Progress!

You’ve heard the “writing is a muscle” expression before, right? Well, my experience over the past couple months has definitely proved it true.

Another saying that’s been going through my head of late is this: “do you want to be a writer or someone who’s written a book?”

Believe it or not, answering that 2nd question was kinda tough. It was easier to go through the motions…to say “meh, writer’s block” and quit after an hour or so of staring at the keyboard. And after a few months of that, well, you start to wonder — is this effort worth it? I could be doing other stuff with my non-family, non-job time.

What are you prepared to do?

But I kept coming back to wanting to create something. And I’d only just started…and I don’t like quitting just because it was tougher than I thought it would be. And, I have enough regrets in my life.

So back at the beginning of September, I decided to be a writer.

Step one was to quit playing WoW. Just doing that reclaimed a ton of time and dumped lots of stress.

Step two was to throw myself back into my 4 day a week writing habit. And by throw I mean omg it sucked.

I didn’t look forward to writing. The words weren’t flowing. Those that did were junk. I couldn’t move past the first third of the book — just kept going over it and over it and over it.

And, gradually, I was over it.

I was able to think more clearly about the book — timeline, plot, scenes I needed, scenes I needed to excise. I got past the first third of the book.

I wouldn’t say that things are amazing now, but I can feel the “flow” … time drops away and good stuff’s produced. Or at least good bones to hang stuff on.

So here are a few examples of what my progress looks like.

Stable word count ish

The book’s still hovering around 80K words which is my minimum word count goal for this book. That’s progress b/c despite the stuff I’m removing, I’m replacing a roughly equal amount of content…which, to me, means that the book’s concept is ok. And nothing plot-wise has changed since I went through that outlining process with my editor a year ago.

Moving past the beginning

As I said, I was stuck on the first third of the book. Never felt right. Too choppy. I couldn’t figure out how Frigg, for example, moved through the city and got into a bad situation (thanks to Loki). Nor could I figure out how she got out of that and then met up with a returning Odin. Nor how Loki stirred up trouble and planned future trouble before presenting himself to Odin and Frigg toward the end of the first section.

Well, now I have. Here’s an outline of how the first section of the book goes:

  • The book opens with Odin riding up from “Hel.”
  • Heimdall sees and hears him coming and, in Frigg’s scene, tells her that he’s coming. And he tells her that Thor is nearly to Gladsheim.
  • Loki presents himself at the great hall expecting to encounter Frigg. But, she’s not there. So Loki says he’ll stop by later — which gives him time to start trouble.
  • Since Thor’s not there yet, Frigg has time to speak with Hodr…and sets up her next interaction (with Thor).
  • Loki’s off starting trouble…which doesn’t pay off till later.
  • Frigg’s asked Thor to check out what Vidar found waaay up north. He agrees. And then she takes him to Baldr’s body…which puts her back near the great hall. Thor splits b/c he doesn’t want to see his father (which reinforces the bad blood between them).
  • Frigg goes into the hall, is told that Loki stopped by and will do so again later. She’s relieved b/c she didn’t want to deal with him w/o Odin. And, she’s told there’s a crowd gathering outside. She goes out & confronts the crowd.
  • Loki followed a crowd of people leading back up to the great hall, sees the crowd causing trouble for Frigg and decides to make it worse. As you do. Toward the end, he sees Odin riding up the road. Time to jet! But not before making it worse for Odin.
  • Cut to Odin riding up the hill, and then dealing with the fresh mob violence Loki just instigated.
  • Cut to Loki heading back down to a meeting with a certain someone. This clarifies a few things for the reader and sets up some future events.
  • Then cut back to Frigg in the aftermath of Odin dispersing the mob and then a new sequence that alternates between her and him — with a couple Loki scenes thrown in to build tension.

There’s a bit more to the book’s first third, but even writing this outline out fresh for this blog post it feels like it flows pretty well. (If you disagree, lemme know!)

Fixing later sequences, etc.

As with the above list of fixes, I did similar things later in the book to smooth events out. Some of this involved (and will involve) writing new scenes to flesh out sub-plots that are primarily there to give more depth to Odin, in particular, and to set up events in Book 3.

