ofs

Humans Are Weird

So there has been a bit of “what if humans were the weird ones?” going around tumblr at the moment and Earth Day got me thinking. Earth is a wonky place, the axis tilts, the orbit wobbles, and the ground spews molten rock for goodness sakes. What if what makes humans weird is just our capacity to survive? What if all the other life bearing planets are these mild, Mediterranean climates with no seasons, no tectonic plates, and no intense weather? 

What if several species (including humans) land on a world and the humans are all “SCORE! Earth like world! Let’s get exploring before we get out competed!” And the planet starts offing the other aliens right and left, electric storms, hypothermia, tornadoes and the humans are just … there… counting seconds between flashes, having snowball fights, and just surviving. 

TRUST YOUR OBSESSIONS

I remember Alan Moore in the late 1980s telling me about a documentary he’d seen on TV about Jack the ripper. And then, over the course of the next few months, telling me about Jack the Ripper books he’d read. By the point where he was asking me to go and find rare and forgotten biographies of possible Ripper suspects at the British Museum, I though it quite possible that a Jack the Ripper comic would be in the offing. From Hell didn’t start with Alan going, “I wonder what I’ll write about today.” It started as an obsession. 

Trust your obsessions. This is one I learned more or less accidentally. People sometimes ask whether the research or the idea for the story comes first for me. And I tell them, normally the first thing that turns up is the obsession: for example, all of a sudden I notice that I’m reading nothing but English 17th century metaphysical verse. And I know it’ll show up somewhere—whether I’ll name a character after one of those poets, or use that time period, or use the poetry, I have no idea. But I know one day it’ll be there waiting for me.

You don’t always use your obsessions. Sometimes you stick them onto the compost heap in the back of your head, where the rot down, and attach to other things, and get half-forgotten, and will, one day, turn into something completely usable.

Go where your obsessions take you. Write the things you must. Draw the things you must. Your obsessions may not always take you to commercial places, or apparently commercial places. But trust them.

– From @neil-gaiman ’s speech given at the 1997 PRO/con in Oakland

mate, do u ever think about how Iconic River Song was??

  • trashed her husbands ride so bad that the universe exploded
  • lurked around at her parent’s wedding for The Lolz
  • faked being surprised at shit for 100 years??
  • basically threatened 2 let the universe die if the doctor didn’t marry her??
  • one time she and the doctor had a fight that was so bad he went and lived with some otters for a month
  • shoots everything (including hats) and it turns the doctor on
  • poisoned a dude so she could sell him the antidote 
  • probably had sex with cleopatra???
  • went back in time and became her mum’s best friend so she could kill her future husband in the future
  • asked some sontarans if they were on a hens night 
  • jumped offed things such as a building and also the empty vacum of space so the doctor would catch her
  • hung out with her parents and husband and did really crazy shit before they knew who she was
  • made constant jokes about how much sex her and her husband have while she doin said crazy shit 
  • also when they finally knew who she was, she didn’t let up on the inuendos at all
  • hair that expanded like the universe 
  • even tho she constantly breaks out of prison, she always goes back 2 be polite 2 the guards 
  • became an archaeologist to stalk her man and get paid 4 it
  • had sex with the doctor for 24 years straight lmao A Legend 

Okay, look, I get it–everyone wants justice for Barb, everyone’s gaga over Barb and her whopping seven minutes of screen time, she’s cool, whatever, but you know who REALLY deserves justice?

THIS GUY.

Originally posted by iridescentfeyre

Where’s his justice? Where’s his defense squad? He’s the first guy Eleven interacts with, and not only is he a sweetheart, but he genuinely wants to help her, even though she stole from him.

I mean, come on, LOOK AT THIS SMUSHY LITTLE BEAR:

Originally posted by katesqecko

Don’t tell me if the Feds hadn’t offed him that he wouldn’t have adopted Eleven and given her all the fries she wanted and treated her like a princess.

JUSTICE FOR BENNY.

The first day I was a girl was in my backyard with my brother picking up brush to burn in a pile and my dad said I had to put a shirt on that summer even though it was hot and my brother was shirtless and I was six or seven and helping clean up the backyard and it was a wooded lot down a long gravel drive and there was nobody to see it but I was a girl in that heat and always would be.
—  Stevie Edwards, “Girlhood,” published in The Offing

anonymous asked:

Any advice on how to write a heist story something like oceans Eleven?

