Thursday, May 24, 2012

Writing: My thoughts, My Opinions, My Philosophy

I spend a lot of time talking about political things (I was a poli-sci major, after all), but I don’t want you to feel like that’s what this whole blog is about. It’s not about politics, it’s about life.
So today, we’re going to talk about something that’s been going on in my life: writing. Yes, I’m writing a book. It’s a sci-fi action story about the “hidden” war between good and evil. I want to put things in a slightly different format than the normal “good versus bad” story. I’ll keep you up to date on it, but for now I’ll put a teaser at the end of this post so you can get a “feel” of what it’s about.

Personally, I think writing is entertaining and even relaxing at times. Sometimes, though, it’s just a pain in the neck to keep writing. I guess we all have that problem sometimes.

So what is my writing style? Basically, I try to put the details of the story in as few words as possible. In other words, I’m trying to use as little detail as possible to keep you continually interested and get to the point. 

Why, do I do this? It’s because I hate being long-winded. I also hate it when I’m reading a story that wasted over sixty to a hundred pages explaining every detail, every picture, and every blade of grass…and really has little to do with the story itself. If it’s not important to the story to mention all the animals, trees, the clouds moving at a swift pace, etc, then I really don’t care about reading it.

I’ve read really long books that could have been much shorter if they had practiced a little pithiness. I’m not afraid to be concise in my writing, so I don’t have to worry about omitting useless or unrelated details to my story. 

Does that mean that “fluff” is completely worthless? Of course not, but use it sparingly please! As much as you might love to think your readers want to know every single detail of the world you have created, the truth is they most likely don’t. Be thorough if you must, but don’t weigh people down with too many details.

Also, I try to keep the reader interested by using “cliff-hangers” at the end of chapters, and some form of action and/or suspense throughout each chapter. If a chapter starts to get boring, I need to edit it to make it exciting, or at the very least interesting

When it comes to my audience of readers, I don’t care if they love or hate me, but I never want them to get bored of me! People can hate your stories all day, but as long as you keep them interested, excited, and intrigued, they won’t be able to help but come back to you for more.
I’m the same way myself: I hate it when the plot gets boring. When a story is at a slow point, I’ll speed read and try to skip all the fluff and whatever looks unnecessary until I get back to the interesting stuff. If a book keeps me interested and intrigued, it doesn’t even have to excite me or give me the goosebumps… I’m going to keep reading.

Heck, I’ve read books where I hated where the story was going, and I hated the author for it (the second and third books of “The Hunger Games” series, for instance). But I couldn’t stop reading it, and if the author came out with another book to follow it up, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from reading it. 

So there you have it. My thoughts on writing and reading, laid bare for your enjoyment. ;)

What is your philosophy on reading/writing books? Do you hate “fluff” like I do, or do you soak it in with pleasure? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

Are you a writer? Please feel free to leave some tips!

Now…as promised, here is the teaser:

The Black Mamba is at it again. I know what he’s after—it’s perfectly obvious. The person he has been at odds with for quite some time, who evades all his attempts of destruction,and the one person who has no clue as to what this personal feud is even about: Me.

Helen runs into my room with a terrible look on her face. “I have ears,” I say. “Where are my guns? Did they survive the explosion?” She nods, and runs out of the room. By the time she comes back with them, I have made my way out of the bed, and realize just how bad my situation really is. I can hardly bear the pain of standing up. But I know I have to, so I do it. I walk around a bit to try to loosen up my injured muscles and get somewhat accustomed to the pain.

Who am I kidding? I’m in no shape to be fighting off a siege. This is not going to end well.

“You really shouldn’t be doing this,” says Helen as she hands me the sawn-off shotgun and pistol-belt. “You’re in no condition to—”
I cut her off: “I don’t have a choice, and neither do you. We both know why he came here. He wants me. If you get in his way, you’ll only get yourselves killed.”
“What are you going to do?” she asks?
“That all depends,” I answer, “on how many painkillers you can shoot into me.”

