Saturday, September 16, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep.66 - Social Justice Kills

 




Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This one was almost late thanks to that non-happening at Berkeley, but I managed to crank it out in time! In this episode I demonstrate that social justice kills businesses and industries, go over some nice reviews that we got for our books from DimensionBucket Media (available now via the store page on the blog), and break down an article about writing outside of your race. 

Diversity & Comics:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrlzSqLSGj8GIOeT5jrQsJA

Daddy Warpig's Twitter Moment About Hatred of Femininity:  
https://twitter.com/i/moments/908534672405143552

New Geek Gab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrlEr9Ou0t8

Let's Talk Concrete Evidence & Tactics by me: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/2017/09/lets-talk-concrete-evidence-and-tactics.html

Ben Cheah on Steemit:  https://steemit.com/@cheah

I'm Indian. Can I Write Black Characters:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/opinion/sunday/when-a-novelist-writes-across-race.html?smid=tw-nytopinion&smtyp=cur

MP3 download of this episode: https://ia600408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/Ep66.mp3


Social Media Dump:

Hatreon: https://hatreon.us/JimFear138/


Steemit: https://steemit.com/@jimfear138

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimfear138/id1107844659?mt=2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JimFear138

Tumblr: http://jimfear138.tumblr.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JimFear138

Blogspot: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/

Wordpress: https://jimfear138.wordpress.com/

Bandcamp: https://jimfear138.bandcamp.com/

Gab: https://gab.ai/JimFear138

Minds: https://www.minds.com/JimFear138

Vid.me: https://vid.me/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138

 Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Friday, September 15, 2017

Let's Talk Concrete Evidence And Tactics

Do you love comic books? Are you ready to be depressed as shit? Well have I got the cure for your happiness! Just watch this video by Diversity&Comics, and you'll feel so down in the dumps you'll be looking for the gun to just end it all now!

Seriously, though, go watch the video. This is something you need to see, whether you like comic books or not. Because this is illustrative of what happens when social justice invades a medium. Look at those numbers D&C brings up there. Take a real good fucking look. 

Burn that shit into your god damned brain.

Because this is what's going, not might, not maybe, it's a fucking certainty, going to happen to any industry sjw's invade.

Comic books are, like the video says, dead. They're dead. The indie market in comics is the only thing that matters, and the market share for that is so small it will never become the industry it once was. Something as enduring and American as comic books, and they killed it. This medium has been around since before World War II, and now, thanks to the machinations of shitty writers who care more about their political agenda than the thing they're creating, it's dead.

Those sales numbers are fucking garbage, fam. Hot, nasty garbage. I want to be very clear about this, Marvel, DC, and companies like them have murdered an industry through peddling shitty comics with bad characters, bad character designs, horrible artwork, inane plots, diversity over story, and god only knows how many other failings. Enjoy your local comic book store while you can, because these companies have put every single one in America that can't supplant their flagging Big 2-4 sales with indie sales on a fast track to the slaughterhouse. Unless lots of people are showing up and spending money monthly, they're going to soon go extinct. I have no doubt that digital distribution will be fine, and there'll be a thriving used market for years, but mainstream hot-off-the-presses comic books that you buy in a shop are fucking dead.

So let's use this as a springboard to talk about something constructive, because that's very depressing (especially to people like me who love the comic medium despite the high cost-entertainment ratio). I want to talk about the tactics of these people, how to recognize them, and how to stop them. Comic books are the canary in the coalmine, and we're all in the coalmine in some form or another.

For novels and fiction, these people have managed to turn the market to their purposes because readers are very stubborn. They put a lot of time and money into big books, and they're not as willing to just stop reading if the material takes a nosedive in quality. Although in the past couple of decades that has been happening. But there's a serious buyer's justification when it comes to the book market that you don't have with comics. Books cost more, they take more time to read, and avid readers are nearly rabid for more. The market is not fragile, and they haven't been able to destroy it despite working since the 30's. 

Video games is another inherently anti-fragile market. With indie teams cropping up all the time putting out mostly quality games, people doing it for free, and sites like Steam and GOG out there to facilitate distribution, you can try to destroy games, but since anyone can come along and make a game, the only real gatekeepers are the console companies, who can not allow your game on their console. In which case you can just release the PC version and still do okay if you market it properly. Not only this, but gamers are comprised of a contingent of people that defeat agendas for fun every day. Something like Gamergate, to date the only successful repulsion of SJW tactics, was a godsend to these people because they were able to apply the lessons they'd learned in vidya to an actual, tangible, real life evil that needed to be defeated. So this market is pretty antifragile, and the SJW's haven't been able to destroy it yet, although not for lack of trying. That I can promise you. Go read a game journalism website if you don't believe me.

So how did they destroy comic books? That's easy to answer. Just look at the ranks of the comic book creators. Artists, writers, all of them. Their ranks are filled to the brim with SJW's. These people, despite being terrible artists and writers, despite actively driving fans away with their shitty comics, have somehow been put into the position where not only do they control an outlet of creation for this thing that millions of people love, they control the most popular outlets of creation for this thing that millions of people love. 

This is important. Even as the gatekeepers in publishing they haven't been able to kill the fiction industry, because it's been a fairly gradual decline over the decades. A slow boiling of the frog, if you will. In video games literally anyone can make one. If I wanted to I could learn the requisite skills and take three or four years and design a video game, publish it on Steam or my own website, and there you go. Instant workaround. But with comics, Marvel, DC, and companies like them are the big fish. There is almost nowhere else to go to get your comics other than indie publishers which may or may not be featured in local comic stores. Because they've been able to install themselves as the almost sole important creators, they've been able to destroy comic books faster than any other industry they've invaded. 

I don't know if you know this, but comic books take an astounding amount of money to produce. Especially serials and ongoing stories. You have to have a writer(s), artist(s), inker(s), colorist(s), and on. Then you have to mass-produce it and distribute it via a company like Diamond. So if you get a spot at one of the biggest companies out there (and there are only 4 or so really big ones), you gain control of the choke point defined by the prohibitive cost. This is how the destruction of comics was able to be achieved so quickly.

So how do we stop them? Well, with comics, that's dead. Find manga or indie comics that aren't shit. Support crowdfunded efforts at making comics fun again like Alt-Hero and Patriotika. The industry as a major cultural force might be dead, but the indies will always be there. Support up and coming companies like Alterna, or reasonably big companies with some cool titles like Valiant (although as an aside with Valiant, support good comics like X-0 Manowar and Bloodshot, and kill diversity comics like Faith dead by simply not buying it. The worms haven't dug so deep at Valiant that they're beyond help, but they'll need to have that lesson beaten into them with sales figures). 

