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Messages - The Gem Cutter

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Kill it with fire. Do it now.

Fantasy Art / Fan Art / Re: Character concept art based on my story.
« on: August 07, 2016, 09:31:42 PM »
I think you've done an excellent job. I do not play with images much, and the little I attempt is with maps, so I appreciate the time and effort you must have devoted to this.

Your depictions of women are excellent, and so refreshingly different from the chainmail bikinis, leather thongs, and other ridiculous depictions so common in fantasy art. Your women are as visually credible as your men from the get-go.
-Gem Cutter

Cool. Confidence restored, which of course means I will lapse into overconfidence in the next 48 hours.

Extra room would be amazing.  I get spun up a lot when my plan gets messed with, even a little.

Just wanted to ask the field to see if anyone has any lessons learned from making major plot changes mid-stream?

Did you find that major changes in plot cause a total re-write? Did you find all your top-level structure/planning ended up useless? (assuming you use such plans)

I am accustomed to planning things in advance in rough, adapting as I go, but the changes I am considering are making me nervous. This is not a minor change like "Dorothy's Ruby Slippers will be ... mandarin orange!", but more like "Actually, we're going to discover the Wicked Witch is a good witch, and now we have to get her a house-proof hat. We may need to let the Tin Man rust."

Background: I was stalled for a week and just realized that the reason is my direction is flawed and I need to shift the major plotline.

The narrative is 82K into what I hope will be a 115K novel (pre-edit, which I expect will trim 10%). My structure is relatively balanced. This novel is about a young would-be wizard who intends to join the premiere wizard school, which is a darker organization than he realizes.
Intro & Prologue: 1.1K
Part I: 18.K Basic Journey; major misadventures, plan blown to smithereens
Part II: 49.3K Arrival at unintended but excellent destination; grueling trials; general education and sorcery training
Part III: 13.4K (35K planned) Training interrupted; unexpected expedition to kill a demon
Ending: 5K (planned)

My intention is to change Part III by adding intrigue and a close encounter with a rebel faction, the revelation of a ruse, and then the ruse turning out to be real - as awkward as it sounds I think it will work. The issue I have is I don't think I can do all that in the 25K I have allotted for it. Well, actually the issue is the idea of such changes scare the bejeesus out of me.

Any insights or experience with these kinds of things is welcome.

-Gem Cutter

Just a quick note to say that I have the deepest respect for you all and your candor and honesty. I found your stories and anecdotes moving, even inspiring. I respect your resilience, my favorite trait.

My circle of friends and colleagues from my former career field is littered with depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, broken marriages, and gods only know how many other issues. So I feel very at home here :)
Pardon the dark humor, it's not intended to make light of these problems - I have lost brothers to depression and its effects, and I suffer them myself. My coping reflex is to laugh or mock what I fear and loathe. (The most a man can do is smile back)

If it is any consolation, in addition to the overwhelming weight of hopelessness, dark ironies, and crushing sadness that many of you endure, I find that I can no longer trust my instincts, which once served me well. I can no longer reliably discern friend from foe as I once did. If there is a fear worthy of being the companion to the dreadful notion of hurting oneself, it is the fear of harming passersby without cause.

Ironically, I was trained to fight by the technical experts for the film The Hunted. Beyond the realistic knife-fighting and killing culture nuances, the film is interesting for its honest depiction of the book that inspired the Rambo movies. The Hunted's depictions of PTS/combat stress are cloudy and not very well done IMHO, beyond the fact that they are unsympathetic - which is why The Hunted looks and feels nothing like Stallone's movies. He balked at the idea of being an unsympathetic veteran. I can tell you, he made the right call.

-Gem Cutter

Monthly Writing Contest / Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« on: August 06, 2016, 03:46:32 PM »
Well, I apologize to the thread and the board.

I was really just looking for a way to participate that might be fun and different. Nora dismissed my idea in a way I felt out of hand, and I apologize for holding her accountable for that and for not backing down. I don't deal with hierarchies well anymore.

