Sunday, August 21, 2011

Side Project Ideas

My writing recently has been sporadic at best. My university has year round classes and I have been taking very difficult courses requiring a large amount of my attention. Even so, I have been considering taking on several side projects for when I can't be bothered to invest my attention fully enough for my main story.

For one of these short stories, I have been having trouble with the first chapter or so. The actual beginning of the timeline is set in a very low-key environment and therefore not very useful as a first chapter. I am considering starting it in media res and just wanted to get some responses about what you think of it. Really quickly, in media res is when you start the story at a point in time other than the beginning of the timeline to more easily establish motive, character, or setting. Where have you seen it work well and where has it bombed? Do you think it's played out or still a useful method of storytelling? If I get some positive feedback, I'll start working through the intro for it and hopefully post it eventually.

In an unrelated note, I have been working on the story whose intro I posted a while ago. I do like where the intro is at right now, but I haven't been posting anything from the story recently because I keep changing my mind about where it needs to go as I move forward in the story. I haven't forgot about you guys so don't think I've just given up. I hope to start working through it more. As I do, my posts will be much closer together than two months at a time... hopefully.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Laziness...It Tastes So Sweet

Hey all

I've been really slacking lately. I don't have any great excuse such as breaking my arm like T.D McFrost, but what I do have is a whole bunch of weak little excuses that, when put together, will hopefully amount to enough of a reason that you won't all yell and throw things at me (cuz that hurts my feelings).

After I put up my rough draft intro, I headed down to Virginia for my cousin's wedding so I was unable/ unwilling to work on much of anything. Work has been taking up a lot of my time, and now that i'm also going to the gym regularly, my evenings are pretty much spoken for as well. My time spent writing has been spent coming up with new book and short story ideas rather than working on my book/ blog. All of these excuses boil down to one central point.


It's a hard reality to face, but there it is. I've been slacking, and it's killing me. When I slack off at the gym, I can feel my body beginning to jiggle and I know I have to get back in the gym, but with writing, it's so easy to fill the void with other much less useful activities and never even notice the difference. I've been playing a lot of Final Fantasy X recently which I will never apologize for since it's probably my favorite game ever, but it's begun to take precedence over my writing, and that is something I can not stand for.

These next few weeks I will be spending a lot more of my free time writing. I have character profiles to create, a world to map out, storylines to make and intertwine, and research to do. I don't have time to be messing around and being lazy.

I've updated my intro and will be posting it shortly after I tweak the last paragraph or so and after that I'll be working on outlining for a while so I may not have anything concrete to show from it, but I'll obviously be cataloguing my accomplishments here and probably just taking some random tangents occasionally.

Until next time, stay frosty my friends.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Life Changes. Change With It

I’ve decided to change

My work life is, for lack of a better word, boring. My social life is repetitive and uninspiring. Not all fault, however, can be attributed to others. Sure, the work is tediously mind-numbing, and sure the people I work with are all two to three times my age, but I can definitely make a positive difference in the environment around me.

I realized recently that my friend sphere has not changed much for over a year. The friends I do have, I wouldn’t trade for the world, but when I started in college I was meeting new people every day. Some of these would remain friends, but others would drop away over time and pursue different friendships. Such is life, and it is something to be expected. Since those first few months, however, I have not made much of an effort to make more friends. I have become lazy and comfortable with my social life, and as a result, it has gone stale. I have begun to blame my friends for my own displeasure, and it’s unfair to them and to our friendship.

I recently took a Muay Thai class through my university and loved it. Better yet, I met some new friends there who shared my love for hitting things as hard as possible. Since then, I have seen them in the gym and around campus and have always stopped to shoot the breeze and talk about how the class affected us. Sadly, some of the guys are graduating soon, so that is a friend pool that I will have to constantly replenish.

I joined the blogosphere looking for others who shared my passion for writing. I figured the best way to meet writers was through writing. It’s only been a few weeks, but I feel like I have made a good foundation for friendships with the few of you I have spoken to so far.

The easiest way to meet people is through a shared interest. This is a very obvious statement, but it’s not one I think about often enough. I have so many varied interests that I’m not taking advantage of, and it’s a shame. I would like to learn German. I plan on becoming a personal trainer. I would love to know how to ballroom dance, and maybe tango or salsa as well. I love softball, Frisbee, and football as well as pretty much any other activity I can do outside. I have considered looking into medieval swordplay so I can write any action sequences with real descriptions. Above all else, I just really like meeting new people.

