The Write Word

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One of the factors that I didn’t cover in the “Writer’s Block” article is being stimied by the word you simply can’t think of and how to overcome it. The reason is that it is a completely unrelated situation. You can always make a notation and come back to it later and fill in.

There are 3 books that are always within reach. The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Vocabulary Builder. Though they are seldom used now, I’ve worn out copies of them over my 25+ years of professional writing. They are an essential tool to any good writer that is starting out and even later in their career. Yes, you can always get online and search the word, which I often do, but having the books there allows me to do something I can’t with the online version. Randomly open it and read a page or two.

Having always been an aggressive reader, until the last few years of intense writing and business bootstrapping, it has expanded my vocabulary greatly. Though I still swap words on occasion, or find auto-correct has adjusted one or two for me, I’ve a better than average well to draw from and that is exactly the point.

A great writer is a voracious reader. This is true for the fact that the more a person reads the more words they know and know how to use. Classics were always my thing and they have a higher standard of writing. Even the classic pulp fiction was held to a higher standard. Today, with the self-publishing realm overtaking traditional publishing, which I’m all for, one thing is lost, which I’m not for. The lack of proper editing by qualified editors.

Writers write and editors edit. To find the correct (yes, I actually know the correct one to use) word for your works, the key is to be well read. Especially the classics. They’ll give you an advanced understanding of the written word, while helping to expand on your vocabulary, allowing you to never be stumped by what goes there again. Be wary of modern works and journalistic writings, as they often use words improperly, or put an inaccurate slant on them.

Besides being a great reader, actually writing, rather than merely talking about it, is the only other way to become a truly better writer. You can take all the classes you want, but if you don’t actually push the pen you’ll never get there. Spend some time each day, on a set schedule to teach yourself deadlines, and write. Journaling, blogging, or writing a novel, just get in the ink and practice. Writing is similar to doctoring in that we are always practicing, never quite perfecting.

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Slaying The Monster Called “Writer’s Block”

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Many have seen careers vanish for it, others missed deadlines, while still more simply gave up on their works for not being able to slay the beast. Yet, is it truly a beast? A mysterious monster that lurks in the recesses of the mind of every writer, waiting to spring upon them at their most unprepared?

Let’s start with the definition of writer’s block first, then see where that leads. According to Merriam-Webster it is a medical condition defined as “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece of writing” and as the noun ” the problem of not being able to think of something to write about or not being able to finish writing a story, poem, etc.”

Being a psychological condition, that in itself removes the potential of catching it from other writers. Looks like no bad writer’s block season around the corner, unlike the flu. Yet, there have been cases of entire classes struck down with it. How is that possible?

Professional novelists find themselves half-way through their latest masterpiece, only to find they haven’t got the words to finish it. Hobby writers, poets and other artistic writers have been struck down by the malady as well. The odd thing is, journalists have the fewest known cases of this nightmare of a condition. If’ it’s not contagious then why are certain types of writers affected most often, while others rarely suffer?

Now, let’s look at the actual condition that writer’s block creates. The “preventing of a writer from proceeding with a piece of writing”, which appears to be pretty clear. Yet, if we actually look at the complaints by those that have dealt with it the actual symptoms are rather plentiful and diverse. These can range from not being able to come up with the right word, all the way through to not being able to start or finish a story, and everything in between.

Now, I am going to happily burst your bubble. No one has ever had writer’s block. There is no such beast. You’re more likely to find that the Yeti, married to Martha Stewart, have moved in next door, while their pet Loch Ness Monster in the lounges in their pool out back. Since there is no such beast, there is no need to slay it!

Now, before you start writing hate mail, telling me how you have suffered with it, read the facts. Writer’s Block is not a condition. It is a catchall for all writer’s conditions and situations. Just like people saying they have a cold, when they might actually have the flu, sinus infection, allergies, or something else. It has become the fallback for every reason a writer isn’t, or believes they can’t write.

With that stated, how do you overcome something like that now doesn’t even have a name attached to it? Well, that’s more than likely the reason your reading this article and that is what I’m going to do my best to help you with.

What makes me an expert? Let’s start with the fact that I’ve never had writer’s block. I have however overcome a lot of challenges as a professional ghostwriter, a journalist, a screenwriter, a copywriter, and pretty much every other type of writing you’re ever heard of. Why, because I’m simply a writer. Things need to be written and I get paid well to write them. Which means I’m not allowed to come up with excuses, or miss deadlines. Yet, I’ve still had situations where I found myself in a bind and not able to write what was needed, but prevailed for the fact that I was able to work through the situation and properly identify the actual condition in each case. And that is the first step… Proper identification of the condition.

Just like how a good doctor approaches a disease, since writer’s block is the catchall for every condition every non-writing writer suffers from, the first step to overcoming your particular and unique situation is the identification of the actual symptoms.

I never said you weren’t dealing with something that wasn’t letting you get the words out. I simply stated that writer’s block didn’t exist. Sounds like a contradiction, huh? Keep reading.

As I mentor writers of all levels, from Best Selling authors, to award winners, and even those starting out, I don’t teach them how to write with a certain style. I teach them how to work through the process, create marketable work, and in turn make a living in this industry. As I always say, I’m a writer, not an editor. I leave the editing up to those that love editing. My job is to get the words down and to teach others how to do it as well.

Part of working through the process, often the biggest step, is also where most people find themselves “blocked”. That is right at the beginning of the process. Outlining! And the number one reason that I see time and time again writers getting stimied is caused by poor outlining, or more often than not, none at all!

Too many writers, especially those that have “winged it” with their first book, find this to be the case. That would be when they sit down and hammer out their first book and then when it comes to their second they’re creative juices come to a screeching halt.

You’re probably saying to yourself, maybe they only had one book in them. I highly doubt it. If you’re a writer. You are a writer! It doesn’t simply run out. It’s pretty much the same as riding the H-train. Get a taste and you want more. More is then never enough.

Let’s get back to that writer that “winged” book, which could just as easily have been a short story, screenplay, poem, etc. How did they sit down and write the first, yet not be able to tap into that same source and hammer out another just as easily? This is actually an easy one to answer. They didn’t simply sit down and hammer out that book. Yes, they might have written it straight through, but they sure didn’t do the process that quick.

Yes, the process and it almost always comes back to the process. What they might have forgotten to mention, though many throw it out there when you talk to them, is that they’ve had that story in them for a long time. In them for a long time? Translation: They’ve been outlining the story for weeks, months, years, since they were a wee toddler playing on the Hill of Tara. The point is that they didn’t formally outline the story, but they more than likely worked out the entire story in their head and then finally vomited it onto the page. Often times these works are either their best, or worst. Few are in the middle. This is due to the time they spent thinking on it. Some think out every detail. Others simply have some good scenes, or passages, and throw down a volume of words with the hopes that people won’t see the lack of proper outlining and story structure.

When I talk structure, I’m not referring to this on this page and that on that page. It is a case of, are the characters developed, do they follow their natural arc, or is it forced. Would Jane really pull that gun out and shoot Jim if she wasn’t threatened by him, or would she just hold him at bay with it? Often writers force the storyline, sometimes it’s simply because they haven’t got any idea where to go with the story. Lack of proper outlining. The other reasons I might cover in another article.

It is the lack of a proper outline that most writers find they don’t have a story to tell. That is closer to accurate when talking about writer’s block. The writer doesn’t have a story to tell. Why’s this? Simple. They’ve spent no time brainstorming ideas, working out the story arc, the backside of the characters, and the list of pieces they haven’t bothered to take care of goes on and on and on and on.

Outlining is also the reason most professional writers don’t suffer from a lack of something to write. And you may have heard about Stephen King claiming “writer’s block”. If you actually read the circumstances, it is actually closer to the well simply needing to be refilled, or his brain needing a rest. According to him, he comes up with several ideas walking to the mailbox. So his version of “writer’s block” was a few hours when he couldn’t think of anything to write about.

