Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Naming fictional characers

This can be some of the most fun you have when creative writing - and sometimes the most frustrating. You want a name that sounds cool, heroic, telling, dastardly, but not too corny. Not always easy. But easier than picking out baby names.

Creative Writing: Choosing Names for Fictional Characters
Names must match the character they portray; therefore it is important to know the characters first: who they are, what they do, and why they do it before deciding on a name. Arthur Miller’s character, Willie Loman has become an iconic name because it perfectly describes who he is and his position in the world.

Avoid silly names unless writing for children. Dickensian names such as Mr. Pumblechook or Mrs. Pardiggle will appear contrived as will very formal and antiquated names such as Viscount Rothschild. Common names such as John and Susan are boring and say little about the character.
In Lefevre's Redemption, I went with "Luc Lefevre" because I wanted something French Canadian (matching the heritage of the city, the street names and the families around Windsor) but also something a bit tough - you can name more than one famous hockey player named either Luc or Lefevre, I think. Also, the alliterative L and L in the first and last names match along with the Marvel comic universe where your super-heroe's mild-mannered persona is often with matching letters: Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Ryan Rogers, as examples.

"Mickey Gordon" was supposed to have a childish twist, and of course there's nothing more cliche than a cop with an Irish name. "Arsenio Con Pisco" was supposed to sound regal and foreign. "Chase Nguyen" was picked because Nguyen is like the Smith of the Korean world. I wanted a name that was overly common, but foreign, which would make pinpointing his identity difficult if detectives were searching for him. Chase, although it comes with connotations because it is in fact a verb as well as a name, was picked by a friend of mine (Zach Cranny) who thought it would be cool.

"Hal Doric" was because I wanted a towering but old-school feeling for someone. You get the 2001: A Space Odyssey (never spelled Odyssey before!) reference from the humane, but uncompromising computer, and a reference to an old Grecian culture - sometimes elegant and sometimes brutal.

The Tomb of the Undead characters have neat names, too. Casey Miller, Howard Bolam, Monique DeChamplaines, Barnum Mantell (dinosaur reference!), Darrell Starkwood, Balaam Zeira Rabba and Agras bas Ma'Aseh - not to mention Dustin Mugabe (the villain). [just yesterday - or something like that - I decided that I'd rather name Monique, Evelyn. It sounds silly, like, what does it matter what her name is? But I think in terms of how the story comes together toward the end - that this is the right name for her.]

As always, a cohesive writing unit is important - and having everything come together is integral to a well-plotted, well-conceived and well-executed story!

Often there are excellent opportunities with character names to toss in a reference to your influences while writing. I would like to use a few names from Michael Crichton novels - I was thinking of using the name Regis Edwards, an homage to Ed Regis from Jurassic Park - a character that was sadly cut from the script when the movie was released back in 1993.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Don't name dinosaurs if you're an idiot

Mojoceratops is a bit of a gaudy name, but ... he was named after a round of drinks, confesses the paleontologist who discovered the new species while digging through the drawers in the museum basement, rather than from out in the field.
[Look at that face! Maybe PhantomOfTheOperatops instead? Get this guy an organ.]

When Nicholas Longrich stumbled upon a fossilized fragment from a previously unknown dinosaur genus in the basement of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, he rejected the traditions that usually govern dinosaur nomenclature.

Instead, over a round of drinks with fellow paleontologists, Mr. Longrich struck upon, almost out of thin air, a name that would end up bringing him more publicity than any of his other discoveries: Mojoceratops.

Although the initial inspiration for the name was not based on any real rationale, Mr. Longrich said, his later investigation into the etymology of the word “mojo” — a term for magical charm, especially that used to attract sexual partners — provided some justification for the choice.

“That’s what I think these frills were for, probably impressing mates,” said Mr. Longrich, whose finding was published this week in the Journal of Paleontology. “It actually worked out as not being completely irrational.”

This name is pretty stupid, but at least there's a 'neat' story behind it, rather than just some ridiculous Latin translation. While not Cupid-ceratops? This is basically the same thing. Even if I were drunk, I'd name this thing some more cool than a tired trendy expression from the 70s that was briefly brought back by the Austin Powers trilogy.

Triceratops turnaround?

