I’m noticing a theme this week.

Maybe it’s just because I’m going through my usual misanthropic phase that seems to emerge every once and a while, but my typical rage has risen to a fair degree the past few days, which is a sure and disappointing sign that the Christmas fever of goodwill is already at its end. Because I’m seeing and experiencing so many things annoying me right now that I think the next thing I look at is probably going to burst into flames. I am Superman. Yes.

Just a few things that have made me crazy of late:

– My strange mutating illness refuses to budge. Still. A whole month later. I don’t. Understand. Why. I’m starting to suspect it’s Colonel Mustard, in the Dining Room, with the Candlestick.

– Sitting at a junction yesterday, an ambulance is heard screaming down a road. Two cars at the junction coming from the left side decide not to stop, but rather drive STRAIGHT INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE JUNCTION, BLINDLY, AT HIGH SPEED. Said ambulance, coming from the north side has to swerve slightly out the way to avoid collision because the drivers of those cars were too stupid to realise why everyone else was stopping. Had the ambulance crashed at that point, at least 7 roads all linking to that junction would have been crippled, as well as the obvious danger of whoever the ambulance was trying to serve being in a worse situation. All because two people wanted to get across 10 meters of road quicker than the emergency services. Urgh.

– A recent article goes up and I talk about objectivity and the metatextual aspects of a particular game. First reader’s response? To say I clearly never played the game because I apparently got the mystical race of the fictional character wrong. Which is made all the more galling because A) I didn’t get it wrong, B) what he refers to in my article isn’t actually IN my article (he paraphrases and ends up putting words in my mouth), C) he clearly didn’t read the article properly in his scramble to try and defend the game, which is amusing because D) I wasn’t criticising the game in the first place, and now E) the rest of the readers are caught up in a pointless argument over what bloody mystical race the fictional character is, and F) I cant respond because I don’t have the necessary access. I’m actually laughing now, because it’s kinda funny. Maybe the medication is kicking in.

– Littlewoods online has left me in the lurch with my Wii remote, telling me the delivery date of Dec 22nd is now mid Jan. Which would be fine if they hadn’t told me on Dec 23rd. And already took the money out. And if I didn’t need the damn thing before then for the relevant New Year’s parties. Take in mind I ordered it in November, it’s horrible service.

– Casual prejudice/bigotry from a forumite, with no apology or explanation. To indulgently quote a character of mine: “The 21st century. Age of enlightenment. Aint it a trip?”

*Breathes out*

Wow, this is cathartic. I feel much better now.

Anyway, to my actual planned entry this week as not to make me seem like a totally sour old man. Namely, the project update blog. Nothing fancy about this; it’s a rundown of how each project I’m working on is going in an attempt to:

a) Keep you up-to-date on the billion stories I’ve got going,

b) Keep my arse busy on them by making you aware of them. Which may be a basic psychology trick (you know of them, therefore they’re in the public domain and now need to constantly pushed on so I don’t feel like an idle wretch),

c) Hopefully provide a tally of my successes (probably boring), my failures (probably more entertaining) and everything in-between (probably the bulk of this blog).

So this section will be projects either close to completion, in progress for publication or actually complete and awaiting publication.

TITLE: Bad Luck Inc.
TYPE/MEDIUM: Comic book short story. Drawn by Yui Marr.
GENRE: Sci-fi
PUBLISHER: Futurius
CURRENT STATUS: Written and drawn. Awaiting editing, lettering and printing.
SYNOPSIS: See preview link below
YOU’LL LIKE IT IF YOU LIKED: Minority Report, The Matrix
PREVIEWS: http://cbrotherson.blogspot.com/2006/08/bad-luck-inc-preview.html
PUBLISH ETA: Early 2007 in the Futurius Anthology: Tales From the Plex Vol 2.

TITLE: Secret comic project (can’t say much as I’m under contract)
TYPE/MEDIUM: Monthly comic book series
GENRE: *whistles*
PUBLISHER: *coughs*
CURRENT STATUS: Ongoing monthly, several issues written, some to be drawn imminently.
YOU’LL LIKE IT IF YOU LIKED: Sorry, cant say at this stage… gives far too much away.
PREVIEWS: Coming next year
PUBLISH ETA: Late 2007, 2008 and hopefully beyond.

