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Category: <span>Sylum Articles</span>

Sylum Essay Series: Recycling

One of things you’re going to start seeing in the Sylum Universe is how the Vampires interact with their environment.

Since the Manor doesn’t actually exist, their impact doesn’t show in where they’re located.  If you look at images of Oak Alley Plantation the house is quite small compared to what Sylum Manor is described … actually Oak Alley would be the front room, beginning of the grand staircase, and maybe Nico’s Manor Office … that’s it.  The Manor itself is 8 to 10 times the size, and that’s not including the outlining buildings: Garage, Stables, Barn, Lab, Medical Facilities to name a few.

Because Sylum Manor is so much bigger, it impacts the surrounding areas, like Vacherie.  For us the town is a larger town, and sustainable by their own shops, smaller farmers in the areas, and employment at the Manor.

All the Clans are similar.  Where the Clan base is located the town nearby would be subsequent chosen ones and working mostly for the Clan.  There would be generations who would know the Vampires, and would have had jobs in and out of the main houses, work locations and just making sure no one asks to many questions.

The longer the Vampire lives the more likely they’ll see their impact on the world.  Some of it would be socially, politically, and even environmentally.   The Vampires would be the first to look for ways to reduce their footprint, especially if they are trying to cover said ‘footprint’.

They would also have the capital to invest into new ideas, and for some re-invest in old ideas.  Sylum Manor had indoor heating way before most people, since they used old Roman techniques.

The Manor itself kept a large portion of their wetlands to make sure they didn’t get flooding.  They would’ve planted their crops in old Medieval versions instead of the new ways, which led them to not being affected by the Dust Bowl.

They would recycle everything they could, have a compost heap in the back, have their own vegetable and herb gardens, and likely livestock up until the modern era (accept pigs because Tony despises the creatures … pigs aren’t allowed on the Manor property and pork is not cooked when he is in the area).

Artemus would like get solar panels onto the Manor the moment it was feasible.   He would also be looking into getting bio-domes to go over the Aviaries instead of the netting.  As electric cars become more prominent they would like switch some of the Manor Vehicles over.

Also put money into science, research, and how to find better ways to conserve.  Some of these Vampires would remember some of the best air quality to some of the worst.  Just talk to Jake and Evie about London in the late 19th Century.

So are challenge to you!

Not all of us can do solar panels or have a compost heap.

But we all can do our part for the Environment, even if it’s just looking to see if that package is recyclable.  Or separate out your garbage or maybe walk instead of drive.  We all can help, even by doing just one thing.

Sylum Essay Series: Vampire Relationships

Hanover_Institute_Inorganic_Chemisty_Lecture_Hall

 

Sylum Essay Series: Vampire Relationships

The Relationships between Vampires can be vast and complex.   The Sire/Childe Bond, Mate Bond, and other type of Bonds are not always simple and cookie cutter.  Every Bond is different.  Every relationship is different.

Kinda like every day relationships.

As 10th Anniversary Clan War Edition starts to be posted, the variety of relationships will be showcased throughout the series.

It’s not as simple as two Vampires come together as Mates and they live happily ever after.  No relationship works that way.  Even being Soul Mates knowing that they are destined to be together, and if one is to die the other follows – isn’t going to stop the OMG you left your damn shoes in the middle of the God Damn Hallway again!!  It’s also not going to always tie the two so tightly together that there is no one else in the picture.

Some Mates are going to be possessive with each other. Some aren’t.  Some are going to have strong bonds that can handle long distances apart.  Others will always be with the other.  Some will have times when the Bond is closed off.  Others will never close the Bond between them.

Every relationship is different.

Will Turner and Jack Sparrow never close the Bond between them, due to what happened with Davy Jones Locker.  Even when one of them is being beaten, tortured the Bond never closes.

Yev and Craig never Mated even though they knew there Mates for ages, due to their jobs.  It isn’t until Evolution they finally Mate.  But they still have to maintain their jobs, which would require them to close down the Bond.

Ethan Hunt is an Agent/Spy.  He will do what he needs to do.  If that means bedding the target, he does it.  Luther doesn’t get pissy or upset over the situation, he knows it’s Ethan’s job.  Now he will Claim his Mate the moment the job is over, but he doesn’t take it personally.

Older Vampires have established relationships well before they get a Mate.  This can at times cause strife, in some pairs.  For others it’s not a problem.   Arthur and Nico have a long lasting relationship before Guin and Warrick came into the picture.  It’s a relationship that the Mates in time learn not to get between.  Eliot and Neal have a relationship that has lasted 1600 years.  They refused to be parted despite both having Mates – hence their harem.

Then there’s the unique situation of a married couple who is Turned but end up Mated to other people.  Marc Antony and Cleopatra were married with kids, both were Turned and Marc ended up with Alexander.  These two are not just going to stop loving each other.  They have a long history and children.  They will want to be in each other’s lives and Mates would need to learn to deal with it.  But like all relationships – it isn’t simple or easy to do.

Vampires also have connections to old souls, this will pull them together sometimes good and bad.  Carlos and Ernesto have a deep connection that won’t really go away, and it can come out in full force in awkward moments.    Ethan has the soul of Brandt’s wife – these two still act like a Married couple.   Their Mates think its humorous.  Warrick and Guin were married in a past life, tightening their Bond in the now.

Not all Mates can handle the other Mate having sexual relationships with others.  Some like to watch *I’m looking at you Warrick*.   Others like to share between them *I’m looking at you Daniel and Davy*.  Vampires will have Kinks much like Humans do.  The difference is they are older, wiser and have little fucks to give to ‘society’ perception of how they live.

A Vampire can have many Bonds in his life, depending on who they’ve Turned over the years and their connections to that Childe.  Nico is a unique situation in the fact he’s got strong connections and ties to many in his life.  He has his blood family, souls of his children, past lives, and strong Bonds made over his years on this planet.  This is not the rule, but the major exception that runs as a woven thread throughout the series.

A Sire/Childe Bond will have both sides feeling strong emotions from the other.   They won’t sense normal everyday emotions and further they’re from the other – even less.  But they will feel  a major spike in any emotion or a physical attack – like getting shot.  They will feel the death as the Bond unravels from the loss.

A Mate Bond will feel each others emotions and physical injuries.  The stronger the Bond the more intense.  They can’t ‘track’ someone down via the Bond, like during Family – Warrick despite the strong Bond between them could not track Nico’s location.  All he could do is supply his own strength, love and devotion to his Mate to keep him calm.   Cause he knows if he freaked, Nick would freak and that isn’t’ good.

A Mate Bond with a Non-Vampire.   I’ll take a moment for everyone to get their head wrapped around that…. okay done.  There are at the moment two Vampire/Non-Vampire Mated pairings.   Go ahead try and figure them out …….. Robert De’Lapins and Jack Frost;  Tia and Davy Jones.  Tia and Robert are both Vampires, while their Mates are not.  A Bond is created between them but how they handle each other is quite different from all other relationships.

A Vampire Bond – what is this you ask?  Bonds between Vampires that aren’t Sire/Child or Mates.   Is this possible? Yes.  Hunting pairs build strong Bonds.   Brandt and Tamara have many times Hunted together over the centuries they have a strong Bond to each other.   Their relationships is close, despite Tamara having a Mate and later Brandt’s own Mate.  Evie and Jake Fry – siblings who aren’t Mates.  They still have a strong Vampire Bond that is enhanced by the fact their fraternal twins.

As shown there are a lot of different Bonds that pull Vampires together .  The goal is to showcase the variety of these Bonds over the stories.   So a quick note to the readers: let go of any conception you think Bonded Vampires should act or do.   All relationships and Bonds are different depending on the character, time and place of the story.  How one acts in 21st Century is different from 18th Century – but we already had that Essay Series.

Sylum Essay Series: Sylum Characters

college lecture hall

Sylum Essay Series: Sylum Characters

 

This particular essay will combine a few of the questions that asked about adding characters or shows.   We briefly touched base on some of our reasons on a previous Sylum Q&A, but figured it would be best to go into more detail.

