story craft #4 Flashbang

MJG Stories, Story Craft 7 Comments

I’ve been told I sometimes write in a flashbang style. This has manifested itself in several kinds of feedback- – I can’t read for more than 10 minutes at a time. It’s exhausting. – Some of the sequences left me really feeling the pain the main character felt. – Stop hurting him and give him some happy times. So what is flashbang? I can think of two corollaries. One- Michael Bay. *shudders*. Two- an overexcited American teenage girl delivering just a little content with a lot of verby enthusiasm- ‘so like, there was us two guys, and oh my gosh, …

Ruin of the White Root Mine

MJG Gunma, Haikyo, Mines / Factories 5 Comments

The White Root mine is old, so old that only the faintest outlines of its bones remain. Squint hard and you might see fragments of its ribcage scattered over the hillside, parts of a cracked skull just visible through the topsoil. Once it must have been huge, swathing up and down the valley and pumping out smoke, now there’s just a single slurry run and a few walls left. I went there ages ago, on the same road trip that took me to the Gunma Ski Lift, Hume Cement Factory, and back to the Asama Volcano Museum. Some kind of …

The Lonely Dead by Michael Marshall Smith

MJG Book / Movie Reviews 5 Comments

I really wanted to like this book. Ever since Michael Marshall Smith wrote his sci-fi trilogy of One of Us, Spares, and Only Forwards, I thought he`d be one of my favorite authors. My first novel (as yet unpublished 🙁 ) was influenced by his breezy first person narrative style. His books were packed with cool ideas, tidbits of nifty philosophy, and it was easy to overlook the parts that didn`t make sense, felt like filler, or were just too damn smug. Well, it`s not so easy any more. The Lonely Dead is all of the bad in that list, …

story craft #3 Bad Guy Motives

MJG Stories, Story Craft Leave a Comment

Last week I talked about character motivation– filling in the gaps between what characters want and why. It`s a fundamental part of story architecture- that the good guy wants something and will fight to get it. But probably more important than what the good guy wants is what the bad guy wants. That`s what I was thinking about when I started this latest round of Dawn redrafts *. What do bad guys want? It`s the keystone of story architecture, because the bad guy- – drives the story – creates the conflict – causes the wrongs the good guy has to …

Japan’s dying Ceramic Land theme park

MJG Haikyo, Nagasaki, Theme Parks 27 Comments

During Japan’s real estate Bubble in the 1980’s, theme parks were the investment to make. They couldn’t fail. Sink millions into expensive construction, land, and man-power, and ride the surging economy to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All those decades of post-war militaristic industrialism had finally paid off, and people were finally taking more leisure time and traveling further afield to enjoy it- you couldn’t go wrong with a theme park. Except of course, you could. The Bubble burst like an over-ripe peach and all the wacky ideas that before had seemed so bright- The …

Star Trek: The Next Generation #7 Masks

MJG Book / Movie Reviews, Star Trek 2 Comments

This is an odd one. Author John Vornholt drops two away teams comprising all the senior bridge crew onto a medieval world where everyone wears masks. They bumble around looking for each other and for the guy they were sent to find- Almighty Slayer, to initiate diplomatic relations. They get lost, they bump into all kinds of important people, and ultimately don`t do much of anything. But, it`s not bad. Instead it`s just quite odd.

story craft #2 Filling in the Motivation Gaps

MJG Story Craft 4 Comments

Last week I talked about the DM’s screen, and how I’d written chunks of story with other chunks missing. Now I’m rewriting the first Dawn book with that in mind. I’m about 30 pages in so far, and no section has escaped either strong editing or a complete rewrite. As I read closely what I wrote in 1st draft, I see the biggest DM screen error is probably this- character motivation. Largely it’s missing. And I try to consider the effect this will have on the first-time reader coming cold to my work. They have no reason to ‘help out’ …

The hotel one man dug out of solid rock #2 interior

MJG Catacombs / Caves, Haikyo, Hotels / Resorts, Saitama 18 Comments

Takahashi Minekichi was a rural Japanese strawberry farmer with a vision. For 21 years he carved the beginnings of a grand hotel into the solid rock wall of a cliff face on his land, digging out the contours only he could see. He did it all alone, using only a chisel, until the day he died in 1925. It was never completed, and no rooms beyond the lobby and kitchen/shrine were ever dug. No-one ever stayed there, but still it remains to this day, thoroughly fenced off and out of bounds. Inside the Gan Kutsu cliff face hotel, grand staircase.

story craft #1 The Dungeon Master’s Screen

MJG Story Craft Leave a Comment

I`m still working on my Dawn* books. I`ve sent them out to agents and got no`s so far in reply. So I`m trying to make them better. Here`s some of the feedback I got from readers: – I didn`t know what was going on. – The writing is too dense and descriptive in parts, I just skip over it. – Who are all these people, and what do they look like? These are all kind of the same thing. I know it, too, and knew it when I was writing the book. I wanted to get into some action, dialogue, …