TITLE: Butterflies and Moths
TYPE/MEDIUM: Full 22 page comic book story
GENRE: Supernatural drama
PUBLISHER: Futurius
CURRENT STATUS: Written, currently being drawn by a fantastic artist to be named soon
SYNOPSIS: “What would you do if you’ve been given the hardest choice to make in your life – and had to make it over and over and over again? What would you do? How would you cope? How far would you go to sacrifice your life for the sake of others?”
YOU’LL LIKE IT IF YOU LIKED: Donnie Darko, The Sixth Sense
PREVIEWS: Coming soon!
PUBLISH ETA: Sometime in 2007

TITLE: The Cure
TYPE/MEDIUM: Prose novella
GENRE: Psychological thriller
PUBLISHER: Gorelab, hopefully (Adam? Adam? 😉 )
CURRENT STATUS: Written and finished, around 12,000 words
SYNOPSIS: “When an insular Eastern European family living on the borders of a terrible war are forced to take in a mysterious stranger, they find their lives spiral into a land of distrust and sickness, as ghosts of the past threaten every part of the future.”
YOU’LL LIKE IT IF YOU LIKED: The Sixth Sense, The Village, Signs, The Mothman Prophecies
PREVIEWS: Available on request
PUBLISH ETA: TBA

TITLE: The Twilight Cleaner
TYPE/MEDIUM: Comic book short story
GENRE: Horror
PUBLISHER: Onyx Cross
CURRENT STATUS: Written, currently being drawn by the brilliant Armando Mendoza
SYNOPSIS: “Within the trappings of society and expectation, a young woman finds herself asking the question of where her loyalty are, to carve out a worthwhile future. Of course, when you’re a vampire survival by night and death are necessary, and the limited options force her into a horrific dawning realisation…”
YOU’LL LIKE IT IF YOU LIKED: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys
PREVIEWS: Coming veeeeeery soon…
PUBLISH ETA: Late 2007

There was originally going to be a lot more to this week’s entry, but in truth, a little of my Christmas cheer has deserted me through the chaos of continual illness, numerous emerging problems and having to deal with the above while still keeping on top of current deadlines. Bah. So it’s a slightly condensed version for your eye-teeth. Humbug.

Before I get into it, I just want to do my usual promo of current work going live. As per week, my recent WiiChat column has gone up with another due just before Christmas Day and then probably one more next week (I think): http://www.wiichat.com/nintendo-wii-articles/

They’re actually becoming “acclaimed”, which is, you know, nice and stuff – I’ve been writing for bloody ages and I’m far more used to the deafening silence of apathy, so it’s nice to know they’re being enjoyed.

My entry to the Best Games of 2006 are over at Boomtown as well: http://pc.boomtown.net/en_uk/articles/art.view.php?id=13087

There’ll also be a comic review over on ComiX-Fan this weekend, once I get the energy to write the damn thing.

Anyhoo, the bulk of this entry beckons: it’s the inevitable ‘best of’ gubbins which is always good for this time of year (and not being used because I have little else to write about at the moment, oh ho ho ho no). The ‘rules’ are simple. Just copy and paste the below and remove my choices, adding your own. Your selection doesn’t have to be stuff released just in 2006, it may be something you’ve discovered this year but been out for a few years or whatever – just as long as your FIRST ENCOUNTER with it is this year. It can also be as in-depth or little as you want and you don’t have to use every category, especially if you can’t think of something for it at the time. There’s nothing too personal here, but as I said before, ignore questions you don’t want to answer. Although obviously, they’ll be conspicuous by their absence and I’ll note it for future reference 😉

If you’re new, feel free to join in… consider it a meet and greet of sorts.

So here’s my batch, in no particular order.

NAME
You know this one already

CURRENT LOCATION
Birmingham, on my bed, lying on a mattress of full fat butter

AGE
19? Okay, 27 (really 19! Honest!)

