May 31st, 2011


New Title, New Frame of Mind

Originally published at Quantum Matrix Scribe. Please leave any comments there.

First, my Internet is down (again) so I’m typing this fromy new Android phone. Please excuse any typos and it’s relative brevity; I wanted to write a longer piece, but, well…

I’ve been extremely busy the past week, finishing up one day job and looking for another. But I’ve still been plugging away on this story, and I’m seeing some interesting things emerge. First, I’ve renamed the story from “Janzer”–which I will finally explain in a moment–to “Calculated.” Why? Because I noticed I was using that word a lot to describe my protagonist’s thinking process. One of the things I’ve always wanted to write was a character who lacked emotion. When reading one of my many books on fiction writing, it touched on emotion a lot, how it was so very goddamn necessary, unless you were writing a character who was “clinical.” And I thought, “Yes! I want to write that!”

It’s not that I’m a cold, emotionless bastard, it’s because I’m the exact opposite. Emotions rule my day, from elation of a completed project, to ruinous apathy when I have nothing to do, to the fire and brimstone anger I get when someone makes fun of me or try to “correct” my speech. I’m a slave to them, and more than once I’ve yearned to escape their chokehold and just examine life in a dispassionate, logical fashion. Data is a good example of this, though he still wants emotion; I want a character who is at peace with their absence.

Of course, just having that would make a dull story, so I have two other central characters that focus on emotion. One is our protagonist’s mortal enemy, who is consumed by rage for previous wrongs. I admit to putting a lot of my own anger and frustration in him, for almost succeeding yet still coming up short, and being unable to get his point across. And putting myself on paper like that feels really damn good. It’s like the pressure is being siphoned off, and you’re no longer in danger of having structral integrity failure. Plus, you can examine your own traits from an outside perspective, see how they drive you. I’m sure there’s some self-actualization and psychoanalytic BS in there somewhere

The third character also embodies a bit of me, and that’s wonder. When aliens show up at her door, she doesn’t freak out (at least, not that much) and instead goes “Cool!” Maybe it’s a leftover of my boyhood days of wishing Obi-Wan Kenobi would take me away to become a Jedi Knight, but I think it’s also part of our contemporary culture too: who wouldn’t think it was awesome if Optimus Prime and Megatron started duking it out (so long as Michael Bay wasn’t choreographing)? Maybe it’s just me.

So there is the trinity of emotions for this story, and the new frame of mind I’m working with. Through rewriting, I’ve sculpted away the excess junk and found that emotion itself is the bedrock. But there’s a lot on top of that; for instance, WTF is “Janzer?” Am I high? Well, I’ll admit to being an anime fan, and this story involves one of anime’s greatest components: giant robots. And, in the tradition of anime giving its robots ridiculous names–Gundam, Evangelion, Gunbuster, Big O, and others–I decided to give mine a random, made up name. I think it fits (and it sounds cool, to boot.)

So there you have it. My story is everything I wanted to write, although there’s a bit less of it: I cut from 7139 words to about 6700, which is good. Less junk, more space. Though I did have to axe a darling or two to make it work.


Oh bloody hell…

Originally published at Quantum Matrix Scribe. Please leave any comments there.

(Two posts in one day? Man, I must be coming down with something. Maybe it’s a work ethic, I should get that checked out…)

Well, after some further rewriting, my lower word count of 6700ish shot up to 7578. This means I’ll have to cut at least 78 words just to have it ready for publication–magazines don’t really take anything over 7500 words unless you’re already known to them. But considering what I want to actually do, I might have to cut some 200-300 words so I can put in a new scene. But that’s the problem: I’m wary of taking out a scene already, for fear of collapsing the entire structure that is this story.

I think I’m going to sleep on it…