Monday, July 30, 2007


I have got such a twitch under my eye, it feels cartoonish! I know it's not coz I looked in the mirror, but it's damned irritating when trying to focus.

Anyway. I've just finished reading two books sent to me by our favourite mentorPBW. Both are romance, and both deal with meeting up with old lovers.

And it got me thinking. How realistic are the reunions, and are 'reunion' stories worthwhile?

My answer was 'maybe' and 'not really'. And here's why:

No one can truly say what will happen when you meet up with an old boyfriend. If we're the one's dumped, all manner of scenario races through our minds should we meet up again. It can range from awkward, if there are still feelings, or smug, if you've moved onwards and upwards. Goddess knows, I've done the scenario thing and it never matches the plan. If your the dump-er, it's not so much an issue, unless you realise you made a mistake - been there, too. That's why it's a 'maybe' - any author can plumb the depths of the emotional issues involved and create the perfect situation for the story.

The second part, the 'not really', is just as bothersome. All sorts of reasons for the break-up are proposed; it's that emotional issue that has to be worked through to see the couple forgive and live happily ever after.

I don't particularly like them because I think they can be cop-out. The author still has to write those scenes, but its that the emotional angst is already there as back story. There's no exploration of new attraction, of the frightening plunge into new love nor the exploration of similarities or subtle differences; and I absolutely hate it when the villain of the piece was actually misunderstood or someone had to leave to protect a reputation, to 'find' themselves or to keep a secret. Nor do I appreciate the 'I did it for you' justification. What a crock, as if the victim of the story had no right to discuss the relationship.

I want to read something 'new'; of opposition, prejudice, disagreements, alliance, passion, truce, individuality and resolution. Not manipulation, demands, dominance, false ignorance, meek acquiescence and mutual indulgence. Sure, relationships are messy, but a number of alleged heroes I've read recently, I wouldn't give the time of day to, or I'd slap them silly for thinking I had the intelligence and fortitude of box of used tissues.

To me, good romantic fiction means writing about a partnership where most things are equal. 'Reunion' stories are a re-run, a chance to 'set things right' when a simply discussion would have meant there was nothing to 'set right' in the first place. There are exceptions: the amnesia (though it's a thin plot these days), the kidnapping or the sent to prison.

Then again, maybe that's just me. (And no, I haven't put those annoying books on my list at the side - they don't deserve it.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

What Do You See?

Description: set forth in words a portraiture of a person, object or event.

That’s it in a nutshell. Some authors manage just that: short, pithy and telling descriptions. Others wax lyrical and include the minutiae of what they’re describing, otherwise known as an infodump.

How much description should you put in? Only enough to give your reader an image of what you want.

Renowned Australian author, Sara Douglass, suggests using the reader’s imagination. That is, presenting a bare idea and let the reader fill in the rest.

Writers like science fiction writer David Weber, political thriller writer Tom Clancy and western writer J.T. Edson give the reader everything they could possibly want to know, and then some. In some cases, pages and pages of how something works. I recall skipping over a lot of description in one of Tom Clancy’s book – and missing the vital clue, which was why a nuclear weapon didn’t work. Is that my fault, or Mr Clancy’s? As a reader, it certainly ain’t mine, but some readers love technical details. It gives the story a richness imaginations might not envision.

Of course, if those writers get it wrong, fans can be unmerciful.

Paucity of description can lead to trouble as well.

Trees blocked her way. Not much to work with there, even if you do subscribe to Sara Douglass’s model.

Trees, towering and monstrous, with interlocking branches, barred her escape into the forest. Now you have an idea of the sinister nature of the trees and, rather than simply ‘blocked’, you have an element of panic and danger.

The trees stretched towards the cerulean blue and cloudless sky as if to seal the forest from everything in nature, even the wind; virtual wardens against intruders, both benign and malevolent, protecting the flora and fauna within its secretive embrace. Gigantic parachute-shaped canopies of hand-sized, algae-green leaves with poison-filled thorns that killed within minutes, resisted the sun’s pure golden light and plunged the forest into an eternal night. The lower branches, iron hard and rust-brown, wrapped around neighbouring branches that protruded from house-thick trunks and weaved an impenetrable wall of wood. No human had stepped into the virgin, primeval forest; its mysteries remained forever unsolved. Many tried; none succeeded for modern tools had yet to evolve far enough to cut the timber in any meaningful way and poisons had no effect. Current thinking was that the trees had a curse, or a blessing on them. The forest resisted all attempts to map its contents. Even the great explorer… depending on your infodump favourite, you can insert lots of stuff, but by the time you read this, the female character has been caught, tried and sentenced to death.