JOB
You should know this one too… (it’s ‘layabout’)

BEST FILM(S) SEEN IN 2006

The Departed, Children of Men, The Prestige, Pan’s Labyrinth, Crank, Jarhead

BEST ALBUM/SINGLE(S) HEARD IN 2006

The Minstrel Show – Little Brother, Black Republican – Nas & Jay Z, Murray’s Revenge – Murs
BEST BOOK(S) READ IN 2006
American Gods – Neil Gaiman, Lone Wolf and Cub – Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima (started 3 years ago, but read most of the 28 books this year)

BEST TV WATCHED IN 2006
Lost, Entourage, Prison Break

BEST GAME(S) PLAYED IN 2006
Bully/Canis Canum Edit, Gears of War, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

CHEAP PROMOTION BONUS ROUND – PLUG SOMETHING
My whole links list (seen to the right) deserve plugs, along with any publication I work for 😉

A BIZARRE EVENT FROM THE YEAR
Applying to become a series writer, with little experience, then actually getting the job before realising a whole several months later that it’s the real deal. Whu-guh?

AIMS FOR 2007

See that a majority of my scripts get translated to paper, not go insane, try not spend most of the year in an overdraft, not get pulled into fruitless arguments, continue the crossover from games industry to comic industry, not go insane (really this time)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! 🙂

(No, that’s not part of the quiz)

In a tad too much pain this week to write a true entry (on top of my illness, my wisdom teeth are causing problems as well, so I’m writing between moments of painkilling lucidity). Last week’s Wii feature actually went up early-this-week, with a new one set for sometime between now and the weekend. They’ll be over at: http://www.wiichat.com/nintendo-wii-articles/

I’ll have something that you can join in on next week, so be prepared and have your opinions sharpened like school pencils (sans nibbled end bits – yes, I know you all did that at school, dont deny it).

Have a good weekend!

Best laid plans, hm?

Yeah, had a few problems in getting a weekend update done for about… ooh, a billion reasons. But yes, my Wii was indeed one of them. It’s a great, great machine and enamoured me far more than I expected considering I’ve yet to play nothing but sports and mini games on it so far. I also created my Mii, which I managed to get looking a little like me (although the creator lacked my mini dreads, so I’m wearing a hat… which, in truth, is what I wear when I’m out anyway).

Sorry for the poor quality, I took it with my phone. But I’m sure you get the idea.

But in any case, yeah, Wii is the future. It told me so, in a lucid dream, with its little blue light. Even before I get Zelda in the post. I would have a handy link to the feature I recently did on Wii’s future, but it’s yet to be posted on WiiChat. Next week. Although my optimistic opinions about how the console would be received now feel very vindicated in hearing the numerous stories about how people who usually don’t play videogames are enjoying Wii. In fact, my Mom, who’s not played a videogame in something close to 20 years, played Wii Tennis last night and was so impressed that she told her partner about it, and spent several minutes talking to me about it today about how much she enjoyed the game and what else she could play on the system. Was I amazed? Seriously, you don’t know the half.

At this point, Paracetamol (did you know that word isn’t in the Microsoft Word dictionary? Although it’s US adopted name, Acetaminophen, is. Hmm.) is kicking in. Yes, I’m ill again. I’m lame, I know. The throat infection is trying to come back, as eerily prophesied by my friends this weekend who told me there’d be a chance of the illness resurfacing seeing as I didn’t treat it (and therefore only pushed it below the surface rather than cure it). I can be a horrible hypochondriac at times, but sadly my throat hurting like hell and pain while swallowing is not something I’d wish upon myself, intentional or no. So now I’m looking at the unused prescription my GP gave me last week if the flesh-in-gullet problem suddenly reoccurs tomorrow. Although I’m hoping my immune system, lots of vit C and strepsils can flush it out before it gets that bad again.

The most important thing this weekend was that said friends -Tim and Lucy- visited with my ever-lovely (and growing far too fast) godson, who makes his blog debut right here, right now. Take a bow, Preston.

Oh and before I go, I’m a feature reviewer for ComiX-Fan this week, with my review for Spider-Man: Reign, so feel free to take a look at that over here: http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/showthread.php?t=40825 I also wrote a PlayStation party-games piece at PlayStation.com http://uk.playstation.com/pdcf/index.jhtml?locale=en_GB‘A PlayStation Party for all’. The site makes it impossible to direct link it, but it’s easy enough to find as it’s a recent feature.

And that’s me done for now. Ironically, this is an update of sorts, isn’t it? Handy. Anyhoo, time to take advantage of the pain-killing time. Eat or Wii? Decisions decisions…

Yes, I know I’m early.

No, I’m still not well.