And best yet!

My editor checked in with me yesterday to make sure I was on track for the first round of manuscript evaluation on Jan 2.

I wasn’t sure, so I updated her on where I was and asked: Does my progress thus far match what you were expecting?

Her answer: Yep. This first critique will focus on the bigger picture stuff (plot, scenes) rather than the nitty gritty.

Phew. Like srsly. Phew.

And I got an extra week b/c she’s on vaca. Even better.

So when I hand the book in on Jan 7, it will be in pretty good shape. Not as polished as the first book I sent her a couple years ago but unlike that book, this one — Book Two — won’t be seeing massive plot shifts. I squared all that away last year. And like I said, it hasn’t changed.

I still have a ton of work ahead of me. And will do again come February.

But for now, it feels good to be a writer again.

 

Random thoughts on: The Expanse

So I’ve just finished binge watching The Expanse, thanks to it being available on Amazon Prime. Damn it was good.

TLDR: Go watch it.

I watched it when it first came out and was pretty “meh” on S1. Watched a couple episodes of S2 and then kinda forgot about the show. Fast forward to about a month ago and I am SO glad I went back to it. I really enjoyed the books — but I’ve only read/listened through Cibola Burn (Bk 4). Which is apparently what Season 4 of the Expanse will cover when the shows airs on Amazon Prime (SyFy canceled it).

So, here are my random thoughts on the show/books…loosely organized.

Scene and Setting and Plot

The story’s a bit gritty and realistic, but not over the top brutal. The mystery is compelling. The science/physics/astrophysics is really good, as is the CGI and the sets.

I’m still not entirely sold on the actors picked to play Amos and Avasarala, mainly because they don’t look like I pictured them (or how they were described). That said, those two actors are doing a good job.

They made lots of changes to the plot, characters, etc., when translating the books to the screen. Some of it annoys me but only b/c I know the books. It probably looks/feels pretty seamless to someone who doesn’t.

The Characters

The Expanse has lots of great characters. Take Miller, the detective, played to a “t” by Thomas Jane. So tragic and lonely and sad and so well written.

Bobby Draper — the hard-chargin’ Martian marine. Great in the books and equally so in the show.  The actress playing her does a great job. Probably one of my favorite scenes in the show is when a few Martians who were saved by the crew of the Rocinante try to take over the ship.

An unsuspecting Bobby walks into the middle of it. Alex is being held at gunpoint. The entire scene is sold, imo, by the young male Marine and his immediate respect for Bobby as well as Bobby’s annoyed patience with the woman holding the gun to Alex’s head. Love it.

Crisjen Avasarala. She’s probably one of the best characters I’ve ever read. An Indian woman who’s probably in her 60s. Gray haired. Small. And holy shit she’s a force of nature.

One of my favorite scenes in the books that, imo, was not well translated to the screen was when Avasarala and Bobby narrowly escape gettin’ blowd up and are saved by the Rocinante. In the books, Avasarala runs roughshod over the crew and basically takes over the ship. Holden spends half his time bewildered by her and pulled along in her wake. Just great.

In the show, however, they reduce Avasarala to pleading with Holden to please oh please do something. She was too reactive. It felt like they sidelined her to focus on the assault on Io and saving Prax’s kid.

Again, this is maybe only bothersome b/c I’m familiar with the books.

Amos. He’s awesome. And again, well written and well acted. The actor chosen doesn’t quite fit the mold but I think he nails it. Also, the voice actor in the audiobooks does a wonderful job of putting a rough-edged nuance into his voice when he’s Amos. Super enjoyable.

And at this point I’m embarrassing myself with all this gushing about the series.

So, here’s a few things I didn’t care for.

The Less Good

Melba: I couldn’t stand that character and storyline in the books. Felt like filler…and bored the shit out of me. In the show, it’s not so bad b/c while she plays an important role there’s less time devoted to it.

Same goes for Anna Volovodov. The series kinda butchered much of her plot points which is fine b/c I skipped through them — the ones when she’s writing the speech for the UN dude.  Zero interest.

