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Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Discussion Thread I was listening to a podcast with Ursula K. LeGuin yesterday (Between the Covers - October 1, 2015 episode) and it made me think about this month's writing contest. I haven't listened to the whole thing yet, but there's a segment focused on language and how it is reflective of so much of our psychology. The examples I can remember off the top of my head had to do with gender (English has no neutral singular pronoun to refer to people) and the prevalence of battle metaphors in America.

There's also some commentary on POV in the podcast, if you're thinking about which one to choose.

March 04, 2017, 02:57:54 AM
Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Discussion Thread @Lanko

I think I had the same troubles that you're talking about with this theme. One thing that helped me start to actually generate a story was to try to define for myself what a human psychology would be.

For some reason, my initial thoughts led me down a rabbit hole where my ideas of an inhuman POV resulted in multiple selves. Once I recognized that there is a difference between a self / consciousness / individual being and a human, I was able to get past the initial desire to have an inhuman psychology be completely foreign (which is a seemingly impossible task).

So, then I defined a self / consciousness / individual and figured out which variations of those defining characteristics led to a human psychology. To get an inhuman psychology, you pick different variations of those attributes.

I don't know if that's at all helpful, but it seems to be working for me.

March 12, 2017, 09:16:33 PM
Re: Travel recommendations? Paris, Bruges and London I haven't been to Bruges, but in my experience biking in Belgium is a lot of fun (and I imagine it's pretty easy to rent bikes for a day). There are tons of bike paths (dirt and paved) and every intersection is marked with a number. You can look up a route ahead of time and then you just follow the numbers.

You never know what kinds of cool things you'll find along the way.

March 25, 2017, 02:48:33 AM
Re: [Feb 2017] - Fanfic - Voting Thread Congrats, @Lanko!

@tebakutis Thanks for the positive comment - I appreciate it. I voted for your story because I thought you captured the dynamic of the characters in The Magicians really well.

My other vote went to @m3mnoch. I'm not familiar with Logen Ninefingers, but you wrote the character completely enough that I could enjoy the story regardless. And I appreciated the outsider perspective on the "Twilight" characters; I thought it was very well done.

April 04, 2017, 03:47:03 AM
Re: Writer's Block Usually when I have trouble writing a story and the words won't come, it's because I don't quite know where I'm going. That's when I find myself writing, "He walked across the room and went outside, and then he walked down the street to the store..." and on and on and on. Super boring.

In this example, the writing doesn't have enough conflict or external forces acting on the characters. When I notice that I'm struggling, I now know to first look to see if I have enough conflict. Once I've identified the problem, I can usually find a way to fix it that makes writing the story more fun and interesting.

Maybe you can identify a pattern to what's missing from your writing and why it's not holding your interest. For me it's conflict or "interesting things happening" but it could be that the characters aren't individualized enough or you don't have the rules of the setting fleshed out well enough or something else entirely.

April 23, 2017, 10:20:09 PM
Re: Writer's Block I hope that helps!

Another thing that I find can help is to do something sort of in between writing and planning / outlining. There's a certain mindset that I get into when I'm writing that is different from my mindset when I'm planning. However, if I don't know where I'm going, writing a scene can be really difficult.

Instead, I'll write a kind of summary. It's like writing, but only focusing on the concepts that are necessary for the plot. It allows me to discovery write without taking thousands of words to get my ideas down. It also helps me keep the whole story in my mind without getting lost in the trappings that flesh it out and make it enjoyable to experience.

For example, I would take the action scene that you've written, and when you get to the point where you don't know where you're going, switch to this kind of writing:

"The assassin stares at the bodies on the ground. It is the least he can do to honor them. Then he stalks down the hallway to the next room, where he finds his target. The target is asleep. It turns out to be a decoy."

The ideas tend to come to me better this way once I get going, and it is easier to identify problems when I'm done. And the writing of the full story goes more smoothly too. I also usually hand write, rather than type, when I do this.

I don't know if that will work for you, but sometimes you just have to try things until you find what does work.

Good luck!

April 25, 2017, 04:13:58 AM
Re: Help required from y'all experienced adults on in-book legal set-up At least in terms of the financial structure (which I could argue is different from the hiring/training structure), it makes me think of a consultant group or a lawyer firm. You go to the firm to hire a consultant. If the firm accepts the job, then a consultant is assigned to it and does the work, but the payments go to the firm. You have a couple of overhead employees that manage the projects, but the consultants do most of the work. If they're good, fees are high, so that is a reasonable explanation for the amount of money the group has.