Not every show will go into Sylum. Yeah I know it doesn’t seem like it, but there are a few shows that will always remain off limits.   There are many reasons why.

* It could be that the characters are so bad that even Sylum can’t redeem them.

* There could be issues with the showrunner/creator of the show that makes us run away screaming as fast as possible.

* It could be the actor/actress is on our ‘Oh Hell No List’.

* None of us watched the show so we have no idea how to even build a storyline or background for the characters involved.

* The storyline/concept doesn’t fit within Sylum parameters.

* Characters and/or story slams against established Sylum storyline or characters.

* Sometimes it comes down to we created Sylum and no I’m not putting that show in it.

Q: In Alias tv show the hunt for Rambaldi’s artifacts is one of it’s main plots, with Rambaldi considered a renaissance man an inventor ahead of his time, would any of his work be of interest to Galileo? Among Rambaldis work are an equation for zero point energy, a neutron bomb that delivered micropulses that disintegrates organic matter but left inorganic matter unharmed, and a key to immortality.

A: Alias in one of these shows that fall into the category of none of us watched it.  I have no way to build any story for the characters in or around the show.   I have no idea who Rambaldi is, so trying to add him to an established storyline like Galileo would be impossible.

Q: Dollhouse tv show with Eliza Dushku, would the technology of wiping memories and implanting new memories be of interest to Crimson Moon? The whole illegal operations would be right in their wheelhouse.

A: Dollhouse falls into two categories.

First off the concept of the show, wouldn’t work within Sylum.  As said we try to have a good reason and, even with sci-fi elements, plausibility.   Basically Crimson Moon are assholes and experiment on variety of people, vampires, and things – but the technology for something like this – much like Nolan’s idea in Inception – is a few steps too far.

Second. Well let me just admit it.  I’m not a Joss Whedon fan.  Never have been, never will be.  The only character I actually liked was Angel, hence his position in Sanctuary. The Buffy and Firefly characters were introduced early in Sylum.   Even with the re-writes they were too established for me to just get rid of completely.   Hence histories and backgrounds have been changed and storylines updated.   The likely hood there will be any other Whedon characters is non-existent.

Q: Outlander tv show based on a book series, has beautiful shots from Scotland, a love story in the past involving a time travelling nurse from WWII, and a cruel villain in the past, which descendant is the woman’s husband in present time. Convoluted? Probably as much as the Back to the Future series. Would Galileo be interested in Claire journey in time?

A:  This particular idea goes against ideas and stories we already established.   When we put in Back to the Future series it was for a reason and the established storyline has ramifications that will be seen throughout the series.   Any elements that attach itself to a Time Travel idea have to be well thought and planned out.   Adding too many elements makes it more convoluted than it already is.

Q: We know that we have our racing group in the clans, that make clan leaders want to tear their hair out, will they have more additions to it like Aaron Paul from Need for Speed?

A: This is a good example of characters that are so bad they can’t be saved for Sylum.  Just to take him to be a ‘racer’ is not enough to establish him in any Clan.   We can also use this movie to showcase how we do get around the ‘OMG what was that and why Dominic why were you in it?’ Those characters or movies that can’t be redeemed or put into Sylum, but have an actor we’ve established – we can use the name as a pseudonym for the established character.

Q: Keanu Reeves was in an awesome kickass movie John Wick last fall reminding me of Neo, would this two characters be connected in a vampire world?

Q: Nick Buckhardt from Grimm tv show, descents from a line of hunters how perfect is he to be a character for the clans?

Q:  I saw this awesome sci fi movie in the summer Edge of Tomorrow, Emily Blunt as Sergeant Rita Vrataski was kickass, you think those exoskeletons and her could exist in the future of the sylum storylines, some of those are pretty far in the future?

A: These last three questions fall into the – we haven’t seen them, but will take a look to see if the characters are viable.   There is future storyline that we’ll need a Keanu Reeves character so it is something we’ll look into.  And we’re always looking for good woman characters.

By answering these questions, we wanted to showcase how we look at suggestions and additional characters when working with Sylum.   We are always happy to get suggestions,  sometimes it works out perfectly.  The suggestion for the TV Show Marco Polo was a good example and worked out beautifully.

***

In the beginning of Sylum it was all about the pretty or everyone’s favorite fandoms.   Now that we’re working through the wiki, establishing stronger character motivations, and re-building storyline – we had to start thinking about the characters and how they fit into the overall universe.

The questions answered showcased some of the reasons why we take or don’t take particular characters or shows.  There are a few more reasons that are much more complicated.

You’re probably asking what is the ‘Oh Hell No List’.

The list is a group of actors/actress that have made their political views clear enough that if they were to discover Sylum they would likely sue are asses.  We’ve listed a few names from this list who have impacted storylines and the wiki.

* Adam Baldwin – all roles have been moved from the series.

* Kevin Sorbo – the roles of Hercules and Iolaus have been re-cast.

* Mel Gibson – Maximilian was re-cast, other roles were removed.

* Charlton Heston – who would rise from the dead to sue – Michelangelo and Ben Hur were re-cast.

* Shia LeBeouf – I’m not actually sure what the fuck happened there but in good conscious we had to remove him.  So yes the role of Sam Witwicky has been re-cast.

* Jeff Davis – Now Teen Wolf is a show that wouldn’t have made it into Sylum for many many reasons.  The simplest one is just no.  Second, storyline doesn’t fit within parameters. Third, the showrunner would hunt us down.   Which indicates that if he does any other shows – they won’t be making it into Sylum either.

And yes we have some names on the list that are for personal reasons.  Benedict Cumberbatch – just don’t even ask.  Ever.  It’s not going to happen.  And don’t try to convince me other wise.  Seriously guys not happening.

***

All these parameters we’ve showcased also work on the Historical Characters through out Sylum.   Our #1 Rule is never take any ‘Real Person’ who is still alive.  Hence as much as there’s an interesting story for Tony Mendez – that isn’t happening.

But you have the Crab Fishing guys.

Yes and No.

We based the characters off of them, but I’m pretty sure Sig isn’t a 1800 year old Nordic Fisherman.  And yes we’ve used their images, but these guys are in the limelight of ‘hollywood’ not a private citizen who’s life depends on not having his image all over the internet.

Once we established the character we want is dead *smirks* we have to make that there isn’t family around that can hunt us down.   Hence recently we had to remove William Wilberforce – we won’t even mention how many kids he had, and a few of them are psychotic when it comes to the family name.   Also, there have been a few characters we decided against, mainly for very similar reasons.

The last thing we have to do is find images to suit them.  We look at the images, paintings, busts or hopefully some form of description of who they are.  Seriously every person in Ancient Greece has a beard!  We then search for actors/models of the ethnicity of the character.  We try hard not to ‘white wash’ the characters.  There are times we have no choice and take who we can use or if they are already played by a particular actor.  But we work hard to keep the ethnicity of the historical figure to match the image we’ll be using.  And of course this still lines up with our ‘Oh Hell No List’.

***

So as you can see a lot of work goes into picking characters for Sylum.  Let alone where they’ll end up at!  Never feel shy about asking about a certain character or show, you might be surprised and find out a) we already have them b) it may be usable.  But also be prepared for the no that’s not going to work.

 

 

 

 

Sylum Essay Series: Modern Sensibilities

Emory University Lecture Hall

Sylum Essay Series: Modern Sensibilities

Welcome to Sylum Essay Series.  We’ll be conducting a set of essays to discuss variety of topics, that will likely come up with the upcoming release of the 10th Anniversary Clan War.  We felt it would be a good idea to get some things out in the open now before anything is released.

Today’s topic: Our Modern Sensibilities

Sylum is a vast universe to say the least.  There are many characters, cultures, religions, and histories.   Within our own community on the blog we have a huge international audience which enhances our experiences and a reminder of how small and large the world actually is.

So what do we mean by Modern Sensibilities.

