epic-fail

All posts tagged epic-fail

The Difficulty of Inventing Words

Published June 7, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Not making up new words in the Lewis Carroll sense (or even in the Robert Heinlein sense), but in a more methodical, if still silly, way.  It’s much harder than I expected.

But let me back up a minute and explain why I’m trying to invent a word.

I’ve been working on my current novel project, which I’ve mentioned several times before.  (Like, cycle through the “Writer’s Corner” category posts, and most of the recent ones will be about it.)

In order to make the story interesting (I hope) and to have things actually happen (gasp!), I’m having to put my narrator through a number of events he finds unpleasant and humiliating.  (But that’s okay, because he’s abrasive, arrogant and sometimes a bit annoying.  So I don’t mind making him suffer a bit.)  I just wrote the conclusion of the first of those events, or rather the first major one.

Said event being that he was forced to pose nude for the faculty of the art department at the college where he teaches Greek (and sometimes Latin).  Why he had no choice but to pose naked for the (mostly female) art teachers is a bit of a long, convoluted and frankly ridiculous story that I don’t want to get into right now.  (But he’s  a side character (though he doesn’t know it) for a (made up) romantic comedy movie (a bad one), so it’s okay that the side plot of the novel (which is the main plot of the movie) is absurd.)

Anyway, after suffering a number of humiliations during the posing process, this happens:

            “Okay, next can you get down on all fours, head hanging down, as if you’ve just been defeated in something of dreadful importance?” Callie asked.

“**** no!” I replied.  I don’t get in that pose lightly, and not where just anyone can see me.  Especially while naked.

He’s got a hair-trigger temper, and this sets him off, all the more so because Callie accuses him of being immature, and then tries to sweet-talk him, despite that she’s in her 60s and dresses like a flower child (despite that, this being the 1980s, she was too old for that even during the 1960s).  So he’s ready to storm out in a huff and go home to sulk and fume, or at least get drunk.  (He does a lot of the latter…)

But he’s still naked, so he can’t just stomp out of the room.  (Especially since it’s mid-February, and though I don’t say where his college is located, in his original incarnation, several novels ago, he lived in Detroit, so Februaries would be pretty cold.  (I even looked up what that particular week’s weather was like in Detroit in 1982.  Very cold indeed.))

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Researching the New Project

Published May 22, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

So, as I mentioned briefly in my last post, I’m working on a new fiction project, rather than either of the two things I was expecting to work on this summer.

The important thing is that I’m writing again — around thumb- and wrist-killing amounts of Hyrule Warriors Legends — and that I’m currently pretty excited about the project.

The down side is that the story takes place in a time period that I lived through and yet don’t actually remember:  the early 1980s.  (Before you criticize me for not remembering, let me ask you this:  how much do you remember from when you were six?)  Compound with that the fact that the genre is a twist on the romantic comedy (a type of movie I never watch), in first person narration by a man (already a problem) who’s a mostly-closeted homosexual.  That last part would be a hard enough perspective for an essentially non-sexual woman even if the work was set in modern times, but in early 1982?

Layers upon layers of new complications.

Now, you may be wondering why I chose 1982, that being the case?

Well, there are a lot of reasons, most of them involving not wanting to let go of the characters’ original origins as dead backstory characters who survived Vietnam only to get killed in a case of mass hysteria during a tragic ski vacation.  But there are reasons to hold to that backstory, even though the tragic ski vacation and horrible early death are now removed from it.  For one thing, I don’t have to make up a new history for the characters.  (As that’s one of my weaknesses, this is an important reason!)  For another, of the same-sex couple, one has been gay since he was fifteen, and the other…well, he’s already in love with the other guy, he just don’t realize he is, so as far as he thinks of himself, he’s straight.  (If that’s inaccurate to how reality works, I apologize.  There’s not much I can do about it, though; that’s kind of at the crux of their story together.)  The narrator — gonna switch to using names here to make it less awkward — Ashley, though he’s been aware of his feelings since he was fifteen, has tried to keep his number of sexual partners to a minimum.  Not out of fear of diseases (that likely would never have crossed his mind!) but because he’s been in love with his best friend, Paddy, the whole time, and keeps wanting only to be with him, so the other men are more or less an aberration against his constant heart.  (Or that’s the way he sees it, anyway.)  The upshot of all this is that by leaving the story set in the early 1980s, I can give him that period of brief sexual experimentation without any risk of ruining their eventual happy ending by his having contracted AIDS; in the window between its introduction to the US and the public becoming aware of it, he had very few partners, and since he doesn’t live in one of the coastal cities where it first became prevalent, it’s not a stretch to imagine that he’s been spared thus far.