Well, you can start by watching Ocean’s Eleven, and Ocean’s Eleven, and then Leverage, and then Burn Notice, and then The A-Team, and then Mission: Impossible, and then all the other heist stories like The Italian Job or Heat. Watch, read, uncover as many stories about criminals as you can from fiction to nonfiction to reading security analyst blogs. Read the spy memoirs, the thief memoirs, the fake ones and the real ones. Check out magicians, hypnotists, card tricks, and sleight of hand. Watch the making ofs and director’s commentaries looking for clues behind the thought process of these stories. The hows and the whys as you look into the research they did. Burn Notice, for example, is famous for using stunt props and technological rigs that work in real life. Like using cell phones to create cheap bugs on the go.

The worlds of criminal fiction and spy fiction rely on being able to present (or convincingly fake) a world which feels real. A heist is all about exploitation. So, you need a world with security structures to exploit. You’ve got to know how things work before you can craft a way to break them. Social engineering, hacking, and every other criminal skill is about breaking the systems in place. So, you’ve got to get a baseline for how law enforcement and security analysts work. What security systems are set up to look like. The ways we go about discouraging thieves. Better yet how people behave. Real, honest to god human behavior.

So, you know, pick somewhere in order to start your research. Get an idea of what you want write about stealing, then learn everything about the object, the museum, the city, the country, and its customs as you can.

If you’re setting a heist in a futuristic or fantasy setting then luck you, you get to make all of it up.

Learning the plot structure and conventions of the heist genre is the first step. This means watching lots and lots of heist movies, shows, and reading books. Over time, as you become better at critical analysis, you’ll begin to see specific story structures and character archetypes emerge.

The Heist Story is a genre. Like every other genre, it comes with its own structure, cliches, archetypes, plots, and genre conventions which necessitate the narrative. The better grasp you have of those, the better you’ll be at writing a heist.

For example, a heist story like Ocean’s Eleven relies on a collection of thieves rather than a single individual. The character types are as follows:

The Pointman - Your planner, strategist, team leader, and the Jack of All Trades. Can also be called the Mastermind. They’re the one who can take the place of anyone on the team should they fall through. They’re not as good as a specialist, but they’re very flexible. Narratively, he plans the cons and subs in where he’s needed.

The Faceman - Your experienced Grifter, here for all your social engineering needs. These guys talk their way in.

The Infiltrator - Your cat burglar or break-in artist. Basically, the conventional genre thief. Your Parker, Catwoman, Sam Fisher, or Solid Snake. The stealth bastards, they’re all about silent in, out, and playing acrobatic games with the lasers.

The Hacker - The electronics and demolitions specialist. Usually this is the guy in the van overseeing stuff remotely. Your Eye in the Sky. Their skill set can be split up and swapped around as necessary.

The Muscle - The one who is good at fighting. They’re combat focused characters, usually with mercenary and special forces backgrounds. Though, that’s optional.

The Wheelman - The one who handles the getaway. They’re your often overlooked transport specialists. It’s not just that they can drive, they’re skilled at getting lots of people around, figuring out how to move your valuables, and exiting hostile cities or countries undetected. They get the team in and they get them out.

For an example of these archetypes, I’m going to use Leverage. Nathan Ford, The Pointman (technically, he’s written like a Faceman). Sophie Devereaux , The Faceman. Parker, the Infiltrator. Hardison, the Hacker. Eliot, the Muscle. They all take turns being the Wheelman.

Other examples like Burn Notice: Michael Westen, the Pointman. Sam Axe, the Faceman. Fiona, the Muscle. They all take turns with explosives, Michael will invariably take all the roles during the course of the show.

Ocean’s Eleven has multiple variants of these archetypes, all broken down and mixed up.

You can mix and match these qualities into different individuals or break them apart like in Ocean’s Eleven, and more than one character can fill more than one role, but that’s the basic breakdown. For example, your hacker doesn’t need to be a guy in a van overlooking the whole security grid. One guy or girl with a cell phone can sit in the lobby of a building with an unsecured wireless network and crack the security. Welcome to the 21st century. The skills don’t necessarily need to take the specific expected shape.