In the real world these people are hired like any other people; your group just has a different hiring process.

May 11, 2017, 03:23:40 AM
Re: Scifi Writing Contest I am super excited about this!

I've actually been thinking a lot about infrastructure and how critical it is to world-building and wondering why it doesn't show up in more stories. Have you ever been to a small town public hearing for a wind farm? They can be full of drama.

One example of a story that I think fits under this theme starts with a bus mechanic. He's been around for a while and has seen more and more kids in his neighborhood getting asthma. He learns that it's due to pollution from vehicles and knows that the emissions controls systems on the vehicles aren't as good as people say they are. So, when he hears about an opportunity for his company to buy electric vehicles, he advocates for it, despite opposition.

This isn't really near-future, because it's already happening. However, I think it's an example of a potentially compelling story that addresses improving air quality.

May 13, 2017, 02:32:15 AM
Re: [May 2017] - Music - Discussion Thread @m3mnoch Best of luck to you! We'll miss reading your stories - maybe you'll just have to post some excerpts of your book instead?
May 26, 2017, 03:09:03 AM
Re: [May 2017] - Music - Submission Thread Andrew's Anima

1430 words
Spoiler for Hiden:

When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you…

What is this tune stuck in my head? Andrew asked himself as he returned to consciousness after a night of sleep. I don’t think I’ve heard it before.

He let his mind finish waking up. Once it did, his eyes flew open and he bolted upright. It was his ninth birthday! His eyes darted around the room, searching for his anima, trying to ignore the tune in his head.

But I would walk 500 miles…

There was nothing there. He searched under his bed and in his dresser, but couldn’t find his anima. No outfox or copycat, not even a lapdog. Maybe Andrew got what he wanted – a wily anima – and it was hiding from him. He sat on the bed to think, but that stupid tune kept distracting him.

A knock came at the door. “Andrew?” It was Mom.

She opened the door a crack and poked her head in. “Oh – happy birthday, sweetie!” Andrew saw Mom sweep the room with her eyes, and a frown crept into her face. “Have you met your anima?”

Andrew looked down at the bed and folded his arms in front of his chest. “I can’t find him.”

He heard Mom walk over, but he continued staring at the floor. She said, “I’m sure he’s around somewhere.”

“I checked under the bed and in the dresser and in the closet. Three times.” He would not cry about this. The song in his head changed.

Strangers, waiting, up and down the boulevard…

Mom put an arm around his shoulders. Andrew tried really hard not to cry. As his eyes began to sting, the door crashed open.

“Mama?” It was Suzy, Andrew’s little sister. She stood in the doorway, hugging her stuffed damselfly to her chest. “Mama! Andy!” Suzy ran in and flung herself onto the bed, hitting Andrew with the damselfly.

“Suzy!” he shouted, punching fists into the covers. “Mom, make her go away!”

“Suzy, be quiet.” Mom grabbed Suzy and pulled her onto her lap, but didn’t make her go away. Suzy started waving the damselfly around and making baby noises. So annoying.

Shadows searching in the night…

“So, Andrew’s up?” This time Dad stood at the door. “I’m surprised he didn’t run into our room at 5:30 with his anima.”

Andrew watched Mom look over to Dad, clearly trying to communicate that something was not right without Andrew seeing. Adults always thought they were being subtle in front of kids.

Dad scanned the room, just as Mom had. “Your anima hasn’t shown up yet?”

Andrew shook his head and focused on the floor again.

“Have you looked everywhere?”

Living just to find emotion…

Andrew threw his hands in the air and kicked his feet against the bed “Yes. I looked in my closet and in my dresser.”

“And under the bed?”

Hiding somewhere in the night…

“Yes.” Andrew shoved himself off the bed and stomped toward his door. “He’s not here.”

“Wait,” said Dad, putting a hand out to stop him. “Alfred says he’s here.” That stopped Andrew. Alfred was Dad’s anima: a housefly. He always knew when people were or were not in the house.

“He’s in my room?”

“Alfred thinks so.”

Andrew went back to the closet, pulling everything out. Clothes, toys, the occasional candy wrapper.