When I relistened to the book she’s in a few months ago I also skipped her scenes. Yawn. They also felt like filler.

I disliked how they made Captain Ashford more sympathetic while splitting the Bull character (from the books) into Naomi and Drummer. Mostly b/c I really liked Bull. But, I also liked Drummer, so it’s all good.

The Even Better

I’d basically stopped listening to The Expanse with Nemesis Games (Bk 5). And since I have no memory of it, I’ll be relistening to it once I’m done with the second book in Timothy Zahn’s Hand of Thrawn series. The Thrawn trilogy is good stuff. And if you read/listen to ’em you are then allowed to geek out when Thrawn appears in SW: Rebels — a show which I found enjoyable…to my amazement.

So…aside from all that…what’s even better is that there are a few more books in The Expanse for me to get through:

  • Nemesis Games, Bk 5 (soon to be in progress)
  • Babylon’s Ashes, Bk 6
  • Persepolis Rising, Bk 7
  • Tiamat’s Wrath, Bk 8 (March 2019)

I’m intrigued by the names of those last three books and they mythos/culture to which they are linked. And that ties into another book I’ve been reading — Magicians of the Gods by Graham Hancock. That book and the stuff related to it deserve a post of their own.

Looks like I have my work cut out for me!

 

Gods of the Vikings

This past week I was at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., with the fam. Fun time.

We spent part of one day at Epcot which was mostly a waste of time given that my kids are young, eat a handful of foods and want to be on rides.

I bring all this up b/c in “Norway” there’s a relatively new exhibit called “Gods of the Vikings.” (And here.) The exhibit isn’t tucked away somewhere, it’s right at the front of Norway and easy enough to walk through on your way to the more commercial stuff.

The exhibit is one room and there isn’t a whole lot in it, but it’s pretty cool seeing even one room dedicated to the source materials. As an example, that woman sitting in the picture is the völva from the Voluspa.

So, if you’re gonna be at Epcot, walk through Gods of the Vikings. It might please Thor.

 

__

BTW, I snagged the photo for this post from a Google Image search that pulled from this site b/c we “disconnected” when we were at the parks.

The Battle for Azeroth

Nothing quite like a double entendre, eh?

As I’ve  mentioned, I’m a World of Warcraft nerd. Battle for Azeroth launched last week so all I’ve been doing, basically, is burning the candle at both ends to reach max level (/done) and start gearing up to raid (/in progress).

In a prior post, I listed the things I’d come across that were clearly influenced by Norse myth. So far, I haven’t had the same experience in BfA. Much different tenor to this xpac — an awesome tenor, certainly, but not much Norse related (so far).

It’s possible that some of that will come back when the first raid (Uldir) launches in a couple weeks especially considering that the name of this new raid is awfully similar to an old, awesome raid: Ulduar.

So, given that Blizz could’ve named the raid anything they wanted why did they choose Uldir?

Titanic Places

Apparently, Blizz uses “Uld-” to refer to Titan-ic places…and there’s some indication that it might mean city or keep or stronghold. See here. There’s also this subreddit: wowlore (which looks like a terrifying rabbit hole).

And here’s a list of the various Titan-ic places in WoW (or at least those that start with Uld):

  • Uldir: a laboratory and quarantine facility that the Titans built to analyze and understand their ancient enemy, the Old Gods. Wowpedia says that Uldir houses something that could potentially wipe out all life on the planet. Which would be the 2nd world-ending weapon the Titans placed on Azeroth. (The first one being the zone Uldum.)
  • Ulduar: the prison of the Old God Yogg-Saron as well as the current residence of most of the titanic watchers who had fallen under its influence. The raid itself consisted of the champions (us) breaking the Titans free of that influence.
  • Uldaman: an ancient Titan vault buried deep within the Khaz Mountains, accessible from the Badlands.
  • Uldis: a subzone of the Storm Peaks located within the large mountain which the Temple of Storms lies atop. The Storm Peaks has a lot of good Norse-related stuff in it. When my eyes stop bleeding I may write something about it.
  • Uldum: the Land of the Titans and the zone itself is a weapon intended to wipe out all life on Azeroth in case Algalon the Observer’s Reply-Code Omega went through to the Titans. All I remember is that Algalon is an extra boss in Ulduar. As for the rest? Muninn never returned.