I don't know how much you care about the Torosaurus - but some palaeontlogists have begun to investigate whether or not some ceratopsians are actually just juvenile or mature versions of other ceratopsians, and not necessarily new species. While I'm for this - I'm not sure that I would agree that Triceratops and Torosaurus are the same species. Torosaurus had a great big frill around its neck, BUT it had huge holes in its frill - while Triceratops is famous for having a huge, hole-less frill. Why would all of that bone suddenly disintegrate into big holes? And if this happened, why wouldn't you find lots of skulls with solid bone frills and not just the holed kind? I'm not liking the argument - BUT that doesn't mean there shouldn't be an argument made and considered. This is how progress is made in science.

You can look for yourself.

I especially don't like how scientific articles will make it appear that this newly published article is the new world view on the matter. And it's like this with all scientific articles - you just hear about a new theory, and then suddenly everyone believes that it's the truth, as opposed to the beginning of a much longer process of challenging that theory and coming closer to a truth.

And I close with a link to: A Mammals Worst Nightmare. It's about hiding from dinosaurs, but with new evidence that they could get at you, even if you were hiding.


This is an excellent article that just goes to show how very difficult it is to pin what killed off the dinosaurs - though it makes some very strong observations. Most interesting is that the mass extinctions that have existed on our Earth for almost a billion years can be expected every 27 million years, "like clockwork," according to the article. Though they don't know what it is that happens every 27 millions years that causes this reaction.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

An old writing post

This was written, but not published, ages ago. I haven't even reread it to see what it says - but I'd like to get it out of the way.

- - -

First off - I've been writing at least a page every morning/afternoon for the past few weeks, and it's really great. You get into the routine of doing it - and if you're interested as a hobbyist in doing anything, it's important to find to time do it.

I've really been proud of myself with the progress I've been able to make with the script I'm working on - and I've almost finished another two scenes just today - bringing me ever close to finishing the first draft of this thing. And that's very exciting.

Free from the Beeb
I've been doing research on writing, and on writing scripts - and I'm excited to say that I've found a link from the BBC that offers a free download of some script-writing software if you're interested. Check it out and download it if you'd like.

Note to self
I'm just linking here - it'd be great to have a literary agent. Here's a link to one. Also, if you're looking for tips or information on software or building a scene list, you can look here. And if you're looking to pitch your project to someone else - you definitely want some pointers on how to write a Treatment, which is located in this link.

Finding inspiration

I haven't had trouble with inspiration - because I haven't changed projects too often. I've got the Tomb of the Undead and Lefevre's Redemption articles going for me. When it comes to writing something new - I just haven't got to it yet. I really want to wrap these up before I move on to something else - although I did develop a new stylistic technique/strategy for LR that could take some of this article's advice:
The screenwriters guide suggests you practice the art of people watching, with a close detailed observation in all your daily activities. t will become easier once you begin to make it a point to people watch. Not only will inspiration strike when you least expect it, but watching people can help you see the truth in your script writing. Your screenplays will take on a whole new level as you begin writing more realistically and authentically from your heart. And your characters actions and dialog [sic] will become more realistic as well.
I'm not sure if anyone is familiar with the soft lead and the feature story structures - but they work in a simple way. You start your story off with something interesting, but not necessarily essential to your story. This is the "Feel good" beginning, where you often say, "He didn't always want to be a pro baseball player, it just fell into his lap" and then go into how the player got his first taste of baseball from a random fly ball that hit him on the bleachers or something.

This would segue into an article on the pro baller and then end with a reminiscent tone of his early beginnings, referencing that early accomplishment. It would be like, "He's sure come a long way from having baseball dropped into his lap - now he's hitting homeruns out into the laps of the next generation of soon-to-be ball players." Or something like that. It's kinda kitschy, but it's also sentimental.

Anyhow - this is important to me because I think I can use this narrative technique in Lefevre's Redemption over the course of a few chapters. Instead of writing a narrative chapter just explaining what happens and what is said, you start with a soft lead, talking about a moment in the past that might serve some relevance to what happens in the chapter, and then you end with a reference to it again - the reader has a moment of recollection from the past, connecting the importance of what he learned back then, and how it applies to know, and packages the story in a neat and sentimental sort of way. It's a powerful technique if done properly. And I think it could crank Lefevre's Redemption up a notch when you're reading it.

