August 30th: Draft Begins
…in which sleepers, dreamers, and the young approach a dark and uncertain future.
August 30th: Draft Begins
…in which sleepers, dreamers, and the young approach a dark and uncertain future.
Let’s all go to the lobby, to get ourselves a treat…
We’re coming up on the big finale of City of Angles. Not just the end of a chapter, or even the end of a book, but the end of the series. That’s one hell of a milestone, and with it will come change. Drastic change. I figured I’d step back a second and review how I expect things to go. This is entirely subject to change, understand.
FIRST, //025 will be posted over the course of many weeks. I was going to take this weekend off, but I got a creative fire lit under my butt and that means you will in fact be getting some of the last chapter tomorrow.
NEXT, I’ll post a reader poll so you can help me decide my future direction. I do this after every book and it’s a lot of fun to participate! Your response will be anonymous, naturally.
SHORTLY AFTER, I’ll be finalizing all the drafts of the chapters to date. This way I can give my awesome editor LoopyChu something to chew on.
AFTER THAT, I’ll be writing the two retail-only bonus stories. These act as a coda for the entire series; one takes place 15 years after the finale, the other takes place 716 years after the finale. (First person to guess WHY this is the case and back it up with proof for why specifically 716 years gets a free copy of the book on release.)
AFTER AFTER THAT, my editor polishes up those two bonus stories while I compile the book.
AND FINALLY, the book goes on sale.
This means there will be a considerable gap in time between the final story going up and the book going on sale. I expect to have it out this year, but the website will go dormant in the meanwhile. I intend to be updating my blog and starting a few random topics for discussion meanwhile, but even so… I beseech you to keep tabs on what’s up rather than wander off and forget it exists. Follow my Twitter, follow Tumblr, subscribe to the blog’s mailing list, load up the RSS feed, whatever it takes. I don’t wanna lose any readers during the downtime.
AND ULTIMATELY, FINALLY, SOMETIME LIKELY IN 2015… a new writing series will launch. Another good reason to keep an eye out. You’ll want to be on the ground floor, after all.
That’s the overall shape of the future. Specifics to come. Good things to come. Thank you for supporting me this far, and I look forward to seeing you on the flipside. New CoA content goes up tomorrow!
August 23rd: Draft Complete
…in which the war comes home to roost.
August 18th: Draft Continues
…in which the author hurriedly posts a bunch of fixes on a Monday to make scenes better because why not.
August 16th: Draft Continues
(Note: This section may be revised and revamped next week.)
…in which infinite potential crashes against finite minds, true faces are exposed, and old friends aren’t greeted.
August 9th: Draft Continues
…in which an artistic challenge is met with forced gusto, old movies are a bonding element, and we’re not in Kansas anymore.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me, folks. Crazy health issues, insanity on the dayjob front, and more. I took last week off to try and stay on top of it all — well, no, I took last week off so I could have a break, and then life decided to fill my break with horror to try and stay on top of. So the end result is basically no break to speak of.
But I’m in the home stretch on this here book thing. I’ve got four chapters to go… two main chapters, two bonus chapters. Won’t be long now. I want to get this project finished not because I tire of it but because I’m so close to completion and I’m eager to hold the final shape of it in my hand.
With that in mind, I decided to post this week’s update a day early. Here’s //024: Little Monsters, starring the two least likely protagonists imaginable.
Got nothin’ else to say. Kind of an empty blog post except to complain about the universe pooping all over my face lately, but hey. Better to focus your feedback on the story itself.
No huge rant this week, folks. We’ll be keeping it short and sweet.
The remainder of //023: Exit Interview is now available. I was considering making it two updates but they’d be two pretty skimpy updates, since this is a short chapter. Instead I figured I’d dump it all on you this week and call it finished.
I might be skipping next week because I’ve been going high speed on this book for quite some time. I’m so close to the end, though… just two more stories to tell, then two more nebulous bonus stories I need to figure out, then putting the book together, then, then…! Who knows? A bright future of possibility as a new project dawns! …but let’s be honest here, I’m burning myself out on this stuff and probably could use a break. So, y’all will forgive if I skip next week, I hope.
Since we’re coming to the end, now’s the time to flog the series to your friends and enemies. Every time I see a new visitor coming in from a link someone posted to another website, to their blog or to Reddit or a forum or so on, it tickles me pink. You want to tickle me pink, don’t you? Or maybe you are not comfortable with that. Tickling a stranger to a specific color is a very intimate thing. Let’s call it handshaking me gray, nice and neutral. Let’s go with that.
You’re in for a treat today! For starters, there’s the first scenes of //023: Exit Interview. I didn’t know if I’d have this sorted out in time to post immediately after the last chapter’s finale, but I’m reasonably confident in the material and ready to get it up. This will be a shorter, more experimental chapter for reasons which will be clear on reading. It’s a chance to tie up a lot of loose character ends, while paving the way for Little Monsters and the big finale, Dreamweaver.
But that’s not the treat, no sir. The treat is this blog post. ’cause I GOT OPINIONS on dystopias. I haven’t done a good rant in awhile, so if you like rants, read on! If not, well, there’s new story you can enjoy. It’s cool.
So! Recently I watched the CinemaSins rundown of The Purge, which got me to thinking about how much I love a good dystopia… and how few GOOD dystopias are actually out there. Too many of them rely on “for reasons” as their big explanation, refusing to provide a plausible cause for the dystopian dawn itself and the way that dystopia continues to operate. Massive suspension of disbelief required to make the world shift plausible.