Given that I haven’t finished the main story for BfA — not even close — I don’t have too much in the way of additional speculation on what’s to come. But, I have completed Drustvar and the main storyline in Stormsong — some pretty intriguing stuff.

Bringer of War!

Just the other day Blizz released this video — Warbringers: Azshara. Well worth watching. Long story short, it shows the bargain made between Azshara and N’zoth (one of the Old Gods). There’s all sorts of reactions on YouTube to the video, not that I’ve watched ’em.

On a related note, I’m pretty sure I heard Turpster give an overview of the WoW lore probably a year or so back on The Instance podcast. This one (one of the first results on my search) dives into (hah!) the Old Gods. I would definitely search out the rest of their lore episodes — fun listens and they provide some good context for the game. (There’s also Nobbel87 in YouTube if you’re interested).

What Lies Before Us?

BfA, which is already pretty darn fun right out of the gate (and gaw-geous both in terms of art and sound/music) is obviously building up to the big ole boss(es) confrontation. We’re helping out Jaina, natch, and we’ll somehow get breadcrumbed into Uldir. I’ve no idea what’s happening on the Horde front, but I bet it’s filled with cool blood trolls and awesome architecture.

Given that an Old God (N’zoth) seems to be stirring, all the Azerite stuff, and more! I’m sure we’ll transition from battling over Azeroth into battling to save her. (Azeroth is a baby Titan.)

All that seems pretty clearly telegraphed to me. So I’m wondering when ye olde twisteroo is gonna hit.

Any thoughts on what’s to come?

Just like the Spanish Inquisition…

…creativity strikes when you least expect it.

Last night I sat down to read and take notes from Myth and Religion of the North. I ended up getting distracted and spending about an hour knocking out 1,600 words of a story that’s apparently been rattling around in what passes for my brain.

Good distraction!

Why Odin takes warriors

The story began as a bit of dialogue between Odin and an unnamed warrior. I was trying to get into Odin’s head. As I’ve detailed in this blog, Odin favors strong warriors b/c he’s recruiting for the Einherjar–the army of undead men who will fight in Ragnarok against the Jotunn.

From a mortal’s perspective, we can’t explain why anyone is taken before what we might perceive as their time — particularly valiant and heroic warriors. So, wesay a “god” is responsible for the death. (By “we” I mean my conception of what a pagan Norseman might think…which could be totally off base…but that’s the mindset I’m trying to get into)

And, in some cases, Odin’s given the hero a weapon (Sigmund) to use and then Odin causes that weapon to break. Then a valkyr scoops him up and it’s off to Valhol to prepare for Ragnarok. Mortals might call that “betrayed” by Odin.

From (my) Odin’s perspective, though, he doesn’t think of himself as “a liar.” He thinks of himself as a man who will lie if he has to — to get what he wants, protect his people, etc. Not that that’s better, necessarily. He’ll also do other things–whatever it takes–to protect his own.

A little help here?

In my proto-story, Odin lies by omission to the warrior. Odin sees potential in the warrior (but how does he see it? ;)) so he says: “Warrior, I will help you, but you agree to fight for me in my army when you die.”

I’m specifically thinking of Sigmund and the sword Gramr (which means Wrath in Old Norse and is an amazing name for a sword). Odin gave Gramr to Sigmund. And with that sword, Sigmund became a mighty king over the course of many years.

Then a great battle began (read the Volsunga Saga) in which Sigmund, though old, fought so well that none could stand against him…

the battle had dured a while, there came a man into the fight clad in a blue cloak, and with a slouched hat on his head, one-eyed he was,  and bare a bill in his hand; and he came against Sigmund the King, and have up his bill against him, and as Sigmund smote fiercely with the sword it fell upon the bill and burst asunder in the midst: thenceforth the slaughter and dismay turned to his side, for the good-hap of King Sigmund had departed from him, and his men fell fast about him; naught did the king spare himself, but the rather cheered on his men; but even as the saw says, “No might ‘gainst many”, so was it now proven; and in this fight fell Sigmund the King,

Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/vlsng/vlsng13.htm

The man in the blue cloak is Odin; the bare bill is Gungnir. And if I remember correctly, in the Icelandic sagas if a man dons a “blue cloak” (or is seen wearing one) it signifies the intent to murder/kill. (And in the sagas there’s a legal difference between murdering and killing. It’s a murder if you don’t immediately go to the closest homestead and declare in front of witnesses what you did. Murder is despicable; a killing can be totally justified.)

