash errantly then our lands would be covered in refuse and disease. Those bugs we cringe over would be positively EVERYWHERE. Doing exactly what they are designed to do, break down the garbage. Vultures are horridly gross creatures, but without them the dead wouldn’t deteriorate nearly as fast. Without beetles carcasses would litter roadways for even longer periods. Throwing out waste that does not easily break down slows the process down. Wasting the time of those perfect creatures and harming others.

You’ll never see an animal knowingly consume glass. You’ll never see one devour plastic and live happily ever after. These products are hazards to those who had no hand in their conception.

So, on behalf of animal lovers and pets owners, please be careful with your trash. Find any available bin or recycling location and use it effectively.

Rain check!

Hey guys, I just wanted to let everyone know this Monday’s post is going to be delayed. Unfortunately our greyhound (affectionately “Bub-buh”) injured himself and needs a bit more attention and snuggles. So expect a new blog post sometime tomorrow.
Have a good one!

The Invisible Writer…

How many times have we sat down to watch a movie, show, play, performance, or other entertainment and given the actors credit for everything? I know I’ve done it unconsciously many times. Last Christmas we had tickets to Cirque de Solei. The performance was astounding! All of the amazing acrobats doing incredible feats of gravity defying moves. The contortionists twisting and turning in ways that make you go, “I don’t think the human body is meant to do that”. Through it all they tell a story. The music starts off bringing you into the world they have carefully designed. It builds, each moment growing more and more intricate and awe inspiring. By the end you are left speechless, unsure how to recount what you have just seen. So you stand to your feet and applause like there is no tomorrow. You clap for the performers and their execution of a difficult and unique show.

But did you notice the writer? He was there the whole time. I bet you didn’t. I bet you didn’t even clap for him.

Yes, the actors did a fantastic job of filling your past few hours with a visual experience you are not soon to forget. And that’s great. They’ve accomplished their goal. But… they did not design the story. They did not create the plot. That was the writer’s work.

Somewhere behind every piece of work you watch for entertainment purposes there is a writer. You didn’t see him/her though while you sat riveted at that acrobat’s feet. You never heard them during the music that played. You didn’t laugh with him/her when the silly pair flirted obscurely. And you know what? That was the point.

You see, when a writer does their job well then you never see them. All you see is the story. You are engulfed in the colors and words before you never once seeing who wrote it. That means when you didn’t clap for him, he could smile. He had done it right.

One of the worst feelings for a writer would be for you to see them the entire time. If the words don’t flow correctly or the performers switch from Swan Lake to Batman in the middle of a leap you’d probably be scratching your head. When their work pays off then you only see the final result. Not the script nor the editor. You are pulled through emotions and are putty in their hands.

Now, when you get the chance to talk about your work as a writer it does make you feel great to know you are admired. When people hear that Tim Burton wrote a new movie script people jump to work with him. And while some of it is his “Burton” style of animation and illustrations, the rest is that he can tell a good story. And with the right tools, he doesn’t even have to tell the story.

While you look at me confused allow me to explain. Corpse Bride. If you ever have the chance to view it on DVD or Blue-ray take it. Then go find the setting for the music only viewing and watch it. He compiles such an awesome team that he doesn’t even need to give his characters voices. He writes so well that the characters need no explanation, they simply illustrate the story for you.

So next time you see any show think about the writer(s). And if you are a writer and people look at you funny just remember this post. If you are invisible and yet they know your work, you’ve probably done something right.

Have a good one!

No You Shut Up…

So, I have been researching how to give my characters a memorable voice. By no means am I talking about a voice for a cause, though that is admirable. What I desire is a recognizable tone so you know who is speaking at any given moment without using a tag such as “he/she said” or “John/Jane said”. Not that there is anything in particular wrong with that, but I envy anyone who is so skilled at doing so.

In order to do that I designed a way to practice. A way I find to be not only fun but highly entertaining! I thought I would share it with you if you ever find yourself in a similar position.

First pick five unique characters from completely different stories. Try to use someone from different genres, time lines, backgrounds, and with interesting personalities. I, for example, choose Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss, Tamaki from Ouran High School, Dustfinger from Inkheart, Grell from Black Butler, and Lord Conall Maccon from Soulless.

