Sunday, August 27, 2006

This Has Gone Too Far

The topic sums up exactly what I thought I would talk about today. Going too far, stepping over the line, overdoing things, and just generally blowing away the boundaries. Of course I'm talking about it from a writing perspective, rather than other ways that might get a person into infinitely more trouble. So, to this driven end, I thought I would talk about it in three distinct ways.

First up we have what I think of as the first style of over-writing. In this case I am talking about taking a bit of story at a time, either during the first writing of it, or even after, and pumping as much detail into it as possible, pacing not withstanding. Or maybe pacing withstanding. Depends on what you are going for I guess. Detail is something that can be always be added. The question though, as you can see just from where I had to qualify myself, is when, where, and how much. This isn't just a matter of getting all flowery with your prose, but more about slipping in the immersive bits whenever and wherever possible. Sometimes it seems like you may be going to far, but I think that may be where you've gone just far enough. This of course doesn't not mean you should spend pages talking about doilies in a room, or the benefits of certain ingredients in your rabbit stew. Which leads us to the other over-writing.

This second style of over-writing is all about writing more for the story than you are going to need when you're done. This works best for longer works like novellas and novels. This was an idea that ultimately came to me from watching movie making of featurettes and commentary tracks. This can be about going too far in how much you write for a scene and eventually distilling it down, as opposed to stripping it out, which for this purpose might just be pointless. It can also be about writing something pointless, such as whole scenes, that you know will not be a part of the final work, but can be used to taint other scenes as well as in general give you more insight into the character(s) that is focus of the scene, or the idea that you are trying to expand on for yourself and not for the final audience.

Lastly we have the third and most obvious way of going too far. That would be too gross, too sick, too demented. In other words, what, if done right, can be the fun stuff. Or if it is done wrong is just a waste of everybody's time, particularly if its tied in with the previous two ways of going too far. You don't want to desensitise, and you don't want to send people running for the bathroom or have them just set you aside because you actually have... gone too far.

Mood: fragmented.
Music: Losfer Words (Big 'Orra) by Iron Maiden and The Day The World Went Away by Nine Inch Nails.

Iron Maiden: Powerslave
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Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Under Your Skin

What is it about the image of a face in stark white or light, barely pink or slightly grey, with dark, empty eye sockets that seems to be so universally creepy? They're also really effective for a sudden scare, more so than a regular jump. Does it have staying power for you? A shining and familiar example is the "Ghostface" mask from the Scream Trilogy. The most recent example I came across was in an excellent civil war horror movie called "Dead Birds". Another one that sticks out in my mind is "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" with all those changed faces.

Is it the transposition of life--and near death--with the full on dead and gone image of the skull or is there more to it? If the answer to that is yes, then is the very intensely similar image of the "grey" alien a different matter altogether?

When the whole grey alien thing tipped over big time into the widespread media mind I couldn't help but notice that at a glance, or with a less than focused look, I couldn't help but see a lot of similarities between the aliens and Eddie, the mascot for metal masters, Iron Maiden. Prominent cheeks and very little flesh on the bone, the dark pits for eyes, and the general look of the long dead.

Speaking of skeletons, is it just me or have they lost a lot of their power over the years? No one seems much bothered about running across skeletons lying about on their excursions into places that they maybe shouldn't be roaming around in, in the first place. Occasionally finding just a jaw bone will unnerve someone, particularly if its somewhere it shouldn't be. Is that the problem? People expect the skeletons to be in the cave, but its all good if its literally in the closet. Perhaps it's all these crime shows dulling the generally considered universal uneasiness of seeing a skeleton or corpse, and the feeling that it incurs with regard to our own mortality. Something to consider, maybe.

Mood: elevated.
Music: Detroit Rock City by Kiss and Murders in the Rue Morgue by Iron Maiden.

Kiss: Destroyer
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Iron Maiden: Killers

Someone call the Gendarme!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nooks and Crannies

Today I want to talk a bit about one of the things I feel really driven to try to do. I want to look into the things that often other people don't bother to look at. I want to dig into what is almost virginal new territory. Look for the unexpected, maybe even the otherwise dull, and find something thing worth writing there, either by seeking what isn't broadly known about it, or by simply injecting something interesting into it. It's not a popular topic apparently, and as always if it involves lifting the veil of ignorance then people, seemingly in droves, are going to come along and put down the entire idea. I'm sure if they could, they would physically try to stop me. Such is the life of one who seeks the truth, and the consequences be damned.

