Flea Market Find- R-Robot

A man hauled a robot head in the back of his truck. The head was size of the bed and wore a hat. When the man got the robot home he plugged it in to see if it worked. The giant red eye cracked and popped as it began to glow in the dark garage. A voice popped into the man’s head. “Hey, do you know all of life’s answers?”

The man looked around confused but answered the entity. “No. Who is this?”

“R-Robot here, and that’s a shame because I am really trying to find Y.”

The man began to regret his purchase.

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Nick Mazmanian is a content creator and designer on Ironclad Words. He enjoys making things and drinking coffee, specifically the latter, for without it the former wouldn’t get done. He also wrote a book.

My first post of 2016

Hello ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, it is I!

“Wait, it’s the 25th of January, how are you just now posting and are so handsome?” You might be thinking to yourselves, maybe not so much that last part, but still, a man can dream…

The reason why I haven’t been so active here is because over the course of December, as we closed out 2015, I came to realize that I was working a lot and not spending as much time with my wife. With every New Year, you set yourself almost the same goals:

  • Write a novel
  • Get published
  • Finish something
  • Learn how to be a blacksmith

And while those are worthwhile goals, many of us get caught up in the minutiae of trying to achieve these goals and zone out on everything else. You write everyday, post everyday, engage your audience, but the ability to be present with your loved ones is usually not a goal people set for themselves.

Except that’s what I set for myself this year.

My wife and I are expecting our first kid, this will literally be the last year it is the two of us and I want to make the most of this by sitting on the couch and binge watching The Flash and reading. Many would think that we would travel and such, and we are going to do that, but the important part of any relationship is being there for the small moments that are forgotten or blur together in the great links between the show pieces that stick in the fabric of our memories. Those small pieces are what help build up to the larger, more grandiose moments that every movie or TV show makes you think should happen on an almost daily basis.

And it was something that I was sorely missing out on last year. So, I decided to still rock the shit out of my writing and creative projects, but do them in concentrated bursts. Does this mean the blog is dead? No, the blog lives. Long live the blog!

It does mean that whatever work I push out will be higher quality rather than quantity. I will be writing everyday in February moving forward, but I am going to be making time for my favorite human in my life everyday as well, my wife.

P.S. If you vomit because of this post, I understand, but do not care.

Nanowrimo- A survival guide

Nanowrimo is upon us!

Ready your hearts and stretch those fingers because your typewriter is going to be your best friend for this entire month! Here are some steps to survive the insanity!

PENS!

You will jot down, scribble, and write ideas as they fly into your mind from the dark space between the never ending fold of time and reality. These thoughts must be captured in order to help move your story forward so you better have a pen or maybe even a quill and if you can’t afford ink, just use your own blood!* You can’t really run out as your body just makes more of it! That’s bootstrapping!

*- Be metal!**

**-DO IT***

***-Don’t sue me

THOUGHTS!

These are important as they will help in the writing process. Without thoughts you are pretty much screwed, so get cracking on this front. Of course, many popular writers have been able to write books without this step, so maybe you can skip this step.

AN OUTLINE

Maps are amazing! You will need a guide post in order to find your way out of the woods of your imagination and on to the physical plane that is the blank page. You will plot, sub-plot, and theme the ever loving crap out of your story! Then again, many authors don’t do this either. Some of the most famous writers had, maybe, a point or two and that’s it.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT!

People change, man! Your characters will do the same! Once they’ve conquered the malevolent dust bunnies of Ikeland, your main character will finally know peace as they’ve finally avenged their 5th cousin’s, twice removed, murder by these cretinous creatures! Characters must change, it is the very core of writing, that things change! Unless that isn’t the point of the story. Many books have been written in which the characters do not change in-spite of their situations and this, ultimately, leads to their downfall or salvation.

CONCLUSION!

When it comes to writing, no one way works. If anyone ever tries to sell you on their ‘foolproof’ plan for writing, don’t listen to them. The masters will only point out what worked for them, and even then, pick and choose what works for you.

The only thing that matters is that you have a surface to write on, fuel for the fire, and being absolutely relentless in your efforts. No amount of advice or steps or ‘survival guides’ will get that book out of your head and on to paper. NanoWrimo is a great catalyst to get your feet on the ground and moving, and just know that even the most established author still hits the same road blocks as you.

They just have the nicety of having money, which is the greatest super power in the world.

Buy my book!

Why the Oxford comma is the best

The future is an interesting place to live because while we have magical techno-wizard tablets in that fit the palm of our hand, and contain the sum of human knowledge, we are still puzzled by questions like: “Why does it rain right after I get my car washed?”

No matter how ‘progressive’ you think you are you probably still have a foot in the past in some shape or form.

My old timey love besides working with my hands, no bloomers on the beach, and bottling my man tears in case of a drought is the Oxford comma.

For those of you who do not know of this simple yet elegant tool, the Oxford comma is the comma that appears before ‘and’ ‘or’, or ‘nor’ at the end of a list. It is used to keep the universe of words in order and to allow a reader to time their voice with the end of a list; which can give them a more natural sound when finishing a list rather than a dead stop. The Oxford comma is the human element in a medium that can be cold and black and white with no gray in-between; unless you are reading on a Kindle.

It’s been around for a century and for some reason modern style guides for ‘professional’ writers state that this comma is an abomination, and must be snuffed out. They claim that the comma causes confusion and ambiguity and should be done away with so that the simple ‘and’ can act as the break to a list. They see the narrative as a cleaner state without it and it saves space.