Next, take a moment and write a few lines to a page of dialogue from them. Get yourself into their heads and feel their angst or excitement. Align yourself with their personality. My favorite perspective to write from was Lord Maccon. I never thought I would like him so much, but he has a very specific attitude and a soft side which are fun idiosyncrasies.

Finally, throw all of them in a room together and make them talk. (Dance monkey!) This is where it really gets fun. Take, for instance, the fact that Tomoe is more proper and reserved, yet he can be a touch naïve.  Then give him and Lord Maccon a round or two ending with Lord Maccon changing into a wolf… well let’s just remember Grell is in the room. Get it? Fun!

It’s a bit like writing fan fiction. Writing fan fiction is a great place to start if you need help in this area. It also could be used with friends who are familiar with those characters and can assist. The most important thing here is to never put a he/she said at the end. Give your friend a challenge to have them guess, when they’re done rolling their eyes. Now, I did cheat a bit by using familiar phrases that specific character would use, but then again that is a part of that character.

I honestly found the “happier” characters most difficult to write from. At least keeping them separate. Though Tamaki and Grell are extremely different, a calm Grell is harder to keep specifically different.

I almost chose Lord Akeldama but I figured that would be far too easy to identify. Especially considering he speaks in italics. I really wanted to push my writer self. I wanted to take and stretch those mental muscles to do what they are designed to do, create.

If I want my characters to have a tone that is all their own it takes practice. This was simply a fun way to try that out. I also have taken my MC’s out to lunch, sort to speak, to get a feel for their voice. I tend to believe that their background must dictate how they express themselves. And while that is partially true, it doesn’t have to be the case. Back to Tomoe, he doesn’t use contractions. No idea why, he just doesn’t. Lord Maccon has a gruffness. Granted he’s in the military and a werewolf, but he generally has a rough first impression anyway.

I love being able to feel their emotion and personality simply through their discourse. A writer who is incredibly gifted in such an area is Anne Rice. She can give you years of dialogue between two characters and you always know who is speaking. She can write from one character’s perspective and leave you feeling as if you sat down with them yourself. You cannot miss Lestat’s arrogance or Lois’ melancholy.

I have also taken characters from shows and done the same. Can I write in their unique tone and have them be recognizable? While it is easy to hear their voice in your brain you still have a responsibility to translate that across to your reader/audience. If they can’t interpret what you’ve attempted to do then there will be many future days where you spend the better part of an afternoon saying, “No, he meant that sarcastically”.

Take your characters and throw them into the most random situation you can imagine and have them talk their way through it. Did they suddenly get kidnapped and forced into a Mexican brothel? How about they fell into a hole while walking and slipped right through a wormhole into a past era? Or they were just caught being villainous by successfully creating Frankenstein’s monster? What would they say, how would they express themselves? Does your character sigh a lot from exasperation? Do they stutter? What kinds of language do they use? Are they well educated? Do they speak in complex ideas with unfamiliar jargon? All of these could impact the way your character speaks. To your audience and to another character.

Try a few of these and let me know what you think! Have a good one!

Sesquipedalian…

In my adventures online I have noticed something which is so bothersome I feel the need to turn my head sideways and squint one eye. The very same reaction comes each time my phone does not recognize my words. My issue? The loathing of “big words” or words which would fall into a rather extensive vocabulary. A word such as ‘esoteric’ or even something as trivial as ‘cranium’.

Whenever I have attempted to use a word that even Word itself does not recognize I find myself proud to be a homo sapien (which, by the way, this site is flagging currently as a misspelling). The fact that my brain is still outdoing that of technology gives me warm and fuzzy feelings. I love learning a new word whether that word is in English or not. I adore the written word and when someone eloquently phrases a paragraph. To learn and understand the usage of such a word is ecstasy!

I have even written passages of language with words that may not, originally, make sense. The goal of which being that I want the reader to study the word and all its possible meanings to feel the essence of that sentence. Because, you see, words are extremely powerful. Utilizing them in order to confound is irresponsible and can cause your reader/listener to fall into confusion and disinterest. I honestly believe that is why I despise politics.

If you listen to certain music you find this idea to be the same. Musicians choose words that are thought provoking and out of common language. They paint a picture in a way that you do not normally hear. Some enjoy the macabre, melancholy, and moony in their lyrics. Such lyrics pierce the brain and cause it to spin.