I found R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series to be very unique in some under-appreciated ways.
It's a dark series, among the darkest, with a lot of things many do not care for. But it is not without some distinctive merits:
- Reinvigorated archetypes. Cniaur is a Conan-like warrior, physical specimen, with deep-seated conflict surrounding his suppressed homosexuality, which, combined with being seduced and manipulated into murdering his father in his youth make him utterly and dangerously insane.

- Bakker's main character is a truly dispassionate human, which we haven't seen before. At least, I haven't. Mr. Spock is the closest, but he's not really all that dispassionate. Kelhus is, and that makes him ... weird. He has no pride or ego, and is essentially a pure sociopath. I never connected a sociopath to Spock until that series.

Monthly Writing Contest / Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« on: August 06, 2016, 07:35:31 AM »
It was just a suggestion Nora, and I abandoned it.

I don't know what you were reacting to so angrily/snarkily in your last post, so I'll clarify, in the hopes you'll realize you missed my points entirely, and seemingly inserted your own? I'm not sure.

- First, my indirect and non-specific terms did not signify you or anyone in particular, on these boards, or elsewhere, hence their indirectness and non-specificity.  I never suggested that you or anyone else wasn't concise, or didn't try to be concise, clear, compelling, or compliant.

- Neither did I suggest or imply that the challenges of short forms is easy.

In fact, it is a challenging form that can be laborious, and it is one I know very well. I earned half a million in the past 6 years writing under very (ludicrously) tight space constraints, on the clock. "Explain how you will deliver complex services that take 3 pages to describe, what your metrics are for success, and how you plan to interface with customers - in 1.5 pages." That's not even hyperbole. I say this so you have some idea that I know what I am talking about, and how off-base your assumption was.

- I did not mean to imply that anyone [neither you nor anyone else] abandons anything in their writing. If that was the perception, I apologize for failing to be clear.

We were discussing a contest, the purpose of which I assumed was intended to develop skills and foster discussion of the craft. And although I agree that short-form writing is very good at developing skills, it's neither the only way, nor is it superior to a varied approach.

- I did say that "creative writers [in general, not yourself nor anyone else in particular] are no more prepared to embrace technical issues that are just as worthy of development, study, and yes, appreciation."

In places I used the pronoun "we" to foster a collaborative tone. Apparently, there are landmines laying about, and I stepped on one. Not the first time, metaphorically or literally.

What I meant was that, in general, many creative writers love discussing/studying creating cool weapons or novel approaches to crafting in-world languages, etc., but tend (i.e., with many exceptions) to avoid topics covering such things as brevity, or eliminating unintended ambiguity, or advanced techniques like deliberate ambiguity. Or maybe, it's simply that creative writing communities do not discuss them much? I am not sure.

In short, I meant only that we tend to embrace the STUDY of certain elements of writing over others. I would never presume to discuss anyone's writing critically in an open forum - and I do not "hint." If I was going to be so rude, I would be direct and plain in my language and references.

My idea was to introduce technical elements and techniques into the paradigm as an experiment, and not necessarily in an all-exclusive way. You dismissed the idea as rubbish, which it is not. I dropped the idea, but had the temerity to point out the short-sightedness of your dismissal of it.

I'm not going to start a new thread for the idea because it would require coordination and experience that I don't have in organizing such things. I'm new and don't know enough people with the right skills and interest. The challenges for such an exercise are just as real as its potential value.

I was really just looking for a way to participate that might be fun, novel, and interesting. You assumed I was suggesting some kind of technical drill that would exclude all other considerations. You poo-pooed my idea and dismissed it without any thought, essentially proving the point of my last post.

-Gem Cutter

Writers' Corner / Re: What were you before you were a writer?
« on: August 05, 2016, 09:59:10 PM »
Communications Soldier, Linguist, Special Ops, Contract Manager, Proposal Writer, Business Developer, Novelist.

