Expanding my Footprint

avatarMy experiment over at Tsū is going pretty well, but that platform is not as text-friendly as I’d like it to be for sharing my writing. I’ve started an account at 3tags, a profit-sharing blogging platform, to house Jerry the Writer, while at Tsū I will be Jerry the Photographer. I will of course always be Jerry the Muddled Rambler right here.

3tags may become home to a more-polished version of TFNIWLNW, but first I have to come up with an actual title. Right now all the ones I come up with are too generic (“The Soul Thieves”) or too glib (“Stabbin’ the Soul Thieves”). Hopefully I can come up with something soon. The rough-draft version of TFNIWLNW will continue to accumulate here. (There’s about 1.8 episodes in the hopper as I type this.)

I have no evidence to back this up, but I think keeping identities focussed will be more follower-friendly. I’m not sure 3tags is the right platform for me simply because there aren’t very many people there – I was able to grab the user name “Jerry” — so building a following will be a long and slow process. One thing that helps is that 3tags makes it easier to announce new posts on Facebook and twitter.

When people read my stories there, I get paid! If you accept the following invitation and then you create things people like, you get paid (and, since I invited you, I get paid a little, too).

Currently only a handful of people over there will see my stuff based on the tags, so I really hope folks like you will click the links on Twitter and Facebook to see my words. This means I’ll finally have to figure out Twitter, I suppose.

Here’s my invite link if you’d like to check out 3tags — it seems like a pretty capable blogging platform, and I hope they hit critical mass. Heck, if you’re gonna blog, you may as well get paid for it, right?

My Beef With Star Wars

Maybe this is a good time to bring this up, with the first of the new batch of Star Wars movies sitting on the doorstep. The problem with the last batch was not Jar Jar. Jar Jar was annoying as all get-out, but no more annoying than the fur bears in the previous movies. These are films that chose not to grow up with their audience. I’m all right with that.

The real problem with the last batch (Episodes 1-3) is R2D2.

Watch the films chronologically. You will see a droid with rockets in its feet, that can take down a battalion of battle robots, that was built by Darth Fuckin’ Vader himself, only a few years later get zapped by a little dude with glowing eyes — the galactic equivalent of a dumpster diver — while tottering along over rough terrain at about half a mile an hour.

The same robot.

And apparently Artoo forgot that he knew intimate details of his creator, information that might have, you know, saved everyone a lot of trouble. Like the name of the guy who built him from a Radio Shack kit. Anakin what? Skywalker? You don’t say!

Sorry if that was a spoiler. Vader was Luke’s father. Big shock to everyone — except R2D2, apparently.

This urge to add superpowers to R2D2 in movie sequence, while ignoring the story timeline, is what really gets my goat. As I watched Artoo level up time and again in Eps 1-3, I grew increasingly annoyed. Rocket feet and battalion-blasting just made me throw up my hands and say, “fuck it, this story’s broken.”

Brief timeout for goat runner-up: People with the Force forgetting they have the Force. One example: giant spaceship battle. The Empire comes up with one of its few actually intelligent weapon systems: little robot fuckers that latch on to larger spacecraft and start taking them apart. (By the way, that’s a weapon of the future. As a young adult, imagining integrating myself into the Star Wars universe, that was the stuff I imagined building. Clouds of little things that would weasel into big things and break them.) Anywho, one of the Jedi dudes is flying his spaceship in this big battle and a little robot fucker latches on to his boat. Right outside his cockpit! It’s a tense moment that requires some really sweet flying by another Jedi pal to resolve. (My spelling checker accepts Jedi, by the way.) IF ONLY… If only this Jedi pilot had some way to affect things happening three feet from his head… some sort of, I don’t know, force he could have applied from where he sat.

If only.

OK, Timeout’s over, back to my original beef.

Time, it seems, is not kind to R2D2. In the years between Episode 3 and Episode 4 it lost a lot of functionality, as well as its memory. When (not if) I watch Episode 7, I expect our favorite trash-can-shaped robot will be deep into senility, barely able to move at all, and unable even to remember C3PO’s shiny metal face.

C3PO: What’s that Artoo?

R2D2: Twee chrp mmbl mmbl

C3PO: No, Artoo, I don’t think Lord Vader has been stealing your email. Lord Vader turned nice before he died.

R2D2: Chrp squoo blttt.

C3PO: As you are well aware, Artoo, as a cybernetic being I have no colon.

If the droid is portrayed in any other way, Lucas has some explaining to do.

NaNoWriMo Victory!

NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner

My explorations for possible plots of The Fantasy Novel I Will Likely Never Write was somewhat successful as I did discover at least one avenue to explore for what the nature of the grand conflict is. And far more important: I had fun writing.

My last sentence:

“All right then,” I said. “We dump this guy. We pack our stuff. Then we put this thing in the fire and run like hell.”

