10 ways to respond to trolls

First and foremost: 1) ” ”

The rest are in no particular order…

2) “D’aw, whosa cute wittle twoll? You are! You are! *rattlerattlerattle*”

3) Hit on them relentlessly.

4) Weaponize kindness. (and kill them with it)

5) Walk a mile in their shoes. That way, you’ll be a mile away, and have their shoes!

6) Sing loudly and shrilly.

7) Come up with your own humor as a counter to the jokes they try to make. Skip this one if you are, in fact, what scientists like to call a ‘boring fuck’.

8) Requisition the holy banhammer from the vaults of the Admins and the Mods. FOR THE EMPRA- I MEAN ADMINSTROR!

9) Break into their house, tie them to their own computer chair with duck tape, and then steal their legos. Partly to confuse- Sorry Steve, what was that?… aw dammit, someone made this joke already. =( Curse you, GSQ!… now I gotta come up with one more

9.1)

10) “I’m Doubya, lord of (website)dotCom! And in the name of my one true love, [favorite porn site here], I demand thy vacate these boards at once, foul demon!”

Why twists suck (and why they don’t)

I want to apologize for being late on this one – I thought that I had one more scheduled and this could go up next Friday, but I realized today that the one update I had remaining was scheduled for Tuesday. That one’s going to be moved to Friday so I’ll have time to get something else written up, but in the meantime, enjoy this commentary on story twists:

If you’ve seen a film by M. Night Shyamalan that was written after Signs, you know full well that twists aren’t necessarily good things. However, if you’ve seen Attack on Titan, played the first Bioshock, or watched the Sixth Sense (remember? not all of Shyamalan’s movies sucked) you also know that twists can be really really good. Why is that? Why are some twists boring, stupid and annoying while others are jaw-droppingly awesome?

In my humble opinion, a twist needs to do three basic things: it needs to make sense, it needs to be well foreshadowed, and it needs to change the audience’s perspective on previous events in the story. A fourth thing it can do is change the entire direction of the story, but that’s optional.

For instance, (spoilers for the awesomeness that is Attack on Titan – manga form, mind, I don’t watch the anime) when the female Titan breaks off part of the gigantic wall in her escape, we learn that the wall is filled with Titans. At that moment, we also see that the wall-worshipping priest already knew and is quickly advising them to plug up the hole before the Titan regains power in the sunlight. This is a great twist, and is, in my opinion, perfectly set up. First of all, the wall is a constant in this story – from the very beginning we hear about how the wall has saved humanity from being destroyed by Titans… and then it turns out that the ENTIRE THING is full of the human-eating monstrosities everyone was afraid of. Not only that, the priest (who appeared to be the religious straw-man up to this point) is suddenly cast in a new, much less insane light: he knows exactly what’s going on and his previous desire to keep the wall completely unaltered makes much more sense than ‘because Gooooooooooood!!!’.

Second, it was perfectly foreshadowed. We learn very early on that the walls around individual towns that are right on the edge of the three great walls were built after the great walls themselves to compensate for their lack of manpower. Go back and look at the two walls, one filled with titans and the other built by human hands. The titan walls are smooth(ish) and aside from the gates are entirely unbroken. The human-made walls, on the other hands, are made of regular ol’ brick and mortar.

Third… the priest AND the wall are shoved into new light by this twist. When I was first reading it, the wall-priest seriously ticked me off. I figured this would just be the author’s way of going on a “subtle” diatribe about how ‘haha, religion is stooooooooopid’. Strawmen in general are annoying as hell, but religious strawmen are also overdone as fuck. And then, lo and behold, this guy KNEW ABOUT THE TITANS IN THE WALL HE CLAIMED TO WORSHIP. He’s NOT a complete nutball!!

Bioshock’s famous twist during your conversation with Andrew Ryan (which is so awesome and relies so much on the fact that you don’t know what’s coming that I STILL refuse to spoil it out of principle) does this perfectly as well. I’m sorry I’m being vague about this, but if you’ve made it to that part of the game, you know what I’m talking about: it fits the theme, the story, and all that good stuff.

So what makes a twist suck?

In my mind, it’s largely because some writers seem to think the most important thing a twist do is surprise the viewer. This is a very big problem when a writer forgets the twist also needs to make some degree of sense, both within the story itself and thematically.