But so far as other mediums go, there is hope, and to find this hope I turn to the wisdom of O'Sullivan's Law, which states that any enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time. Now, before you get upset at my partisan bullshit, let me explain.

I am not saying that you have to be expressly right wing to keep the SJW's out of your industry. Because god knows with the amount of shit actual liberals get from these creeps they're a danger to everybody, not just the political right. But the simple fact is that if you are not an SJW enterprise, SJW's will attempt to take it over, usually with some success. 

Valiant Comics is a perfect example of this. Valiant is not expressly right or left wing, and obvious right winger and friend of mine Jon Del Arroz has spoken favorably about their new X-0 Manowar series. But they also run Faith, which is an SJW comic, no mistake. They're not beyond help, but they need to cut the cancer out before it invades the brain. 

So you don't have to be completely right wing, you just need to recognize this behavior and get rid of any individuals it manifests itself in. Now, you might call this a McCarthyist communist hunt, and you're only partially wrong. People like to forget that McCarthy actually did catch Communist agents in his hunts, and he might've, just maybe, actually done some good. Maybe. 

But McCarthy aside, this doesn't require a confrontation on the level of, "ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY?!?!" All this requires is application of an heuristic. 

An heuristic is a method of problem solving that, while not perfect, is sufficient for the goals one might be striving towards. So if we have a profile of SJW mentality and methods, which we do, we can apply that as an heuristic and immediately ax people who show symptoms of that behavior and aren't amenable to correction. 

That last part is important. "...Aren't amenable to correction."

I'm going to be frank with you. We have proof now. The comic sales numbers do not lie. Take a walk through Diversity&Comics' channel if you need any more convincing. It's a bleak stroll, my dudes. We not only know, we can definitively prove that SJW's destroy industries. That isn't a side effect, that isn't some random happenstance that just happened to hit comics fairly hard, it's the actual, expressed goal. 

It's what they want to do. If they didn't, they'd amend their stories and try to assuage flagging sales by appealing to their audience instead of their political agenda. But numbers have no effects on ideologues, the only thing that matters to these people is their ideology.

So, what I'm advocating, in plain terms, is that if someone begins to show the traits of the writers and artists at Marvel, the game journalists, or the people at fiction outlets like Escape Artists or Uncanny Magazine, you talk to them. You bring them into a business meeting, and let them know that this shit is poison, and if they don't stop, they will be let go. If they let it go, then fine. If they don't, fire them immediately. 

This is a definable and describable pattern of behavior. At this point we have no excuse other than laziness for not addressing it. We have the proof at this point. SJW values and tactics are incredibly bad for business.

Stop putting up with them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

You're Fake, And You Need To Leave


I think I've hit upon why I personally despise games journalism so much. Yes, this is another Very Angry About Video Games post, but bear with me, because this is important. I also think this explains the reaction to Dean Takahashi's Cuphead gameplay footage, as well as the reaction to that reaction by the games press. So grab a snack, this could take a while.

So, as I and many others have said before, Dean failed at basic reading and gameplay so simple a literal 4 year old can figure it out. This is because he's not a gamer. Neither are the people defending him. I don't care how long you've been in "tech journalism", because "games" and "tech" are not the same thing.

Allow me to explain.

In "tech journalism" I can learn about companies manufacturing technology, and this could be anything from robots on assembly lines to computer parts. I can also get reviews of products in the "tech world." So I can go to a tech journalist and get a review for a new graphics card for my computer I'm looking at getting, and if the journalist is competent and knows what they're talking about I can find out if it's going to be worth my money to upgrade. So this is not an interactive medium, here. I'm not going to be interacting with the graphics card in an active way, I'm just going to be getting the benefits of it as I go about my computer-related tasks. 

"Games journalism," on the other hand, is strictly about an interactive storytelling medium. I don't care what graphics engine, or physics engine the game was made with. I care about how the game plays, whether the story is any good, whether the mechanics work or not during gameplay, and other aspects that you have to actually know how to play games to be able to talk about competently. That's what I go to games journalism, when I go at all, for. 

That explained, wouldn't it concern you if the person writing about a certain technology had fuck all knowledge of it? It would damn sure concern me. I'd be wasting my money, hundreds of dollars worth, because the fucking retards that hired this mongoloid didn't vet him to make sure that he could competently write about technology. Wouldn't that make you very upset? Because that would make me very upset.

Likewise, in the games journalism world, if someone is writing reviews of video games and (I wish I was joking) didn't know how to read words on the screen and apply them to gameplay when that's what the words are there for, couldn't master basic commands like "walk," "jump," "dash," and "shoot," and didn't know the most basic aspects of RPG's and gave a game a bad review because he couldn't figure out how to level up his character, that person should not be reviewing games, because they don't understand them. I'm almost certain this last is a problem that ONLY Dean encountered. So you can see how this astounding level of incompetence will absolutely affect not only his journalism, but the industry itself in a very negative way. 

This is because Dean and his ilk are not gamers. They can whinge about their "experience in tech journalism" until they're blue in the face, they're not fucking gamers. I've been playing video games longer than I can remember. My parents used to put the original NES controller in my hands when I was a baby to make me think I was playing a game. I play platformers, RPG's, match-3's, shooters, puzzles, stealth, and horror games. I'm reasonably certain that if you put any game in the world in my hands, within a few minutes I would be able to play it with at least more competence than Dean showed. 

Because I'm a gamer. An actual one who's been playing video games since I could hold the controller and has sunk more money into this hobby than I care to think about. It's in the thousands, almost certainly. I've spent millions of hours getting the requisite skill to be able to play almost anything because I love video games. I love to play them, I love the challenge, I love the stories, all of that. 

So when I see someone come in to my hobby, that I've loved and cared about for damn near 30 years now, and start shitting it up, I tend to get upset. And the reason they're shitting it up is because they don't care about the hobby. They care about themselves. Which is where we have this problem. 

When I see game journos coming out with articles saying "Gamers are dead," or I see someone like Dean fucking up so monstrously (multiple times) and trying to excuse it, and when I see other articles saying that expecting game journos to actually do their fucking jobs is "elitist and toxic gamer culture," I start to think that these people aren't real gamers. The real kicker for me is the "Who cares about games journalism? It's only video games!" line. 

Any games journalist who has said that and meant it should lose their job and never work in the industry again.

It's only a hobby that I and millions of people like me, you know, the gamers, care about very much. But if the love and money and time and sweat we've sunk into this hobby don't convince, how about the fact that it's literally the biggest entertainment industry in the world, grossing more annually than films and music combined. That alone means that people should care about who's reporting on this.

