Tag Archives: The Walking Dead

Just shoot him

I’m screaming inside right now. I just finished watching the season premier of The Walking Dead. If you’re a fan, and haven’t seen the episode, you don’t have to read any further. If you’re a writer, you may want to read on.

See, I write speculative fiction. The aftermath of a zombie apocalypse is right in my wheelhouse, even though I haven’t gone there yet.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know how I feel about speculative fiction. It involves at lease one impossible element, (Zombie apocalypse). I try to make the rest of my story pretty realistic. I know I’m going to ask for a leap of faith, so I try to make everything else fairly well researched and realistic.

This is where my problem lies, and I admit, it’s my problem. Maybe other authors and readers don’t think this is a hard and fast rule. Maybe it’s more of a guideline. I’ve used the Pirate quote before myself when it comes to writing rules.

It doesn’t mean I’m not going to bitch about something. To set this up, you have to understand The Walking Dead to a degree; otherwise, you might still get my point but you won’t get the context.

See TWD has put the survivors through hell. They’ve dealt with the Governor, the cannibals, and now Neagan. Tonight was all about Neagan –– as it should be. Neagan has done terrible things. He killed Glen, a main character, in front of all the other survivors – in front of his pregnant wife – by beating his brains out with a baseball bat and forcing the others to watch. He killed Abraham on the same stage, in front of his pseudo girlfriend. Abraham was one of the best soldiers the survivors had.

Okay, you’ve got the dirt on Neagan. At this point, various gyrations happened to give the survivors a chance to get even. Tonight, they had their chance and took it.

Here is the scene: Rick led the survivors to Neagan’s camp, and brought some serious firepower. They armored their cars with corrugated tin, which won’t do a damned thing when it comes to offering cover. Don’t believe me, fire an anemic round like a .38 Special at a piece of it. You wouldn’t want to use it for cover.

They (Rick) call out Neagan. Neagan walks out and answers the call. This is in character for Neagan, because he is an alpha male and a psycho. He steps onto a loading dock along with five of his henchmen. Rick calls them Lieutenants, fine by me.

Here is the thing, Neagan and friends were right out-in-the-open.

Rick and the survivors were fifty feet away. Let that sink in for a second, fifty-feet.

Remember, Neagan killed one of Rick’s best friends and forced Rick and the others to watch.

Beyond that, Neagan has proven that he has zero respect for human life.

Just shoot him.

There must be thirty to fifty of the survivors with Rick, and they’re all armed. They all have a reason to kill Neagan, but they all hold their fire.

Just shoot him.

Rick engages in a dialog; whereby , he offers to allow Neagan’s lieutenants the chance to surrender. They’ve all proven themselves to be dangerous and one of them I would like to shoot myself.

Of course they don’t surrender.

Neagan makes a small penis comment to Rick.

Just shoot him.

I’m here to tell you that if I were in Rick’s position, you could give me an ordinary deer rifle and Neagan would be no more.  A deer rifle holds between three and five rounds depending upon calibre. I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty reliable out to about 400 yards. Admittedly, this would take some quality time, but Rick was fifty feet away.

But Rick didn’t have a deer rifle, he had a sub-machine gun. I promise you, that with a slow, bolt-action, deer rifle, Neagan and at least two lieutenants would have never made it off the platform. But Rick had a sub-machine gun.

For plot reasons, I know Neagan can’t die yet. In that case, I think the whole confrontation should not have made it into the show. Here is why.

Rick gives the lieutenants time to surrender, and starts a countdown. Props to Rick for opening fire at seven instead of zero. It was a great character moment. Except for the fact that Rick missed. At fifty feet, with a sub machine gun, Rick missed. Not only that, but all of the muscle Rick brought with him missed too.

Rick with a sub-machine gun, plus around thirty friends opened fire, and all the bad guys walked away without a scratch.

Meanwhile; Daryl was cruising around on a moving motorcycle shooting explosives with a snub-nosed revolver and never missed a shot. I’ve fired a lot of handguns, and this isn’t realistic either. Neither is setting off explosives by shooting them.

