Friday, February 28, 2014

Roll for Initiative

This next, upcoming weekend, I get to play Dungeons and Dragons finally. It's been a while since I've been able to play, though my memories of the time spent hacking and slashing through imaginary dungeons I recall with haziness. I like the idea of table top Role playing, I just don't like the fact that it takes almost an hour to move through 10 minutes of in-game activity.

I enjoy the world crafting though. The idea that in my mind dwells an entire land, filled with arcane history and goings ons is catnip for authors. Roll the dice, and a skeleton pops up. Obliterate. Loot. A scroll you say? Of ancient evil? Tell me more!

I have been told that on the first project an author undertakes, it is customary for the main character of that story to enmesh its self into the author. I've decided to do that for my upcoming graphic novel. Dungeons and Dragons will facilitate with my transformation. I plan to use that character as my character. I'm hoping for good things.

As far as project updates go, I have a few.

Last week I went through the cover proposals for my up coming book Spirit of Orn. This weekend is round two. I am very excited to see what comes of that.

The Sandman book that I soldier on, at the behest of Sequart Organization, is closing this week at 5200 words. I like that I'm making good progress. Especially because I am not feeling at all bereft of content. Of the chapters that I've begun to work on, the chapter on Christianity came first. It just seemed the best idea to write about something that I was familiar with before venturing out onto unknown territory. So far so good.

I always say that I am optimistic for what will come out of this year. My opinions haven't changed yet. I'm glad that now I have something to show for it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Snap Shot Theater: I Confess

I Confess
By Stuart Warren

"Forty minutes ago I killed a peace officer, Father," a voice came through the silt screen divider. An uncomfortable cough, a shift of weight, returned the admission with a lasting silence.

"Was he sanctioned by the Commission?" Father Gara finally ventured.

"No, no he wasn't," the voice said trembling. "I followed protocol, honest! He just got in the way."

"I'm afraid I'm going to have to revoke your license and report you Singe." Father Gara said routinely. He stood up and brushed off his robes and left the confessional. Before he could walk five steps, the booth emitted a harsh blast of rays, a muffled scream, then nothing. The smell of cauterized flesh lingered in the room for a moment then disappeared.

The Commission for Nefarious Acts Incorporated was put in place to make sure these incidents didn't happen. Sure, the calamitous affairs, the insidious intent, of aged super-villains and their uncanny protagonists, went on with extreme oversight, but it was getting old. Father Gara was tired of it.

Opening his robe a slender tube released from the folds, spewing puffs of smoke. Rolling up the tube he opened his mouth and stoked the electric coals contemplatively. The Commission paid for his habit. He missed the old thing. Cybernetic bodies he opted out of. He'd rather die of high cholesterol than forgo the taste of a cheeseburger for the rest of his innumerable years.

From the corner of his eye Father Gara spotted his page, storming the sanctuary, waving an edict like a depraved idiot. He turned and snatched the paper from Deftus, who panted heavily, bent over.

"Suh.... suh... oh, God... Singe, he..."

"I know," Father Gara said curtly, "I've dealt with it. Why don't you sit down or something."

Deftus laid himself out in a pew, his eyes fixed above him at the large stained glass skybox that enclosed the temple of crime. A flaming sword cleaving the sacred Book of Order, radiated it's glory, transfiguring the sun's rays into a brilliant cascade of evil. Deftus, blinked hard and rubbed his eyes.

"What a fucking amateur," Deftus said, winded.

"Language!" Father Gara countered harshly. "This is the Lord's house you fool. What the hell is the matter with you?" Father Gara looked up reverently, crossing himself and looked over the edict.

Six hours ago, Singe, class 2 meta-felon killed Wayne Constance, Peace Officer of the 28th Department of New Angels in an aggravated assault of Captain Guts and his Glory Brigade on the corner of Matthau and Lemon at approximately 14:37. Singe is considered a minor threat, and is ordered to be immediately suppressed by lethal sanction.
The Annual Commission Family Barbecue will be held next week...
Father Gara folded the letter and put it into his robes nonchalantly.

