Ninja Authors are awesome

You may be asking yourself, what is a ninja author? Is it someone who sneaks up to your notebook and scribbles a novel in a span of a second? Is it a poet that steps up beside you on the corner and romances you with an ode to your umbrella? Or is it an author dressed all in black and uses ninja rolls as their major form of transportation?

I suppose these all work as a definition, but not the one I’m intending. Although, I admit, I’d totally be up for being the last one.

In my theory, a ninja author is one that lets things sneak up on you.

Allow me to use a few examples to explain. AHEM.

The Forever War

It’s a book I just read that is AWESOME and sci-fi. It’s not terribly technological, which made me happy. It is a summer read, after all, so I wasn’t looking to exercise my brain. However, after looking more closely, I realized it was kind of tech heavy, but that wasn’t the focus. The author just had these things evolve in the background, making a fuller, brighter picture without me knowing.

Allow me to explain…

So this book is about space travel. They go through worm holes, which cause a lot of pressure, and over the span of the book they get better and better at surviving these voyages. Of course, the narrator doesn’t blatantly go “now as I go through this wormhole, the technology has thankfully advanced so that…”

No, the author just kind of lets things happen matter of factedly. The first wormhole jump, there is little tech to help, so there is a lot of injury to the crew. The second we see, they enter these pods to help, but it’s still primitive–sensitive to buckling or slight movement of the inhabitant. Then it evolves to tanks, which are much better.

But the author never blatantly explains these devices. Through use by the narrator they’re explained, but never outright. So really, the author just kind of ninjas these awesome ideas–super complex tech things–and you’re picking them up without realizing it. Pretty sweet.

And the other kind of ninja author is the one that plants little things that mean a lot 100 pages later. These authors I want to ask them their secrets because, for me, I can hardly remember what I wrote five pages ago, let alone one hundred.

The only example  of this sort of ninja’ing I can cite is Homestuck, which is not a book, so I will not cite it.

(I also am not too proud I read it, but it’s addicting. shh.)

So Ninja Authors are awesome and we can all do well to learn from their wisdom. Ninja some awesome things into your works–be subtle, my young grasshopper.

Fourth Walls and Second Person

Alt Title: how to make Erin cry while reading your works

You’re reading the blog post titled “Fourth Walls and Second Person”. It takes you a minute to process it, to distill it down to something manageable–you click the title in your reader to see it better. And. Yes. Now you can see it and read it and…

What’s second person? You understand Fourth Wall well enough, or at least Urban Dictionary does and explains it with minimal sarcasm, but this second person? Is someone watching you?

You look over your shoulder and I just have to say that’s a little silly. We all know second person is the nonexistent tense–or so English teachers have you believe–where “you” are the perspective from which the story is written. No one is watching you.

Do you understand?

You suppose you do. You continue reading.

Did you like that introduction? That was my sad attempt at integrating the title in a cunning and interesting fashion into the post. I hope it worked.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about fourth walls and second person lately. Mostly it comes from reading fanfiction and having my heart torn out over and over again. Sure I get a little teary-eyed from time to time, but the last few I had read really made me consider boycotting fanfiction for life (or at least until the weekend).

Then I realized why I was losing my head over these stories. While they were well-written, there was something that dug so much deeper than what I was used to. There was something that just skipped all the callous layers of jaded sarcasm I tend to cocoon myself in. The stories were written in second person.

Now, I know it’s not odd that they were–it’s always been used, especially, and trust me on this, in fanfiction–but I just always kind of demeaned it. I mean, my english teacher always expounded on how it was bad writing. No major best seller was written in second person. But, if it’s so silly as everything had me believing, why did it hit me so hard?

Second person has the magical property of tossing you headlong into the character. While First Person can get you geared up well enough, you’re privy to every thought and stray emotion, second person forces you inside. You bypass the author entirely and it’s you watching your world fall apart or get built up or continue on as if you weren’t standing on it. It’s you inside that character, feeling every inch of scar tissue and feeble quivering muscle of every smile, and there’s no author guiding you along.

Because it’s “you”.