Come on! I could have done more damage by throwing a rock. A little bit of reality really helps sell the rest of the story. Send your writers out to actually fire a weapon. Make them fire an SMG at some water barrels or something. At least cripple some people. Thirty survivors firing a single round each at a platform that’s about twelve feet wide are going to hit something. Note: the survivors fired many more than one round each. Oh, and Rick had an SMG.

There was a great character moment where Rick had the drop on Neagan later, and he decided it wasn’t all about Rick. Of course, I had no faith that Rick could actually hit the SOB anyway if given a second chance.

How do you guys feel about this kind of thing? Do I worry too much about this kind of thing? Rick would have shot the SOB. The Rick character would have shot him. He wouldn’t have missed, and neither would the other survivors.

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Busy day looking forward to a dead evening

That's right, Ash vs the Evil Dead plus The Walking Dead tonight. Maybe Rick and Daryl need a visit from Ash Williams.

Before all the fun starts, I worked on some more projects today. I wrote and scheduled two posts for this week. One involves a special promotion tomorrow, and I'd appreciate any help with the sharing buttons you can lend. I'm trying to keep the October momentum going through the end of the month.

The other post is the final Macabre Macaroni story of 2016. I really appreciate all the comments I've been getting on these, and they have been a lot of fun.

I also started an October assessment post. It's going to be a long post and it will go up on the Story Empire blog on Halloween. It was hard for me to not post something on theme, but we try to target authors on that site, and my assessment may help some of you. It would be easier if I could post it a week into November, but that isn't my turn. I can add some data to it from this week, and out the door it goes.

Maybe something will occur to me for this blog that has a Halloween theme. Last year Lisa and I tried to make a monster that turned into a meatloaf.

In other news, Lisa Burton Radio has a lot of interviews in progress, but none ready for this week. These things take time to put together, and the guest author has to consider timing too. I understand completely, and agree with this approach. This means I may skip it this week. If I'm feeling ambitious I may run something out featuring Lisa. (You know, as soon as I figure out what.) The takeaway here is that Lisa is always looking for guests. Keep those cards and letters coming folks.

The end of October is within sight. It's been a loooong month of promotions for me. As most of you know, I really don't like promotion. I decided to bite the bullet and force myself to dedicate a month. I'm really looking forward to November when I'll do a bit of reading and get back to my work-in-progress.

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Good things happened today.

I just made and devoured a home made Rueben sandwich. Fried things are probably bad, but sauerkraut is good, so I’m all balanced on the health meter. On the happy meter, I’m way up there.

I wrote this short story Saturday night. It amounted to about 2200, 2300 words. There is no speculative element in it, so it’s kind of an orphan. It involves a murder, so I sought some help. Sue Coletta said something polite like, “That sounds like fun.” I twisted that into, “Please let me read it.”

I knew I wasn’t entirely honest about it, but she is the best murder writer I know. Honestly read her book, Marred.

Sue read my short story, liked it, and even edited it for me. I was so excited, I lost my concentration for a moment or two. I have the iPad Pro that allows for a split screen, but I can’t open the same program using the split screen.

I never got rid of my old iPad, so I improvised. I opened Sue’s mark-up on the old iPad, and my draft on the new one. This works incredibly well. I even looked up a spelling error on the split screen, so I had three windows open at once. I just caught this one while I was working through it. Mother-load is not correct. I’ve worked at mines, and staked thousands of claims in my lifetime. A quick Google confirmed that it is mother-lode, like a lode deposit.

This also means that I owe Sue big time. I have something in mind, but I’ll have to wait to tell everyone about it.

The Yak Guy Project gained about 3000 words. I’m a little afraid that things aren’t happening fast enough for my usual readers, but this is a different kind of story. It involves a young man from the entitled generation who gets plopped into a world where all the technology is gone. Life is tough, and if you don’t do it yourself, you might starve to death. He has to get his hands dirty and everything, and I mean slaughtering chickens kind of dirty.

In this scene, he is with someone he considers less than himself. The fellow survived a war wound that left major brain damage. He can function to a degree, but needs some help with basic things too. It turns out Yak Guy Ted learns things from the invalid, and he’s about to have a revelation about himself.