Let's get off track a moment and talk about truth. First off, it is as double-sided a coin as anything. It can be a great blessing or it can be a terrible weapon easily wielded to inflict grievous wounds. If it's blurred, or twisted, or all the way reversed, it can do even more harm. Isn't it just a cuddly-loveable thing?

Back to the holes and niches. You practically can't come up with something new, but there are cracks that can be filled, twists that aren't commonly seen, and conglomerations of more than one thing that are new, or at least apparently so. Someone has maybe had the thought, but nothing's been done with it. It's maybe a touch easier if you limit yourself to a particular medium. You might find something in a documentary that has never been in a book, something in a book that's never been in a movie. Those sorts of cross-contamination are the first and perhaps best way to look at it, if only because you have something to work with rather than trying to come up with an idea from whole cloth.

For example, if you read fantasy books you can find all sorts of big flashy magics that took monumental time and effort with well... fantastical results. Yet when you look for something of the sort in fantasy role-playing games you're lucky if you can find anything of the sort at all. Another example would be that there aren't a lot of comic-book hero type novels. There is a big, mostly untapped, resource right there with many possibilities. Is it hugely popular to do those sorts of stories in novel form? It would seem so based on the one example of a series of books with those kinds of characters. I'm speaking of course of the "Wildcards" books.

Even writing aside looking into the forgotten, glossed over, and ignored ideas can be full of fun, and with good results exhilarating. So, go! Expand your boarders, push the envelope of what you know, and lift the veil.

Mood: level.
Music: Silver Wings by Bruce Dickinson and Happiness in Slavery by Nine Inch Nails.

Best of Bruce Dickinson
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Nine Inch Nails: Broken

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I've Got Gas, I've Got Gas, I've Got Gasfest

Happy 1st Anniversary to R.G. Male's Dark Corners! It's been a year since I started this blog. I think it's been a pretty memorable year. For starters there have been 95 entries. There have been 84 music suggestions (42 X 2). We had the thirteen days of Halloween. We had twelve vintage articles from Killing Time - Horror E-Rag™. We cast back to the start four times. Then, of course there was the other four dozens articles. Also let's not forget the bad news, and the good news, and the general zaniness that make up the remaining dozen entries (easily).

The most recent bad news, "Monday, April 24, 2006 An Urgent Message to all RPG Gamers" is not quite so bad now. Palladium, which had been seriously ripped off by one of it's employees and seemed nearly crippled, is now getting things set to straight again. They're digging out of the hole that seemed would swallow them. The outpouring of help was incredibly heartening. I don't know if anyone really considers it to be a surprise. We've always been a pretty stalwart group of fans. Palladium Books has been such an important part in our lives there was no way we were just going to idly standby and wait for them to collapse. When they said they were stumbling we jumped to help them.

The other bad news of the year worth mentioning was of course "Friday, November 11, 2005 The Day Michael Myers Cried". Poor Moustapha Akkad was killed in a terrorist bombing while attending a family wedding in Jordan. There is supposed to be production going on for a new Halloween movie, which I can only image will be dedicated to Moustapha, seeing as how he's considered the grand-daddy of the franchise, and up to this point the only person to have his credit in every film of the series. Speaking of the series, I saw a commercial that was pulled for Nike that was supposed to be a Friday the 13th send up, but it looked more like a what if Jason Voorhees went on vacation and Michael Myers took over for him for the however many days. Pretty funny.

The good news of course was best highlighted by the launch of my first horror e-book. It's always available if you haven't bought your copy (download) yet. I hope soon to follow up with an audio book, which at this point might be a free download to whet people's appetites. Right now I still have to create a new end music piece for it. I don't want to be using copyrighted music. I know, that technically if I'm giving it away I might be able to get away with the twenty or so seconds of music at the start and however long the end piece was, though it was probably not any longer. I think my self-composed intro piece is pretty good.

Here's to another great year of blogs!

