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Conflict in the Year 21: Tokyo

August 29, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, Plot, Setting, The Craft  2 Comments

Oh man, the absurd situations I foster on my poor main character.

As a ex-NI soldier and pilot, I was naked on base many a time. There were times where if I had anything touching my skin I would just lose it. It’s a common side effect of neural implants. My sensitivity to touch is higher than a normal person is, and sometimes that’s a disadvantage.

Today, nudity isn’t common, but it isn’t rare either.

So it was with some nervousness Kaoru is escorting me to the front of the hotel lobby where I can summon Thor, because I’m wearing nothing but a pair of spaghetti-strap fuck-me heels. Each step is a sparkly slither of the naked sexy.

And people are staring. Conversations stops, mouths hang open, women pause, men drink me with their eyes. Oh, this was a mistake. I feel self-conscious and stupid that I, of all people, feel self-conscious.

Kaoru is following behind me carrying a locked case containing my purse, PDA, and needler. She is smirking at the reactions to her handiwork.

Thor is suddenly at my side. Never have I been so grateful to see him. “I can take that, Miss Kaoru-san,” he says. She hands the case over, bows at me, and when I return her bow, she grins and leaves.

The lobby is still silent. Thor puts his hand on my arm.

“Look, Lieutenant, I want to be up front this was not my idea. I told them no. I might as well have been speaking to a rock.”

“What?” This doesn’t sound good. No, not good at all!


I plant my heels and almost fall over. “Thor, I am naked, wearing only scandalous heels and an absurd amount of credits in diamonds. Spit it out!”

“There is a crowd of people outside waiting to escort you to the Palace.”

No! Damn it!

I feel faint, on the verge of hyperventilating. I don’t do well with crowds. “Crowd? Can I slip out the back? Can we VTOL over? How many people are we talking about here?”

I detect a wisp of a smile from the normally stoic Thor.

“All of them, I think.”



This is My Obligatory Rejection Post

August 23, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  2 Comments

I have a high degree of empathy. I also contain a substantial amount of self-confidence. Sometimes, these traits clash.

While I know problems are relative, I also an experienced Gentleman. I have seen bad things. Sometimes, when people adopt a defeatist attitude, it makes me want to smack them. Yes, that’s arrogant, but hey, I’m a bit old-fashioned. I’m the guy, who, when you cry on my shoulder, will pat you and go there-there and then explain how it could be worse.

Much worse.

Reading un-published writer blogs is difficult for me, sometimes. The angst. The fear. The desire of validation from people who don’t matter. It drives a person like me batty.

Now I have a bit of homespun sympathy. It is one thing to have your query rejected. It is quite another to see a requested partial go down in flames. What I felt was different. When it happened to me, I sat there and pondered the process of using an agent to sell your book:

  • First, you have to write an outstanding book
  • Then you have to write a query. A good query. And a synopsis
  • Then you turn in partials
  • Then you turn in a complete manuscript
  • Then your agent submits a proposal to an editor
  • Then some type of committee goes over your book project

At any point after step one; a rejection can pop in your inbox. Wow. Like, wow. So many chances to hear “no.”

In some ways, I am a machine. If my book I am floating doesn’t sell, I will try with another book. Because I love writing novels. I love reading novels. I love writing novels for people who love to read novels.

Something you may not know—I have already achieved success as a writer. Literally, as a hack writer, like the title of my blog says. I wrote technical papers, a training book and a software manual with a circulation any new author would feel very blessed if she could match it.

For the person who has not seen what type of success they can have with writing, a rejection probably, at some point, hurts badly.

And now I understand that.

This was my obligatory rejection post. If you cry on my shoulder, I may still pat you and go there-there, but then I promise to simply listen and sympathize. Because I’ve told that arrogant little spark in me to just deal with it, this time, okay?


Ideas and the Creative Process of the Hack Writer

August 20, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, Plot, Setting, The Craft  2 Comments

Someone asks in a recent blog post:

If you write, where do your ideas come from? Do you start with a scene? A character? A premise? Or do you have some ridiculous trigger that demands you spin a story out of it?

That is a good question. A novel thrusts itself into my poor overloaded mind based on two things: a character, and a theme.

