Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why We Love Stories About Sparta

With key Greek city-states in submission, Philip of Macedon turned his attention to Sparta and sent a message: "If I win this war, you will be slaves forever."

In another version, Philip proclaims: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

The Spartan ephors sent back a one word reply: "If."

(from here)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why Lazy Writing Screws Women Over

Hollywood at work:

Kevin and I started with a concept: What if we did the entire thing in one shot? We follow a girl from her bathroom mirror, to a car ride, to a convenience store, to a seedy party where she finally shoots and murders someone. All in one shot. Problem then, became exposition. Was this just to be a conceptual idea? Or were we going to explain why she kills this motherfucker? And who exactly was this dude anyway? The words "seedy party" though, definitely got us excited. We began to see a pimp. Picture Roy Scheider from Klute or Gary Oldman from True Romance, mixed in with a little Alfred Molina from Boogie Nights and Willem DaFoe from Wild At Heart. And who was the girl? Just some scorned chick? Nah, how about something more interesting. Like a beautiful young woman hellbent on killing the pimp that murdered her sister. No! How about her identical twin sister. And how about, these weren't your normal twins. But two girls who shared a strange, abnormal bond. And how about this guy is a real class act. He's a suburban brat who thinks he's smarter than he is. Oh, and he's utterly psychotic.

You see how they start out all right:

We'll have this great female protagonist, yes... and we'll follow her... and she kills someone because... because...

And that's where it all seems to break down. After all, what reason could a woman possibly have to kill someone?

Wait, I know!

She'll get raped! OK, but she should be a super assassin, so we'll have her twin sister get raped, but she can feel the things her twin sister feels, so she'll actually be getting raped!


This is the same kind of lazy writing Joss Whedon is doing with Dollhouse.

"Not sure what to do next? Have somebody get raped!"

Sweet God, people. You do know that women have lots of traumatic, story-worthy things happen to them that don't involve rape, right?

Because opening your story with your protagonist getting raped? It's just not interesting. Your story is full of cheesy caricatures, but not in a Kill Bill way, in a stupidly LAZY way.

What drives me bonkers is that these are supposedly experienced script writers. I realize they're writing under deadline, for fun, but sweet fuck, you guys, it's not hard to write a good script with awesome characters who don't suck. It's really not.

But hey, let's try something else on for size, for fun. We have to write a script that follows the same constraints these guys did. Low-low budget, that can be shot in a week, preferably in one shot (but can take or leave that). So instead of:

We follow a girl from her bathroom mirror, to a car ride, to a convenience store, to a seedy party where she finally shoots and murders someone. All in one shot.

How about:

We follow a girl as she suits up for "work." Black stockings, black boots, black leather jacket, duel pistol holsters, knife strapped to her ankle, extra bullets and brass knuckles in her bag. She gets on a motorcycle and heads off to a seedy pool party. She pulls a shotgun from her side bag, shoots in the door, kicks her way in, and aims at the Big Bad and says, coldly, "This is for my brother." She shoots him. He goes over. She leans in close to blow his whole head off and we hear him say, "Your brother's not dead." She says, "I know," and kills him. Then she opens up a can of whoop-ass on the whole pool party with all her sweet-ass weaponry and kills everybody there. Then we see her start to torch the place. She gets back on her motorcycle and stops at a bench in what appears to be a park. A man is sitting on the bench. She sits next to him. "Didn't think you were coming," he says. "I don't think they'll be a problem getting that cancer drug approved," she says. "The big wigs are out of the picture. Just watch who you piss off next time. I can't clean up all your messes. We're not kids anymore. The stakes are a lot higher." She checks her cell phone, stands. "I may be out of touch for awhile. Say hi to dad for me." She walks away, we pull back, and we see that they're at a cemetary. On the headstone is their father's name and a eulogy indicating that he died of cancer.

Blah blah.

Slightly syrupy? Sure, but I wrote that in all of ten minutes. I'm uncertain as to why Hollywood can't come up with something more original than, "Chick gets raped, let's make a movie about it," in an hour, ten days, ten months or ten goddamn years.

Come, guys. Lazy writing is boring, and I'm sick of your boring-ass, victimized, brutalized female characters. Think outside the fucking constraints of your fucking institutionalized sexism.

Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"How many real adult times have you been in love?"

Inquiring minds want to know.

Why am I Deadlifting 125 lbs?

Well, I did tell our trainers I wanted to work on strength training.



That was... that was... that was a special, special film.

Oh, and they're doing a remake.


There are few films that are totally iconic of their times. This is one of them. You can't remake this movie. Outside of the context of the late 60s, early 70s, it makes no sense.