Most of us have been lucky to grow up in a world where … well most of society … has learned to be respectful to the vast culture around us.   Most of us know that there are certain words, phrases, imagery, topics that are not used because its racist, sexist, bigoted..etc.   Modern man would not, in good conscious, utter certain words without disregard to the person they are saying it to.

In Sylum we’re dealing with a expansive history of culture and characters.

Nick Stokes is a CSI from Vegas.  He was raised a good Texas boy and wouldn’t do or say anything that would be disrespectful.   Though raised in Texas we’re sure he heard many colorful words to describe minorities and woman throughout his childhood, but was taught not to use them by his parents.   He was trained to respect woman, and never once would he actually hit one.   In other words, he’s a good sensible man with 21st century values and teachings.   Raised right by his momma.

Nicolaus Valerius Meridius is not Texan nor is American nor is he a Modern Man.  He is a Roman General from a time period where a woman’s place was in the home, slaves and servants were a commodity, and as a Patrician he demanded a certain set of respect.  His word was law in the house.  Wife, kids, servants, slaves did not question his authority.  If they did they were punished.

Even now he would demand respect and obedience from his Clan.

He’s the Clan Leader and it is not a democracy.

The reader will see this particular situation in the upcoming stories.  It’s a shock to a few characters who are getting the brunt of Nicolaus having no fucks to give about their delicate sensibilities and how he should be acting.   They have to come to terms with the difference between Stokes and Meridius.

This particular example is showcasing the characters learning how to deal with a 5th Century Roman General when they’ve been working with a 21st Century Texan.  And how they have to let go of their perspectives and learn who Nico truly is, and not the act he’s put on.

But the readers also have to let go of their ‘delicate sensibilities’.    The reader cannot take their 21st century perceptions of the world and place it on historical narrative.   What we think is acceptable or not acceptable is considerably different 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 500, 1000, 2000 etc…

Just look at the situation now.  Ten years ago same-sex marriage wouldn’t even be talked about let alone accepted … ish.   Fifty years ago interracial marriages weren’t accepted.  Hundred years ago interfaith marriages weren’t accepted.   Society changes, thank god.  But we have to be careful in judging our ancestors by our standards.   We cannot look at our grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents and go HOW DARE YOU!  Why? Because their society was completely different from ours.  Was it wrong? No, it was their society, it is from their society that we built ours, and as each generation builds onto it, it changes.   The problem doesn’t lie in past societies, it’s not adjusting to the changes in society as it grows.

Sorry ran off on a tangent there!

What we’re trying to say is this.

Sylum has a 7000 year old Earth History.   There will be stories that will slam against our modern sensibilities.   Words will be used in context of their time period.  We as the writers will not white wash history to make the readers feel more comfortable.

Elena is 13 years old when Nico arranges her marriage.  This is a major story point in Nico’s history as in Tony’s past life.  Elena meets a nice Roman soldier, who Nico arranges for her to marry.  Yes she’s 13.   She just started her period, which in this time made her available for marriage.  And yes her fiance would be in his twenties.

By today’s standard our instincts scream OH HELL NO!  She’s 13!! Not an adult.  She’s barely reached puberty.

Well yeah. But that’s now.  Not then.

Would Nico arrange for Cassie to get married at 13, no.  He would likely kill any man looking at her when she is 13, if Lara and Indy don’t get to him first.  But that’s today’s society not Ancient Rome.

Warrick Calhoun is a Pirate.

This is not your Disney Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Pirates – those who chased the girls around a table and never caught them.  Drinking rum and burning down the town while singing a Pirates Life for Me.

Get that out of your head first off to understand that Warrick is a Pirate.

A filthy, disgusting, lawless Pirate.

He runs his crew with an iron fist, he kills those who disobey him or get in his way, and will take what he wants.  And we don’t just mean the gold.

Again as the writers we are not white washing over this, we’re not disney’fing it.   When he meets Nico, it’s not all sweet and cuddly.  It’s also not anything the reader will expect, whatever head canon that is in everyone’s mind, forget about it. Now.

This meeting defines the two men and their relationship.  It will likely not fit within the readers concepts of how Mates should act, but not every Mated Pairing is the same.

But that’s a whole different essay.

The main purpose of this particular essay is to prep the readers that this isn’t fanfiction anymore.  This isn’t cute, fluffy or an excuse to get two characters into bed.  Oh yes it has sex, lots of sex.  It’s Vampires. There’s lots of Vampire sex.  But it is more than that.  The writers work to keep the historical settings accurate, even if it’s brutal and not a perspective the reader is expecting.   Some of these characters come from hard times, with hard lives.  They will always see the world from a view point ‘the modern man of any particular time’ will not.  Some are old enough to not having any more fucks to give about anyone’s sensibilities.

Harvey will always come across as an asshole.  He’s lived to long to put up with people’s bullshit and will tell them how it is, even in a society that being PC is more appropriate.

Arthur is the King of Britain.  Always will be and demands the respect that goes with it.  He will also expect his wife to act like the Queen that she is.  And when she steps out of place he will put her back in it.

Two examples of characters whose actions would send today’s society into a frenzy.  But it’s who they are, and where they come from.  It’s also an assumption.

Harvey is an asshole but he fights for those he cares for, he’s old enough to have seen societies change, twist, and turn in and around itself many times over.  He doesn’t care what race, religion, or sex someone is as long as they do their job.  They fuck up, he’ll call them on the carpet for it and not think twice about it.  If someone is offended he would ask why they are offended.

Arthur would come across as a demanding husband making his wife be in her place.  But she’s his Queen and rules next to him.  She runs his businesses and is the public face for the two of them in London and politics, because putting Arthur near Parliament would be a bad idea. Guinevere knows her place, and its next to her King as his Queen.  It doesn’t make her any less of a woman for it.

A readers modern sensibilities could vilify these two characters because they don’t fit ‘today’s societies perspectives’.   But then they would have lost out on finding out who they really are.

Conclusion.

First.  Set aside all head canon about what you think the beginning of Sylum is.  Though Clan War in it’s element hasn’t changed.  The depth and histories of these characters have been filled out and a stronger foundation has been laid, giving the readers a bigger jumping off base for the whole series.

Second.  Read it.  Read it again.  Then read it a third time.  Look deep to understand the characters and where they come from.  Don’t judge these guys by how you think they should act.  If you don’t understand why – look up the history of who they are, and where they come from.   We actually have a lot of historical characters within Sylum, and how they acted and treated people is documented.

Third.  Remember these characters have huge histories.  Histories we’re just starting to figure out or dive into.  They will have changed over the years, but the core of who they are will always stay embedded from where they came from.  Nico will always be a Roman, but he’s learned to live in a modern society.

Fourth. We the writers guarantee at some point you’ll read something that will jar you. We can already hear the screech of the record pin sliding across the record as you come to a complete halt.  Before you rant off on how dare they – remember this: It’s jarring to you because our society has hopefully gotten rid of that aspect.   Historically it was perfectly acceptable.  It’s a nice reminder that despite the 21st Centuries faults – it’s not a bad place to be.

***

On a personal note:

We thank you for being patient with us as we get through these re-works.  When we started this it was not attended to take this long, but RL happened to the point of all writing and creativity stopped for over six months.   Just when we were getting into the swing of things, slammed to a stop again due to a physical injury.

We are working hard in not only re-working Clan War, but also updating the Wiki.  And to understand how big the Wiki Updates are: We’ve just started on our last clan which is Sanguen (not yet the Kin Clans) and there are already over 700 Bios.  Not empty pages, but actual written Bios.  That’s 700 characters that we had to figuring out where they came from, who Turned them, are they Mated, and what have they been doing since.

So yes we’re behind.

But I can tell you this.

It will be awesome!

We’re hoping to start posting Clan War Chapters at the end of August.   And if the heavens align the Wiki will also be open for all to see.  In the meantime we hope everyone is enjoying the Character Introductions.

Are you not entertained?

What do you go see a film for?

Be honest here, okay?

We all WANT to say we go to see a great, deeply moving, character inspiring epic that stirs our emotions and inspires our lives.

*snort*

Get real here.

We go to be entertained.

