Sunday 27 April 2014

Elementary Mistakes

We have just finished catching up with the rest of the world by watching season one of Elementary.  A show that has a lot to offer the viewer, but some of the mistakes made by the writers bring the show down in comparison to Sherlock.

One thing that threw me out of one of the episodes occurred in the opening set up of One Way to Get Off where the perpetrator of a crime uses a Mauser C96.  Probably the more common 9mm version, but all the same not a pistol one is likely to find being used in a crime, because it's a historic collectors piece that costs a small fortune to own.

In the episode Details Sherlock describes a pistol as a Colt 9mm.  No, really not, a 45 ACP yes, but as the pistol was clearly a Beretta 9mm; note the distinctive manufacturer logo in the picture I linked to, which I'm sure Sherlock would pick up on.  That, and the name being engraved on the side of the frame too would be a clincher I think.  From the same episode Sherlock says Detective Bell was shot at while driving his car by someone using an MP5 semi-automatic converted to fire fully automatic.  Again no, not really, the MP5, is an automatic sub-machine gun (1).  It comes out the box as an automatic.  I kind of expect an American show that features guns to get the nomenclature correct, call me fussy like that.  In a British show this could be forgiven, because we're British and clearly know nothing about guns.

In the episode Possibility Two they talk about the "Warrior" gene that makes sociopaths.  Yet genes, while present, are not always expressed.  Even when they are socio-cultural mores are a far greater indicator of the likelihood of a person becoming a sociopath.  Dr. Watson would have known this, even if Sherlock doesn't.  It's the whole nature versus nurture argument, and the answer remains that both have equal influence on a persons behaviours.

In the episode The Deductionist, "Profiling" is derided, but for the wrong reasons.  It's a descriptive process, not a prescriptive one, but it does have some actuarial evidence base.  Also, in the scene when Dr. Watson is talking to her therapist I tend to gag at the cliches, and some of the dialogue the therapist demonstrates poor boundary keeping while accusing Dr. Watson of not being professional with Sherlock.

However, Lucy Lui is excellent, and I will keep watching the show as it is addictive.

My partner has been off for the last two weeks and as a result I've been slacking off too.  So I only did one days worth of editing, so the novel stands at 91,600, with 1,716 words revised and 179 new ones added, which doesn't really mean a lot, but I did one days work.  Back to reality next week.

Finally, if Scotland secedes from the Union, given that Cornwall is now its own thing, perhaps we will see a new Union Jack with red, white and black.

OTOH the Welsh will probably want a say in a new Union Jack, but green with red, yuck.  Black for the win as they say on the internets.

(1) FYI...

The MP5SFA2 (SF – single-fire) was developed in 1986 in response to the American FBI solicitation for a "9mm Single-fire Carbine." It is the same as the MP5A2 but is fitted with an ambidextrous semi-automatic only trigger group. The MP5SFA3 is similar except it has a retractable metal stock like the MP5A3.

However, as the single fire version was solicited for the FBI I rest my case.

Thursday 24 April 2014

A Minority Report

By the power of Castle Grey Skull, sorry I mean the European Union, I now find I belong to a minority.  I woke up thinking I'm British, only to find I'm Cornish. Oh how we laughed and cried at the news in our household after breakfast, what with my partner being born in Cornwall, and my mum being Cornish.  I wonder if I will have to wear the Cornish flag on my clothes to identify myself now? 

We are so grateful to be labelled as part of a new minority that we are thinking about going out later to celebrate the good news by buying a Cornish pasty to celebrate.

PS: I have a weird sense of humour and find this very funny.  YMMV.

Monday 21 April 2014

Source Code as Palimpsest

Singing Sunday, Sunday while the tune turns into writing Monday is Sunday this week.  I'm a day late in posting my usual weekly update on what I've been doing, watching, reading etc.

The reason for this is that yesterday we spent a day with friends having a lazy Sunday playing games (Ticket to Ride), eating snacks (yummy finger food), and watching movies (Source Code and the 47 Ronin).  It doesn't get better than that.  

A big thanks to John and Rita for inviting us, and a shout out to Hilary, Trevor, David and Charlotte, Mark and Gwen, and Stuart for making us feel welcome.  Hopefully get to do that again some time soon.

Today I finished reading Wireless by Charlie Stross.  It's a collection of short stories ranging in length up to novella.  It shows both his strengths and weaknesses as a story teller.  