Games aren't some niche hobby for loser nerds anymore. Those loser nerds grew up, got jobs, and started spending their money on video games, as did a shitload of non-loser nerds, for example people who like sports games. It's a big damned industry, and if the car industry had a bunch of people writing about it who knew fuck all about cars, there'd be a justified push to get rid of them and bring in people who know what they're talking about. 

Which is what we need to do with these fake gamers. They wanna stay in the hobby? Fine, they can do it without a position of influence. I have no problem with them going back to being customers, because I know they were never customers in the first place. They're journalism majors that couldn't get jobs at respectable news outlets, so they picked games journalism precisely because "who cares? This should be easy."

Well fuck your meal ticket. Go report on something else. You're fake, and you need to leave, before the entire industry is irreparably fucked thanks to game devs thinking they have to go through you and get good reviews from your lazy asses to sell a product. Because not only are you fake, not only are you idiots, you're actively trying to ruin our hobby. You need to get gone so that somebody competent can come in and do your job properly.

Because the people backlashing against you aren't "Gamergaters," they're regular customers and gamers who love this hobby and realize that you people are not qualified for the job you're doing. And not to appeal to majority, but when everybody who loves a certain thing and is involved with it in some way except for the press surrounding that thing think that the press is fucking up, maybe it's time for the press to take a fucking knee on this one. Just saying, some humility would do you good. And you leaving the industry would do all of us some good.

Go do something more your speed, like flip burgers. If you can work out how a fucking spatula works.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Nothing's Original. Get Over It.

Here's a link to the image so you can read it for yourself because fuck trying to copy all that into the blog post. Hat tip to Grames Barnaby (@overunderwriter) on twitter for linking to me when he capped and posted this garbage fire of a comment. Now this comment deals primarily with manga and anime, but I don't want to talk about that right now. I'm going to use this as a springboard to talk about something that's a hangup for many writers, and that we all need to collectively just get the fuck over.

Nothing, I repeat NOTHING is original.

None of it. 

I'll guaran-fucking-tee that whatever you think is original, isn't. Punisher? Punisher's an edgier Batman clone. Batman? He's a less edgy Shadow clone. And on and on back because they're embodiments of the Dark Avenger Archetype. You can do this with any character out there. They all fit into archetypes, they all have a lineage that can be traced back through various influences both implicit and explicit. 

I, for example, am writing a story wherein the main character is based HEAVILY on Mad Max, specifically Max from The Road Warrior. The character of Max is cool and I like that archetype that he fits in, so I'm going to make my own Mad Max type character. The setting is also borrowing from the idea of the Gate anime, because I like the idea of fantasy creatures invading the modern world. I'm unoriginal, and I know it. I just want to be able to do it WELL.

And that's the important thing. Doing it well.

If you want originality, go read Gilgamesh. It's literally the oldest piece of literature humanity has ever created. So far as we know it's completely original, but the legends that it talks about had to come from somewhere, right? The giant in the forest, for instance. That had to have been a legend before it was put down in Gilgamesh. So not even Gilgamesh is completely original.

So if you're sitting there with what you think is a really neat story idea, but you're worried that it's not original, stop worrying. So long as it isn't plagiarism, nobody cares. There's a meme I've seen floating around tumblr that I can't be arsed to dig up at the moment, but it's relevant so I'll give you the rundown.

It depicts a baker bringing a cake to a table and setting it next to a much nicer cake, and the baker is thinking, "Oh man, my cake's not as nice as that guy's." The next panel depicts another person with a fork and a goofy look on their face in front of the cakes saying, "Holy shit, two cakes!"

EDIT: I found the image while scrolling tumblr after writing this, so here it is

 

The reason I bring this up is that this is the mindset most people have towards "original content" as well as how people view art. Nobody cares that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle already made stories about a great detective and yours looks similar. Nobody cares that he also wrote a story about a lost land where dinosaurs still exist. 

That last one is actually a good example. The Lost World (NOT CRICHTON'S) has been redone in film and print so many times it would make your head spin. Not all of them are great, but most of them are at least fun to sit through or read. Marvel did it with The Savage Land. The Valley of Gwangi did it as well (which you should totally look up that movie, as an aside. Cowboys vs dinosaurs. Prime cheesecake awesomeness. Amazon affiliate link to where you can rent or buy it. Do yourself a favor). And so on and so forth.


People like the stories, they don't care that yours is "unoriginal." To return to anime for a moment, observe the pedantic dude in that screencap above. The type of anime he's sperging out over is pretty popular. So popular that the industry has started making a shitload more of it, because that's what the fans want. Yes, it's derivative. Yes, it's unoriginal. Yes, it's pandering. Yes, it's also fanservice (people like tits, get over that as well). 

But nobody cares. They still eat it up. The harem anime trope has been around since Christ only knows. Tenchi Muyo is an example from the early to mid 1990's, but I'll guarantee there's older ones I don't know about. And despite this, people still buy shit like Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou. Shit, I buy stuff like that. Because it's usually funny, sometimes has decent action, and everybody likes tits. It also does the harem genre well, which, as I said earlier, is the most important thing.

So you can put aside your worries of whether or not your main character is too much like Aragorn, or whether your fantasy world is too much like The Forgotten Realms, or whether your plot sounds a little too much like one of Robert Howard's Conan stories. I'll tell you what people are going to say, if it is.

"Yeah, it was a little similar to (insert influence here), but I still liked it."

That's all. If you did it well. So stop focusing on originality, and start focusing on doing it well. Make your characters people, your worlds vibrant, and your plot fun. 

Originality?

It's really not as important as some people seem to think it is. All that really matters to the audience is now they have two cakes to nosh on. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 65 - The Apocalypse, Sobornost!, New Anthologies, and Sakura Dungeon



Hello everyone and welcome to another podcast! In this episode I tell you all how I want to be remembered if I die in the apocalypse, go over the interesting concept of Sobornost and how I reject it as a personal philosophy, talk about some new SFF anthologies coming out from EXTANT! SF and Silver Empire, and go off about a visual novel and R9K people.

Individualism? Collectivism? Sobornost!: http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/11/08/individualism-collectivism-sobornost/

Gynocentric Grooming Gangs by Turd Flinging Monkey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc5OaARO04E

Superversive SF's Planetary Fiction: http://www.superversivesf.com/2017/03/06/planetary-fiction/

Lyonesse: https://lyonesse.silverempire.org/for-readers/

Silver Empire: https://silverempire.org/

Bradford C. Walker:  https://twitter.com/MrBCWalker

Jesse Abraham Lucas: https://twitter.com/JesseLucasSaga

Dawn Witzke:  https://twitter.com/dawnwitzke


MP3 download of this episode: https://ia800408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/Ep65.mp3

Social Media Dump:

Hatreon: https://hatreon.us/JimFear138/

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimfear138/id1107844659?mt=2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JimFear138

Tumblr: http://jimfear138.tumblr.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JimFear138

Blogspot: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/

Wordpress: https://jimfear138.wordpress.com/

Bandcamp: https://jimfear138.bandcamp.com/

Gab: https://gab.ai/JimFear138

Minds: https://www.minds.com/JimFear138

Vid.me: https://vid.me/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138

 Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Pedantry: Let's Kill Fantasy!