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Writing for Social Media

It used to be that here at Muddled Ramblings I would just develop ideas at my own pace and trust my readers to hang with me for a few sentences to let things get going (there is actually no evidence that they did that, but I like to believe). Lately I’ve become (perhaps detrimentally) aware that most of my audience is only presented the first couple hundred characters of my ramble before they are presented with a go/no-go decision.

I’m a little bit embarrassed to say that it has changed the way I open my episodes here at MR&HBI. I’m fishin’ for the hook.

Last night as I posted episode one of TFNIWLNW to a new social media platform, I was compelled to add a little preface. The thing is, in all these platforms, what shows to the casual feed-grazer* is only a couple of sentences. TFNIWLNW starts with sexual assault. So, aware that said assault is going unhindered for the first 250 characters of the story, I decided to graft on a little intro with two goals: tell readers that the asshole’s gonna die before we learn what the asshole’s doing, and to introduce the audience to the narrator’s voice. I’m pretty sure I had only a partial success, but you’re welcome to tell me I’m wrong.

Then, not knowing the culture on this new Social Media site, I put in a little parental warning that also used a pretty sweet metaphor and accelerated the understanding that our narrator is, in some fundamental ways, not a nice guy. From a literary point of view the extra words serve a good purpose. From a “goddammit tell me a tale” standpoint they come off as masturbation.

Writers have always needed to put a hook at the start of a story, but the hook now has to catch in the first few words. I’m pretty sure I unhooked TFNIWLW:1 in an attempt to fix it. But if I’m going to keep it up over there, i’ll have to be very careful with the first 70 words of each episode. Maybe that’s a good thing. A book where every scene starts with a hook is the kind of thing about which reviewers say “I could not put down.”
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* I am a little bit proud of the phrase feed-grazer, so please don’t tell me how many times you’ve heard it before.

TFNIWLNW on tsū?

I’ve been pondering how to make it easier for people not interested in this blog per se to follow my serial fiction projects, without all the other blog stuff and without my commentary.

I’ve also been curious about a new social media thing called tsū, which shares ad revenue with its users. Get a lot of clicks, get a wee bit of cash. So if I were to publish things there that lots of people liked and shared, it would be cool.

As far as I can tell, tsū is really not suited for serial fiction, or even posts of more than a paragraph or two. It may be completely impossible for people who stumble across Episode 3 to find Episode 1. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a growing platform that would embrace words as well as pictures and memes and whatever the kids are posting up these days.

More likely, I’ll have to find a different platform. But it’s worth a shot.

I’ll keep posting TFNIWLNW here, so don’t fret, kids, you need do nothing to continue to enjoy the upcoming twists and turns, and maybe even a plot. Maybe. But if you’d like to check out what this tsū thing is all about, click this link and you can join up as my personal guest. Or just sign sign up and when they ask you who invited you, use the code ‘vikingjs’.

My NaNoWriMo Helper

My NaNoWriMo Helper

My NaNoWriMo Helper


I don’t know what I’d do without her.

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Here Comes November

The word ‘NaNoWriMo’ has not been spoken aloud in the house this year. There’s just too much other stuff that we both need to get done, that we’re already way behind on. Just the thought of adding a writing challenge on top of it all is deflating. There was a time when I looked forward to November, and I’ve “won” NaNoWriMo every year since 2001, which puts me in rarefied territory.

But it just hasn’t been as satisfying lately. I go in hoping to regain the writing-every-day mojo, and while I do get a lot of words typed, come December nothing is different.

Still, not even trying is even worse, right? It’s surrender.

Then there’s The Fantasy Novel I’ll Likely Never Write. I’m approaching the episode I’ve been working up to, the one that shows our hero’s Big Flaw, and beyond that I don’t have many ideas. Previous serial fiction published here has been an exercise in off-the-cuff writing, and while that’s fun, the lack of any plan whatsoever shows in the final product. Never mind the low level of polish that write-skim-publish provides, I look back on some of those episodes and see big opportunities lost. If I’m going to continue TFNILNW, I want to do it in a way that’s more enjoyable to read. It will be easier to make sure every word advances the story when I know what the story is.

So this November I think I’ll try to spew out some ideas of where that story might go, and see if I discover a plot. Whatever comes of that, it will NOT be the story you read here. It won’t even be a real rough draft, more a set of sketches to see if I can find something worth writing about.

I will try to do at least a little bit each day. I won’t worry too much about word count. I might write the same scene thirty times; I might drift off on a tangent to see if anything interesting crops up. I might write 5000 words of backstory on one of the characters, just to dig into what makes them tick. Whatever I come up with won’t be readable as a story, that’s for sure. If I get 50,000 words, that will be fine. If I don’t, my streak will be over and I can relax.

If I get a plot, that will make the month a success. I’d even settle for a theme. If I find neither then that will probably be it for TFNIWLNW. But I’m going to own November this year, not be its slave.