We go to be lifted out of our boring, routine, infinitely predictable little lives, and pay money for the privilege of a few moments when we can forget the bullshit we’re surrounded by.

Doesn’t get any easier than that, does it?

Whether we love sci-fi, historical drama, sappy romance, it’s all the same.

We want to be entertained.

Even if we think we just sat through 2.5 hours of total bollocks, we still want that moment when we can be anything, anywhere.

We might think what we saw was improbable, unreal, surreal, and ridiculous.  It might have plot holes big enough for a fleet of Autobots hotly pursued by Decepticons, to flee through several times over, but still we go.

Yes, we might write fanfiction afterward to correct the errors, we might bitch about it, and we might get upset at it all and claim we can do it better.

But unless we really do go out there and do it better, maybe we should shut the hell up and be thankful to all those hundreds of thousands of people who helped bring movies to life, and who cry every day of their lives…

LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU!

Sylum is full of movies.

Some are pretty cool, some are totally awesome, some are butt squirmingly awful.  But they’re there.

Sylum is a place for equal opportunity offenders.

Movies are glorious.

Sometimes they even change us.

We never stop going to the movies, despite home cinema, Blu-Ray, surround sound, and glorious 58″ hi def.

Let’s never stop going.

For we all need to be entertained.

And we love it.

Discussion Thursday: Warning Labels

I have no doubt this will be touchy subject for people.  So before we even get started lets get one thing straight.  I will not tolerate flaming, rudeness, or attacks on anyone who comments on this blog.  We’re all adults which means we’ll disagree on variety of things.  And as adults we can have rational discussions without lowering ourselves to name calling.

Now that we have the ‘Warning’ out of the way… *grins*

Warnings

I actually personal despise these things.  As a writer and a reader.  Why? Because the idea of a story whether it’s told via film, tv, book etc… is to entertain.  Not to be warned that something may upset me.  If it does the writer did their job – they made me feel and think.   It doesn’t matter the emotion – the writer got a reaction out of me – they did their job.

Now before you already go off screaming.

Ratings are not Warnings.

If I see the standard Ratings I can expect certain things.  If it’s rated G – I’m not expecting anything that is shocking.  PG – I can expect some language. Pg-13 – some violence and some sexual situations.  R – language, violence and sex. Nc-17 – all that in technicolor.  These 5 Ratings already gives a viewer some heads up of what they will expect.  If you walk into a PG and get graphic torture and rape scene  you’ll be shocked cause wait what?  If you’re watching R and it’s more a kids film you’re also going to be shocked.

These Ratings have been standard in the movie, tv, video game industry for over 50 years.  We use a version of these ratings for fanfic – giving the reader a quick reference of what to expect.

So why Warnings?

There are no warnings on a TV show, Movie, and Video Game  The Rating system is your warning.  If you walk into a NC-17 movie you can’t be surprised by the violence,  sex or combination there of… it’s NC-17 which means the Movie Industry has deemed this not view-able by anyone under 17.   If you pick up a game and it says Mature – you shouldn’t be shocked when your ‘Assassin’ starts killing people and blood cascades onto the walls.

Now Books don’t even get a Rating System.  When you pick it up, check the summary on the back, flip through a few pages and decided to buy it you’re taking the chance that there is things in it that may shock you.  There may be sex, violence, rape, torture, and you really have no idea of the character you fall for will survive the book.  You can get ideas of what to expect from the book you’ve picked up by its Genre.  If it’s Murder/Mystery you can expect some type of violent act.  It’s in the Gay/Lesbian section – you can expect their to be a same-sex couple somewhere in the story.  Romance is likely to have vivid sex scenes.  True Crimes – could have bloody details of deaths.  Kids section not expecting much violence/sex.

So if we accept Ratings for Movies, TV Shows and Video Games, and Genres for books to give us a clue on what to expect.

Why? Why? Why is fanfiction so rabid on Warnings.

My God I’ve never seen so many fights/wars/viscous attacks on authors over a simple warning or lack of one.   You walk into a movie, sit down for a tv show, pick up a book having no clue where the story will take you.  You are letting the writer/showrunner/director tell you the story.  You didn’t sit at the end of Sixth Sense and go OMG M. Night Shyamalan should have warned us that he was already dead!  You didn’t scream at Tolkien and demanded that he warn us that Boromir was going to die in the FIRST BOOK! *though I still haven’t forgiven him for that :D*

Yet you will reply to an author and scream/rant/rave at them for not warning you that *this will happen in this story*.   Yet won’t reply to an author to tell them you enjoyed their story – But that is a whole different discussion.

I have a standard warning on the opening screen for the Sylum Archive.  You could possibly find any of these things in this series.

And I hate it.

Why?

Because my job is to make you laugh, cry, throw things, stare at the computer in shock and call me every name in the book but a child of god.  My job is to surprise you, make sure you didn’t see that coming, fall in love with the characters, look beyond your expectations, and hopefully you’ll walk away with new perspectives.  But mostly my job is to entertain – to lure you into the story to the point that hours go by and you have no clue.

My job is not to hold your hand in case something you read upsets you.

Warning for Death

I admit who wants to see their favorite character die – hence fanfic in general – Let alone Sylum *pointedly looks at Speed* But at the same time why limit yourself to what you are willing to read.  Some of the best stuff I’ve read have revolved around a characters death.  Though I still hate Tolkien for killing Boromir – that scene in the book is amazing to read and I choke up each time.

Another good example: Transformers 3 – I sat there in shock watching my beloved Ironhide die.  I was like wait what… then promptly called Bay every name in the book.  But I didn’t demand my money back or demand that he warn us that Ironhide was going to die.  Can you imagine for a second:  Opening Credits ready to role – then before we get to see Optimus…

Warning: This story may upset you as I’ve killed off Ironhide.

Sounds ridiculous right?

So why do you make a fanfic author write that exact thing?

Warning for words that are non PC

I’m not even having the discussion on the idea of how society as gotten to PC over the past years.  Sometimes you really just need to call an idiot an idiot.  Anyway moving on.

Words are powerful.  Seeing hate filled words hurts.  I’m not going to deny that.  It’s uncomfortable to see derogatory words used by characters we love and even by those we don’t love.  I’ve already discussed how you need to take the modern thinking out historical characters. But you also need to look at the characters and their position in life.

So why am I as a writer warning you that a racists, sexists asshole character is not going to speak PC?  And why are you as the reader yelling at me for using the words?  It’s not me it’s the character… A KKK card caring member is not going to use the words African American or Mexican American.   He doesn’t in real life and he sure as hell not going to do it in a fic.  Yeah it’s shocking can even make you stop and go what? Why does it do that? Because you aren’t a KKK Card Caring Member… but don’t assume that because the author wrote it – they are.

Warning for Sex

If my fic is R and Nc-17 – be shocked if there isn’t sex.  I’m not going to warn for sex.  Now if you list pairings: Horatio/Timothy – that should indicate it’s going to be Gay Sex.  And if it says Indiana/Lara – that should indicate Het Sex.

Now yes when you walk into a book store and pick up Harlequin Romance you would probably be shocked if there is a gay couple – I would hope at some point this won’t be shocking but we’ve got a while to go on that.  If you walk into the gay/lesbian section – the gay sex shouldn’t be shocking.

Hopefully when you read the summary and it says Tom is a lawyer new to Chicago and his life takes a turn when he meets Brian the Barista at Starbucks.  Does the author really need to warn you that – gay sex may pop up?

Oh and just because your favorite character doesn’t end up with the one you want them to – doesn’t mean the author has to warn you.  Now I’ll admit I’ve read that story – it was my favorite pairing – even listed as it – at the end they both where with someone else … I was like wait what?  Oh they got ripped to shreds.  The key here is not that they should have warned for it – they should have stated a different option in the pairing listing… So that isn’t a warning – its making sure you label your story right.

Next is even more difficult thing to discuss.

Warning for Triggers

I’m lucky. I’m going to say that upfront.  I’ve not had major traumatic experiences that watching/reading something could trigger a flashback.  And I honestly can’t imagine going through something like that and dealing with the emotional, psychological, and  physical ramifications.  I do understand that aspects of stories can trigger memories.  I will not deny that.  But then everyday things can trigger memories – from smell, a touch, sound.