The actuality of it is simple. His brain needing a break, or refilling is stated in jest. Though I’m not Stephen King, I’ve dealt with the same situation and spent some time analyzing what was going on. I’m a very proliferant writer. Hundreds of screenplays written and outlined, 30 sold in the last 5 years, dozens ghostwritten before that, ghostwriter books/columns/speeches/etc. for politicians and business owners/executives, thousands of news articles as a journalist, copywriter and blogger for a long list of other people, and the list goes on. One day I was asked to write a series of columns for a well-known politician, based on certain topics. I sat down in front of my computer (pen & paper at the time) ready to go to town, only to realize I was blank. Completely blank. Not an idea in my head.

Sitting back, I started to look inside my head. Yep, popped it off, got out the toolkit and pulled out the drive and started running a diagnostics. It was during this process of studying my , that I realized what my brain was actually doing. It was running through my catalog of articles. Something had flagged and it was now looking for the reason.

So, going to my archives… Yes, actual archives in big metal file cabinets where I use to keep all of my old writings. Big metal file cabinets in my office, when paper was not simply popular, but required. Sure enough, after some random (or so I originally thought) digging around in them, I came up with the block. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything to write, it was a case of I’d already written a series of articles, for the same person, a few years prior, with several of the same topics they now wanted.

After a quick phone call to let them know about the situation, they thanked me, swapped those with the same topic (minus a few they wanted refreshed) for other topics of interest. The moment I clarified the details of the situation, by getting the refresh and new articles order, I was able to happily hammer away at the new outlines and quickly finished the articles.

Originality is a condition that your brain will often bulk at. Be it for not being original, or in the case of some writers that are required to repeat content in unique and different ways, Harlequin Romances is a good example of this, for being originals, these writers might be facing the condition of the originality quandary. The solution is keep track of all your work in a basic spreadsheet, with an overview of what it was about. I’m using Google Sheets for this. Then put a copy of it in a file. I’m using Google Docs to keep a copy of all text as a backup, including this article. Instead of those big metal file cabinets, I’m now using Google Drive to backup everything to all my computers, phone, tablet, etc. This is for the original files in whatever program I’m using, be it Word, Final Draft, or one of the others. This way I never lose anything, nor wonder if I’ve written it before.

A simple spreadsheet format includes the date, title, location it’s being published, type of project, along with a few sentence synopsis of the content. This will allow you to quickly scan through the list and find out if it fits the bill, or if you have already covered that topic. It can also help you find a piece that you simply need to do a rewrite on. Recycling content and refreshing it is a major time saver and allows you to make more for less time involved.

Remember my mentioning that journalists are the least likely to suffer from one of the conditions? Those that do are usually starting out and are buckling under the deadline pressure. This is usually due to their brains going into panic mode, rather than the seasoned professionals experience of going back to the basics. That brings me to the amatueur versus professional writer.

An amatuer, such as a hobby writer, or someone simply starting out, doesn’t have the skillset to overcome the writing industry challenges, due to the lack of experience and mentoring. This is one reason those that truly want to become writers seek me out for guidance through my mentoring program. I don’t teach them a writing style. That is something I’ll help them find along the way and it will be their unique voice, not one given to them. I teach them how to write faster, more effectively, and how to overcome the challenges that a professional writer faces.

The most often found issue that I address with both new and seasoned writers is going back to the basics when they are facing a challenge. Is their outline solid? Did they take any shortcuts? Did they actually follow it when they laid out their draft? What did they add that wasn’t in the outline? How does that change the story?

It is often asking yourself questions like these that brings the cause to light, rather than merely the symptom. It is by going back to the basics of writing, starting with proper brainstorming and outlining, that will overcome any writing situation, except one.

That final situation is one no one can help you with. It is one you will have to face on your own in the end. You can get opinions, thoughts, suggestions, but it will be you that has to make the final choice and it all comes down to three questions that you have to ask yourself and look within to answer. In closing, I wish you the best on your journey, no matter where it takes you and I’ll leave you with those three questions to ponder.

Do you really want to be a professional writer? Do you want to be a hobby writer? Or do you simply not want to write at all?

For those that truly want to become professional writers, ingraining the basics into your writing habits and always relying on them will allow you to never face the beast they call “Writer’s Block”!

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Sample of My Novel

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Below is a 20 page sample of my sci-fi novel The Journey Forth. It is the first in a 26 book series, with this first one coming out late 2015.

Chronicles Of The Myles Standish:

The Journey Forth

By Scott C. Brown

 

5318 years prior…

Its diamond crystalline form gleamed even in the darkness of deep space, reflecting and refracting the light of the not too distant stars. With its course a never changing constant, it had followed the same path that the heavens had set for it so long ago. A silent journey across the silky black ocean that is deep space and out along the arm of a distant spiral galaxy. A pristine form that carried the treasures that mankind has sought since woman first came upon the earth. Beauty. Beauty in the form of peridot, diamond and sapphire. Created and hardened by a birth like few others.

It made no effort to change its heading as it swiftly approached its fate, for its creation, as well as its charted course, was one that had come about at the same time a distant sun had blurred the lines between creation and destruction. Worlds had been erased in those moments. Stripped bare of life. Seared clean of everything, as the brilliance that had once been this ancient sun suffered through the final stages of its long and wonderful life. A single final burst of its once massive strength was all it could manage as death overcame it. And it was no more.

In those moments that preceded this once brilliant sun gave its final throes, destroying everything in its wake, the universe gave forth what time and time again it had proven able, to create beauty in the midst of chaos. The energy melded the particles of death and destruction into a new form. Heating. Compressing. Releasing. Until what remained floated free of its bonds.

Set upon this path so long ago. It remembered. It knew. It was at peace with the universe that had created it and at peace with the silky darkness of space through which it was now allowed to sail free.

 

The Birth of a Soldier – 23 Years Prior…

The moon had just started a slow crawl through the night’s sky, casting its first tendrils down the darkened cobblestone streets, as the first wisps of fog stealthy crept from the sea. Shadowy figures moved along the pebble inlaid sidewalks, only to be succumbed by the pools of bright yellow light and sounds that spilled from the pubs and restaurants that were still open at this late hour. Two more tentatively than those more accustomed to the witching hour. With not a word having been spoken between them for the last stretch of time, they now stood across the cobblestone thoroughfare from their destination. A moment of stillness fell over the travel worn street, as the last shadow moved out of the darkened street, finally succumbing to the pull of forbidden fruits, and into a less than reputable drinking establishment a few blocks further down.

“Are you sure we should do this?” The softly lilting female voice cracked with the stress of what was now no longer being contemplated, but rather now taking place on that silent street. The hooded cape unable to hide her distress.

“We have talked about this. There is no way for us to make it work.” The young man’s voice whispered, with a gentle squeeze of her hand. “It’s what is best for him.”

“I just wish there was another way,” she murmured, choking back the tears that were welling in her sea-blue eyes. Both looked down at the basket they carried between them, as if the bound they shared drew their gaze like an unyielding force. “This just doesn’t seem right!”

“You know that they will give him a real life. His own life. Not this nightmare that we’re forced to live. I can’t bear the thought of him suffer through this with us. It was our mistake for believing them, not his.” He softly squeezed her hand. “He will have a wonderful life, with God’s grace and understand, someday he’ll come to understand why we did this for him. There is nothing more we can do than that.”

With a final embrace, together they crossed the silent cobbled street, climbing the two wide grey slate steps to stand in front of the two massive iron bound rough hewn wooden doors and gently placed their precious package on the polished stone stoop that was etched and inlaid with an artist’s representation of the planet they now walked upon interlaced with the Republic’s crest. With his hand over hers, they pulled the cord that hung beside the massive doors. As the chimes pealing call rang through the streets, the two shadows disappeared down the narrow alley from which they had first appeared. Their footsteps fading as fast as their tears were falling. Returning to wait in silence for the fate that they knew would soon be coming for them. It was not their faith in a higher power that made it so. It was their faith in those that had led them to this world.

On this far off world it was their beliefs that made them guilty, but it would be their faith that they would have to find solace in from the agony that the others would use in an effort to purify their souls and minds. Purify them and all those like them that had come before, as well as those that would follow the same path. This was their choice and not the path for which their child should be accused and punished.