She hurries out of the room, and through the door I can see that everyone in this primitive hospital is in a craze. Patients are being moved, doctors and nurses are scrambling to figure out what is going on, and everyone here is frightened out of their minds. Helen returns and fills me with the strongest stuff she can find (without killing me), and I stretch my muscles once again before heading out. I can hear the bullets pinging off the tin roof. Then I hear a grenade go off, and I haul myself to the next room, which thankfully has a window. I see a man outside poised to toss a grenade into the window, and I blast him with the shotgun out of reflex. A bullet ricochets off the window sill and I fall to the floor. Too close. A few inches closer and I would have a purple heart in the head.

I quickly raise to my knees, take a pot-shot out the window at the next goon with an SKS, and dive out the window into. I can tell I’ve upset some wounds from the blood staining parts of my clothing, but I really don’t have time to worry about that right now. Two more men come charging at me with machine guns. I drop the ground and level the first one with a well placed shot to the torso, but the second one keeps on charging. Lucky for me, he’s not the best shot in the world, so I am able to roll over to the side and take another shot at him, sending him flying back.

Time to reload. I take the extra shells off of the sling, and begin to put them in when my shotgun is yanked out of my hands. I turn around and find myself standing face to face with the biggest person I remember seeing—which might not be saying much. He has a nasty smile on his face, death and hate in his eyes, and from the way he is holding the barrel of the gun, he only has the worst intentions.

He swings the shotgun at me. I try to block most of the blow but it still sends me to ground. I’m really thankful for those painkillers right now. The man charges at me, obviously planning to bash my skull in. I roll away just in time to see the stock end smash into the ground where my head was just a second ago. In that same moment I reach for my .45 revolver and pull it out—only to have it batted away by the giant mercenary. Unarmed, I don’t have a chance. So, I do the only thing I can. I unclip my gun belt, and whip it at my shotgun-club wielding assailant.

He doesn’t even flinch, and most of the few hopes I had left have vanished. This is not good. Only when he pulls the shotgun back for a final, crushing blow do I see my chance. I rush him with all the limited strength I have left, and connect with the blow of the shotgun just as the momentum starts, cutting the majority of the blow’s force. I follow through, and bring my massive assailant to the ground. Now, it’s a simple matter of wrestling and hand to hand combat. I’d rather skip the wrestling part, as this guy just happens to be twice my size. While he’s still a bit dazed from the fall I punch him in the face to disorient him, knee him in the groin to distract, confuse, and obviously injure him, and poke him as hard as I can in the eyes to temporarily blind him. Then I body-slam him to the ground with all the force I can muster.

 No, I think to myself, there’s no point in fighting fair when you’re fighting for your life.

I start to feel like I might just survive when I see two more guys shooting at me. I feel a bullet graze my side, and another nicks my shoulder. I rush to recover my pistol, dive to grab it, roll over while pulling back the hammer, return to a kneeling position and fire at the first gentleman, dropping him instantly. The second guy lobs a grenade at me which I kick away in his direction, and dive away as far as I can before it explodes two seconds later. When I finally get and look around, I don’t see the guys who threw the grenade anymore. But by now I the giant starts to rise back up for revenge, so I put him back to sleep with a bullet in his head.

How I’m able to fight like this is still a mystery to me, but I don’t have any time to worry about that now. I just have to stay in my groove and keep the bullets flying. I search the bodies for ammo, replace my .45 revolver for an 1911 automatic, and pick up a decent-looking AUG Austrian assault rifle. I have to kill everyone, if this hospital is going to be safe. I at least have to hold them off until they can make an escape.

By know, I’m sure the doctors have started to make a run for it. I walk along the side of the old building, and I hear footsteps. There are still some people hanging around. I make a quick turn around the corner and level the first guy I see with the AUG. I take his machete, and try to find the last few people that must be hanging around somewhere. When I take a bullet in the forearm, I know they are close by. Even being flooded with the painkillers, I can still feel the intense burn of the bullet wound. I rush to come cover, quickly rip off a piece of my shirt, stuff the wound, and wrap it up as best I can. I can always look at the damage later. First I have to take out whoever just shot me.

