I’m out of my mind

You remember this post? It mentioned that I had written a short story that could easily double as Chapter 1 of Novel the Second.

I have finished the outline for Novel the Second. To celebrate this, I have put the counter that probably none of you remember back on the sidebar of the site. Note: the estimated final word count is just that, an estimate. It is subject to change in the future.

Why I say that I am out of my mind, is because engineering courses don’t leave a lot of room for anything. Working full time for my co-op terms is a vacation in comparison. And in this sort of intense, high stress course, I’m going to add the stress and distraction of writing on top of this. Genius. You can see how I’ve managed to get as far as I have in life.

So, the rough draft probably won’t be finished before 2021. The counter on the side may even move backwards. None of this matters, because I do writing for the love of it, and only for the love of it. Yes, I would like to be published, but it isn’t a high priority for me. Graduating is. It ties into the phrase, “don’t quit your day job,” some of the soundest advice ever given. I agree that it is probably hard to think about how to demonstrate a character’s mistake in a sympathetic manner when you have to write the scene on the back of your overdue hydro bill.

In summary: I am writing another novel. Yay! I am going to have a lot of fun with this, and probably stretch my abilities even further. It is not a priority because school.

To the writing!

A. C. F.

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Scamming the Scammers

My parents usually get quite a number of phone scammers, of both the Windows and CRA variety. To amuse themselves, they’ve come up with a number of ways to get back at them. These are a few of the ways:

 

1) The classic.`

“Hello, we’re calling about your Windows computer—“

“I have a Mac.”

Mom doesn’t, in fact, have a Mac, but it’s too good a line to pass up.

 

2) Deliberate misinterpretation.

“Hello, we’re calling about your Windows computer—“

“I know it’s bad. You’ll have to talk to the landlord. He is responsible for all the windows; I’m not allowed to do anything with them.”

“No, sir, we’re not talking about the windows in your house. We’re talking about your Windows operating system—“

“You’re just going to have to talk to the landlord. It says in the agreement that I can’t do anything about them.”

“Sir. Sir, do you have a computer?”

“Yes, I have a computer.”

“We’re talking about the Windows system on your—“

“I keep telling you, the landlord is responsible for the windows. I really want to do something about them, but I’m not allowed to—“

“Sir—“

…it’s my understanding that this went on for a while before one of them decided to hang up.

 

3) Klingon

“Hello, is this Mr. Franklin?”

“Uncted instigs locathm. Procks wumungump sepolololo. N-no speakada Anglich. No Aanglich.”

“Sir? Is there someone there that speaks English?”

“Pele katunk pharat podonkul weritla ga. Noo Anglich. Ferpu tyg derad coboco pyta.”

“Sir? Sir? Can you give the phone to someone there who speaks English?”

“No Aanglich. Notoctes grinju derutu kapolu sitpro gredfur gopotcle nor.”

“Does anybody know what this guy is saying? I don’t speak this language!”

“Gutubi ported sufugu ni. Rupesed tracud fulupo P’tak!” *Click*

…I know it’s not real Klingon, but that last word is the clincher.

 

4) Too late

“Mrs. Franklin, this is the CRA.”

“I don’t know why you’re calling me. You are supposed to be talking to my lawyer.”

“Uh…”

You’ve already frozen all of my accounts and seized all my assets. There’s nothing left. Talk to my lawyer!”

“…you’re bankrupeted?”

“It is what it is.”

At which point the scammer hung up.

 

5) You’ve reached a scam. (My dad’s done this one three times already. He really likes it.)

“Hello, is this Mr. Franklin?”

“Hello, you’ve reached George’s custom luggage! All our luggage is currently on sale. First, let’s start with your credit card number—“

The scammer always hangs up first.

 

I’ve come up with a new one for them, which I term the “Bible thumper.” For the Windows scam, just start going on and on about how computers are the tool of the devil, the day of judgement is coming and they need to renounce their false idols. Start to pray with them. The challenge is to see how long it takes them to hang up. We’ll see if we get a chance to use it.

A. C. F.

Style vs. Substance

If plot is king, then execution is queen.

To be perfectly clear, I mean that as a chess analogy.

