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Messages - The Gem Cutter

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Writers' Corner / Re: Unreliable narrator
« on: February 04, 2019, 03:27:11 AM »
I have studied this somewhat, and here are my thoughts.

A narrator can be unreliable in several, meaningful ways that a writer can use to surprise the audience, introduce twists, and otherwise influence both the way the plot proceeds and the way the story is experienced. There are several forms this 'unreliability' can take. Here are some with examples and a bit about their dynamics.

Internally unreliable narrator (my own term) - the narrator doesn't know they're unreliable, often due to memory loss, mental illness, drugs, etc.Shutter Island and Fight Club are great examples in film.

Externally unreliable narrator (again, my term) - the narrator is reliable, but their perceptions are not. The core of their being is intact and their motivations pure, but there's something else wrong. This is a subtle distinction others might not agree with. A man reports he heard no gunshot - forgetting his hearing aid batteries were dead. Someone believes they cannot be pregnant/father a child because of a procedure that was done - but it wasn't, or not correctly.

Combined - Memento and Inception are good examples of reliability twists laid upon reliability twists... known and (perhaps) unknown by the narrator. Ambiguity rules in these examples, and this requires a masterful hand.

Socially Unreliable Narrator - the character reports faithfully what they know or understand, but their sources were unreliable, perhaps nefariously so. I like this one, because you can highlight how a person is subject to the blindspots, assumptions, and ignorance of their group(s). In Dune, there is a lot of this surrounding the Doctor who betrays Duke Leto. The doctor's conditioning was supposed to make him immune to coercion - and this was stated many times by many characters. However the villain achieved this exception, and it is critical to the plot.

The issue with unreliable narrators that you should be aware of is that it doubles or even trebles the complexity of writing within that character's POV on multiple levels. Their actions and thoughts must be consistent with both the incorrect view (the audience's) as well as the correct one (whether known or unknown to the narrator). This is hard.

The biggest danger is that if not done well, the audience can feel cheated, lied to, etc. Which they are, of course. The trick is to get them to enjoy the twist so much they don't care you've been jerking them around.

Unreliable narrators are in the 'deception' section of the writer's toolbox, along with misdirection (Shawshank redemption has some amazingly subtle misdirection) and some other bits and bobs. It is a fine line between what we like to look at as a character element (narrator reliability) vs. a plot device (plot twist), but if you look hard enough, I believe you will see they are close cousins.

Hope this is helpful.

Writers' Corner / Re: Making villains pathetic
« on: January 30, 2019, 03:55:32 AM »
The bad guy in the Green Lantern movie was pathetic. There are a lot of things about Kylo Ren in SW that are pathetic. There were aspects of Loki that were pathetic in many ways/much of the time in several Thor films. There were many aspects of the emperor in the movie Gladiator that I found pathetic. So it can be done. Making a villain pitiable can be effective, I suppose, if you can craft a story where even the pitiable sometimes must be beaten.

General Discussion / Re: Fantasy Poetry
« on: January 28, 2019, 05:44:19 AM »
The Lays of Beleriand, written by Tolkein, are the only fantasy in verse I know of. They recount material/events depicted in the Silmarillion, which is decidedly not for everyone. They are beautiful in their way in many places, particularly when Luthien puts Morgoth to sleep.

That sounds like a very difficult moment Bea, sorry that happened to you. I will confess that my background has led me to similar moments, but I rarely betray any signs at the time. I will secret myself away and sometimes cry until I forgive myself for being what I am - a man, and nothing more.

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: January 16, 2019, 07:02:00 PM »
Apparently Britain is brexiting brexit?  ;D

Just under a month until my next book goes to the editor, and a lovely cloud of winter depression has settled upon my mind. I find editing to be mentally exhausting (fun, but tiring) and, of course, depression compounds that. Worse when the people who should be supportive aren't even around.

What does everyone else do when they find themselves in these situations - especially with deadlines!? I was extremely lucky over the past three days to review/edit 10k words, but I was alone the entire time and could break up the work with housework. Not exactly sustainable!

At least I have a few years until the doctor recommends a colonoscopy!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and productive New Year!

My suggestions: exercise; long walks or short fast ones; set up some pleasant moments for yourself - whether it's a coffee at a specific place or a trip to the book store, or whatever you enjoy, get it on the schedule and think about it and look forward to it. Hope your mood lightens.

This past week for the first time I was treated to the adventure that is a colonoscopy. Good fricking times, that.