Now, I did a little cheating to help me get around my lack of concrete knowledge about 1982.  It’s first person narration, but rather than random first person narration — where we don’t know why the person is telling the tale or to whom — Ashley is very up front in the first few pages about the fact that he’s writing this story into a book, and that the events (while “true”) took place more than twenty years earlier.  So I can have his narration reference a movie that didn’t come out until 1993 if I want, because it’s the twenty+ years later Ashley talking, not the one from 1982.

But that only covers the narration.  There’s still a lot more I need to research about the early 1980s.  How did they dress?  How did they talk?  What were the prevailing stereotypes of the time about homosexuals?

The last one is the stumbling block, of course.  It’s obviously of vital importance to Ashley what the stereotypes of the day were.  Since he’s closeted from everyone except one female friend and the other men at the gay bar where he sometimes goes for drinks when Paddy’s busy, he can’t engage in any activity that’s earmarked as being stereotypically gay.  He’d actively avoid those things, even if he wanted to take part in them, because he’d be afraid of being found out.  (Though I suspect he wouldn’t want to take part in most of them anyway.)  And more importantly for his narrative voice (as opposed to his actual behavior, since he’d never admit that he feared being outed) he’d be outraged at the offensive stereotypes being unjustly applied to him and those like him.

A certain amount of his outrage would transcend time, of course:  since it’s his modern(?) voice narrating, he can be just as outraged at the stereotypes of the 2010s (or whenever) as at the stereotypes of the 1980s.  But whenever someone else’s behavior would reflect the stereotypes of the time — he’s sort of falsely outed about halfway through the book — that’s going to have a big impact.

And that’s where it all falls down a bit.  I went on Wikipedia to look up the movies of the early 1980s and very late 1970s, so I could pick a few to watch and get an idea of clothes and especially how people talked in that time period.  (Most of my favorite movies from the late ’70s and early ’80s do not take place in the real world/present day, and are thus of no assistance.)  As I was clicking on name links to get summaries, I was particularly paying attention to ones that sounded like they would have depictions of the stereotypes of the era.

The problem is that most of the ones that have massive depictions of the stereotypes are not available on Netflix for precisely that reason.  They’re offensive, and so they’re not available streaming, and normally I’d be totally okay with that, because under normal circumstances I wouldn’t want to watch that, either.  But now it’s research…and yet I’m not sure I could force myself to watch them even if they were available.  (And I’m not about to request the DVDs from Netflix, since they’d be sent to my brother’s place…)

I don’t know; maybe I don’t even have to.  Maybe the stereotypes haven’t changed that much.  Or rather, maybe they didn’t change much from the early ’80s to the early ’90s.  The stereotyping is finally beginning to lessen, so today’s stereotypes are slightly different, but I remember stuff from the ’90s well enough not to need any refresher course.  Much of what I have planned is probably in line with the stereotypes of the day.  (For example, after he’s falsely outed, one of Ashley’s students barges into his apartment to see for herself if he’s gay.  When she finds a sparse, un-decorated apartment, a bit sloppy around the edges, and a fridge containing nothing but beer, she’s convinced that he’s not really gay, because his apartment is too much “like a man’s.”)