Despite this week being far kinder on my schedule than the last couple, I know -just know– I’m not going to be able to get anything too meaningful from the spongy trifle that is my brain this week. The throat infection is nearly gone, so the sensation of moving a pound of flesh each time I swallow or talk has passed, but it’s now mutated into a cold and cough, making me a comedy act of coughs, snot, sneezes and dribbles (especially attractive) every five minutes. Ah, man-flu. I’ve been expecting you.

So, I’ve decided to do a semi-update now and then potentially do another later across the weekend if time permits it. Which, in not so subtle terms, means “I’ll write something if work deadlines, and the fact I’ll be playing my new Wii for stupid lengths of time, permits it”.

C’est vrai. Lemsip honesty contains the most brutal of truths.

What will I be gracing you with in the interim, then? Well, aside from the fact I finally -finally!- did my bloody tax returns (yes, I know I promised to do them a couple weeks back, I’m sorry) and the better revelation that they weren’t nearly as painful as expected, this week’s pseudo-update is below. It even has pictures. For once.

– My newest WiiChat column is now up. http://www.wiichat.com/nintendo-wii-articles/7259-wii-fam-il-y.html is where my thoughts lie. I talk about how the machine has affected family dynamics and what this means for the console’s potential sales figures. My only disappointment with the feature is that it became a terrible reminder of how unreliable and impolite people on a whole are. While several gamers volunteered their stories for the examples in the article, several others jumped at the chance only to leave me in the lurch and refuse to reply to my emails after. So a few reshuffles later, the piece ended up in its more example-lite form that is published. It probably would have been a bit too long with more stories, but a lack of courtesy gets my back up at the best of times.

– Excitingly, a preview of the comic book anthology I’m part of is now up over at Futurius. http://www.futurius.com/tftp_vtwo.html is where a few samples are being shown, and lovely they look too. Be aware that the preview doesn’t contain any of my story material (it’s still being lettered and finished), but it’s a nice confirmation that the anthology is edging closer to completion for the coming months. At which point, I’ll start posting some previews of my first story on here. I’m hoping the brilliant artist I have for my second story can get something done in time, but seeing as I should have at least 3 comic book stories published in the next 10 months, maybe I’m just being greedy. In any case, check out the preview.

– Off-beat humour alert. Oh, and yes, I’m talking about Wii again. Sorry. The Japanese manual has fairly amusing pics that would normally be associated with health and safety warnings that come with any machine. Although while we boring Westerners would get dull pictorials, the Japanese have wonderfully visual versions that are (presumably intentionally) comical. It’s almost like playing a game of Pictionary to guess what the exact warning is.

Your Wii remote can be used to gleefully and brutally re-arrange the face of close friends and relatives. DO NOT DO THIS

Left unattended, your Wii may dress up in your clothes and develop thoughts of its own. These thoughts may or may not be sexual. If sentience is gained, DESTROY IMMEDIATELY

If Wii is not destroyed, it may develop a 40-a-day habit. Potentially after aforementioned amoral thoughts. USE PROTECTION

And on that risqué note, I’m off to watch an episode of Firefly and hopefully not have dreams about The Grudge, which I ‘experienced’ a few hours ago. My night-thoughts are bad enough as they are without fingers popping out my skull. Did I tell you about the time I started sleep-walking after thinking there were tigers outside my room…?

No?

Oh.

A weird entry this week, mainly because I’m half decided against writing one at all. Not through any reason suggested in my comments from the last entry, or even because of the deadlines (which surprisingly, I’m just about on top of).

But simply because I don’t really know what to write about at the moment.

So this is going to be an organised, stream of consciousness thing, albeit tidied up, edited and probably fairly short because my mind is a little distracted – oh, and I’m listening to the Villa match at the moment (come on you Claret and Blues!)

– My newest column at WiiChat is uphttp://www.wiichat.com/nintendo-wii-articles/6046-failure-launch-within-realistic-expectations.html- , with another on its way in a day or so. So far they’ve been well received, which is a huge relief. I really enjoy writing them and I missed penning columns after a break from them earlier this year. Turning out weekly ones should be an interesting challenge, but I relish having weekly work in the same way I relish having to write a monthly script. Gets me off my arse, gets me to think more creatively under pressure and in turn, keeps me slightly saner than if I keep these things pent up. Writing is such a cheap form of therapy that it’s almost a side benefit that I both love it and get paid for it. Although obviously, both those factors tend to go a long way in practical terms. Just as well, really.