There is a lot of philosophical stuff in Ted’s journey, and he is growing up in ways he should have years ago. I have no idea what genre to even plunk it in when I’m finished. I really like the idea of pride takes a fall in today’s words, and maybe there is hope for the Yak Guy after all.

Third big deal, fourth if you count my awesome sandwich. I posted some time ago about being nominated for a Planetary award. This was for my short story, Something in the Water, which came out in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.

It looks like the nominating period is over, and the voting starts tomorrow. I would really appreciate anyone who votes for my little story. Win or lose, the Commander is a great guy, and if we could drive him some traffic that would be great too. The voting link isn’t up right now, so I’ll post the home page where it will be tomorrow. This is the voting link.

I have to go back to the paycheck job tomorrow, but if I get time, I will update the link to the actual voting page. I’ll also try to share the link across social media as time allows.

The old dog is having a good day. The Walking Dead came back last night, and Daryl blew up some obnoxious biker thieves, Carol shot the Wolf dude, and that was all cool. I got some good work done, and I’m feeling pretty happy about things. I even gathered another five star review on one of my older books. (Panama)

I may even start another short story to carry me through the week.

 

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Flatline kind of day

It's been one of those kind of days. Nothing too terrible, but nothing all that great either. We had date night tonight, and recorded The Walking Dead. Maybe it will perk things up.

We saw a movie called Victor Frankenstein tonight. It had a lot of promise, but didn't exactly deliver on it. There was some great imagery, but that's about it. Daniel Radcliffe played Igor, and it had kind of a neat spin in that he was part of the project and not a mere servant. You really didn't miss anything if you skipped this one. I love mad science, so I had fun. I just expected a bit more.

It started off a bit reminiscent of the Robert Downey Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes. It might have been better served if it remained on that path.

Dinner was at a new place called Casa del Matador. Service was great, setting was wonderful. The food was passable. Not great, just passable.

Today was the first day since early September with no book sales. Every day for months I've made at least one sale, or had some pages read via Kindle Unlimited. Today there was nothing. This was fairly common over the Summer, but I promoted heavily during the Fall. This is what happens when the promotion stops.

I don't know if I have another big push in me right now. I think one of the best things we can do is write our next book. I'm still editing The Playground, and I'm ready to start drafting my next novel. Maybe that's where I'll focus my effort for the near future.

My wife and I both took tomorrow off. We never made our Thanksgiving trip, but I'm not giving up an approved vacation day either. Maybe tomorrow will be more productive. I have a couple of short stories in mind that I could toy with.

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I have a character crush

I don’t know what it is about Wednesday’s, but I’ve been posting authorly stuff on Wednesdays. This isn’t by design, it just seems to work out that way.

I’ve written a fair number of characters at this point in my career. I’m not claiming to be an expert at anything, but I get compliments on my characters. Part of my secret is observation. I observe not just real people, but characters of other writers too. This includes performances by actors. I admit to being a little bit jealous of Carol Peletier.

If you don’t know the character, it’s because her last name is never used. I had to Google it myself. This is Carol from The Walking Dead television show. The comic book version had a different arc, and she is dead now.

TWD is a love/hate show. People seem to fall into one camp or the other. I’m going to beg the indulgence of any who don’t like the show, particularly the writers among the crowd. Carol is one of the best characters of all time. Let’s meet her.

Here she is; mousy, weak, worst haircut of all time. She is an abused wife, and mother to a daughter who needs protecting from Carol’s husband. She is portrayed by a wonderful actress named Melissa McBride.

I think it’s really cool that she’s mid to late 40’s. This isn’t Scarlet Johannsen, or Milla Jovovich. Now I love those super babes from the movies, but Carol breaks that mold. (How old was Bilbo Baggins when he set out from the Shire?)

This is a good thing. It adds some believability to an unbelievable setting. I figured Carol was cast to be someone emotional and eventually to become meat for zombies. (What’s known as a redshirt.)

Carol starts off cooking, doing laundry, and being the mommie to the survivors. Nobody is safe on this show, and she lost her husband. This was a good thing. She also lost her daughter, and this was bad. So we started with an underdog and put her through the ringer.