In real life, the character would look at the forest and squeak: “oh, shit; no escape there.” Of course, this description could be used elsewhere, like from the battlements of a nearby castle and the character would already know nothing got into the forest.

The same can be said of describing people. Short and sweet is the best, I think. The leathery, road-map face topped with wire-brush hair gives age and experience to a character. The hour-glass/Rubenesque figure creates a lush, sensual character. A body of fat rolls, drooping over a groaning bar stool indicates obesity. Eyes of smoke/mud/grass/storm clouds/coffee/aged brandy/sapphire, hair of mahogany/wheat/night/snow/dark ale, cascading/frizzing/curling/waving/beehived/pixie-ish… I could go on, but you get the idea.

Or… don’t describe them at all. Short stories are best for this. You may have noticed, in a number of shorts I’ve posted, there are no physical descriptions at all. I did that for a few of reasons: physical descriptions weren’t important to the story, the reader creates their own character from the surrounding text, and short stories are sometimes too limited for the description.

It’s all in the words and the impressions you want to impart, see? Give the reader only as much as they need to know, and let their imaginations take off.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Matching fingers

I’m not usually clumsy. Oh, sure, I’ve fallen out of trees, out of a parked car (yes, alcohol was involved), off bicycles, up stairs and down, slipped in puddles, burned myself ironing, jammed fingers in various doors… you get the idea.

Last night, I managed to flick hot oil onto the first knuckle of my right index finger. That hurt. A lot. Came up in a rather unattractive dark pink. I was also carving some meat and the knife slipped. Yep, you guessed it. Took a chunk out of… the first knuckle of my left index finger. They match nicely now.

The worst of it is, I thought at the time: “be careful turning the fritters, it will splash hot oil.” Did I listen? ‘Course not. I also thought: “be careful with that knife, it will slip and you’ll cut yourself.” Did I listen? ‘Course not.

We all do it. We know we’re inviting disaster but go ahead anyway, then curse up a storm when the expected happens. How many times have you done the dumb thing and paid the price? Fortunately, the damage is minor, though painful.

It so easy to do; and so easy to incorporate into any story you happen to be writing. Why write about this kind of embarrassment? Because it adds humanity to your characters. Readers will nod their heads sagely, “oh, yeah, I’ve done that”. It’s another dimension to your character building, both fictionally and in reality.

I’m now waiting for the third disaster, because you know it gonna happen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


As requested, here are some of my dragons:

The Western Learned Silver Dragon. At his feet is a Book of Runes (you can't quite see it, but it's there). He's protecting only a few jewels; the book - and wisdom - is more important. He is, of course, made in China - probably cheaply - but that doesn't matter, he's gorgeous anyway for what he represents and is extraordinarily detailed. There are matching silver book end dragons guarding, well, books, but I couldn't get the shot with both. I'll take photos of them one at a time later.

And yeah, he's guarding my collection of David Webers. No-one, and I mean no-one is allowed to borrow them. They're mine, I tell you, MINE! All my dragons are on one bookshelf or another; they seem to like it. Except when the Eastern dragons are too close; the West and the East don't seem to get along. If they are too close, I lose things, am more clumsy and can't seem to get any writing done. Go figure.

Three of the Eastern Dragons. Two are Imperials, the third is the Money Dragon (though it looks more like a turtle). The Imperial Dragon is the only dragon with three toes, usually holding down a pearl (to stop it from escaping, I suppose). The Emperor of China is the only person allowed to have the Imperial Dragon - it represented himself.

The Money Turtle rises from the deep on the back of a dragon and has the seven trigrams of heaven on his shell. The dragon has a coin in his mouth representing prosperity, abundance, strength and endurance. Not the best of photos, but then I think they're shy.

This is one of my favourites - actually, they all are (can't offend the others, now can I?) I picked him up at a garage sale for a couple of dollars. He's an incense dragon. You put the incense underneath (yeah, he sits on it) and smoke comes out his nose. Too cool for words.