Anyway.

That’s what I had in my head with respect to the help Odin would provide to my unnamed warrior.

My story then evolves from a scrap of dialog in which Odin and the warrior make their bargain to a scene in which the warrior, having died valiantly in battle b/c his sword turns in his hand, is caught up by a valkyr. He then awakens in another place, seemingly healed. He gets up and stumbles into a hall bigger than any he’d ever seen with gold-bright shields hanging from the ceiling.

Hundreds of warriors are in the hall and my unnamed warrior is pushed and shoved through the throng till he staggers out into the clear space before Odin’s throne.

My warrior is angry and confused. He feels betrayed. But one of the warriors around him (an Einherjar) presses a cup of Heidrun’s mead into his hand and whispers to him, “All here have stood where you are now. We all made fools of ourselves before the Valfather. But don’t worry, you’re among brothers.”

Or something along those lines. I forgot what I wrote exactly. There’s more to the story beyond this brief sketch. The POV is the unnamed warrior and he tells his backstory in flashbacks–which totally evolved as I was writing.

Enthusiasms

I’m not sure how “good” my story is or even where it’s headed. I’m just glad I WROTE.

Which then had me wondering about why I’m so blocked with respect to my 2nd book. I’m kinda thinking that I enjoyed, and was spurred on by, the act of making this new story up on the fly. Of discovering the story as I wrote.

With my 2nd book, I outlined the crap out of it. I’m not really able to discover–or I don’t think I’m able to discover–much about it. And when I do discover things I have to make sure they make sense relative to what I’ve already decided. And if the discoveries are better then I have to scrap the older stuff…which causes changes to ripple, etc etc.

Or maybe all of that’s in my head and I’m just making up excuses while shying away from some hard work. And in some ways it’s easier to write a story with nothing tied to it–it’s a lark. But the novel, oooh, that’s important. (Not really, but you know what I mean.) I’m so stressed about making it good that I’m robbing the joy from it.

Either way, the Einherjar story was — and will hopefully continue to be — a fun side project.

Now to re-find the fun in that other story.

 

Less Random Thoughts on Infinity Wars

Stormbreaker belongs to Beta Ray Bill! If he’d had it, then he wouldn’t have been a face on the Grandmaster’s tower!

*ahem* Spoilers.

Full disclosure: I saw all of the following in my first go-round with the movie but elected not to write about them. I thought that maybe I was being hyper-critical. But on the 2nd go-round I was just as annoyed as during the first viewing.

So, here goes.

Thanos

Thanos’s plan is still stupid. In talking to Gamora he says something along the lines of: twenty years ago, I murdered half your planet’s people. Now it’s a paradise.

His next line should be: And I’ll be going back to wipe out another 50% when they start consuming too many resources again.

Or maybe: When I get the 6th McGuffin, I will wipe out 50% of those who remain on your planet which means I won’t have to go back there for a much longer period of time. Gosh, I hope I’m still alive by then!

Or, wait, is Thanos immortal? Gamora should ask: So, Daddy, just how many resources have YOU consumed in your long life? Hmm? What about the planet of the Groot you wiped out to make all that quilty smooth Charmin? We’ll send that old dude from those ancient commercials after you….

And why is it half? Why not kill 80%? 90%? Burn ’em down to minimum viable population? Presumably any of those options would preserve still more resources. But, I guess 50% just rolls off the tongue better.

Gamora and Thanos

Thanos has a spaceship. And a cool teleport power. Why didn’t he and Gamora just teleport to the top of the mountain where the soulstone was kept by Tantalus? Er, Red Skull.