Charlie is very clever.  Probably far too clever for his own good.  This means that he writes himself into plots he can't get out of, because of the cleverness of his ideas.  He is in my opinion a better story teller when he's constrained by the setting, which is why I prefer his Laundry and Trader series more than his space opera.

For me, once Charlie goes outside the box he is so far left field that blue sky thinking is left behind in a vacuum.  This sucks the plot into a singularity it can't escape.  In particular Palimpsest, which funnily enough has the same plot problem as Source Code had as a movie.

I had not seen Source Code when my novel was compared by one of the my writing group critiquers as  Starship Troopers meets Source Code.  So getting to watch it yesterday was good.  

I liked the story, but, and the but is the important part of my statement; it tried to be too clever.  

In the case of Source Code it has a moment of what my partner would call satori; a perfect moment to end the film.  It would have been elegiac; a little sad, but perfect.  The film then continued and presented a more upbeat ending, which in turn was twisted into a rug pulled out from under one's feet into a far too clever by half paradox.

Palimpsest reminds me of All You Zombies by Robert A, Heinlein.  

The latter is a time loop story about gender identity, or fluidity if you prefer, whereas Palimpsest is about the fluidity of personal identity when there are multiple copies of oneself.  I think that Palimpsest is perfect as it is and doesn't need to be made into a novel.  However, if Charlie does go ahead and expand it I shall be drawn like a moth to the flames, and have to read it.  I just hope that it doesn't lose the moment like Source Code.

On the work front I've been working my way through act two, going back and adding a couple of small scenes to act one of my first novel, which is now running at 91,800 words.

Sunday 13 April 2014

Ender's Game

Ender's Game; a very popular story, turned into a film garnished with conflicted responses; not so much about the film, but about the author.  

Originally a short story published in Analog magazine, Orson Scott Card later expanded it into a novel in 1985, and winning the Hugo in 1986. Card has since added sequels to the original story of children trained to be soldiers, including a side spin-off series.  

The film is what I like to think of as the best bits version of the novel, except that would suggest it left out the bad bits of the novel, which it doesn't.  However, it does leave out a lot of exposition that gives the reader some context to put Ender's life into perspective.

The film does have some wonderful special effects that realize the battle room where Ender beats the Formics, and is well worth watching just for that.

Reading wise I'm still working through Wireless by Charlie Stross; a collection of short stories and novellas. All good, but I find that when I read short fiction when I come to the end of a story I want to put the book down, unlike a novel when I come to the end of a chapter and want to read more.

Moving on.

This week I've managed to do three different drafts of act one of my novel.  

The first draft was based on two very detailed critiques from Nigel and Colleen.  The second draft incorporated the majority of the other points made by Caroline, Hilary, Jehangir and the other writers who critiqued my work.  While the third draft included some style edits from a couple of the other writers who commented.  

Currently the third draft is being given the once over by my Alpha reader, and then I have a late critique from Vivien, to work through, who did a thorough job of giving the story the once over too.

I've also been talking to Clive, one of my Beta readers, who came around for a curry on Friday night.  That was very productive conversation, and he is looking forward to seeing the next novel, which is good news for me.  Brian, my American Beta reader remains a stalwart supporter who has given me some unique perspectives on the writing process that I cherish.

So I end this week having done mostly editing, which is like writing, and my log tells me I've written 1,122 words, but I can only account for -255 and +514 of them.  

It's the one area where Scrivener doesn't quite manage to keep track of work, given the fact I put out three act one drafts that all hover around the thirteen thousand word mark; after editing three thousand words out of the submitted draft.  

Still mustn't grumble, and more importantly I have an article coming out in the next issue of Miniature Wargames & Battlegames magazine.  Woo-Hoo!

Sunday 6 April 2014

Log 2014 6th Apr: Bad Dog Critique

Yesterday act one of my first novel was critiqued by a writer's group.

It has left me feeling agitated and slightly shocked, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a thing.  On the whole the comments were fair, if harsh, but necessary tough love; coming from the writers attending the meeting to the writer submitting her work for critique.  It is hard to sit through criticism and listen to one's work being taken apart.  However, quite rightly clunky dialogue and too much telling needs to be brought to my attention so I can eliminate all the instances where they occur in the novel.

What caused me to become agitated was some of the other things said regarding show not tell, where I am left trying to square the circle to address the comments made, without inserting info dumps to tell the reader the answer.  I also made the mistake of not making it clearer to the reviewers that this was the first act of a novel, and not a short story, therefore causing confusion (which is a bad thing to do to someone who is reading one's story where one wants constructive feedback).

So thank you one and all, and remember I'll be back.


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