He's my only smokin' dragon. I love his colouring, too and he's on a bookcase all on his lonesome - looks like I'll have to buy another one to keep him company. (What a great idea!)

I'll post more dragons later.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Visiting Hours

Are over. I’ve got my computer back and the washing machine (I almost had to go commando and go barefoot. In Winter. I’m not a fan.), and the television and my bathroom and finally, my sanity. I only got truly snarly once; and they all stayed out of my kitchen while I cooked from then on. Sometimes, I’m really glad I’m a Gemini. Once beyond the boundary of the kitchen, I calmed down and chatted away as if they hadn’t breached the silver line.

Having the family come and stay is fine, but dealing with the aforementioned familial politics is a drain. These people will hold a grudge until it dies and then have it stuffed and mounted.

As a surprise (Goddess, what a surprise), my eldest sister turned up. The best I can say is that there were no harsh words. Lots of bristling, but no bad language or fights.

They’ve headed to Canberra, to my twin sister’s place. From there, they head to Sydney and fly back to Denmark.

And, while it’s nice that L. did some of the washing up, I’ll probably spend a couple of weeks trying to locate stuff that’s been put away in odd places. At the moment, I’ll be spending a day or so doing laundry and trying to decide what to do with leftovers. (The kids don’t ‘do’ leftovers, apparently.) On the plus side, A. was willing to try new foods and, for the most part, went the fang on what he liked. F, on the other hand, sat with head bowed and pouted, had small amounts of what she did like.)

I have to confess I was tempted to make a few points about parenting, but… didn’t. (Yay, me.)

I managed to read HP. I thought it was good, though Ms Rowling certainly went through the characters with a scythe. I could also see that the final chapter was in response to the idea of more books. Can’t say it was up to the same standard of the rest of the book and it was clearly written much later.

My elder brother, M., has now snaffled my copy to read. He began reading the books earlier this year because his son is fascinated. P. is six, but loves the movies even though they give him nightmares.

I think it’s important to take an interest in what your children are, or will be, reading in the future. It’s another connection to your children if you can usefully talk to them about what they’ve read.

I know A. was busting a gut to finish so he and I could chat about it like we do Star Wars and comic books, but he didn’t, quite, make it. Still, being able to talk about things like that to him and my niece, S., that makes me a very cool aunt indeed.

So, it’s back to me and my mother and blessed quiet. Time for me to catch up with all manner of stuff

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Visit

Hmm, that didn’t go well.

Day one of The Visit and my jaw is so tight I could crack the new crown through sheer frustration.

I’m sure they don’t try to piss me off on purpose and my own attitude probably isn’t helping, but… I wish they’d stay away from my computer! Especially when I’m working on it!

They were supposed to be down the beach, until little Miss stepped into some seaweed and had to come home.

I’d actually decided to work while they were off doing stuff; while here, I figured I’d join in conversations, watch the teev with them, dine with them, you know, the usual stuff when you’ve got visitors.

Tonight, they’re out watching Harry Potter and I’m doing this (right before I record Lost because they’d like to see it.

I’ve managed to put up a story on The Takeaway. I think it pays to be consistent and it’s only a day late.

Now, I shall go and press the record button and fall into bed. I. Am. Exhausted.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


This evening, my eldest brother D. and his family arrive for a six day stay.

My mother is treating it like a Royal visit. D and his family live in Denmark and she… we only see him every two years, unless there’s a special occasion and we fly over there.

For me, I’ve been running around the house cleaning – and that includes the walls – making beds and setting menus, shopping and generally making my own life a misery. Mother wants it all to be as perfect as possible. I’m quite surly about the whole thing. For no-one else do I do this. Why now? Because D.’s wife L. is anal about house cleaning and a lack of clutter. (I also think she’s hyperactive, because she can’t seem to sit still; she has to be doing something.)

I recall when the lower level had minor flooding the last time they were here. We had to clear everything out. L. griped that I had too much stuff. Too many books to move, too much furniture, too much. Being brunged up proper, I said nothing.

The kids are generally okay. A, my godson, is a real treat – he helped with the flood damage; F, his elder sister, unfortunately, is a little princess, constantly pandered to by her parents. She chose not to help, but instead decided sleep was more important. I could tell you stories about that little miss, but her character is too good not to be put into a book as a petulant child; I don’t expect her attitude to have changed.