Let’s look at The Purge, for example. The big conceit of that movie is that for reasons, America has chucked all common sense out the window and decided to make all crime legal for one day a year. This makes crime the other 364 days of the year practically unheard of, for reasons. It’s Murder Christmas! And it’s completely impossible. Give it two seconds of rational thought and you can start poking holes in the idea immediately. People do not behave like that, would not behave like that.
I can’t just swallow it and say “Well, it’s a stupid entertaining movie, go with it” because these writers present their world as plausible, with a full faith effort to have everything make sense. It’s not a parody, it’s not a comedy, it’s a sincere effort to make their dystopia “terrifyingly real” when it’s actually “bloody stupid.” Nothing about it rings true with the actuality of history and human nature itself; it’s a forced conflict set up by lazy writers to make a lazy point about class warfare.
Worst example is Elysium. “But wait, everybody loved that movie!” Put the quality of the visual effects and action aside and look at the PLOT. It’s contrived as hell: you can physically land a spacecraft inside an artificial atmosphere without any sort of airlock for reasons, the only defense against illegal immigrants to the space station is a guy with a rocket launcher on the surface of Earth for reasons, they keep sending immigrants up there despite a 99% fatality rate for reasons, the entire space station’s root password is fantastically insecure for reasons and then gets stored in the most pointless brain-lock security method where anybody can copy it (meaning it actually has no copy protection at all) but the brain it gets copied from explodes for reasons, the super-rich society just happens to have thousands and thousands of magic healing beds going completely unused in surplus for reasons…
But you could just say both of those are terrible stories in general. So, let’s look at something with decent writing, engaging characters, good dialogue, a nicely designed overall plot… and a terribly broken dystopia setting. Let’s look at the Hunger Games. The idea of a superpowerful elite crushing the underclass is a time-honored tale. In its guts, HG is constructed quite well. The movie in particular does a good job depicting a desperate and unpleasant situation, even amdist glitz and glamor.
But… again, the setup in HG is completely ridiculous. The supercity of rich people has nanotechnology and genetic engineering and holograms, but they still need a peasant underclass to mine coal for reasons. They want to keep the underclass oppressed, so they routinely murder their children live on television assuming this won’t cause immediate angry rioting in the streets for reasons — and whaddya know, an angry riot HAPPENS in the first book immediately after a little girl’s death. Rioting which, with Katniss as a figurehead, inevitably snowballs into full revolution. Couldn’t see that coming, for reasons. How is the actual Hunger Games oppressing anyone? It’s like poking a bear with a stick; it doesn’t demoralize the bear, it gets your head torn clean off your neck by gargantuan bear claws.
Right. Let’s summarize.
If your entire fiction’s setup requires that much handwaving to justify incomprehensibly stupid forced conflict? If the great “because” is followed by “for reasons” or just “shut up” or “I said so”? You are doing it wrong. Even if your characters are awesome, your dialogue is snappy, and your plots are well crafted… if the dystopian setup can only possibly exist for reasons, I can’t enjoy your story. Sorry.
Lest you think I’m throwing stones in a glass house… I’m not innocent in this, myself. The apocalypses I’ve set up are not perfect; I have a doubt America would concede territory to the Faeries, would wall themselves up and call it a day for two hundred years. I have a doubt technology would stall out. I THINK I did a reasonable job establishing the hows and whys, but I know I have work to do to improve as a writer, and I’d like to one day write a story where nothing ever happens for reasons, that things only happen because it makes perfect sense for things to happen that way. I can dream.
But meanwhile, be tough on writers who rely on laziness, who demand you accept the unacceptable just to get their greater point across. Demand better in your dystopias. You deserve it, dear reader.
Exciting times here in the City of Angles. For starters, we’ve got the big finale of //022: Trouble & Danger as part of your weekly draft writing update. There’s that, but hang here a second, I’ve got more to talk about.
(Did you stumble across this blogpost by unusual means and have no idea what I’m talking about? I write a fiction series called City of Angles, which I update every week with new content. Give it a read this holiday weekend! S’fun! S’scary! S’eye meltingly awesome, I think!)
So, remember I was talking about how we might just have two more chapters? Yeah, we’re back to three. I figured we GOTTA have a chapter about the City-side resistance movement, and I figured out a good narrative hook to make that work for a short and fun chapter. So that’ll be coming up… probably next week, possibly the week after if I need more planning time. After that it’s a very special Bedlam & Echo teamup chapter (!) and then the finish for the entire series. …then I’m in the lab to cook up two bonus chapters, which will be tricksy, but.
Oh! Oh! One other really cool thing!
During your non-reading time, may I recommend a wacky word game called Let’s Quip by Fire Hose Games? It’s simple; you’re given a random word, your opponent is given a random word, and you have to argue in favor of your word over the other in a funny way. Other users vote to see who won the debate. Right now they’re a Facebook game but without Facebook pestering (it’s just a delivery platform) and require Unity Webplayer, but they’re working on iOS and Android versions for later this summer.
I was on a livecast where I played this game with the developer which is lots of fun and actually has some chat about my writing technique. Set aside a half hour and give it a watch. It’s also a terrific demo of how the game works and how you too can crush all fools who dare stand in your way under mighty boots of iron.