Monday, May 16, 2022

Why I’m a Pantser by author Randy C. Dockens

 


Authors, I think, come in three main flavors: plotters, pantsers, and those in the middle. Let’s discuss these briefly and I’ll tell you why I’m a pantser.

I must admit, I really admire plotters. They seem to have their act together. Everything down to the smallest detail is plotted out in advance before they even put pen to paper. The way a character looks, acts, and develops is planned—including their background, pet peeves, and character arcs. Every plot and subplot are diagrammed to show how all is intertwined. It seems the only thing lacking is the need to develop dialogue to tie all these pieces together. I know there is really more to it than that, but it does seem to be somewhat like following a formula. While this is extremely valuable, one does need to be cautious to be sure the plotting does not turn into a procrastination strategy rather than a writing strategy. One can feel good about themselves because they are “planning,” but this is deceptive. If you never get to the writing phase, then you are just procrastinating and not planning.

This hit home even further for me when I met Amy Deardon at a writer’s conference one year. She explained that she found all books and movies follow a certain story arc formula. In her presentation, she gave several examples. I was both floored and impressed at the same time. She even wrote a book about her findings: The Story Template. I, of course, bought the book. This was going to be my lifesaver. Yet, while totally intriguing, I found it very tedious to follow to the degree she outlined. I know this was likely a lifesaver for many, yet it was not for me. Now, the premise behind the information was indeed useful, but, for me, the detailed process became too laborious and tedious to follow.

Being a pantser is not without plotting all together. I think knowing the overarching ideas that Amy writes about is helpful in developing an overarching plan for a story. For me, it is much more fun to just start writing and then see where the story goes. This immerses me in the story as I begin to write from within the story rather than writing above the story. I place myself in the character’s shoes at that point in time and see how I would act or respond and then let the story develop organically in both content and flow. This allows me to let the story morph as new ideas come to me. I feel I can change direction on the fly better than when I had plotted a scene. These new ideas threw off my downstream planning, causing me to constantly keep changing my plan and the direction it was to head. So, eventually, I gave up on the detailed plotting and accepted the fact I was a pantser.

There are those who are in the middle of these two techniques. To be honest, I think most are in this third category to at least some extent. I once read that J. K. Rowling defined her style of writing to be somewhat between being a plotter and a pantser. When I read that, I became more comfortable with my style as I felt I was in good company. This becomes a broad category because some plot more than others and some write by the seat of their pants more than they plot. Yet, some degree of plotting is needed because I think an author must at least know where they are starting and how they plan to end. Otherwise, one’s story turns into a saga rather than a novel.

So, as you can see, there is no right or wrong methodology for being an author. One should do what works best for them. After all, it is about one being able to stimulate their creative ideas and engage their readers in a story. If both creativity and engagement are achieved, then I think one can say they have been successful. Embrace your style and let it guide you into fabulous stories that are riveting and engaging for your readers. I wish everyone a happy writing experience – no matter your style.

About the Author


Dr. Randy C. Dockens
has a fascination with science and with the Bible, holds Ph.D. degrees in both areas, and is a man not only of faith and science, but also of creativity. He believes that faith and science go hand in hand without being enemies. He has written several books that span dystopia, end-time prophecy, science fiction, and uniquely told Bible stories. His books, while fun to read, are futuristic, filled with science to give them an authentic feel, have a science fiction slant, and allow one to learn some aspect of Biblical truth one may not have thought about before. This is all done in a fast-paced action format that is both entertaining and provides a fun read to his readers. Randy’s latest books are in the Christian science fiction series, ERABON PROPHECY TRILOGY.

Friday, May 13, 2022

TV Series review: Dalgleish


Dalgleish. Just the name sums up our titular hero, Detective Chief Inspector Adam Dalgleish. He is also a published poet and recently lost his family, giving him empathy and insight into the human condition, especially that of suffering and despair. The six-part (with hopefully more to come) series is based on three Adam Dalgleish novels by the acclaimed crime writer PD James. This series covers Shroud for a Nightingale, The Black Tower, and A Taste for Death.  I won’t say any more about the novels because I don’t want to spoil it for readers new to PD James, plus established fans are no doubt very familiar with the novels.

Bertie Carvel is an actor I have never seen before, and I am surprised! He has a slew of acting credits to his name and makes me want to find other productions he has featured in. He is Dalgleish, as David Suchet is Hercule Poirot. Tall, handsome, erudite, courteous (as opposed to merely charming), and elegant, Carvel epitomises Dalgleish. His complete polar opposite is DS Charles Masterson, played by Jeremy Irvine. This character is everything a woman is NOT looking for in a man. He is suave in a cheap cologne way, treats women like second class citizens, and generally is not very likeable. He opens his mouth to change feet. Viewers will hope he falls into a deep hole and is never rescued. However, his fatal flaws make Dalgleish’s virtues shine ever brighter. Supporting cast performers are excellent with some familiar faces.