I creep around the bushes, but I don’t see anyone. I begin to think that whoever it was must have ran off when I feel something very hard and very heavy smash into the back of my head. I can barely keep my consciousness. Everything is spinning around violently. I try to crawl away, but a heavy foot steps hard on me and keeps me down. Then the foot moves down to my side, hooks under my waist, and flips me over. Everything is still very dizzy, but I can barely make out a face. It’s a face I was hoping I wouldn’t have to see again.

“I told you before,” said the man known as The Black Mamba, “You are only killing yourself.”

Then I see the rifle stock speeding toward my face. Then everything goes black.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why Blogging is Hard!

Let’s face it, blogging might be fun (and it is), but sometimes it just isn’t what we want to do at the moment. It’s much easier to put it off, and the procrastinator in all of us loves that little fact.
We put off punching out a new post…and continue to put it off. Before you know it, it’s been two months since you’ve posted anything! Trust me, I know.

So what do you do about it? Do you just force yourself to write more? Do you try to write every day until it becomes a habit? Or is the situation utterly hopeless?

Well, here’s the thing: it all depends.

Do you want to write every day? Or would you rather write twice a week, once a week, or twice a month? It’s all up to you! But whatever you do, make sure you stick with it (or at least appear as if you are sticking with it, which we’ll talk about next).

What if you come across a whole month where you don’t have the time or desire to post on your blog? What if you want to take a short (or long) break from your blog? How do you keep your blog alive during these sabbaticals? 

It’s quite easy, actually: schedule your posts ahead of time. 

Whenever you get into one of your crazy writing moods, go ahead and type out as many posts as can until you run dry. You can either save these posts for a rainy day (and schedule them later), or you can just go ahead and schedule them now. Keep track of your posting line up, and add your other posts to follow them in line.

This is going to save you time, as well as stress (you should always try to save stress for a rainy day, if you know what I mean). Instead of having to worry about posting on a particular day, you have nothing to worry about, because it’s already taken care of.

 For instance, this very post you are reading right now was scheduled to be posted two days after I submitted it to my blog. While this post was waiting to be posted, I was able to easily type out another one to go out 2-3 days later. See how easy it is? :)

Blogging is hard, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it!

Have you found scheduling posts to be helpful? Are you going to try and see if it works for you? Leave a comment and let me know! And if this post was helpful, please share it!

Until Next Time,

-El Pensador

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Thoughts on Entrepreneurship

Do you want to build a business empire? Or do you just want to start your own business and let your creative juices flow?

If so, then GOOD for you! Entrepreneurs are what make America awesome. So what if people think that big businesses are evil (and from the Devil himself)? So what if people think you’re just a capitalist pig? Follow your dream, and make your country proud!

Is there anything WRONG with capitalism? Can there be problems with “Big Business?” Sure, if they get too big for their britches. Capitalism follows the pattern of “rational self-interest,” so it has to be tempered with reason and responsibility. That’s probably the biggest problem with capitalism: people just don’t know how to be rational sometimes.

And what IS rational? It’s rather subjective, don’t you think?
Here’s the deal…you have to be careful not to let your self-interest get the best of you. How do you do that? STOP FOCUSING ON YOURSELF! :)

 Try to see ways you can improve the world around you: your employees, your work area, your customers, etc. Try to develop a responsible, principled mindset. 

Here’s the main point: don’t let your self interest get in the way of your success! Sure, you need to make money, and sure you need to establish a profitable business…but don’t do it at the risk of losing your reputation.

Ask yourself these questions:
“What would I want my employees, my customers, my partners, and the public to say about me and my business at my funeral? Did I add value to their lives? Did I satisfy a need in their lives? Did I improve myself along with my business? What legacy did I leave behind?”

Now you can decide how you want those questions to be answered, and you can implement a plan to give your business (and yourself) a lasting legacy.