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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Boring Much?

Yeah, yeah, I know, I missed a week in there somewhere. Something about working 8 days straight--4 of them involving 42 kids and Uzi submachine guns (literally!)--kind of kills the motivation to work on the blog. But here I am, with updates on the writing projects and...something else.

It has slowly come to my attention that the content of my blog might be...well, boring. Let's get one thing straight. I didn't really set out to write this blog for the entertainment of other people. It was more a project to see if I could document some of the struggles, issues, and triumphs that I'm going through as I'm trying to become a published author. The problem is, along the way, it became nothing more than a place to post some numbers ("Yay, I wrote 1,701 words last month!"). And while I'm not trying to become the most popular blog on the web that people log onto every day to see if there's a new post, I don't want to bore people to death either. I want to provide something that's useful to the writing community. Writing should be fun, and so should blogs about writing.

I've noticed that a lot of author's blogs, as well as blogs by editors and publishers, do a lot of things like book or movie reviews, or interviews with authors, etc. Couple of problems with that in my case. 1.) I stay busy enough with my normal job that I don't get a chance to read very much. I could do book reviews, but they would happen only once every few months. 2.) I'm too anti-social to actually interview someone. I'd much rather read the book and then make snide comments about it while the author can't defend themselves. (Okay, I exaggerate slightly.)

So what does that leave me with? Well, whatever the heck I feel like at the time I'm writing my blog post. I can't guarantee it'll be orderly, and I can guarantee it won't be earth-shattering. I can promise that I will try to provide something useful to fellow writers, whether it be something new I learn, or just something that I observe that provides a point to ponder.

While movies and TV shows aren't exactly the same as writing books or short stories, they do have a lot in common. First, they all start with writing. Second, they usually involve some kind of research or technical expertise. This is especially true with military/police-themed works, whether it be historical, modern, or even science fiction. I saw something the other day that absolutely blew my mind away, in a good way. I was watching the TV show "Flashpoint," a series about a Canadian Police Special Response Unit. I've always admired the show for its technical accuracy. (Plus, it's got actors that don't look like they just strolled off the catwalk, which is a huge bonus!) But they took it a step further and actually did something that I teach students every day in the Defensive Handgun courses I work in.

As one police officer handed a confiscated pistol to another police officer to process it as evidence, the officer taking custody of the gun did a chamber check to ensure there was no round in the gun. Amazing! I have never seen this before in a movie or TV show. 9 times out of 10, they drop the magazine and then start waving the gun around like it's actually unloaded. Every semi-automatic handgun that I know of is capable of holding a round in the chamber even after the magazine is dropped. The only other times I see chamber checks is when the hero is about ready to jump out the airlock and kick some alien butt, and that doesn't really count, because who wouldn't do a chamber check when they're about ready to go up against aliens? But one thing we teach at my job is that when you pick up a weapon, give custody of weapon to someone else, take custody of a weapon, or just want to be absolutely sure of its condition, the very first thing you do is a chamber check. Guarantee the weapon is in the condition you want it to be in: loaded or unloaded.

Kudos to "Flashpoint" for getting it right.

Yeah, yeah, I know, most people don't notice or really care about these miniscule details. Many times, in books or short stories, if you took the time to run through all the correct procedures, you'd burn up way too much white space. But there are little things you can throw in here or there that add authenticity to the work. And in the case of "Flashpoint," it was one guy in the background doing a chamber check that took about a half a second. And yet, they earned my undying respect. Until they all muzzle each other in the next episode while talking over coffee...

Next week, what NOT to do to earn your audience's respect, and yes, it will have something to do with actual writing.

But no post is complete without those lovely numbers! I'm please to announce that the rough draft for Kricket's Song is over halfway complete! I've been able to do some solid writing on my days off, and the project is proceeding well. I'm hoping to have at least another 4,000 words written before I head back to work on Monday. As for the short stories, well... I haven't reached a final decision yet, but I'm probably just not going to bother with them any time soon. My heart's really not into the publishing process with them. Through research and reading the various markets, I really don't think my stories are the kind that editors are looking for right now. They're just too..."concrete?" Definite beginnings, definite endings, unambiguous morals, and *gasp* personal values!? In other words, not confusing enough to be called real writing.

Or it could be that I haven't yet mastered short story writing and I'm just a noob complaining about not being understood.


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