Humans live an almost tribal existence. There are no hospitals, jails, fire departments, or nursing homes in this environment. Some groups of people are bad, and others are in a similar situation to the main cast. Any single mistake could be your last mistake post appocolypse.

When the main cast finds a friendly place, it’s Carol who becomes the welcoming committee. This is who she wants to be. Doesn’t she look sweet? Almost grandmotherly. (Thank God hair continues to grow during the Zombie appocolypse.)

She pitches right in with the new people and plans barbecues. She checks on the sick and serves as a liaison to new friendships.

But Carol has been through some crap. She’s seen her daughter become a zombie, and watched as a friend killed her. She’s been attacked and had to defend herself. She learned to use weapons, because she had to. She also learned what she could about medicines and treats the sick.

In one segment there was a disease going around. When it became obvious that two people were not going to survive, it was Carol who delivered the mercy killings. This was out of mercy, and out of caution for those who were not yet sick. It’s an impossible world, but Carol seems to be the one capable of making impossible decisions.

That’s a great character. She has an arc, and manages to change to survive in a world gone mad. She even manages to save a little bit of grandmotherly Carol in the process. Why I love her is that she’s an even bigger character than that. You see this is Carol too:

Carol is a killing machine. There is a bit of the psychotic in her makeup. She isn’t completely psycho, because she is emotional about it. She simply reserves those emotions until trouble has ended. There isn’t a bit of emotion when she’s killing zombies or humans who really deserve it.

There is one episode, called The Grove. It’s so powerful it spawned a thousand internet memes. At this point in the program, Carol had adopted two girls. The story line took a bit of an Of Mice and Men turn, only it was one of the girls who wasn’t right. (+/- 12 years old.)

The older girl, Lizzie, wasn’t right. She killed her younger sister and said it would be okay, because she would come back. (They always come back, but as zombies.) Carol and another character, Tyrese, we’re looking for the main group. They both have responsibilities, like finding food. Plus there was a baby to care for. Lizzie couldn’t be left alone with the baby, ever.

Carol decided that Lizzie couldn’t be around other people. Remember there are no counsellors, or care facilities available. Check it out for yourselves:

I think this is one of the most powerful bits of film I’ve ever seen. It ranks right up there with the burning of Atlanta, and the shower scene in psycho.

This program is full of testosterone driven moments, and there are plenty of macho characters too. For me, it’s Carol that is the standout character. She doesn’t want to be this person. Circumstances force her to be what she is. Even if you disagree with her decisions, she has a logic behind every action.

Carol continues to get stronger and stronger. She doesn’t do ninja backflips. She doesn’t high kick her way out of trouble, or play the sex kitten. She doesn’t have some asinine catchphrase. She doesn’t try to stand behind the throne and manipulate power. She’s just Carol, trying to survive and make sure her friends survive too.

This week during what amounted to a Viking style raid by some other group, it was Carol who found the weapons and protected the innocent while the main support was afield. And she did it all in about as cold blooded fashion as I’ve ever seen.

Carol has evolved from mousey redshirt into a capable, even dangerous, survivor. She’s capable of making decisions others cannot, and never once asked to be in charge. That’s a great character arc, and I wish I’d have invented her first.

Authors need to be creative thieves. Stock Carol in your memory. Maybe some small piece of her can help you with your next character.

 

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An open discussion about stakes

I try to always post something on Sunday's. I've been a bit busy catching up from the delays my paycheck job threw me. Still, I sent an extensive email to the promotion company I found in Sun Valley. I finished my critiques and am ready for our group tomorrow. Will O' the Wisp is getting an Amazon advertising campaign too. I even managed to catch up with Dr. Who, Last Man Standing, and S.H.I.EL.D. I caught the finale of Fear the Walking Dead moments ago.

I'll figure out a way to catch up with Sleepy Hollow somewhere down the line. I have some major reading booked out for tomorrow too.

These programs got me to thinking about stakes. Good stories need them. The higher they are, and the more clear they are, the better the story… In many cases.

I'm free writing this tonight. Time caught up with me, and I usually get more time to think about stuff before I write.

When Obi Wan croaked, it didn't just propel Luke to new heights. It demonstrated to the audience that genuine risk was involved. Of course they had that whole Death Star demonstration too.