– The most recent issue of my comic book series is written, and I’m happy with it, but I’m also s*it scared. I go through phases where I’m paralysed by the worry that the stories will be ripped to shreds by the readers, I didn’t do enough research, it’s not entertaining, not enough action, not enough characterisation, continuity problems… all sorts. This feeling comes and goes, often dependant on various factors, but I’m over my scheduled panic attack for this month. The good thing about this fear is that it forces me to do much better afterwards, to write a better issue than the last and keep the quality as high as I can. Although my editors are happy (I think!) with things so far, so that’s massively important and means a lot to me.

– Villa just went one down to Man City. Who scored? Our former striker, Darius Vassell, of course. You have got to be freaking kidding me. He ALWAYS scores against us since we sold him! ARGGGHH. Always!

– I’m ill right now. And it sucks. I wish it was something like man-flu, but in truth, it’s actually something far worse. I think it’s a throat infection of somesorts. It started out as a cold, then today I woke up with the inability to swallow without pain and the really weird feeling of what I can only describe as like having a piece of hanging flesh stuck in my throat that I cant swallow, but feels like it’s going to pop out when I try to talk. Which in turn makes me want to retch. Not too comfortable. Talking isn’t fun, as I’m pretty much reduced to half sentences, semi retching, gutteral clicks, hand signals and nods. This is on top of the orange fluids coming from my nose on regular occasions, between sniffles (sorry, but I have to share this with someone – ha, now you CANNOT UNSEE WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN!). I’m consuming vast quantities of orange juice, Strepsils, Lemsip, throat spray and whatever else I can grab, although nothing I do can get around that feeling of having flesh stuck in the middle of your throat. At this point, man-flu would be a sodding blessing.

– Ebay. Annoys. Me. I swear, I cant be more clear about my sales on eBay, yet buyers still often insist on being outraged when I tell them shipping will take around 5 days, despite the fact I STATE IT CLEARLY ON THE ITEM DESCRIPTION. They often then go, “oh, I didn’t read it.” What?! Is reading that difficult? Especially when it’s information you’re PAYING MONEY FOR? Honestly, I really do think I could put stale dog poop on for sale, label it as “£10000 for free! L@@k!”, have a disclaimer at the bottom saying it’s actually dog crap and people would still bid on it. Urgh.

– My Wii fund has now surpassed the price of the machine (yay) which means I’m entering ‘how many credit notes can I get for an extra controller/game/whatever’ territory. Although saying that, I’ve still not heard from GameStation that my pre-order is 100% confirmed, so I may be unlucky and miss out on launch day. I may stand a chance if I go to the midnight opening, but the idea of running around Brum at 12.30am, trying to get home on the nightbus with £200 worth of fancy new console goodness fills me with dread. So if I have to wait another week, so be it. I could probably do without the work distractions anyway. Although I’m supposed to be getting it so I can… do… work… related… reviews… ah. Yes. Dammit.

– Stop! Strepsils time!

– More articles are on their way to Boomtown and Sony PlayStation Europe.com come this time next week. Should my throat have not fallen out by then, I’ll post links, probably in lieu of a proper blog entry.

– If we don’t equalise against Man City soon, I’m not going to be happy.

– The Strepsil nearly cut my tongue just now. Strepsil revenge is a spiky thing, indeed.

– We just conceed another goal. Really now, come on. This is getting stupid.

– This entry is OVER.

No real update this week, sorry.

Kinda a ‘good news’, ‘bad news’ thing because while I don’t have the time to create a full entry for this week, the reasons behind it is simply because I have a ton of work going on that’s going to keep me buoyant through the heavy Christmas present spending spree.

In the meantime, it’s a cheap pimp my wares throwback (boyeee). Still cant show you anything from my commissioned comic series, which is a little frustrating as I’m pretty proud of the issue I’m just finishing up – it’s quite a personal subject and a very quiet, human story that I hope readers will think about and be affected by. But while that remains under wraps, there’s other stuff to throw at you in the meantime.

