Archive for the ‘Craft Focus’ Category

I finished watching the first season of The Punisher early last week and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m glad to see marvel back in form after the disappointing Defenders and the irresponsible Iron fist. The Punisher in fact  surprised me quite a bit with it’s story. It digs into a lot of uncomfortable places in regards to combat veterans returning from war, dealing with lost limbs, friends, PTSD and what it looks like to return to a peace time society and how in many ways society has forgotten about them. But I don’t want to talk about any of that right now, I want to talk about guns.


So many guns

   I don’t know if I’d call myself a gun enthusiast, It’s a hobby that only comes in second to Warhammer 40k in terms of financial investment. But I do work with guns, I’ve carried a gun openly or concealed for years now both professionally and  privately.  I am absolutely not Frank Castle, which only highlights the frustration when I can see bullets become magic, competent men become idiots and writers breaking the rules of their fiction.


Bleeding is deadly, so are bullets.

I find it interesting that most time when I watch a movie or read a book. You see somebody get shot and it immediately incapacitates them, which unless you shot somebody in a particularly vital spot, is horse shit. There is at least one case out there of a mugger shooting his victim, and then get’s beaten to death by the victim. A single or even multiple gun shot wounds require minutes to cause people to bleed out.

But that’s not something that you really have to worry about in The Punisher, bullet tend to kill people when they should with the exception of Frank Castle and his major Antagonist. Specifically there’s a scene where Frank is fighting a group of Para military baddies, before the fight scene opens up Frank takes a arrow to his shoulder, near the middle of it he has bullet graze his torso. Later frank wins the fights, stumbles out of the forest, passes out and is later found and stitched back together. Happy Ending.

castle hurt

Sort of

      Except that the beginning of the fight scene is shown to take place relatively early in the afternoon, and when Frank is found it’s the dead of night, when they pull back Franks clothes to show the wound to his torso, he has huge gash from the shot he took. The man was fighting like this and carrying an also wounded friend around the forest for hours. Without any kind of dressing for your wound you’ll bleed out in minutes, five, ten, fifteen or thirty minutes top.

Later in another fire fight, Frank shoots a baddy in face, through the cheek and the asshole spits the bullet back out complete undeformed. No broken bones, all of his teeth intact and a big middle finger to physics. For a show that’s aimed for and in many cases succeeded at gritty realism that the series is known for, I’m really disappointed that they managed to miss the mark on this. Especially when they could have easily rectified this by changing little things. In the forest have frank carry a little first aid pack so he can slap on a bandage shortly after he got shot. The bad guy should have been shot through and through, it still likely would have broken his jaw from the impact and it would have tested my sense of disbelief for the guy not to loose any teeth. But it would have been so much better them him spitting the bullet back out.

another thing worth pointing out, It’s kind of hard to explain how loud guns really are to people who’ve never been near one when it’s fired. The noise is quite serious to the point that even in an open and outdoors environment with a suppressor you still need earplugs or some other sort of ear protection to protect yourself from hearing damage. Which means Frank Castle’s tinnitus is worse the Sterling Archer’s.


Wait… I had something for this.

   Seriously, at the end of the season Frank has shoot out in a tiny concrete bunker and as soon as the bullets are done fly he picks up phone and talks into it like nothing has happened, as if several seconds of unprotected ears hearing automatic several automatic weapons and explosions are capable of handling communication without the intervention of an Otorhinolaryngologist and time to recover.


Guns don’t make you stupid.

I guess this one isn’t exactly about guns per say, but I think it’s worth noting. Frank Castle is highly trained combat veteran who is routinely shown to out gun, out smart and out shoot special forces level soldiers and para military mercenaries.  So why is it that occasionally when frank is in a tight spot, these elite enemies go full storm trooper.


Never go full storm trooper

   Firearms are interesting weapons in that they are incredibly simple use and if you put one in the hands of an average adult and point them at a man sized piece of paper, they’ll hit it. He may not be laying down head shots, he may not be hitting in the ten ring, but with a seventeen round magazine for a full sized pistol at twenty feet away, he’ll hit the damn piece of paper at least once or twice.

So why the shit can’t any of these highly trained combat veterans hit god damned frank castle from ten feet away. I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is one of two simple things: A, the writers got lazy, wrote frank into a difficult situation and couldn’t think of smart way to get him out of it or B, they simply haven’t had any experience with firearms and wrote them like they were magic, making them do whatever the situation required of them(I’m leaning towards the latter).