I want to share some observations that relate to your low flexibility score, Ms. Scarlet. My point is that this phenomenon is not a character flaw or indicative of a problem, strictly speaking.

When I got into special operations, I saw that there were generally two types of people: meticulous planners and highly adaptive improvisors. The first excelled at meticulous plans that took all kinds of things into account and set the team up for success. Their problem is that when things change and their plans become moot, they have to operate without one - and that is not their strong suit. Likewise, the improvisors would often fail to plan effectively and encounter situations that no amount of adaptability can overcome.

The key is to combine the two types of people - the number of people who excel at both is such a small percentage that it's not worth considering. So when you encounter your limits, I advise you forgive yourself for being what you are: organized, meticulous, etc., etc. These traits literally come at the cost of the flexibility you wish you had - but simply cannot.

It's the cost of doing business and you see it everywhere, even physics: hard things are always brittle; the sharper something is the more fragile it is; things that can be used to pull (rope, cables) cannot be used to push, etc., etc. Be happy you have strengths (even with the weaknesses they come with) and that you know what they are :)

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and all that. I got a pipe, a tobacco jar, and all the accessories so I can get my 'old man with a pipe' on :)

The final day of a long and particularly difficult year is upon us. Perhaps it's just me, but if 2018 is unusual, it is not simply because of difficulties, but the multimodal, multidisciplinary aspect to them: politics, relationships, work, medical issues, family, you name it. Let's hope 2019 is a little less turbulent. For my part, I am hoping Robert Mueller brings me some more indictments to start off my year :)

Best wishes to you all for a wonderful year - I hope everything you need comes to you when it will do the most good

Lady Ty, there's an app for that - several voice-to-text applications are out there so you can avoid the keyboard altogether. Hope you're feeling better soon.

General Discussion / Re: Sword Fighting
« on: December 14, 2018, 04:49:06 AM »
Echoing Rostum, check this out:

These plastic-looking tubes (they're a carbon fiber miracle) are remarkably light but very tough. They are a dangerous weapon but only in the hands of someone who can make it really sing, so much safer than edged things, dull or not. Tons of videos on youtube illustrating the lethality of a non-sharp sword. (spoiler - they'll cleave your head right off just as well)
The HITS sticks are cheap and non-threatening and weigh mere ounces, reducing the chance of pulling something in your wrist. And although hard enough to repel a small bullet, you have to really swing them hard and directly to hurt anyone (including oneself).

We're both Anglophiles, but Mrs. Gem has a huge interest in English monarchs and their intrigues, while my fandom is mostly cultural. She wants to visit a specific place near London, the name of which escapes me.

Hampton Court palace by any chance and if not it should definitely be on her list.

That's it Rostum! Good call. So we're going there first. Is that area too far out from London for an impromptu gathering? I told her I was hoping to get some of you together and she thought was a great idea.

We're both Anglophiles, but Mrs. Gem has a huge interest in English monarchs and their intrigues, while my fandom is mostly cultural. She wants to visit a specific place near London, the name of which escapes me.

I had thought of sponsoring an evening out for all my F-F friends in London while we are there at the beginning of our long tour. I am very excited about the prospects of meeting some of you and would happily spring for dinner in London or the surrounding area. I'll share the itinerary and schedule, and if anyone is near any of the spots, that would be amazing as well.

We are to visit Edinburgh in Scotland, four places in Ireland, and two spots in Wales, Liverpool, and a couple other locations in England in a two-week whirlwind. This is to be the first of several trips, so we are spreading ourselves thin across the UK, which I don't normally prefer. I tend to want to dig into a few spots rather than run the bases, so to speak.

Anyway, thanks for your encouragement, and I look forward to the possibility of meeting some of you with a big dumb smile on my face  ;D

This summer I will (hopefully) be traveling all around GB and Ireland. Mrs Gem and I are moving to reconcile and thought it would be nice to have something fun on the long term calendar to look forward to. The trip begins in London and heads to a variety of locations for about 2 weeks, with stops in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

General Discussion / Re: Sword Fighting
« on: December 06, 2018, 05:10:55 AM »
Remember, for training longer is safer (harder to cut or stab oneself). Some videos of what I was trained in:
Pekiti Tersia:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvrvoBIq__k&t=132s

Good overview of the angles common to almost all weapons martial arts (unsure about European styles):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxk1Gtj5b1w

The most fundamental block and important "move" when facing the untrained:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iOnGhyLmpg

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