Slowly the massive left door swung open. The sheer weight of it being revealed by the creaking of the hand hammered hinges straining with the effort. A brightly lit interior cast a column of light across the basket that sat on the stoop and out into the now deserted street beyond.

A stanch young man in a crisply pressed uniform and distinctly military haircut stepped through the door with his rifle at the ready. Seeing the basket and still surveying he empty streets for any sign of movement, he called back over his shoulder through the massive doorway. “Sergeant Slayter, looks like we have another one!”

“How many does that make tonight, Corporal Hutchinson?” A strong Scottish timber carrying out into the stillness of the refreshing cool that spring gave to the night, as an older man of strong stature and a face that showed many years of rough living, stepped through the doorway to observe the small bundle that lay nestled in the basket at the corporal’s feet. Standing over two meters in height, he carried himself with a natural confidence that came with life experience. A small scar ran across the left side of a strong jaw and up to the earlobe, which was nicked by whatever had left the mark. The limp was distinct, but by no means appeared to disable his ability to stay fit, by the well-defined muscle tone of wide shoulders and narrow waist. The limp could not conceal the panther like qualities that the many years did their best to take away. Even an untrained observers, without a doubt, could see that if he chose it, nothing would slow him from overcoming obstacle.

Glancing at the heads-up display in the helmet, while finishing his check of the long quiet street that was laid out in front of the United Democratic Republic of Planets (U.D.R.P.) Orphanage, the neural network flashed the requested information. “Looks like we’ve had seven in our district alone.” Replied the young corporal. Passing his gloved hand a few times over the basket the built in sensors began to check for bomb residue and anything else that might be suspicious that it was designed to detect. After just a few moments the lights in the heads-up display went from red to yellow, then after another moment to green with the details of the analysis. “Looks to be all clear.”

“Just another case of loving parents wanting the best for their kid” The old sergeant commented, as he punched up the needed processing documents on his own netlink, and started making notes in the nightly log. “Well, bring the young’un in. At least they picked a nice evening to entrust its future to us. A bit cooler than usual, but nice nonetheless.”

Picking up the basket which held the small baby, the corporal followed the limping sergeant back through the massive doors of the orphanage. Gracing them was the wrought iron symbol of the U.D.R.P.  Showing that its influence was not merely through political power, but by direct influences throughout all levels of societies of all settled planets. Once inside, Corporal Hutchinson set the basket down by the nearby examination station, and gently lifted the swaddled baby from the folds of the warm blankets and placed it on to the waiting table of the attached medical scanner. Attaching the small sensor pads to the baby’s body, the corporal typed out the needed information and checked off the list of tests to be completed and then initiated the exam.

Several moments went by as the scanner ran through its long series of required tests. The two men and baby waited in the silence, the corporal impatiently shifting his weight from one foot to the other, while the old seasoned sergeant stood relaxed, finding solace within. Something that only those that have spent many long tours in battle while waiting or the aggressor to show its veracity, or to show their own when their commands came down, can find within themselves.

The familiar beeping sound informed them that the medical exam was complete. The corporal picked the sleeping baby up once again, placed it into a waiting bassinet, then looking back at the results of the medical scan that was now being displayed on the screen. “Everything seems to be within the normal range. What do we log…” The corporal paused scrolling to look at a different part of the report “Him… in as?”

Typing commands in on the netlink’s keyboard only took a few quick moments before the old sergeant smiled at hearing the acknowledging beep. A series of numbers and a name flashed across the screen strapped to his forearm. Looking down at the baby boy’s freshly opened bright blue eyes, he stated. “Anderton. William Robert Anderton. Youngest member of the Anderton family. There is an address listed off Produce Row, right here in New Vancouver. Looks to be about ten minutes from here.

We have a positive DNA match to mother Sanna Richeart-Anderton, and father Deven Anderton. Parents are married and seem to be well employed with the CisecCorp Agricultural Conglomerate. They do most of the farming around here. Deven is an executive V.P. in charge of crop rotation and Sanna is an executive assistant to one of the other V.P.s in distribution. Both are well above the average pay bracket, and according to their last required physicals, are in excellent health with a long life expectancy. No negative heredity to anything that doesn’t have a cure, or treatment. Both are also listed as above average intelligence. In fact their educational background shows well above the standard test scores. Though a bit young they seem to be doing very well for themselves with a wide financial portfolio, though little in actual personal holdings. No property listed, or vehicles. They have no gene modifications, or medical conditions due to injuries.

We’ll send an inquiry over tomorrow to find out why they want to give him up and get the final paperwork signed, since they didn’t fill out the form they should have for a blind drop, but by the looks of things, a lot of the families that are doing the same tonight are fully capable of taking care of their children at well above the average.

Makes me wonder what the sudden surge in voluntary abandonment is all about. I haven’t ever seen more than a couple of kids a week come through here, since I started my tour here. Let alone this many in a single night. In fact, I have never heard of it since they started the process.

I think I’m going to give the other posts a call and see if they have any idea what is going on. Maybe they know something we don’t.

Get him all tucked in for the night with the others and finish up the paperwork. If you need my help with anything I’ll be in my office. You should be able to handle it though with as much practice as you have gotten tonight.”

The young corporal started typing into his netlink. “Wilco, Sergeant.”

All over settled space hopeful and often desperate parents were dropping their children off on the doorsteps of the U.D.R.P. Orphanages, with grand dreams of giving them the best the government had to offer. The Orphan Clause promised that.

Extreme pressure was being placed on the U.D.R.P. by the colonists on the new, as well older colonies. Pressure to provide more patrols in an effort to fend off the blatant piracy, that was becoming all too common place, had finally been settled with the creation of the Orphan Clause. Not just on the fringe worlds anymore, the rampant piracy had even found its way into the very heart of the U.D.R.P., with on many occasions catastrophic results. The clause allowed colonies to create orphanages that were automatic recruitment points for the various branches of the U.D.R.P.’s military. The children were enlisted from the time they were brought into the orphanage and stayed until the end of their mandatory contract, with off world tours of duty commonplace by the age of thirteen. These enlistment contracts usually consisting of final on the job training in the specialty that the orphan had best scored in, with the testing starting the moment they arrived. A worthy occupation was usually found early on. It was a required process annually during their entire term of service. Each year’s test was exponentially harder than the one that came prior to both challenge them, as well as to find their breaking point, which allowed the trainers to work in removing the weaknesses and advance the strengths of all enlisted.

The Orphan Clause had been such a success since its induction that it was not uncommon to have parents dropping newborns and young children off on the stoop with the hopes and dreams that the U.D.R.P. would be able to provide what the, for whatever reason, had failed to for their children. This was resulting in some children being given even when the families were able to provide more than a decent life for them. The Orphan Clause promised the best the U.D.R.P. could offer and it was being used in ways they had not expected.

What it promised were not simply the basics, such as food, clothing and shelter. Rather it went well beyond that. It brought about a complete lifestyle for those that were volunteered by their parents. Benefits included the latest educational programs, unlimited travel and many other perks. Even after retirement the benefits were plentiful with generous pay, which couldn’t be spent fast enough. The U.D.R.P. already provided everything a recruit could possibly need while enlisted, so with no real place to spend it, due to being stuck on a ship for years at a time, or a military duty station at some remote outpost, during their entire career. This situation allowed many to retire quite wealthy, which in turn allowed the money to flow outwards to the cash poor colonies and slowly find its way back to the heart of the U.D.R.P. Though the retiring veterans could live wherever they chose, they often had the choice of any outlying colony they wanted, though some were offered corporate and government positions. Many choosing the most remote locals, since they got even more than the normally generous contract renewals promised when they did, as well as most having visited them while they were enlisted. This came after the conscripted years of mandatory honorable service, which ended at the age of twenty-six for orphans and thirty for volunteers that signed on or before their sixteenth birthday, or with the required amount of contract renewals to retirement that was even more.