What you do need is the basic breakdown:  You need someone to plan the con, you need someone to be your face or grifter, you need someone to break in, you need someone to watch the security/electronics, you need muscle to back you up, and someone’s got to cover the getaway.

These shift depending on your plan, but this is the expected lineup for a heist narrative. The first step of a heist narrative is not the plan because we don’t have one yet. We’ve got an idea. Pick your target. Maybe it’s a famous painting. Maybe it’s a casino. Maybe it’s a rare artifact from a private investor’s collection loaned to a museum for a short period of time. Maybe it’s art stolen by the Nazis during WWII. Whatever it is, figure it out.

The next step is simple. If you want the thing, you’ve got to find a way to get it. This is a big job, your standard thief won’t be able to pull it off alone. So, you gotta go recruiting. Get your team together. Make sure to establish the goals of the different members for joining. Who they are. Their pedigree. One might be an old flame or an old enemy. This is where we lay out some character driven subplots.

When everyone’s together, we’ve got to lay out the plan. Before we have a plan though, we need to establish where the object is and the issues in getting it. Why this has never been done before. So, what are the challenges? Invariably, an object worth a great deal of money will have a lot of security protecting it. Figure out what that security is, who the item belongs to, what sort of retribution do the thieves face beyond what they might expect. Lasers, pressure plates, cameras, security, other career criminals, mob bosses, the rich and powerful, whatever.

After that: How do you get it? Then you’ve got to plan the con, while taking everything into account.

Then, We prep the Con. There will be steps to take before the con can be put into place, your characters taking their positions in plain sight. Stealing whatever pieces you need to make it work. Casing the joint. Etc.

Then: Run the Con. This is the part with the actual stealing. Better known as the first attempt. Things go well, there may be a few mistakes, but things are going well and then we…

Encounter Resistance. While running the con, something goes wrong, pieces fall apart, the thieves come close to success but the object gets moved and they suddenly need a new plan. New information may pop up, it may be one of your artists was running a con of their own separate from the rest. If there’s a double cross in the works then this may be when and where it lands.

We’re ready now, so it’s time hit up: Steal the Thing, Round Two. Your characters put their new plan into play and get about thieving the object of their desire.

Lastly: The Get Away. This is the part where your thieves make for the hills with their stolen treasure. This can be short or long depending on the kind of story you’re telling and other double crosses may occur here. It could be the end of the story or the beginning of a new heist.

Heist stories are like mystery novels. They’re all about sleight of hand and misdirection. You’ve got to keep just enough information on the table to keep your audience on the hook, and just enough information off the table to surprise them later on the twist. Yet, when they go back to re-read the novel again, they’ll find the answer was there all along. They just didn’t see it coming.

If anything, learning how to write a well-done heist or a mystery or any kind of novel in this genre will teach you a lot about how to manage your foreshadowing and create superb plot twists. Like any good con, you need to lay out all the conflicting pieces where people can see them, let them draw their own conclusions, withhold the critical context, and then hit them with the whammy.

Like lots of audiences, new writers (and even some old ones) can get distracted by the shock and awe. They see they’re impressed by the conclusion, not the lay-up. If you want to write any kind of fiction, you need to learn to see past the curtain and pay attention to the critical pieces leading into an important moment rather than the moment itself.

Good writing isn’t modular, you can’t just strip out pieces and run with them because you’ll end up missing the crucial, sometimes innocuous pieces that ensured the scene worked. Like the Victorian Hand Touch, every moment between the two leads and most of their scenes with secondary players are working for that singular instance of eventual, gleeful catharsis.

If you’ve got a plot twist coming in your novel, every sentence from the second you start writing is working towards it. You start laying out your pieces, funneling in your tricks, and playing with misdirection. You may have multiple twists, to cover yourself, divert your audience, congratulate them for successfully guessing your ploy, and reassure their initial suspicions before catching them again on the upswing.

The clever writer is as much a con artist as their characters. The only difference is the target of their con is their audience. The tricks in their bag are narrative ones, and they work with the understanding that it doesn’t matter if someone guesses the end so long as they’re entertained by the journey. A great story stays entertaining long after the audience has figured out all the twists.

So, don’t get caught up in Red Herrings and frightened about not being able to outsmart other people. Tell a good story with conviction and heart about a bunch of crooks out to steal their heart’s desire.