"I hope the potato salad is better this year," he grumbled.

Deftus turned his head towards Father Gara and sighed.

"Do you think it's wrong for the organization to kill offenders?" he said innocently.

Father Gara reeled.

"What the... Where did that come from? What's the matter with you? What are you, stupid? No..." he replied disdainfully. "Put on some real clothes, will you. Mass starts in an hour."

Deftus nodded quickly, got up, and ran to the back changing room. Father Gara enjoyed his page, but the lad was dense. He took him under his wing at the bequest of the boy's father, the Crimson Kingpin. Their family was well involved in The Commission, but the boy lacked the smarts. He wouldn't be choosy though. Any talent, let alone the good kind, was difficult to come by.

Father Gara slid back his sleeves and looked at his watch. It was nearly 15:30. Mass would start at 16:00, the early kind. He approached the altar reverently and knelt delicately. He prayed for the waging of evil and stood up once more. He missed the game, the heists, the assassinations, but the cloth he took up had changed all of that. Singe wasn't the first he had put down. It felt cheap to him. Long ago, a man had to pull a trigger, or wield a knife, but times were changing. Regulation was responsible for most of it, and that was the way things were. Ascending the altar he approached his throne and took a seat. Looking out over the empty pews, he felt the emptiness in his own heart resonate.

But that was his decision. He had made it. And he was fine with it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Philosophy of Writing: The Ending

I had to think about what I could do for the last Philosophy of Writing blog. Where I will take the Monday slot I will attempt to figure out this week. Until then, having this week's topic be about the "Ending" was appropriate, at least in my mind.

Ending anything is a tough nut to crack, really. That goes for things beyond writing as well. Putting in a two weeks notice, saying goodbye to a loved one, watching your children go off the college, these are endings. Endings are bittersweet at best, tragic and depressing at worst. How we end something also speaks somewhat about who we are, the kind of character that we portray ourselves to be. So, with our reputation on the line, we ought to finish well.

Ending something well depends on a few factors. What kind of ending is it? A good one or a bad one? It is possible to have both be satisfying. What makes either ending good depends on the loose ends. The most satisfying endings are ones that feel complete. (All characters were accounted for, all villains received their just dessert, all heroes were welcomed home, etc.) If you want to read a good example of how to end a story, read Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. The conflict between Fat Charlie and his brother Spider are all resolved at the end of the story concisely. Fat Charlie's courage and identity are resolved through his journey while Spider's own identity is given context as being a part of his brother Fat Charlie. Both characters are united with their ideal love interests and, like all screwball comedies, everyone gets what they want, despite them knowing it. All the loose ends are taken care of.

Another example of how to end a story is to make sure that the consequences of the character's actions are met. If a character, through the course of a story, kills another character, the action must be appropriately dealt with. If an item is stolen, it must be returned, or lost, or destroyed. The reason for this line of thinking lies in the weight of our choices. Bad choices yield negative prospects, good ones, better. Usually religious literature, or archetypal folk tales capture this element best. The prototype protagonist's decision quality always yields an outcome. This outcome not only affects those within his immediate sphere of influence, but also those that will descend from him/her/it. You always hear the logic at the end of African tales go, "and that is why Spider always..." It goes to show that back then, our actions meant something.

I have run out of time, but in the interest of scholarly things I want to continue this discussion next week.

To be concluded! (I promise this time.)


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Book is Go!

You might all be excited to know that I've begun working on my Sequart Book for the Organization. It's coming along nicely. I've written 2200 words this week, roughly 10,000 a month. If I bust my ass I could get to 100,000 words by the end of the year! Trust me, it will all be the same sentence over and over again.

All work and no play...

I have two book projects operating in tandem and of right now, with a graphic novel on the way. I keep saying this, but I will say it again. I feel like I am going crazy. Trying to keep all these threads in line is mind boggling. I don't know how I deal with it. Perhaps I'm just too far gone. My mind is a wash. The book, believe it or not, actually isn't too bad as far as workload goes. Spaced out, writing this thing will be a piece of cake, though I suspect that it will take at least a year to finish. The comic book is what worries me.