Take one of Shyamalan’s works: Devil. Now, the story set up actually sounds pretty frightening: a bunch of strangers are trapped in an elevator together, and every time the lights go off, someone dies. And it turns out at the end that the first victim – the old lady – is the killer. On top of that, she’s the devil. We’ll ignore the stupidity of how they determine that and instead look to the twist itself.

Now, the old lady being the killer comes completely out of nowhere, but imho it could’ve worked. Saw pulled off a similar twist beautifully enough that an entire legion of fans now goes to see every one. The problem is that it makes absolutely no sense for the old lady to reveal herself as both the killer and the devil while she’s BEING RECORDED AND LIVE ON CAMERA!!! So instead of being shocked and thrilled by the twist, you just scratch your head and go ‘wah?’

Sure, it’s unexpected, but it would’ve also been unexpected for a giant buzzard to burst into the room, announce itself as the killer in  a cockney accent, and then fly off to britain to make love to its dual-gendered transexual spouse (no, I don’t know how that would work), it doesn’t mean it would make any sense

Again, contrast this to Attack on Titan. Not only did it make sense that the priest would already know about the titans in the wall (somebody has to, after all) but it helped explain how the walls were built. It also fit thematically, since the sudden realization that the entire wall is filled with titans was a very dark element (in a story where, in the first chapter, the main character watches his mom get eaten while being carried by someone who could’ve saved her that decided to run away like a coward. So… yeah. Dark, dark, DARK.)

So what do you guys think about story twists? Let me know in the comments below! Like, reblog, follow, and all that jazz! 😛

Story Update: First Rough Draft Complete!…..ish

I posted a few months ago that I was at the climax of the first rough draft of my novel (possibly third, depending on how you look at it) and thought I was close enough to talk about my thoughts on the process. It seemed reasonable at the time – after the climax, there were only two more scenes to write and finish up.

I only just finished it on the fifth.

So… yeah. It’s done now.

So, while I’m waiting for word from a friend (who created the creatures the Horos are based on) my thoughts on how it is so far: it’s a complete and total mess. There are entire scenes that are just summarized or missing entirely and throughout the entire document are notes on things to improve and work on. There’s even a few scenes that are completely blacked out because that’s how utterly STUPID they are.

I like how the epilogue turned out, and the overall storyline is still good, but it’s going to need at least two more drafts, possibly more. I’m not sure if I’ll post excerpts from it (some publishers have rules about how much you can post of something in another location) but if I do, I’ll start with that.

The current story is a mess, but it’s a good mess. It’s got a whole bunch of ideas sitting there, just begging to be polished into something a reader would salivate over. I’m confident I can get it polished out into something special. Heck, I’m not even sure I’ll end up publishing it if my friend decides my ideas borrow from his too heavily. I might just put the whole thing up on my blog when it’s done.

All questions for later, though. For now comes the second rough draft.

Thoughts on Failure

I stand here now with my first rough draft complete, on my first step to being a writer like I’ve wanted since preschool… and all I can think about is how I have to work alone on a project I barely understand, can’t do  and probably won’t be that important in a year. I send someone in need money and all I can think is that it wasn’t enough. I give someone advice and focus on why it isn’t sound. I read aloud a few paragraphs to a group of people that are there to hear and critique such stories, and all I can think is that I might be boring them. They tell me that my writing is desriptive and evocative, and all I can think is that they were also confused by pronunciation. I meet up with my AI partner for our project, and all I can think is that it took an hour.

I finally break down and ask for help, but all I can think is that they’ll tell me to suck it up.

I correct a typo in the title of this post, and all I can focus on is that it was there to begin with.

In every human …

In every human being there is both strength and weakness, good and evil, honesty and dishonesty. The idea that anyone can be only one or the other is, quite frankly, utterly ludicrous and it amazes me that there are still people who can think it’s anything BUT ludicrous

-Anonymous

Games Daughters Play

Solange twisted the sides around on her cube, tongue sticking out between her lips as she fully concentrated on the hunk of wood in her hands. A Housemen she’d met on her latest escape- er, unplanned vacation had given her the cube, and told her to “create order from the virulent chaos.”

