Moving

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

This will be my last post here.

I hope I haven’t lost too many subscribers since I went on hiatus. For all of you who are left, though, I have one last bit of news.

I’m not shutting down. I’m moving.

From now on, I can be found at evanauthor.wordpress.com. I’m going to be posting the same content in terms of short stories, flash fiction and my personal views on writing, but in addition, I’m going to broaden my focus to include…well, things I want to write about. Not just things about writing.

It’s been a pleasure and an honor to be here, and over the past 22 months I’ve been happy to post at InTheWordsOfAnEvan. But it’s time for a change.

Onward and upward, my friends.

I will be saving some content from this site. But as soon as most of my major subscribers find me at EvanAuthor, this place will be no more.

Be well and prosper,

Evan

Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

Hiatus

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

I think it’s time for me to go on hiatus. I mean, let’s face it…I’m not posting nearly as much as I used to, and when I do, the quality has declined. So in light of that…I’m going to step away from this blog for a bit.

I hope to be back eventually, maybe sooner than later, but for now this is a brief farewell.

Be well and prosper,

Evan

Posted in About | Leave a comment

On Writing Climactic Fight Scenes

Fight Scenes 2

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

I wrote this piece a couple days ago, voicing my thoughts as to what I’ve learned after writing my first big fight scene. But I’d like to take some more time today, to speak to what I learned in terms of making the scene real and engaging beyond the blow-by-blow.

I’ll be mostly talking about this within the context of the scene I wrote. Basically, that scene was the climactic final battle between my two main characters, which both of them knew would be a deathmatch even after a long and mutually beneficial friendship. So this advice is more for the long battles, between two great champions who really, really know what they’re doing.

So here goes. Just a few things I’ve noticed in other written fight scenes, and tried my best to stick to in my own.

  1. LOCATION. This plays a big–no, huge–part in the setup and execution of the fight. A conflict taking place in a canoe is going to look VERY different than one taking place on a subway car, which in turn is wildly variant from one with, say, an entire wilderness as your playground. And don’t be afraid to change locations, either–the places characters take each other can often be a testament to showing exactly what of their relationship has fallen apart, and what has stayed.
  2. ALLIES. This one’s tricky to work around, in some cases. Basically, the question is about whether the fight takes place between the two champions, or brings in other people from their corresponding support networks. In my case, I chose to deliberately send away anyone who might have helped, which I would advise for any of these scenes that are truly about the relationship. And when allies on either side do come into play, their role has got to be kept short. Whether they leave the scene at some point, or they’re killed off to make the conflict that much more real, this kind of scene can’t have too many consistent players.
  3. NO MONOLOGUING. This one’s actually pretty important to me…just stay away from monologues. Don’t do it. If something needs to be said, keep it short and potent. Simply put, this is a trap. Don’t fall for it–while there are some things to be gained, it throws away the integrity of the fight. If they’re going to just sit down and talk it out, the battle doesn’t need to be there in the first place.
  4. DON’T THROW AWAY THE RELATIONSHIP. This juxtaposes against the last point, in that while the scene isn’t sitting and talking, it’s not two people who have never met, either. There’s a relationship there, and a potent one, the preservation or destruction of which is what’s driving the entire fight. So sure, have some dialogue, and have the characters fight like themselves. The fight should reflect what happened before it, whether that’s regret or loss or pure wrath.
  5. PUSH CHARACTERS TO THEIR LIMITS. This is the fight when everything’s being laid out. No holds barred, no coming back, no going back to the way things used to be. Nothing to lose. So test that, and test the characters. Make it hurt in ways you never want to be hurt. Break things. Shatter things if you have to. There’s no coming back from this one, and both characters should know that. Each is just as likely to end up dead as the other. So get them both very close.
  6. MAKE THE SURROUNDINGS REAL. This is particularly important in places with…you know, other people. People are going to get scared, or try to interfere, or call the police. And if they’re present, all that stuff is integral to how the scene plays out. So account for it. Either make it present, or find out a way to avoid it, but very rarely will your characters have a completely solitary fight scene when there are onlookers.
  7. DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET DIRTY. No holds barred, no coming back. Everyone involved in this scene is in a fight for their lives, and many of them will do whatever it takes to preserve that. So fight dirty, and fight hard. Whether that means breaking a chair over someone’s back, or tossing someone face-first into a lamppost, or hitting a spot that’s already wounded, it’s all essential to the realness of the fight.
  8. And lastly: KEEP THE STAKES RAISED. We’re talking death and destruction on the line for both parties, here. And whether someone in the scene is self-interested, or protecting someone else, or a group of people, or even an entire organization, whatever’s important to the character needs to be on the line. They’ve got to both have no choice but to succeed, because that’s what’s going to make everything real. It’s surprising how far people go to save something. They’ll fight through cuts, bruises, burns, crushed bones, anything if it means staying alive and beating the other guy. Because the most crucial thing to a scene like this is the fact that both characters know full well that they HAVE to win. It’s not a choice for them anymore…they have to. Or everything is lost.