Writers' Corner / Re: Greetings and Introductions!
« on: August 05, 2016, 09:57:25 PM »
I am fairly new myself, but I am a step or two behind you. Finishing my draft now, and then... the WORLD.

Look forward to hearing from you. I am interested in your Indie experience, as I have not yet decided what to do with this novel when I finish it.
-Gem Cutter

Monthly Writing Contest / Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« on: August 04, 2016, 07:47:32 PM »
The assumption that it would be dull sells people (and the challenge itself) short, in my opinion.
I see no cause for such an exercise to be any less interesting than stories written to include randomly selected and deliberately dissonant elements. But certainly it is much more difficult to envision an unconventional departure from the standard approach.

I think seeing the variety of approaches, and how they succeed or fail, and how they can be harnessed to move the story forward would be very interesting indeed. True, it would compel people to dig deeper into their tool boxes - and of course, organizers would have to dig deeper into theirs as well. Critiquing for clarity is more difficult and demanding than choosing works for how fun they were to read - even though, ironically, the clarity of writing is directly related to how enjoyable it is!

We all know that creative plot-design, distinct characters, and the conventional appreciations of creative writing are worthwhile. It takes a harder look and deeper thought to embrace the beauty and value of concepts such as clarity, specificity, and other "technical" appreciations. Again, it is ironic that all successful creative writing is built on these things first.

I anticipated that this idea would fail. Our technical brothers avoid creativity like the plague, wrongfully believing that because their projects are technical, they should not be entertaining. At all. Ever. lol Just as technical writers tend to be formulaic and preoccupied with brevity and simplicity and run from creativity (and god forbid, novelty!), it seems creative writers are no more prepared to embrace technical issues that are just as worthy of development, study, and yes, appreciation.

I sought to expand the definition of a creative writing contest, but I'll drop the suggestion and move on. But I think we underestimate how interesting it might be to see various writers approach a technical assignment, the kind of thought and discussion it might stimulate, and most importantly - the value of creative solutions to technical knots that are inseparable from narratives that deliver across the four Big Cs: clear, concise, compelling, and compliant.

-Gem Cutter

Monthly Writing Contest / Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« on: August 04, 2016, 05:57:56 PM »
One minor point of order: the line between technical paragraphs and storytelling is imaginary - understanding whose hands hold what is central, not peripheral.

Monthly Writing Contest / Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« on: August 04, 2016, 05:39:49 PM »
You might consider some technically focused contests. For example, provide a short video of someone doing something complex with their fingers, a cat being spooked and jumping in a distinct way, and then setting the task at describing those motions in a very short space. These kinds of talents are, imho, just as worthy of study and arguably even more foundational to writing than the use of the broader brushes and landscapes of theme, plot, setting, etc.

With a little discussion I am sure you could gather a handful of similarly technical challenges that would stretch peoples' specific skills.

Food for thought.

-Gem Cutter

This is interesting to me, as my thoughts on various works were always unilateral, and hearing some of the goings on behind the scenes is enlightening.

My criticisms with this particular novel aside, I have absolutely enjoyed Bakker's writing, and in particular his characterization of traditional stereotypes which were colorful and refreshing-to-the-point of Binaca-blast/York Peppermint Patty WHOOSH!

 I often find myself in such forums as a lonely voice for his style, but I suppose that makes sense.  I know men who have killed enemies with their bare hands - and Bakker gets it right - they way they act, the way they think, the way things are.  But if I hadn't had that savage background, how would I know? And how would I receive the naked and unpleasant truths of human nature and, gods protect us, from groups of humans?

For me, staring at the same old ideas of the Wizard, the Warrior, the Chick, the King, etc., his works opened my eyes to my own self-imposed limitations. I think he has tremendous strengths, and I look forward to seeing them develop over time. He's still quite young, and probably not near his zenith.

In a world where so many young and talented writers have neither the courage nor the talent to break new ground, writers like Bakker, even with his faults, are even more important. I'd prefer his glittering geometries to others' "fireball, level 4" any day, and all night.

- Gem Cutter

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