I mean, it made no sense anyway, but that was the point. It was just like the 60s.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jane Austin & Zombies Has Arrived

I bought a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for J., secretly knowing that I could steal it from him when he wasn't looking. Then Steph called dibs on it when we all went out to dinner, and now I'm 3rd in line. Still, I've been sneaking peeks, and I can say this much:

Reader, it's awesome.

These are the stories - and heroines! - I wanted to read about 20 years ago.

Why Other Cool People Like "The 300"


I'm always delighted when I find women who thought fan-"boy" movies like The 300 and Fight Club were full of awesome.

Because they were.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"I've never met a writer..." The Writing Life

Me, Steph, J. and The Old Man went out to dinner last night to celebrate The Old Man winning a shiny Fellowship that will make it possible for him and Steph to eat come January.

Talk inevitably turned to Jim Butcher's new book. J. and The Old Man are big fans of Butcher.

"Are you coming with us Wednesday?" J. asked The Old Man. "You know Jim Butcher's going to be at The Greene."

"I don't know... probably not. I have a big test Thursday."

"You don't want to see Jim Butcher?" I said, incredulous. The Old Man bought Butcher's latest book the day it came out and finished it four hours later.

"Oh, I don't know..." the Old Man said. "I've never really met a writer before."

J. and Steph just kind of looked at him for a minute. I snickered.

Then we all burst out laughing.

"To be fair, you weren't a writer when I first met you (ten years ago)," the Old Man protested, turning to me. "You were just a wanna-be."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Quote of the Day

"A moron writes words. A moron flails about for telling details--declarations, clich├ęs, sentence fragments. A moron owns a frying pan. A moron has an extensive collection of pornography. A moron makes assumptions--about gender roles, about sexuality, about class. Or he fantasizes--about sports cars, Rolexes, cash. He prefers the company of men, but not in a gay way, REALLY. Irony escapes him. A moron pretends that women have no interest in the martial arts because the thought that they might hit him is scary. A moron is not good with words. Not words, not ideas, not talking about men. He is paid by the word. Two-fifty. It doesn't matter what words he puts down, because those who do not agree with what he says are not men."

From here, and context.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


For better or worse, I won't be able to make it this year. I owe bunches of taxes this year and I needed to put my book checks toward furniture, heat, and a car.

So, no Wiscon.

Next year, tho, I'll be peddling a pretty sweet-ass little book. So I think attendance is mandatory.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Roots of Urban Fantasy

An interesting history of the "urban fantasy" (AKA vampire porn) novel.

As an aside, I'm kind of embarrassed to say out loud that, shit, man, Rusch is a really terrible writer. I'm sure she writes good *story* (which would be why she sells so many), but she really doesn't have a lot of technical skill. Lots of interesting stuff to chew on here, just not articulated as well as it could have been.

Sorry. I had to say that out loud.

Now go forth and create the next reimagined gothic, people! I'm bored with vampire porn.

4 to 46

I do wonder when we'll hit the tipping point. Think it'll take as long as 10 years? The buildup, sure, I understand that taking 10 years, but once you hit the tipping point, the rest should come on down just like dominoes.

Til then, keep on truckin.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Spring 2010

I was editing an RFI at work today that mentioned the date, "Spring 2010."

My immediate thought was, "My book comes out in Spring 2010."

I've started to associate that ENTIRE PHRASE "Spring 2010" with the release of God's War.

Heaven forbid when I actually get a solid release date.

Kcast 1.0

I'm working on a project to record all of my short fiction in podcast form (and hopefully some GW snippets soon). These will go up on my website once it's live. The header (Kcast and etc.) will likely change, and I'd like to get a better audio recording device, but here's a taste of what I'm up to:

The Women of Our Occupation (.m4a)
The Women of our Occupation (.wmv)

I'll probably record this a couple more times to get the tone right.

Next up is "Wonder Maul Doll," which pretty much nobody's ever read (it originally appeared in a little anthology called From the Trenches), but it's a seriously brutal women story. Hurrah!


Friday, April 03, 2009

Is This was Women's Suffrage was Like?

It's fascinating to watch the three steps forward two steps back tidal wave of social change. I can't help but think this is what it was like with women getting the right to vote... This slow, building tide. One state here, one state there, until the whole country finally realized:

1) The world's not going to implode when something "changes"
2) You can't stop the tide of a cause that, well, actually makes sense

Hate may have a long lifespan, but it'll eventually topple in the face of human goodness and decency. That's what I want to believe, anyway.

It's why I'm a fantasy writer.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

One for the Road

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Empowering our Daughters

"Men don’t want to fuck feminists, and if no one wants to fuck you, what power have you got as a woman?"

I Really Hate April Fools' Day

The news is already absurd and fabricated. I don't need people to deliberately absurdify and fabricate it.