If you have never written a comic book before (most of you haven't, I'm assuming) I can tell you that it's an incredible process. So much of the storytelling mechanics rely not on appropriate narrative construction and characterization, but also on the actual progression of panels. A panel reveals a snapshot of an action, a moment in time. So with each snapshot, the story advances a step further. How quickly one progresses then becomes the question. How well the progression proceeds is what separates us common lay-folk from the masters. Alan Moore's The Killing Joke is a prime example. The action and pacing of every page is so thoughtfully laid out that when the reveal happens, the "Aha!" moment, its so poetic and poignant. I've been studying his work for a while now. Someday, perhaps, I too can muster the same creative energy as him.

This week was a rough day job week. These kinds of weeks you have to push through, otherwise you'll find yourself living behind a Vons, without a comic or book published... at least in the real world. Suffice to say, I owe someone an apology for something I said, or rather asked. They say that what you say matters. I never knew that asking a question also fell into that category. Then again, a question is a statement implicitly. Either way, it's given me cause to think about where my life is going.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Snap Shot Theater: Resourceful

By Stuart Warren

Sixteen minutes. The watch has moved one quarter. Still no one.

Scrawling, busily, I make myself look busy. They are imperative notes, written in peace time. No rush or need, not yet at least. When I look up they have arrived: a kingpin, and two lesser agents. I smile, because that is proper. In my mind, fear floods in, but my will overcomes the torrential inundation. I am calm, stable.

"So," the kingpin begins. "How are you doing?"

"Doing alright," I reply. My mind outside of my body perceives a young man in a room opening and closing his mouth, the shuffling of papers.

"Thanks for coming in today," the kingpin continues in procedural language. "After reviewing your qualifications we wished to extend a job offer to you."

I nod, suppressing my mixed fear and anxiety and excitement.

"Awesome," I remark. Keep it simple, stupid.

A smile. Procedural.

"Starting next week we would like to offer you $13.75 an hour, a 5% raise from your original pay. It would include an annual increase, per the review cycle this coming November..."

My mind reels. Remain calm.

I extract a clip of documents, mixed in with my own, my secret cache of data. I flip through the summary evidence, my argument, my salvation. The two lesser agents are impressed, emboldened by my fight. The kingpin narrows it's gaze and is amused.

"We understand that," the Kingpin begins in procedural language, "however, our figures are gathered from extensive research. As you can see, we take all positions into account, then average them accordingly. Try to understand. It's just... business."

My will deteriorates, succumbs to scrutiny. I have lost. "Hold on," my inner voice cries. "I am a man, a man!"

"Let me ask you something," I begin. "How is this fair? How does a satellite company, in another state, thousands of miles away determine how much I make at this company?"

The Kingpin says nothing, just stares. The lesser agents look at their hands.

"You can't have the CEO of our company tell us about our growth, our strength, every year and expect your employees to be happy with their poverty wages," I stumble along. "How can I support my family on $13.75? Tell me."

"We understand that you  have differing opinions on what we offer here at The Company," the Kingpin replied. "Other companies are hiring..."

"I don't want another job," I interrupt. "I like my job. I like my commute. I want an equitable wage."

"I want a lot of things," the kingpin replied, coldly. "Maybe you just aren't the right fit for the company?"

I freeze. Waves of confusion and anxiety wash over me. My blood curdles and thumps against my skin asphyxiating me.

"Are you firing me?" I said. "What is going on here?"

"We at the Company," the kingpin began, sorting its papers, standing up in its seat, "would like to thank you for your time. You will be paid for your full day here, and we wish you the best of luck in your future."


"Please," it said. "There is the door."




Monday, February 17, 2014

The Philosophy of Writing: Point of View

I, you, him, those are perspectives, points of view that we have fashioned for ourselves to understand events in our lives.