My youngest sister and her family turn up on Saturday, then my other brother and his family are joining the fray on Sunday. On Tuesday (hallelujah) D. heads to Canberra to visit my twin sister and her brood before heading back to Denmark. One left out? Oh, yes. My eldest sister. She and D. are estranged. No visiting there, but she’s offered me a haven if they all get on my last nerve. I should probably say ‘when’.

So, we have the Big Arrivals. I’ve also got a dentist appointment this afternoon – oh… joy. Add to that the catering I’ll be doing – once someone in that family gives me their schedule of what they’ll be doing (visiting old friends, or just relaxing, etc.) and I may very well be scarce around the blog-o-sphere. Damn it!

I doubt I’ll have a story up today, but I’m gonna try. If not today, then tomorrow.

I really, really dislike having my own schedule disrupted this way, but it’s only for a week… at most… I hope… And I shouldn’t really gripe; they’re family after all, and I have learned patience, somewhat…

Oh, well, back to it…

Monday, July 16, 2007

Orright then?

So I went off and saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix today.

Unlike the critics, I enjoyed it, and I must note, that a lot of the reviewers confessed to not having read the book. My question is: why did they review the movie, if they had no idea about the nuances, or the subplots, or the clues?

This is why I rarely read reviews or take their comments under advisement.

Although... after watching the film, I wondered how the series would fair as movies under the guidance of Peter Jackson. Hmmm? But that's another argument.

With all the films, a lot had to be cut; otherwise they'd be four or more hours long. I have no problem with the lengths as they stand.

Yes, it's a darker film, but so is the book. Yes, it's filled with angst, but so are most teenagers and it pisses me off that so many reviewers failed to get those points - probably because they haven't read the damn book and they don't have teenagers.

I, like the rest of JK Rowlings fans, am waiting with anticipation for the final book released on Saturday. It's gonna be a bunfight to get the book, I just know it, but I'm sharpening up the elbows to forge my way through the crowds.

If you want something extra, go here. It will give you something to think about.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Plot bunnies

The one thing I find torturous about plotting is that ideas come thick and fast; motives, characterisations, the end, weaponry, descriptions, pieces of conversation, villains, sidekicks, personality traits, panoramas, the opening image, deaths… it’s all jumbled up.

In trying to turn these things into some sort of coherent order, I have to slow the mental process. Of course, this leads to the fear of forgetting something. I’ve lost many a good thought because I’ve been focussing on something else and had to get that idea down before the next one; it all seems so… urgent.

If I don’t plot, then the story comes out in sequence with most of everything where it’s supposed to be, except for some of the interesting concepts I may have thought of before sitting down to write. I do make note of things, but my focus is on getting the story written.

There’s no right way to plot; no right way to write. As always, you have to find your own method, one that works for you

What bugs me is that with plotting, there are no surprises coming, or there are very few – at least that is my experience. Without plotting, if you’ve got your characters down pat, they will always surprise you.

And I think there in lies the fundamental difference between those who plot and those who do not – so called ‘organic’ writers.

Plotters have everything written down before they write. If, in the course of writing, they forget something, the outline, world building and characterisations are there to provide the prompt.

Organics have had the main characters wandering around their skulls for so long (relatively speaking) that they instinctively know how those characters will react in any given situation. All it takes is for the initial scene to present itself and off they go.

One fundamental truth remains for both types of authors: a writer must be the character they are writing. Think Mel Gibson in Hamlet and you get the idea.

I’ve often wonder what determines an organic writer or a plotter. Organisational skills versus instinct? An ability to daydream versus focused intent? A child-like wonder versus logical imagining? Natural talent versus long-crafted determination? I have no idea.

All I can say is that of all the novels I’ve worked on, those without plot are the ones I’ve completed; and I’ve just as many unfinished as finished, even though the initial seeds are, I think, intriguing ideas. The plotted ones remain incomplete, bogged down in ideas that, at the time, were interesting. Now they aren't.

Go figure.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ah... yes....

On the heels of yesterday's post, a story idea slammed me upside the head.

The problem is, of course, that I've got plenty of stuff to be getting on with, without starting a new book. And yet, the idea continues to grow, to fill out, regardless of what I might want.