In regards to the fourth wall, it’s broken in reverse with second person. Rather then the character acknowledging the author is writing them, you just break that fourth wall and step inside.

While I would never suggest writing a novel in second person, I definitely think it’s something to be considered for shorter works. Also, if you ever plan to make me cry, go on ahead and send me some second person sadfic. I will cry like a blubbering baby seal (supposing seals can cry, which I don’t know).

What techniques do you guys think hit hard in writing? Certain words? Themes? Relationship types? Let me know in the comments!

Miles To Go Before I Sleep

“But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
 “ -Robert Frost

This is an addition to the Letters to Home Challenge. It’s personal, so I’ll keep who it’s written to hidden for now, but I think it’s pretty obvious.

—————————-

To:

There was a riddle I used to tell because I thought it was the easiest but hardest one yet. I cherished it like it was a firefly I had caught. I held it close to my chest, clasped it in my hands, and only revealed it to those who I thought worth it. I wasn’t selfish of it, but I was proud. I was so proud of something that wasn’t even mine.

“What’s the furthest you can go into the woods?”

I was entitled, then. And I still am. You made sure that I wasn’t spoiled–you keep a good weight of consequence and reward, a solid balance that served as my mooring place while the world rose up around me. As school became difficult. As levels of sports increased. As I began realizing this home is not the only home I’ll know. You kept my feet on the ground.

I would tell the riddle to you, probably a hundred times by now, and you’d roll your eyes or you’d humor me, but almost never did you say the answer yourself. You bated me for a moment before asking. “What?” And I’d say excitedly.

“Halfway!”

Now, I’m halfway in life, and it’s the furthest I’ve ever been. I’m in this grey stage between childhood and adulthood. I have property in my name. I have money in my accounts. But you’re my ultimate support that I can’t live without.

I’m halfway in the woods and that’s the furthest I could go.

There’s always thoughts in my head of circling. Of walking to the east or west; to lose sight of my north star so that I  lose track of the distance; so that I’m no longer at the furthest point, but at some other with less gravity.

I also want to run headlong towards the other end–bone tired as I am, I’m tired of this trekking. I’m tired of not knowing where the end lays and being caught up in this seemingly infinite woods.  I see my footprints on the snow behind me, weaving and stretching for miles, and I’m tired of seeing them.

I also want to fly.

But I can’t, can I? I could climb the tallest spruce in this forest. I could walk out on the highest sturdy limb that sways hundreds of feet above the forest floor. I could stand among the sparrows and starlings–then I could jump. But I wouldn’t fly, would I? Will alone can never hold me up. I’ll just be another Icarus with his melted wings, trying to fly too close to the Sun.

You keep me grounded and I know I sometimes get short with you. I sometimes hate how far your voice seems now that I’m halfway and you’re back home and I can’t turn around. I sometimes feel like Orpheus with my back to my old life, walking on and on and unable to turn around in fear I’ll lose everything. And you call my name and it breaks me, but resolves each step all the same.

So I’m halfway in the forest and it’s the furthest I could go.

And I just have to keep going.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

——

Photo Source

Writing Letters to Home #1

This is a response to my own challenge: Writing Letters to Home. You should take it up, too, and link to your posts in the comments on the original challenge post page ! I want to read them!

——–

Dear Jameson,

 

Sometimes I wonder what you think of me.

Sometimes I wonder if you think of me at all.

It’s hard to read your face from across the table or from across the world.

No distance makes it easier;

No space makes it any clearer.

Sometimes I want to smooth the lines from your brow

And make you not think of me at all.

 

I hardly think about you,

Which frightens me until my chest pinches tight.

I think of all the people who forgot me;

Of all the people soon to forget me.

Then I think of you–and you can’t forget me, right?

Even with oceans between us, you remember.

 

But what do you remember, I wonder?

The kid you found covered in rags and dirt

That you nursed to be a survivor and a warrior?

Or the person I came to be that had none of that?

I found riches in war

And slaughter and catharsis.

I hope you remember the riches you found, momentarily, in me.

 

I hope you remember me.

Because I will one day forget you.

