Apparently my not offering critiques on various and sundry popular offerings makes me less of a sci-fi writer. I can live with that. I’ll be honest here, there are many entertainments spewed forth that I simply don’t like. Millions of other people do. These things make stupid amounts of money. And I think that’s great. I want everyone to succeed. It’s not pie, there’s something for everyone. But there is no part of my saying “Sorry, I don’t like this” that’s going to help anyone in any way. I understand that social media has allowed everyone to have access to a megaphone without any filters attached. That can not, and should not, mean everyone has to use it. Otherwise the resulting cacophony blurs into meaningless background noise. Which, as I type this, seems to be where we’re at. No matter how I look at things I can see no positives if I add my voice. So, I stick to what I know and hope everyone has fun watching whatever they watch.
Back in the day when I was first hired to write a script for SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY I was given the kind of free reign authors can only dream of. The only rule was that Splice had to be high tech super villain. After that I was on my own and I had a blast. I sat with my thoughts and started figuring out how to introduce him to the world. Originally I wrote an action scene, you know the kind – car chases, guns, well dressed Olympians uttering pithy one liners at just the right time. As trite as that sounds, and it was trite, it read well and was propulsive. But it didn’t get me anywhere. Short of innumerable flashbacks there was no way to tell any sort of story. So, I tossed that into the hopper and rethought my plan. I think I tried four or five alternate beginnings before I hit on the one I used. I decided to tell Splice’s story from the beginning. Him as a ten year old boy, abused and beaten, tossed to the side of the road (literally), and forced to make a life for himself or die trying.
Over the next few months it all came together. Some characters I wanted to add did nothing to advance the action so I left them in a folder for later. I ended up using a couple of them in the novel later, but the script was becoming a well honed entity all on its own and I didn’t want anything to hamper that. The final script left beta readers breathless. Many commented on how the ending made them gasp out loud. In once case causing them to scare the family pet.
When this gets made, and thanks COVID for seriously screwing up our time-lines, the production team, once assembled, may have to make some changes in locales to bring this in at budget. But the story is there and I’m convinced it will survive any minor alterations like that. God knows the resulting book caught people by surprise. It was voted The Best Sci-Fi Novel of 2020 by the Critters Readers Poll and followed that up with a highly laudatory review from Kirkus Reviews, which is the industry standard when it comes to what distributors and libraries will, or will not, purchase.
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On the other hand, The Brittle Riders has been a completely different experience. First, and this seems important, it was never meant to be a film. Oh, sure, I’d joke with other writers about my dreams of Spielberg helming the director’s chair and, at least, one Kardashian doing a gratuitous nude scene, but that was about as serious as things got. Then, one day, I was chatting with a nice human who makes films and they said nice things about The Brittle Riders and went so far as to claim it could make a quality movie or streaming show. So, in 2022, with their help, I enlisted a few film professionals to read the Omnibus. In return they agreed to grade it on a lengthy set of criteria with the understanding that anything above a 60% would be considered a good score. As you can see by the screen shot below, they gave it a 97.92%.
That’s more than 60% never mind what form of math you use to measure results. And now some very important people are saying nice things about it and meaning them.
That has led me deep into a world I know little about. While there are similarities from my experiences in the music industry, I find myself relying on advice from professionals who have taken pity on me and keep me from doing anything egregiously stupid.
While there are no guarantees that any of this stuff will ever grace a silver screen or two, I do know now my writing has value. Like many writers, that was something I doubted. I’ll never be the jerk who starts every conversation with “Do you know who I am?” but it does take some weight off my shoulders. And, I find myself writing more often and feeling better about the results. Oh, yeah, there are days I cough up a smelly hairball or twelve instead of a story, but that happens to all writers. And those days are fewer now.
Until next week, light some sage, toss a prayer my way, wish me luck, or just buy me a drink. Everything’s appreciated.
Take care and stay safe.