Shows from time to time use such tactics. Even in advertising. The words each group chooses are specifically detailed to catch the audience’s mind. The words ‘sale’, ‘bogo’, and ‘limited time’ catch our attention and make us listen. Ads for foods use words like ‘hot’, ‘tantalizing’, and ‘delicious’. Read a good food description in a book and you suddenly want that food.

To say you are “put off” by language that is more intellectual is similar to saying you enjoy your food bland. While you may not speak that way naturally, would not the whole world be ever more enjoyable if you did? Reading a classic novel is akin to the same idea. Even reading the Bible in an older translation.

Who loves poetry? For poets unique words are their forte. To take the world and allow you to see it through their lenses takes a certain talent. It often takes an artist.

So to the one who does not enjoy such imaginable language, I sincerely request you abstain from all formal society. Using “big words” does not make one a snob or a jerk. It merely boasts a further educated mind than what you have become accustomed to. I will, however, warn you of the perils you risk with such a mind set. A relative of mine once called an obnoxious person a “feces cranium”. That person had no idea what was said to them and it became a huge embarrassment to them later on. So, take heart, even mean people will use words such as these.

And for your information one of my favorite words is melancholy. My least, asinine. I mean really…

Tickling the Geek…

Happy Monday everyone! And if it is not, then I am so very sorry… but I do not work on Mondays so…

Anyway, onward!

During my anime submersion, which is what happens every time you become totally obsessed with one, I have learned a great many things which have just gotten me thrilled! Oh, I am so happy!

So as you may have read I have been reading and watching the anime Kamisama Kiss.

KSK_key

It has been referred to as the 50/50 spot between Inuyasha and Fruits Basket. It has a similar visual feel as Fruits Basket in its pastels and softness, yet a story silly and torn like that of Inuyasha. Kamisama Kiss is a lovely story of teenage Nanami and her incidental acquiring of the position of Land God. She meets her familiar, Tomoe, and together the two strive to turn Nanami into someone worthy of the position. There are many characters who aid in the process and add their own antics to the mix.

Like many of you do when taking on a new anime or manga you watch and then take a closer look. You fall for the characters and then take a look at the ones whose magic makes it all possible. Everyone from the voice actors and ADR directors to the original cast and writers. You learn about their previous works and watch their panels online or in person. You attend the conventions to get inside their heads (and… possibly ask, yet again, for J. Michael Tatum to do a “Yes, My Lord”).

I have also found something through all this nonsense (or as I like to call it, obsessive appreciation).

Are you ready for this???

Assassination Classroom is coming to the US!!!! *Squee*

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Yup, yup, yup! I cannot wait!!!

*Ah-hem* Moving on…

In other news, you can also expect a few more books from Melinda Salisbury. She did not quite close off the end of The Sin Eater’s Daughter and has plans to continue on. For which I am incredibly grateful. Why, you ask? Well… we all know how the last series I began ended… it did NOT. If I ever find that second novel…. *breathes deep* It is not the writer’s fault….

Also, I wanted to give you some friendly advice on a few things. First of all, if you believe your favorite actor, voice actor, writer, or whomever doesn’t open their own mail/emails do not test it by sending an obscene note. It could get you into trouble.

Next, if you find a new show you love, say on Netflix or YouTube, PLEASE try to restrain yourself from binge watching it all in a single day. I am not saying this to be a kill joy. I am saying this as your friend. The bereft feeling left after it is all over is never fun. The same could be said with books, but with books you can plunge into another recommended series usually pretty quickly.

And lastly, I understand the pain of having to be patient for your next anime show to come out. Whether it is the next season, the OVA, or the movie – I totally get it. However, when you watch pirated copies on the internet you are stealing the joy and hard work from those that made your viewing it possible. Thankfully, our country does have Funimation.

You Should Be Watching

You Should Be Watching

With the internet we have the capability to view simulcasts and livestreams, which are awesome! But without companies like Funimation we would only be left with odd collections on YouTube*, which would be poorer quality and cut in strange places. Not to mention the copyright laws and all of the flagged videos. So please do not encourage such sad practices. I know we have all done it at some point, but if you want to keep our nice American company in business then it takes a bit of self control and discipline.

Well, that is all I have for today. Have a good one!

*I do understand Funimation has their own YouTube channel and it is a wonderful resource, so please do not hate me.