That’s all there is to it.

-Michi

This blog is supported through Patreon. If you enjoy our content, please consider becoming a Patron. Every contribution helps keep us online, and writing. If you already are a Patron, thank you.

GUITAR SONGBOOKS

I’ve managed to collect a ton of official guitar songbook PDFs for various albums which are totally accurate and verified. I thought I’d make a masterpost for anyone who would like to use them! These links should send you to Google Drive and you can download them from there.

AC/DC - The Best Of

Alice In Chains - Dirt

Alice In Chains - Facelift

Arctic Monkeys - AM

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Audioslave - Audioslave

Blink-182 - Blink-182

Blink-182 - Enema Of The State

Blink-182 - Take Off Your Pants And Jacket

Bon Jovi - Crossroad

Bush - Sixteen Stone

Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head (Piano)

Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto (Piano)

Coldplay - Viva La Vida (Piano)

Coldplay - X & Y (Piano)

The Cranberries - The Best Of

David Bowie - The Best Of (Piano)

Def Leppard - The Best Of

Ed Sheeran - + (Piano)

Ed Sheeran - X

Eric Clapton - The Best Of

Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux

Fall Out Boy - From Under The Cork Tree

Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High

Florence And The Machine - Ceremonials (Piano)

Foo Fighters - The Best Of

Foo Fighters - The Colour And The Shape

Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown

Green Day - American Idiot

Green Day - Dookie

Green Day - Nimrod

Guns N’ Roses - Appetite For Destruction

Guns N’ Roses - Use Your Illusion I

Guns N’ Roses - Use Your Illusion II

Incubus - Make Yourself

Incubus - Morning View

Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night

Led Zeppelin - IV

Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory

Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight

Metallica - Load

Metallica - Master Of Puppets

Metallica - Metallica 

Metallica - Ride The Lightning

Metallica - St. Anger

Muse - Absolution (Piano)

Muse - Black Holes And Revelations

Muse - Origin Of Symmetry (Piano)

Muse - The Resistance

Muse - The 2nd Law (Piano)

Muse - Showbiz

Nirvana - In Utero

Nirvana - Incesticide

Nirvana - Nevermind

Nirvana - Unplugged In New York

Oasis - Be Here Now

Oasis - Definitely Maybe

Oasis - (What’s The Story) Morning Glory

Panic! At The Disco - A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out

Paramore - Paramore (Piano)

Paramore - Riot!

Pearl Jam - Ten

Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon

Pink Floyd - The Wall

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

Queen - The Best Of

R.E.M. - Out Of Time

R.E.M. - The Best Of

Radiohead - Amnesiac (Piano)

Radiohead - The Bends

Radiohead - Hail To The Thief

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Radiohead - Kid A (Piano)

Radiohead - OK Computer

Radiohead - Pablo Honey 

Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine - The Battle Of Los Angeles

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I’m With You

Red Hot Chili Peppers - One Hot Minute

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium

The Rolling Stones - The Best Of

Silverchair - Frogstomp

The Strokes - Is This It

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

Soundgarden - Superunknown

Van Halen - The Best Of

The White Stripes - Elephant

3 Doors Down - The Better Life

Our first kiss wasn’t behind the high school. Not in the movie theater’s back row. Not after the first breakdown. It went like this: Me, released from the hospitaljail with a fresh prescription, one bag packed, staying at a friend’s house, with no exit plan or exist plan. Walking the length of a concrete road, I turned & asked: Has it been cloudy for days — ­ & the sun just came out? She said: No, Shira. It’s been sunny all week. So then. It was your sudden mouth. Your broom that swept the sky of its minor chord. There’s no metaphor here. When I looked up, I saw the sun

Shira Erlichman, “Ode to Lithium #9,″ published in The Offing

  • DC: hey this is Jason. He was the second Robin and he was super angsty and disobedient and died for not following orders. He totally deserved it. He's alive now tho...
  • Me: *finds old comics with young Jason saying being Robin made him magic, Bruce giving him a piggy back ride, Jason being excited about a field trip to a museum, disobeying the least of any of the Robin's-except maybe Duke- saving his mom's live instead of his own...* Ding dong you are wrong

US Army Staff Sergeant Mark R. De Alencar. 8 APR 2017.

Died in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. De Alencar was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), out of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.