Plot is important. It is very important. (I feel that plot and character are inextricably linked, so the argument “plot vs. character” is not happening right now. The answer is yes.) Plot is what drives your story. It’s the spine. Without it, you have a mass of amorphous goo.

Similarly, the king is the most important piece on the chess board. It is the entire reason for the game. Nothing could happen without it.

But on the whole, it has little effect on the game. I tend to play chess badly, so when I get down to a few pawns, a knight, and a rook, I allow the king to wander the board and go on a killing spree. It’s quite fun, but it does nothing to change the outcome.

That’s where execution comes in. The queen. The most versatile piece of the game. It changes things very quickly. It is a guiding force of the game.

Similarly, the execution is what sells the reader on your story. Execution is what allows you to suspend your disbelief and enjoy a ridiculous premise. Execution is why people read what you write. It’s your unique voice, it’s the way you share the images, sounds, emotions, and scents in your mind. It determines the clarity of those sensations. Execution is the queen that wins you the game, or allows you to lose, depending on how well she is directed.

Random writing analogy over. Have a nice day!

A. C. F.

So What If I’m a Dork?

I will admit to being a dork. And to being overly excited about silly things. So what? Right now, I’m a very happy dork.

I have collected all Fullmetal Alchemist manga volumes.

fullmetal alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 volumes.

 

Not only do I have all the FMA manga, I have the pocket watch. I will wear this watch every day, because pocket watches are awesome.

pocket watch
Alan Parson’s Project Vulture Culture album cover works surprisingly well as a backdrop for the pocket watch.

YES!!! YES!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I can deconstruct it, reconstruct it, and derive the equations of all its secrets! With the power of alchemy, my writing will grow stronger than can be imagined. And then, I WILL BE INVINCIBLE!!!

But wait…it may be that I am missing a key element. A highly important element…the element of….

cowboy bebop
Cowboy Bebop. Kind of reminds you of Firefly, doesn’t it?

Cowboy Bebop.

Yes. Yes, that should do it. That is the missing element, the one that completes the equation. The Perfect Theory for the Perfect Story!

 

Oh.

Oh no.

Wait, no, it should have worked. It should have worked!

Not the Gate. Not the Gate, ple—

The Truth
The Truth is creepy.

 

In all seriousness, (setting aside the melodramatic FMA references), whenever I have the time and inclination, I will both enjoy these, and attempt to evaluate what makes them work so well to improve my own writing. Good luck to me, I guess.

A. C. F.

 

New Story the Second!

Posted as promised. You can find it here: Independent Contractors.

It has a similar background to the last story. I started it a year or so ago, petered off for want of an ending, and finished it up more recently before editing it to its current presentable state. The process of writing a story can be quite boring, can’t it?

On another note, I finished the story I mentioned yesterday. I don’t know if the ending is going to stay the way it is or not; it has a very frustrating, evil cliff-hanger at the moment. Evil in a bad way, unlike A Good Neighbour. But I don’t really want to change it, because it could so easily lead into the novel I want to grow out of this universe, with these characters…I really shouldn’t be thinking about novels, with university starting up again in September, but I can’t help it.

We’ll see what happens.

A.C.F.

 

New Story

…or a kind of old one, depending on how you look at things. I started it over a year ago, I think, and I trailed off due to lack of an ending. Then I came back, made an effort to finish it, and hated the result. Then I edited it, had help editing it, continued to edit it, and finally polished it to a point where it was actually good.

Without further ado, a third Miss Leona story: Ladies and Shootists

Tomorrow, I intend to post the other year old story I’ve finally finished (let’s call it spring cleaning). Allow me to depart now to work on the other story I’m currently writing. Work terms are so open and free!

A.C.F.

Lest We Forget

In honour of the many men and women who have gone to war, I have posted a short story I wrote some time ago, called “Salute.” It focuses on WWI. I should warn that it includes some graphic material; but what else can you expect from the Great War? It can be overshadowed by its sequel, but it was just as horrifically brutal in certain ways.

A prayer for those lost, and for those still fighting.

A. C. F.

NaNoWriMo 2016

Let me put it this way: I am and I’m not participating.

Would I love to sit down and write 50,000 words in 30 days, officially or unofficially? Yes!

