Sunday, November 23, 2008

Some Snarky Commentary, Some Whinging, and Even a Little Celebration

Aside from the CSFF Blog Tour and occasional bits of fiction, I haven't had much to say lately. The usual suspects have waylaid me: work, writing, life. And maybe a lack of want-to.

I started blogging as a writing discipline--a way to make myself write on a regular basis, even if the end result was crap--and for a long while, it worked.

However, though I passed along "tags" to a few other bloggers after I was tagged, all the tagging and memes left the taste of spam in my mouth. (pun intended) And after seeing the proliferation of invented blogging awards and reading obviously self-conscious essays meant to showcase a blogger's way with words--and I've written my share of "Oh, look at me! I'm a great writer!" posts--I'm just not as enamored of the blogging process as I once was.

Oh, I'll stick around--I have a piece of fiction to finish and post, just in case anyone's still reading--but the mode of writing discipline has changed. A few posts back, I mentioned trying to finish the next episode in a series. Serial fiction and a deadline, one either self-imposed or set by an editor, are excellent motivators.

That episode is finally finished, in the sense that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It was written in fits and starts, and scenes were added then deleted then added again, rearranged, shortened, extended, turned on their heads. But the episode is done. Now it's being edited and tweaked, and should be ready to submit in a couple of days. Whoo Hoo!


Sometimes, even though a writer has written inside a particular form on many occasions, he needs to go back and relearn how to do it. Ever look at "dog" or "small", or even "the", and wonder if you spelled it right? Well, that's a bit like what this episode has been for me.

I had to go back and relearn how to structure a story, how to cut from scene to scene, how to cut between the story's present and a flashback/memory. In order to help me get into that mode, I've been watching television serials on DVD. At the moment, a rented copy of Battlestar Gallactica, third season, is in the player.

The episode is still missing a necessary spark, but perhaps I can find it in the editing process.

Meantime, here's a scene that was added late on Saturday:

Curses and threats following her down the corridor, Captain Iona Zoltana scanned her dogtags across the security scan, the brig doors slid open, and she and her crew stepped into the holding zone between the cells and the entry. The doors closed with a hiss as the air pressure changed. Prisoners were given less oxygen—just under normal levels—than free citizens. Marty and his pirates could whinge at the top of their lungs all the planetary day long, but they’d just wear themselves down.

“Don’t they ever shut up?” Ensign Gaines scowled back down the corridor.

“A sleepy prisoner is a happy prisoner.”


Zoltana smiled slightly—“Mind the gap”—and gripped the handrail.

The holding zone shot sideways, and Gaines tottered into the wall and dropped his rifle. It skittered across the floor. The rest of the escort squad grinned or chuckled as Gaines righted himself, red-faced and scowling, and grabbed the rail.

At the guard station, a man in a standard dark blue uniform saluted. The gold wings of the government fleet marked his right sleeve. “Captain Zoltana.”

She returned the salute.

“I’m Liaison Officer Krieger. I’ve been sent to escort you to the admiralty, captain. Your detail is free to accompany us.”

“Officer Krieger.” Zoltana shook his hand then strode toward the exit. “Anything you can tell me on the way?”

“I don’t have the details, captain.”

“Then give me the scuttlebutt.”

Krieger waved his ID at the scanner, and the exterior door opened. “There’s been some chatter about Governor Bat’Alon’s daughter being aboard the freighter Martina Vega. Possible kidnapping.”

He looked puzzled when Zoltana laughed.

c. 2008, Keanan Brand


Anonymous said...

So the spark is missing? Sounds good to me; but then again I don't critic books. I'm sure with your creative powers, things will come together to meet your satisfaction.
The Bach

BT said...

I do know precisely what you mean about blogging. My blog started out very much as a diary for me to look back on. Then people started to read it and comment and gradually it evolved into what it is today - largely written with others in mind. I have no pretense of being a great writer, I write as I speak and it's often a bit messy and I make up words as I go along.

It has made me take more photos, which I love to do, but I'm not sure for whom I write anymore!

I enjoyed the excerpt.

Eaglewing said...

Blogging can go a little sideways from time to time, nothing wrong with that. Right now, I figure if I make a good post or two a week I'm doing good. But at the end of the day, you have to enjoy it or what's the point?

Like the excerpt, and I do love the serial form of storytelling. Short bursts with an overall arc. Whether TV shows (like Angel, Firefly, House, etc) or mature comics (like Criminal, Punisher MAX, 100 Bullets, Fables, etc), or short stories, I like that there's more room to explore while still telling an overall story. And then there's always a possibility of a cliff hanger in between episodes that makes you want to come back - gotta love those :)

Anonymous said...

I struggle with the whole concept at times--I like journaling for myself, but find it hard to be disciplined. I don't care so much about who reads it(I do, but it doesn't matter as much as it did when I was on Xanga and trying to advertise for the boutique). It seems I can do an ad campaign better than I can be personal!
But I need to be disciplined and paint more.

Lavinia said...

Some familiar names in this episode, I have to pick up the thread again, as I find reading it so enjoyable. POpped over to say Happy Thanksgiving, hope its a terrific one for you and yours!


Bach - Yep. No spark. Just can't get all that excited about this particular part of the story.

BT - Sometimes, I think there's a pressure to perform for an audience, and I'm an often reluctant performer! But blogging does force me to write, though infrequently, something other than the fiction that is my preferred form. And anything that helps you pursue creativity--writing, blogging, or photography, etcetera--must be a good thing.

Eagle - It's kinda strange, being on the other side of things: I like to watch or read stories, and now I have to produce them--but not as I have in the past (stand-alone short stories or novels). It's a great challenge, but maybe I'm stressing about it too much. No one's probably expecting high literature, but I still want to emulate some of the storytellers I admire, in that I want the work to be excellent and engaging.

Jade - That darn discipline thing. That means we have to grow up, doesn't it? (laughing)

Lavinia - Thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes. I have much for which to be thankful. (And, speaking of gratitude, thanks for reading the fiction!)

The first two episodes (expanded from the original material posted here a few months ago) are still available over at Ray Gun Revival magazine. The current episode I'm writing was intended for the January issue, but the November issue has yet to be published. I'll post a link to it as soon as it's available.