I recently became a weekly columnist over at WiiChat.com (http://www.wiichat.com/). If the title/URL didn’t tip you off, it’s a site about Nintendo Wii. Each week I talk about something Wii related and hopefully I’ll get some reviews done when the console is released in a couple weeks. My first article can be read here (http://www.wiichat.com/nintendo-wii-articles/4804-curse-wii-ning-console-war.html), with a new column on the site every Friday/Saturday.

My most recent reviews over at Boomtown (http://www.boomtown.net/en_uk/) are:
EyeToy Lemmings (PlayStation2): http://ps2.boomtown.net/en_uk/articles/art.view.php?id=12875

The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning (Nintendo DS): http://ngc.boomtown.net/en_uk/articles/art.view.php?id=12832

Ace Combat: The Belkan War (PlayStation2): http://ps2.boomtown.net/en_uk/articles/art.view.php?id=12823

My more recent comic book reviews over at ComiX-Fan (http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/index.html) are:
Ultimate Spider-Man #101 review: http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/showthread.php?t=40514

New Avengers #25 review: http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/showthread.php?t=40661

Right, back to work. And if you’ve not already participated in the previous blog entry (sitting lovingly below this one), please do if you have time.

Hopefully I’ll be able to create a proper entry next week when the deadline heat cools off.

Cheers,

C.

I struck a dog last week.

Not a real dog, you’ll understand. I may be cynical and slightly warped at times, but I’m not as bad as to actually hit a real animal. But in a videogame, I hit a dog, entirely intentionally.

Allow me to explain.

The videogame is Bully/Canis Canum Edit. Now, some of you may be flinching at this narrative right now, thinking sarcastically “well, unnecessary violent in a videogame, yeah, that’s new”. But again, let me explain. In the game, I was innocently doing a paper round.

Yes, a paper round. Never done one in real life, but here I was, peddling away on my bicycle, trying to earn a little money in one of Bully‘s many sub games, delivering papers. It’s a loving homage to Paperboy, that age old game that you may remember. So I was doing quite well, managing to get some of my papers to their targets in the time limit, with 5 papers to go and plenty of time to do them.

Then I hear a growl.

And a bark.

Before I even realise, this dog (not sure of the breed, never really stopped long enough to check) was chasing me down the street, snapping at my heels. At first I tried to ignore it, but after a while it made delivering papers even more difficult and time was bearing down on me quicker than the canine who apparently wanted to eat my legs for no real reason. And it refused to give up, snapping and growling as I swerved in and out of traffic, avoiding cars and the occasional hoodlum wanting to turn my face into a Picasso.

Somehow, I managed to get my papers to their targets on time. Job done, cash earned.

But the dog would not leave me alone.

It continued to chase me regardless of where I went in the city or what I did. Unlike the local toughs who want a piece of my hide, this animal pays no attention to the blue-red flash of the law. So I decide to take a risk. Maybe it’ll stop if I get off the bike.

Yeah.

No.

Scooby Doo was waiting for this moment. And promptly attacks me. Biting at my legs and taking a small slice of energy with the chunk of flesh. I run, but the dog reaches me easily, taking another bite. Then another. Then another. Then-

Slap.

I clock it one across its head.

It lets out a pathetic whimper and bounces to the ground.

And I feel HORRIFIED.

With one sound, one little realistic sample of audible pain, I’m made to forget my tormentor’s constant hounding and instantly feel like a monster. The game has me pounding bullies into submission, slamming wood off their heads and flushing their melons into the toilet without remorse, yet as soon as I raise my hand to an animal in self defence, I vilify myself and make a mental note to not do it again. Which is exactly the point.

Bully is a game that teaches consequence of actions more so than many other games I’ve played. Flush fire crackers down the loo and the rushing explosion of water will horribly bidet anyone in the other cubicles. Offer abuse to authority or to anyone while authority is present, and you’ll be instantly reprimanded and often punished for it. Even something as innocent as accidentally bumping into someone can have its consequences as students drop their books, fall over and do their best to either make you feel like a jerk or retaliate, making sure you’re very careful about personal space in the future. The game’s moral core is very strong, with every character in the story ending up being a better person by the time you complete it. Sounds Disney, sure, but it works. And it only works as well as it does because you’re made to think about each of your actions throughout the game. Interactive moral cause and effect.