Changing gears a bit, let me go back and talk about that one female friend who knows Ashley’s gay.  The original thought behind this project was to take the romantic comedy motif of the heroine’s “gay best friend” and tell the story from his perspective, while removing the negative stereotypes likely applied to him.  Since I don’t actually watch romantic comedies (the most recent one I’ve seen is French Kiss, and I find the love story the weakest part of it) this is in itself somewhat problematic.  I suspect this first draft is going to portray as completely flat both the characters who would be the leads of the romantic comedy.  And at this stage of development, there’s probably not a lot I can do about that.  (That’s what re-writes are for, right?)  It doesn’t help that the narration is stilted, of course:  Ashley may be her best friend, but she certainly isn’t his.  In fact, he finds her a bit annoying.

*sigh*

Actually, I think everyone in the book is going to come off as flat, except maybe Ashley.  So far, even Paddy’s not got much depth to him, despite how fleshed out he is in my head.

Ugh.  Maybe I should just give up on taking my writing seriously.  I’ll never write anything good enough to share with anyone else, so what does it matter?

The “Best Friend”

Published May 17, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, this post is a mess.  But after writing more than a thousand words of it, I didn’t want to just let it shrivel up and die as an eternal “draft post”.  So I’m just releasing it into the web with the disclaimer that it sucks.

Read ahead at your own peril.


You may be wondering about the quotes in the title.  Well, that’s because I want to talk about the general socio-cultural phenomenon, not any specific, real-world best friend.

(Listens; hears people clicking away from this post with undue haste.)

Hey, c’mon, it’s not that bad!  Honest, I plan to go through my usual mythological, historical and even fictional examples!  And, in truth, this post was more inspired by a movie than by any work of literature.

See, at the end of the movie — given that it is at the end, I can’t say which, because it’d spoil the movie, but I will say it’s something I saw on Netflix, and it’s a comedy — the hero and his best friend, having had a brief romantic encounter earlier in the picture, talk about if they’re now going to become a couple, and the best friend points out that if they did, they’d only break up after a month or so, and it’d be much better if they stayed best friends in a relationship that will last forever, instead of a short-lived romantic relationship.

Very mature, but is it accurate?

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April A-to-Z Reflections

Published May 9, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

First Reflections

Well, my biggest reflection is that I chose a theme that was way too complicated.  As a result, I ended up getting lazier and lazier about it, and the comparisons started getting cheap, sloppy and almost exclusively stuff I knew well before starting the challenge.  (And this, of course, was while taking a class with heavy reading and a paper each week, so it was doubly poorly chosen as a theme.)  It actually started feeling like work in the final few days, to the extent where I had to promise myself a reward for finishing — and a bigger one than I’ve promised myself for finishing my classes for the semester!

Next year, I’m gonna do something much simpler.  I actually already have something in mind, though I don’t know if I’ll end up doing it or not.

had written a long bit here explaining why so many of my “first choice,” as it were, topics for posts were nixed and had to be replaced at the last minute.  It didn’t really have much to do with April A-to-Z, so I’ve moved it into a different post, so if you want to read about it in detail, please follow that link.  I’ll sum up briefly here by saying that my original sources proved unreliable…and as the month progressed, I realized one of my new sources was also somewhat unreliable.  Ugh.  (BTW, if you saw my “U” post and wondered about the other version of the story, it’s in that other post on the sources, so please check it out!)

Summaries and Scores

Overall, I feel like I changed most of my post’s topics within 24 hours of writing them.  So I thought I’d share with you what they were originally going to be about.  (I’ll get to a recap of what they ended up being about — and a tally of cultures — after this.) Read the rest of this entry →

T is for Tāne

Published April 23, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

T

Because I totally suck (also because I had to work today, by which I mean yesterday by the time you’re reading this), it’s already really late and I don’t have much time to get this post written, so I’m afraid you get the abbreviated version.

By which I mean I’m only repeating the part of Tāne’s myth that I planned to compare to something else.  I apologize, therefore, for all the omissions.


Tāne’s parents, Rangi and Papa, were very much in love.  So much, in fact, that they never parted in their passionate embrace for any reason.  Consequently, though their perpetual love-making created child after child, not a single one could be born, because the exit from Papa’s womb was blocked.