A contract renewal of two years was what almost all recruits that made it through their initial tour looked forward too. Signing one meant you received progressively better benefits with each new contract, better bonuses, better rank, better pay and better duty stations, but the most appealing benefit was the choice of a permanent living location, and with the renewal of a tenth contract it was often better than most corporate executives were able to live. Permanent living locations were based on prime colonial worlds with free housing of your choice, large plots of land, a retirement stipend, as well as a ration allotment. Any contract renewal past five though was purely for those that had chosen the military as their life, and there were some of those out there, though few and far between, but still recognized by their rank and titles. Those that reached six renewals were usually consigned a vessel or outpost and automatically obtained captain’s rank, or higher. Most of these never retired, but continued serving until their demise in one form or another.

Many of those that served more than one or two tours out along the fringe, found it best to relocate away from what little family they had left, simply because their family could never understand them as a person when they came back. It was often that military life created situations those that they knew from their past could never truly understand. Add to this the years that passed without contact, or socialization with civilians. This allowed an ever expanding flow of new financial resources to the somewhat cash shy colonies and was a welcomed change for all involved, since the new colonists felt more secure having veterans living amongst them, often offering them positions as security specialist with the new colonial governments. Those colonists that had been out on the fringe for more than a few months understood the benefits of having veterans in their community and more often than not treated them as local heroes, making the transition from military to civilian life much smoother than the reception they often found on the inner worlds.

It was a balance that came around by accident at first, but now was nearly a forced practice by the U.D.R.P., due to the high rate in suicide, homelessness, crime, health issues and mental instability amongst the retired that chose to stay on the inner worlds after retirement. Now it was not uncommon to find military leaders sending those that wanted to return to their home planets in for mental evaluations prior to allowing them, if they did at all. If they were it was only with the agreement of intensive social and personal counseling for the rest of their lives. Yes, it was found to be best for all if they simply stayed out on the fringe, or more outlying worlds, and make a new life for themselves. It was simply found that there really was no way to go home.

Corporal Hutchinson pushed the bassinet down the hall and into the small warm nursery where soft music played and several other bassinets were plugged into spots along the wall holding sleeping babies in a gentle glow that illuminated each of them. Plugging the bassinet into one of the empty spots, he leaned back and watched on as the system took over and placed the baby in the comfortable stasis until he, along with the others, could be shipped to their new home off world to one of the orbiting space stations that floated over many of the inner worlds, that had sections adapted for the Orphanages special needs.

Pulling up the nearby chair, Corporal Hutchinson sat down and started logging the data and filing out the correct paperwork for upload that was required for when they were transferred to the orphan ship. Once in a while looking at one baby or another as he confirmed all readings were in line with what was required.

It only took him a few more minutes to wrap up the filing and finish his check of the other sleeping infants. Taking one of the empty bassinets from along the far wall, he rolled it out the door and placed it into the empty spot where he had taken the one that William, now in stasis, slept softly. Checking to make sure all was as it should be, Hutchinson made his way towards the sergeant’s office. He came around the last corner only to find Sergeant Slayter loading several weapons into one of the empty bassinets that were kept in the second nursery.

“What…?”

“Didn’t you hear me calling you on the netlink?” Sergeant Slayter shouted.

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t get anything.” Corporal Hutchinson stammered, looking on at a loss for words and checking his own netlink. “What’s going on?”

“The orphanages have been attacked!”

“What? Where? Why?” The aghast corporal asked.

“I don’t know who is behind it, but it is all of them and only a few minutes ago.” Sergeant Slayter slid the full bassinet in the direction of Hutchinson and began loading a second one. “Take this up front and put it behind the desk. I can only assume we are next, but they are not going to surprise us. Wake the other two and get them out there. If you didn’t hear it than that means communications are down, so they didn’t get it either. Check the vids on the perimeter too!” Looking up to see the corporal frozen in place, “Don’t just stand there soldier! Move!”

Only a few moments later, Hutchinson found himself wedged behind the table the four of them had turned on its side in front of the two massive doors, rifle in shaking hands, waiting. Sergeant Slayter and the other two young soldiers of the U.D.R.P. Orphanage were positioned strategically around the room in similar fashion. Each with a small stockpile of the few weapons that were kept onsite and anything else they could find to slow down any intruders. Each waited in their own way. Checking their weapon, looking at the picture of a loved one, or as the Sergeant, simply watching the massive doors.

Hutchinson heard a small thump against the massive door and looked to see what it was, just as Sergeant Slayter yelled, with a voice of command that recognized the sounds of Sticky Breachers all too well. “Down!”

Within a nanosecond the massive doors exploded inwards sending shards of ornate scrolls of wrought iron and wood slivers throughout the open space beyond, as the surface tore away. Though the massive explosion forced the doors to give way, shattering the upper hinge of the right hand door, it was only due to master craftsmanship that had gone into their careful design concealing the armor plate under the artistically placed panels of thick wood veneer that the doors themselves did not buckle and collapse inwards. It was by far not strong enough to damage the armor plate, but was enough to shatter the lock and slam the right side door against the entryway’s inner wall and bounce it back on its one remaining hinge, where it came to rest, sagging at a twisted angle.

All went dark as the substation only a few meters from the doors exploded into an amazing light show of stored electricity being dispelled into the shattered cables and electrical components that had once routed the power for several city blocks, while blowing apart the electrical panels inside the orphanage at the same time.

Smoke swirled through room from the explosives that had left the right hand door angled in across the entryway where it had once stood, proudly representing the U.D.R.P. Now it was debris for those that they could hear yelling outside. Shadows danced in the swirling smoke, backed by the few streetlights that were independently powered by solar, or wind, as the angry voices came closer to view the destruction that they had created. Rounds rattled the night sky as each electric ember of light dimmed into nothingness. The darkness slowly took hold.

It was at that moment that everyone inside knew the war had truly begun and was not simply another wasted drill.

The Cleansing

The blackness was complete. Slayter, Hutchinson, Ray’na and Blentsfield remained hunkered down and motionless behind their makeshift barricades. Each clutching their assault rifles in anticipation of what was to come.

Though none of the three young soldiers were as battlefield hardened, Slayter knew that each would do their duty in the best interest of their brethren, the seven children in the nursery and the U.D.R.P. Their training dictated so.

“Hold steady, men!” Slayter called out quietly, “They’ll be coming soon enough.”

As if on cue they did just that. Not in a grandiose fashion, but rather as those not familiar with the ways of true war. They now naively partook of the chalice of courage, not knowing that it had often been known to poison lesser men.

A hand slid around the edge of the door, attempting to shove whatever was blocking it out of the way, apparently not realizing that it hadn’t come completely loose of the hinges as expected. The left side of the man’s upper body appeared, trying to peer around to see what was blocking it.

Slayter casually put an appropriately nicknamed ‘Pulping’ round into the man’s arm and watched as the nanobots did their work by turning the arm, then shoulder to nothing but a gelatinous mass that sloughed off onto the floor. Through the few moments of his screams, as those still concealed pulled him back behind the door in an effort to help, the man bled out before anything could be done.

“Is that it, Sergeant?” Hutchinson asked, checking his weapon for the umpteenth time.

“I highly doubt it,” Hissed Blentsfield, still working to get the computer cabinet he was dug in behind better positioned, “I can see their lights.”

“I’m afraid he’s right,” Slayter stated. “They won’t give up that easily if they are who I believe them to be.”

“Who are they?” Hutchinson asked, trying to get a better view of the doorway.

“The Mandan Caste, I’m pretty sure. They’d be the only ones with a reason to attack us,” Slayter laid the Bot Slinger aside in favor of something more suited to the rush his combat experience calculated they would be sending next. “Pirates wouldn’t be so ignorant, or organized. They would go after the resource depots, not a damn nursery. Has to be the Mandan. They are also the only ones dirtside with the capabilities to put this together.”

The Mandan Caste was a well-recognized group of religious zealots. With claims their leaders to be the descendants of an ancient Native Indian tribe, located on the North American continent of Earth, they practiced extreme form of Hinduism, known as The One Path. Both the Mandan tribal representatives and the Hindi religious leaders on Earth denied any such relationship, going so far as to denounce the group and their practices. Through various methods, the Mandan Caste had become a powerful political and civilian power on this newly developed colony with its members gaining and holding several key positions in public office over the years following, holding control until just one year ago.