I don’t mind the “must sacrifice something you love” trope, only how dense Gamora was in the moment. For such a savvy character, why didn’t she see it coming?

I get that she doesn’t think Thanos loves anyone so what happens in the movie makes sense from that perspective, but we also know that she loves (and hates) Thanos.

Consider that Tantalus said that to gain the soulstone you had to sacrifice something you love. (Or maybe Tantalus said “what you love most?” I don’t recall exactly.)

Since Gamora loves Thanos and b/c she’s so savvy, what if she was just slightly quicker on the uptake than Thanos and uses that microsecond to try shoving him over the edge? And let’s say she almost gets him, but he uses the power of the McGuffins to screw with reality thus gaining the upper hand and realizing his goal.

Does that rob the scene of weepy Thanos? Or does he remain sad/grieving because he loves Gamora all the more for fighting so damn hard. She is a firecracker, right?

I don’t know if my scenario would’ve worked better or not, but imo its truer to her character than what does transpire. A little tinkering with the prior scenes could’ve set up all of the above.

Thor

As enjoyable as his scenes with the rabbit were, I’m annoyed that he survives the blast of a neutron star but gets his ass kicked by Thanos. Does that mean Thanos is as powerful as a neutron star? Or is the plot convenience more powerful still?

And when the heck did Thor get *that* strong? He got pounded by the Hulk like 5 seconds ago…and Hela….

And did Thanos really leave Thor to die in the purple fire? Really? Why didn’t he wring his neck like Loki? (Who died in a really dumb way.) Moreover, you’re telling me that Thor doesn’t know the difference between a rabbit and raccoon? Really?

And when Thor takes Beta Ray Bill’s rightful weapon, plot-point-dropping Eitri says that the weapon oh-so-conveniently incorporates the power of the Bifrost.

(Many sentences start with “and.”)

So…why does Thor go to Wakanda to battle the zerglings? And, for that matter, how did Thor know to go there?

And if he knew to go to Wakanda, why didn’t he also know to go to Titan to fight Thanos? If he’d gone there, he could’ve gotten the glove off.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it seemed like those two fights were happening at roughly the same time.

The Fight on Titan

Starlord’s “loss of control” when Gamora’s death was revealed to him felt forced either b/c of the acting or the writing or both or b/c the business plan required Thanos to not lose in the first movie.

Wouldn’t it have been cooler if, sure, Starlord goes ballistic but instead says: “Let me help you get that effing glove off so I can kick his ass man to scrotum-chin.”

But b/c Mothra is tickling Thanos’s memories the Mad Titan realizes what’s happening thanks to his grief being so powerful. So Thanos bellows, “Get out of my mind!”, regains his control and beats the piss out of everyone.

But when he says “get out of my mind” he has to say it in the exact same way as the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother says it to Paul Muad’dib in Dune (the movie).

IMO, you get the same result with my half-assed scenario above w/o the “er, what?” record stop noise.

The Fight in the Blue Bubble of Stargate: Atlantis

And, to wrap up my Negative Nancy-ness, the whole battle scene in Wakanda was just dumb.

They make a big show of forming up ranks only to raggedly charge a force that greatly outnumbers them? That makes no sense to me.

Sure it allows the heroes to have some individual moments but those are yawningly predictable. Guess what, they win!

Why not have the bad guys break the shield wall and the heroes rally the troops to reform the wall. And…spoiler…why didn’t the bad guys just pummel Wakanda from orbit with very small rocks a la The Expanse (and Monty Python).

And, sure, Thor looks cool being the lightning and wielding his now over-sized hammer (Freud much?) but his actions on the battlefield are literally sound and fury signifying…nothing.

Someday, somehow, I will write a book with equally glaring errors and make a similar amount of cash as Infinity War.

Or, maybe I’m just being hyper-critical. After all, the movie was, on the whole, enjoyable.

Thoughts?

Random Thoughts on: Extinction

I’m of course referring to the Netflix movie Extinction not species extinction. But, both are bad.

And I’ve apparently turned into a movie “reviewer” since I stopped writing (again) b/c my family and I moved into a new house. Last. Time. Ever.