This is the heart of my creative process. I need both a main character with a distinctive voice, and I need a unifying idea. When the two meet, it’s magic. My brain will refuse to let go of the two, and, at some point, they merge and I will have the resulting plot and setting. I am now compelled to write the story.

But where do these characters and themes come from?

Mainly, I observe. I am not a shy man, but I am a quiet fixture. Why does that smartly dressed woman at the airport waiting for the same flight as me have a perpetual frown? Why are the neighbors across the street so reclusive? Is the wife sick? If so, will she ever get better? The Sheriff Deputy in the coffee shop–if she were in trouble, big trouble, would she have the will and fortitude, beyond her training, to survive? If she did have this internal strength, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time, would anybody come to help?

Observation can give me characters, and it can give me themes.

For example, why does our society have a culture of blame-the-victim, bordering on the tolerance for the criminal? Where did this corruption come from, and where will it lead? Why do some cultures today feed off each other, becoming stronger, while others clash, causing conflict? Is a society that devalues the lives of children for the sake of control and equality doomed to failure? If so, how will it fail?

Sometimes, I will be thinking these questions and suddenly they will merge into a story. Like this proto-outline:

The Sheriff Deputy in the coffee shop is in trouble. She is a strong person but in the wrong place at the wrong time. She is a righteous woman, but righteousness is not going to save her now (this is the character, maybe the main character, or an important minor one).

Career criminals, released by our society to prey upon the weak once more without mercy, decided they were going to kill a copy one day. Our society tolerates evil men such as this. It has happened before (in the real world), and it will happen again (sadly, this is also a reality). Where did this corruption come from, and where will it lead? (this is a theme).

The righteous and the evil go at it in the coffee shop parking lot. Outgunned and outmaneuvered, the death of the female deputy is a forgone conclusion. How would she get out of this?

She gets help. A woman caught in the crossfire draws her sidearm and joins the gun battle (this is the glimmering of a plot and also a very strong character).

Why did this woman have gun? Well, she has the typical ex-husband who has threatened to kill her. She decided she wasn’t going to use a paper shield and actually defend herself (this is related to the theme, but also further characterization).

Only, she isn’t defending herself. She is defending someone sworn to defend her! She is shot. Several times. Nevertheless, everyone lives, except the evil men.

And this heroic action caused the next American Civil War (this is now the plot).

That’s my writing process. For me, only when I have a firm character, or characters, and a unified idea to generate conflict as a theme, can I get a plot that works for me. At this point, I have a novel. All that is left is my outlining process (which I do in my head) and typing.

You may think a gun battle in a coffee shop parking lot and the next American Civil War is a gigantic, random leap–but it’s not. The theme, as you recall, is “Where did this corruption (tolerance for evil) come from, and where will it lead?” With these characters and this theme, the plot burst out of me like the alien from the chest of poor Kane on the Nostromo.

This is my creative process, how I obtain ideas and turn them into novels. And it works very well for me.


August 17, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Not Exactly Random  1 Comment

I need a secretary. Not to sit on my lap and take shorthand (although, that does sound appealing, right before The Wife Unit smacks me with a frying pan, that is), but so I can have another typist.

Lots of work. Mounds. Piles. It’s fun, but it’s a lot.


August 08, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  0 Comments

Where the heck did the week go?

Oh, that’s right, working.

Wow that was a lot of work.

But wow, boy did I also do a lot of writing. Observe, my pets!

“Let’s do this,” I say and turn the recording equipment back on. “Cause of death appears to be from internal damage from multiple gunshot wounds.”

“Interesting hypothesis, Lieutenant. Explain.”

“When a wælcyrie is shot, her body closes the wound almost immediately. All these white spots on her skin? Entry points. If we flip her over…”

I flip her over.

“There. Exit wounds, at least some. Only slightly larger, indicative of pistol, not rifle, rounds.”

I flip her back over. “I count fifteen spots. A standard magazine load out.”

“Fifteen. Possible indication of rage and hate.”

“Not necessarily. It takes a lot of effort to kill a wælcyrie. A lot of effort.”

“It seems you have more experience with wælcyrie than I do, Lieutenant.”

A feeling of loss washes through me, but I shove it aside. Now is not the time to start treating death like a normal person.

“Only the dead ones, my Captain,” I whisper, “only the dead ones.”

I press virtual buttons and the robotics around me come alive.