Don’t stop believing…

The song in his head grew louder. Andrew picked up a shirt and shook it out, hoping his anima was hiding inside. He grabbed another. A buzzing sounded in his ear. Probably Alfred. The song continued to increase in volume. It shook his head and rattled his brain.

Suzy stumbled into him.

“Suzy!” he screamed. “Go away!”

Of course, Suzy bawled. “Andrew,” scolded Mom. “Don’t shout at your sister.”

He already regretted it; he hated it when Suzy cried. “Sorry,” he muttered. “I have a stupid song stuck in my head and it’s driving me crazy.” He went back to the shirt he’d been checking. Alfred still buzzed in his ear.

“Andrew? Did you say you had a song stuck in your head?” Dad came over and put a hand on Andrew’s shoulder.

“Yes. It’s super annoying.” Alfred buzzed louder. Dad squeezed Andrew’s shoulder.

“I might know what your anima is.”

Andrew twisted to look up at Dad. “You do?”

“Your anima might be an earworm.”

“An earworm?” Andrew had never heard of one. “What kind of anima is that?”

“I don’t know; Alfred just mentioned it. He said he doesn’t know much about them, except that they exist. They’re rare, and shy.” The song in Andrew’s head changed again.

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man…

“Maybe if we leave you alone, he’ll come out.” Dad waved toward Mom and Suzy. “Let’s go.” Alfred gave one last buzz in Andrew’s ear, and then they all left. Dad closed the door.

Andrew sat on the floor, clothes piled around him. How could he make his anima come out? He had never heard of anyone having to find their anima before; they were always there when you woke up on your ninth birthday. The only thing that had been around since he woke up were those annoying tunes.

Andrew’s eyes opened wide.

Sing us a song tonight…

“I’m not a singer.”

A small pop sounded in his ear and something warm and slimy slid down his cheek. It plopped onto the ground. Andrew cringed. “Ewww.” A red and green worm like a sour gummy candy lay on the ground. It stretched upward, and opened a small mouth.
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody…

The juxtaposition of the beautiful voice and the scrawny body stunned Andrew. He gaped as he leaned away from the creature.

…and you’ve got us feeling alright…

The earworm closed its mouth and started inching toward Andrew. He backed away. The earworm noticed. It drew its head up and looked directly at Andrew for a long moment. Then it got down and started moving again. Andrew continued scooting away. It might have a beautiful voice, but it was still slimy.

The earworm sat up again and looked at Andrew. Then it hung its head. He never knew a worm could look so disappointed.

“Do you have a name?”

My name is Jonas.

“Do you ever not sing?”

No chance, no way, I won’t say it, no, no

Andrew smiled, just a little bit.

The earworm went back to the ground and started moving toward Andrew. This time he didn’t back away. The worm crept closer, until it nearly touched Andrew’s knee. The worm – Jonas - reached up as if it were going to climb up Andrew’s knee, but it paused, and lifted its head toward Andrew. It looked like nothing so much as a lapdog yearning for someone to pet it. Andrew grimaced only slightly as he reached a finger out to Jonas. He climbed up, shrinking slightly to fit.

“Is that how you got into my head?”

Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, ain’t nothing gonna slow me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving...

Andrew laughed out loud this time. He lifted the little worm up to his face and smiled. It hopped twice.

The door slammed open. Andrew felt slime slap his face and heard another small pop. The earworm was gone.

“Andy!” Suzy ran in. “Play with me!”

Andrew stood up. He wanted to be alone with Jonas. “Go away Suzy.” He started pushing her toward the door.

“Andy! I wanna play.” Andrew knew that tone of voice. Suzy would either get what she wanted, or she would cry. He did not want to bring his parents back. He’d already yelled at Suzy twice today.

Too ra loo ra loo ra, hush, now don’t you cry…

It was going to take a while to get used to having songs in his head all the time. Maybe Andrew could ask Jonas to be quiet sometimes.

Jonas continued singing. Suzy started to rub her eyes. She yawned. She sat down and held her damselfly close. Then she put it under her head, like a pillow. Within two minutes, she had fallen asleep.

The song – lullabye - ended, and Andrew heard a pop. The little worm crawled around his face and reached out just far enough that Andrew could see him. Then Jonas smiled.

Andrew glanced from the earworm down to Suzy, and then back to Jonas. A smile spread across his face.

No wonder very little was known about earworms.

May 31, 2017, 02:28:02 AM