There’s another clear sign of this in a scene where frank is attempting to assassinate a man in his home. He lines up his shot and pulls the trigger once the man is standing in front of his window only for the round to be stopped by bullet resistant glass. The show doubles down on the dumb, one the target just stands in front of the glass after it’s been shot and two frank doesn’t dump three more rounds into the glass for good measure.

I called it bullet resistant glass because no glass is bullet proof, some are are just better then others. The glass is rated for a particular degree of protection, some of it stops handgun rounds other stop high powered rifles, but all of it is rated for a certain number strikes. The glass shown in the show is relatively thin, so if it was truly resistant in the first place, it was likely only rated for hand gun rounds, which Frank’s rifle would have bored through easily, if it was heavier stuff, the logical thing for frank to do is to shoot the glass until it fails. but instead he and his target stare at each other for a bit and then the scene cuts away.

The scene it’self is a problem it’s not the real problem. The real issue is that this could all easily be avoided by doing five minutes of research. Then consulting with actual experts and maybe sending the writing team and the director to a range and just let them shoot a few guns for the day.


The take away.

What can we take away from this as writers? Pay attention to your to the details in your story, they do matter. I’m not saying you need to become a scholar on the history of whatever technology your story, but getting the details right even if it’s only behind the scenes helps keep people from being jarred out of the narrative when shit hit’s the fan. If nothing else, it would be nice for me not to have shout angrily at my TV in the middle of night when my wife is trying to sleep.


So I don’t know about you guys but, I spend entirely to much time on the internet and unfortunately a not insignificant amount of that time is spent on writing stuff. where else would I steal ideas for blog posts from, unfortunately people need step up their game, cause I couldn’t find anything interesting to plagiarize comment on this week. Instead I want to go over some of the questions that seem to crop up on every writing forum on the internet and cobble together a post about how all your writing is garbage, and how that’s ok.

suicide squad

I mean, look at how many people went to see suicide Squad.


Is my idea good enough?

This is the first one, every day I refresh the page of my favorite writing websites every fifteen to twenty time and the same one or two posts are up at the top asking if their ideas are good enough to write a book about. The answer is of course not, your ideas are unoriginal hacked together thoughts based on the other bits of media you enjoy that other writers did better then you.

The reality is that no ideas are good enough, not Space vikings gladiators, not wizard detectives, not even animated mice are good enough.


This joke has been removed at the request of The Walt Disney Company

   But do you want to know the best part about not being good enough? When you accept that the Ideas don’t matter, your free to write what ever you want. Whether your aiming to produce the next, To Kill a Mockingbird or Fifty Shades of Gray fan fiction.


fifty shades.png

Now here’s a franchise I’m comfortable mocking.

How do I deal with writers block?

This is the number 2 question, almost as common as number one and if I had the answer I’d be a published author and not some hack blogger on the internet. What I do know is that writing is hard, that writing when the muse strikes doesn’t work for most people and that if you only write when writing is fun then you probably not going to finish what ever project your working on. So maybe that means you write shit for a  while, stuff that your not entirely happy with.

Hell as I’m writing this it’s 3am and I’m barley pushing through it and I still don’t know what I’m going to have as my third point. And that’s ok.


I seriously have no idea what i’m doing

Can I edit as I go or should I wait till I’m finished?

There comes a time in every writer’s life where they look at their work and say, “I’ve smelled dumpster fires at sewage plant better then this shit.” This is where our last question comes from, should I edit now or wait. I’m a big proponent of not editing a manuscript until it’s been finished, the best advice I’ve ever received on this topic was this, “If you want to be good at writing a first page, them rewrite your first page, but if you want to be good at finishing a novel then you need to finish a novel.”

   But the reality is that every writer has their own approach, Steven King has commented that his books only need minor revisions, Neil Gaiman puts his books through multiple revisions and I’m pretty sure Twilight wasn’t edited at all.

what the shit steph

Seriously, how does the romantic pairing of a wolf man thing and a smallish girl child survive any form or editorial oversight.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the editing process is, so long as you finish your book in a way that’s satisfying to you. So feel free use the stuff on this blog, but take it all with a grain of salt, after all my writing is garbage.