Anyhow - people watching is a great way to get inspiration. You can just see them and let your prejudices and imagination invent histories and motivators for them, imagine what they're up to, where they're going, and what they're like. Then using that motivation to develop a story or back story that fits what you're looking for.

I'm looking forward to this! Granted, not looking forward to the heavy editing and rewriting that Lefevre's Redemption still requires. I've only gone through the first four chapters in this phase of the edit, and it's cumbersome!

Best Show in the Universe, ep. 2

That's right - while The Best Site in the Universe had disparagingly fewer and fewer updates over the past few years, I have been reluctant to believe that the Great Show in the Universe was going to be updated very often. However, in just about a week - the show has returned with its second episode - and I'm happier for it.

Here is Maddox, responding to criticisms over his first episode, and then dealing with some hate mail. Good stuff:

Friday, August 27, 2010

How to finally get writing

First reread of the script is done - ready to make some edits/ rewrite a scene

I have gone through my screenplay that I've been drafting and made a few recommendations to myself. I think I'll have to rewrite one of the scenes to have the protagonists play a more direct part in it. As it stands, they just sit by and watch as something happens, and they don't really need to be there.

I'd rather have that scene fill out so that they are actually responsible (however motivated) for the action that takes place in the scene. This will undoubtedly require a few more pages of action, but at that point in the script, it's going to be totally worth it.

I've been paying attention to lots of writing stuff that the Internet has to show (especially since we canceled our introductory movie package with Bell earlier this month) and find neat ideas scattered all over it.

How to finally get writing
The Top 20 Distractions from writing - this list is a bit childish, if you ask me, and sounds more like something you'd get in an email about not writing an essay in college or something. Most of this list is pretty tired. I find that the best results I've had for making writing progress has been to take an hour in the morning before work (after the wife has left) to just go at it for a little while. After having "scene capsules" finished, I can just flesh out what I know has to happen in the scene. For a first draft, just get something written down, editing will fix it later.

The other thing I've learned is - if you've only got 15 minutes, that's sometimes more than enough time to get something done, considered, motivated or even finished, believe it or not. Granted, it takes quite a bit of prep time to put yourself into a position where you know what you want to write, and it becomes a simple matter of actually writing.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Got an issue, here's a tissue

My wife found a competition online where you can upload artwork for a competition (winner gets $10,000) for a design on a Scotties tissue box. You can upload up to 10 entries - I've submitted two already.

So, you just draft up a picture (mine is done in crayons):

Then you scan and upload it onto a box template at their website:

Neither are particularly awesome, or $10,000-worthy, but it was kinda fun. I may submit a few more - perhaps some images that are basically promotional material for The Extent videos or my blog. Just paste the url for the sites and an image or two on the box, and wait for thousands of people to scan through the submissions and vote.

It would be fun to have your artwork on a tissue box. For example, if YOUR wife were a great artist, who would find something like this fun and awesome, I think you'd be inspired to tell her about it, wouldn't you think?

You can visit the Scotties site: http://www.scottiesdesignchallenge.ca

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The difference in a year

It's amazing what a difference a year makes. Often I'm a rubbed the wrong way by people who suggest that "time flies" only because I believe that such a mentality enforces the idea that they would ignore so much that goes on between events. Case in point - it's been a full year (almost) since my wife and I left Windsor - and there's been a LOT of things that have happened to us in that year. A big year for us, for sure.

Around this time last year we had packed up and moved to Peterborough, I was putting out new episodes of The Extent, my "fiance" was starting her new job - and now we're in a totally different town, with a different marital status, I've had two jobs, volunteered with a new OHL team, a cable network, an animal welfare clinic, we got a new cat (whom I honestly can't imagine living without now) and a new house. A big year.

Time doesn't fly - time is a constant, predictable measure. And I think we're all better off for always being conscientious of how we spend our time and where the time goes. Granted, I've had lots of time to think about these sorts of things over the last year, too.

On a hilarious side-note, we streamed a few episodes of Tosh.0 last night on my laptop. I love that show. There was one clip that had me in tears, and of course, I have found it on YouTube to share. It's awesome.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Final photos of the railings

It has been a beautiful day here - sunny and warm with a small breeze keeping everything very comfortable. And isn't it nice to have a day off while the weather is so nice?

That being said, here are some photos of the finished railings. From the top down, you can look and see form our porch what the stairs look like.

Then you head down the stairs ...