As a storytelling technique, it’s incredibly effective and something I’m trying to learn from. The closer you bring the reader to personal response, the more they react. It’s something I intended to do from the very moment you started reading this entry. No doubt, most of you reading saw the opening line and instantly reacted. Those who know me will be asking how or why, those who don’t know me will be wondering who exactly this cruel bastard is and why he has the audacity to put such information in the public domain.

Emotional empathy and response is one of the writer’s greatest weapons. Regardless of the medium, whether it be film, book, game, comic book, music, whatever. Appealing to emotion(s) while getting you to ask whos/whats/whys/hows is the draw of any story, across any genre or medium.

If there’s any particular movie, book, song, game, comic or whatever that stands out for you, please do post it here and a quick reason why it has that effect on you. It’ll be interesting to see the sort of range there is for this sort of thing…

Okay, slightly back on track after a busy week of running around and beating deadlines over the head until they rolled over. Got more deadlines coming up, so let’s jump to it…

As previously promised, an example of the numerous issues which occur in writing a typical fight scene. Here’s one I wrote about 10 months ago (as usual, copyright 2006 Corey Brotherson):

‘Ketch moved almost as a blur, his axe appearing from the darkness of his cloak, blocking Teral’s weapon, hooking it and sending the steel spinning away, clanging noisily off a distant rock. Before Teral could react, the full force of Ketch’s handle caught him in the mouth, and then his throat, sending the man reeling in a staggered and broken gasp for air.

The two who had previously fought at the side of Ketch were already bearing down with their swords. No more questions. Incapacitation first.

As one, Fuller had pitched the flat of his sword high, while Gandasa swung hers low, the latter catching Ketch painfully on his hip as he arched his head backwards away from the former. He pitched a short kick downwards against the shin of Fuller, forcing his former partner’s body to lurch downwards in response. Ketch went for a follow up kick to Fuller’s stooped head, but was caught again by another flash of Gandasa’s blade, this time drawing blood as it sliced up and nicked his chin.

Ketch immediately stepped back, bringing distance between him and the two, and allowing a vital second to bring his axe to bear. His tired eyes gazed over the spots where his opponents’ armour was absent.

“Go home, Ketch,” breathed Fuller. “Whatever you’re going through, whatever’s going through your mind, you’re not thinking. Go home. Don’t throw your life away.”

Teral had already struck before Ketch had realised it was a distraction, fists slamming hard into the back of his head, knocking him forward. Straight into the handle of Fuller’s sword, drawing blood from Ketch’s mouth as the tape-wrapped metal rammed into his cheek. He fell, but faster than anyone expected, thrusting his legs outward to bring down both Gandasa and Fuller, while using the length of his axe to trip Teral. With all four fighters in the dirt, Ketch turned and mounted Teral’s chest, plunging the grip of his weapon hard on to the side of his victim’s unprotected head. Teral’s neck shunted and smashed into the ground. Consciousness left him with a crunching wet squelch.

Ketch tucked into a quick roll, straight over the limp body of Teral, and spinning around to correct the distance between him and Gandasa who was only just to her feet. He swung his axe towards her midsection, forcing a quick block with her sword, but leaving her vulnerable to a swift kick to the side, then back of her leg, buckling the Ranger to one knee. Fuller went to assist his partner, swinging his blade in a low arc to cut Ketch’s exposed thigh, but Ketch spun his axe and swung, catching the helmeted Fuller squarely in his uncovered face with the joint and flat, jerking his head to the side with a damp crunch and sending him staggering backwards, clutching his nose which had exploded from the impact.

With Gandasa rising to her feet again, Ketch jabbed his fingertips hard down in the exposed area of her sword-arm, just below the elbow where no armour rested. Her hand spasmodically jerked open, forcing the immediate drop of her weapon.

Then he thrust his axe into her back. ‘

I wrote most of this on the fly, knowing how it starts and how it ends, but little idea of how it progresses. I just let the scene play out as naturally as I could, with the characters acting as I thought they would given the constantly changing circumstances. It made for fun, but slightly chaotic writing. I wish it were as easy as one person hitting another until one fell over, but there’s all sorts of things to consider (on top of making it even more difficult by having 4 combatants in a 3-on-1 scrap):

-The hands they hold their weapons with (and whether they’re ambidextrous or have a bias),

– The equipment used, how they use the environment, how each action creates a reaction (cause and effect),

– ‘Fight logic’ (for example, most people would use a weapon over their fists, not be thinking too much and reacting on instinct, if they have training, the relationship they share, how familiar they are with the rival, various fighting styles and how they match against each other, etc)

…all while trying not to bog things down too much as to keep the speed of the scene up.

