Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hanging Fire

I've run into a strange little problem -- health related -- that has slowed things down for a few days. It should be resovled this week and then I'll get on with posting Wiz 6

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yet Another Progress (or lack of it) Report

I'm moving ahead on this, but I've run into some annoying problems which are delaying things for a few days. I hope to have the first stuff up in a week or so.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Plot vs Structure

Plot and structure are similar but very different at the same time. Both have a vital role to play in a work of fiction.

Basically, plot is what happens, structure is how you tell the reader about it.

Plot is linear. Structure isn't, or doesn't have to be. Structure should be chosen to reinforce plot. In other words you decide how to tell your story (structure) to get maximum impact from the sequence of events (plot).

Because structure is non linear you can use devices like flashbacks to tell your story out of order. This is very handy if you want to shoot the sheriff on the first page but you have a lot leading up to the shooting that the reader has to understand.

Structure also involves such things as viewpoint (who's telling the story). Different viewpoints have different effects on the impact on the reader. Viewpoint is an important way of controlling the pace of your story. By intercutting scenes from different plot threads you can build excitement, fill in background the hero may not know, and move your story along.

For a good example of this see Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, an alternate history account of a Soviet invasion of Europe. Clancy's story spreads from Iceland to Moscow and he cuts back and forth between the characters (usually on chapter boundaries) to build suspense and keep the story rolling in spite of the amount of background material involved. James Clavell also made excellent use of shifting viewpoints in Shogun a novel of feudal Japan. The technique is especially helpful in long books -- which both "Red Storm" and "Shogun" are.

First person ("I did this...") is generally the most powerful, but the hardest to do throughout an entire work because you're limited to what your character knows at the time. That's why it is often mixed with either multiple first persons (hard to keep straight for the reader sometime), or first person and third person where the main part of the story is told through the protagonist's eyes and the supporting material, such as what other characters do when the protagonist isn't present.

Structure deserves careful consideration when you're plotting (actually plotting and structuring) your fiction, especially novels.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Almost there

I know this is dragging on to a silly extent, but we've almost got something. I've got to get a couple of more things unscrewed and then you'll be able to start reading.

(Why does this remind me of the first computer program I ever wrote? It took me about 12 or 14 iterations to get it to run and I was getting pretty frustrated by the end.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Mountain Is Still In Labor...

Well, I continue to make progress on getting The Wizardry Capitalized up. However to no one's surprise, there are a few little glitches along the way.

Right now I've got memory problems. Not my computer's, mine.

Although I deal with web design, usability and such constantly as a tech journalist, it's been years since I've actually had to put a site up. I have done it. I used to be able to do it. But I don't remember all the grubby little details.

This is almost as frustrating as not being able to write fiction. I know pretty clearly what I want to do, and it's a simple site. But getting the stuff in the right place is just not happening.

It doesn't help that the native web building application on HostMonster is quite literally unusable for me. The morons who designed the program didn't make provision for moving the window around on t he screen. It's fixed at the bottom of the screen where the last few lines -- including the boxes you have to click on to make things happen -- are unreachable.

Instead I'm using KompoZer, a Mozillafied version of NVU. It's free and a decent WYSIWYG page builder (modulo all that "WYSIWYG page builder implies). So far I like it for what I'm doing, but since its not the standard Hostmonster page builder app, I can't get much help from HostMonster's support staff. So I'm stuck trying to find other sources of help.

(BTW: The HostMonster support people, with whom I have developed a close personal relationship, are quite good, in my experience. They not only speak excellent English, they're patient and they know their stuff. A win for HostMonster, IMHO)

Normally I'd get by with some help from my friends. Unfortunately, one of my best friends for this purpose -- the model for Jerry in the Wiz books -- is in a rehabilitation center recovering from a serious traffic accident. (When you weigh as much as he does, even a broken leg is life threatening.) Another of my friends is in the middle of the long, hard grind to take the next series of MSCE exams. Others are tied up with projects personal and professional and so it goes.

However someone has suggested a friend of theirs who is apparently pretty good. I'll contact her tomorrow and see if we can get something going.

Well, hell. If it was easy anyone could do it.


Monday, July 14, 2008

And Some More New Stuff -- Coming Soon

While Wiz 6 moves ahead, I've got another project in the works. No, not another novel, but something I think at least some of you will find interesting.

Let's just say it is an attempt to capitalize on my somewhat warped worldview in an entertaining fashion.

I'll tell you about it here once I'm ready to launch. That should be not too long after the first chapters of Wiz 6 go up.



and the ridiculous mouse comes into view.

I am finally getting ready to start posting Wiz 6 -- The Wizardry Capitalized.
When I say getting ready, I mean I've got a web site ( with HostMonster, I've got the (very crude) page designs worked out and the front matter written.

Now all I've got to do is link the pages and upload them. (I think that's all I've got to do.) If so, I'll probably do it tonight or tomorrow.

Ah, the valor of ignorance. But I'll keep you posted.