Instead of acting on my impulses and meeting new people like I should, I sit at home playing stupid online games and watching the same lame movies I watch every week. That is not a good lifestyle for me. I need to be out and exploring. In the interest of this mentality, I have begun scheduling my life. Now I know you must be thinking, “But Carter, isn’t that the opposite of what you want to do? Don’t you want to be more impulsive?” Worry not, humble naysayers, for I do have a plan for how to use this appropriately. My weekdays are pretty packed with work, but I have scheduled in an hour and a half of combined reading and writing time. This will ensure that I keep up with my writing whether it be for my book or for the blog. The time I spend reading may be divided amongst novels, study material for the ACE personal trainer’s exam, German study material, and any other type of reading that could be considered constructive.

My weekends will be where all of my time will be spent finding new friends. Scheduling in a few hours a day devoted to meeting new people will ensure that I actually go out and do it lest I let myself down. I assume that the first few outings will be disastrous and generally embarrassing, but I figure (and hope) that over time, as I start to get results, that I will begin to truly enjoy going out and making a fool of myself.

You may be wondering why I am telling you all this. Honestly, I need some form of accountability to ensure I will continue to do this. As such, I will be posting updates periodically of my progress. I avoid lying on my blog, so you, the reader, will be getting an unfiltered look at the trials and tribulations associated with my new drive.

My work may still be boring, and I may not have much of a connection with any of them, but I hope that by putting myself out there and at the mercy of others, I will become a nicer and more open person. I truly believe that everyone can benefit from going out of their way to make new acquaintances. If everyone in the world went out to make five new friends every weekend, imagine how much happier we all would be.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Quick Thought

So I was at work and my boss went downstairs to grab something from the convenience store and asked if anyone wanted anything and I was struck by the want to rattle off an entire grocery list. Obviously when she asked if anyone wanted anything she didn't expect anyone to ask for anything and as she expected no one did. Its one of those odd little niceties we all use on a daily basis to assure ourselves and those around us that we are friendly. For some odd reason asking someone if they want anything when we leave to get something registers as more polite to us even if it is disingenuous. When I ask if anyone wants anything at the store I never have any interest in the answer because I know it will be no. if they said yes, I'd tell them to come with.

How does this relate to writing you ask? Very loosely. Meaningless niceties are a part of our daily life and our interactions with those around us are rife with them. As such you would expect them to show up in writing quite often, but they don't. Characters are almost always straight to business. When meeting with a business partner there is always some amount of pointless drivel that precedes actually getting down to business. Having this in a book can be useful in moderation. Having too much of it slows the book down and can make the reader bored or unsure what the point is. Not having any can lead to characters seeming very one dimensional or rude. Even if your character is extremely nice, a reader may see their unwillingness to engage in trivial conversation as showing they are distant or aloof. The subtler nuances of human interaction are often difficult to convey in writing, but if done well your characters will be a lot deeper and more relatable.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


So just a little bit of background on where this intro came from. I originally wrote the framework for this intro during my Sophomore year in high school. I wrote it as a standalone piece and hadn't originally planned on working it through to a full book idea, but I just got taken with the idea of it and decided to flesh it out and see where it went.
I wrote this as a way to piss my teacher off because she told us we would immediately fail the paper if we didn't give the character a name. I figured I should see what would happen, and I got an A.
What I'm posting here is drastically different from what I turned in those years ago, but the idea is the same.

This intro is meant to be a little shady and mysterious. This particular vision will keep coming up throughout the story with more and more detail being thrown into focus as the story progresses.
I admit this is a pretty weak version and I plan on making significant improvements to the wording and flow, But I wanted to get this to you guys and see what you think of it. What does it need? Where do you see it going? Does it hold your attention?

As always, Thanks for the inputs and please enjoy my first draft of my intro.

