Leaving Scotland

I’m leaving Scotland forever this week, so sadly the Rimmblog is getting a little disrupted as I move huge amounts of stuff by hand (my limbs ache something fierce).

I’ve been entering a bit of a fantasy / medieval stage in my thinking recently, and I asked 4chan’s /tg/ for some recommended reading (no really).

The results were interesting. The /lit/ came out before /pol/ wrecked it.
The main recommendations were:

JRR Tolkien -Lord of the Rings
E R Eddison – The Worm Ouroboros
Lord Dunsany – The Gods of Pegana
Homer – The Illiad

Frank Herbert’s Dune was also recommended plenty, but it isn’t fantasy and I’ve already read it (and would emphatically recommend it). I’ve also read Lord of the Rings, because obviously.

Sadly, I’m not sure if I’ve got the time to undertake a whole gigantic masterwork in the midst of the books I already own. Maybe I should be more ambitious and add one to the list. Incidentally, the trend of modern fantasy novels to be enormously expanded in size was mentioned, along with its habit of forming a barrier to entry for the genre. Someone said that ‘with the invention of the word processor to replace the typewriter, the length of these novels sky-rocketed’. I don’t have the knowledge to know if that’s true or not, but it certainly interested me.

The Conjurer of Cheap Tricks – Part 3, Conclusion

Here we have the final part of our very short Fantasy tale “The Conjurer of Cheap Tricks”, inspired by the adventures of my good friend’s character, Tandalf.

TRIGGER WARNING: Psychedelic wizards

Read Part 1 here:
https://rimmblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/the-conjurer-of-cheap-tricks-part-1/

Read Part 2 here:
https://rimmblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/the-conjurer-of-cheap-tricks-part-2/

Musical accompaniment:

There was a momentary lull, the crackling of the fire providing a comfortable background noise. Tandalf reached down and collected a small metal tray. “Brownie?” he asked. “No wait, you’re a powders man, aren’t you?”
The adventurer ran his hands through his greasy hair. This was not going as planned. “Tell me, please, what happened at that final battle?”
“Honestly?” said Tandalf, “I’m not entirely sure. I saw some things. I try not to remember them. It doesn’t seem real. Maybe it wasn’t, technically. I don’t know how you’d define these things. I’ll tell you this though, the dragon was there at the very beginning, watching us. That first night in the mountains, after we were thrown out of the Ogres camp…” Tandalf’s voice sounded distant, and his eyes glazed over as though a man in the depths of a flashback. “We saw a light up in the hills… That was him. That was the plasma dragon, leading us onwards, recruiting us to collect his precious pieces of crystal. Even at that party, all those years ago. He planned it all…” Tandalf seemed to suddenly snap back into focus. “Except, he got something he didn’t expect.”
“What?” asked the adventurer.
Tandalf’s eyes gleamed, and his face widened into a gleeful grin. “An Eldritch Abomination,” he broke down into hysterical laughter.
“Damn you Tandalf! That unspeakable demon is what haunts us now! Your cursed abomination is a scourge upon us all, a heart of darkness contaminating all it touches! The power of an elder dragon, combined with the power of the Far Realm? It’s too much, I say! I shall slay this monster, and restore sanctity to the land! It is my glorious mission, my divine quest!” The adventurer stood tall, filled with pride.
“An elder dragon? Oh son, you don’t even know…” chuckled Tandalf. “But,” his voice became cold suddenly, “if you wanted to meet my old friend, all you had to do was ask…” The wizard stared at the adventurer with a steely gaze. The adventurer looked back at Tandalf with a growing sense of confusion, and began to slowly back away. He looked around the shack in concern, but Tandalf nodded to the battered wooden door the traveller had come in from.
“He’s right outside,” said Tandalf.
The adventurer looked at the old wooden door, then back Tandalf with doubt.
“He’s always there, waiting, just outside” whispered Tandalf. “All you have to do is ask…”
The adventurer turned, and hesitatingly walked towards the door. He opened it. A howling black vortex of nightmares hissed back at him, reaching to claim him with its endless multitude of limbs. The adventurer’s cries of horror died away as the ancient wooden door slammed shut behind him, and for a moment Tandalf thought he could hear a malevolent chuckling from all around.
“Say what you want about him,” muttered Tandalf to himself, “but that old chap was one hell of a bard…”

howard_by_olivertandy-d7qrflb

All artwork used is courtesy of my fine associate Oliver Tandy, see his work over at http://olivertandy.deviantart.com/. He keeps some of the best stuff to himself (rated unfit for public consumption), but we’ll get it out of him one day, eh?

Smooth Editing

Legion came back from my first reader, with a delightful range of scathing comments but that’s how we get things done.

I don’t think I’ve ever ended up editing same story quite as much as this one before, but it’s helped me get my editing process down. If I have some overall doubts about a story, I produce on a separate document a summary of who each character is as a person. Then when I go back over the story, at each scene I consider if the character is demonstrating that personality in some way (short stories need to be concise). It’s surprisingly easy to throw in characters who are essentially living plot devices and forget to give them any sort of actual character, or have characters who have wildly varying personalities based on my two different interpretations of them on different days of writing. This method helps me check the characters are consistent and interesting, and provides a reliable method of checking my own work (something it can be difficult to do).

My other main method of editing I’ve realised is skim reading. After I’ve given the draft one or two rewrites, I reread the whole story very quickly, intentionally not checking every word. Often it helps to say the words quietly under your breath. If you deliberately read it quickly and loosely (something its surprisingly hard to do) I find your brain has a tendency to say each sentence exactly as you meant to express it, rather than what you actually wrote. Sometimes the difference can be significant. I’ve lost count of the number of grammar puzzles I’ve been able to solve using this method.

Editing is hard, and unfortunately it seems it can just fail sometimes. I’ve had occasions where I’ve read something through over and over, convinced it was good, and been told it was in fact full of mistakes compared to previous, more quickly produced work. Evaluating your own performance is difficult in almost any field, purely for psychological reasons. My one solid advice would be that when you do have a passage totally right, you can usually tell. If you’re unsure about something, you may need to take major steps to fix it and it could take some time.

I guess the pros just produce top quality work as standard after so much practice.

Busy Times

Having a busy few days here, so I’ll just have to leave a few links for now.

Excellent mind-expanding / deep space music, used many times for getting my head into the right science fiction mood:

Also, this is an intriguing development out of the blue:
http://geek.cheezburger.com/superheroes/share/8392208896

Loving the concept in general, ( wicked Will Smith and Bane together?) though the next on-screen Joker was always going to be a god-damn sensitive issue. Jared Leto is even pretty comparable to Heath Ledger, so they’re not shooting for something wildly different. And yet, Joker and Harley Quinn in the same movie? That’s a radical position guys, I sure hope you know what you’re doing…

Dredd vs. Death

An all time favorite here. I was a little addled when I watched this, which definitely helped the overall effect.

Part 1/6

“Death’s seen some stuff, man. He doesn’t do things by halves. Someone’s gonna have to deal with his shit.”
“Dredd. There is always another way. Dredd’s way. He’ll show you exactly what he thinks of your business.”

Also of note, this was made by the executive producer of the Karl Urban Dredd film, and is roughly based on his notes for the third film of the cancelled trilogy. What could have been. RAGE!!

Writing, Science Fiction, Gaming.