There has been a lot of stuff written on point-of-view so I won't beat a dead horse. I will say, however, a few things on how using different perspectives can change the way a story works.

If we take a particular circumstance, like a water-cooler conversation, you'll see what I mean. Here's the scenario: Steve has returned from a weekend vacation with his two boys from the lake. He rode a jet ski and taught them both how to fish. Watch how I depict this event across perspectives.

First Person (I):
"I loved it Frank. It's a great place. My kids love it there, and I get to relax and let go of work while they knock themselves out on the water. The rentals this year weren't so bad, only a hundred bucks, with the fifty dollar deposit. I know him from way, way back. It's a steal. Fishing wasn't so great this year, but they learned how to tie the hook. My youngest still caught something, but it was so little we threw it back." 
Second Person (You):
"You understand what it means to go and just lie down and feel the sun on your back as your kids ride around in the water. God knows it. Your hands feel that jet-ski rev in the water. Boys will be boys. You understand that most of all. As a kid once, you had to tie your own lure, the same that your old man taught you. Maybe a fish would bite the first time, but you always knew that it wasn't about the first fish you caught, but the chance to sit in a boat and hang out with your Pa."
Third Person (Him/Her):
"Steve had come home relaxed from his weekend, having spent most of it with his children. He spent all day talking ears off by the water cooler. After lunch he saw his friend Frank, who asked him how it went. Steve brimmed and told him about how affordable the jet ski rental was this year. He really lucked out; only a hundred dollars plus a fifty dollar deposit! His boys were able to learn how to fish, tie their first hook. It made him think about his own time as a boy on the lake."

As you can see, each perspective offers a vantage point. Normally, writing consists of a combination of these points of view. It's not often that a book will be written solely in the first person, though this is relatively easy to do. Generally, most narrative combine elements of first and third person. The situation and circumstances are laid out with third person commentary on a situation, while character insight is revealed through first person reflection. Second person is, by far the most rare in writing. I suspect that the perspective exists because it must by necessity. I've used it occasionally for experimental writing but I see it used most in speeches. Second person is very hypnotic in application. The emphasis is placing the second person (not yourself) in a state of awareness that the first person maintains. When second person succeeds, is when the individual this perspective is trying to influence begins to believe in the opinions and presuppositions of the point of view.

I would suggest playing around with these perspectives. Obviously we could go into more complicated terminology like "Third Person Omniscient," but even these designations are just clever combinations of these three foundation perspectives. If you understand how to use them, and in what context, you can build up intricate points of view and make your story better. Try it out, maybe post your examples. I'd love to see what you guys can do!


Friday, February 14, 2014

The Magic of Bulk Honey

Today I nearly forgot to post this. To be fair, I've been under the weather as of late. My mind has been torn into bits of colored paper; the similar variant one sees at those fancy dinner parties that I am never invited to. That probably explains why I think confetti would be there. 

Is that what it is called?

A strep infection has ridden me infectious for the time being. As we speak a life and death struggle permeates my being. Blue boy has been dropped, and the holocaust has commenced. In the mean time, probiotics are taking up the bulk calories in my daily meals. I guess that would be the UN in this analogy. 

This has allowed me to take some time off of work. Thus far the time has yielded vast, bizarre encounters of a far off world, one that is never too far from me, and yet wholly inaccessible. Productivity, advancement, progress, these are the words that come to mind. I read 20 cantos in two days. Absolutely remarkable! O' Day Job, thine poisoned grasp hath choked my vision! 

I even had time to go to Costco. I never imagined that a nine to five would be so restricting. I live not 15 minutes from a storehouse of bulk fantasies and yet I am barred access by narrow hours of operations. Of course, I can always go on the weekends, but who has time to brave the hellish Armageddon that awaits me there? Bulk honey for $13.50? They might as well be giving me gold for my trouble. 