The Muse has been quite for a while, but she's now back in full colour. Much as I'd like to blame her, I started it, and all it took was seeing helicopter lights in the distance at night. I couldn't here the 'copters, but I knew what the lights were.

I live almost exactly between a Naval Air Station and the Royal Australian Naval College. We often get ships in the Bay exercising and big Caribou or Hercules aircraft overhead ready to drop paratroops near the field. It didn't take much for the imagination to take off.

The 'what ifs' began. From there, it was the 'whys' and then the 'how would you get around thats'. And now I've got the 'whos'. It won't take long for the 'futuristic whens' to turn up and we can party.

As a non-outline writer, I'll probably have most of the story running through my head before I put finger to keyboard. I'm going to try some vague outlining first; that way, it won't be spoiled when I actually start.

It's all terribly inconvenient: My brother and his family flew into Australia this week from Denmark. They're due to drop in for a week on Wednesday. Isn't always the way? Right when you need the time, something unavoidable crops up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Carly Simon recently said in an interview, “You can never predict what will inspire you.” It struck a chord (if you’ll excuse the pun) with me because it goes to the heart of what a lot of writers fear: that of running out of ideas. Call it writer’s block, call it Muse strike action or call it a ‘hiatus’, it’s all the same.

No writer wants to ever find themselves with nothing to write.

Daily stress, deadline pressure, fan demands and self-condemnation can all play a part in torpedoing a writer’s creativity. So too can producing a less than optimum piece of work. Who hasn’t read a ‘pot boiler’ from one of their favourite authors and been disappointed?

Whether it’s the pursuit of that first published novel or the next best seller, the pressure to perform is extreme. Editors, publishers and fans apply the blowtorch to writers with their expectations.

Writers are well aware that they are only as good as the next novel. Which is the more difficult: stand alones or series? The former requires all the ingredients, from world building to dialogue; the latter requires an initial investment of everything, but from there, new plot lines, adhering to the characterisations and story arc are paramount. Fans expect a high standard from authors, and howl with outrage if that standard isn’t maintained. So the answer is that neither is more difficult than the other; they’re both hard.

One author went so far as to announce he wouldn’t write horror anymore because it was too difficult to scare people in today’s environment. For those who read Stephen King, it’s fortunate that he still writes at all. He’s probably the most well-known example.

Today’s fans are more canny, more knowledgeable about life and technology than ever before and their expectations reflect that knowledge. It means an author can fail spectacularly, or rise beyond that brass ring. The consequences of either can be catastrophic. Fail, and you may never be published again; succeed and you’ve set yourself a very high bar indeed.

But, for all the doom and gloom, writers are hardy folk. Writers must write; like teachers teaching, politicians lying… er, politicking, scientists investigating. It’s a fundamental part of us… whether we succeed or not.

Everything is up for grabs and nothing is too sacred to be written about or used as inspiration.

We can pluck an amorphous thought or idea out of thin air and turn it into something wonderful. We can hear a snippet of innocent conversation and turn it into a global conspiracy. We can see a flash of light, or dark shadow, and create scariness. We can do anything. We are the Gods and Goddesses of the written word and we can twist anything to suit our purposes.

So, while we can’t “predict what will inspire” us, we can certainly look around at this world of ours and tempt the Muse with what we see.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Snarly snarl!

Yesterday, I decided to do some 'management' work on the computer. You know, getting rid of temporary files, running the virus check, the spybot check, the all-in-one check and then defragmenting the hard drive.

Well, bugger me if it didn't take all bloody day! And it's only a 40 gig drive - positively archaic given the prodigious amounts now available. If I had an 80 or more, the programmes would still be running into the depths of night.

But, I think I've worked out why it takes so long: some people, out there in cyberland, have too much time on their hands; that or they're simply arseholes who love to create little diseases that take time and effort to destroy. The worst of it is many virus checkers have constant updates of megabytes and dozens of new immunisations. If you have thousands of files to check, this, of course, is time consuming - and annoying while you wait. And wait. And wait for the checker to finish.

Then there are the spybots, malware, spyware and any number of byte-sized irritations to constantly update and search for. Yes, the programs I have do that automatically, but it's the need to do a complete scan that gripes my buns.

Of course, defragmentation is just as time-consuming as it is necessary - and I have two different programs to do it - but neither are completed quickly.

