It’s about the three main voices in every professional artist’s head, and how they bicker and play off of each other. As someone whose been in the writing business for a few years, I can say that it’s absolutely spot on (and not just because they’re anthropomorphized jaguars). Seriously, this webcomic needs to be like a primer for all creative types or something.
The thing I’ve learned the most by following this webcomic has to do with the marketing voice. I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that marketing is evil. And if you do it wrong, it really is. But if you do it right, it’s actually pretty amazing:
…your goal in marketing is to create sustainable relationships with people who want you to succeed; in short, to seek patrons, rather than one-time customers. To do that, you can’t be focused on the money or the one-time sale. You want to inspire customer loyalty. You want people to be invested in your success. You want them to feel special … because they are.
A lot of the stuff I do, like keeping this blog, or putting Author’s Notes at the end of all my books, comes back to this idea of making meaningful connections with people. I just never saw it as marketing. But if marketing yourself is really about focusing on people rather than obsessing about sales, that’s totally something that I can do–something that I’m excited to do!
The character I can relate to the most is probably Business Manager. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit I can trace back to my grandpa, who started his own oil company in West Texas and was successful enough to put all us grandkids through private school. But Artist is definitely in there as well–it’s why I’m always jumping from project to project, driving my inner business manager crazy.
So yeah, if you’re a creative type, you’ll definitely want to check out this webcomic. It’s written by the self-published author whose books briefly got pulled from Amazon during the Space Marine controversy (fortunately for all of us, she held out and won). Lots of good stuff there–she really knows what she’s talking about.
In the meantime, let me leave you with this incredible piece of orchestral trance music. It’s quite possibly the most epic thing I discovered last week. The video is pretty good too.
One time you won’t hear this phrase is when someone is trying to play More Hero than Thou. In that case, two or more good guys in a friendly rivalry basically argue over who has to bite the bullet, so the honor becomes a point of competition between them.
In my opinion, the heart and soul of this trope is the idea that some things are worth dying for. Obviously, a character facing death is not going to say this unless he values his honor more than his life. What exactly constitutes “honor” may be up for debate (with the potential for some unfortunate implications, especially in real-life martyrdom cultures like Japan), but the core element here is that the hero is fully willing to give up his life for something greater than himself. Bonus points if he starts out as a coward and this trope marks the conclusion of his growth arc.
While this phrase often leads to a death of some kind, that isn’t always the case. The cavalry can still show up to save them, or one of the characters can ultimately survive (either the one who says this phrase, or the one to whom it is said). The important thing, though, is that the characters face death in a meaningful way. Without that, this phrase doesn’t have nearly as much power.
In my own work, this trope tends to pop up a lot, especially in the more military sci-fi books in the Gaia Nova series. It shows up multiple times in Stars of Blood and Glory, and also in Bringing Stella Home, though more in a posthumous way than anything else. I suppose you could also say it happens in Star Wanderers: Homeworld, if you use a broader interpretation.
But either way, I’m definitely a big fan of this trope. Expect to see it many more times in my own work in the future.
As a final note, it’s worth pointing out that the bandmaster’s violin from the real-life Titanic has recently been recovered and confirmed genuine. It’s now on display in Belfast, less than two miles from where the Titanic was built.
First of all, sorry for forgetting to do a Trope Tuesday post (again!). I guess I’m really flaky about doing those. Oh well–better to be flaky about blogging than flaky about writing, right?
In fact, the reason I didn’t write-up the post was because I was busy doing a 2.0 revision pass for Star Wanderers: Dreamweaver. This is the novella that retells the events of Outworlder, but from Noemi’s point of view. I hadn’t looked at it in the eight months since I wrote it, but sometime over the summer I gave it to Laura to alpha read, and she just got back with her comments a couple of days ago.
Well. Reading through those comments was simultaneously the most excruciating and most invigorating thing I’ve been through in a while. I’ve changed a lot since I wrote the first draft, and a lot of things about it are horribly embarrassing, but the story … the story is actually pretty solid. Oh, some of Noemi’s motivations weren’t close enough to the page, and some other elements needed a bit of pruning, but the structure, the bones–it all seems to be there.
So, long story short: I got Laura’s comments on Monday, and finished the revisions today. TODAY. Of course, it still needs to be proofread, and I’d like to send the new version out to some other first readers … but I don’t anticipate making any major, earth-shattering changes to the story. In fact, I could publish it tomorrow, and most of you would probably love it.