The cinematography, sets, costumes, and everything that goes into a period piece are excellent. The mid-1970s is perfectly captured, down to the ‘look’ of the era, with that slightly grainy, washed-out colour palette. Hard to explain, but once you watch, you’ll see. Since the stories start in the 70s, snowflakes beware: this is when social issues/social justice/women’s rights/attitudes to women were not what they are now. If this kind of thing offends you, don’t bother watching. For viewers who accept that history is what it is, you’ll enjoy the whole package – plot, acting, performance, photography, and settings.

I am familiar with the Dalglish novels, and, to my great relief, the script writers cut out much of the meanderings and unnecessary distractions of the novels. I find that PD James erred on the side of over-loquaciousness in many of the later novels with deep and thoughtful digressions into the mind set of characters that did not really fit into the murder mystery genre. That’s just my opinion. Many readers may feel otherwise. However, as a viewing package, Dalgleish the series is just superb! Don’t miss it.

 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Book Spotlight: Cyber Fighter by William Joseph Hill


William Joseph Hill’s book CYBER FIGHTER, with its big screen adaptation underway, is a sci-fi/martial arts/action-adventure story that will engage readers in this action-packed “page turner.”

Said the author Mr. Hill, “I’m hoping that my CYBER FIGHTER readers have fun with the story and have a few good laughs, along with being thrilled by the action sequences I have in the story. I’d also like them to think about the scientific possibilities that the story explores. As we spend more and more of our lives online, the idea that you could learn skills via Virtual Reality is becoming less science fiction and closer to actuality.”

Cyber Fighter is the story of a clumsy temp Brian Baldwin who takes a job at defense contractor Kirkman Enterprises, where he volunteers to test their latest software program on himself by getting black belt fighting skills downloaded directly to his brain via a Virtual Reality immersive experience, turning him into a human weapon. When Brian discovers that the eccentric main programmer Humbert Cloogey has sold him off to the Army for induction, he makes his escape, assisted by his only ally Dr. Kate Rand, a neuroscientist who works for the company, but who has some secrets herself.

Simultaneously as Brian is undergoing the experiment, a Triad crime boss and part-time cloning engineer Lau Xiaoming, operating out of North Korea, hacks into the US server hosting the software, planting a Trojan program into Brian’s brain that holds the secret to “Project Starfish”, his plan for world domination. Brian finds himself pursued by not only the U.S. Army, and FBI, but also by Xiaoming and his minions, all looking to grab him for their own exploits.

The core of my story is Brian’s journey, going from a middle-aged man who gave up on his dreams, to suddenly finding himself empowered with skills he never thought he’d ever achieve. Almost overnight he acquires a superhero status. But he discovers that he apparently hasn’t achieved any more control over his life than before. In fact, his life seems pretty much out of control now. 

Plans for a CYBER FIGHTER feature length movie from William Hill lie ahead. He said, “I am also developing CYBER FIGHTER into a feature film. Part of that process includes doing a short film version for a proof-of-concept for my vision of the full feature. I am hoping to produce and shoot the short film this summer and have it go to festivals. I also did a comic book adaptation of that short film version that is also for sale on Amazon. Learn more at this link: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08ZL6X6W6


About the Author:
When interviewed, the author tells us his life story:I’ve actually been writing since elementary school.  I always liked writing my own science-fiction stories, though my early work was derivative of TV shows I loved like SPACE: 1999 and the 1970s version of Buck Rogers.  When my family moved to Hawaii (my Dad was a Captain in the U.S. Navy), I started making my own movies first with a Super-8 camera and then our family’s VHS camcorder.  In high school I wrote, directed, and starred in my very first feature Law of the Ninja, with my siblings as co-stars and the neighborhood kids as background actors.

When I came to Hollywood, I not only continued with my acting career, but also used my writing skills to pen some screenplays, a few of which I was hired to write from an indie producer. CYBER FIGHTER was originally intended as a vehicle for my acting career, but gradually developed into a bigger story which my debut novel tells.  It is my very first book that I’ve ever published.

My wife Pamela and I started our own production company Four Scorpio Productions, and we have our own YouTube channel where we began making short films and then developed our own web series sitcom That Darn Girlfriend which is in its third season. It’s a quirky fun parody of classic 1960s/1970s sitcoms, done in that style as well. We’ve built an audience of over 3,500 subscribers. I also share my filmmaking/VFX knowledge with a tutorial series that I produce and host on the channel as well:  https://williamjosephhill.com/  and http://fourscorpio.com/  and  https://www.youtube.com/fourscorpio.