Be well and prosper,

Evan

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Challenging Encounter With A Fight Scene

Fight Scenes 1

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So it’s finally time in this new novel to write a couple fight scenes. Which is fun, and engaging, and thought-provoking, and also something I have absolutely no idea how to do.

The book is basically an urban-dystopia piece, not a Hunger Games fanfiction I promise, and there are going to be a few fight scenes. The majority of them are empty-handed, save for the loose brick or handful of dust here and there, and the others are shootouts, none of which I’ve had to write as of yet.

I’ve studied and taught martial arts for a few years now, so it was pretty much assumed for me that this would be pretty easy, especially the hand-to-hand ones.

I wasn’t right.

Because the truth is, fighting is boring.

Now, I love and can appreciate the beauty of a great fight. Lucky for me, I get to see and take part in them a couple times a week. But experiencing a fight in that way is an entirely visual-tactile experience. Either you see it in a movie, or become part of it, but either way it’s a sensory-immersive construction.

Written things aren’t like that.

Sure, we say to make the words come alive on paper. That carries over, to a point, but at the same time you can’t choreograph a fight scene in a story the same way you would in a movie.

Here’s two versions of the same scene:

Rafi swung a wide haymaker at Terry’s head. The other man ducked under the blow and stood. Rafi drove a hard uppercut into his chin, grunting with the force of the strike. He followed through with a clumsy roundhouse kick aimed at Terry’s ribs, and connected, and then finished the other man with a strong front kick. Terry stumbled back half a dozen steps, reaching into his pocket and feeling for his switchblade. When Rafi swung again, he dodged, driving the blade into his abdomen.

OR:

Rafi swung a drunken punch at Terry and cursed himself when the other man ducked. He followed through again, connecting this time, and grunted even as he started to smile. He came at Terry again with a kick, and again, forcing the other man onto his back foot. And as Rafi came in to finish him, he stopped short as the blade twisted and ripped through him. Terry grinned and wiped the blade on his pants, leaving the bar as patrons scrambled to call for an ambulance.

Well, I can say with a great amount of certainty that the second scene was a lot more fun to write. And that’s how I’m realizing written fight scenes have to be.

As beautiful as an author can imagine a fight to be, there’s really no engaging way to transfer a pure blow-by-blow onto paper. And besides, doing that just wastes an opportunity to actually establish something within the fight.

Every fight means something. Whether it’s a bonding experiment between friends, or one person trying to protect another against a horde of opponents, or two champions vying to end each other with pure wrath, no fight happens by accident. Especially in a book. So everywhere, there’s something to be learned. In the first example, the goal is to learn about the friends and their friendship. In the second, it’s about the love the protector has for the protected. And in the third, it’s about the animosity between the two.

The fight scene is just a proxy, in order to further the plot or a relationship between the characters.

Once I realized that, it became a lot easier to actually write the thing, because it wasn’t about the moves. And once I could write through the perspectives of characters I know very deeply, the punches and kicks actually got easier to write, because it’s all about what that character would throw in the moment. I’m sure we all have at least one character who would see their opponent’s nose bleeding and take a step back, and let them gather themselves.  And I’m sure we all have at least one character who would see that same thing, and punish the already-hurting organ with an unrelenting and extremely painful assault.

And that’s the dynamic a fight scene follows. The blow-by-blow is important, sure, and it should enter the scene in some fashion, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about a struggle for something, and the hard road it takes to get there.

Be well and prosper,

Evan

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Writing Music–Part III

Writing Music III

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So it’s time for another Writing Music post, at long last–my records tell me it’s been almost seven months since the last one, and nearly a year since the original.

For the record, I really love doing these–music is a driving force behind my writing  and really everything I do, and I consider it to be one of the few languages that are universal–mathematics and martial arts being the others. We as writers exist to share things with the world, and as storytellers, music is by far the most valuable tool I have ever utilized with that end goal.

So, as per usual style, here’s another five songs I’ve found extremely helpful in writing over the past few months. I will say, though, that this book I’ve been writing is a lot grittier than the last one, and to a point, the music’s going to follow that. So this post might be one a bit more for the fight scenes and the emotional tension, and less so for the romantic and comedic, but bear with me. I’ll write another for that aspect of things sooner or later.