The twelve year old’s response was to smash the cube, put it back together and say “Like this?”

Solange had gotten a new cube, and had it slowly explained to her that she was supposed to turn the sides. Now she looked around the cube’s sides, trying to determine the quickest way to put the cube back into its proper shape. But for real, this time.

Six sides. Nine squares on each side. Each square had a pair of runes, and when put together properly, the cube formed a poem. (At least, she thought that was what it did – the Housemen hadn’t been very clear) But for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out the tale. Heck, how was one supposed to put together a poem from this anyway… And where did it start on this bloody cube?!

Eliana tugged on Solange’s legging. “Play with me!”

“Fire born, fire day, death night…” Solange grumbled, still looking at her cube. “Should’ve asked for a hint. This poem makes no sense…”

“PLAY WITH ME!!”

“And all the sides look the same, how’re you supposed to tell where it starts?!”

Eliana pouted and moved over to Idalia and Dawn. Idalia was standing with her fist closed and near her shoulder, her open palm lower. She was… Eliana didn’t know, learning a basic stance from some fighting style or something. But who cared? Eliana wanted to play NOW.

“-just surprised Housemen came up with it, is all.” Idalia was saying.

“No caste has a monopoly on ideas that benefit them.” Dawn said calmly. “Turn your feet a li-”

“PLAY WITH ME!!”

One moment, Eliana.” Dawn said, moving Idalia’s other hand. “Hold that position for as long as you can. Your stance is everything, Idalia.”

“It hurts a little…”

“It’ll be uncomfortable for a while, but eventually it will require no effort.” She turned to Eliana, smiling. “Now, what was-”

“PLAY!” Eli grabbed the woman’s hand and dragged her to the side.

“Eliana, it’s not that big a OW stop squeezing!”

Idalia watched Dawn get dragged off and sighed. She then looked to Sol, keeping her stance as still as she could. “Getting any closer on that cube thing?”

Solange didn’t answer, twisting the cubes’ sides.

“Typical.” Idalia grumbled, turning her head back around. “Can’t even say ‘**** off’.”

“Language, Idalia.” Solange said, twisting the cube’s sides again. “Maybe if I… no, that moves water day out of position… wonder if the poem is-”

“Oh for the love of…” Idalia growled. “It’s not a poem.”

Solange finally looked up to Idalia and cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean?”
“It’s not that complicated – you get each of the six sides to have only one of the left elements on them, with the right in the same position on each face.”

Solange blinked, then looked down at the cube. She performed several quick twists. Idalia looked ahead, keeping her breathing under control. So the answer was ‘no’, apparent-

“Done!”

Idalia’s head immediately shot around, moving out of her stance and grabbed the cube from Solange’s hands.

“Hey!”

Idalia looked the cube over. Indeed, Idalia had solved the cube ridiculously quickly. She looked at the girl, blinking. “How did you do that?”

Solange frowned. “Gimme the cube back and I’ll tell you.”

Idalia tossed it back to Solange, who caught it, glaring at Idalia. “Okay, now tell me how you solved it.”

Solange gritted her teeth.

“…What?”

“You think I cheated.”

“Never said that!”

“You thought it.”

“I didn’t think anything.”

“Oh, I’m sure that’s mostly true.”

“Excuse me?!”

“Enough.”

Idalia and Solange both looked up to see Dawn standing over them. She picked up the cube and looked it over. After a few moments of silence, she looked to Solange. “How did you accomplish this?”

Solange scratched her head, grinning sheepishly. “Er, I spent so long looking for the poem I uh… kind of memorized what every square was on the entire thing… and where? And from there it was a matter of simple math.”

Idalia could’ve sworn she imagined it, but for a brief moment she thought Dawn’s eyes had widened and her mouth dropped. It must have been her imagination though, because in the time it took to blink, she was just smiling motherly again.

Motherly, eh… Idalia kept her smile to herself. She wondered if Dawn would take one of them home one day – scratch that, she wondered when that would happen and (more importantly) if she would keep coming back.

“That’s brilliant.” Dawn tossed the cube back to Solange. “Could you show me?” She glanced at Idalia. “Dear, you need to hold that stance for as long as you can.”