There are stories, like cute romances, where the stakes don't have to be life and death. I still think something has to be on the line, I think the more personal it is, the more it resonates with readers. Catching the killer might be interesting, but it's more interesting with a girl in a well or future victims at risk.

Nothing provides stakes like The Walking Dead. (The original one.) Many of you might argue for Game of Thrones, but I choose TWD. In each case, fully formed characters die. Viewers (readers) understand the stakes, and have seen the result of failure first hand.

In S.H.I.E.L.D. Colson lost a hand and part of his forearm. He managed to briefly turn this into a weapon, of sorts. I respect Colson, and know he's going to continue the fight. Previews tell me Dr. Who is going to die next week. I'm fairly sure time travel will repair this situation.

Do stakes have to be this personal? I believe there is an opportunity to demonstrate a burned out village, and a few refugees. It doesn't have to be on a character level each time. It can be so much better at a personal level though.

I've seen a few things recently where the stakes didn't measure up. They were killed in a flashback, telling me with certainty the character survived. The version of past tense did the same thing in one case.

In a treasure hunt type story, if the character can simply walk away there aren't enough stakes. Greed is a great motivator, but if Camelot will fall without the Holy Grail it's that much better.

I still remember when Robin was killed by The Joker. Those are stakes. Robin II survived a few adventures, and we knew Robin I survived all his adventures. When Robin II died, it gave renewed vigor to the Batman mythology.

I even went so far as killing off my main character in one story. Maybe this is too far, but it would have made a great Greek tragedy. I've been thinking about a short story called The Death of Lisa Burton. If I ever write this one, I assure her fans that she has an escape plan.

How far are you willing to go in your stories? Do you stop at redshirt characters? Those whose sole purpose of being in the story is to die and establish stakes for the hero. Is the sidekick going to kick off in your story? Is the main character going to get it, only to have the sidekick rise up and finish the story? Are you the kind who kills off the pet character? The mentor?

Let me hear it. What tricks do you use to establish stakes? How far are you willing to go? What prevalent tales disappointed in the stakes department? I'm going to start writing again as winter approaches, and maybe you can teach me something.

 

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Kicked to the curb!

Tonight, The Walking Dead returns. Will I be watching that? Nooooo. Old What's Her Face* is uber excited about the Grammys. I will probably read more of your blogs, and look up once as AC/DC performs. My wife also has the red carpet show on ahead of time. I see Lady Gaga is still under Tony Bennett's enthralment. Oh, and Nicki Ménage brought her boobs to the show. (Even if you aren't interested, they just suck you in.)

I washed and filled all my fountain pens today. I am ready for any note taking that strikes my brain. Three different inks, Noodler's Walnut (dark brown), Noodler's Army Air Corp (blue black), and Noodler's Bad Black Moccasin (black).

My work in progress has to change to accommodate a new supporting character. I think it will really add something to the story, and I'm about to return to writing it. It's caused me to to do some deep research again, but the story will now involve an amputated finger and some NOLA Hoodoo. (Yay!)

My Muse, Lorelei, has been after me about some short stories. I managed a micro fiction instead. I'd post it on my blog, but I'm toying with a book of short stories broken up by a page of micro fiction. I really don't want to work on short stories until I finish the first draft of my novel. Maybe this will help Lorelei focus on my novel for another month or so.

I also built some guest posts to publish on Tuesday and Thursday. I think you guys are going to like these, because they come with a lesson or two.

Next weekend, I may dedicate some time to getting Will O' the Wisp ready for prime time. This is the book I need to release in two versions, because of copyright permission over some song lyrics. It's time now, then I can check in with all the ARC readers. I targeted somewhere around the time Winter changes into Spring, and Winter is half over now. I need to keep my eye on the prize here.

My video recorder is set for The Walking Dead. I can catch up later. I have a growler full of good Porter to keep me company while my wife watches her show. I hope you guys all had a great weekend that was either fun or productive. (Hopefully a bit of both.)

So let's hear it. Are you into the Grammy's or The Walking Dead? Did you work on promotions, or write something new? Did you read something new, or practice your Hoodoo? How was your weekend?

* Not the name on my wife's birth certificate.

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