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Monthly Archives: April 2012

I’m looking forward to the release this summer of the latest Batman movie – The Dark Knight Rises.   With what I know about the movie, this has the potential to be on my list of favorite movies.

As I said in my post, “The Problem with Potter”, I consider the ability to convince your reader/viewer that your hero can die critical to creating true dramatic tension.  after all, a hero isn’t really heroic if he can’t be stopped.  NO movie I have ever seen has done this as well as the last Batman movie, “The Dark Knight”.  I truly spent a good portion of the movie believing that the Joker would win – though of course I knew intellectually that he couldn’t.

I never read a lot of Batman comic books (or graphic novels, if you prefer), but I was the right age when “Knightfall” was released to know a bit about it.   I doubt this movie will follow the original story line too closely, but – I don’t want to give away any spoilers – it isn’t likely to end well for the Caped Crusader.

I have every confidence that Christopher Nolan can do this story justice, and I can’t wait to see how this will come out.



My first novel, Disenchanted, is now available in print!

Check it out:

One of the blogs I follow often has quotes of the day.  I thought I’d follow suit:

“When I was young, it was my ambition to be one of the people who made a difference in this world.  My hope still is to leave the world a little better for my having been here.”  –  Jim Henson.

I think it’s safe to say he succeeded.  And we could all do worse than trying to follow in his footsteps.

Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.”

The problem is that if we called them stinkweeds, no one would bother smelling them to find out.  
In writing, every name creates a feel for a character before you know anything else about him.  And a poorly chosen name could give the wrong tone to a story.  For example:  Bill works just fine for a pony’s name in the Lord of the Rings, but it wouldn’t have been the same story if the wise old wizard was named “Bill”.  At the same time, Monty Python’s wizard was perfectly named “Tim”.

Naming characters for my own works is one of the more challenging parts of writing.  And I have tended to make this harder on myself, too.  I use placeholder names – usually people of my personal acquaintance – so that finding a name doesn’t bog down the writing process.  What I find, though, is that when the first draft is complete, my characters still have placeholder names.  So not only do I have a much more urgent need to find the permanent names, but I’ve been thinking about the characters with their placeholder names for months or years, so it’s hard to edit the work with their “new” names.

Fantasy authors have both an easier and more difficult time of this whole process.  On the one hand, they have free rein with names.  There doesn’t have to be any tie to an existing name, and can to some degree avoid connotation.  But at the same time, it has to “sound” like a real name.  And even made up names can leave strong impressions.   Splort would almost have to be a big, ugly monster.  (So far by books have been based in the “real world”, so I’ve had few fantasy names to create).  Some fantasy authors tie their stories to Earth’s future or past, and so give themselves a framework to use real or modified real names as they please.  The late Robert Jordan (James O. Rigney) was a master of this, and tying in mythological names as well.

Of course, why should naming a character be any easier than naming my children . . .

Every once in a while, I’ll read an excellent fantasy novel, but when I reach the end (or sometimes just the middle), the author suddenly divulges all the secrets of the universe back to its very creation.  And many times, this (in my humble opinion) only hurts the story. 

Many times these creation stories end up sounding like mythology, rather than fantasy.  This may seem like splitting hairs, but there is a difference between a believable fantasy set in a world with hard-and-fast rules, and mythology, which can ignore the rules.

The best policy, as with so much in life, is “everything in moderation”.  We don’t know everything about our own world, why should we expect to know everything about a fictional one?  Obviously, you can’t tell the story without divulging some secrets.  But without any left, where’s the suspense? the realism? I’m intentionally avoiding citing examples, as some of my favorite books bend this rule.  Some books I like quite a bit break it.  So I guess you can break any rule.  But if you know you’re breaking it, you can compensate or moderate.