Do I have enough time what with ballroom dancing, full time co-op job, online course, and pre-learning next term’s material?

Well . . . do I actually need to sleep?

No, and yes, respectively. But something happened to make me decide to give the 50,000 words in 30 days a shot anyway. On October 5 I started a certain piece of practice fiction. I call it practice fiction because it’s fan fiction, and no matter how happy I end up being with it and how much it stretches my writing skills, no, I likely won’t post it anywhere. Anyway, I started this practice fiction. Ten days later I had more than 20,000 words. Yes, I was bleeding into sleep time to do that, but I was so happy! I didn’t even want to go to work, and I love my job, no matter how mentally taxing it is.

But hey! 20,000 words in 10 days! Those look like the kind of numbers you should have for NaNoWriMo. Why not just shift the end date to November 3, and try to get 50,000 words by then?

I tried. I really, really tried. But I mentioned that I actually do need sleep and that my job was mentally taxing, right? Because, as of today, I have about 40,000 words. Okay, great, but I’m supposed to have 45,000 words by the end of today. I am behind the curve, and unless I start typing twice as fast or pulling all-nighters, assuming I can still think straight enough to not write gibberish (that happened last week), then I’m not catching up any time soon.

Let me say this: all-nighters are not happening. No more.

So since it would be a shame not to write 10,000 more words and get the word count, or finish the practice fiction since I’ve got so much already, I’ve introduced some softer deadlines. 50,000 words by the end of this week, but no pressure, and finish the entire thing by the end of November, New Year’s at the latest. I’m (shockingly) writing the practice fiction completely by the seat of my pants. It’s currently a complete jumble of scenes that’s all mixed up, so I have no idea how much I still need to write. We’ll see. I’ll be sure to write a follow up post when I hit each of these goals!

And in the end, 50,000 words is 50,000 words, and a story is a story. Does it matter how long it took me to get there?

A. C. F.

 

 

Something Nebula Actually Enjoys!

Griffins like puns.

I discovered this bizarre little tidbit when I mentioned Phule’s Company by Robert Aspirin to Nebula. The griffin had never heard of either the author or the book, and asked a normal question:

“Fool’s Company? Why would anyone read a book about joining the company of a fool?”

“It’s spelled p-h-u-l-e. Phule. As in, a person. I’d recommend you read it, but knowing you, you’ll complain about how the usual humour falls flat, the characters are boring, and there’s not enough focus on the true results of the actions taken. You’d then go on to enumerate how each and every single pun fails on every level.”

To my surprise, Nebula disappeared from the room. Don’t ask me how a griffin bigger than a grizzly bear can vanish through a standard door. The only explanation I can come up with is dimension hopping. Don’t ask me how a griffin can fit in a room in the first place. I’m thinking they do something reminiscent of the TARDIS.

Nebula returned a few moments later, book in claw, and began to expound on its virtues. How it was an underdog story done right, how the large cast of characters worked because each was kept distinct, how it was heart-warming and sweet rather than cynical as (I quote) “so much of the trash that is out there now,” even how the military turn around seemed reminiscent of the great Sir Isaac Brock’s work with the 49th Regiment.

I’m not sure if Sir Isaac Brock turned around the 49th the same way Phule turned around Omega Company, but the rest is all true. It is also very out of character for Nebula to say so. I was expecting the words, “it is trash,” like a certain anime character known as the Cuatro Espada.

I’m so glad Nebula doesn’t bother to read my blog posts; otherwise, I’d be dead now.

Anyway, I agree that the book should be recommended, but I had to ask about the most important thing first—the point of the entire book: the humour.

“So how did you find the humour?”

“It was spectacular! The situational humour was perfectly on par. The butler is impossibly witty. How have you not given this book to me before?”

“Because I actually like it. And aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Hmm?”

“The puns.”

“Well of course they were good. I wouldn’t have liked the book at all otherwise.”

This was punctuated by the sound of a head colliding with a desk, followed by slightly insane laughter. Griffins only like things with puns in them, apparently. How I wish I’d known that earlier. Way earlier. Like, maybe, a year ago?

Griffins also like alliteration. I shouldn’t be surprised; it’s one of my favourite things to put into my writing. It finally explains why Nebula can actually stand to read what I write.

A. C. F.