It all turns into one giant virtual chess board, planning moves in advance and then watching the characters play them out, while you hope it works and entertains, all while keeping the story moving.

The main thing I wanted express was motivation. The scene revolves around Ketch wanting to do something that the other three don’t want him to do. But that’s layered by the fact that one of those three (Teral) has no love for Ketch while Fuller and Gandasa are comrades-in-arms to him and are more willing to give him a chances to stop. That said, all are willing to forgo familiarity for practicality, knowing wounds and broken bones can be healed and the quicker you get the aggressor unconscious -something they are all willing and able to do- the quicker the fight will be over.

Having three-on-one was tricky, but there were obvious factors that made it easier. Teral is a closet maniac and harbours jealously tinged aggression against Ketch, which makes him less likely to hold off, while both Fuller and Gandasa work as team, so really it’s a two and one vs. one situation. Notice that Ketch disarms the loose cannon first (closest in proximity) and tries to incapacitate him by going for his air-ways. When that doesn’t work, he just goes for plain ol’ blunt trauma to the head. Same with Fuller, with an air-way strike to his nose – he doesn’t want to kill them, but follows the mantra that if a person cant breath, stand or see, they can’t fight. Ketch also makes sure distance is his main weapon when he gets on the back foot and starts taking hits, particularly from his team mates.

Further to that, I personally feel that the fight has to mean something beyond it being a fight. It’s often suggested that whatever you write, when you start a scene something has to change by the end of it or it’s a waste. By that same respect, I always want a fight scene to involve mental/spiritual violence, as well as physical, to underline a change. In the context of the story, Ketch fights to release a prisoner that goes against his established principles. The fight is a flashpoint because he’s:

a) Fighting his friends

b) Defying his superiors

c) Defying his social standing and the Establishment

As such, once the fight is over, nothing in the story will be the same for him. He either loses and is taken in to be questioned over his lack of loyalty, destroying everything he’s worked for in society,

or,

he wins and loses his friends and high ranked place in society in a quest to discover his true history and background.

Having been forced into the fight in the first place, both outcomes now push the plot forward, but also render the character changed from herein, so the fight is everything to the progression of the story and will affect the characters for the rest of it. Which in turn means I have to be careful that nothing happens in the fight to contradict potential developments later on. I’m not against spontaneous plotting (I do a lot of it), but things can spin in unexpected directions very quickly without restraint and this story had (at the time) a tight word count to keep things in check. Tricky.

There are a ton of other factors as well, such as:

– It’s raining during the fight and they’re in a forest, so wet surface tension makes it difficult for them to strike as hard as they would under the circumstances (it also makes a cool dramatic visual for the reader).

– Weapons are used non-lethally at all times (erm, despite the last paragraph of the sample, which isn’t the end of the fight)

– To portray a modicum of realism, talk is kept to a bare minimum, only used for what appears to be distraction (or did Teral just take advantage of the situation?)

– If one move is done, the fighter does the best to follow it up, for example, a kick to the shins brings a person’s body language down, at which point a knee/kick to the now bowed and lowered head would follow. As we’re dealing with known and experienced warriors, they’re likely to move in smooth motions where combinations are maximised to make their opponent move in the way they want. A vital element of fight training is prediction of your enemy’s moves, part of which is forcing them into mistakes so you can capitalise.

It’s all a bit crazy and makes me wonder just how long some of the more famous fight scenes took to organise (Lord of the Rings, anyone?). It’s hard not to appreciate them once you realise the sheer amount of thought that goes into working out how one person can physically hurt another in the most interesting way possible.

Kinda sadistic, really. But isn’t that why we love the fight scene in the first place…?

Before I continue with my blog on dramatic fighting, I stumbled across this and thought it would be best to share it:

http://www.hotukdeals.com/vouchers-static

This site has internet codes for vouchers from tons of online shops, ranging from Early Learning Centre and Amazon, to HMV and ChoicesUK. Just simply look up the shop you want, check out the code (they’re often up to date) and do your Christmas shopping with a nice discount.

I’ve done half my shopping, sadly, but I’m sure some of you will find it useful.

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