A good thing for all of you: My book will be out very soon. Tomorrow I will have my first meeting with my designer to look at proofs of the cover and title. This is a process that I am sort of familiar with already. But when it's your book, everything is on the line. I have been informed by a few novelists indirectly over the course of my life that it is natural to hate your work when it is finished. To look back, reflect, wince -- Providence! -- and say, "this is awful," is a detestable lie. It just looks awful in retrospect. It's taken me nearly a year to publish my first book, Lord knows how much I've improved since then. 

If you haven't heard, Metal Slug 3 is out on Steam. I procured it myself and it delivers on everything that was promised! I'm not joking. It does. And, yes, it is worth $8. My experience with Metal Slug 3 dates back to when I was a wee boy hanging out in arcades like Nickel City. I loved the animations, the action, the platforming. It was like Mario Bros. but with balls! Be thankful that the port is the US version but with all the blood effects from the original Japanese build. It's gratuitous and over the top, but most importantly, completely intelligible. Don't take my word for it, just buy it, dammit...


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snap Shot Theatre: Placement


By Stuart Warren

I awoke to find myself in a white presence, familiar and interminable. My gaze flitted about the room. I was driving, or walking; I can't remember which. And now I am here, in this impregnable conundrum. 

A man sat at a desk before me. Was he there when I arrived, or did he simply come into being? I could not tell. His eyes looked kind and friendly, and one arm extended from his body offering my self to take a seat at a chair before him. Whether the chair was there, if it had been there at all, I could not be certain. This man who simply appeared, desired me to trust him, and I was compelled by unknown impression to agree with him, as if it were my nature to do so. And I did trust him. I found my body approach him, take a seat.

He was a thin man. His features were not gaunt, or sickly. Perhaps dainty was a better word to describe him. His fingers meticulously prodded instruments within his immediate sphere. Pencils and pens were spread equidistant across his desk in organized clusters. A simple organizing box was mounted in the corner of his desk, finely labeled "In," and "Out," in ebony, bolded in crystalline lettering. Taking off his pleasant bi-focals, he spread his long fingers across the desk, and swiveled presumptuously in his chair, bobbing back and fourth, back and fourth, in a semi circle. 

"Well," he began in a clear, precise voice. "Well, well, well. Are you ready to take the plunge? It's a big step you are making, a big one indeed; one for the ages."

"I beg your pardon?" I heard my own voice trail off into the abyss that surrounded me. It was flat, undefined by space, and separated from my body, which I felt unaware of.

"You've arrived," he said plainly, glancing down at his hands, which now held a crisp manila folder. Where it came from, I could not say. "I ought to place you."

"Place me?" I asked. Had I died, I wondered?

"Yes," he replied, as if to both. "There is always placement. That never changes."

Opening the folder he thumbed through the few documents that it contained, though he seemed to flip through an immeasurable amount despite this.

"I don't understand," I began, politely, as I did not wish to disturb him in any way, "Why do I need to be placed?"

The man hummed a familiar tune, one I could not approximate, though its intonations struck me as something that I had heard recently on the radio while driving to work. He raised his eyes, grey and observant of my discomfort. With brotherly affection he smiled, and patted me on the shoulder swiftly and guffawed.

"Come now," he said jovially. "Cheer up. This is all very normal. I understand."

I shifted, I think, in my seat awkwardly.

"'Normal?' Are you Saint Peter?"

At this the man, flashed an indignant expression, seemingly appalled. Closing the folder he stood up abruptly, and walked over to an upright filing cabinet and put it away. I didn't recall seeing a filing cabinet when I had arrived.

"He's on vacation," the man replied politely, returning to his desk. Taking a seat he leaned back once more, and looked at me hard, as if trying to discern something hidden within me. After a good while, how long I wasn't certain, he slowly nodded agreeably, having made a decision in his mind. 

"Maybe this wasn't the right time," he finally said. Leaning forward he said, "Apologies," and tapped me on the forehead. I felt a sudden pull on my heart, lurching forward as he flashed out of my mind. My heart pounded against my chest, as a hot pain coursed through my body. Surrounding me were shouts and cries for help, as the familiar tune bled into reality, stuttering through a discordant radio. A man slid in beside me holding an orange box of medical equipment and began to shine lights in my eyes.