Apologies for subjecting you to that spergout of a tweetstorm, but I was scrolling tumblr today and saw this, and felt that it was a perfect way to illustrate a point. Now I could go through and address all of this idiot's points line by line and show exactly how much of a fucking retard he really is, but I don't need to. You see, this person thinks they're smart, and bringing up serious problems that fantasy needs to solve, but in reality what he's trying to do is actively kill the fantasy genre. And being someone who loves fantasy literature above all other forms of literature (except maybe science-fantasy westerns, but there's so few of those), this sets my parsnips a-boiling in particular. 

But just to do one point here because as an alcoholic I feel I can speak with some authority. Also because fuck this guy. People in fantasy novels are able to drink beer year-round because they store it in casks and tap the cask when they need to. So, you can see, this person clearly has not a fucking wingding of a clue what they're talking about, and he's trying to appear intelligent while asking questions that are so insipid any fantasy fan could answer them straight away or, even better, explain how they're the wrong questions to be asking.

Now I'm the first person to tell you that if world-building and planning to this level of ridiculousness is how your writing method works, go to and good luck. It doesn't work for me, but if it does for you, then that's great. This is not a screed against building a world and then turning your characters loose in it. 

However, very often many of the things he brings up literally don't matter to the story being told. A couple of examples: "Your middle class. Where are they?" Probably in the background being background, if they're even brought up at all. They're most often not important to the actual story itself. "Why are there no small businesspeople?" Tavern and other shop owners. Have you ever read a fantasy novel before? Etc, etc ad nauseum. These are middling background details that could add more flavor to the novel, but they are completely unnecessary to telling a good story. Even an epic fantasy story.

For example, The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb is an excellent epic fantasy series, and even addresses a few of these...I'll be generous and call them "concerns" this person brings up. But for the entirety of the book the action is situated around the main character and narrator, Fitz. There are plots for assassination, power plays with Dukes, King Shrewd is on top of everything, and a whole lot more court intrigue goes on. But we never see the foresters keeping the palace supplied with wood, we never see the brewers making the beer, and we never find out who domesticated the wheat they use in their bread.

Because those aspects have no bearing whatsoever on the story at hand. They literally do not matter. They couldn't matter less to the story if they tried. 

So what is the point of all this?

The point, my friends, is the slow death of fantasy literature. This idiot can't figure all this out on his own (which collections of teenage girls do on tumblr all day, every day, for free), therefore it is the duty of the author to do all of this for him. This demand that all authors meet these expectations is going to kill fantasy literature dead. Imagine, if you will, in five years time after this "advice" (the worst kind of vice) is applied universally. It will quickly become a trope that every fantasy novel has a history of the domestication of wheat somewhere in it, a short biography of the man who first created ale and casked it, and so on and so forth. All of this will become fucking ridiculous very quickly.

And what it will do is make the novels about 2/3's longer than they need to be. Epic fantasy books are already long as fuck, usually 400+ pages, sometimes 900 per book. Thanks for that, Vox, by the way. These books are already a time sink from hell. 400 pages takes time to read through, and if most of that is pedantic padding about piddly little shit that doesn't effect the story (despite what that fucking autist with the tweetstorm might think about their affect on the story), people are going to drop the book, stop reading it, and not buy anything else like it.

It always comes back to this, doesn't it? Honestly I stopped reading after "More gay sex, for everyone," and "Gender. Get rid of it." Yeah no fuck you, buddy. What this does is drive the audience away. They stop spending their money. And if there's no audience spending their money on these books, there's literally no incentive for writers to write these stories. When you get to this level of sped you're making shit worse for everyone.

The market is not your personal tard-wrangler. If you're unable to deal with epic fantasy novels because they don't meet your personal, pedantic, ridiculous list of demands that you probably think make the world "more organic" but in reality just make the story boring, that's on you. 

You don't get to foist that on authors as some kind of authoritative list that epic fantasy should live and die by. Go write your own goddamned book. If you think you can do it better, why not? Maybe attempt to put in the work these "lazy history nerds" put in and see how well you do coming out the other end of it. 


Just don't be surprised when nobody wants to read your boring, pedantic bullshit because it's boring and pedantic.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Thinking For Yourself is HARD!

Transcript of the tweets in case you can't read them from the screencap:
Ian Miles Cheong: Game journalists are incredibly bad at video games. It's painful to watch this. How do they think they're qualified to write about games?
Zach Gage: This hateful tweet is zooming around the internet but whoa what a great moment to talk about tutorials! my favorite subject (sort of. It may seem weird to players, but if ur a dev you have almost certainly had the experience of watching someone play your game like this. What's going wrong in this tutorial is that it's asking players to follow instructions and think for themselves within the same step.

Okay, fair warning. I'm about to get Very Angry About Video Games for the next one or two thousand words. There are some videos I need you to watch for context before we get into this. The first is Dean Takahashi of GamesBeat utterly forgetting the face of his father while trying to play the demo for the new action-platformer Cuphead. You don't have to watch the whole thing, trust me I didn't. A couple of minutes should do you fine.

Video Here.

The second is Arin Hanson (a.k.a. Egoraptor) explaining why the original Mega Man series is so good, and why Mega Man X is basically the best game of all time.

Video Here.

There's also a NicheGamer op-ed that you should probably peruse as well, talking about how games journalists should, you know, actually understand how to play video games so they're able to write about them.

Article Here.

Did you watch and read? Good, because there are no brakes on this train, we're going until I run out of steam.

First let me say that Cuphead does not look like all that difficult a game. It's a side-scrolling 2-D platformer, like Mega Man, in which you can jump, duck, run, dash, and shoot. This is basically every game on the NES and SuperNES, Street Fighter notwithstanding. I may not have played the original Mega Man games until recently, but there were dozens of games like this I did play. Contra, Ninja Gaiden, Kung-fu, Super Mario Bros., Bayou fucking Bill, the list is nigh inexhaustible. Games like this were also a staple of the libraries of consoles like the PSX and Nintendo 64 (although the 64 was more focused on 3-D games like Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye, as well as things like Mario Kart 64). 

Now, if you watched Egoraptor's video, that's basically how all these games went. They would give you a kind of intro stage, you would have some space to work out the controls, find out your jump, attack, etc, and then you were expected to hold your own. And most of us did all right. 

