Friday, October 26, 2012

Heroic v.s. Tragedy

Hero. Just a thought I've been developing.

So does a person have to succeed in his quest in order to be labeled a hero? I don't believe so.

The dictionary doesn't seem to agree that it is required. Interestingly enough a hero seems to be determined by his effort and intention rather than a desired result. Rather it seems society has grasped on to the successful hero's in tale and reality and we may have a slanted perspective of actual hero's.

Not to say that we don't recognized a hero when he has failed. We honor all of our fallen soldiers with the title. Surely they failed in both saving our country and their own lives, yet we still label them for their brave deeds.

I think a defining measure of a hero is someone who acts when others stall due to fear or risk. They step forward and accept the call (bravery) to duty or righteousness when others flee or hide from the same. They accept the risk. That means they're willing to fail, but that they will try regardless   The risk isn't usually dragons or some imaginary wickedness. It is more frequently in our lives smaller things.

It's anyone who when faced with fear moves forward toward their goal because the believe it's the right thing to do. They don't consider failure an option, but they accept the reality that they can't win every time. And when they do fail they learn and keep moving forward realizing that in time success will come. Even if it's not of their hand.

Some of the most glorious hero stories (probably of Greek origin) are when the hero (remember the person who takes action when others shrink in fear) dies as a result of their failure to succeed. Then their death, now a martyrdom, motivates those who first shirked the opportunity to raise their bravery and also accept the same possible risk and seek our success where their hero failed.

I think that's my favorite hero story. Nobody likes to see the hero die. In particular it pisses off today's 'super hero' reader society. If you kill your hero your public often time demand that you resurrect them. But the reality is our true hero's die. They're imperfect men and women. Those who took great risk usually do die. It's the great stories where they served as a motivation, where they became the predecessors. Like the story of William Wallace for example. Sorry he died before he achieved his goal of a free Scotland. His followers later achieved his victory (in part) and only generations later did his over all vision become fulfilled.  Even today when we learn of the man's heroic act do we still feel the buzz in our breast and maybe even some of us lift his torch of heroism in our own lives.

So why do we even care? Because hero's make us want to be better people.  Even when they die... maybe even more when they die.

The next time your upset because the author in the story you're reading kills off your hero, don't be dissuaded. Realize that the martyr is now passing the torch of hero from one to another.
If that torch doesn't get passed. Well that's a tragedy and just plain sad. Maybe you don't have to forgive him then.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Direction - Revisions

I made a promise to my self and others and in the excitement of my ideas for 'Monster in the Woods' and the 2012 NaNoWriMo season I got a little carried away. I've decided to skip it again this year and instead try to complete the next round of revisions on 'Speaker of the Winds' in the same time frame. I'd like to send out to my Beta readers an early Christmas present in early December.
Speaker of the Winds needs to get out into the big bad world. I promised myself and to you that at the start of the year that I would share my work by year end. It's time to open my self to a bit more risk and get it out there.
So, if we've spoke about you getting to read a story of mine 'Some Day', well, that day is coming. It'll be in early December.

Monster in the Woods is still going to happen, it just might be a few months later. It's going to be really cool. And scary.

Lol. ;-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Zombie Wife is finished

Isn't it great!

I finished Zombie Wife yesterday. It's all backed up and loaded onto my wife's Kindle for a first read.
Isn't she brave everyone?
I like to think so. She's like a test pilot that keeps getting back into those planes I build even though they crash every time. She must love me.
Still, with that said, I think this is my best novel yet. It's shorter, by more than half than Speaker of the Winds. It clocks in at just over 42,000 words. Likely that will grow by another couple thousand in the second draft, I already know of several things I need to add and expound on. It was intended to be a short story of 16,000 words or so. Something to keep me busy while Brittany read Speaker of the Winds. But it grew... and grew.
That's a good thing I suppose.

So what's next?

Well it should be Draft 2 (well, three really) of Speaker of the Winds. Once I finish that I can finally get it out to my Beta Readers. I'm going to say that, but I've never sent anything out to anyone yet. Nothing has been polished enough to do so. I have at least four willing and uber brave volunteers. Maybe more.
O.k. half of these are family, but we hurt most those who we love.

However, I must procrastinate. November is NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Last year I didn't participate. Which is a shame! I had just started Speaker of the Winds. Knowing it was going to be epic in length I didn't want to have the pressure. I did participate the year before and got half of Lightning Child out of it. In one month!
50,000 words in one month is great for writers like me who slave away in the wee hours of the morn' before work. I'm going to do it again this year. I want to kill it in November and knock out most if not all of the next novel I've just got to get out of my head. With luck I'll have it finished by mid-December and can then revise Speaker.

