A Picture Paints 1,000 Words?

A picture paints 1,000 words? Well, of course it does – good grief. It would take more than 1,000 words to fully describe a tiny polaroid, let alone a huge, wall-sized masterpiece.

But… yes, there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?

Authors are those whose very livelihoods depend on those 1,000 words (and many, many more words than that I assure you) and yet their marketing depends very heavily on the laziest cop-out ever.

The book cover!

Granted, some of the covers are quite good and eye-catching, but like the celluloid version of a book they steal something from the audience’s imagination.

The covers all say “Hey look! This is what the story is about” and this immediately begins the process of shutting down the imaginative processes of the readers.

In a way, it’s kind of an insult to the reader, isn’t it? It’s saying “for all you duh-brains out there, this is what you should be seeing when you read this book.”

It’s like low grade education. The covers tell the reader WHAT to visualise, and not HOW to use the words to create their own visualisation. That is an essential skill to allow them to develop their own view of the literary world. When authors – though the “populist” marketing methodology – perpetuate the mysticism of writing – and in some extreme cases misinform the reader by use of inappropriate imagery – are they not as guilty as any politician of treating their audience like sheeple?

I like the ideas of nice covers, but not at the expense of a reader’s imagination.

I hope that my WORDS will encourage people to use their imaginations and not fall back on the practice of letting the picture do all the work.

When I get round to publishing my works I am probably going to abandon the idea of beautiful, fanciful artistry and settle for something that says, very simply – I am a book, read me to know more.

Owen

Reviewing : Critique v Critic

Here’s the previously promised rant “Critique v Critic”. I was going to let this rest a while before dragging it kicking and screaming onto the page, but I’ve had something of an epiphany. So now, this will be in two parts – first the rant (lets me vent my spleen) about the difference between those two similar sounding words.

Kriteek and Kritik phonetically speaking, of course…

Critique : Noun

A detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory.

Critique : Verb

Evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way.

Keywords : analysis, assessment, evaluate

 

Critic : Noun

A person who expresses an unfavourable opinion of something.

or

A person who judges the merits of literary or artistic works, especially one who does so professionally.

Keywords here : unfavourable opinion, judges.

 

In critique there is no “judgement”.

So, what is the difference? Got any examples?

Oh, sure I have… here are a few extracts from a “critic” – not naming names ’cause the person involved swiftly removed both their review and my response immediately after I replied. Don’t know if it was anger, or embarrassment caused it, and I don’t really care because that person was so busy “stroking their own ego” that I almost called the police to stop their “lewd behaviour”.

Example 1: Critic

….the last phrase of this chapter, mentions “the” trap.  Pronouns have to have an antecedent, that is to say, something that comes before.  The purpose here seems to be to create an interest in the next chapter.  I see a contraditction there, in that the hook is based on something that just isn’t there. It’s like we’re be told to read more so we’ll get the hook.

Note the wonderful spelling associated with this – kinda funny, huh?

Example 1: Response

To respond to the issue you raised – in the absence of alternates the use of the definite article is acceptable. If I say “close the door.” and there is only one door visible to you, it must be that door I am referring to – in much the same way that I refer to “the trap” having been sprung in my chapter. There are no others, are there?

Was I too cruel to correct his misconception? Was I rude?

 

Example 2: Critic

So now, the reasoning for the easy flow of information between the Knight and Jerome is crucial to the safety of the kingdom. Just seems like an ex-post facto rationale. But it explains why character development is subordinated to plot.

Example 2: Response

Who the f*ck do you think you are, “ex-post facto”?

I can see this person puffing out their chest and striding backwards and forwards in front of a full length mirror, grinning inanely at their own image as they chew on a thesaurus (dictionary-like book, not dinosaur).

The arrogance and condescension in this critic’s tone is what gets my dander up. The works that I reviewed by return were way less eloquent than their criticism of my works and I had to waste a couple of pages “politely” explaining where things were wrong, what things were wrong and how they could be fixed.