As children.


While I didn't beat games like Ninja Gaiden, Donkey Kong Country, and Mega Man X as a child (my gameplay time was too limited, and memory cards weren't a thing back then), I got reasonably far in them. Like I said, I did all right. To the point where I was able to roundly stomp most 3-D platformers like Crash Bandicoot 2 and Spyro The Dragon into the ground when I got ahold of them. They weren't nearly as difficult as the games I cut my teeth on, and that trend of simplification has continued over the years as games went from kid's stuff to Serious Multi-Billion Dollar A Year World Wide Industry. They had to start appealing to normies, and I understand that. I don't have to like it, but I understand.

So the obvious problem with Dean Takahashi isn't that he doesn't know how to play Cuphead. 2-D platformers aren't everyone's thing, and that's cool. The problem is that gamers are usually able to adapt to new gameplay mechanics pretty quickly. For instance, I despise the gameplay in Undertale. It's a lot of walking around and talking to people (which is standard RPG fare and I don't mind that), but then the battles are bullet hell Touhou-style dodge-fests, and that annoyed the absolute piss out of me. Even so, I managed to get pretty far in the game before I got bored with it. I think I stopped playing around the fight with Undyne, which as I understand it is about halfway through the game. I didn't stop playing because it was "too hard," I stopped playing because I didn't like the gameplay, and at a certain point the novelty of the new (to me) bullet hell mechanics wore off and I started to get bored.

Dean has 25 years of experience in journalism. Obviously he doesn't have this much experience in actually playing the things that he's writing about. Personally I couldn't make it five minutes into that godawful almost half-hour of gameplay footage. It takes this grown man multiple minutes to do what I figured out how to do as a child. You jump over the first block in the tutorial, and you've got jumping down. The next block is too tall for you to jump over, but there's a block you can get on top of next to it. You just jumped over it. So jump on it, then follow the ON-SCREEN INSTRUCTIONS (something we did not have 25 years ago) and jump-dash to the top of the tall block. 

This is not difficult stuff.

In fact, it's really simple. The game is actually telling you what to do. Pop-ups appear on-screen that tell you in plain terms a seven year old could understand that you need to jump from the small block, and dash mid-air onto the tall block to proceed. They couldn't have made it simpler. In Mega Man X there was none of this. I'd like to get footage of him playing that game, as a matter of fact. I'd like to see how he does when he has to learn by making mistakes, and not have the game hold his hand while he trips in a ditch anyway. 

But this is a major problem with GAEMS JURBALESM. These people are fucking incompetent, and they don't care about the medium they're covering. They don't play games, they're not a fan of games, they can't even understand basic instructions when they're PRINTED ON THE FUCKING SCREEN IN FRONT OF THEM IN SIMPLE ENGLISH. Which presumably Dean speaks. But even if he doesn't, that's no excuse. Cuphead is a run-jump-and-shoot game, not a fucking RPG with a deep story that you have to read hours of text to understand. Games do get simpler, but not by a whole lot. Move right to advance, shoot enemies, duck under/jump over obstacles/attacks. When I was playing NES this was pretty much every game I rented from the local video store. 

And this isn't Ender's Game level shit, either. No armies, no command positions, no beachheads to take, no real strategy other than DON'T DIE, DUMBASS. It's a fucking 2-D platformer, for christ's sake. 

But this is the state of Games Journalism™ now. We've been trying to tell people for, what? Three years now? This business is sick. It's full of ideologues who don't care about video games, actively alienate their customers (you know, the people whose attention allows them to pay their bills), and attempt to change the medium to suit their tastes, thus destroying it. Maybe RagingGoldenEagle is right. Maybe we do need another crash. And while we're at it we can purge all people like this from games journalism, and bring in a crowd of actual gamers who know what the fuck they're talking about. 

But back to those tweets at the top. 

Given that I linked to a Mega Man X video, we'll stick with that for a comparison to Cuphead. So in the first level of X, they give you all the information that you need to know to play the entirety of the game, all without annoying popups or on-screen instructions. This is assuming you know how to hold a controller and work the buttons, and don't attempt to swallow it first like a drooling mongoloid. In Cuphead, the process is far more in-your-face. They let you experiment with the controls, but also tell you what you need to do to advance via on-screen instructions and popups. 

So it's entirely possible to play the tutorial for Cuphead, completely ignore the on-screen instructions, and just figure it out yourself. I haven't even played the game and I can tell that from watching the footage. Is this really what games and games journalism has come to? I understand streamlining it for people who've never played a Cuphead-style game before, but this isn't even as big of a difference as the difference between Morrowind and Skyrim. The mechanics are still the same, they've just made figuring them out a bit easier, whereas the difference between the mechanics of those two Elder Scrolls games is immense. And jarring, if you go from 200+ hours in Skyrim to starting a new game in Morrowind. 

The reason I'm banging on about this is to lead to another point. There's been a lot of talk recently about "elitism" in video games, especially after Dark Souls kicked so many people's asses, myself included. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't meant to be. That's part of the fun. You have to learn the mechanics and then apply them properly to advance in the game. This is what's meant by the phrase "git gud." You get better at a game the more you play it. There's a learning curve.

The reason for this is that video games are an interactive storytelling medium. You need a certain level of skill to unlock the rest of the story. They're not like books, which have no quiz after a chapter to make sure you really understood it before you can advance to the next. The medium is fundamentally different, and video games shouldn't function like books, in my opinion. To interact with the game, you need to be able to learn, apply lessons, and think for yourself to come up with creative solutions to problems or develop strategies to deal with bosses. We all love Resident Evil 4, but the "tap X to not die" mechanic is the laziest shit ever introduced into video games, and I'm convinced that's what's lead to this "Let me skip the combat!" whining among lazy assholes that don't want to challenge themselves.

So, in an interactive medium like a video game, if you're not skilled or clever enough to get past a certain point, you don't deserve to get past it. It's earned. That's the entire point. Through skill, luck, persistence, and the application of lessons the game has taught you, you advance and unlock more of the story. If you're unable to do that, then you don't deserve to see the rest of the story. 

I'm not good enough to beat Ninja Gaiden. I admit it. I don't deserve to see the ending, because I can't make it there. I accept that. So why is it so difficult for people who play video games and talk about them for a living to do the same? I'm just some doof in his bedroom who's been at this hobby since I could hold a controller. These people were hired to be able to play games, and do it reasonably well. I'm not asking for MLG G.O.A.T. level gamers to take up games journalism and tell us about games, but a reasonable level of skill with the medium and love for the subject matter should be the bar for games journalists. And that's not a lot to ask. 