The sound of his own breath shuddering through his parted lips was the only thing he could hear as he ran. Suddenly through the absolute silence emanated yells of excitement and the baying of hunting dogs. Looking back, he could see them, horrible four legged beasts with wide drooling mouths encasing rows of massive serrated teeth. Teeth made to leave a nasty wound rather than a clean bite mark; teeth made to kill even from the smallest of bites.
Terror like nothing he had ever felt raced through him, spurring him to run faster and faster. Weaving through the trees like a wisp of smoke, he glanced around him. The moonlight shone through the trees casing shadows everywhere around him, making it seem as if the shadows themselves were running alongside him. The full moon peaked through the branches as he risked a glance backwards to see his pursuers. All he saw following him was a multitude of torches spread out to ensure he couldn’t get away to either side. Never before had darkness seemed so safe to him.
As he turned his attention back to his makeshift path, he stumbled and began to fall over a protruding root. Cursing his bad luck, he tucked himself into a ball hoping to avoid too much injury. The shadows converged on his location, and he seemed to be lifted bodily to his feet. Choosing not to question his luck, and fueled by adrenaline and fear, he continued his frantic escape.
Checking his surroundings again, he spotted a clearing a little off to the right of the direction he was going. He instinctively turned towards the opening in the trees without any particular plan as to what to do next. His faceless pursuers quickened their pace behind him and began shouting even more aggressively, though what they were saying was lost on their prey. Noticing their increased fanaticism, he dug deep and forced himself to go even faster.
Bursting into the clearing, he noticed several things very quickly. The sound of rushing water off to his left signaling the waterfall he already knew was there. The sight of torches ahead of him indicating that his pursuers had somehow already surrounded him. The shadows that he had attributed to the trees rushing by remained with him even with nothing to cast them. The great rent in the ground ahead of him showing that this was no clearing.
Without a second thought, he hurled himself from the top of the cliff into the immense nothingness below. The shadows that had kept pace with him all this way became swallowed up in the dark canyon walls. The fall was further than he had expected, but the fear that had gripped him since his flight from the hunters began simply melted away. As the ground rushed up to greet him, he relaxed and let the inevitable happen. The impact was almost pleasant, and after running a self-check, found that he was relatively unharmed.
Knowing better than to move right away, he rested for a short while in the depression that belied his impact while the hunting party approached the cliff, found it impassable, and seemed to lose interest in the supposed dead body lying alongside the rushing river. After a decent stretch of silence, something indicated that he needed to get up. As he lifted himself out of an oddly deep crater, he saw the familiar shadows that seemed to be a mainstay of the landscape surrounding him move as if to greet him. After seeming to have convinced themselves he was okay, the shadows moved off down the canyon and, without a moment of hesitation, he followed at a brisk trot.
As he followed the shadows down the canyon, he began noticing vaguely human shapes in the shadows shifting in and out among the amorphous forms they showed. He looked ahead and saw what looked to be the end of the canyon.
Without any notice, he suddenly felt himself pulled towards the canyon wall; not by a physical force, but rather by an intense feeling that this was the true path. He picked up speed and barely slipped through a tiny crack in the canyon wall and continued through at breakneck speed heading for what he was sure was the goal; the point; the reason for his being there. As he moved forward a blinding light surrounded him and he felt himself bodily lifted and thrown, but instead of hitting rock, he seemed to go through it without so much as an impact. He picked up speed until he felt himself stretching into nothingness.
As soon as it had begun, it was over. He stood a bit shakily on familiar grass kissed by moonlight. He closed his eyes and felt the sweet spring winds blow by him, smelling the freshness of a bright spring shower. A shadow loomed across his face and he opened his eyes to ascertain the origin. Eyes. Pale yellow eyes glittering with malice glared at him from a head and a half above his own. As he stepped back, he felt the monster’s oppressive presence expand to fill his entire field of vision. He turned to run but, unable to catch himself, stumbled and fell.

Mairtin hit the ground hard. He lay there in the blazing sun catching his breath as he tried to reconcile his dreams with his reality.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


In writing my book, I realized that If I left the opening scene I have crafted as a present tense action, would eliminate a lot of what I have planned for the first book in my series. Essentially, the opening scene is of the protagonist escaping the clutches of some neutral party who wanted to get a hold of him, but then he uses certain powers to escape from them (I’m being elusive as to exact details because it’s still in progress). The only issue is that him learning about these powers and how to use them is something I could feasibly spread out across several books. I hate the idea of using the quintessential dream sequence, but putting in the opening chapter as a vision of the future is something I am very drawn to for the continuity of the story. In considering this as the intro for my story, I had to think a lot on how to incorporate the vision in as original a way as possible when doing something as overused as a dream sequence.

I felt that many of the more annoying dream sequences I’ve seen tend to be way over the top or downright apocalyptic like someone looking out over a lake of fire where their hometown once was or seeing themselves standing on the top of a pile of dead bodies. While these do serve to either instill fear or determination in the protagonist (depending on the scene involved) they still are a bit overblown and don’t serve too much use to the story.
Another way to misuse a vision is to make it something that is to come up very shortly. When used to predict future events, I feel that a vision should be something that keeps the character and the reader in the dark for longer than just a chapter or so.