Idalia smirked with amusement and moved back into her stance. Solange looked back down at the cube and saw (with some small bit of irritation) that the cube was messed up again. Eliana tugged on Dawn’s dress, still pouting that nobody was playing with her.

World of Warcraft – Why the Alliance is boring.

I’m going to assume that every single person reading this has at least heard of World of Warcraft, or is proficient enough in google-fu to get the cliffnotes on it. If you haven’t and/or can’t, what rock have you been living under?!

I’m not going to beat around the bush with this: The Horde is just more bloody interesting than the Alliance. Until recently though, I had no idea why. Sure, the Horde’s got interesting backstories for each of its factions, a (mostly) unique flavor for each of them, they were (mostly) the villians in the original Warcrafts, and they have a very devoted playerbase. But the thing I never understood was why the Alliance felt so boring in comparison.

Now, I can understand it starting out that way – the Horde was more interesting to me when I started playing WoW because they had the Tauren and the Tauren are awesome (yeah, entirely subjective there, go figure) but when I left, I found myself with a lingering affection for the Horde and a resounding ‘meh’ for the Alliance, despite the fact that I’d been playing Alliance almost exclusively for years. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t hate the Alliance, they have some good characters, good questlines and some great moments. The Horde was just more fun to me, and until recently I couldn’t figure out why.

Nerfnow posted a comic expressing the author’s frustration with the lack of an Alliance/Horde conflict within WoW, a conflict that was supposed to be at the core of Warcraft. I was intrigued by the idea, but that was a reason for the game’s (alleged) decline, not for the Alliance boring me. So I thought back to all of my favorite moments in WoW and Warcraft 3 (sadly, the only two I’ve played 😦 ), and I think I know why the Alliance is so boring: There is so little wrong with the Alliance compared to the Horde that it is almost staggering.

Hear me out.

The Alliance has it’s share of problems, true, but how many of them deal with how the outside world treats them? How many of their problems have to do with how the factions relate to one another? The Dwarves, Humans and Gnomes have been friends basically forever, the Night Elves and Worgen are bound by their link to the Worgen curse, the Dranei worship the Light just like most of the rest of the Alliance… this is a worldwide union of races with little problem with each other. Sure, the Dwarves had to form a council of three hammers after their king was frozen, the dranei are refugees, Night elves have to deal with mages, etc etc… But between the factions themselves, what kind of conflict do we really see? I can’t think of anything, and certainly nothing that takes center stage for half an expansion.

Compare that to the Horde. The side that (in WoW) has always been about separate, disparate races banding together because the world hates them. Garrosh killed the leader of the Tauren through treachery at the hands of the Grimtotem, Vol’jin told Garrosh TO HIS FACE that he was going to assassinate him one day. The Forsaken are becoming more and more monstrous by the day, to the point that even the Horde doesn’t trust them any more despite their alliance.

The problem Nerfnow noted was that the Alliance and Horde rarely conflict in major ways anymore: the Alliance and Horde are working together to take down Hellscream, when the Alliance should be siezeing the opportunity to destroy the Forsaken and push away the Horde’s foothold in Lordaeron. And ya know what? I find it hard to disagree. The conflict has become Garrosh vs the World in Mists of Pandaria, and the Horde/Alliance conflict feels like it is almost gone. This wouldn’t be a problem if the Alliance had major problems other than the Horde… but (discounting problems the Horde also has) it really doesn’t.

Hell, even in the Alliance’s own stories, the Horde is more interesting than they are. Look at the Worgen origin quests – specifically, when Sylvanas lies to the orc sent to oversee her. I was more interested in what the Forsaken were doing at that point than I was the Worgen – they were LIEING to the people they pay lip service to. Meanwhile the Alliance instantly trusts the savage half-wolf things… for almost no reason. I can see the Night Elves doing it, but come on, at least give us a sidequest where a human in Stormwind is like ‘waaah wolf people suck, ima kill ’em’ or something!! Is there a quest like that that I just missed or something?! Come on, Blizzard…

The Horde is more interesting not only because is it still trying to destroy the Alliance, its own factions are in conflict too. Conflict makes the story, my friends, and the Alliance has lacked inner conflict for a long time. (To be clear, I mean faction-to-faction, like humans vs dwarves vs night elves, etc.)

That’s my theory, anyway. What do you think?