"I'm right here," he said in a frantic, authoritative voice. "Are you still with me?"

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Philosophy of Writing: Allegory

We've been on the "Philosophy of Writing" column now for a few weeks, and I plan to change things up a bit very soon. There were a few lingering topics that I wanted to address in the meanwhile, Allegory being one of them. I'm still not sure what I will do at the conclusion of this series, but I'm sure I can think of something. That, there, is the real challenge.

Allegory relates to hidden significance or subversive plots, particularly when disguised by a seemingly unrelated subject matter. We've all heard of Allegorical stories dealing with politics. Animal Farm stands as the most remarkable in recent memory. These stories deal with hot button issues or particular positions with lots of baggage, so sometimes being covert when trying to discuss these kinds of things is the best policy. The philosophy behind the Allegory and why it's employed in fiction is useful to understand, nevertheless.

The best kind of writing, I feel, is the writing that gets you in trouble. I enjoy lampooning individuals and events because it's exhilarating. Also, because, when I think something is stupid, I want to write about how it's stupid. I deal with things at my job all the while that I think are stupid, why not write about it? How to go about doing that, then, becomes the issue at hand, and how to do it while still covering your ass is the other.

Allegorical stories revolve around subliminal stories. There needs to be some semblance in structure and organization pertaining to the set up of the allegory in order for the comparison to work. Note that allegory doesn't always have to be satirical. There are plenty of ways to write allegory without poking fun at something, or someone. If you analyze Animal Farm for instance, the allegory works so well because a farm is a natural hierarchy. Animals are raised in captivity by humans, which represent a higher form of responsibility or rule. Also, using animals to represent commoners works because a barnyard animal needs structure and organization to survive. They receive food from someone in order to survive. So when you construct the world your allegory takes place in, there needs to be a correlation between the setting and the structure you are integrating into your allegory. If someone asked me to make an allegory to the DMV, I would use an institution that performs the exact opposite in function.

What if going to the local amusement park was like the DMV? The lack of organization, complete apathy of the ride operators, and the unbearable waiting to execute a task that takes 30 seconds to complete, would be easy to point out by using the amusement park as an easy parallel.

As I said before, not all Allegory needs to be satirical in nature. To go over this I want to go into depth, so let's reconvene next week to continue our discussion of allegory.

To be Concluded...

(UPDATE) Just kidding! I forgot where I was going to take this one. Oh well...


Friday, February 7, 2014

Our Desperate State

The other day I found myself awaiting triage at the local apothecary. Strange that I was "awaiting" anything. You would think that when the call arrived alerting the ready acquisition of one's medical wares, the account would be truthful. I saw in the entire experience a prophetic vision of our decaying state, as the world turns on itself in one cacophonous roar. The extinction and demise of our fair economy and polity will be at the hands of the most mundane and foul entities. Lord have mercy!

I think I read in spite of these ominous fortunes. Maybe I can glean for myself from the history of Josephus, or the social allegory of Dante, what foul things await us? I find solace in the little breadcrumbs I can pick up from the ground. Stale as they are, better safe than sorry. Et cetera, et cetera. 

I am a socialist, a very un-American one. I believe that socialism is so un-American, that it will never work in America. The socialism that ever one glorifies is the work of our northern cousins, and their mentality of the whole thing is united via nationalism and common brotherhood. Our country is laughably divided, that we can't agree on whether or not Jesus was black, instead of realizing the asinine stupidity informing such a question in the first place. My medication requisition was a forerunner, an awakening to the absurdity of our common shame. I saw a woman demanding medication, painkillers. Why would she need so much pain medication in the first place? I can't answer that, only speculate. This Moderate has no answer for you.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Laufey's Treasure - Epilogue

Returning home wasn't a problem. Orn lay a few miles away, and there was still plenty of day light in the weaning hours of the day. Or perhaps Laufey thought it best to hurry? In their journey back he agreed with the rest of the party that it was best to not talk about what happened. Though this seemed to disappoint Amma.

