Archive | August, 2011

Video Games Will Rot Your Brain

7 Aug

I am jealous of video games. When I describe scenery, it takes a page or two, and I have to be sure of avoiding tedious repetition, while telling the reader where everything is. My characters never speak with Patrick Stewart’s voice, unless the reader is exceptionally good at reproducing those sonorous tones. Or has an unhealthy obsession with Captain Jean Luc Picard. Whatever.

And the combat. Do not get me started on combat. I. Hate. Writing. Fight scenes. Who cares how someone swings a blade? Whether they duck and roll or take a hit. Well…everyone. And while I sit at my computer attempting to imagine something I have only really seen in movies (which are never to be believed), any video game worth it’s salt has a dozen combat specialists programming their character’s actions to the last realistic(ish) detail.

So what I propose is this: I shall hire a team of martial arts nerds to script out my action sequences exactly like they would do for a game. And then I will find some down-on-their-luck painter to fill in my landscapes for me. Especially the buildings.

Yes. That’ll make my life sooo much easier.

Except.

There’s something that video games don’t do quite as well (although they’re coming closer). They don’t let us into our character’s head. Sure, we control their actions. We send them on missions, and we know everything they know. But how do they feel when they swing that double-headed axe or blast an imp with their mana?

And that’s what action sequences in books are really about. I mean, I definitely have to mention it if my lead character loses an eye. I do have to plot a battle so that it more or less makes sense. But I have to put the motivations and the stakes before the action. The why counts for more than the how.

But I still want Patrick Stewart to do the voices.

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The Allure of the Bad Boy

4 Aug

For a while, I have been contemplating the use of the “Bad Boy” trope in books. What exactly draws us to this character? Why don’t we like his neater, nicer, more decorous brethren?

Worry not. I have a theory.

My theory goes like this: most people are nice. Someone bumps into you at the store, steps on your toes in the elevator, whatever. You apologize, or say “excuse me”. That’s right. The stepee apologizes. Which is all well and good for the proper running of society. But the Bad Boy would never say sorry. Not even when it’s his fault. And the little part of us that is tired of that five letter word secretly cheers him on.

Who hasn’t told those little white lies to our friends and loved ones? We tell them they look nice when they…don’t. We tell them we are fine when we’re…not. We even listen to Uncle Whatshisname drone about his trip to the Bahamas and Aunt Whatsit whinge about her back pain. The Bad Boy doesn’t. He doesn’t even have an Uncle Whatshisname or an Aunt Whatsit. All his family died tragically in flames.

They never proved it was arson.

So I’m pretty sure we love the Bad Boy not because we ladies want to be treated like crap by our boyfriends. We just can’t help but fall for someone who doesn’t have that internal edit button. That guy who’s kind of an asshole, in a way we all wish we could be sometimes.

But if you don’t want to think of yourself in such an unflattering light, don’t worry. It’s just a theory.

You know, like evolution is just a theory.