Regularly Expressing

science, sci fi, writing, spirituality

My Youngest Fan

Recently I ran into an old friend of mine, one of the few who received a printed copy of my only fanfiction work, Memoirs of a Sith Lord. He told me that his 5-year-old got hold of it, read it, and now considers it her favorite book and carries it with her everywhere. She even tried to get her kindergarten teacher to read it. In case you aren’t familiar with the story, it isn’t even remotely a children’s story, this is one precocious little girl. The lesson here, at least for me, is that writing fanfiction can be worthwhile, even if it doesn’t line your pockets with gold.


*Fangirls*

Why be a writer? Money can’t be the reason. Only a very few writers can earn enough to keep ramen in the cupboard by writing. Any tidbit of recognition is hard to come by, even from friends or family.

Then, one day, I wrote a piece of fanfiction which I called, “Memoirs of a Sith Lord.” People told me it was a waste of time since I can’t make any money at it. Since it’s posting, it’s gotten 2.6K reads and 224 votes on Wattpad. However, it’s the rare comments that really make it all worthwhile….

Your story “Memoirs of a Sith Lord” brought back buried feelings I had about Anakin and Padmè. How she was more than a queen and senator, but also a courageous fighter that was willing to kill and die for her loved ones. That was a Padmè I wanted to see in the canon universe.

And how the Jedi masters came to understand … was also basically wish fulfillment for me. *fangirls*

Thank you. I adored this fanfiction and all the emotion you packed into it.
[note from a fan, spoilers redacted]

Writers are delicate creatures. A little love is all we need to keep us going. If you want to see the story, you can find it here.


The Fanfic Awakens

About two years ago I created the story “Memoirs of a Sith Lord.” On this day, 12/19/2015, it has gotten more than 100 votes on Wattpad. Can I keep the momentum going? I’m hoping that the movie will inspire me to write another fanfic.

Whether or not that succeeds, I’m considering serializing one of my first novels “Void Star” (a.k.a. “Battle for the Sphere”) on Wattpad. That story has sat unpublished on my hard drive for too many years.

See the story on Wattpad


Spider Disco Ball

So I’ve known about the trick for finding spiders with a flashlight for a while now. You take a fairly powerful flashlight, hold it close to your eyes, and shine it on the ground. Spider eyes will wink back at you like little green gemstones. Since I’ve learned about it, I search for spiders on every camp out.

During my week at Camp Comer I saw a particularly fat wolf spider near the bathroom. I looked for its eye, and saw multiple glimmers. Confused, I looked closer and discovered its whole back looked a bit like a disco ball. I’m pretty sure it was covered with baby spiders. In the picture at left you can see the spider’s eye, and two of the babies (that’s all that showed up in the flash). Trust me. There were many more babies smiling for the camera.


One Key to Rule Them All

I frequently forget to unlock my door on the way out to walk the dog in the morning, and have to ring the doorbell, possibly waking people up, just to get back in. I wish the door would just know it’s me and open.

Modern car keys enable the opening of doors just by their presence. While that’s a pretty cool piece of tech, it makes me wonder why we don’t use it elsewhere. Why doesn’t Toyota, or one of the other manufacturers, offer to sell locks for your house that open at the touch of a person holding the car key?


To the Pain

It seems the Dread Pirate Roberts (a.k.a. Ross Ulbricht of Silk Road) has been sentenced to life in prison despite expressing remorse for breaking the hearts of his family and friends, and regrets losing his own freedom. From what I can see in the articles covering the sentencing (e.g. here), he didn’t express remorse for the many deaths he caused. Alas.


Master Plots

The “Save the Cat” books on screenwriting claim there are ten master plots. The idea of a master plot is that it helps you identify stories which are similar, so that you know what to watch or read in order to research the story you are working on.

I’m not claiming Blake Snyder’s list isn’t exhaustive, but I think there are other ways to “skin the cat” as it were, by adding new master plots to the list. These additions may overlap with existing items in some way, but they may resonate better for you. How do cook up your own master plot?

Each of these three master plots has three ingredients. I’ll give you a sampling from Blake’s books so you get the idea:

  1. Monster in the House
    1. A monster
    2. A house
    3. A sin – A good horror flick always has some evil deed that needs to be punished.

    May contain: The half-man, a character who has encountered the monster before and has come away physically or psychologically damaged.

  2. Golden Fleece
    1. A road
    2. A team
    3. A prize

    One naturally thinks of the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, etc.

  3. Out of the Bottle
    1. A wish
    2. A spell
    3. A lesson

    One naturally thinks of “Liar, Liar”, “Big”, or (of course) “Aladdin.”

I was thinking about the recent Avengers movies, as well as “Galaxy Quest” and what category to put these movies in. “Golden Fleece” is the obvious choice, but the odd thing about these movies is the villain seems to be the prize. It’s about a hunt. So I put it this way:

  1. Enemy Fleece
    1. A team
    2. A villain
    3. A hunt

    Something that’s typical in this type of story is the villain undergoes a transformation. At the start of the movie, the villain is big, scary, and powerful. By the end, he/she is revealed to be something small and unworthy of inspiring fear.

Anyway, that’s the recipe. Find three things common to a set of movies that define their flow, then give them a name. Have fun.


Story Idea: The Ghost Seers Asylum

This idea came to me the other morning. I picture it as having a semi-serious, whimsical character. Think Ghost Busters meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

When Wendy confides in her mother that the kid next door who died in a car accident still visits her, she expects understanding–not to be hauled away to an institution.

When she arrives at Magnolia House Asylum, Wendy tries to tell people she’s not crazy. But Magnolia house isn’t there to cure the insane, but to cure the problem of seeing ghosts. As her therapy continues, more and more people in Wendy’s disappear, both new acquaintances in the asylum and people she thought she knew in the outside world. Eventually, she must decide whether to accept the cure and live her life, or stay in the asylum and hang onto the many friends she’s lost.


This isn’t about Abortion

This post isn’t about abortion, but there’s a story about abortion in it. I read somewhere on the internet about a married, pro-choice woman who got pregnant. She and her husband decided they weren’t ready for a child, so she went to the abortion clinic. While sitting there, she surprised herself by realizing that she believed the life growing inside her was a baby and she couldn’t kill it. She left. Because she didn’t get the abortion, her husband divorced her. Now she’s remarried and is pro-life.

What I think is interesting about this story is that it illustrates a particular aspect of the psychology of decision making. Our subconscious mind has its own beliefs and ideas that, for the most part, it keeps to itself. Only when our conscious mind decides to do something it really doesn’t like does it step up and make itself known. I’ve had a few of these experiences of my own (which I don’t feel like sharing at the moment).

If you know me and my theories about story structure, you know that I believe the moments where characters make decisions are the key, and I think these moments when the subconscious over-rules the conscious and surprises the character are the most interesting. When Tris decides to join Dauntless in Divergent, I think it was one of those kinds of decisions and it is one of the most memorable moments in that book for me.

If anyone knows another example of this kind of decision, I’d be interested to hear about it.