I've spoke of it before I think.  Monster in the Woods. Like anything that's a working title, but I think it's evocative  It comes from an amalgamation of concepts and has grown over the past few years in my mind. It combines plot lines similar to (the classical) beauty and the beast, phantom, snow white (again classical, which means not Disney), Quasimodo and more. Not full plot, just elements. It has a feel similar to a fairy tale, but without the 'fairy' elements or creatures. Kind of like something M. Night Shyamalan would write. Everything will be real, but so strange and creepy you'll swear I made it up.
Remember when you were growing up and were being read a really well told fairy tale. How it seemed anything could happen. It was magical, mysterious and moving. Maybe some other M words too.
I'm headed in that direction. It will have a love triangle, a twist in that and a big plot twist. It will keep you guessing to the end. You'll expect one thing and then it will change, believably just like in real life, and when it's over you'll be relieved, pleased, pissed and slightly sad.

I grew up in northern Idaho and spent a good deal of time out in the mountains. Truly some of my best memories. Today in Utah I still love getting out and hiking the steeper slopes up here. Nothing beats the great untamed north. There is an edge when it's just you and mother nature. She can have you gazing out into glorious visa's one moment and clinging to life the next and it means nothing to the heartless girl. You're just as valuable to her as one of her gnats.
Have you ever walked a game trail miles from anywhere in the pitch dark? Or in a deep fog? Have heavy things moved just out of sight?
Fear moves in all of us and we've tasted it. Not knowing what lays just out of sight or worse believing it might come into sight, this frightens us. It's the unknown. I think the woods are the perfect setting for such a mystery. As all good Mysteries, the most horrible come from the workings of man's own hands. Bathed in sin and twisting in debauchery. The darkness comes from within. With no where to run, we are entirely alone. If we live or die it is entirely in our own hands. Will your heart fail you out of your own imagined fears? You wouldn't be the first.

In Monster in the Woods, we'll follow a hero-ess who will be forced into finding out if the legend of the Monster in the Woods is real, and further more if she'll survive it.

Although it could be classed as a monster story, I think it's more of a fantasy romance with a fairy tale feel. It won't be half as dark as Zombie Wife, but it will have it's scary moments. After all... There is a Monster in the Woods.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Zombie Wife Progress

I'm so excited to say that I've reached the 80% mark on Zombie Wife. Don't worry, that's just a working title. It's just over 31,000 words so it's looking to be just over 40,000 total. Maybe my Novella might graduate to an actual novel? I suppose it will if the SFFWA members were evaluating it's length.

It is a zombie story like the working title suggests, but it's playing out as more of a post-apocalyptic redemption story. I don't use the word zombie, but treat it as more of an infection. I suppose you could draw a similar line to the infection concept like 'I Am Legend', but that's where the similarity ends. Personally I think there is a dedicated market to zombie stories and this one could do well.

The main characters of the story  are the remaining survivors of a broken family in impossible times. Society was shaken as the illness swept the world severing contact and killing half the world population. Some regions experience total annihilation  others managed better, but hometown USA lost at least half. Similar to the impact of the Black Plague. Their community around them is making it. They have an additional police group who's whole responsibility is to protect the community from further outbreaks. They hunt down and destroy zombies in the community. Although this branch of the law it is heavily regulated by government authorities and elected officials, it is a vital service and one that requires little to extinguish an infected person. Greg the main character works as a member of this justice branch and spends his nights slaying the infected.  His partner on 'Patrol' is a fun ex-surfer and near militia classic corvette loving Dayne. Gun, car and other manly talk ensues...

Greg is married to Heather who unbeknownst to him has been rather un-loyal. She 'visits' with a Phillip on a regular basis to meet her personal needs. Greg has been aloof since his only child was slaughtered with dozens of others after a post recovery (after the governments regained control of the initial outbreak and established order once again) outbreak swept over the school she was attending. He's never forgiven himself as he had promised her he'd always take care of her.

It's been years since, and he can't let go of the pain he was left with.  Greg and Heather's poor choices come to a climax in their lives as they both are left with one final choice. The weight of their relationship and lives hang in the balance. One bad choice could end it all for them.

Zombie Wife will take you deep into the soul of a failing family and the human decisions people make when they seek redemption and forgiveness. It deals with the harsh measurement of an unforgiving disease and the price everyone must pay to regain the sweet peace of forgiveness and the love of their past.

I hope that the readers will enjoy the fun of the guns and cars. That they'll be committed to the characters because of their relateable human choices and emotional drama. The action and zombie slaying will be fun for certain. The tension is high and stakes are higher.

Undoubtedly this is my best plotted story and I plan to ensure it flows well through it's peaks and valleys of tension and recovery.

In rough I'm not certain what my timeline will be on this one. I do know I'll be done with the first draft in the next week or so. Just in time for me to make a tough decision. I didn't do NANOWRIMO last year and I want to this year.  But Brittany just finished reading Speaker of the Winds and I would really like to get through and edit that thing into a submit ready manuscript. I figure I have to get something out there into the market if I'm ever going to get published. It's like the lottery in a way. (I don't gamble.) If you never play, you'll certainly never win. So I want to get my work out there and see what people say.

Assuming I go straight into edits on Speaker of the Winds I might not revise Zombie Wife until February or March and I'll probably not get it out to people for Beta reading until late spring 2013.  Either way. I'm pumped for the story and I think you'll all enjoy it.