  1. Creation of Earth by Thomas Bergersen. This song really has it all, from special effects to heavy drops combined with light, triumphant vocals in some parts, all contrasted with this great big heavy mood overlaying the piece. It’s truly a work of art from someone I consider to be a great master of his style. The song is particularly helpful for me in writing scenes with…this is hard to put into words, but I guess something along the lines of camaraderie in the face of heavy odds, and the deep power inherent in our interactions as people. In application, this carries over to a lot of staples of action stories, from the group fights to the emergencies to the sitting-around-the-campfire-and-being-friends. I highly recommend the song to any writer of powerful teams, friends and unions.
  2. Into the Night by Santana. This one’s very much along the same lines as the one before–really a good spurring-on song to the protagonist and his or her posse. This is the song for when everything’s going right–either there’s been a breakthrough, or it’s party time, or something like that. The energy the song carries has a powerful jubilance that can really drive emotional scenes of togetherness, whether written deliberately or inadvertently.
  3. Kill The Light by Lacuna Coil. And here begins the badassery. This song is an absolute musical expression of wrath–or actually, two distinct adversarial wraths, once the vocals really kick in. The background is strong and steady, and the vocals manage to be assertive without screaming at all, which I really do admire in this style. I use this song pretty frequently right now, kind of that repeated-tough-tests-by-the-antagonist part of the Canned Stereotype Hero’s Journey. I’ve found this particularly helpful when my protagonist is directly challenged by people with equal or even greater fighting prowess than he, but at the same time he has no choice but to overcome them, because of the others who depend on him. So basically, anything where the hero has no choice but to demolish anything in his way, no matter the adversity.
  4. The Resistance by Anberlin. If the last song was wrath, this one’s just pure anger. The Resistance has two very individual parts–the strong and sweeping chorus, and the frenzied verses–and they work very well in complementing each other. But with this distinction, the song establishes two very unique voices at once, and with the lyrics themselves, the backdrop and everything else, it very effectively creates the illusion of two warring archetypes. I’ve used this a lot in places where, rather than having my main character faced with things he can immediately overcome, he is instead made to watch things over which he has little or no control. The anger or hatred is still there, but now, someone else is having their say, too, and he’s got no choice but to listen.
  5. Ants Marching/Ode To Joy by ThePianoGuys. A lighthearted ending to a more heavy group of songs, I guess. Rather than anything big or dramatic or world-ending, this one’s just plain goofy fun. I strongly suggest watching the music video this links to–the whole execution really brings an extra dimension to the song. And altogether, this work is truly an enjoyable listen, more about friendship and teamwork and triumph and all that happy sparkly stuff than anything else. In writing, this one has one use and one use only: the times when everything’s going all right, and there isn’t anyone pointing guns at anyone else’s head, and no fear, and no anger, and the characters have some space to just breathe and be happy. And this is really an integral part of every heavy book–sure, characters can be strong, but eternal stoicism just creates a one-dimensional being. If people don’t know how to have a good time, they don’t understand the good times they try to protect, and this song serves as a reminder of that.

So I hope that was helpful to people, and decently good marketing to the aforementioned artists. I really do enjoy writing to all these songs, and highly recommend all of them to others who work in that same way. And of course, as always, if you have songs you think could help, I’m more than receptive.

Be well and prosper,

Evan

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adam

Time Capsule

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So I’ve been a bad person, as you can probably tell, and I haven’t posted anything in a week or two…*cue wrist slaps*. I admit that I am an awful blogger but I also admit that change isn’t going to be as immediate as I’d like to think.

But that aside, I’m going to try and get back into the swing of things. Post today, maybe one tomorrow, definitely another by the end of the week. As for today, a 642 Things To Write About post has made its way into my text box.

This time, the prompt was as follows: “Write an anonymous letter to a stranger detailing the things you’ve learned about life”. I couldn’t resist taking it and using this format…anyone like myself who needs semi-proper grammar and spelling to live, I’m sorry. Some things have to happen.

* * * * *

Hello my name is Adam. I dont know who you are. I hope your friendly.

Do you like the future? Mom says if I put this in the ground, your gonna find it in the future. I hope shes right.

I dont know what to say so I asked Mom. She says I should tell you some advice I no now so you can have it in the future. 

  1. Make sure you share all your toys with people. Espesh Uspetch Especially when they arent nice to you first, even though those are the hardest shares to do. Thats how you make friends is by being nice first. Mom told me how to spell that word.
  2. Clean your room and make your bed every day even on the weekends when its a lazy day. Theres no excuse for living like an animal even though their happy just the way they are and go to animal heaven.
  3. Some adults are good people but not all of them. Some ones are bad people who steal good people away. Those ones are usually tall with must ashes and big coats. If they get you make a lot of noise like theres a fire and no one else knows about it.
  4. Mommies can see around corners and through floors and seelings. Even though it doesnt make a lot of sense they still do.
  5. Even though daddies are a privilege and only some kids have them its not a bad thing when you dont because it means the world is happy that way and its for the right thing. If you have a daddy thats cool and I wish I could meet him in the future. Wait if he is your daddy in the future is he a kid like me right now?