“Turn over the children and we will spare your lives!” Called out a voice from the street beyond the doors. “It is the only way you will be allowed to live. We of the Mandan demand it by our sacred right!”

“Yep. Guessed that one right,” Slayter mumbled to himself, clicking the safety off his Sweeper, “Would have been nice to be wrong.”

“What are we going to do, Sergeant?” Hutchinson asked, looking over at his superior. “Think they would actually let us go?”

“Doesn’t matter if they would. I’ll be damned if I’m going to give them a bunch of babies for their sick, twisted butchery!” Slayter laid the barrel on the edge of the overturned table and called out to those outside, in a muffled voice. “You can…” Letting his voice fade out.

“What did he say?” Asked a voice beyond the door. A moment later a head peered around the corner, only long enough to receive the round Slayter sent its way.

“I said, You Can Go To Hell!” Slayter called out in a loud clear voice, following it up with another burst from the Sweeper that tore shards of metal from the small vehicles the attackers had moved into place near the doors and sent them as shrapnel into those hiding behind them. Screams and shouts of pain could be heard, as they scrambled for better cover.

The Mandan Caste had been in control of Cirrus Epsilon all the way up through the day the religious leaders of the group thought itself powerful enough to have those very same extremist members finally attempted to force their beliefs onto the general populace as law in hopes of creating a one religion world. Which was what they had planned to do from the beginning. Yet with that last election not only had the bills they attempted to ramrod through been voted down, but the political members that had any relationship to the order had also found themselves forced out of office by a massive recall. Later, the recall was found to have been started by prior members of the same order who discovered the actual malicious intent of the group and let the public know. Once it was out in the open, it didn’t take long before they were removed from office.

Over the past turbulent year following the recall, the Mandan Caste became even more fractured. The fanatics becoming even more aggressive and even crossing into direct violence with their separatist actions on several occasions, including bombings and assassinations. As a result, they were now facing hundreds of criminal charges, many being brought against them by past members that had separated themselves from the following, due to the extremist views that had been so carefully hidden by the inner circle of leaders, as well as many others who simply refused to join them in their beliefs and suffered for it. That backlash being the direct result of the action that had been taken by their leaders, which in turn revealed many of the dirty secrets they had so carefully kept from the eyes of their followers and general population of the colony.

The fanatics had been targeting past members on many occasions, as a form of punishment for abandoning the religious order that they had sworn allegiance and fidelity to obey and keep for all their lives, as well as those that refused to accept their doctrine. And now apparently the U.D.R.P. Orphanages had become a target for accepting the children of those that had turned their backs on the religion.

Looking around at the three young soldiers, Slayter mumbled to himself, as he did the calculations in his head, realizing that today was the first anniversary of the political purging. “Well, we now know why so many children have been dropped off. Guess that makes some twisted sense. Would have been nice if someone in the damn intelligence division had let us know that this was a possibility. Something this big couldn’t have been pulled off without some sort of hint getting out.”

The silence inside stretched into eternity, as they listened to attempts at quiet movement outside. The pickups on their netlinks could easily hear the fanatics moving around clearly preparing for their next attack. Since the video feeds were the first things destroyed, Slayter and the others were forced to guess where and what they were doing by the sounds alone, which was made easier by the fanatics having discussed their choices with no knowledge they were being eavesdropped on.

Opening the case next to him, Slayter pulled out a set of aerial vid bots and linked them directly to his netlink. Tossing them into the air, they silently floated out of the orphanage and into the night, giving him a clear view of the sizeable group of attackers. A series of shots came from the attackers outside, as one after another they blew the aerial bots apart.

“Damn. Guess the have some tech out there.” Slayter mumbled to himself, as he cranked up the audio pickups on his netlink “Guess we’ll have to do this the old fashion way.”

Sitting back, he listened in as they laid out the plan for another breach attempt. This time in force. The attacker’s ego had kept them from calling for reinforcements up to this point, but it hadn’t kept Slayter from triggering the emergency beacon the moment he heard of the attack on the other orphanages.

Hearing the footsteps on the wide slabs of stone outside, Slayter keyed the warning on his netlink to the others, then realized that the signal was now being blocked at all levels. Calling out softly he pulled his cheek tight against his rifle and focused his sights on the doorway. “Their coming at us again, boys. Just hold steady and make your shots count.”

All had upgraded their weapon choice in preparation for the next round of the assault and now slid into firing position. With time to click the safeties off and nestling their cheeks against the stocks of their various weapons in similar fashion, they each waited as their training had taught.

A voice called out in rage, “You unfaithful will now die!” Just as the doors exploded open once again, this time with slightly more success, due to the damage from the first sticky breach charge. Before the smoke had time to clear, nearly two dozen well-armed men charged through the widened gap, carrying with them more than enough firepower. The more than enough was the problem though, since it slowed most of them down, allowing Slayter, Hutchinson, Ray’na and Blentsfield also more than enough time to pickoff those leading the charge, along with the majority of those that had followed. All while the attackers tried to cross the open area between the door and the cover they sought with the weight of the extra gear.

The sound of an armed seeker grenade could be heard building up in the center of the room, where one of those injured had been able to pull it free. Before any of the four were able to stop the man, his arm launched it over the barriers and directly behind Hutchinson. He never stood a chance, as the grenade broke into multiple pieces and launched themselves at the nearest flesh. His. Dying in a gurgle of blood, for Hutchinson it was over in moments.

The smart shrapnel flew about the room in all directions seeking more targets, before its propellant burned off. A ricochet peeled off the stone of the floor an under the table to bury itself deep into Slayter’s upper thigh.

“Son of a bitch!” He cursed, as three more followed the first in seeker mode. Slayter triggered the electric defense system his armor provided, causing the seekers to short out, but not before doing serious damage to the muscles in his thigh.

Only a few of the fanatics made it behind the safety of nearby debris, as Ray’na and Blentsfield effectively found targets, making short work of those that had tried to carry the heavy units, luckily. The rest lay scattered around the room. Those that showed any sign of movement soon ceased, as Slayter and the remaining two placed pulping rounds in each body. The nanobots rapidly doing their work. The screams quickly faded, leaving only gelatinous masses that slowly spread across the stonework and merge into crimson pools.

“Call them!” Screamed one of the fanatics from behind an overturned desk.

“They will not like this!” Called another from the doorway.

“I don’t care if they like it or not! Get them over here! These infidels will not triumph!”

This is going to start getting bad, Slayter thought to himself, while slapping a thinskin patch over the holes the seekers had burrowed into the flesh of his thigh. Knowing the situation would have to change before they could be removed made him grimace with the pain. He jabbed himself with the injector, swapping the pain med vial for the coagulant vial. Slowly the blood stopped flowing and he took a deep breath of relief. Shifting into a better position, he scanned the room with the sights of his rifle.

The room again exploded with rounds, as the fanatics opened fire in an effort to allow more of their members to gain cover before being mowed down. Though they continued to fail at these attempts, but Slayter knew it was only a matter of time before they found some success and would then gain the upper hand. He had to work out a plan to get the children and his own men to safety. Children that are not much younger than his own men. Right now he had nothing.

 

4380 Years Prior…

Nickel and iron, with a mix of exotic and precious metals made up the much smaller, dark and dense body of the wayward asteroid. Created through destruction as well, its journey had begun even before its icy crystalline counterpart, though it came about as the separation of a much larger entity. A moon that had found itself much too close to the planet that it orbited. The impact it had met with separated its meager size from its prior greater form and sending it out on its journey. At the same time ripping away the atmosphere of the planet it had once been a part of in a final act of rebellion, slinging it out across the heavens, to be forced on a new course with the gravitational pull of each passing planet and sun, baking and boiling away the impurities leaving it in the strength and purity of form that it was now found.

 

Eternity…

“How long?” Admiral Donsier asked, looking at the report.

“Two days at the earliest,” Brensear stated “Three for all forces to be in orbit. I wouldn’t go with less than that.”

“What about the Reapers?” The Admiral asked with great distaste at the thought. “How long will it take to get them there?”

“They can be wrapped with their current detail and ready to drop in less than three days. Are you sure you want to use them, sir?”