So far, my Star Wanderers books are selling much better than any of my other titles. They’re also much shorter, which means that I can put them out a lot faster–or should, at least. I probably angst over them more than I should, trying to make everything perfect. But I’ve got the extended series planned out to Part X, and I’ve already written half of Part VI. Some of those might get moved up or down, depending on demand, but the more I write in this universe, the more stories present themselves. And hey, if that’s what you want to read, I’ll be more than happy to write more of them.
If all goes well, Dreamweaver will be out in the first half of April, perhaps as early as the end of March. As always, newsletter subscribers will get a two-week coupon code to download the book for free on Smashwords. This also provides access to all future editions, in all ebook formats, completely DRM free. If you enjoy it, I hope you’ll review it or tell a friend about it. I’m not sure how I’ll end up pricing it, but I don’t anticipate going higher than $2.99.
In the meantime, here’s something to leave you with: an awesome remix of Jewel by Solarstone & Clare Stagg. Man, I love Solarstone’s work. I picked up his newest album, Pure, over the summer, and have been pulling songs from it for book soundtracks ever since.
I’m going to take a break from the hero’s journey trope posts for a while, until I have the time to do them justice. In the meantime, let’s have a little fun.
Some of my favorite science fiction stories are the ones about a culture of nomadic starfaring people wandering the universe in search of a new homeworld. Earth is usually a half-forgotten legend, and their starships have probably seen better days. On tvtropes, the page for these stories is Space Cossacks, named after a real world culture in historic Russia that basically experienced the same thing, albeit on a terrestrial scale.
The description of this trope on the tvtropes page is so good, I’m just going to repost it here. Seriously, every one of those cross links is worthy of your click.
One of the things that I think should qualify a story for this trope is that the society of space cossacks is just that: a community of people who share at least a few cultural bonds. Battlestar Galactica definitely qualifies, but I’m a little on the fence as to Firefly, since that story is more or less about a ragtag band of failed revolutionaries. Are the Browncoats all from the same culture, like the Kurds or the Circassians or the Ossetians, or are they just a pologlot group of frontiersmen from all over the settled worlds? Does it even matter?
In the end, I suppose it doesn’t. The spirit of this trope is a lot like that of Fighting for a Homeland: a bunch of displaced underdogs on the fringes of civilization trying to make their way in the universe. The nature of the conflict is such that by the end, they can’t help but form their own distinct subculture.
I don’t know why I love this trope so much. Maybe it has to do with the way it blends elements from the Western genre in a classic Science Fictional setting. Maybe it’s because I was born in the wrong century and naturally dream of settling the frontier. Maybe it’s because this is one of the best ways to get awesome space battles.
Whatever the reason, I can’t get enough of it, as you can probably guess from reading my books. In Bringing Stella Home, Danica and her band of Tajji mercenaries fit this trope to a T.Stars of Blood and Glory delves quite a bit deeper into their background, with Roman as a major viewpoint character. In Heart of the Nebula, the people of the Colony basically become Space Cossacks over the course of the novel. Both of those novels are currently unpublished, but I hope to put them up in the next year.
On the subject of roving bands of displaced Eastern Europeans, I listened to this Circassian folk song maybe a dozen times while writing this post:
Awesome stuff–I’m totally putting it in the soundtrack for my next Gaia Nova novel. Also, I’ll have to name a moon or a planet in the Tajjur system after Mount Elrus or something. Space Cossacks indeed!
…how much I’m looking forward to being back in Georgia.
My flight leaves from JFK on Saturday and arrives in Istanbul at about 6 am on Sunday. The flight to Tbilisi doesn’t leave for another seven hours, so I plan to take the tram downtown and see some of the sights. I’ll arrive in Tbilisi late that afternoon, spend the night at a hostel…
…and then take off the next morning for Kars, Turkey. I plan to meet up with a friend there and go tour the ruins of Ani, ancient capital of Armenia. I have no idea yet how I’m going to get there, but there should be some buses in Tbilisi or Akhaltsikhe, and from Kars you can charter a taxi.
So after all that, I’ll head out to Baghdati to meet my new host family! For the fall semester, I’ve been assigned to the school in the village of Rokhi:
It’s about an hour south of Kutaisi, right up against the Lesser Caucasus mountains, and it looks like an awesome place! A couple of other TLGers have been there before me, and they tell me it’s really great. It’s definitely going to be a change of pace, going from city to village, but it’s one I’m looking forward to. There are only 300 students in the school (grades 1-12), so maybe I’ll learn all my students’ names this time.