I'd probably do it more often if it didn't take so long. [Insert pout here.]

It's done now, [insert gnashing of teeth here] so I should be happy... except I'll have to do this all over again next month.

Sigh. The computer age is such a joy, don't you think?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Wuh… What?

I had a phone call from my youngest sister today. She was hunting for a gift idea for our mother who has a birthday on Friday.

My Mum is a book-aholic. She consumes vast amounts of literature, be it the classics, stories from the forties up to the present day. The library, as you can imagine, is quite substantial – and that doesn’t include my own books that she raids for something ‘different’.

She also enjoys movies; films that limit the bad language and ‘adult’ scenes. If all goes well, she’ll have all the Harry Potter movies on DVD rather than video and Rene Zellweger in Miss Potter (a lovely movie, I thought, even though it’s not really my bag).

So, anyway. I suggested to S. that The Chronicles of Narnia might be nice. She’s read the books and thoroughly enjoyed the movie (disregarding Epic Movie, of course).

S. said, and I quote: “Nah, that’s a kids movie. I thought something more adult would be better, like a bodice ripper, fluffy socks and chocolates.”

Me: “Oh, hey, I’ve just bought Ice Age 2, it’s a real giggle!”

S.: “Mmmm…”

And I got what she meant. See, I don’t have children and she thinks I have these movies - The Incredibles, Sinbad, Shrek, Shrek 2, Monsters Inc. and so on, for the nieces and nephews. So I can interact with them, enjoy their company because it’s the only connection I can have with the kids. And yeah, insulting is one word I thought. I won’t mention the others.

And as for getting my mother a ‘bodice ripper’… I had to roll my eyes. The idea of ‘penny dreadfuls’ has long been a misnomer. Romantic fiction has evolved since the fifties and sixties and now encompass some serious concepts that relate more to today’s woman than the restrictions of yesteryear.

Can you imagine what Nora Roberts, or Alison Kent, or Lisa Gardner, or Tami Hoag would say at being referred to as ‘bodice ripper’ writers, or the uselessness of the genre? Shudder away!

The evolution of genre writing is a reflection of our society and none more so than romance writing. Gone are the days of the helpless female, the stereotypical secretary falling in love with her boss, or the kidnapped virgin by a Greek tycoon who’s only doing all those cruel things because he loves her. And if you think I’m kidding, read some of the tripe from the seventies!

It’s indicative to how hard it is for romance writers to gain respectability from other genre writers, and yet, if those naysayers actually read some of the modern works, I’m sure they’d change their mind. It is, after all, the fastest growing genre in publishing today, and has been since the sixties.

All those book sales can’t be wrong.

I think I’m gonna have a chat with my youngest sibling.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I’ve never read CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I thought the movie okay and could see the parallels Christian churches pointed at (I think that spoiled it for a number of movie goers, such was their stridency).

But until I saw Epic Movie, I didn’t see the astonishing characterisations of Lewis.

“Yer… what?” I can hear people say. How does that work?

Epic Movie is a spoof on the big budget movies, somewhat poorly acted, with lame jokes, a dubious plot and a whole lot of tokenism. And yet, in watching it, the counter characterisations came through clearly.

And in recognising that aspect, I could see the depths of the characters in Narnia, particularly Edmund; the overt selfishness and self-interest of a young boy resentful of his brother and sneering contempt for his sisters.

The movie of Christopher Piolini’s Eragon had similar values: an adolescent, unwilling to listen to his elder’s advice and go haring off into peril to save the girl regardless of the cost to anyone else – including the one man who can teach him.

To some, Eragon’s actions are heroic, but they are not. He is willing to sacrifice the one hope of the rebel Vardan – himself – to prove he’s good enough, and to save the trapped girl. He even knows it’s a trap; again, someone unwilling to listen to wisdom, because it’s not what he wants to hear – and being young, he thinks nothing bad will happen to him. Yet recklessness nearly brings him undone.

I’m not criticising Piolini. For such a young writer, the insight into an adolescent male’s mind is invaluable and brilliant characterisation.

It’s all too easy to write cardboard characters without realising it. It’s much harder to write characters with such a deep understanding. Every person is different; every character should be different, too.