“I don’t care for their methods, but they are the best at what they do. With a situation like this it’s not a soft touch we need. We need a statement made. They are the ones that can do that.”

“Should I draft up their orders?”

Admiral Donsier looked at the report once more. “How many do we have on planet?”

“There were just over eighty active, along with an unknown amount of orphans.” Brensear stated from memory. “We have no confirmation of survivors from any, except one sight. New Vancouver. We lost contact before we could get solid numbers, but had confirmation by one of our spies that they were holding strong. We’ve heard nothing from the other locations.”

“How in the hell could something like this happen on our watch? Without us knowing anything about it?”

“I have no idea, sir. I don’t honestly see any way that we couldn’t know. At least have a hint at it.”

Admiral Donsier tossed the pad with the report showing on the screen, rubbed his temples. “I’m getting too old for this, Philip.”

“You aren’t the only one, sir.” His longtime friend stated.

“Cry ‘Havoc’ and let slips the dogs of war.” Admiral Donsier spoke softly to himself. Not being able to put the decision off any longer he thumbed his print on the orders Brensear had already drafted up for the Reapers. “God help us for this, Philip.”

“I doubt he will listen, sir. Once they are through with Cirrus Epsilon and whoever started this even God won’t forgive us.”

Admiral Donsier pushed the signed orders back across the desk in sad disgust. “I’m afraid you might be right about that, Philip.”

 

2076 Years Prior…

As time passed, both heavenly bodies found a similar path. They now charted the same stars, and were caressed by the same vacuum, yet until this moment had never known of each other’s presence. Racing through the vastness of space. Together. For so long believing they were alone on this journey of solitude. Until the day one caught a solar wind that started them both upon a chance meeting that had been thousands of years in the making. Neither ever understanding that two creations of such a vast difference could one day be brought together. Together they would create something wonderful. Beautiful. Deadly.

 

Run & Hide…

Sgt. Slayter lay behind the table knowing there weren’t many more options. They’d backed down five assaults and the enemy was getting smarter with each round. They no longer were rushing in mass. Instead they were making portable barricades and positioning themselves in an effective firing line along the perimeter of the building. The enemy was already calling in reinforcements again, so going out the front was out. The back and side walls had no exits that weren’t already covered heavily by the swarm of fanatics that were working to blockade them better than the original barricades they had already built since this started almost two hours ago. The basement was built on solid rock, without access of any sort. That left the roof.

Without power the auto-cannons were useless for ground defenses, but they had apparently had been successful running off the limited battery power to keep the few who dared to scale the walls, or drop from a line they had strung between the two adjacent buildings, from going farther than the spot they landed on the roof. Most were dead before they even made that. Apparently the attackers had planned ahead well enough to sabotage the battery banks. It was only due to a mandatory replacement of two sets just that morning that there was any juice at all. There was no way those battery banks could hold up against a full assault though. The guns simply drew too much power to operate. Scattered troops were one thing. A shot here. A shot there. Constant burn would drain the banks in moments and that is what it would take if those outside tried to gain access in mass by rooftop.

That left Sgt. Slayter with one option. Put his back against the roof access and hold them back for all his troops were worth. They had already been forced from the entrance, down past the main nursery, past his office and the armory. The only thing left was the mess hall and the stairs leading up to the roof.

Tossing the passkey to Ray’na. “Unlock the stairway and get the children moved to the top landing.”

Catching the passkey, Ray’na crawled across the floor, dragging the basket part of the bassinet for one of the children to the nearby doorway that lead to the roof access. With a swipe he had it unlocked an opened, rolled in and dashed upstairs carrying the basket with him. A moment later he reappeared and continued the process until all the children were upstairs.

Blentsfield slid over to where Sgt. Slayter leaned behind a file cabinet.

“Let me take a look at those wounds while we have a lull in this, Sergeant. Might be able to take care of a few of them.”

“Not sure how much you can do, son. It’s going to take one miracle of a doc to fix me up at this point.”

“Well, I was trained by one in field medicine.” Blentsfield stated, cutting open Slayter’s sleeve with his knife.

Sgt. Slayter gave him a look.

“My dad. He was a surgeon on Rialdas. Was there during the uprising. Lost him from Cypus Degeneration.” Busily working with the limited medical kit.

“Sorry to hear that.”

“He went quick. Unlike some of them.” Blentsfield pulled a slug from Slayter’s shoulder with a pair of forceps and held it up. “Care for a souvenir?”

“Already have plenty, thanks for asking.”

Several minutes later Blentsfield applied the last pressure dressing to Slayter’s thigh and opened the I.V. drip. Giving the bag a squeeze he pulled a few pills from a bottle and handed them to him. “They won’t do much, but might help take the edge off.”

“Can’t afford to lose my edge.”

“Sorry, but these won’t even be close to strong enough for that. Just a minor pain blocker. They will help with any clotting issues though. That right now is more on what I’m concerned with.”

Looking the young man over, Sgt. Slayter took the pills in his hand, as Blentsfield pulled a hypo from the kit an inserted a vial, shooting it into Slayter’s leg and another into his arm. A warm numbing to the area started spreading.

“Last of the local anesthetics. Should keep things to a minimum for you over the next hour or so. After that you’re on your own.” Blentsfield stated, as he pulled another vial an injected it into Slayter. “At least we have lots of antibiotic. I’m loading you up with a broad spectrum. Should help until we can get you proper medical attention.”

“Son, I don’t think that miracle doctor I was referring too could have done a better job. Why did they put you into infantry instead of the med corp?”

“They said I was better suited to it.”

“Well, they should know. All the testing they do to categorize recruits to the correct field?”

“Yeah…”” A look of disappointment crosses Blentsfield’s young face, as another burst of rounds tore into the barricade they had set up, causing him to duck with instinct. Laying his rifle over the edge, he sprayed a wild burst down the narrow hall, before low crawling to the end of the table and laying down more suppressive fire. “So you would think.”

 

Before the dawn…

Heavy equipment could be heard rumbling outside the orphanage, as Slayter, Ray’na and Blentsfield strained to hear anything through their netlinks. All to no avail. The attackers had finally and very successfully blocked the audio pickups that had been giving the three their advantage.

“What do you think they’re doing, Sergeant?” Ray’na asked, slugging back a drink from the bottle of rum they had found stashed in one of the cupboards, wincing as Blentsfield did his best to bandage up the hole the lancer round had torn through his shoulder.

“Trying to figure out how to dig us out of here. At least I would be if I were them.” Blentsfield commented, taking a swig from the offered bottle.

“Sounds about right.” Slayter agreed through pain clenched teeth. “They’ll probably try to move a vehicle into place to use as a mobile barricade, while they clear the path. We bought ourselves some time with the mess we left, but we’re running out of options fast.”

“You’ll figure out something, Sarge.” Blentsfield stated. “You always do.”

“Wish I could be as positive about that, son.”

“Don’t worry, Sergeant.” Ray’na laughed. “That guy has more than enough for all of us. And I have to agree with him. You do always come up with something.”

Silence fell over the room once again, as all strained to listen to the growing group outside. No words could be made out, until the sound of a low flying aircraft was heard and the sound of small arms fire started in urgency.

“What the hell is that?” Ray’na asked, as the roof of the orphanage began to rain dust and small chunks of the ceiling down on them.

A moment later the babies could be heard crying, which quickly faded into the distance and was once again replaced by the silence. Slowly the roof access hatch was pulled open, as the three men took careful aim. A brightly colored, glow in the dark hair styled head suddenly appeared in the entrance. The generous smile of a young man dropped over the edge of the hatch. “Hey! Heard you guys were looking for a taxi. Is that correct? Already loaded up your luggage.”

“Taxi?” Slaytor gasped in shock.

“You got a problem with taxis?” The young man asked, as he dropped down to throw an arm under Ray’na, helping him to his feet and up the ladder.

“Not at all! Just surprised that you would show up in this area for a fare.”

“Hell, back home I was driving in far worse. Those guys out there didn’t even look up until I was already landing.” Grabbing Slayter’s he extended hand with his own, the young man stated. “Blinkers they call me.”