In response to a “critic” I performed a “critique”. Although, because my dander was up, I stooped to a little (very satisfying) retaliation. ** Hangs head in shame – and to hide mean smile **

 

So what’s the good part of this rant?

Something that was triggered by a very simple e-mail that said “thanks for sticking with this the whole way through”.

I joined the story late, but since joining I have endeavoured to continue to review the chapters as they are submitted. The author expressed their gratitude in that simple, single sentence e-mail.

When I replied with the equivalent of “you’re welcome”, I came to realise the full benefits of performing the continuous review of a book. The author gets reviews and a fresh pair of eyes – already understood.

I get the opportunity to practice those skills that are essential for me to produce much better writing. I get to be a “grammar nazi” and a “punctuation proctologist” (not as bad as they sound really – I am nice about it), I get to follow character development, to learn to perform continuity checks, to take overviews and all of these things directly benefit me in the execution of my craft.

In a way, I should be thanking other authors for allowing me to practice my skills on their work.

Therefore, fellow authors and critiquers, I thank you all for your submissions and for your patience in allowing me to hone my – previously blunt – writing tools.

Owen

 

 

It’s been a while…

Yes, it most certainly has, and it’s not because I have nothing to say. Hell, I could talk the hind legs off a donkey (without too much effort I might add). Other things have taken precedence, not least of which is the jaw-dropping insanity of global politics.

Bad, lying, corrupt, cheating, “I’m in it for me” type politicians always seem to get the jobs where we (the people of the world) need really “strong and stable” leadership. Not just the people who pay lip service to the expression. In some countries the rare, living, breathing example of an oxymoron (an honest politician) is not only removed from office during a corrupt election campaign, but the poor guy is then thrown in prison by judges who have clearly been bought off – duh, they got promoted the day after the sentence was passed.

Anyhoo… that’s it with the politics – for now. I’m sure I’ll get back to ranting more vigorously at a later date.

So, what else has kept me from blogging?

 and exchanging reviews.

A Fool’s Errand is now at revision 4.0 and has grown from 13 chapters to 19 chapters. Unfortunately, I’m still not 100% happy with it, so… it may have to be a later version that gets put into book form.

Currently working on “Princeling” with a view to rewrite what I already have, and to complete the story.

Other novels/series have been scheduled to follow, so writing is a big part of what I am actually doing now. I’ll bore you with the list later – no seriously, it’ll be boring.

As for exchanging reviews… normally that’s just a stroll in the park. A fair, gracious, courteous exchange of comments focused on the writing – predominantly the content with a small dash of stylistic commentary.

Normally.

That should give you a clue as to the subject matter of a future “rant” – which will be given the title of “Critique” v “Critic”, or similar, with examples of what not to do as well as what you should do. All IMHO, of course!

Ok. I’ll shout “that’s a wrap” and leave you in peace – for the moment.

Owen

 

I am not a product.

It is interesting to note that authors are expected to sell themselves to the general public.

It seems that this is no longer the role of the agents, or the publishers. So what do they get paid for?

Authors are actively encouraged to represent themselves as the “main product” with their books as the auxiliary products. The main products develop an ego and tell the whole world the minutia of their daily lives – which quite frankly makes my tedium seem quite exhilarating.

Authors these days are like politicians and they spend as much time promoting themselves as they do their stories. Sadly like politicians they fail to deliver too, yet they remain on a permanent campaign trail.

What a load of bull that is. Populism is the global trend and whoops, let’s have a look at where that has led us all – up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Maybe I am exceptional in that I don’t give a shit about being popular, or famous. Yes, I’d like to sell some books – based on the merit of the stories, but these days it’s the loudest voice that seems to sell the most copies of anything.

*** I am NOT a product. ***

My products are my stories, no matter their size, style or genre.

If I were to consider myself to be a product at all, it would be as an auxiliary product to the stories and characters that I create and write about. The stories themselves are what are important. To entertain is the primary goal, but aspiring to perhaps educate people by stretching their abilities with the introduction of new vocabulary and good, clear grammar is not such a bad thing either.