Yet, to step away from self and apply totally different characterisations in fiction requires an almost split personality. As writers we have to plunge ourselves into mental cesspools for our villains, scale the dizzying heights of exaggeration for our heroes, slip and slide on banana skins for our sidekicks, bathe in the warm waters of seduction for our love scenes.

The questions to ask yourselves are these: for a villain – what’s the nastiest, most evil thing can you do to people and why do it? Rule through terror, because you can? Rule with an iron fist because you know without it, the people will fall into ruin?

For the hero – what’s the one thing youthink won’t compromise on to achieve your goal and what will you do if faced with that decision? Surrender your ship to the terrorist enemy, knowing you’ll save lives in the short term, but betray your solemn oath to protect your crew to do so? How does your hero react when a fundamental principle is destroyed?

For the sidekick – give advice in form of quips while realising that you really are expendable and will probably die for the hero. Does your sidekick struggle on regardless, or try to get away from the hero, failing at every turn?

For the love interest – How do you make the object of your desire truly see you and not the ideal they think you are? Emotional risk is the biggest risk of all.

It’s a must for all writers to have imagination; it’s turning those images into reality on the page that’s the tough part. Re-read your favourite authors and work out why they are your favs; look at the language and see why you love their characters.

And I got all this from Epic Movie? Yeah, I did. Bad movies can be just as instructive as good ones.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mine is a strange world

I've been tagged by Bri to post Eight Random Things About Me. Okay, here goes:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each participant posts eight random facts about themselves.
3. Tagees should write a blogpost of eight random facts about themselves.
4. At the end of the post, eight more bloggers are tagged (named and shamed).
5. Go to their blog, leave a comment telling them they’re tagged (cut and run).

1. I collect dragons, have done since I left home. Big ones, small ones, coloured ones, groups, singles, Eastern, Western, figurines, posters, calendars my nephew makes for me...

2. At school, I was sent off during a field hockey match for knocking down two other players; I didn't touch them... much..., but from the angle, the ref saw it a little differently.

3. I insulted a Federal Government Minister by remarking to a cadet journalist I was training, not to be nervous; the Minister put his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else - and the Minister overheard me.

4. I once went camping... and forgot the tent pegs.

5. Lightning, especially at night, and spiders scare the tripe out of me.

6. I have a talent for Rune magic, but it unnerves me so much, I don't use it.

7. Years ago, I was asked why I was so afraid of success. I still don't know the answer and it bugs me.

8. No matter where I go, Mother Nature impresses me with her beauty, her terror, and her style.

Okay, there you have it.

As for tagging... hmm... Gabriele over at The Lost Fort.

Panda at Pandababy. And anyone else who want to play. Post in comments that you've got your facts up.

I'm rich! Look...

Manager,Audit/Account Section
African Development Bank
Ouagadougou Burkina-Faso

(If you’re from Burkina Faso, how come your e-mail address is in France?)

Dear Comrade,

(Ah, togetherness, makes me feel all warm an’ fuzzy.)

How are you today? Hope all is well.

(Pretty good, thanks for asking and yeah, everything’s fine.)

Please be informed that I have decided to contact you for a fund transfer transaction (I feel so special…) worth the sum of US$10,500,000.00 (well, roll me in the mud and call me a pig!) into your reliable bank account (you obviously don’t know my bank) as the sole NEXT-OF-KIN (that can’t be right – I have one older sister and two older brothers, shouldn’t you be talking to one of them?) to the foreign deceased customer of our bank (an International Billionaire French Businessman) who was killed with his entire family by PLANE-CRASH in Central England atmost 3 years ago. (I’m sorry to hear that, but if he's a billionaire, how come the estate's only worth ten and a half mill?) Since his death occured, no body have show up as his next of kin for the claim because the account is untraceable. (But you just said I was his next of kin! I should talk to my mother about that. And your grammar, sheesh. But, go on…)

Upon the investigation I carried out from his records, I found out that his foreign business consultant who would have trace the account died earlier before the deceased. (Well, that was careless of him.) Therefore, this is a confidential and sealed deal. (If it’s confidential, how do you know about it, especially if it’s sealed? Say… are you setting me up?)

For the success of this transaction, you should apply and act as the only existing NEXT-OF-KIN to the deceased which our bank will replace the deceased account information through proper documentation in position of your own account. (Wait… you’re going to replace legitimate documents with forged ones? And you’ve neglected to tell me the name of the businessman, so how can I submit documentation? You’re not asking me to… lie are you?)