What follows might spoil the movie so, if you care, move along…or, because I like Michael Peña, “back it up, just back it up.”

 

Last warning. 🙂

 

So, Extinction was “meh.” The first ~30 minutes were brutally heavy-handed and boring. I contemplated giving up on it, but I literally had nothing better to do and I was hoping that Michael Peña might take it up a notch. But, maybe the script just wasn’t there? Or the directing? I dunno. Either way…. “boh-ring,” as Homer Simpson might say.

Also, Luke Cage was a totally wasted opportunity. Speaking of…I should “review” Season 2 of Luke Cage, which I never finished, because I got bored and tired of all the stupidity in that show. I bailed on Ep 13 (the final episode) b/c I just didn’t care anymore. But, I really like that actor (Mike Colter) so I gritted my teeth for 12 episodes and I suppose I’ll watch #13 eventually. If those Marvel/Netflix shows had fewer episodes I don’t think they’d bog down quite as much.

With respect to Extinction, I was glad I stuck it out b/c of the twist about halfway through. I didn’t see it coming, either because the Hammer of Boring had flattened my brain or (more likely) they successfully pulled a fast one on me. Kudos.

After that twist, I was a little annoyed at some of the trickery that had been used up till that point. Specifically, the cracked space helmet, the way one of the bad guys moved and the look of the space suits themselves.

It was the look of the space suits themselves that I think was most annoying. Felt cheap. And I didn’t buy the (lame) explanation for it.

But, that twist was the movie’s bright spot. And it’s worth thinking about how foreshadowing and twists/reveals can be similarly executed in my own writing. But better, natch. 😉

Random Thoughts on Ant-Man and the Wasp

Now that was a fun movie! I took my kids to see it and we were all laughing. Great action sequences, good acting, fast-paced, clever touches. The animations for the shrinking and growing was impressive. As was how smartly and cleverly Ant-Man and the Wasp use their tech.

NO spoilers ahead.

If at first you don’t succeed…

First off, even though my writer’s block is hanging around smokin cigs and flicking them at me, the writerly part of my brain really appreciated the movie’s use of:

  • try-fail cycles
  • the “yes, but; no, and” technique.

If you don’t know what those are, here’s a good summary. I don’t use either of those techniques half as well as I should. The movie gave me some really concrete examples of how to do it.

As an aside, Ant-Man and the Wasp sounds like an Agatha Christie book…or that Doctor Who episode with Agatha Christie.

Quite the Sting

I enjoyed Evangeline Lily’s performance (I’m not a huge fan, typically). Kudos to her acting and the script. No “damsels in a dress” going on there.

As my daughter put it: “You don’t mess with the girl!”

A Ghost of a Villain

Really interesting how the Ghost played out, at least to my writerly brain. Any guesses as to why?

Also, the decision made by a buddy of the Ghost threw me out of the movie for a bit. But, hey, it was kinda minor.

And as with all Marvel movies, make sure to stick around for at least the first credit scene. The second one…meh.

 

The image is a red panda yawning. I did say my thoughts would be random.

 

Breakthrough?

Bit of a breakthrough this morning. As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, Odin has power over the dead. Hel also has power over the dead. Lots of spoilers for my second book in the stuff that follows. Just saying.

 

Arrr, ye been warned.

 

Who has the powah!

What I’d been having trouble figuring out from a story point of view is why Odin would let Hel gain power over something he controlled. My solution there was to mess with the timing. Odin gained the power first, dropped the ball on paying attention to everything, and that enabled Hel to gain a similar power. But the two of them have different powers over the dead which fits into my narrative.

Another problem I had was regarding a journey Odin (and Frigg) take into the spirit-realm to rescue the spirit of their son Baldr. This is part of the opening scenes of Dark Grows the Sun.

The myths are pretty clear — Hel has Baldr’s spirit and she ain’t giving it back.

Well, why? How did it get to that point?

In my book, Odin (and Frigg) go into the spirit world to get Baldr’s spirit back. They end up having bargain with Hel–which Odin hadn’t expected. He thought it’d be easy peasy.