“Nice to meet you Blinkers.” Slayter said, as Blinkers yanked him to his feet, grabbed the front of his uniform and threw him over his shoulder. “Damn, boy. You’re a hell of a lot stronger than you look.”

“High gravity planet helps with that.” Blinkers laughed, jumping up the ladder to the roof, as rounds tore into the walls around them. “We’ll be discussing my fee in route.”

“Young man, you don’t need to worry about your fee! No matter what it is it will be paid in full!”

“Always good to hear.” Blinkers grinned, as he kicked a chunk of lumber down onto the pursuing group of radicals.

On the roof Blinkers dropped Slayter into the last available seat, confirmed the other two were strapped in properly, climbed behind the stick, as men began swarming onto the roof and surrounding the large taxi.

“They just don’t give up, do they?” Blinkers commented, as he fired up the engines.

“Yeah, they’re pretty set in their ways.” Slayter commented, as rounds hammered the side of the taxi. “Question for you. What sort of taxi is this?”

“Before I stripped the weapons off her, she was a Raven class APC. Picked it up cheap at auction.” Blinkers flipped several switches to fire up the engines. Reaching into a concealed panel he flipped two more and a set of miniguns appeared from recessed compartments on the hull. “Well, most of them that is.” Pointing at the joystick. “Care to do the honors?”

“It would be my pleasure!” Slayter said, giving the all too familiar controller squeeze, sending rounds tearing into the growing crowd of attackers.

Blinkers kicked the engines into overdrive and gently gained altitude and banked into the rising sun.

Sergeant Slayter watched the first rays of the yellow sun light the windshield, before everything faded to black and his eyes slowly closed.

 

Watch for the full novel late 2015

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A Writer’s Insight Pt. 1

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With a background in journalism I learned to write tight. This is a field that I believe every writer should spend time in. At least those that wants to make a living by pushing the pen. The skills learned I as a journalist adapted well to writing screenplays, as it requires me to condense and refine a verbose thought into exactly the correct term, or a single word.

With my columns, blog and novel writing I’m able to “ramble” a bit. Expounding on a single point and mulling it over, rather than simply cutting to the quick. It is through these other forms of writing that I’m at liberty to play around with the words, structure and rules. In writing a screenplay, I find that the key is to be exacting as possible, leaving the expansive descriptions to a chapter in my novels.

Back to the topic of journalism, it also brings an understanding of deadlines and adapting the writing practices to hit them. Even on the fly. I find that many screenplay writers often have what can only be described as a meltdown when they realize the deadline is around the corner. I do not. Not because I wouldn’t like to, but simply for the fact that I take that energy and plunge into the deep end and get it done. This attitude is created through training and not some grand design and the mind set of a Buddhist.

I love to procrastinate, don’t get me wrong. Rolling an idea around, studying it from all angles is truly an enjoyable writers privilege. Yet, if it is a paid gig, the job is to complete the task. I’m paid to push the pen and hit the deadline.

Yes, there are times that the deadline simply can’t be met. Often this is when others start contributing their input to the process. Too often this turns into a massive time suck. My only advice here is to be brutally honest with yourself and your client by state it will take longer to incorporate the extra ideas.

And that brings me to my next topic. The extra input, changes and feedback. Read carefully, as this is one of the most valuable pieces of advice that I can pass on to those that want to make a living by writing for the film industry.

BE COMMITTED TO THE PROJECT AND NOT THE WORDS!

Do not get caught up in the words. Be dedicated to the writing process, the ideas that others contribute and moving the project forward. When it comes to writing screenplays, moving the project forward should be your singular focus.

I have found that all too often writers get tied up in their emotional connection to a particular scene, or turn of phrase. By doing so they risk the project being shut down. Be committed and dedicated to the forward movement of a project and check your emotions for the words at the door. This work isn’t for those that can’t let others take control of a project.

As a screenwriter, you’re being hired to write the words they want. Yes, you get to do it in your own way to start, but the final product is their baby to do with as they see fit. Just feel lucky to be apart of any project and focus on helping it to get made.

As I bring this first part to a close, remember to keep pushing the pen. Writing as a profession is a combination of both natural ability and paracticed artform. The first is where the desire to tell a story comes from. The second is how to make that story readable. It is only with a continued effort to improve, as a writer, that the story you are trying to tell will find an audience!

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Updated Site & Blog

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With the volume of projects I’ve been working on lately, it was only this week that I finally had the time to update my website and blog. Originally I was planning to simply freshen up the content, but after some consideration, I decided to create something a little more user friendly. Mainly this user. The problem with the original site was that my blog had to be a sub-domain, rather than simply a page on the site.

Besides the new look, the blog being integrated directly to the site and new projects listed for option and purchase, I have also removed the multiple bloggers feature. This is simply due to the lack of new content by those that wanted to blog. They were excited to start with and then when it came to actually pushing the pen they are no where to be found. Such is the business. I have seen a lot of people that want to be writers, but they don’t have the dedication to do the actual grind.

Apparently most people that want to be writers forget that the title is also the action. They have to write.

With this updated blog I’ll be also doing some reviews on various restaurants (since I love good food) and my purchase experiences for various items that might be of interest to a reader.

Take the time to visit my new indie film website www.MaxItMagazine.com – The Voice Of Indie Film. It’s currently the fastest growing indie film site on the web, having just broken the 500K visitor mark and set to hit 1.5 million by the end of the year. Over the next week it will be transferred to the new server and the update launched. You can also find a my column ‘The Indie Realm’ there.

That does it for this quick post.

Carpe Diem!

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Election Day

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It’s been a while since I have had time to blog, though I know (by the emails I get) that I should do it a bit more often. I’ll do what I can about that, but today is something a little different. Today is Election Day!

Not as exciting as it was four years ago, but it is still rather exciting to know what is going to happen between our two interesting candidates – Obama & Romney. Maybe they should just run on the same ticket. Just a thought.

OK, back to the topic at hand. This is a piece of flash fiction that I wrote while the last election was going on. I think it still has some validity to it, so I place it here for your nimble minds to ponder.

Enjoy!

———————————

November

A Piece of Speculative Fiction For The Current Times

By Scott C. Brown

He slid across the open sidewalk knowing that for that moment he was in the full glare of the overhead lights. Sweat poured down his brow, as he pressed his body tighter up against the base of the fountain, gaining as little shadow as it offered.
The fence was merely a few hundred meters away, but from where he now lay it might as well have been protected by a moat filled with unknown monsters. This thought actually made him smirk in his mind, as he realized how true this was, since he knew every sensor was turned on him and those around him right at that moment. It was only due to the electronic disruptors he was wearing that gave him any feeling of protection against the eyes that could see in the day or night.
Had they hacked the correct feeds? Had their distractions worked?
No sirens. No swarm of troops.
Breathe! Just breathe damn it! He screamed silently at himself, as he forced his body to slither along the edge of the fountain, until he finally reached the next open area he was forced to cross. Grasping the long range rifle tight to his chest he started rolling across the small gap of open sidewalk.
He never felt the first bullet rip into him, nor did any of the rest of the team, for there were hundreds of such rounds that were spent for each of them in mere seconds.
The man in the Oval Office sat silently looking at the newscast, as massive riots played across the screen.
Why couldn’t these simple people understand that he was only doing what he had promised them he would? They had elected him to protect them, and in doing so gave him the power needed to make it happen. He was now doing just that. That boy they had elected wasn’t going to do it, and that is why he had to simply tell them that he wouldn’t be giving up his position. It wasn’t ego. It was that he was what was needed to protect the country, not that boy.
The door opened.
“Mr. President?”
“Yes?”
“Mr. President, the most recent assault has been deflected, sir. We expect most of those insighting the disturbances to be in custody within the day.”
“Don’t they understand what I’m trying to do?” He mumbled to himself.
A look of confusion crossed the young man’s face. “Sir?”
“Nothing!” The President spoke a little louder.
“Is there anything else, Mr. President?”
“Please have them bring in the one that got elected. We should take care of that before there are any more problems.”
“Yes, Mr. President.”

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2012 – The End of the World!

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As the calendar runs out, we face the definitive end of the world… Or not.