Overly explanatory or overly vague visions are also a nuisance in a story. When a character immediately recognizes happenings from a vision the second they approach a given situation, I just lose interest in the story. The reader should catch on to the vision before the character does. Have the character look around questioningly and with a feeling of déjà vu. It makes the reader wonder if this is indeed hearkening back to the vision or just a coincidence thrown in to throw off the reader. Leave them in suspense until the grand unveiling of whatever the vision was created to reference. Equally aggravating is a vision that is foggy and unclear to the point where the character could interpret what they saw in more than one way. This can lead to revealing that the initial meaning taken from the vision actually was not the true meaning leaving the character confused and/or in peril. This can be interesting, but in the end is just somewhat annoying to me. I like a vision that has some aspects of both where they may recognize part of their vision in their surroundings, but something about it isn’t what they expected. I’m choosing to write my intro as such and I feel like it is a good blending of multiple aspects of visions. I will work on preparing my intro to be up on my blog in the next day or so as a rough copy to see what you guys think of it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Yes I'm back with another random musing. Please hold all questions, comments and applause till the end of the tour.

So I've been working on this book idea I have for a few years now. I've spent a lot of time thinking and not much time actually writing, but I have a great idea as to what will be happening down the road, how the main character will meet all the supporting characters, and even a few twists to keep the story interesting. But for the life of me I can't settle on a good source of motivation for him. The most obvious and cliche ones come to mind immediately; his family and frinds are killed, his village burns down, he feels obligated to. None of these have the realism and the grit that I want to convey. My character is very duty driven, but not very social, so having him freak out when his village dies may not make much sense. He does have a thirst for adventure, but not for getting himself killed. He is a realist and it's very difficult for me to see him putting himself in harm's way for others. Throughout the book, this will change, but I need the motivation before he becomes a more well-rounded person and without it being extremely cliche.

This issue has made me look at motivation as I've seen it in other books and movies and when it was done well or poorly.

Eragon- I love this book series, but the initial motivation is a bit shaky. Eragon is a total homebody. He freaks out when his cousin is about to leave. Then all of a sudden he gets a baby dragon and he becomes some super hero revenge-seeking beast. Not likely. Realistically, he would have seen the threat coming, hid out in the woods, and tried to survive until the king came to kill him.

Star Wars the Real Trilogy- Luke is a whiner, but he always thirsts for adventure. Setting him up as an adventure seeking character makes it feasible that when his home is destroyed, he heads off to live his dream of fighting in the rebellion

Harry Potter- Their main motivation is just to be nosy little brats as most kids are. This would be fine, but even little kids know not to kill themselves and to, at some point, call for help.

The Heir Trilogy- Most probably haven't heard of this series, but i'd recommend it for a pretty easy read with an entertaining story. The motivation starts out with him just wanting to see what he can do with his cool new powers and it ends up being a fight for the freedom of huge groups of people. A bit shaky, but still amusing.

The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm- Another book most people haven’t read, it starts out with a group of detectives being hired to find some missing children and it turns into this whole huge epic quest. Similar to the Heir Trilogy, The initial motivation is fine, but it makes little sense why the three detectives here would go and save the world like they do.

The Lord of the Rings- I’m sure most people don’t want to hear anything bad about this series, but the idea that a midget of a person would willingly venture into the fires of Mount Doom to drop a ring in a volcano seems silly to me. Love the story, not the motivation.

Iron Man- Tony Stark sees his legacy being tainted and put in the hands of the same murderous bastards who tried to kill him. Simple revenge motivates him, then turns him into a modern-day super hero. I really like how they did it.

Your Highness- I just recently saw this movie, and although the movie itself was terrible, I like ho they showed Danny McBride’s character being motivated by his want to be as good as his brother while still being hesitant to actually do it.

Fired Up! (because I can)- Just a couple guys lookin for girls. Gotta love it.

Jennifer Government- A great read. I would strongly suggest anything the author Max Barry puts out because he is a phenomenal writer. Great motivation. A government agent trying to stop an already out of control system from taking over the world. Very well written.