But why is it my responsibility to make sure you don’t get triggered? I’m being honest here.

My fic is NC-17  its a strong possibility there will be graphic violence and/or sex.  I get yelled at for triggering them…

My fic is Pg – there is no graphic violence and/or sex but I still get yelled at for triggering them because there as a line that reminded them of ….

In the end I can’t win.   I can’t write a fic with the idea that a word, sentence, scene, will trigger someone.

So here are some questions for thought:

Your brother was killed in an accident – you blame Tolkien for triggering those memories when Boromir dies?

You walk by someone who has the same cologne as your ex – it flashbacks to the memories of fights and the breakup – do you blame the stranger walking by?

I know these are simple examples and there are lot more horrific moments in life – but the question is do you blame the person who inadvertently triggered them?

For some yes they do – they blame the fanfic author – Cause how dare they not warn that there could be something in their fic that could upset them.   I’ve heard the argument I shouldn’t have to read about Rape or Child abuse and its shocking when it shows up in my fanfic.  It’s also shocking when it shows up on your tv show/movie/book.   The problem is that the author does not know exactly what can trigger someone – a person could be triggered by variety of ways a rape scene can be written, someone may react to a cop talking to a kid about being abused, while someone else flinches when the main character is slapped because they were abused.

I’m not taking away that these moments have  impact on people.  But what I’m pointing out – an author can write the same scene different ways and styles – detailed not detailed and still end up triggering someone.

That’s why you need to put a warning on it!!  So the reader doesn’t get triggered!!

Okay.  So when do you add the warning?  When  Rape or Child Abuse is just mentioned? Or when it’s graphically detailed?  The Author starts to get antsy on what to warn for – either warns to much and gives the story away or not enough and gets yelled at.   Which leads back to the original question – why is my job to warn you?  If you walk into a bookstore buy a book or sit down for a TV Show/Movie and something happens to trigger you – what do you do?

– Keep reading/watching?

– Put it down/turn it off?

Do you contact the bookstore/studio, publishing house/cable channel, author/director and yell at them for not warning you?

So why do you contact a fanfic author and do just that?

 ***

Now I’m pretty sure I’ve either pissed you off or have you nodding your head in agreement.  Either way I’m hoping a rational discussion can come about on the subject.

 

Discussion Thursday: Film – Argo

Discussion Thursday – It’s Back!!!

*shifty eyes* What? Yeah I know it’s been a while!

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Title: Argo

Director: Ben Affleck

Premise: A dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.  The mission was declassified back in 1997 as 1 of the 50 missions to showcase for the 50th Anniversary of the CIA.  The book was written, highlighting Tony Mendez, Lester Siegel, and John Chambers and their roles in the rescue.   And in typical Hollywood fashion a movie had to be made about the fake movie ….

I was first introduced to this film because Rory Cochrane was attached to it.

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Considering I was 5 years old when this even took place, I have very little memories of the actually Iran Hostage Controversy.  I knew probably just enough to get myself into trouble.  So I went into this movie with open eyes and hoping to learn something.

I give Ben Affleck credit for laying out the history of why the situation happened.  He didn’t pull punches, or sugarcoat the situation.  The mix of real footage with film footage put the audience in the moment.

The key to really enjoying the film is this: The story isn’t about the hostage situations. It’s not about the six that hid out at the Canadian Embassy.  The story is about Tony Mendez working with Hollywood to build a fake movie to rescue the six Americans.

Argo

 

There is no doubt in my mind why this film won so many awards.  Everything about it is good.  Affleck is finally coming into his own as a Director.  The cast was superb from Snarky comments from Alan Arkin ‘IF I’m going to make a fake film it will be a fake hit’ or John Goodman’s ‘so you want to come into hollywood and act a big shot but not doing anything? You’ll fit right in’.

The emotions shown from the six Americans had the audience on the edge of the seat, especially as they moved through the airport.  Logically your brain knew they got out.  It’s historical fact, but you were still gripping the edge of the seat mentally urging them onward.

The one scene that sits with me the most is when ‘Hollywood’ is doing a reading of the Argo script to hype it enough to make everyone believe this was a real movie not a CIA mission.  It’s mixed in with the very real press releases from Iran declaring the hostages as spies and seeing the hostages dragged into the basement to be shot.  The fake glitz of Hollywood mixed in with the harsh reality – was beautifully shot.

Controversy: Cause every film has to have some.

The two controversies that came out of this film – Besides the snubbing at the Oscars for Best Director – cause dude really? Moving On….

The Canadian Ambassador has complained loudly that there isn’t enough mention of what the Canadians did.  Okay – until 1997 the history books praised the Canadians for saving the six Americans.  And you know they deserve all the praise and glory.  They were the ones who took the six in, when the UK and Australia Embassies turned them away.  They put their life in jeopardy to hide them, and are heroes for doing so.  BUT… The movie isn’t about that.  It’s not about the six Americans.  It’s about ‘Argo’ the best bad idea of bad ideas to get these guys out.  It’s about how a CIA operative manipulated Hollywood into thinking they were making a film.

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Iran is pissed as fucking hell over this movie.  Yeah I can see why, I mean the fact that the CIA snuck in and walked six Americans through the airport and out of the country under their noses – yeah that’s embarrassing   Earlier I had stated that this film didn’t hold back.  They showed the history that lead to the hostage situation, they didn’t sugarcoat the fact the US/UK were manipulating events.  They also didn’t sugarcoat that Iran was pissed and the fuse was lit.  So they didn’t like how they were portrayed and now want to sue the filmakers.  The thing here is – there are still 52 Americans that were taken hostage and never saw justice for that moment… So they are upset that the movie makes them look bad – yet do not acknowledge the fact they raided an Embassy which is equivalent of attacking the country and took hostages – tried and convicted them as Spies.  So dudes you don’t get to sue over a movie when you’re not acknowledging why the movie was made in the first place.

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Discussion:

Anyone see it?  Did you even know Rory was in the film or was he well disguised behind that mustache?! What did you think of the film? Like, Hate, or Not really your thing? Let’s discuss!

 

Discussion Thursday: TV Show – Rizzoli & Isles

Discussion Thursday

Rizzoli & Isles

Rizzoli & Isles

Title: Rizzoli & Isle

Channel: TNT

Time: Hiatus until Summer Premier

Premise: Based on characters created by best-selling crime novelist Tess Gerritsen, RIZZOLI & ISLES stars Angie Harmon as Jane Rizzoli, a tough-as-nails Boston police detective, and Sasha Alexander as Maura Isles, a smart, impeccably dressed medical examiner from a privileged background. Despite being complete opposites, the two women share an offbeat chemistry and strong working relationship that has helped them bust some of Boston’s most notorious criminals.

Lorraine Bracco stars as Jane’s demanding and intrusive mother, Angela. Lee Thompson Young is Detective Barry Frost, Jane’s somewhat green partner. Bruce McGill plays Detective Vince Korsak, Jane’s seasoned former partner who resents her being paired with Frost. And Jordan Bridges is Jane’s brother, Frankie Jr., a patrol cop who hopes one day to become a detective.

Rizzoli & Isle - Team

At first I wasn’t interested in the series, despite the fact Sasha Alexander was in it.  I’m not quite sure why suddenly decided to take a look at the series, but after about three episodes in, it hooked you.  Sasha and Angie are amazing as the two leads – Marua Isles and Jane Rizzoli.  They are two strong woman who are very different, yet not.  They adore each other, will back each others plays without thinking, and at the same time want to smack the crap out of each other.  They are real woman.  Many times I could find myself relating to Rizzoli (hush to the peanut gallery) but those who know me – that isn’t nearly shocking.