This transaction is risk-free, (uh huh) it will never harm your good reputation (aw, you do know me.) in your society because no one can trace the account, and on the instant of the transfer of the fund into your account, the chapter of this transaction will be closed entirely. (I’m not sure that’s legal, big guy, but you’d send me confirmation documents… wouldn’t you? Just to prove what you're saying is true, of course.)

Note that in a business of this nature, the bank dont want to know your difference between the deceased country, religion or believe because our bank inheritance law is against that. (Er… what? The country died? OMG, that’s awful, where do I send flowers?) So, it is a preference for us achieve this success without any problem. (Since the country died, I guess so.)

Please note down that once the fund get transferred into your account, you will take 39% of the total sum (I get $4,095,000 of my next of kin’s money? That’s not very…) while the rest will be for me (Why, you greedy bastard! You said it was my money, you schmuck!) as I will arrange myself down to your country to take my share. (Arrange yourself on a cactus, pal, you ain’t getting’ nuthin’!)

I need your urgent response (middle digit, straight up, how’s that for a response!) and include your private telephone/mobile numbers for easy communication. (Here it is: 1800 0 AS IF) Please reply if you can be trusted in this deal. (That isn’t a deal, it’s highway robbery!)

Thanks, (So polite, you thief.)

Mr.HASSAN BELLO. (Did you know your name also makes the words: HELLO NAB ASS? Or, ONE ASS BLLAH?)

Do you think this letter is too good to be true?

Monday, July 02, 2007


I get stuff in my e-mail box that makes me laugh. Chain junk e-mail often pisses me off, especially the ones that say if you don’t send it on something bad will happen. This one's cool because it’s a truer reflection of friendship – at least here in Australia, it is; and I just had to share...

True Friendship
(With none of that Sissy Crap!)

Are you tired of those sissy "friendship" poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality?

Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship. You will see no cutesy little smiley faces - just the stone cold truth of friendship.

1. When you are sad -- I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you that way.

2. When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile -- I will know you finally got laid.

4. When you are scared -- I will rag on you about it every chance I get.

5. When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.

6. When you are confused -- I will use little words.

7. When you are sick -- Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want to catch whatever you have.

8. When you fall -- I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.

9. This is my oath... I pledge it to the end. "Why?" You may ask? "Because you are my friend".

Friendship is like peeing your pants: everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.

Send this to "all 10" of your friends, then get depressed because you can only think of four! (don't send it back to me...I don't want to hear it!) And remember... when life hands you lemons, get some tequila and salt and call me!

Sunday, July 01, 2007


When too much sport is never enough…

Ah, Saturday night and there’s more sport on the teev than you can shake a whippy stick at:

Wallabies versus the All Blacks in the first rugby union match for the Bledisloe Cup, Australia versus Singapore in the last warm-up game before our debut into the Asian Cup, the New York Mets playing the Philadelphia Phillies in the baseball and the Richmond Tigers playing St Kilda in the Aussie Rules; all at the flick of the button.

Yep. Did some serious channel surfing between games. The good news? The Wallabies, Socceroos and Mets win! The bad news? The Tigers lose and are still stone motherless last with only one win and a draw from twelve games - but let’s not talk about that.

But the worst of all: Every time I shifted to a particular sport, there was some guy hoiking a loogie! I think the baseball was the nastiest.

I mean, come on! In rugby, soccer and Aussie rules, there’s a blood rule that anyone with a cut, must leave the field to cover the wound; it was brought in as a health issue and rightly so. But these guys go grubbing about in the dirt, tackling each other, all over loogie spattered turf! What is it with men expectorating on national – and international – television? Do they have asthma? A cold? pneumonia? It certainly can’t be because they think it looks cool, or tough. It’s downright stomach churning.

Spitting on public street is regarded as anti-social and nasty behaviour. We teach our kids that it’s not nice, too. So should gobbing chunky phlegm or thin streams of pale saliva onto a sports ground be any more acceptable? I think not.

Bravo to baseball for encouraging gum instead of chewing tobacco, but could all teams, no matter what sport, please take the next step and ban expectorating?

Eech… herrrcchh… pittoo-ee!

Just… swallow it, or use a tissue.