The Parent Trap- I recently watched this movie again because... well I’m easily amused, and I realized that what they did makes very little sense. When they got home they could’ve easily exposed that they found out the truth, confronted the parents, and demanded different accommodations. But then there would be no trap, it would have had to have been called Parents Being Put in a Slightly Awkward Situation and that just doesn’t flow very well.

Overall, I’m just tired of the clichés that are so widely used and accepted, but the problem is, without the clichéd traumatic events, there is no motivation. Maybe the reason I view them as stale is because that is how to get someone motivated to do the extraordinary things required in a fantasy book.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Character Decisions- Out of Your Hands

So one thing that really bothers me when reading a book is the decision making process many characters go through.  Getting into a good book and then getting thrown off by a totally random decision a main character makes is a cardinal sin in my book.

A very self-absorbed character sacrifices himself to save another. A loyal follower suddenly betrays the leader with no lead-up. A loner suddenly joins up with the main party after having stated he/she wanted nothing to do with them. I watched Your Highness last night, and Natalie Portman’s character, after expressing extreme distaste for the protagonists, suddenly joins up with them. It’s poor writing that panders to convenience rather than realism and I don’t appreciate it.

There are a couple of very important things to consider in this particular area.
  1. Plan ahead when making a new character. If you know that your character is going to have to lead a revolution, don’t make them afraid of crowds, indecisive, or generally introverted. It may seem like the right call to have a brooding and mysterious hero, but only if it suits the story. It’s far easier to have a misunderstood hero that wants to help but just doesn’t know how than a hero that has no heroic traits.
  2. Don’t force a decision because it seems like the most expeditious way to go. Your original plan may be for the hero to take a certain path, but sometimes allowing them to make the wrong choice that is more true to character can allow them to fail and realize they need to change their view. This leads to more open interpretations of his actions down the road and can let you take that original path later with a more well-rounded character. I’ve seen too many books have an incomplete hero because the author forced him down paths that he clearly wouldn’t take. This weakens not only your character, but your story as a whole. If you want your character to rush off to the aid of a village in trouble, but have thus far shown your character to be very greedy and self-absorbed, let him walk away and create a scenario where he gains from saving the town. This way he stays in character, the story progresses as it needs to, and your character may begin to enjoy people relying on him. Bam, he’s suddenly on the path to being a better person.
  3. Let the story evolve. This hearkens back to my last point. A good story can take on a mind of its own, and if you don’t let it evolve, it will fall flat. I’ve found many times in my writing where my plot outline did not take important things into consideration such as a character interaction I didn’t necessarily see coming at the beginning. Instead of suffocating that interaction and pushing forward, I let it evolve and my characters became better friends, which led to a stronger sense of camaraderie later in the book.
  4. Take yourself out of the equation. Your story isn’t about you; it’s about the characters you created. You are giving them a backdrop and a general plot for them to follow, but most of what happens is up to them. Step outside yourself and imagine you were they. Take out any of your preconceived notions of who they should be and see them as they do. Forget information they don’t know yet. Making decisions based on knowledge they don’t have yet is infuriating. Just because you know exactly where the character should go doesn’t mean they do. Let them figure it out or have them ask around until someone tells them. Having characters constantly guessing correctly is moronic, childish, and quite honestly insulting to the reader.

Writers tend to like to have total control in their book. They don’t like people telling them their ideas are crap, so having one of their own characters tell them how they would act seems impossible to them. Keep in mind; although you made the character, their personality needs to shine through. You gave them the personality for a reason. Let them be how they should be. Your story will thank you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First Post

So yeah looks like it's time for me to start a blog. I haven't really done this before so any of you reading this, don't get your hopes up.

Little background on myself.

My name is Carter. I'm 20. Writing has only recently become a major passion for me, so I figured I'd try out this blogging thing to see if any of you real writers out there had pointers or thought what I had to say was interesting.

My life is extremely busy and is not exactly conducive to being able to write a book. Be that as it may, that is what I'm currently working on. If you stick with my blog, I may start putting background info or excerpts up to see what you guys think of it.

I have a really odd sense of humor and I can't promise you won't be offended by what i write. Of course, I can't promise you will be offended either, so don't start putting words in my mouth.

I'll try to update at least once a week. the topics may differ or be completely random. Basically whatever I'm thinking, you'll get to hear about. Kind of like filling a blank slate with my musings (see what I did there?). I may be thinking food one week, and PS2 games another week. I'll try to get back to my writing as often as possible, but I never know when I'll be feeling the muse. So keep checking back to find out. Or don't. Whatever.