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Missing Letter Monday – No “R”

Published March 28, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

“Hey, Listen!”

It’s all Link’s fault.
It totally is,
You gotta believe me!
I’d’ve been on time
If he hadn’t messed me up!

It’s all Link’s fault,
You gotta see that.
Just what is that dude, anyway?
He’s not an elf,
But he’s not a man,
And he doesn’t even talk!

Anyway, it’s all Link’s fault,
So I don’t wanna get any complaints.

It’s all Link’s fault,
Got it?


MLM banner init MLM R cookies banner init


Yeah….you can guess what I spent half last night playing…

 

Missing Letter Mondays – No “F”

Published January 4, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

“Icarus”

Gliding, rising, swooping,
Giddy and shouting,
Rising higher and higher,
Towards the shining sun.

Trembling escape turned joyous,
The boy rises in excitement,
Heedless to his papa’s cries,
Ignoring the warning edicts.

Desire to meet the sun —
To join him in shining above the world,
To ride in his golden chariot —
Goads the boy ever upward.

Higher,
Higher,
Higher!

The boy whoops with glee.

But he draws near the sun.
The heat in Helios’ glory
Begins to melt the wax.
The pinions in his wings,
No longer downy,
Tremble, slip, and slowly descend
Like the light and airy things they are.

The boy is not light.
The boy is not airy.

He descends like a stone,
Plummeting too quickly.
His aggrieved parent cannot catch him,
Not in time.


MLM icon init bonus points MLM F


I must admit that “the pinions in his wings” is  originally Shakespeare’s, though I re-structured it a bit post-stealing.

 

Missing Letter Monday – No “D”

Published December 21, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

“Late”

Sorry, I forgot!
Sorry (that) I forgot!
There has been much stress here as of late.
There has been much forgetting as of late.
But there will be repairs.
Tomorrow comes the repair person.
Until then I eat pears.
(Uh, sorry, trying to rhyme…Mr. Lawson.)

A poet I am not.

So I’ll stop.


MLM banner init MLM D cookies banner init


Really, I totally forgot about this.  It’s been like that for a while now…

 

IWSG – NaNo Failure

Published December 2, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the first time, I’ve failed NaNo.

In the future, anyone who chances upon my profile will see four wins followed by a loss.  They might think something like “Oh, what a shame she messed up after so many successes!”

Of course, if they click further and look at the stats for the failed novel, then they’ll probably ask themselves “Why in the name of sanity didn’t she validate her novel if she had 87,474 words?!”

Well, the obvious answer is that to me, the goal of NaNo isn’t to write 50,000 words.  To me, the goal is to write a complete novel.

And I didn’t do that.

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Missing Letter Monday – No “Z”

Published November 23, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

This week for Missing Letter Monday, you’re getting a bit of a look of what I’ve been grinding out this month for NaNoWriMo.  Please keep in mind that the following excerpt is entirely rough; there has been no editing (apart from replacing a few words that had the forbidden letter in them) and the only spell-checking I’ve done is whatever I’ve noticed here having red squiggly lines under it.  (I turned off the red squiggly lines on my word processor ages ago…)  I’ve also done absolutely no research, so if anything doesn’t jive with 1970s speech, and/or the Vietnam War and the military mindset in general, well…what can I say other than “sorry about that”?  If the finished product seems good enough to bother trying to polish up (unlikely, considering that I’m the one writing it) then I’ll do some research and fix up all that stuff.  (Both NaNo and this novel were last minute decisions this year, so there was no chance to do research beforehand.)