This is the view looking back up the stairs from whence you came.

And the turn in the stairs came out very nicely.

From the bottom of the stairs looking up, you get this view.

It was a Saturday well spent, that's for sure. The yard looks better now that the stairs are complete. Now if only the lawn would fill in, we'd have a decent looking yard.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lazy day off

The deck went off without little of a hitch over the weekend, which was very nice. While I wound up working a double shift on Sunday, the final balusters were put in place and it looks very good now, so we can be grateful and appreciative of the in-laws to come in and help with that.

Today I start my 'week end' with two days off. I played the guitar a little, did some reading, drafted a letter of discontent for The Brick (which I'll post once I get final approval from my wife) and re-read some old blog posts (I've been going through the blog from the beginning till now - it's been nice).

Might go golfing this afternoon/evening with my pal DOS 3.9, too.

You may also notice a new link at the top of the blog that links to all of my sketches from the beginning of the blog. Check it out, if you're interested.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Railing's great

We got most of the difficult measuring, cutting and screwing for the railing done yesterday (my day off) and there's only fastening the balusters to the rails left to do today, while I'm at work. Then we'll stain it, but ... that might be in a little while. We'll see.

The schedule for today is thunderstorms, so it's great that we were able to do a whole whack of the work on a mild, sunny afternoon in the backyard.

I took some pictures, and even unloaded them from the camera so I can post them up. Now, it's important that I stress that I basically just held the wood while it was either being measured or cut, and that's about it. Everything else was done by others - but I did what I could.

We had plenty of tools and supplies on hand.

Had to make measurements to get started. (I'm just standing nearby)

Then we had to cut the wood. (Notice, I just stand nearby)

Had to dig some holes. This made sledging the spikes into the ground a lot easier. Not easy, but easier. (I did dig these holes, though)

Here you can see some of the progress.

After using the sledge to hammer the spikes in, we filled the holes back up. I did swing the sledge (t0o much, if you ask me!)
The first rail looks pretty good.

A few more rails, and a couple balustrades tacked into place.

The final framework at the turn. We've, since this photo, tacked a few more balustrades into place - and we'll get to screwing them into their final positions today.
Well, I'll be at work today, but the screwing should still get done while I'm away. I hope there aren't severe thunderstorms like the Weather Channel is predicting. Says 70% chance of thunderstorms all day today. Not cool

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Building a railing for the deck

Trips to the hospital: 0
Number of bandaids required: 0
Scratches: 0
Bruises: 0
Otherwise painful afflictions: 0

We haven't started yet.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Looked at the calendar today ...

... and it's as good a day as any to get a hockey mask and massacre a small town full of doubtful police officers and slutty teenagers.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

had this happen to me

and thought it was funny. So I found a fun way to share it with you. I hope you like it.
[Click to enlarge]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Writing habits

First off - I've been writing at least a page every morning/afternoon for the past few weeks, and it's really great. You get into the routine of doing it - and if you're interested as a hobbyist in doing anything, it's important to find to time do it.

I've really been proud of myself with the progress I've been able to make with the script I'm working on - and I've almost finished another two scenes just today - bringing me ever close to finishing the first draft of this thing. And that's very exciting.

Free from the Beeb
I've been doing research on writing, and on writing scripts - and I'm excited to say that I've found a link from the BBC that offers a free download of some script-writing software if you're interested. Check it out and download it if you'd like.

Note to self
I'm just linking here - it'd be great to have a literary agent. Here's a link to one. Also, if you're looking for tips or information on software or building a scene list, you can look here.

New artwork over on Zombie Dinosaurs blog.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Entertain me!

Looking forward to Hell's Kitchen tonight! They'll decide a winner, which is what the competition is all about. Tonight will be on one of the more interesting challenges where the two competing finalists must lead a team of people who have already been kicked out of the show in the past few weeks. Of course, the people who come back to the show to help decide the winner aren't always good sports about it. So - how will Holli and Jay do?

My bet - Jay will have dyed his hair blue, nice and fresh for the finale tonight. all other bets are off.

New installment of Planet of the Apes?
In modern Hollywood fashion, it will be a prequel.

Production has started at Mammoth Studios in Burnaby on Caesar, Rise of the Apes, a “prequel” to the 1968 movie The Planet of the Apes.