 

There may come a time, in the not too distant future when I remove myself from “social media” – why? Well, it’s not really social media after all, is it? With so many people promoting themselves and their products it’s more commercial than social. Hell, even Presidents tweet! I thought they would be too busy to be messing around like children, but then who knows – it may be essential to maintain their popularity.

Many will laugh at me for having this attitude, but I would rather NOT have sold my soul to the media for the silver pieces that I may, or may not glean as earnings.

My books may, or may not sell – in any case they will sell far better than my story and my soul.

Owen

Inspiration – Where Does It Come From?

This is a question I often asked when I read books written by other authors, and it is a question that will continue to be asked.

There is no set answer.

For my latest novel – “The Awakening” – it was the failure of the European Space Agency’s mission to put a probe on the surface of Mars that triggered my imagination, by provoking the question – “What if that failure wasn’t an accident?”.

I let my imagination take over and just ran with it for the duration of NaNoWriMo.

For a previous novel – “The Domes : Exodus” – my original inspiration was a reaction to a situation in my workplace at that time. A manager made a simple statement – “if the data is incorrect, or incomplete, so what?” – which appalled me at the time. So I wrote a novel based on someone rejecting that attitude, and getting into trouble for it.

Social drama – drawn from real life experiences, but fictionalised, of course.

Political drama – again drawn from life and fictionalised.

Even a simple expression – “Neither Here, Nor There” – can provoke the writing of a story.

Story telling is an ancient practice, but the story-tellers of old were no different than those of today. Their goal is to entertain their audience. Their tools/weapons are their imaginations.

Looking forward to more inspirational “lightning strikes”.

Owen

 

 

 

 

The Editor’s Choice Review Arrives

Today I received the “Editor’s Choice” review for my NaNoWriMo 2016 submission.

The review, and the original chapters, have been posted on my blog for those who are curious. The link to the chapters and the review can be found on “My Workshop”.

The synopsis is also available from “My Workshop”.

I was anticipating and dreading the arrival of the review and now it’s here, I am content.

Owen

TWITter Fail…

I’m pretty sure that I responded correctly to the invitation on Twitter. When someone says – “Post the first line of your NaNoWriMo” – that’s what you do, don’t you?

Should you expect to be insulted because of some unintentional faux pas? IMHO no.

But the person on the other end of the twitter exchange seemed to think that this was the exact response I should get – I have omitted posting the name, because I am not so heartless… except to surmise the person is likely an American, possibly a New Yorker, probably a Trump voter simply deduced from the attitude I received.

Personally I think it should be explain first, shoot later…but that’s not how it is for this particular exchange. SBE = SomeBodyElse and MOI = Me.

 

SBE     : Post the first line of your NaNoWriMo

MOI    : First line? “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Cliché, huh?

 

SBE     : It’s supposed to be fun for writers who want to share. Suppose it could be fun for trolls going out of their way to be asses. ***ATTITUDE***

MOI    : It is the first line **signed ** The Troll ** 😉 “The Awakening” NaNoWriMo2016… So glad to meet the real you. ***BACK AT YOU ***

 

SBE     : I should put that we don’t like plagiarism in the feed. Your lines only.

MOI    : ???

 

SBE     : Generally, THAT is understood in the community. No one likes their words stolen. It’s a given that you don’t do it. *** More ATTITUDE ***

MOI    : Try mentioning the nobility of the first moon landing without those words… 😉

SBE     : I’ll give you that. *** Oooooh! A Concession! ***

 

SBE     : Why don’t you put up your second line? We’d rather see your words.

MOI    : “Now, that’s where we should have stopped.” Corrigan tapped the screen.

 

SBE     : I like this! Gives good character. 😀 *** 180º TURNAROUND ***

 

Net result – no apology for the attitude, but x3 likes…

I am definitely going to plagiarise the attitude! 😀

Owen