The cast:

  • Ashley Pendleton — Our protagonist…essentially.  He’s more beautiful than handsome, and skilled at everything he does.  (In my own defense, he originated in another book, where he was literally the reincarnation of Achilles, so being beautiful and the best at everything was part of the job description.)  He has flame-red hair, blue eyes, and…uh…that’s about all I’ve figured out about his appearance, really.  If he wasn’t in the army, his hair would be in a nice long late sixties/early seventies style, with lots of pretty curls, but since he is in the army, he’s got a crew cut, which he hates.  (Though I’m not sure if the fact that he hates his haircut has come up yet at this point in the story…)  He’s from Detroit…sort of.  It was a random choice when he was just a dead backstory character for that other book; now that he’s the lead, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for him to come from a city I’ve never been to and know nothing about…although I’m not sure his home town really has any impact, since he doesn’t go there at any time during the book.  (It’s still a work in progress, after all!)  He’s twenty, almost twenty-one.  He’s quick to anger, and fiercely loyal to his friends.  Or to his best friend, anyway. (His loyalty to his other friends has not been tested yet with this version of the character; I’m not entirely sure how he’ll react when the time comes.  His new personality is still forming.)  He also frequently displays tunnel vision, ignoring everything outside his core focus.
  • Paddy Morris — Our second protagonist.  He’s also very handsome, and very talented at everything, if not quite as good as Ashley.  He’s the only person allowed to call Ashley by the nickname Ashe.  (And yes, I’m aware that the nickname is usually not spelled with an “e” when it’s being applied to men.)  When Ashley was drafted, Paddy volunteered and somehow managed to pull the right strings to be put in the same unit with him, so that he could watch Ashley’s back and make sure nothing happened to his best friend; he’s that devoted in his friendship.  (I have no idea if it would actually be possible for him to arrange to be in the same unit with Ashley, but…both their fathers were heroes in WWII, so…)  He’s twenty-one, but only barely.  (The quote doesn’t get to the part where the year is mentioned, but it’s 1970.)
  • Sergeant-Major Julius Fleischer — Everything about this guy’s name is temporary.  Particularly the Julius part; it might be too on-the-nose.  (It hasn’t come up yet, but he’s into ancient Rome the way Ashley is into ancient Greece…a fact which also hasn’t come up yet, come to think of it.)  He’s the typical fictional sergeant, really:  shouty and perpetually annoyed by our hero.  (Has there ever been a work of fiction where the NCO in charge of the hero actually likes him/her?)  He’s older than the regular troops; currently, he’s about 35, but maybe that’s too old?  (I have no idea…)  I have not figured out what he looks like; presumably nothing outstanding in either a good or a bad way.
  • Timmy Johnson — Okay, the “Johnson” part is definitely random, and will almost undoubtedly change.  I’ve got no idea what his last name will really end up being.  I went with Johnson because it was literally the first last name I happened to think of.  “Timmy” on the other hand is set more or less in stone.  He’s young — only 18 — and freshly arrived in Vietnam.  He’s from a tiny little town in North Carolina, because…uh…because.  He had to come from somewhere in the South, for reasons, and I went with North Carolina because that’s where my mother comes from.  (His town, however, is a fictional one.)  I have no idea what he looks like, other than “fresh off the farm”…which I do understand is not a “look” per se.
  • Sergeant Caesar Jones — Caesar is a medic.  He’s African-American, from San Francisco, and he joined the army in order to get the money to pay for medical school, because he couldn’t afford it on his own, and didn’t want to be saddled with massive loans to repay.  (He has, however, already gotten his pre-med degree, so he’s older than Ashley and Paddy by about five years; he’s been in the army for several years since joining up.)  He’s very intelligent (definitely the smartest man in the group, by far) but a bit jumpy, and liable to leap into anger too easily.  I don’t have any ideas what he looks like, either, but probably he’s pretty good-looking.  (There’s a girl who’ll show up later on (as of today’s pre-writing session, Nov. 5, she hasn’t even shown up yet) who’s probably going to end up with him, so for her sake it’d be nice if he’s attractive as well as smart and usually very nice.)
  • Frank, the pilot — Yeah, he doesn’t even have a last name yet.  He pilots a helicopter.  I know nothing about him, other than that he and Caesar are on a first-name basis.  (I know, as the writer I should know more than that!  But honestly, he’s not really going to have much of a presence…)

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