The seventh feature in Fox’s Planet of the Apes franchise will be directed by Rupert Wyatt, who did an acclaimed British prison-break movie, The Escapist. The stars are James Franco (Milk, General Hospital), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire).

Fox’s official line on the movie is “the film is a reality-based cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man’s experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.”

Time to make dinner - and if it's anything like Hell's Kitchen - I will get yelled at, humiliated and embarrassed into submission. Shake and bake chicken it is.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another video

You should wait till you're home to watch this one, as well. Funny, though.

Day off - so I worked on the script.Up to 89 unedited pages and 27,734 words. Crazy, but also crazy close to being at the end! Less than eight scenes to go!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

NSFW video

I can't imagine that there are any videos that you're allowed to watch at work, but one like this doesn't even resemble something you should be watching while you're working. But it's funny in the same vein as The Alphabet of Manliness. While the premise is tired and past its prime, it still captures the spirit of what the Best Page in the Universe was always about.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Long days at work

I was surprised to have such a long day at work the other day - and Saturdays look like they're always going to be long shifts - and I have a weird feeling that Sunday could be pretty intense, too (last Sunday was insane!).

This means I'm definitely going to be looking forward to my 'weekend' on Monday, even though we're rumoured to have thunderstorms here that day - and I was hoping for shun-shine (as that commercial says it).

The weather's been very nice lately around here, cool in the evenings and mild during the day. I get the impression that it might get very cold around here in the winter - considering how chilly 22 degrees feels when you're down by the lake. Could be very cool around here, indeed.

When you come to visit, be sure to bring a pull-over and a jacket, just in case. Even if it is August.

Friday, August 6, 2010

hard finding things to blog about

It's been difficult over the last few days to find anything to really write about. Not that I couldn't look for something to post - but without Lost, the NHL, or any major developments in any of my hobbies or anything - it's just been pretty slow lately.

Just this morning I was able to finish the last scene in the second act of the script I'm writing - and that gets me into the final few scenes of the third act to wrap the whole thing up. That's really exciting. I'm currently drafting the scene where you discover the back-story on the villain, which I developed a long time ago, but am finally getting a chance to write.

The third act should have a whole lot of weird, interesting, exciting stuff in it - as well as the motivations of all the characters should come clear soon enough. So you should be going: So you should be both excited by what the characters do, as well as why they're doing it - and of course be wondering what's going to happen as you go along. That's the hope.

And if you're wondering if the big game-changing cliff-hanger is going to be: "I'm going to move the Island," you'd be wrong. I wouldn't do something so ridiculous ;)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bed pieces finally came

And we're super stoked. My roommate and his girlfriend were priceless in helping to put it together today, too. We bought this thing over a month ago, had it delivered almost a month ago, and received most of the parts almost a month ago.

It's taken over a month to get the rest of the pieces - and over that very unsatisfied amount of time, I totally forgot how awesome the bedroom set was. It's really super, and I'm totally excited to finally have it all set up - EVEN IF MY WIFE WON'T USE THE BOX SPRING.

Our bed looks super huge with the box spring - it's awesome. Wifey doesn't like it - so we're never ever going to use it, which is too bad. If you want a great, brand new box spring for your bed, I've got one. I could trade it for a couch/chair for our front room, perhaps.

Otherwise, this means we are in BUSINESS for having company, now that we're not sleeping in the guest room. This means YOU can sleep in our guest room, and you're totally welcome to. It's a good room (not as good as the master bedroom) but it's nice, nonetheless. come check it out, spend the night, and come visit. We're finally ready for you!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Welcome to August

It's a beautiful and mild morning here in the Port and the sun is shining. Just a great morning - not too hot, very comfortable and peaceful. Yeah, I've got to work today, but not until noon, so I've had half the day to enjoy, which is great.

I hope August is just like this. July has been a bit tense - a new job, fitting into the house, waiting for the damned parts for our new bedroom set (it's been well over a month now - and the parts are supposed to be in on Tuesday - after the long weekend). I'll have to wait and see if they will in fact arrive on Tuesday or not - and then see if they're in fact the pieces that we need, or not. I sure hope they send us the right pieces.

Then we'll officially be available for guests - as soon as we can move out of the guest room and into the master bedroom. Cross your fingers and hope that the right pieces come through! If they don't, a discouraging and open letter to The Brick will be available very shortly.