I dont have any more advice in this letter but I hope you liked this and maybe I will send you another one soon. I wish you could send me one back from the future but Mom says time machines are a story. This is kind of like a time machine though except it only goes forward not back. 

I hope you have a really good day and say hi to all your future friends for me and tell them that Adam said hello how are they.

Bye

* * * * *

More to come.

Be well and prosper,

Evan

Posted in Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Reasons Why I’m Not Self-Publishing My Novel

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Here’s another post from the Archives–this one dating back to 2013. I feel like stoking some controversy, so naturally I’ll put this one up.

But wow, though. After reading the piece…how young and naive I was. The points still stand, though.

* * * * *

So I’ve made a lot of talk recently about having a novel almost ready for seeking representation. It’s well on its way, and that’s all fine, but given the recent disposition toward self-publishing to be found in the modern literary world, I’ve had to give a bit of thought as to whether or not to pursue that route.

The answer is, for me, a no.

Here’s why.

  1. I’m a debut novelist. Also, I’m sixteen. That means that even if the world were to stay as it is right now, with no advances in medicine, I have roughly 58 years more to write and publish material. That’s very daunting, at least to me, and I’m looking at that statistic with next to nothing. Aside from my wonderful readers at WordPress, and friends and family out of the Cloud, I have no base in readership whatsoever. So, to jump-start a productive 58 years of noveling, I would very much like to follow the route to publishing that will net me a larger audience earlier on. Self-publishing, unfortunately, does not offer that. For debut novelists, self-publishing is a trap, because quite frankly there’s a big chance for a novel to make no progress in such an environment. Then, I have nothing but an extra novel to tote around for the rest of my life.
  2. It’s a new market. Or at least, self-publishing has only become widespread very recently. This means a number of things. First, there are still things we’re figuring out about the system, which I’ll get into more later. Basically, there is no way yet for people to sift through the vast piles of self-published manuscripts that already exist, even without the multitudes still making their way through gestation in their writers’ minds. Also, there’s not really a way in business terms to work with self-published books, whether on the level of libraries, bookstores, publicists, the Internet or whatever else. There are a lot of kinks to still work out right now, and I’m not willing to submit my novel to an unrefined system.
  3. It counts against me in the published world. What I mean by this is that in the world of publishers and agents and publicists and all that, self-publishing doesn’t exactly hold much merit. Unfortunately, once you’re in self-publishing you’re in it essentially for good. Publishers won’t sponsor the latter half of a series started in self-publishing–it’s too tedious. Agents won’t represent authors who flaunted them before and didn’t achieve success–it’s like punching someone and then asking them for a band-aid for your knuckle. Established authors won’t respect the self-published–why should they, when you’re trying essentially to break down their way of life? Publicists won’t bother with one self-published work when there are literally millions which could be better. Essentially, if I’m going to self-publish, I’m on my own for good.
  4. There are far too many ways for the process to go wrong. Ever heard of PublishAmerica? Yeah, well, they’re a giant scam publishing house. Look them up if you don’t believe me. And in terms of the sheer volume of scam traps, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There are SO MANY people out in the world looking for a quick profit, willing to sacrifice years of someone’s life in order to get it. And, there are for-profit agent-extortionists, easily identifiable by the characteristic of charging exorbitant amounts of money simply for them to read a manuscript, let alone consider it for anything. And even beyond that, there’s the entire system, filled as it is with the pitfalls of apathetic editing, poor proofreading and the hordes of other self-published authors all vying for a top spot in a system packed to bursting. Self-publishing honestly holds way too many shortfalls than it has positive points. It’s that simple.
  5. I want to write something good. And I guess for me that’s really the heart of my entire argument. I want to write something WORTH me wanting to take the time and energy to publish traditionally. I want to write something an agent sees and is thrilled with, rather than regurgitates upon. I want to be able to build that relationship of mutual trust and forward-aiming progress. I want to write something editors and typesetters breeze through, something publicists jump at, something Hollywood fawns over because it’s going to make the people there rich beyond their wildest dreams. I want all this because only then will it be worth sharing, and worth reading. And if I can’t at least do that for my readers, I don’t deserve to be read. I don’t want to be remembered for my literary inadequacy. I don’t want to be forgotten in the midst of millions of self-published novels. I want to live a life filled with good things. And as it stands now, traditional publishing is the surest way for a novel to get me there.

Well, that’s that. Let me say that I have nothing against those who choose to self-publish–writing is one’s own journey, it can’t be transposed. All I’m saying is my own reasons, for my own choices.

Tell me thoughts in comments. Am I wrong? Am I right? Did I miss something?

Be well and prosper,

Evan

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments