The Quietus Saga Chapter 1.3 (WIP)

A foot long and placed in the corner where wall met ceiling, the emergency light flickered its sickly yellow pale into the residential hallway. A faint bass line rumbled from an apartment home, its beat almost keeping pace with the flickering light. Winston knocked on the door that the bass line came from, keeping his body angled so the door would have to happen wide to see him and so he could keep an eye on the hallway.

His eyes darted to a scratching sound from a drainage grate on the opposite side of the hall. Hands curled loosely into fists, he stared. The grate, about the width of his hand and as long as the emergency light, wiggled. It then popped up where a furry body quickly scurried into view. The black rat froze when it got completely free of the grate, realizing something was near it. It stared intently at Winston, whiskers twitching furiously, and then abruptly it went scurrying down the hall. Winston let out the breath he had been holding and knocked on the door a second time.

When no one opened the door, Winston set off once more constantly looking at the ceiling. Mildew and mold ran in long streaks. In places the fungi covered conduits to the point it looked like the piping simply stopped for a few inches and then started again. Next to the conduit were disused rails for automatic pressure washers to keep the hallways pristine. On paper, in the intel provided, the arcology was gorgeous. Small holes showed in the ceiling where a long piece of railing had been ripped free.

He stopped at the next door in the hallway, eyes on the false tile next to the missing railing. Intel provided had it leading to a sub-ceiling or subfloor, dependent on where one stood. It could be full of grims. Or a bunch of Symps trailing me. Shit. Why was intel so bad for this? I could get a few dozen Symps. People are people and will be idiots so there are bound to be a few who side with a terrorist message. But an entire neighborhood? Somebody dropped the goddamn ball. Dropped it big time.

He pounded on the door. The emergency light that was providing a modicum of illumination, blinked out. The telltale hum of air moving through ventilation shafts was suddenly there. He slowly shook his head. It’s worse on regular power. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the number of Symps. He pounded again and this time the door swung inward.

Faint red light spilled into the hallway but no sound followed it. At least none he could hear. The ambient sound was just too much. Nice call assholes, he wiped his hands on his sweat and blood stained pants, on ordering minimal gear. He walked slowly back and to the side, keeping a wide angle on the door. In and out they said. We have positive intel on the residents wanting Yosem Mir gone from the arcology, they said. He clenched and unclenched his fists, peeking in.

Fully furnished. A cursory scan placed a futon on the right wall. A chaise in front of it. Long hutch on the left wall. Box in between the chaise and hutch. Table near the kitchen entrance. Two more hutches near the table. A red light hanging from the middle, swaying a bit. Seeing no potential hostiles, Winston stayed where he stood and focused on the details. How the chaise was littered with dirty dishes and waded up clothing. He took in the coiled rope on the box and the rips in the futon that had a blanket hanging off the edge. There was pizza on the table, just laying on the table with seven cups scattered around the food. Toys and instruments and books littered the floor.

A look up and down the hall and then Winston entered the domicile. The bass line from the neighboring apartment home was faint, sounding like a slow heartbeat now. He matched his breathing to it and looked in the hutch that was to his immediate left.

Winston blinked. Twice.

Bugs filled the hutch. Worms writhing. Beetles buzzed and bounced off the glass front. Huge hairy spiders stalked the shelves. Locusts buzzed like saws. Flies covered indiscriminate lumps with worms and maggots writhing in a pulsating mass. A cold shiver ran over him like ice water dumped on his head. Who the fuck keeps bugs for pets? Any more remarks were instantly killed when he turned to look at the box. Not a coiled rope. Coiled intestines with the blood appearing black under the red light. The waded clothing was stained black. Black marks on the couch, centered on the tears.

It was having experienced more fubar missions that he would ever freely dwell on that had Winston moving. Into the kitchen, stepping over a headless feline corpse, getting a knife out of the third drawer he opened. A cheap steak knife. It would break after the first cut, but it was a weapon. An upper cabinet opened. Tin of baked beans. The bluntness complimented the steak knife and it was a projectile.

He spared the dead cat a single glance, noting the missing paws, on his way back into the main living area. Winston went to the first bedroom on the right. Bed, dresser, desk, rolling chair, closet open, posters of musical bands on the walls. Winston nodded at the toolbox on the floor of the closet. He opened it and took the hammer without hesitation, leaving the knife.

Bass line matching the beat of his heart now, Winston kept the hammer angled away from his body as he stepped across the hall to the bathroom. The entrance covered by a hanging curtain backlit by a nightlight. His chin dipped in acknowledgement. It made no sense, was irrational in every way, but he accepted the mutilated brown and white dog hanging by a wire as a statement of fact.

The bass was getting stronger as he got closer to the wall separating the two apartments. Winston extended the hammer and pushed the door open to the master bedroom. A snake on the bed slithered into a tight ever moving coil as a warning to Winston. He kept his distance, as he could, checked the en suite, and then a few seconds later was pushing open the last bedroom door.

Faintly illuminated by a nightlight on the wall, the room was a blank slate of freshly painted drywall. Walls without a blemish wherein the other rooms were sloppily painted, had holes randomly throughout, and the odd piece of art work hanging in the hall. He looked over his shoulder into the bathroom at the hanging dog that looked like someone had worked it over with a cheese grater, and then he slowly turned his head to look down the hall. Just as slow, he brought his gaze back to the room. It was too off. Too wrong.

Thump. Thump. Thump. The bass followed him into the room. Angling to keep the door in his peripheral, Winston began walking the room, skirting the walls. A finger traced a line on the new neon yellow paint. Gaze took in the perfectly installed sculpted mid-height baseboard two shades whiter than the wainscoting. The same shade of white as the chair rail. His bed was a matching white; linen, mattress, and frame. Winston crawled onto the bed.

An absence of light, black as sin moved in front of the entryway.

From the middle of the room Winston swung the hammer.

Yellow was the color of light.

Back into a corner of the closet, Winston screamed wordlessly.

Light keeps the horrors away.

The complete absence of light, radiating terror like a forest fire radiates heat, floated. Crawled. Slithered over the threshold.

Light repelled the nightmares.

Winston turned his back to the open door. His hands squeezed on tin of baked beans and the handle of the hammer. Breath catching in his throat.

Light vanished.

[Reaper, where are you?]

The door closed.

The Quietus Saga Chapter 1.1 (WIP)

Chapter

[Reaper, give your fix,] Staff Sergeant Winston ‘Hatchet’ Speh subvocalized. [I’m heading down Hall Eighteen Bravo. No grims in sight.]

His eyes darted around. Emergency lighting from a flood light on his six bathed the wide hall in a faint jaundice yellow glow. Concrete rubble littered the ground, with bullet holes taking the concrete’s former place in the walls. Water sussuring from a broken pipe somewhere in the vast hallway had soaked the ceiling to the point it was raining. The air was rank with putridness like he had just stepped into a wastewater sewer, and a civilian slumped against a wall, ten feet down on the right side. Almost like the guy was sleeping with a mess of yarn on his lap; but yarn wasn’t rubbery, bloody, and filled with literal shit and undigested lunch. The chap had been split open from pelvis to sternum.

 “Shit. Ain’t no one around,” Winston whispered.

No one. Not Reaper. Queen. Javelin. Ghost. Cleaver. All of them fuck knows where. Civilians were scattered, panicked, terrified. Pushed to the irrational and fucking killing each other like rats frantically trying to escape a goddamn sinking ship. Power was sporadic with dwindling oxygen and climbing CO2. Half the cesspit wanted to legit murder him and his five fellow Black Dragons. And a there were bunch of wow I’ve finally snapped and have gone full insane things that were as brutal as the Grim Reaper itself; hence the name.

“Suppose things could be worse,” he muttered and then glanced at the eight-inch black blade he held. Aside from his appendages it was the only weapon he had. While the grims were doing a bang up job at excising the wicked from the arcology like a doctor expelling puss from a pimple, there were still a few hundred humans who wanted the six ARIES Team 2 “Black Dragons” to vacate the premises. “Not sure how though.”

Overhead hallway lighting abruptly turned on. Winston blinked rapidly against the sudden light blindness and then let out a long breath. Red painted every surface in sight like a hundred cans of spray paint had exploded at once. Holy mother of all that is holy that isn’t just concrete, it’s, it’s, Jesus it looks like a family was put through a ricer. His eyes narrowed, gaze focusing on an oddity down the hall. Anything to keep from actively dwelling on what he was walking through. Black Dragons had seen some shit, been involved in some seriously grievous trash, but there was a breaking point to the human mind.

His grip shifted on his knife handle, which he realized now was coated, like himself, not in water but blood. Fuck, how many people would have to be opened up to make it rain with their fluid? The oddity that had been hidden in shadow before kept his gaze though. It looked like a weathered canvas painting, fraying at the edges and stapled to the wall. Stepping lightly, he found it a bit amusing how the mind automatically responded to new information.

“What in the motherfuck?” The words leapt from his lips without thought as it all came into view and clicked at once. Skin. Human skin slapped to the wall so hard that it stuck.

A boom. A scream. Winston spun on a heel, arm flashing out and sending the knife arrowing into the chest of a naked screaming man before the crazy had made it all of three steps into the hall. While gravity hastened the man to the ground, Winston bounded over to the corpse. He snatched the blade free on his way past and into the apartment home.

The layout was identical to every other apartment in Olympus Mons Arcology. An eleven hundred square foot floorplan he and his team had committed to memory before leaving Earth for Mars. A dual-purpose living/dining room upon immediate entry. A kitchen lay through an entryway on the right near the back-right corner. A hallway eleven feet from the main entry that cut left leading to a room on the right, a full bath on the left and a bedroom just beyond the full bath. A half bath attached to that last bedroom. Inside eleven seconds he had each room cleared and then began work on searching for the palmlet that came with every apartment in the arcology.

The bedroom with attached bath was sad by any measure. A twin-sized air mattress was pushed against a corner. Cardboard boxes, six of them, all filled with clothing, had taken up space in the closet. They were now strewn about the room as Winston made a quick peek into the half-bath. Three shampoo bottles, a bar of soap, and a pink trash can. He snagged the trash can and felt his way through the contents on his way to other bedroom, which he found empty as if no one lived in the apartment.

At the edge of the hall leading into the dual-purpose room, Winston halted. Every part of his being told him to run. Hide. Cower. Find safety. Preserve the self. Sweat suddenly beaded from his palms. His heart began beating so hard it vibrated his entire torso. Horripilation rose and fell across his body. His pupils shrank to pinpoints and it felt like trying to breathe with a pillow over the face. The only thing that kept the knife gripped with nonsensical fingers and his knees from giving out was an innate arrogance that he, Staff Sergeant Winston “Hatchet” Speh was the baddest motherfucker in any given room at any given time.

Lifting a foot that felt as if it were encased in solid lead, Winston stepped fully into the dual-purpose room. Slowly he turned his head to the left, his gaze resting on the grim framing the entryway to the kitchen. Roads were black. Charcoal was black. This was less black and more the absence of light. A night terror given flesh. Wrongness solidified. The primal part of Winston’s brain screamed at him to look away. A fuck all attitude against weakness kept his eyes fixed on the thing and still it was nigh impossible to form an accurate description in his head. It stood on two legs or four or perhaps floated on a twitching tail. Maybe it had a head like a person. Maybe it didn’t. The visual largely would not stay fixed in memory, though one thing he did perceive was the unnatural sharpness of it. Like looking at even the most advanced android out there and getting that sense it was not natural, so to did this grim give off. It was that gut feeling that allowed higher order thinking to take control, once again.

The powered exoskeleton that was epoxied to his skin and also held by magnets attached to bones, and was also now hanging in places by makeshift straps, surged. Winston threw himself across the room and out the door like he was shot out of a cannon. If anything, the grim was faster. Something hard clipped his back just as he passed the threshold and threw him hard against the far wall. Pain ripped from the right clavicle as the magnet on the bone forcibly disengaged from the exoskeleton and then snapped back into place.

Taking advantage of momentum, Winston twisted like a cat and then rolled shoulder over shoulder across the wall. Concrete erupted like a volcano exploding with the grim passing through three inches of block and into an apartment home. A brief scream from an unlucky civilian followed the explosion of wall. Winston pushed off his wall with a foot, bounded several steps down the hall and then fell into a fighting stance.

He arched an eyebrow when the grim did not immediately reappear in the hallway. Weird. His eyes flicked to the macabre canvas stuck to the hallway wall some ways away and his eyes widened at the realization. Holy fuck that’s fucked. He then broke into a jog and glanced at hands that now held nothing but air.  I need a gun and a palmlet…and my team.

[Black Dragons,] he subvocalized. [Where the fuck are you?]

CARDBOARD HAS NEVER BEEN MORE INTERESTING – HULL ZERO THREE

 

A man pushed open the saloon style doors of Louie’s on Fox. The right top hinge squealed like nails on chalkboard, acting a better entry bell than a bell would. Paint flaked from the wooden slabs in so many places, regulars made it a game to guess what color Louie claimed the door was that day. As the saloon doors flap closed, the hinge making fainter sounds with each flap like that of an animal letting out their last gasps of life, the man walks with steady steps in the direction of the bar. Dirt, brought in by the miners at the coal seam just outside of town and blown in from lack of glass on the window holes and a proper door, rise in small tufts under the heavy steps of the man. A few of the patrons that sit at the five fight-weathered tables like fleas clinging to a dog’s back give the man a once over, and then look back at their liquid dreams in the dirty glasses in front of them.

Two brown fans, fan blades more gray than brown from the caked on dust, turn as lazily as a vulture on a thermal waiting for a meal to die. It does nothing for the blistering heat that envelops the place, but they’re not supposed to according to Louie. It’s about not allowing the air to go stagnant. The man doesn’t know about that, nor does he care, he didn’t pick Louie’s for its cosmopolitan ambience.

He makes his way to a bar stool with a sliver of cushion and fabric so thin the man does what every other patron to Louie’s does, he tries to pull off the fabric like it was a dirty towel Louie left on the stool. When the fabric doesn’t come free, the man shrugs a shoulder, and sits in front of the bar top that takes up almost the entire left side wall.

Gouges, pits, and scraps decorate the deep brown oak bar top with patches of lighter oak, where fights had removed large chunks, joining the display. The metal running along the edge of the front could have been brass, or copper, or any other type of metal. It was hard to tell from the blood and dirt stains on top of the divots and dents. Behind the bartop that would turn away anyone more refined than a raccoon, five shelves were screwed into the roughhewn cedar wall. Dusty bottles with hardly a drop spilled from their confines sat next to near empty bottles of alcohol, the glass hard to see through from the dirt that covered it.

An old bartender behind the bar shambles over to the man sitting and places a glass as dirty as the bottle in front of the man. The inside could be clean, but the man doesn’t hold his breath. If he was worried about his health he wouldn’t have been at Louie’s.

“Cheapest vodka ya got,” the man says. As the bartender ambles away, he sighs, leans on his elbows against the bar, and just stares.

~

Greg Bear is horrible.

Okay, let’s back up here, shine the dirty glass so things are a bit clearer. If you are an author, you know this one piece of advice because it is a constant. Everyone who gives advice on writing says it; be it a blog post, newspaper article, or just shooting the breeze. If you want to be an author you need to know this; and if you just like reading, not writing, it will make sense when you think about it.

Characters in a story are not supposed to be as flat as cardboard.

An example would be the mini-story above. We know one character is a man and he doesn’t care about his health. That’s it. Why he’s there, what drove him to Louie’s, what drives him to do what he does. They are all absent, but the bar is in great detail. So you have a fleshed out background, but a character as flat as paper.

An entire novel is not supposed to be set up that way, yet Greg Bear does just that with Hull Zero Three, and it works. Which is why Mr. Bear is such a cretin. A story is not supposed to be a great read if the characters have the depth of an atom. Yet, Bear takes that given, throws it on the fire, and then writes a story populated by cardboard characters that is a really good read.

There is a reason why the characters are so one-dimensional in Hull Zero Three. To provide the reason would give away what makes the book wonderful, but that doesn’t mean the story is supposed to succeed. Even though the characters have to be cardboard, Hull Zero Three should be boring, but I couldn’t put it down.

For two days I read the book every single chance I got. Two free minutes waiting for the kitchen sink to fill with hot water? I read. Walking from the car to inside, I read. I read at night by the light of my phone, and during the morning while waiting for bread to toast.

The main reason for why the story is so fascinating is that the story is interesting despite being populated by cardboard characters. I don’t have a clue how he pulled it off. No idea.

Hull Zero Three is a great read. It’s really good. I highly recommend it.

5 AMAZING SCI-FI READS – AN UNCONVENTIONAL LISTING

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Ahh, the list of things to read. As varied as fingerprints and as accurate to the total stranger as Steve Harvey announcing a winner of a beauty contest. They are fun to read though, as a book lover will eventually run across one or two books they haven’t read before, books that catch their eye and entice them to read.

Now, this is not an essential read list. There’s no such thing. To claim a book is an essential read is the same as saying, “That’s the best movie ever!”. It’s pure opinion and does not take into account the preferences of generations. For what is considered wonderful writing to an older generation is now considered stilted and out of touch with a younger generation.

For instance, most people who began reading between the ‘50s and ‘80s will refuse to believe that Asimov, Herbert, Niven, Clarke (to name a few) don’t resonate very well with today’s generation. Yet the writing is so drastically different, stilted if books published in the 2000s are the new standard bearers, that people who began reading in the 90s and 00s will look at those authors, from the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction, as boring compared to the authors who have begun publishing during the last twenty or so years.

If you flip the train, the same holds true. The older generation will try out some of the newer books, but for the most part stick to the long dead writers or those authors who began writing back in the ‘60s. The newer generation of authors are just uninteresting to them.

So, essential read lists? An emphatic, NO.

A list of novels with tight writing, gigantic ideas, and ridiculous action? This is for you.

 

FORTUNE’S PAWN

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Fortune’s Pawn is a blend of ideas taken from pop-culture sci-fi movies and books. There is a mysterious ethereal force akin to Star Wars. Mercenaries wear giant suits of armor, with some serving a monarchy, similar to Warhammer 40K. The crew of The Glorious Fool is ragtag, digging up thoughts of Firefly. And there is a type of xenomorph like from Alien.

There is a mysterious ethereal force akin to Star Wars. Mercenaries (warriors) wear giant suits of armor, with some serving a monarchy, similar to Warhammer 40K. The crew of The Glorious Fool is ragtag, digging up thoughts of Firefly. And there is a type of xenomorph like from Alien.

The thing about Fortune’s Pawn isn’t so much about the extraneous parts—the universe is quite interesting—it’s that Rachel Bach has created a main character in Devi Morris who has so much panache and badassery, she will grab you by the throat on page 1 and won’t let go until the last word of the last sentence. And you’ll thank her for it.

Action upon action, hurtling toward conclusion at a breakneck speed, Fortune’s Pawn is the most entertaining book you’ll have read in years.

 

BLINDSIGHT

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Hard sci-fi. A tough sell to the crowds that want more fiction than science in their stories. However, sometimes an author comes along that manages to bridge that gap. Alastair Reynolds comes to mind, and now Peter Watts, both utilizing a mixture of hard sci-fi and outlandish fiction to create something memorable.

Blindsight follows a handpicked crew sent to investigate an alien object transmitting a signal. Standard fare right? Well, throw in a man with half his brain carved out at a young age who can’t feel empathy, a woman literally living with multiple people in her head, a man who may has well be a cyborg, a highly lauded soldier who is now a pacifist, and a vampire from the Pleistocene era resurected to be the ultimate soldier; you now have the makings for one strange story.

This first contact story is so marvelously written that you may be a little bummed at the end of it when you remember not every story is written so great. It is recommended to be read on an ereader with a dictionary downloaded, as the biology terminology is a bit heavy at times.

Blindsight is a first contact story completely unlike any you have ever read before.

 

DARK INTELLIGENCE

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Neal Asher writes like Peter Watts; you want to read every word in every sentence, not skipping so much as a “it” or “the”. In regards to Watts, every word needs to be read as near every sentence is crammed with difficult language, making it easy to get lost. Asher on the other hand, spins such a brilliant tale, you’ll find yourself not speed reading simply so you can savor every morsel of what he dishes up.

Dark Intelligence is that and more.

In what is possibly the finest science fiction novel ever produced, we find ourselves immersed in a story following the machinations of the single most fascinating character in literature: Penny Royal, an evil genie AI. The rest of the cast is as memorable: Thorvald Spear, a resurrected human with a chip on his shoulder; Riss, the snake-like assassin drone; Isobel Satomi, a career criminal who should have been more cautious when speaking to a genie. There is so much greatness crammed into this book, it is a shame not every sci-fi lover has read it.

Next to Hyperion, Dark Intelligence may just be the greatest sci-fi novel ever written.

 

REDSHIRTS

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Enjoy Star Trek? Did you get a kick out of the “third man” during the free fall scene in the Star Trek reboot movie? Hell, do you enjoy reading humorous books? If you can say yes to any of them, do yourself a favor and read Redshirts by John Scalzi.

From an author who has the balls to do stand-up comedy on occasion, the story of a redshirt ensign stationed on a starship that may resemble the USS Enterprise is exactly what you’d think: an absolute riot. The dialogue and description Scalzi creates in Redshirts is not only gut-busting funny, it’s some of the best he’s produced across all his novels.

Redshirts is a great read to start your week, end your week, or just lose yourself in any day of the week.

 

 

ANDROID HUNTERS

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Androids, an existence stricken from record and unofficially public enemy number one for the butchery of an entire world. Android Hunters, genetically enhanced humans with a singular resolve to hunt down and destroy every last android. The most powerful criminal empire in the history of humanity. And an android who wants to be human, who also may be the most powerful weapon ever created.

Characters inspired by mythological heroes, gods, and titans. Technology that follows Clarke’s third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Betrayal. Manipulations. Terrorists.

Android Hunters checks every box a sci-fi fan could want; and then when you blend all of those elements together, and throw in a world of pristine beauty juxtaposed against the brutality of a secret war fought by android hunters against androids, you get a story with a blistering pace that will leave you on the edge of your seat; wanting, wishing, waiting for more.

 

 

4 WRITING TAKEAWAYS FROM DAREDEVIL (TV)

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Daredevil, a Netflix Original Series, is one show in the growing stable of Marvel television shows. Serious at its core, it’s sprinkled with humor like a master chef adding salt to a dish; not too little so it has no affect, but not too much so the humor ruins the vibe. The writing stands head and shoulders above competition even outpacing other Marvel enterprises, with production values on par with big budget movies. Combined, the recipe makes for the best Marvel show and one of the best television shows ever produced.

Now, yes, Daredevil is a television show and thus naturally inferior to curling up with a good book, yet through the phenomenal writing of scripts and show pacing, a writer can takeaway quite a few great tips.

 

SLOW REVEALS

Daredevil excels here. The first episode origin story that tells the audience why the hero is filled with angst and why the villain is evil and hates the hero, is skipped in favor of the natural lifestory reveal. The writers of Daredevil decided the story should follow the person; Daredevil, Matthew Murdoc, is someone who works in the shadows and by night, and his story reveal follows that work ethic.

In the first episode we are introduced to Matthew Murdoc at the end of the crash that gives him his abilities, then thrust directly into his nightlife routine of beating the snot out of criminals. It’s here the viewer is given a taste for how the show will play out: the past will be revealed, not all in one huge chunk—an infodump if you will—but over time in small bite sized pieces. It’s like when you meet a new person. That person, or you, don’t make introductions and then launch into a backstory covering from age 5 up to three minutes ago. It’s weird and unnatural. Writing should take a cue from real life on explaining backstory like the writers of Daredevil follow.

 

RELATIONSHIPS NEED CONFLICT

No surprise here. Romance is the largest book genre by sales volume because relationships are full of tension. Women, and men, don’t purchase romance books because they are all huge, sentimental, love struck, romantics. Some may read romance for that reason, but in general, people yearn to see or read about relationships that are full of so much conflict that interested parties would have split long ago in real life, but they continue on at least speaking terms in the story. It’s a storytelling device that the romance genre excels in, and here Daredevil follows with greatness.

The writers in our show create tension between every single character, even Foggy and Murdoc who are best friends, and the drama is built slow like a pot of water coming to a boil. Conflicted relationships that develop over time, not in three sentences, are fascinating—in real life, in movies, television, and especially novels.

 

SURPRISE

It’s difficult to give an example from Daredevil about the surprises the writers use. To do so would ruin some of the most amazing scenes ever created for a television program.

The writers of Daredevil are able to produce these shocking scenes, not because they reach a point and think, “Let’s throw a twist in!”. Rather, they set a character down a path, with a morality you think you know they follow, and then force the character onto a road that could make them possibly go against their moral code.