So at around three in the morning I went on a YouTube and clicked on Tropes Vs. Women because it was three in the morning and that’s the best time to make bad decisions. Reflecting back on my bad decision I figured that the only way wash the stain from my soul was to write a blog post ranting about how bad this series is and how I can’t believe how much money it generated through Kick Starter.

Something like eleventy billion dollars.

For those who are unaware Tropes Vs. Women is a YouTube series recorded by Anita Sarkeesian that aims to declare and decry the use of misogynistic tropes by the film and game industry.

In Sarkeesian’s defense, sometimes… how do I put this kindly, loses it’s shit, and on occasion, just maybe once or twice it has done something racist, or sexist or something that might not be considered entirely ok. However my objection to Mrs Sarkeesian’s argument premise is that Tropes are tools. They can used poorly, offensively, brilliantly or offensively brilliant, but they aren’t inherently bad. So when Sarkeesian states that writers shouldn’t write a character who say, fits the tropes of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG)because it’s offensive, I hit the breaks. For the Short of it a MPDG when played straight is used as a plot device to create exotic change in what is most often a boring male lead character’s life. Sarkeesian’s claim is that the female MPDG character is being objectified so that she becomes just a means to fix the protagonist life instead of having a life for herself.

The small problem that Sarkeesian is going to run into is that a trope is kind of like a stereotype, actually in reference to characters it is more commonly an archetype just like the Squishy Wizard and The Big Guy, and we know that archetypes are base templates. From these templates we build deeper and better characters to create a more interesting and engaging story-line.

Let’s take a look at what makes the MPDG what she is,  The base of this trope is that character is a  female who plays support role and is unusually strange/weird/bubbly/ect…  , but say we take this trope and flip that simple trait and make the character a male.

With one simple gender change I have created Robin williams

Then take the character out of the supporting role that the MPDG usually inhabits and throw them into the lead role.

And with one simple role change I have created a wom… wait a min… this is getting confusing

That’s the basic premise behind Robin William’s character in Mrs. Doubt fire. In fact the entire plot premise is is based around the MPDG trope, with William’s Ex-Wife as the excessively dull individual who needs to be shown that there’s more to life then just work.

How about another well beloved movie were a MPDG is used to purposeful and powerful effect in twisting our emotions in a film. That would be none other then Ellie, from Pixar’s UP. Where in the first fifteen minutes of a movie I felt more concerned about the well being of two characters and was hurt more by a death, then I felt throughout the entirety of the of the… I was going to say twilight but honestly that’s a beaten to death horse. What’s the cool dead horse of today… Oh! That Dawn of Justice movie.

If only we cared about Batman’s mom half as much as Carl cared about Ellie.

The Point I’m trying to hammer in is that there are both Male and Female variants of this Trope that are rich, vibrant and beautiful characters that make everything around them shine a bit brighter, that’s there Job, that’s there purpose narratively, and that’s not a bad thing.

So if this is the case then why does Sarkeesian and her channel have a problem with this traditionally female trope, well it’s quite simple if you watch her video. For all the bluster she’s not actually upset with the trope, she might not even realize she’s not upset with the trope. She’s upset with boring, flat, only there for either the plot or contrite romance characters who are more often then not women whose ambitions in life don’t extend beyond the male lead.

And sometimes Thor

That’s something I can get behind, our female characters need to be real characters with more motivation then “That guys sure looks cute,” and should actually be doing things as opposed to getting stuck in towers just so they can be saved by the cute guy. To be honest this goes both ways, you can’t just flip the formula to escape the poor writing just because you’ve locked a man in a tower this time.

In other articles I’ve written about the things that make characters interesting, competence, charisma, originality and agency not to mention a host of other things that can’t be talked about in a single article. If your Manic Pixy Dream Girl/Boy can’t or won’t hit those notes it’s not because your using a bad trope, it’s because you’ve written a garbage character. The same applies to your Femme Fatale, Action Girl, or Baroness, Big Bad, Big God, and every other character trope you can think of. The Next time you write a character females one in particular, ask yourself if this person has a life that extends beyond the plot of this work, does he/she have goals and ambition and meaning beyond the lead character.

And here you thought you were getting a late night drunken rant on feminism and SJWs and all the other bullshit Internet drama. Well guess what I’m not even drunk, this degree of poor decision making just comes naturally. Instead you get a nice bit a on storytelling elements and craft, and I didn’t even kick start 150,000 dollars.