They tackle modern day events/issues without hesitation.  There’s an episode where a woman is killed and you discover she has a wife.  It was just part of the story, not a big deal made over the fact this was a gay couple.  Recent episode you discover Detective Frost’s mom has a partner and she was worried on telling him.  They handled the situation with the fear, stress, and love that comes with those type of moments.  There is a returning character who was wounded in Afghanistan and has lost most use of his legs.  In simple ways they show the affects of the injury to his life, and those he loves.  It brings to home so many issues you hear and read about and makes it real.  Giving the audience someone to relate to.

Angie Harmon: Jane Rizzoli  the only daughter, of a Boston Italian Family – she shocked and upset her family by become a police officers instead of marrying and having kids.  The character is well rounded, lovable and annoying.  Angie brings a sense of humor and sophistication to a hard nose cop who as a woman has to live in a man’s world.  I’ve followed Angie since her stint in Law&Order.   If you have a twitter account you would enjoy following her: Angie Harmon – she is funny, inspirational, adores her fans, and she’ll post pics from filming.

Sasha Alexander: Maura Isles was adopted by her parents when she was a baby, raised in a upper class family.  She is the ME of Boston PD and is very knowledgeable about anything sometimes too much.  I hadn’t seen her in a real role since Kate in NCIS so it was nice to see her in running series as a lead.  It took a while to get used to the blonde hair but she pulls it off beautifully.  She gives Maura a sense of humor, innocence, intelligence, and caring.

Lorraine Bracco: Plays Jane’s mother.  If you don’t recognize her name you’ll recognize her voice instantly.  Angie Rizzoli is an Italian mother of 3, and everyone knows it.  I do adore her characters, but there are times she does the hot/cold quickly and sometimes they aren’t sure where they want ma to go with her life.

Lee Thompson Young: Detective Barry Frost – Jane’s partner.  He’s assigned to her after she has a bad run in with a serial killer, Hoyt.  The character is very different from her previous partner. Young. Tech Savy. And the two don’t always get along.  I’ve never seen Lee Thompson Young in anything else, but he shows good potential and I would enjoy seeing his career unfold.

 Bruce McGill: Vince Korsak – Jane’s former partner.  He was removed as her partner due to the fact she was taken on the job by Hoyt.  He still works with Jane and Frost, but still upset over the fact he failed Jane in her worst nightmare.  Bruce McGill has been around Hollywood and you know him the moment you see him.  Might not know his name, but you’re always going – that guy! You know the one in ….

Jordan Bridges: Frankie Rizzoli – Jane’s Brother.  Who wanted to follow in sister’s footsteps and become a cop much to the dismay of Mama Rizzoli.  Over the past three years the show has been on – Jordan has developed from new actor to someone who can hold his own in the scene.  Frankie has grown as a character and it shows.

gerritsen

The TV Series is actually based on a set of books by Tess Gerritsen – her first book introducing Jane Rizzoli – The Surgen.  I’ve read the first book, and the timing is slightly different as it starts in 2000 (pre 9/11) so the situations/background is slightly different from the TV Series. I’ve got the rest of the book sitting on the bedside table and will read them as time goes on.

Sylum Relationship: Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles were briefly introduced in Roads Untravelled.  There story is in the works, but sitting on the back burner as many stories are in front of them.  The biggest difference you’ll notice from the book series/tv series and Sylum is Joey Grant.  Joey is scene briefly in the Pilot and 2nd Episode – played by Donnie Wahlberg.  He’s family friend who’s known Jane all their lives.  This character is being used heavily in Sylum – while he’s never really seen again in the TV show.

Joey Grant

Joey Grant: Mate to both Jane and Maura 

So the questions I’m tossing out today are: Do you watch the show?  Loveit? Like it? OH Hell No? Do you read the books? Does the show do the books justice? Or are the too different?

Sylum Questions: Curious to know how they all got together? What are their histories? And did you notice they are the only triad paring that is two woman and a man.  And Joey will tell you – having two woman as Mate’s isn’t easy and any guy who has the fantasy of two girls – yeah they should try living with Maura and Jane.

Rizzoli & Isles On-Air Promo

Discussion Post: Les Misérables

Discussion Thursday

Movie/Book/Musical: Les Misérables

 

Les-Miserables Book

 

 

Title: Les Misérables

Author: Victor Hugo

Synopsis: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

 

There have been many many adaptations of this book.  There’s the Broadway Musical, the 1998 Movie, and now the movie based on the Musical.  The story evokes many emotions, and everyone has their favorite rendition of how the story is told.  My actual first introduction to the story was the 1998 Movie Version with Liam Neeson as Valjean.

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Before I get the OMG how could you like that you Heathen! Despite the fact I’m sure true fans of the book and musical can give me a couple hundred reasons why this version sucked, I will argue – it introduced the story to a new audience.  Not everyone has sat down to read the 1488 pgs.  I love to read and even that number makes the book daunting.  And not everyone has seen the Musical.

 

The most famous and well known adaptation is the Musical.  The first English Performance was in England in 1985 and as they say the rest is history.  The Musical as become a huge success and a theatre classic.

Les Mis

 

I have never seen the Theatre Production.  Once again before I get the OMG Heathen how could not have seen this!!!! Well there are a few reasons: Anytime it arrived into LA it was sold out before you could blink, and I really didn’t have the few hundred dollars for the back row tickets.  Second reason – I’m not a musical fan.  There I admit it, not a fan of musicals.   Sitting through a musical throws me off… I like to listen to the music and songs and hear what they are saying not being shown what they are saying.

 

Now the latest version is a movie based on the Musical Theatre Production.  Yeah get your head around that one.  It caught my attention quickly because hello Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.

Les Mis - Poster

 

Now I’ve heard the reviews and read the critics ranging from this was the best thing since slice bread to the bitch rants on the fact Jackman and Crowe don’t have good enough singing voices for the roles.  Now I’m not a musical fan but even I can tell you there is a difference between Broadway Actors and Hollywood Actors.  Getting someone who can belt out Stars and I Dream a Dream on Broadway is totally different then finding an actor/actress who can act on film and sing.

 

Now what makes something like Les Misérables interesting for Sylum is the fact there are multiple versions of the same storyline.  Finding and creating a backstory to make it fit the original storyline and Sylum can get creative.  The characters Valjean and Javert have been in Sylum for a while, but recently were changed to fit the new movie version.  Why you ask? Because it actually fit Sylum Storyline better than the original images/actors.  That and hello Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe :D.

 

So the questions I’m tossing out for the discussion are these.  Which is your favorite version? Book? Movie? Broadway Musical? Movie based on Broadway Musical? Another one I haven’t seen or heard of?  Do you like the variety of versions? Or hate it?  If your a fan of the Musical which song speaks to you the most?  Which character do you feel for?

As for Sylum – are you looking forward to seeing how these men will play in a modern world?  Curious on how they do get together?  Or you just looking at Bob going – dude wtf?
It’s Thursday – so lets discuss!!!

 

Hugh and Crowe

Discussion Post: TV Show – Arrow

Every Thursday I’ll put up a post to discuss a latest TV Show, Movie, Book, Band, etc…

Discussion Thursday

TV Show: Arrow

 

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Title: Arrow

Channel: CW

Time: Wednesday 8pm

Premise: After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he’s become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow – a vigilante – to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be – flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle – while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel’s father, Detective Quentin Lance, is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver’s own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on – and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine.

 

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I admit I came into this a little later into the season – having recorded most for the season. The moment I started watching I went through like 4 episodes and was little upset I had to go to bed for work the next day!  The show grips you, and you want to know what will happen next.  I admit it needs some shoring up on character development – the sister and the ‘ex-girlfriend’ go from bitchy to caring back to bitchy in two seconds.  The supporting characters are well casted and you enjoy watching them as much as the main character.

 

Stephen Arnell is amazing in the role he really brings depth to the character and watching him transform from shallow useless playboy to vigilante is really good.  And the fact he does his own stunts – damn that’s all there is to say about some of those scenes.  PS if you would like you can follow him on Twitter – his comments while filming are worth the read.

Katie Cassidy she will always be my favorite Ruby.  And she does good in this role.  I think the character needs some focus she seems to be all over the map at times for no reason.