 

I live fully in the fact that I will go first

So that you may write my epithet–

Carve it into my tombstone or the gallows I am hanged from–

“She was the one who lived so that others may die.”

and I will never forget her

—–

This is between two characters from a story I am working on in private. A few chapters are here, but they are in no way final. It’s currently undergoing some heavy duty restructuring because I fail, miserably, at keeping my plot straight; I left a plot hole so big a train drove through it.

This is referring to the challenge a posted for myself and to whoever wants to take it up. If you have taken it up, let me know so I can read your ‘letters to home’!

What is Cyberpunk?

cypunk

I started reading Feed by Mira Grant lately and fell in love. This post isn’t a review, though, but this book really stirred something in me.

In short, Cyberpunk and me connected.

You may be wondering, though, what is Cyberpunk? Is it a sort of music? Is it a fashion? Can I eat it?

No to all of the above.

Cyberpunk is really a mindset. Gone are the days of 70’s science fiction. Let’s face it guys, we aren’t going to space for science’s sake–we’re going to give the rich a joy ride or to mine asteroids. We won’t have any artificial intelligence or flying cars or anything of the sort because we are no longer living where science is for science’s sake.

We are living, knee deep, in the age of consumerism.

Now, cyberpunk takes all of this into account and paints a picture of the future more align with current circumstances. Below, I’ll list the biggest tenets I’ve found.

1. Social Media is your news

I think we’ve seen this trend best during the Arab spring during which Protestors organized entire rallies by Twitter. Or, even now, in Syria they do their rebel army training via youtube.

The crackdowns on media during these revolutions I think lend further credit to social media as a news form. While bloggers are biased, the cyberpunk idea believes that more bloggers will emerge with the truth as their mission. The idea that traditional media is the truest source of news will be shattered and the blogging community will step in to fill the cracks.

2. Server Cowboys and Botnets

Cyberpunk is based on the idea–rather loosely since cyberpunk is underdeveloped as a whole–that the internet is the Wild Wild West.

Botnets are a bunch of computers controlled by a single hacker. Your computer can even be part of a botnet, the instructions just sleeping on your hard drive for the cracker (a hacker gone dark side) to execute them. Botnets make it harder for the cracker to be traced and are used a lot for flooding sites, aka DDoS attacks.

In short, cyberpunk holds the idea that rogue hackers/crackers are the sharpshooters of the internet world and wield tremendous power. The government is a lumbering giant back on the fringes, playing catch up while claiming the problem does not exist.

Personally, I revise the government to Big Corporations for my cyberpunk belief, but to each his own.

3. Technology is a part of us

This can be as far out there as Cyborgs and Cylons or as close to reality as keeping your smartphone near you all the time.

Technology is becoming smaller, more mobile, and more ubiquitous. BBC said that 2012 was the year of mobile internet. Tablet sales soared. Everyone is connected all the time. In the cyberpunk world, this is just a rule and a matter of fact.

We’re connected, it’s time to stop thinking otherwise.

4. Shun Ideology in favor of pragmatism

We can’t stand by anymore. Movements like Rock the Vote and even the Occupy Movement have signs of it.

People see a problem and, rather than sit around stewing in their anger, they go out and demonstrate their discontent. In the cyberpunk space, this is done differently than the traditional rally. This can be by electronic petitions or social justice bloggers (who scare me), or starting a facebook group. Many other ways are still unexplored.

If hacker groups coalesce–which is the cyberpunk idea–then this will more than likely be exemplified by them. Men in dark rooms changing the world. History repeats itself.

5. The Global Community is here

We’re globalizing. In the cyberpunk future, the population will be homogeneous,

Like how the internet has no boundaries–in a strictly theoretical sense–the world will become flat. Online communities will reach all corners, more so than it does now, and its going to create a whole new landscape. How this new landscape shapes up is up to writer’s discretion; personally, I can’t even begin to imagine it.

For more information on a cyberpunk, go to the cyberpunk project.

Hope you guys enjoyed this post! If you have any cyberpunk beliefs or other literary movements you love, let me know in the comments!