The family I’ve been assigned to sounds a bit older, with a thirty year old son who works at the school. It sounds a bit rustic, with Turkish toilets and no internet at home, but I’m looking forward to that, especially the no internet part. Don’t worry, I plan to get out and blog regularly–I’m sure there are local internet cafes, plus Kutaisi isn’t that far and I know where to get internet there.
Getting out to church is going to be a bit tricky: I’ll probably go into Kutaisi on Saturday, take the noon train into Tbilisi (5 GEL) and spend the night at a hostel (15 GEL), or take the sleeper train (10 GEL) and show up in the morning. Getting back shouldn’t be too difficult: the Baghdati marshrutka leaves from Didube at 16:00 (or so I hear), and from there it’s only about 6 or 7 kilometers.
I have no idea how long I’ll be in Georgia this time: my contract runs until the end of December but I may extend again, depending on what other options open up. I’ve really fallen in love with Georgia since coming there, and may just choose to stay on another year. The Caucasus is a really amazing place, full of hidden treasures and remote places.
Which reminds me: I’m bringing a tent and sleeping bag this time, to do some backpacking in Borjomi and Tusheti. Packing them was tough: the airline restriction is 20 kg total of weight (44.1 lbs), and after a whole lot of work, I finally got it down to 42.5 lbs. The disassembled backpack frame is going to have to go as a separate piece of luggage, since it was too big to fit in any bag, but it shouldn’t be too hard to reassemble it out in Georgia.
That’s about it. I’ll leave you with this awesome Georgian song I found on youtube. The dance troop is Erisioni, and they put on an amazing show that’s kind of like Riverdance, except for Georgia. Let me tell you: when it comes to dance (folk or ballroom), I don’t think anyone in the world is as amazing as the Georgians.
Why do so many character combinations come in groups of three? Unlike love triangles, where the combo is primarily a way to build conflict, the characters in power trios all build on each other in some way. They might be foils for each other, but as complementary archetypes, they do far more to drive the story together than they ever would apart.
The “child” (who does not have to be a child literally) will be seen as innocent, perhaps to the point of naïveté. The wife, the wiser, calmer aspect, someone around whom one could build a home life. The third, the seductress, is sexually experienced and independent.
Roughly speaking, the characters in the trio correspond to:
The Ingenue: A naive, innocent, childlike girl who is just setting out into the world. In a Freudian Trio, this would be the Ego.
The Femme Fatale: A seductive, alluring, mysterious woman who is experienced in the ways of the world. Unlike the Vamp, she may or may not use her feminine wiles for evil. In a Freudian Trio, this would be the Id.
The Yamato Nadeshiko: A calm, steady, faithful wife, who provides the kind of marital stability and maternal strength that is ideal for settling down and raising a family. In a Freudian Trio, this would be the Superego.
You’d be surprised to see how often this trope shows up, even in works of science fiction. In Star Wars, Leia was the child in A New Hope, the wife/mother in Empire Strikes Back, and (what else?) the seductress in Return of the Jedi. Just about every Star Trek series featured some alignment of these archetypes.
Squaresoft played with this trope a lot in their Final Fantasy series, which may be illustrative to examine in greater depth. I’ve only played through FF IV, VI, VII, and Chrono Trigger, but each of these titles features some interesting variations (warning: spoilers!).
Final Fantasy IV: Porom (child), Rydia (seductress), Rosa (wife).
Porom is pretty solidly the child, though Rydia starts out as this and later grows up into the seductress role. She doesn’t get the guy in the end, though: that would be Rosa, who pretty much starts out with him as well.
In terms of story, the characters don’t really seem to build much on each other, though in terms of gameplay you definitely want to have Rydia and Rosa/Porom in your party (though not Rosa and Porom together–you only need one white mage, after all).
Final Fantasy VI: Relm (child) , Celes (seductress), Terra (wife).
This is my personal favorite in the series. Unlike IV and VII, which both center around male protagonists, Final Fantasy VI revolves around Terra (world of balance) and Celes (world of ruin) as the central protagonists. Because they also play a role in the power trio, their characters are quite complex, especially in the second half of the game. Relm is arguably more of a Mary Sue, but her relation to the other characters, especially Shadow, also makes her role more complex and interesting.
In the end, the romantic subplot is fulfilled by Celes, not Terra, which was something of a surprise to me in my first playthrough. It works really well, though, because of Celes’s heel face turn and subsequent reformation (in which Locke is arguably a Manic Pixie Dream GirlSpear Counterpart). Does that also translate into a shift from seductress to wife as well? I’m not sure, but I’d probably say no–after all, it’s Terra who takes on the mother role in the world of ruin.