Film critics love movies, anime critics love anime, food critics love food, and so on and so forth. None of these people have to know how to make the thing they're commenting on, and such is the case with games journalists. It might help for parsing small details about what a game does wrong or right, but it's by no means a prerequisite. There's no excuse, and I mean none, for a game journalist being this bad at video games. I've picked up brand new games I've never touched before while so abominably drunk I literally could not see straight and done all right at the game. 

Once again, we tried to tell you all that these people really are this bad, but nobody wanted to listen because vagina. Also that whole collusion and agenda pushing thing, but that aside. What this is is blatant evidence that games journalism is precisely the cancer we've been yelling that it is for over 3 years now, and it needs to be burned to the ground and started over. Polygon, Game Informer, that scourge on the industry straight from the asshole of Gawker itself Kotaku, they're all exactly as bad as you think they are, and they need to go.

Stop clicking on their articles, stop visiting the websites, stop sharing articles that aren't archives. Just fucking stop it. Choke them off at the root. If these people aren't able to follow instructions while thinking for themselves at the same time, which is akin to walking and chewing gum at the same time, they have no business commentating on an interactive storytelling medium that rakes in more jack every year than film and music COMBINED.

These people are not proper stewards of our hobby, let alone the massive multi-billion dollar industry that grew out of that hobby. It's far beyond time to get rid of them.

All that said, Cuphead looks like a lot of fun, and I look forward to playing it when it finally comes out. Look around and see if you can find someone playing it who's not a games journalist, and take a look for yourself. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Missing The Point. Hard.


I...I really don't know what to say about this. 

I'm not speechless, far from it. I'll have plenty to say on this soon as I pick my jaw up off the floor. It's just astounding to me that somebody could read Lovecraft, Howard Philips Lovecraft, and think to themselves, "You know what this kind of cosmic horror about the inherent worthlessness of all life and human effort needs? A COMING OF AGE STORY ABOUT A TEENAGE GIRL!" There's missing the point, and then there's this. A metaphor I've used frequently, and will continue to do so, is that if these people were in an archery contest, they'd have shot the judge. 


Over the past year I've begun to studiously avoid anything proclaiming to be "Lovecraftian," or touted as such. Most of the creators of such work generally have contempt for the man Lovecraft himself, or can't stand his writing in general. Besides this, approximately 99% of the things that are called "Lovecraftian" have no resemblance to Lovecraft at all.

As (I believe) Alexander at Cirsova has said in the past, "Lovecraftian" is a pastiche, devoid of meaning other than "There's tentacles in it!" Much like most Steampunk literature is actually Victorian Romance with gears and goggles, "Lovecraftian" fiction is some vague action/adventure story with tentacles. Occasionally, to their shame and the continued recession of my spine into my abdominal cavity, they'll name-drop mythos bigwigs like Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath, or the big guy himself, Cthulhu. Which, just to clear that up, doesn't make your story "Lovecraftian" nor does it give it an air of legitimacy. 

And this isn't limited to modern authors, either. Much as I love Robert E. Howard, I listened to a story of his last night called "The Hoofed Thing," which was an attempt by him to do what Lovecraft did. The man just couldn't manage it. He was too concentrated on having the hero fight the evil, rescue the dame, and drive the evil from the world forever. The story was published in 1970, so I'm not exactly dropping spoilers, here. There was a rash of disappearances, the MC finds out that the crippled old man isn't as crippled as he appears, and there's a Cthulian monster upstairs that tries to eat his girlfriend, so he takes a sword to it, turns it into a puddle of goo, then burns the house down.

Of course the "crippled old man" gets his diabolistic rant so common in Lovecraft's work about the occult, and the fake book Nameless Cults makes an appearance, to connect to Howard's other horror stories, as well as Lovecraft's work, as they'd made a concerted effort to put these fun little hints into their works to give them a feeling of overarching mythos. But so far as the feeling of the story, it is Howardian, not Lovecraftian. Even when he was trying, he couldn't do it. And by god, did he try. But in the end it comes off too heroic.

This may have had something to do with the differences between the men themselves. Howard was a boxer and a drinker, and Lovecraft was slightly anemic and a bit of a shut-in. But I'm not here to dissect the differences in their writing styles. This is merely to demonstrate that, even amongst his peers, Lovecraft was a one in 7 billion, at the very least. The ability he had to bring across the feeling of cosmic hopelessness, to instill existential fear of the entirety of the known universe, all in under 6000 words in some cases, is unparalleled in all fiction before and after him. 

Nobody can quite pull it off. 

People have come close, but nobody hits that same bull's eye. With these themes, and these subject matters, he was a practiced Robin Hood, while we're all barely able to hit the target at all. This appears doubly true for these...comic creators, here. Going to be charitable. Be nice. 

I need a drink...

So where to begin? I've take a look at the two-panel-per-chapter sneak peaks they have on the Stela comic book app (don't bother, I just downloaded it to get a look at this), and it's exactly as bad as I thought it would be. But since not everyone can see the horrible secrets of the universe I've had forced into my eyeballs, let's just go with this paragraph (their entire "about" section on the website), and break it down by glaring mistake after glaring mistake. 

"Being a teenager isn't easy. Even more so when you're Calla, a girl who carries the bloodline of the Great Old Ones in her veins."

STOP. STOP RIGHT THERE. CEASE AND DESIST IMMEDIATELY. PUT DOWN THE LEGACY OF THE GREATEST HORROR WRITER HUMANITY HAS EVER KNOWN AND WALK AWAY SLOWLY. 

I'm pretty much of the opinion, at this stage in the game, that nobody should be allowed to write "Lovecraftian fiction", and the genre should be considered for all intents and purposes dead with the man who began it. And, I might add, was the only one to do it right. At least that I've been able to discover. But, yes, the big problem with this. "[...] carries the bloodline of the Great Old Ones in her veins."

WHAT

According to the wiki, we don't even have a proper definition of what a "Great Old One" is, or clear, defined lines around which mythos beings are or aren't "Great Old Ones." And the list they do have is longer than J. K. Rowling's daily virtue signalling to-do list. Take a look if you don't trust me. And not all of these are made by Lovecraft. Many of them are expansions of the mythos added by other authors. So yes, I'm going to fucking nitpick this blurb right here. Which Great Old One is she descended from? Bokrug is not Hastur is not Yig is not Shathak, so which ones precisely are we dealing with? 