Mood: fidgety.
Music: The Ballroom Blitz by Sweet and 21st Century Sha La La La Girl by Def Leppard

Sweet: The Best of Sweet
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Def Leppard: Euphoria

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

'Til Death Do You Part

I've been wondering if the presence of horror stories--fiction I mean--about cults have been at a lull, or maybe even a touch missing. I know they showed the remade Omen back earlier in the summer, but if its like the original it doesn't quite touch on the style of which I'm thinking. I'm talking about the Clive Barker's "Lord of Illusion" type or the kind that the Cthulhu mythos brings to mind. You know, the brainwashed sycophants under the thrall of the charismatic master manipulator. Maybe even a step further toward the robed kind, gathered to help in the rituals of tribute, or summoning of magic, creatures or greater masters from beyond our reality.

The leaders of these cults can be of several types. There are the quietly crazy ones and the stark raving mad ones. There are the ones that are in it for themselves and the ones in it to do someone or something's dirty work. There are the ones that only harm their own cult members and the ones in it to do harm to outsiders. We often see the ones who believe in what they are doing wholeheartedly, but we don't too often see the ones who are a sham and have some other purpose than the proposed agenda under which they brought the cult together.

As to the cultists themselves there is less variety. There are the meek ones and the aggressive ones. Almost universally they are weak of will, even if they are the aggressive and violent ones. After all, if they had enough self-worth they wouldn't be drawn in, in the first place. Certainly there can be other factors when we look at the more fictional cults, particularly magical ones. However, if it is taken too far, you have less of a traditional cult and something more along the lines of a coven, or at least following that idea. Likewise, if you have a really forward pushing, hard-line follower who fits a role, almost or absolutely, as an enforcer of the cults will, then that's less of a cultist and more a lesser leader, at least I think so. In any event, I just wonder if there is a lack of these stories and maybe a need to be filled.

Mood: lacklustre.
Music: Black Promises by Vince Neil and Coma by Guns 'N' Roses.

Vince Neil: Carved in Stone
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Guns 'N' Roses: Use Your Illusion 1

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Saturday, August 05, 2006


Late again, I know. While the hottest weather broke to something more manageable I haven't been able to shake the unwell feeling. Any way, here we are with an other exciting entry into the dark abyss of my mind. Let's take a step away from making or designing role-playing games for a bit. It's very good to be working on a play by email game again. It provides its own rewards and challenges over just plain writing.

On the easy front a role-playing game comes with a setting, character archetypes, and most of the time plots. Well, sample plots, or implied plots, and of course with adventure books and other resources actual plots. Having a ton of setting information ready and at hand is a blessing. It gives me a huge sigh of relief. Certainly it never encompasses everything and as most gamers know there are several more tons of things you add in to personalise things. Depending on the type of game it is will determine how much extra information you can add. Anything with a modern setting with elements that are only slightly outside of normal gives less room to make things out of whole cloth; a bonus, or a detriment depending on what you're trying to do.

The biggest challenge comes from the process requiring something of a new skill not used in regular writing... interaction from other people, the players. In live, table-top, or even chat, gaming the players can interrupt whenever as they see fit, just like people do when one or more of them are talking. Doing it by post, or by email, the Game Master has to learn when to let the players in, when to leave things dangling, and how to craft everything so there are all of the ins for the players to get into that they would do as in a live game. Immediately this begs that the play by email GM (PbE GM) have at least some experience with live gaming.

Now, are the players a help or a hindrance to PbE gaming? In all honesty I would say equally both. They first off provide less work for me in the writing. Second they always bring something different to the game with their characters. As many characters as a writer can make distinct, your players can pretty nearly duplicate, even though they do it one at a time (usually). Sometimes the players can really go the distance, being both a benefit, and a challenge--by making the GM have to keep up--at the same time. The skill to know when and how to fit them in to the game is hard to master at times and can make you feel really limited. Then of course there are the times when you and the players are at cross-purposes, or on different wavelengths altogether, or one or the other just can't understand what is needed. Lastly, sometimes what works well when just writing to make a great story isn't exactly as well for the game. Of course that is true of any role-playing.

Mood: low.
Music: Tonight by Twisted Sister and Sea Of Madness by Iron Maiden.

Twisted Sister: Love is for Suckers
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Iron Maiden: Somewhere In Time