Thursday, October 15, 2015

Let Me Tell You About My TERRIBLE PAST...

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of shows... which I know is what people say writers SHOULDN’T do. But when there are people who keep telling me, “You HAVE to watch [insert popular show title here]!” it does tend to get in the way sometimes.

So I tried giving this one show a shot. I’m not going to name names, but let’s just say that it pretends to focus on a female protagonist but wastes too much time on Generic McBlandpants White Male Lead #7638743.

McBlandpants is just that: Bland. He’s boring in every sense of the word, from his character, personality, to even the actor himself. I don’t like knocking on anyone’s appearance, since there’s nothing that the person can do about that, but... I blame the casting choice for picking someone so phenomenally dull to watch. Which is disappointing when the female lead is so much more interesting, but she’s constantly being pushed into a position where she is being told to “Wait here while I go ahead and do man stuff even though you’ve proven to be totally more capable than me!”

By the second episode, I continued to roll my eyes until they were flying out of my skull when he began to reveal his “tragic childhood backstory”. That’s when I just shut off the TV and went back to letting YouTube videos play while I got some work done.

Then it made me realize something: This show is not the first one to try and made a bland character seem more “interesting” by giving them a tragic childhood. Not by miles. Another one I watched recently did the same thing to another Generic McBlandpants White Male Lead #7638742, and it didn’t make me like that character any more, either.

I started to compare it to Criminal Minds (yes, another TV show. I am so sorry), because the characters are already interesting before you learn anything about where they came from. You can know nothing about their past, but they’re still fun to watch because of how the characters bounce off each other, and how the actors portray them. There could literally be an episode where they just hang out and make spaghetti and I’d still be engaged enough to watch the whole thing.

This is relevant to writing as well: A character’s history should only be as interesting as the character themselves. It’s fun to learn more about a character, but unless you’re actually invested in them, then telling us about how they watched their childhood friend drown in a river when they were only eight years old falls a little flat. I’m not going to care about a character simply because they had a hard life.

Give me a reason to actually like them. Don’t just copy and paste a wishy-washy sad yarn and think that’ll make them more relateable, because it won’t. I see people do this with rape trauma as well, but that’s a whole other rant altogether that I won’t go into now.

What I normally do, myself, is create a character first. After I’ve nailed down their personality, I work a story around them to help me better understand the way they think and feel. This helps me create a character whose life doesn’t revolve around their abusive parents, but grew or developed as a result of it.

Because, like any normal person, you shouldn’t allow a character to be defined by their tragedies.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Meal, Ready-to-Eat: A Review

For those of you who (somehow) don’t know, MREs = Meal, Ready-to-Eat. It’s a type of light field ration usually given to soldiers in active combat.

Having an older brother in the Marine Corps when I was a kid, we actually got quite a few of these MRE packages. Me and my sister would actually eat them for the hell of it, because some of them aren’t as bad as some images may imply. I’ll even admit that some do look like the personification of turds, but I’m someone who can put my visual bias aside and try a thing at least one time before I cast judgment.

You only live once, right?

A few months ago, my brother-in-law (who, like both of my siblings, are in the military) saw me looking at one of the MRE packages on the guest bedroom bed, and asked if I wanted to have it. With the caveat from my sister not to eat it all at once (like we did when we were dumb kids), because one package is supposed to sustain a solider for an entire day. Oops.

Either way, I was like, “Sure, why not?” It’s been a while, and writing a lot about military characters, I figured it might be good to refresh my memory.

Incidentally, a friend — I can’t remember who — asked me to document my experience and tell them about it. Since I can’t remember who, I took a bunch of pictures and decided to make a public post about it.

So here we go.

This post is full of spiders images!

Monday, October 5, 2015

NEW RELEASE: Departed (A Dead Man Does Tell Tales)

About time that I do another one of these, huh?

Anyway, this is my official announcement of the release of my novelette, Departed!

Completely separate from the science fiction series, PROJECT SERAPHIM, this paranormal/historical piece is about a man whose body is found in a field, only he’s not quite dead. Over time, he discovers that not only is he seemingly unable to die from fatal injuries, he also seems to possess strange abilities that allow him to feel and experience the lives of others around him.

It’s not a very good predicament to find yourself in, in colonial America.

(I also promise that amnesiacs will no longer be a reoccurring theme in my future works. Seriously.)

If you like historical pieces mixed with paranormal elements and a dabble of romance, feel free to check it out! It’s currently up for pre-order, but will be released this Friday. Currently it is a Kindle Exclusive, but I may consider publishing hard copies someday if I think that a short novelette such as this may be worth it.

On a more personal note, Departed was something that I had originally wrote years ago in college. Like PROJECT SERAPHIM, it was another piece that I decided to return and revamp. It was a lot of fun writing this, as I got to do a lot of research on 1600s America while putting my current knowledge to use. I’m passionate about history, and I’ve always wanted to write more about immortals.

Additionally, the characters of Departed also happen to be part of an even bigger project that I plan to work on someday, called Days be Done. I may work on that sometime on the sidelines of Seraphim in the near future.