She spoke little of the creature, but seemed to Laufey to have developed an affinity towards it in her captivity. Frankly, he wasn't surprised.When Laufey asked her about the creature a little later all she could manage was, "He was tired, and in need of great rest." That alone was enough for Laufey.

To his surprise, he never felt compelled to return to the compound they had discovered. Despite the promise of gold and treasure, he knew well now the cost of greed; at least what it could have cost him. It was a little surprising to see Anke gather a few new toys to amuse himself with: a new construct interface and a rare sword patch that he coveted from the marketplace. Anke had a way about him. He had sticky fingers.

A year ago he would have longed to go on another adventure, but was content to learn with his father the arts of war instead. It was more practical in his mind to do this, at least for the time being. There were many visitors arriving now from far away lands. It was better to be prepared for the coming storm, which his father saw brooding on the horizon. One of their own would be coming back soon, a man that he had not seen for some time. Word had it that he was bringing visitors from his travels: a man, his child, and his sister. But this was all hearsay. What would come of it, he could not say.

The End 

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Philosophy of Writing: The Reveal

I read a lot of comic books, naturally. One of the most common devices in comic books is the "reveal," a moment in which a pivotal plot point is uncovered in the story that arouses interest in the reader. Of all the aspects of a comic book the reveal, I argue is the most important feature of a comic book. Given that comics are read in sequence, and the issues are serialized for profit, a good reveal drives sales; it causes one to buy more comics, and feed the machine. The reveal I believe was honed and fashioned by the serial fiction imprints of the late 19th century, though eastern literature, such as Journey to the West has demonstrated this device in action for nearly 400 years.

The reveal, and it's power, is well executed if the plot has already been defined in advance. I've only been able to think up a few good reveal moments on the spot in my writing career. Generally, most good reveals are extensively plotted out, and you can tell when this isn't the case. Usually the plot feels rushed, or imbalanced in pacing. For instance, once my book, Spirit of Orn, was completed, my editor suggested that I move certain scenes around to enhance the impact of moments that occurred later in the book. Doing this also strengthens the motivation of characters as well.

Crafting a good reveal then operates around three distinct variables.

Intrigue - To generate interest in the plot, I loosely refer to as intrigue. Any television show that you watch like 24 or Lost, or some shitty CW program (i.e. Supernatural), incorporates a mood of subterfuge into dialogue, or has well crafted political systems. Actions are given weight; they have greater implications that span the rest of the plot. The curious thing about intrigue is that most of the time actions are inconsequential; they have no meaning. Getting the reader to begin second guessing themselves, however, wondering if what they are reader will come into play at a later point, is the sweet spot of shaping intrigue.

Motivation - Characters need proper motivation for them to accomplish tasks in the story. A good reveal moment operates around these actions. So, when the Joker is suddenly seen standing at the front door of Commissioner Gordon's house in The Killing Joke, we feed into that moment all of Joker's character motivation. Why is the Joker evil? How has his live motivated him to get to this critical point? We watch and go, "oh crap, this is really bad." Why we make this remark is answered implicitly, informed by the motivation the Joker has to commit acts that generate chaos. This feeds back into the previous category, Intrigue, which causes us to speculate and wonder what the Joker will do next.

"Seeding" - Our final category deals with two things. One, is holding back critical information. My biggest struggle in writing is taking things slowly. I tend to lay the entire plot bare from the start. But in doing so, what does that allow the reader to discover? Nothing, really. In fact it ruins the story effectively. The little bits of information that keep us going lie in the tiny details that the reader isn't aware of until they arrive at the points where they are critical and inform the text. These hints, or clues to the plot can be as insignificant as a word or phrase. Picking and choosing these details is the second aspect of seeding, then.

I gave you all a lot to think about, so take it into consideration. I'm off to my day job. Happy writing fellas.