David Ramsey as the bodyguard turned sidekick.  I actually like him a lot.  The actor is one of those you’ve seen him but not sure where.  He holds his own, and his character is one of the few that as more focus on what he is supposed to be doing.

Paul Blackthorne  will always be Dresden I don’t care what he does.  It’s Dresden.  He brings experience to the cast and it shows.

Though I have to ask John Barrowman – Really? I have a hard time seeing him as a sinister mastermind that wants to rule the universe.  Just not working for me.

 

So the questions I’m tossing out to everyone reading the blog.  Do you watch the show? Love it? Like it? What the fuck were they thinking?  For those who know the comic series – does it follow true? Or typical hollywood rewrote everything?

 

You can reply variety of ways to this post!  Through your facebook, twitter, and/or wordpress account.  If you don’t have any of those – just type in your email and your good.  Make sure to click – notification for response so you know when someone responded/replied to your comments.

 

So come on – lets discuss!

 

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Historical Characterization

When working with historical characters and settings the hardest thing not to do is put a modern perspective on the character and/or moment.

 

There’s been a lot of talk about Lincoln.  Daniel Day Lewis was amazing as Abraham Lincoln and Steven Spielberg has always brought his A game to directing.  As much as there is Oscar buzz surrounding the film, there is also discussion on the ‘reality’ of the time period and of Lincoln.  I’ve read a few dozen articles for and against Lincoln – he wasn’t really the Great Emancipator he was a racist and viewed blacks as less equal.

NEWS FLASH PEOPLE!

It was 1863 – everyone was a racist. Matter of fact that wasn’t even a term because it wasn’t even a concept.

Do not put your modern thinking on historical characters.

Yes society has grown and changed and in all honestly needs to grow and change a hell of a lot more.

But the point here is what we think in 2012 as racist, derogatory, and perception of society – isn’t how the men and women of the 1860’s, 1760’s 1660’s, and so forth thought.

As a writer one needs to be very careful with this situation.  As a reader you need to leave your modern delicacies at the door.

Yeah it’s jarring to see derogatory words in fiction.  It makes us uncomfortable.  As a writer writing out particular words isn’t easy, but one needs to look past what makes you feel uncomfortable and put yourself in the world of the character.  Look at their society, the way they were raised, the politics, the economy – then you’ll find how the character will act and respond to other characters in the story.

In Sylum there are characters that have lived through decades, centuries, millenniums – they would have changed through the years because they have the time to personally grow and change.  The society around them will change – sometimes good sometimes bad.

Don’t expect to see Nicolaus as a 2012 man in 1599 England.

Don’t expect to see society treat Warrick as they would in 2012 in 1776.

Don’t expect Janet Frasier to have the respect as a doctor in 2012 in 1912.

So the point of this whole exercise?

Realize historically the world was much different.  People lived and saw the world very different from what we do today.  Do not put your modern world views on a historical characters and/or moments.  Let them live and act like they are supposed to, and maybe we’ll all learn something valuable from it.

Inspiration – Need Some?!

After Bob 2’s Post on Character Motivation – I figured it would be good to have a post on Writer Inspiration.

As much as your Characters need motivation within the story.  You as the writer need to be inspired by the characters and their story – to find their own Motivation and in some aspects your own.

We can be inspired by many things: Place, Movie, Person, Event…

Here at Sylum the author’s need to be open to all inspiration, because one never knows where it will come from.

 

 

For instance: CSI Miami – where Sylum all began.  The death of Timothy Speedle was the inspiration for the beginning of this whole Universe.  Little did I know this is where we would end up, but still it was the starting point.  And we can’t forgot CSI and NCIS as the original Inspiration for all things Sylum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over time the Sylum Authors have found inspiration from all areas: Movie, Books, TV Shows, Animation, World History, World Events, and sometimes just an image.

 

 

How can anyone forgot some of these great movies that have inspired character and story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s just not movies that inspire or TV Shows.  Places and People can be a major source of Inspiration.  Whether a building suddenly gives you that insight of what the Manor, Villa, House, Winery may look like, and you find yourself scribbling down notes, dimensions, and sketching/taking pictures of every detail so you can describe it on paper.

 

 

Or it’s a person who’s life story helps you focus on what you’re doing, giving you ideas on how to motivate your character, or hell even background information for a storyline.  Each of these things can inspire you as a writer, which in turn will give that scene some clarity and that character some depth.

 

Music can be a major Inspiration.  That piece of score or lyrics to a song – can Inspire a Bunny to go beserk at the worst possible moment.  It can help set the scene, put you as the write into the mode, and hit you in the heart/soul and make you feel your characters emotions.   Music as been very important in Sylum for Inspiration.  And I’m not just talking about the Graphic Gecko – who is evil and sitting behind me with his playlist demanding Videos to be Made. Ignoring the Gecko and getting back to what I was doing – oh yes Music as Inspiration.  I personally found scores as a good way to set scenes.  I’ve got playlists for characters, arcs, stories, and moments.  Writing a Hunter stalking through a club, had club music on.  Battle sequences had music from Transformers, Resident Evil, etc…

*Snags Computer*

Graphic Gecko here!! I ran off with the keyboard to post inspiring music for Bj and also for all the writers out there.  HA! Crap she’s found me…. Listen. Be Inspired……

*Snags Computer Back*

 

Now that I’ve locked the Gecko up!! *glares at it* Where was I – oh yes music!  There is many many pieces of music I could play to inspire – but this one has been the most recent.  Enjoy – and if you like the music let me know.  And of course anything by Linkin Park – makes the Graphic Gecko go batshit 😀

 

 

Let’s see we’ve covered Movies, TV Shows, People, Places, and Music.  So what else can be Inspiring?  Books?  Well Books are your original media for Inspiration.  It was books first that got people’s imaginations going.  Whether you were going to Narnia, Mordor, or to the Center of the Earth.  Books are also your greatest asset when it comes to Research and Inspiration.  Google is your friend, but your library is your best friend.   The many times I’ve pulled books off the shelf to check historical dates, locations, and events.  Or pulled up Maps to make sure that country existed at the time.    And as much as modern media (Movies and TV Shows) Books are still the great inspiration.  As a matter of fact  there is a recent book that despite my misgivings has been very inspiring for major storyline for Sylum.

 

Though if you think Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter changed major storyline – Let me tell you this.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Between the book and the movie – This story has changed the course of Sylum forever!

 You think I’m exaggerating – wait till the story comes out (soon very soon).

 

So what’s left to be Inspired by? You love that favorite TV Show, or that Movie was just awesome!! There’s that favorite books series you’ve read since a kid.  And damn it every time that Band plays you can totally just see that scene.  You have a poster of that person who inspires you, and images of that place that makes you feel at home.  So what else can Inspire you? Video Games??? Yeah not the first place most would look for inspiration, but Games today are getting sophisticated  and it’s just not jumping over barrels to save the girl from the evil monkey (DIE MONKEY DIE – oh sorry flashback).

 

For Sylum there is already a major character that was inspired by Video Games that developed into a movie series.

 

 

But recently another character has began to emerge into the Sylum Universe.  He’s shown up here and there, but soon you will be seeing more of him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that we’ve talked about the wide spectra of Inspiration.  What has Inspired Sylum?  I’ve mentioned a few throughout this post.  So what’s coming up in the future? What has Inspired enough to start major storyline.   Well lets see shall we?

Timothy Quinn’s – Demons and Angels – Inspired by: 

 

Bj Jones – Roads Untraveled – Inspired by: 

 

Then there’s this guy…..

 

 

And the latest Inspiration…..

Motivation – Need Some!!!!

Why do you get out of the bed in the morning?

Are you going to work?

Feeding the baby?

Running to the bathroom?

Heading to the shower?

Making coffee and lunches?

Motivation.

Need it, learn to love it, use it all the time.

It should seriously be one of the deadliest of sins for any writer to assume that their readers have clue #1 on what the hell is going on, and this is a fact as true for those who write original fiction as it is for those who write in fandom.

