» My church is doing a series on art and Christianity and they asked me to be a part of it, which I am honored to be doing*. I’ll have a short story (not flash fiction) to be included in a nicely-designed short story book for sale in the near future. I don’t know the subject matter of the other stories but mine will be Biblical fiction. Please be aware that it will not an “inspirational” story**, as I don’t do drive-by evangelism and neither does Discovery.
» I just finished helping Mike Duran format his e-novella, Winterland, for Smashwords and eventual release to other online retailers. I haven’t read it but I plan to.
» After some unmerciful yet partly misinformed reviews of Bored in the Breakroom I got some actual, thoughtful critiques from a few people who have no real interest in pleasing me. I also do not like drive-by reviews by cranky Twilight jockeys.
» At some point (as in, since I last checked a while ago) the max size for a Google Doc doc (heh) increased from stupidly-small kilobytes to a-million-or-so-characters kilobytes. What this means is that you can use it to work on that novel for that National Novel Month Thing That I Will Not Name Directly. I only want to deal with the unwieldly hellhammer of Microsoft Word at the last possible excruciating second so I will drink some vodka with a sour face to this news.
» Most important of all, my friends in Life In Your Way have made their latest release, Kingdoms, available for free download. I understand that some of the people reading this find metal and hardcore distasteful, though I hope you all hold no issue with Christians making this kind of music. To that end, please take a read at the album lyrics here. It’s a concept album (actually, a set of 3 EPs) so there’s a definite theme and I think they pulled it off very well.
*Ever notice how some people—usually actors or other celebritity-types—claim to be “humbled” when the opportunity for self-promotion or a recognition event arises? Getting your ego massaged in this way is approaching the opposite of humility; it’s not complimentary to it at all. Being passed over and not being the center of mass attention is humiliating. Let’s stop abusing the word.
**I don’t have anything truly against inspirational art. It just so happens that the ones I’ve come across aren’t for art, it’s for the message. It would be better off as straight evangelism. My question is: why can’t they both be equal?
I saw this video over a month ago via Bill’s site. Movie cliches are more noticeable because of their easy access and immediacy. Literary cliches, not so much, but they definitely exist and they can be just as horrid. Consider the meta-cliche, “It was a dark and stormy night.” A night was dark, you say?
And a few weeks ago Hot Space Station Justice clocked in at #3 with what to do with cliches in your story: delete them with extreme prejudice. On the micro, sentence-level this can be tough on your uppity yet frail writer’s ego because cliches can fit into sentences nicely and we think we’ve come up with something good. The facepalmity increases when you get to cliched character concepts. Hard-boiled government agent? Sexually-liberated foreign exchange student? Mustache-twirling villain? Delete it!
I don’t read a whole lot of genre fiction, and genres by nature have conventions that can become unreadable cliches if writers aren’t careful. At the risk of adopting the “open-ended question at the end of the blog post” maneuver, what are some of the worst offenders in the cliche category for your favorite genres? I mean besides the obvious hunky romance novel protagonist. Something deeper (if cliches can be deeper), less obvious, a more insidious violation. Go!
I did think it’s a little off center given my religious belief system to be posting words to a magic spell, though they only exist in the minds of a show’s/book’s writer(s). It wouldn’t matter, though, to some religious people. The fact that the magic in Bleach is not anything like what the Bible describes as magic would not deter criticism from that camp. Bleach’s magic is a string of spoken words that cause something to actually, really, truly, observationally happen in the physical/superphysical Bleach universe (explosions, points of light, wounds being healed, voiceover artists getting a steady paycheck, etc.). It’s simple, quantifiable cause and effect, like pouring gas to make an engine run, not a plea for phantoms to show favor. No religious belief is needed.
The magic in Bleach also doesn’t have anything to do with God/Jesus/the devil or Christianized versions of fantasy worlds from the approved list of Christian authors (Lewis, Tolkein, Peretti, et al.). This is another point of contention for people who want to look for points of contention.
Here’s the story background. Feel free to skip down to the actual incantations—I put four of them—or if you’re feeling especially languid simply hit the video at the end for a quick visual fix:
Bleach is about a teenager, Ichigo Kurosaki, who becomes a shinigami/Soul Reaper—basically what we know as the Grim Reaper—and his workings between the world of the living and the world of the dead. He works alongside other Soul Reapers from the Soul Society, a group of spiritual beings that protect the world of the living from souls held back in the physical world and gone sour (Hollows), escort souls to the world of the dead, and maintain the balance between the two worlds. The Soul Society, stuck in feudal fashions and carrying huge, unique swords, practice a form of magic called Kidō in which their “Spiritual Pressure” is channeled, using words, to do magic-y looking things.
Here they are. Be sure to cross yourself and douse your monitor or iPhone in holy water after you read each one.
Senjū Kōten Taihō (Thousand-Hand Bright Heaven Culling-Sear):
Limit of the thousands hands, respectful hands, unable to touch the darkness. Shooting hands unable to reflect the blue sky. The road that basks in light, the wind that ignited the embers, time that gathers when both are together, there is no need to be hesitant, obey my orders. Light bullets, eight bodies, nine items, book of heaven, diseased treasure, great wheel, grey fortress tower. Aim far away, scatter brightly and cleanly when fired.
Kurohitsugi (Black Coffin):
Seeping crest of turbidity. Arrogant vessel of lunacy! Boil forth and deny! Grow numb and flicker! Disrupt sleep! Crawling queen of iron! Eternally self-destructing doll of mud! Unite! Repulse! Fill with soil and know your own powerlessness!
Sōren Sōkatsui (Twin Lotus Blue Fire, Crash Down):
Ye lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! On the wall of blue flame, inscribe a twin lotus. In the abyss of conflagration, wait at the far heavens.
Raikōhō (Thunder Roar Sear):
Sprinkled on the bones of the beast! Sharp tower, red crystal, steel ring. Move and become the wind, stop and become the calm. The sound of warring spears fills the empty castle!