I’m sure that there will be major changes, as usual, but I have this instilled suspicion that the world will not end, just as the computer world did not with the Y2K issue. The transition into the 13th phase of the Mayan calendar (I believe is how it is phrased) will show the start of a new cycle, which I have to say is rather impressive. A calendar, not just known for its accuracy, but for the unique nature of its keeping of the days, years, etc. Unlike the calendar that is used in our day an age, which has to have a day added every few years to keep things running accurately. Huh? Leap Year… Because we can’t follow in the paths of those that have shown to work? Ego?

On to other things.

It is an extremely exciting time for me, as I am in the production phase of the ‘Andre Norton Project’. It is a video biography about the great author’s life. She is the one that inspired me to become a writer in the first place, so it is an amazing honor to be the one to produce this project. I’m expecting to have it timed out for pre-sale on her 100th birthday of 17 February 2012 and full release shortly after that. Having spent 6 days at DragonCon this last year interview some of the nations top writers in science fiction and fantasy has given a plethora of footage that is taking some serious time to crop down to a reasonable length. After all the hub-bub of Christmas now in the past, I have been able to get back to the process and it is going well.

I’m wondering if Hollywood is going to continue on the recycling of old screenplays and remakes, or if they are actually going to give us a decent year of film… So far I have been greatly disappointed. There are a few that look good, such as Tin-Tin, which I’m planning on checking out this week, but there are several that I dread even bothering to watch on video. Yet, watching movies is part of my job, so I must forge through the nightmare that is Hollywood and look for that gem that is buried.

I would love to see them not produce a film aimed at the lowest common denominator and  give our brains a bit of a workout. There must be scripts out there along the lines of ‘The Usual Suspects’. Something that creates an impact, but will still entertain. Maybe I’m just dreaming.

If all goes well, my first science fiction novel, ‘The Journey Forth’, in the series ‘Chronicles of the Myles Standish’ will be wrapped up this year. I’m well into the editing process, but have found a few thing that need to be fixed, yet a writer can continue to edit until the cows come home and never finish. I’ll just have to finally throw it out there and see what happens. The issue that I face is that with it being the first in the series, I’m setting the rules for the entire universe down and will be forced to follow them through the rest of the series. Unlike fantasy that allows you to change the rules at will, science fiction is much more restrictive. Once natural laws are set you have to obey them, unless you come up with a scientific way to go around them, or change them outright.

I’m still working on my adventure series as well. It’s been put on the back burner though, due to the ‘Andre Norton Project’.

Will 2012 truly be the end of the world? Well, maybe the end of the world as we know it, but I have my doubts about otherwise. Maybe we’ll finally discover true life on other worlds, or maybe some intelligent life in government. Now that would be a true sign of the end of the world, wouldn’t it?

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The Rating System…

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Am I the only one out there that is getting bothered by the parents that are bringing their children to rated R movies, such as ‘Hang Over 2’?

Do these parents really care so little for their children’s emotional well-being?

‘Hang Over 2’ I found to be very amusing, in a VERY adult way, but entirely inappropriate for children and found myself feeling uncomfortable watching the movie, while the several small children continually covered their eyes, or turned their heads away. The parents apparently not even noticing.

Have we become so emotionally stunted, as a people, that we don’t even notice, or say anything about situations such as this?

Or is it just that I’m being overly sensitive to the situation and should just let it go?

I always thought we had the rating system in place for a reason. If so, then is it simply the parent’s responsibility, or does the theater itself held a an iota of blame for allowing this type of situation to occur?

Lots of questions, but not too many answers it seems.

Personally, I find it disgraceful of the parents and seriously lacking in judgement for the theater not make an attempt to stop such blatant irresponsibility to happen at their locations.

As usual, it’s probably just my opinion.

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First or Third?

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First or third? First or third? First or third?

It is a questioning chant that most writers will face at some point in time. Should they use a first person narrative or a third?

Currently, I’m am working on a major edit of my novel and that is the question that I now face. To adjust the narrative to a first person, or continue with it third? Or even better, try the risky side of mixing the two. Possibly a close-in third person, while carrying a first person in regards to the main character.

It is decisions, such as these, that a writer must make. Though it may sound to the laymen like a small thing, the true writer knows that it can make or break a storyline. So, with that being said, how do you or I decide which narrative stance should be taken?

Up to this point, everything has been in third person narrative. Yet, I find myself with the desire to mix both first and third.

One method of deciding is to take a chapter and write it in both, send it out to a few people you trust. You will find that this doesn’t always help, since each reader has their own preferences. They will even offer up choices that you haven’t even thought of yet, which complicates the process even more.

I know this for a fact, since I’m still waiting for a few replies to come back and the results are very mixed, adding to the problem.

Now, even though I have it currently in third person, my option to rewrite the pieces are always there. I do not mind doing serious editing, as long as it will improve the piece.

At this point, let’s look at what the options mean.

A first person narrative will allow you to view inside the person’s mind an in turn bind the reader to the character even closer. A distinct positive there.

Of course on the other hand, you are then limited to the view of that character and what they can react too. Plus the ‘I’ always popping up can become redundant and bothersome. An autobiography can work well in first person, but what about an action/adventure? Suddenly you are limited in your options, due to the character having to be everywhere and involved in everything. This can become very staged an unbelievable with regards to forcing your character into this situation or that one, simply so you can tell an important detail.

Now, third person has it’s own benefits and drawbacks. These include, never truly expressing the characters emotional situations, due to never being able to express them as an individual. Your reader will always be the one looking in from just slightly outside the story. This lack of connection can destroy a story.

The positives include the ability to give greater details in many ways. The story, the character’s habits and actions, the variety of characters, etc. This diversity can truly create a multi-facted world, which the first person can leave behind.

The third option? Yes, there is a third option. It is to combine a first person for the main character and a third person for all others, including the general narrative. The very distinct issue with this is that the storyline can become convoluted and just simply hard to follow, as you bounce back and forth.

What is the solution?

That is the problem. There is no correct solution. What it comes down to is what format do you feel comfortable writing? Asking your friends, family and the person on the street will not give you the answer, but it can help you find one for yourself.

Yes, this is one of the frustrating little things that writers face. One amongst many.

As to my novel… Well, I have already written the majority of it in third person, so maybe I just need to bring the view in a little closer to the characters. That might be the cleanest solution.

Maybe that is the answer. Write in the cleanest version that conveys what you want to say. Maybe?

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Critics…

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Everyone is a critic… Or so the old saying goes. That is not what this little rant is about though. This is about the “professional” movie critics that think they are all that, but apparently can’t understand what their job entails.

One of my favorite sites is Rotten Tomatoes, since it has a large selection of critics and viewers stating their opinions. It is this site that draws my ire.  Not the site itself, but some of the pompous asses that think they are movie reviewers, yet have all too apparently not even seen the movie they are reviewing.

When a critic merely lists the actors in the project and makes comments based on their past works, rather than evaluates them on their ability to carry the story along, as they are paid to do, than I believe that it is disgraceful for anyone to call them a “professional”.

I’m not stating that simply due to the fact that they disagree with my opinion on a movie they are wrong. That would be even more ridiculous. This is literally about those that can’t even take the time to evaluate a movie based on that movie.

A good example of this is ‘Hall Pass’. If you have ever seen the movie than you will understand what bothers me about what a few of the critics state.

I truly wonder what they were expecting from this downplayed comedy? Laugh tracks? It wasn’t suppose to be a laughing brawl of a movie. It was suppose to be a humorous piece that compared the points of marital bliss with the realities of marriage and what matters. Pretty straight forward fun piece. Not something to take your kids too, not a over the top winner, but a well-written, well-acted, overall decent movie. One you would probably want to see on video, but one you would probably have a couple of chuckles from.

Even with saying that, I come full circle with wondering what movie they watched, if any, since they commented about past works by those involved, but some never really said anything about the movie based on the movie. That is what bothers me.

As to the critics that just didn’t like the movie, due to the fact they didn’t like the movie, then kudos to you for stating your opinion in a clear, concise manner. You might want to give a review of a few of the reviewers next time they can’t seem to focus on the movie before them.

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