Final Fantasy VII: Yuffie (child), Aeris (seductress), Tifa (wife).
The main twist with this one is that visually, you’d think Tifa is the seductress and Aeris is the wife. In terms of story archetypes, however, it’s just the opposite: Tifa is the one whom Cloud depends on, the one who helps him work through his problems, while Aeris is the shifty, mysterious one.
Unlike IV, where Rosa and Cecil are set up from the very beginning, for a while it actually looks like Aeris and Cloud are going to end up together. But then, in perhaps the most tragically gut-wrenching moment in all of video game history, Aeris dies (and doesn’t come back). Since Yuffie is kind of, well, crazy, Tifa and Cloud are pretty much garanteed to get together after that point (and as for Sephiroth…I don’t even want to go there).
Chrono Trigger is interesting because the girl who ends up with the guy in the end (Chrono) is actually the one who fulfills the child archetype, Marle. It works, though, because of the childlike feel of the story. Unlike FF VI and IV, Chrono Trigger is not a dark or an edgy tale–it’s heartwarming innocence at its best. I always did feel that Lucca got the short end of the stick, though–but she did get a cameo in Xenogears, so perhaps the last laugh was hers after all.
Ah, Xenogears. <sigh>
Anyhow, long story short, the Three Faces of Eve power trio is a fascinating way to play with feminine archetypes. Recently, I’ve become quite interested in it because it showed up quite inadvertently in my current project, Heart of the Nebula. It’s funny how tropes can sneak up on you like that, especially some of the more archetypal ones.
Anyhow, in its current form the novel is a piece of trash, but now that I’ve recognized the potential to set up this particular power trio, I think I can really make it shine. If you have any insights, please share–I’m very interested in this trope right now!
That’s right! After what felt like six hours of un-anesthetized brain surgery, Stars of Blood and Glory 1.0 is finally complete! Here are the stats:
words: 76,326 chapters: 18, prologue & epilogue ms pages: 360 start date: 20 Dec 2011 end date: 2 Feb 2011
Some extended stats, just for fun:
days spent writing: 36 miles traveled: ~5,500 viewpoint characters: 5 characters from other novels: 9 major characters who die: 3 space battles: 5 planets slagged: 1
And the most influential song while writing:
It’s good to finish another novel, but this one definitely needs a lot of work before I feel that it’s of publishable quality. I think I know how to fix it, but my mind needs a break in order to give it a fresh approach. I’ll probably let it settle for a few months, then come back either this spring or summer.
I’m pleasantly surprised with how quickly I was able to finish this book. Thirty-six writing days is something of a personal record. Still, it feels like it needs a little more fleshing out. 76k is definitely too short for a novel of this type; hopefully in the second draft, I’ll be able to bring it up to 80k or 90k.
In other news, I heard back from the TLG program, and I’m happy to say I’ve been accepted! I’ll fly out to Georgia in a little less than two weeks, have a seven day orientation period at Kutaisi, then ship off to wherever the Ministry of Education decides to send me. I’ll be there until at least June, then either renew for a second semester or go somewhere else, maybe Eastern Europe or the Middle East.
Needless to say, I’m pretty excited! Hopefully, this new career will be a good fit, and I’ll have many awesome adventures in the next few years. Even if my writing starts to take off and my books start selling hand over fist, I’ll probably keep teaching for a while just for the experience. Writing is fun, but when you have nothing else to keep you busy it can also get quite boring.
The next few weeks are going to be pretty freaking busy, so I’m probably going to ease off on the writing, at least until I get settled into the new routine. Before I leave, I need to:
Find affordable expat insurance.
Pick up a 220 to 120 volt converter and plug adapter.
Publish Journey to Jordan on Amazon and B&N.
Get some new clothes.
Clean my parents’ guest room.
File state taxes for Utah (federal taxes are already filed).
Write up the last couple of Trope Tuesday posts for the backlog.
Finish the covers for Star Wanderers (while I still have access to my desktop computer).
Read up on Georgian customs and mentally prepare myself for the inevitable culture shock.
Shouldn’t be too hard, but it’s only going to get crazier once I’m over there. I’ll be sure to keep you updated as much as I can, though; this is going to be fun!
So yeah, another novel down; this one makes my sixth. Just another 94 to go before I reach my lifetime goal of one hundred!