It is difficult to envision without proper examples, so watch at least through Episode 11 of Season 1. When you do, keep in mind that twists like that cannot happen to every character in a novel or show. The more characters you toss moral twists at, the cheaper each subsequent one becomes. Going back to the salt analogy; too much can ruin a dish while too little will have no effect.

 

UPPING THE ANTE

Daredevil starts small and then increases the pot like an overconfident drunk playing poker.

Many TV shows and novels believe that if they lay out this massive, convoluted plot from the get go, they can coast to the end and keep the attention of the reader/viewer. The writer(s) could not be more mistaken.

Again, this is one of those that examples from the show would ruin what the writers have created. Suffice to say, every single episode throws another pepperoni on the pie, just one piece, enough for added flavor but not overpowering. By the end of the season, those single pieces create a mountain ready to topple over and create a surprise ending.

How do you do that in a novel though when most novels are not serials? You can up the plot ante with each chapter, subtly building until the penultimate chapter is a pressure cooker with the lid about to explode off.

 

 

Hooray for book lights!

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Got these two little beauties with a Barnes and Noble gift card by daughter got me for my birthday. Now I can lay in bed and read while my wife sleeps, rather than sit up on an uncomfortable couch.

Great book so far too.

Oh man, I gotta read a book?

READING

Reading [ˈrēdiNG]

NOUN

  1. the action or skill of reading written or printed matter silently or aloud

 

Three years ago when I was still writing ANDROID HUNTERS, a coworker told me something that shocked me so intensely I just sat down—a little bummed truth be told. He said, “I don’t read books, just watch TV. I don’t have enough time to read.”

How was I to respond to that?

  • “I hate you, because my dream relies on people reading.”?
  • “Can you at least buy my book?”?
  • “Uhh, stop watching TV and you’ll have more time to read.”?

I didn’t have a clue how to respond, so I sat down and began responding to emails like he had said nothing. It’s been at least three years since I’ve heard those words, and they still haunt me; so much so that I passively look for research into reading that I can share with a person I will likely never see again.

INCREASE THAT VOCAB OF YOURS

TV relies on imagery and sound to get across most of the points the show is making, in turn exposing you to precious few words. What words are said are catered to the lowest common denominator so everyone can understand.

Why do you need a larger vocabulary when a TV show doesn’t need it? Well a TV show doesn’t need confidence to talk to a supervisor at work. A TV show doesn’t need to sound articulate in a professional setting. So, crack open those books, expose yourself to some new words, and start speaking with new found confidence with articulation that stuns even you.

STOP SPENDING ALL LUNCH BREAK READING THAT TWO PARAGRAPH EMAIL

Without exposing yourself to the written word, automaticity and word recognition speed are greatly delayed. Not recognizing leads to less involvement in reading, which leads to less word recognition, until you’re communicating in grunts and hand gestures. *

*Okay, maybe not grunts, but you won’t have to spend ten minutes reading a two sentence email.

ANALYTICAL SKILLS, YAY!

We all love solving puzzles, being able to spot a pattern someone else can, winning at games. Hooray for competition! How about improving your odds of beating that total stranger/friend/coworker by showing off mad analytical skillz gained by reading.

WRITE BETTER

Do you like writing? Do you want to one day write the next great American novel? Do you just want your emails to not sound like a five year old wrote them? Good luck doing that without reading. A LOT.

DON’T BE THAT PERSON

It’s easier to talk to someone who is empathetic, something everyone learns eventually.

Studies have shown that by broadening your horizon through reading, your mind will open and be more receiving to lives outside your insular one. In other words, you may never have known someone who suffered through cancer, but by reading books with people going through sickness, you will literally increase your empathy for a real person suffering from an illness. And be realistic, at least one time in your life someone will look to you for empathy; do you really want to have to give them the cold shoulder because you don’t understand?

ENTERTAINMENT

Books can be consumed in more areas than watching a TV show. You don’t have to worry about putting away a book on an airplane before departure and landing. A book can be read in an area without cell signal. It doesn’t need to be charged. You don’t need to wait for a company to throw tons of money at a show just so you can see something different, because there’s a never-ending barrage of new and interesting content waiting to increase your vocabulary and make you a better friend.

BEST OF ALL, READING IS FREE

Go into a library (for free), get a library card (for free), and start entertaining yourself without waiting for a computer that has a timer (for free).