Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grayson: The Legacy of Bruce Wayne

My recent review of Young Justice reminded me of this fan film from 2004. Dick Grayson has always been my favorite DC hero and I would love to see a movie like this done well.

You can read more about this fanfilm at the Grayson Wiki.

Another excellent Batman fan film came out the year before, rocking the 2003 San Diego Comic Con. It's hard to believe this film is almost 10 years old.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Written by a Kid: Cold East

This week on Written by a Kid, the story of a pickle jar Sheriff and the rotten tomato who threatens to destroy everything--one bad word at a time.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Emotions in Writing

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."--Robert Frost

When I'm working on a chapter, there is an emotional through-line I want to evoke in the reader: love, longing, fear, excitement, wonder, curiosity, sadness. If I finish a draft and I don't feel that emotion myself, I must rewrite the draft before moving on. There is no dramatic context for the following chapter if I don’t understand how the reader is feeling when they leave the previous one. I could tell a story about Johnny Smith going on a grand adventure, and it might be entertaining, but emotions are the core of storytelling for me. If I can’t convey why Johnny is compelled to go on his grand adventure, I’m not doing my job. Telling you that someone is scared is an entirely different experience than making you feel their fear.

That isn't to say that the draft has to be literarily or editorially perfect--in fact it never is--it simply has to carry that emotional wave in order for me to move on. There will still be many drafts of that chapter to come, not only to make the dialogue more genuine, the environment richer and the senses more involved, but making sure that it blends with the context of both the surrounding chapters and the novel as a whole.

I’m the writer. Most of the time I have some idea of what is coming next. I can never guarantee that a reader will feel the way I want them to feel, but if I can manage to give myself the chills, feel exhausted after a chase scene, or laugh out loud at what one of my characters says, I’ve done my job for the day.

ADDENDUM: For parallels in roleplaying games, check out Depth of Character, Developing Character Arc at the Table.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Playing it Forward

Gaming runs in my family.

My first experience with anything beyond Sorry, was when our mom made my older brother, Steve, take me with him to his friend Scott's house to play AD&D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, not Accidental Death and Dismemberment, though that sometimes happened). It was 1978 and I was eight-years-old. I'd play Scott's quarter-free pinball machine for hours listening to their adventures over my shoulder. Eventually, the big boys let me sit at the table.

The group gave me something simple to play, a 1st level Elf Magic-User. Back then, 1st level Magic-Users were known as "One Shot Magic Items" because they only had one spell per day and it didn't always work. In this case, my spell was called Sleep and it could knock 2-16 low-level monsters out of a fight. I bummed around in the background, picturing my Yoda-like Elf shuffling about thinking magical thoughts far beyond the understanding of the older boys (yes, Yoda hadn't arrived on the scene yet, but that's exactly how I remember him). The rest of the party barreled through the dungeon, kicking in doors and looting monsters until they kicked themselves into a guardroom full of heavily armed goblins. Sixteen heavily armed goblins, to be exact.

"Is this a good time to cast my spell?!" I asked, bouncing up and down in my seat.

Surprised that I was still paying attention, the older boys told me "Yes!"

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Written by a Kid

Written by a Kid--Produced by Geek Fan Fav, Felicia Day. Episode 1 stars Joss Whedon, Dave Foley and Kate Macucci in an epic tale of monster fighting and spilt milk.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Where Dreamings Come From, Part 3: Growing Up

I decided to people Carter’s not-so-imaginary world with intelligent animals--not cartoony, animated versions, like in Winnie the Pooh, but real animals that could grasp logic and communicate in some way. I was adamant, however, to avoid recreating Narnia or the Jungle Book.

Though I love them, I find anthropomorphized1 animals overused. Yet, anthropocentrism2--avoiding the emotional depth and natural intelligence of animals--is as much of a problem. So how do you balance the extremes?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Where Dreamings Come From, Part 2: Carter Franklin and the Magic Address

My nephew Carter, namesake of my own Carter Franklin

“Why don’t you write stories about your stuffed animals?” my wife suggested one afternoon.

We’d been brainstorming about ideas for my next project. My stuffed animals had been a huge part of my life yet I’d never once considered using them as the subject of a story. It was a case of ignoring story material from your own life because you see it as mundane. It was an excellent idea, but what kind of story did I want to write?

My first thought was to write a picture or chapter book. My protagonist would be an eight-year-old with a penchant for drawing elaborate stories with crayons. He would use his own family of stuffed animals as the subjects of his Technicolor tales. Sometimes he would even draw the world-traveling adventures of his goldfish, Professor, before the tiny, piscine scholar had retired to live in a fish bowl.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Where Dreamings Come From, Part 1: The Nature of Friendship

I’ve always fancied myself a stuffed animal rights activist. I remember walking past a garage sale with my sister Susie back in the mid 70’s--I was probably six or seven. A five-foot long stuffed snake dangled sadly from a clothes rack. The poor guy’s seams were splitting and the way he was negligently tossed over the rack told me he desperately needed a home. He was 25 cents.