More importantly, HOW DOES SHE KNOW?! This seems like not-so-vital information that could be built up into a great and horrible mystery like, you know, Lovecraft did in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth!" But no, let's just start that out at the beginning. She knows, and not only does she know, she refers to Hastur (one of the more terrible Great Old Ones out there) as "Uncle Hastur" in one of the panels I read. Like they were picnicking and he would bounce her on his unearthly knee while reading her stories about ghoul-haunted New England, or some shit. But I suppose they had to have SOME kind of reason for their girl power Mary Sue bullshit, so yeah, she's descended from some ancient god related to Hastur and that's how she's able to have special powers like, and I wish I was joking around, fixing her hair. 

That is an actual panel set in the comic, yes. Sorry to say. She fixes her hair with magic. I know. So Lovecraftian. Just like Howard would've written. The cosmic horror is so real right now I can taste it.

Kill me. 

"Instead of normal teen activities, Calla spends her time battling supernatural threats: tentacle monsters; creatures of the deep; or her uncle -- The King in Yellow."

Okay, this is precisely what I was talking about. If you want to write fiction that is actually in the vein of Lovecraft, slapping tentacles and Deep Ones on it alongside name-dropping mythos heavies is not enough. The reason your work doesn't stack up to Lovecraft, and indeed is a perversion of his work, is because you could take your thing, remove any Lovecraftian references from it, and it would be stronger. It would actually be something original, at that point. But no. You have to attach yourself to the legacy of someone whose work quality you'll never be able to match to give yourself an air of legitimacy. 

This is the problem with "Lovecraftian" fiction. They don't explore any of the themes Lovecraft actually worked with, they don't try to evoke the mysterious, the otherworldly, they don't try to make you as the reader feel small and worthless. That the universe really doesn't give two shits about you and, moreover, couldn't if it wanted to. This doesn't evoke the sense of horrible, unseen things around every corner that, if glimpsed, could fundamentally reshape your understanding of reality.

I've narrated creepypasta put up on the internet for free anonymously that was more in touch with H. P. Lovecraft than this.

You took what was, at best, a third-rate Marvel superhero story, tacked Hastur and some tentacles on it, put "Cthulhu" in the title, and expect people to take you seriously. Try terrifying me before you name drop mythos heavies, and maybe I'll take you seriously. But this? I don't understand how this is supposed to get anything but indifference or scorn from people who've actually read Lovecraft. 

"She must resist his call to embrace her own chaotic heritage and join the "family business"--as well as prevent him from awakening the terrible deity asleep and dreaming in the corpse city of R'lyeh--the Dread Dead One!"

I think we're done here. 

This is precisely what I thought it would be. What we have here are people who are either fans of Lovecraft and his work and want to imitate him but are unable to do so properly, or people who hate Lovecraft and want to warp and distort his legacy until nothing of the original is left. And, you know, at this point I'm not even sure that distinction matters. It really is a distinction without a difference, because fundamentally they end up at the same place. 

If you'll excuse me I have to go take a walk and try to acquire some fucking booze. Because if this is Lovecraftian I know of some tentacle hentai that also qualifies.

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 64 - The Ramblecast 3.0




Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This is another ramblecast, in which I talk about some wild (to me) shit that happened, talk more about D&D, and then degenerate into an incoherent ramble on economics for like 45 minutes. Hopefully next week I'll be able to get Alexander from Cirsova on and we'll talk shit about The Elder Scrolls and shit.

Hope y'all enjoy!

Breitbart article: http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2017/08/31/zuckerberg-group-700k-american-job-openings-daca-ends/

FWD statement: https://www.fwd.us/blog/fwd-us-center-american-progress-introduce-report-daca-impact-jobs-dreamers-u-s-economy

GDP growth source:  https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/1-average-annual-economic-growth-under-obama

Aydin Paladin: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUowFWIWGw6Pv2JqfEj8njQ

MP3 download of this episode: https://ia600408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/ep64.mp3

Social Media Dump:

Hatreon: https://hatreon.us/JimFear138/

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimfear138/id1107844659?mt=2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JimFear138

Tumblr: http://jimfear138.tumblr.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JimFear138

Blogspot: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/

Wordpress: https://jimfear138.wordpress.com/

Bandcamp: https://jimfear138.bandcamp.com/

Gab: https://gab.ai/JimFear138

Minds: https://www.minds.com/JimFear138

Vid.me: https://vid.me/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138
 

Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Different Approach To Storytelling


So yesterday there was a discussion in a PulpRev chatroom between a couple of people about writing, as there so often is. Dominika Lein (whose book I, The One is available now on Amazon Dot Com)posted a link to a blog post of hers which was talking about the difference between controlling the characters and letting the characters control you. The blog post is here, and you really should go read it AND the comments on it before we continue, because Dominika and Misha Burnett get into an interesting discussion that I'm going to be building on. Now I'm not going to try to speak for them, but merely provide a different perspective on story writing. I've only published a few stories so far, so take it for what it's worth, but I have been writing for a long time, if that makes any difference.

My take on writing is a little bit more...insane, I suppose, than other people's. I've made "jokes" on twitter about how I don't plan stories, or about how I don't "write" so much as violently hallucinate for four hours straight and write down what I see. Well, thing is those aren't jokes. That's actually my writing method. I've tried to plan out stories before, several times as a matter of fact, and every single time the plan becomes completely worthless after I start writing. Because regardless of what I would like for the story to do, if the story isn't doing it, then that's not where the story is going. I found that when I tossed out the outline and just wrote, the story developed its own path, and more often than not it was better than what I'd planned out.

I definitely see the advantages to making an outline, meticulously designing your characters, and tossing things that don't work for your story. "Different strokes for different folks" is one of my maxims, and I understand that just like making plans for stories doesn't work for me, my method won't work for others. But some of the things Dominika talks about in her post were surprising to me. I don't treat myself as god in my own little universe. I'm not "creating" this story, I'm just here to write it down.

Now this, of course, doesn't mean that I just toss first drafts out and pretend they're finished. Of course not. As a matter of fact I usually agonize over my stories three or four or more times before I give them to anyone, with the exception of Christopher Warren, and that only in a very special recent case. To tell the truth I'm horribly self-conscious about my writing, and to hear that people actually enjoyed it after reading it (even if they do have copious notes for revisions) was a serious shock to the system the first few times it happened.

So, when I write a story, I put down the first draft, and that's the way things happened. I can make minor changes, and of course change my prose to make it sound better, and I do this as much as possible while I'm writing and afterwards in editing sessions. But so far as the sequence of events goes, I can't change that. Even while I'm writing, I've had moments (quite frequently) wherein I'll write out a sentence, and it'll be WRONG. I'll instinctively know that it's WRONG. It's not a matter of "That character wouldn't do that." It's a matter of "That's not what happened, and you know it." 