One problem with this encounter was idiot-plotting. If I put those three at the table, then what would prevent them from hashing out a deal right then and there? (And if they did that, then there’s no story to tell.)

They all have something they want from each other, but Hermod still has to go to Hel and screw up — meaning that Hel keeps Baldr’s spirit — thus thwarting Odin’s (and Frigg’s) goal of bringing him back to life.

For a long time I could not figure out to make that happen without essentially forcing Odin and Hel into fake disagreement that resulted in what I wanted to happen (i.e., idiot plotting).

The opposite of that is creating a situation in which they naturally and believably can’t come to an agreement. Or they come to an agreement neither really likes but can live with (my long-winded way of saying “compromise”). Each of them are interacting in what they perceive to be their own best interests. So they have to do and say things that fit. Otherwise, the scene won’t ring true.

 

The breakthrough! (maybe)

So, I think I just figured it out. At least in the first draft. I deleted about 1500 words doing that, but hey, if they’re shit words then good riddance, right?

I’ll see how well this scene actually works tomorrow morning, but I think it’s 75% there.

Well, I hope it is.

And in fixing this stuff at the beginning, then future scenes should be more stable — even if I have to scrap and rewrite them — because then the foundation will be more stable.

Random Thoughts on Infinity Wars

My son and I finally saw Avengers: Infinity Wars this past weekend. Fun movie. The following contains spoilers…and a few thoughts on the flick.

Thanos

He was done pretty well, both on the CGI and Brolin’s acting. Better than I expected, frankly. And having read Jim Starlin’s original Adam Warlock series years and years ago I was prepared to be disappointed.

But I gotta say, the Mad Titan’s rationale for wiping out half the universe was cooler in that old comic. Essentially, he did it b/c he was wooing Death. Based on this, it makes total sense as to why the movie’s creators didn’t run with Starlin’s original plot.

Nidavellir

In Norse myth, Nidavellir is one of the names for the home of the Svartalfar. The other is Svartalfheim. Nidavellir means the “low fields” or “dark fields.” See this site for more info.

In the movie, Nidavellir is both the home of the MCU’s giant dwarves and the forge where Mjolnir and now Stormbreaker were made. It was clever having the forge be a neutron star, but less so to have Tyrion Lanister play Eitri. (Though it was funny to have him be gigantic.)

Thor and Stormbreaker

First, Stormbreaker belongs to Beta Ray Bill!, Second, these dudes make a real Stormbreaker. If you’ve never watched Man at Arms Reforged then you’re missing out. Forged in Fire is good, too. I’ve learned quite a bit about blacksmithing and forging from those shows — enough to improve my fictional scenes that incorporate that stuff.

Eitri, Brokk and Sindri

The movie only includes Eitri, but there are other “dwarves” in Norse myth — there’s a long list of them in Voluspa (if memory serves). Two of the other important “dwarf” names are Sindri and Brokkr. All three are part of a myth that Snorri relates in the Prose Edda that deals with:

  • Loki cutting off Sif’s hair and getting forced to replace it
  • Loki wagering his head against the dwarves’ craftsmanship. Loki loses the bet, but through quick thinking keeps his head — only to get his mouth sewed shut. It’s a cool little tale.

The Svartalvar are heavily referenced in my first two books, they make an appearance in a “flashback” sequence (Kinsmen Die) and then directly appear in Book 3 (BK3). The Svartalvar are integral to the “mysterious device” plot arc that I introduced in Kinsmen Die.

And with that said, a future series that I’ve partially written (originally it was woven into the series I’m writing now) Eitri, Brokk and Sindri are three brothers who are “of the line of Sindri.”  That original Svartalvar is the one who forged/crafted the items used by the Aesir (as part of Loki’s wager) — Mjolnir, Gungnir, Draupnir, etc.

At the moment my Svartalvar are more like elves than dwarves, though I tried (and will continue trying) to avoid the Tolkien elf trope. Which is really a Svartalfar trope. Kinda.

That future series is equal parts prequel, contemporaneous and sequel to my current series. It’ll be fun pulling all the various threads together especially since I lose track of quite a few them until they reappear again…right before Ragnarok.