Hey, look just because YOU are utterly addicted to  a certain show and can channel the characters like it’s second nature, that don’t mean the rest of us have any damn idea what you’re blathering on about.

No, seriously we don’t.  That’s because we don’t all watch, read or listen to the same things.  And while the world would be very, very boring if we did, the only way you can get any of us interested in your little corner of the ‘squeeing’ world of whatever it is you’re writing about, is to tell us about it in the first place.

So, if your character has no sense of humor and suddenly develops one, we need to know the motivation for that or (s)he is going to sound like a moron who forgot to take their meds.

If your character suddenly smacks a bitch, we need a reason for it.  People who do that without one generally tend to get arrested, so unless you’re planning on that, give us motive.

Motive maketh character.  Character formeth motive.

It’s like saying ‘you are what you eat’ but you’re not really a tuna fish sandwich.

At least I hope you’re not, because if you are, why are you reading this and not sitting in my lunch bag right now?

Wait, where are MY meds while I’m on the subject…?

*pause for dramatic effect*

Okay where was I?  Yes, motive.

Everyone does everything for a motive.  Little is ever random.  Coincidence, yes but not random.  Coincidence is the plot device of last resort when you can’t find a motive, and if you use that too often you’re going to sound like a schmuck with no plot in the first place.  Having every goddamn Vampire on the face of earth Turned by some random rogue is unacceptable.  It’s dumber than mud and suggests desperation for lack of ideas.

So get creative.  Hell, get a little wild if you have to.  Whatever it takes.  Figure it out.  Post-It Notes are your friend.  So are whiteboards, research materials, bits of string and make-shift maps on the dining room table.

You want someone to know about Vampires?  Figure out how they know, even if you have to go back 5000 years in earth history to find out where, when, why and how.

You want someone to get up and go out, give them a purpose even its only to go pee in a dark alley.

You want someone to do the dramatic, angsty, flaily exit thing then give them a reason to go, and be sure that everyone knows it.

Writing is hard.

I get that.

But with a little contemplation, it can be a whole lot better than just vaguely stringing words together that might make sense in your own mind, but will make others laugh at you or run away screaming insanely into the night because they can’t figure out what the hell they just read.  People rarely come back to read more if they can’t make sense of your work, and knowing later on why you made a total lash up of it all really doesn’t help that much either.  Your readers don’t know that your car broke down, your work colleague is a bitch, your dog ate your harddrive or your sister just had a baby.

Though if that’s your plot line for your story you at least have motive.  It’s just  not motive for being a total dweep with your writing, unless you want to educate them on the definition of ‘how to have a nervous breakdown’.  And if that’s the case, then get a journal to record your personal thoughts in and get it all out of your system.  Maybe someone digging in the dirt a few bazillion years from now will find it, publish it as a research paper and use it to justify why the 21st Century was full of people who had no damn idea what to write any more.

Either that or it’ll be the greatest thing since you know who decided Vampires should be twee little girls who all sparkle when they bite you…

*eyeroll*  Wait.  I’m going off plot…  Losing the will to live.

Motivation required.

What was it again?

Oh right.  Yes.

Motive.

Honestly.

Would I kid about this stuff??

No, I would not.  I’ve been doing it for years.  I don’t always get it right (the famous ‘where the hell did the brothers go in the midde of all this?’ conversation still gives me the willies) but practice makes perfect.

See?  Practice.  It’s a perfectly valid motivation to attain perfection.

*cue meaningful speech from Shifu to Po before The Kung-Fu Panda kicks the bad guy’s butt*

Even if you have no motivation yourself, you can always get it from others.  Characters do that too.  Remember those books you were forced to read at school for Lit class?  The ones with no purpose, no goal and a boring amount of very long words that send you to sleep?  Yeah, there’s no motivation.  No motivation to care about the characters because they have no motivation either.  They’re just there, hanging around, being.

And then after that there’s no motivation to read about them again.

Motive gets the hero from the beginning of his journey to his ending.

Just ask Luke Skywalker.

Or Han Solo.  He’s a little easier to determine on the motive front.  He starts out wanting money.  Great motive.

Okay so there’s motive for plot, plot devices, character and keeping your readers interested.

Motive.

Need some.

Always.

Now where did that tuna fish sandwich go…?

Some Thoughts on Character

Every now and then, I find I run into something that makes me sit up and seriously take notice.

Generally this doesn’t happen at first. There might be a lot of eyerolling and sighing going on, but gradually it creeps up on you and in the end it’s so much in your face you can’t help but take a deeper interest than you originally intended.

Several moments hit me in the head just lately…

The first was seeing a new interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe in the movie The Raven. I was hoping for a horror film but got a damn good thriller that made me want to go back and reread what I knew of Poe and what I had first seen of his work many many years ago in Lit class.

It was so nicely done, with such a huge amount of respect for Poe’s work and for his desperately sad and grief stricken life, that he’s headed for Sylum.

The film turned him into a character that became somehow much more sympathetic and accessible. It gave him more layers than you’d first assume on perusing his materials. He was more than dark. He was difficult and weird and would have been a very interesting conversationalist if I could’ve sat him down and asked about his life.

The second moment of ‘flail! Whoa that’s awesome!’ came with reconsidering the film The Illusionist.

I’d seen it before and though based on a very so-so short story, it struck me as being worthy of watching more than once, and as that happened so Eisenheim’s character gradually came more and more to life for me in a complex and convoluted story that you have to not blink at or walk away from or you’ll miss the pointers.

He too is a complex man and he too will be heading to Sylum.

Y’see sometimes it’s all too easy to dismiss character, to gloss over it and to treat it as a two dimensional and shallow thing, especially in books and movies that are coming out just lately. Assumptions as to motivation, reasoning, speech, education, action/reaction, can be so weakly created and/or portrayed that in the end the audience is left with little but the feeling that what they’ve just read, watched or experienced is no more than a brief distraction in time with little impact upon their life.

Some might say it has a great deal to do with the ‘soundbite’ culture we live in, and the lack of attention span that is encouraged so much in mainstream media and the general social environment, but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m just throwing the thought out there is all.

The third moment that snuck up and hit me, came from Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Yeah, I’d dismissed this as silly. The idea was just too daft for words, but then I watched the trailer; very well edited in the extreme and with music and voice over to make you sit up and pay attention. Then came the movie and finally the book. Yes yes, I tend to go for books after the movie or risk being disappointed with the film because the book is stuck in my head. And in the end, despite there still being moments of ‘really are you serious?’ in both of them, it was character that leapt out at me.

Character development and creation was so painstakingly done, and so very well represented on the screen, that as a result I can say it was the most enjoyable movie of the summer for me. But it took a while to really hit me in the head.

Yes sometimes there are too many other distractions and it’s too easy to gloss over a book or a film or a play, or a show or something, and yet it’s not hard to see when things are shallow, at least if you look at it with better eyes than those of the ‘just distract me with the shiny for five seconds’ mentality that we all suffer from to one degree or another.

Take time sometimes to really watch, to deeply read, to seriously consider, and then do it all over again.

It’s actually worth the effort once you start to go deeper into your subject matter and you’ll suddenly find yourself encouraged to want to know more.

Make character worthwhile.

Your readers and viewers will love you for it.

Enter the Tiny Annoying Englishman

His name is Henry O. Sturges.

1 s on the end, and don’t ask what the O. is for.

He’s sneaky.  I mean it, really he is.

Who else could send his Mate in as a distraction while he himself herds plot bunnies in the back door?

If you have no idea who or what the hell I’m talking about, check out Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter.

Or you could just sit back and wait for his Private Journals to show up in Sylum starting this Advent.

He’s chatty, at least on paper.

I leave you with this thought:

Abraham:  *shifts uncomfortably*

Henry:  *headtilt*  I like it.

Abraham:  I look old.

Henry:  *grins lecherously* It’s the thousand yard stare and the spread legs and the tension in your shoulders…

Abraham:  *flails* You are not turned on by that?

Henry:  Remember the time I had you in the…?

Abraham: *slaps hand over Mate’s mouth as people stare*  Not now Henry!

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