The story has a flow, there's a proper path here, and a million or more wrong ones, and if I don't pick the proper path then the story will be ruined. Moreover, I get a sense of revulsion when I try to take the wheel of a story and make it do what I want it to. It's a physical cringe that prevents me from going farther. The story goes off the rails, and I have to back up, get rid of the offending sentence, and figure out where the story really goes from here. It's a bit like following a game trail in the woods. It's easy to lose your way, and can be difficult to get back to where you're supposed to be.

So the characters don't control me in the sense of not wanting to break their character, it's more that the entire story controls me, because I can't make it go in a direction that it doesn't want to. I'm not god, I'm not the director of the story, I'm the facilitator. I'm the one writing down what I see. An observer. A Watcher, if you will. It's not given to me to interfere, only to watch, and write. Maybe archeology is a better metaphor for this method. The story is already there, I just have to dig it up. And I have to be careful not to break anything, or confuse any part with the rock it's buried in.

So when I get an idea for a story, it usually starts off with a character, because stories that don't focus on characters are generally boring as shit. You could have the coolest setting in the history of speculative fiction, but if you don't have characters to put in it, it's going to go to waste. And I don't have anything planned out about them. They have a general appearance, and some kind of profession, be it wasteland wanderer, monster hunter, space legionary, down on his luck cowpoke, whatever. Then they're in their world, doing something. Crossing the desert on a horse, trying to find a deadly faerie that's been terrorizing a village, shotgunning orcs, crashing their ship on an alien world, could be anything, usually it starts with some kind of action scene. I find in media res gets the neurons firing a bit faster than starting out on a slow note. 

And from there the story develops on its own. More traits of the character are revealed to me, such as eye and hair color and the like, and I insert them into the prose in as non-intrusive a way as possible. Nobody likes to read exposition dumps wherein you describe your character meticulously. It's boring, and it distracts from what's actually going on in the story. You know, the plot. A trick I use a lot is to describe the action and throw in a little description. "His blue eyes scanned the group pointing guns at him," or some such nonsense like that. 

But I find that the story flows much better if I allow these things, as well as details of the world, to be revealed to me as the story goes along, rather than trying to plan it out. I'm an atrocious planner, and honestly not that creative. This is how I justify my view of writing. When I actually try, I come up with crap. When I take my hands off the wheel and let the river carry me where it wants to go, things go much smoother and I don't spend so much time fighting the current. 

As a matter of fact, since I've started writing with the expressed intention of submitting and publishing my own work, the only time I've encountered serious grind-to-a-fucking-halt writer's block was when someone said, "Here's a story prompt. Start your story with these three sentences and then build on it from there." It's not my best work by a long shot, and I'm going to have to do some serious face-lifting on that story to get it up to snuff. Personal snuff, other people might like it, but I didn't. Whenever I let the story start where it wants to and end where it wants to, it comes out much easier, flows better, and I don't have to worry about getting stuck as much. 

I had to actively force myself to write that story. And not as in "Okay we're going to sit down and write for the next four hours" force myself to write, but "Okay I know this is the most wrong and unnatural feeling method of writing a story we've done in years but we need at least five thousand words so crank it out so you'll have SOMETHING to send them." It was a very unpleasant experience, and not one I'm looking to repeat any time soon. This is why I consider carefully what magazines to submit stories to, and don't even bother with bigger magazines. They have their "issue of the week" that they want stories about, and my writing doesn't function like that. 

Whereas with something like Cirsova, the entirety of the story content guidelines was "No more fantasy, we have enough. No elves. Around 7,500 words. Preferably planetary romance or sword & planet. We need more science fiction for next year." Of course there was more to it than that, but barely. This kind of submission guideline system gives the writer much more freedom than something like Escape Artist's call for stories about Space Marine Midwives, which had a fucking laundry list of qualifications and requirements, up to and including the skin color of the author. Now I imagine that if you sent that list to fifteen different authors you'd get sixteen different ideas back, but it seems to me that it would get a bit staid after the first three stories about people giving birth on a battlefield. Cool idea to include in an anthology with a wider focus? Sure, why not. Good idea to structure an anthology in totality around? This is gonna get boring fast. 

But give me a prompt like, "There's a cursed weapon," and suddenly my pistachios start percolating and I start to see things, and those things want very badly to be written down. To the point of insomnia and anxiety. The Space Marine Midwives thing would require meticulous planning on the part of the writer to stand out from the other five hundred people submitting stories from the same prompt you are. The cursed weapon or "Sword & planet with no elves, please," approach means that you almost certainly won't see the same story twice. 

So, perhaps I am insane. It's not a possibility I discount out of hand. All I know for sure is that the method described by Dominika just does not work when I try it. Maybe it's a method you have to practice to get the hang of, but it feels so fundamentally wrong when I try it that I might as well be injecting poison into my creative drive. And this isn't to disparage Dominika and writers like her that use this method. One man's poison is another man's balm, and what works for one writer won't work for another. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and writing, while a craft that you must hone through practice and refinement of technique, is not a thing that has a set of well-defined rules for how to get from point A to point B. Most writers I know of have a damned hard time describing the process, and I've probably fucked it up quite badly in this post. And I've been writing like this since I was very young. 

Now, this isn't meant to be a blanket statement. There are most definitely tried and true methods you can use to refine your technique and make your writing better. But so far as the process, the actual writing itself goes, few writers will take the same approach in my experience. So if I were going to dispense some writing advice to kind of wrap this stupidly long post up, I would say find the method that works for you, and refine it until you can do it on the spot, at any time.

Carry around a laptop, or your phone, or a notebook and pen (and yes, PEN, not a pencil. Those black scratches on the page when you fuck up will be a keen reminder and keep you from doing that again) and write whenever you get a spare moment. I did this in college and at several jobs, and while the stories I wrote aren't going to see the light of day, the practice that I got in writing them was immeasurably valuable, and now I can pop open a word document, work out the name of the character, and start writing. 

So practice is very important, no matter which option you pick. When you train muscles, they get stronger. So write, and write, and write, and eventually you'll have something that'll be worth publishing after a few rounds of revisions, and maybe rewrites, depending on your style. Editing is incredibly important, not just to catch typos, but to tighten up phrasing, get rid of lazy words, make descriptions more vivid, and improve the overall flow of the story so that it presents itself to the reader in a fashion that is pleasing to the eye and interesting to the mind. 

So find a good editor, and listen to what they say. But at the same time you should be refining your technique and your self editing process so that they have less to red-pen when it goes to their desk. And don't take this post as the final word on anything. Go find other opinions, mix them together, come up with your own method, or find an method that you think would work for you and adopt it. There are many paths to take through this forest, and not everyone can see the same one. You can cut your own path, follow a game trail, or wander under the trees and see where you end up. 

But whatever you do, GO FORTH AND WRITE.