They claim this because they are stupid.

The Oxford comma is, like I said, the human element in writing. I say human because humanity is messy, crazy, beautiful, and awesome. Our lives are bizarre messes on the canvas of the world and each piece completely different from one another. We should be embracing this mess rather than suppress it, and that’s what the Oxford comma does, it allows humanity to appear on the page.

Granted, in the 17th and 18th centuries, grammar and punctuation usage was out of control (See The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman). Through the years we have figured out the proper use of punctuation and have paired that down into the simple and elegant forms we have today. The Oxford comma is one of the last outlandish punctuation’s out there.

Why outlandish? Because it is technically true that you do not need it. It is a flourish. An extra keystroke that is unneeded in today’s world of foodie blogs and unchecked facts that circulate as news.

Just because something is technically true doesn’t make it correct, at least in writing, in science not so much. The beauty of writing is knowing the rules so well that you can break them in tiny pieces and watch those who love rules cry.

I’m not saying that the Oxford comma is this renegade punctuation or something, but rather it is like that old man sitting on his porch and flipping off people who are trying to tell him that bacon causes cancer. He knows that he can do without it, but life wouldn’t be worth living at that point.

How to make a good asshole – On writing

This might seem like a rather straight forward topic. I mean if you have a guy kicking a puppy while talking about how the homeless should be shipped off to internment camps. That pretty much is an asshole, yeah? Ehhhh, not really, that’s more of a monster; an asshole is a delicate balance in regards toward a character because while it is easy to make a monster, it takes work to make a believable asshole.

I can’t keep saying asshole, as that might be misconstrued moving forward, so I will be referring to assholes under the name of gnats; because they are assholes.

Why is writing a good gnat so important? Why am I even talking about this topic? For two reasons really:

A. Everyone is a gnat at one point or another in their life

B. Most modern storytellers think that being a gnat means you are evil and without conscience

Complexity is missing a lot in almost any storytelling medium these days. You’ll find that when the gnat shows up in a story they are usually in defiance of the main character and make sure that everyone knows it. They eventually are proven to be either stupid or just running into plain bad luck and die due to their gnattiness. Sometimes they get a chance at redemption by, I dunno, dying for the sake of the protagonist and their love interest, but in the long run they are used as a punchline.

Most modern storytellers, or those getting a paycheck to play act as a storyteller, forget that everyone is a gnat at one point or another. Everyone. Here’s how you make a good gnat:

Make sure they are causing tension

An gnat is usually a person who is unwilling to bend their point of view, and due to this lack of yoga ability, creates tension. Tension is something that I touched on in my Jurassic World blog, but really that’s what an gnat is there to do for your story, to help build the tension. Tension between the characters and their actions adds weight to the story in general. It makes what they are doing seem a lot more risky and it draws your audience into the story even more.

Make sure they are relatable

Having a gnat who is such a big gnat that you cannot relate to them is a bad thing. Making someone or something evil alienates the audience from that character, and you don’t want that in a gnat. You want a portion of the people who are experiencing your story to relate to this gnat because it makes the gnat feel more real. Again, this is because we’ve all known or been the gnat at one point or another.

Make sure their goals actually are believable

Goals are usually tied to gnats like flies to dog shit. We all have goals, some of us want to be the President of the United States, some the prettiest trash truck driver in the county, and if that lip gloss will seal the deal for our beloved pretty trucker and the local Sephora has only one left in the entire state; you better believe they will murder everyone who gets in their way. Of course, this is ridiculous, but of course people have murdered other people because they thought black albinos are lucky human rabbits feet.

Really though, their goals should be believable, and while personal gains are always the most immediate choice, having a gnat do what they are doing for the betterment of others makes them feel more real. The reason for this is due to the fact we’ve all been a gnat and most of the time we’ve been one because we think we are helping someone we know.

This is probably the most important point in the creation of a gnat character, because if this isn’t believable then the previous two points won’t work.

Also, keep in mind that the gnat character can be the protagonist, and if that is the route you take with the gnat character, you have better make damn sure that they’re relatable side isn’t a Tiny Tim character. That is something that has been done to death and really needs to go away.

Making a good gnat is really hard, but if you nail it right, the payoff for your story will be huge.

Controlled chaos

When it comes to writing you’ll find that it’s much like a science experiment. You try to get a certain result, but you will probably wind up with something else all together awesome; like Silly Putty.

You have to play around with words. Try them in a certain order, fashion, or style. Writing is playing, but it isn’t like going outside and playing on the swings, it’s more like sitting in a dank basement with a really dull blade and a grinding wheel. No, there isn’t a Gimp in a box nearby or anything (of course I can’t vouch for your mind basement to confirm this), and while that may sound like a terrible place to work, it’s probably the best environment for myself.

This is something you’ll hear from every writer out there: Writing is hard work. There are reasons why we are the most creative procrastinators out there and that’s because we like to do other things, but we must write. I know for myself if I haven’t written in a week I become very pedantic, like a madman wandering a manor overlooking a lake, I ponder my existence with a glass of brandy in a room full of mounted heads.

It is a controlled chaos, a mild form of insanity that is treated when we plug our asses to the chair and inject our fingers into the keys to form the words you are now reading.

To sum this up, I’m back, I have a schedule, and you will have something to read, hear, and sometimes watch.

Stay tuned!

Writing tips: Blogging in chunks

When you start to write a blog, don’t try to do it in chunks, try to get it done in a single day. Blogs are not like a book where you can take multiple turns at it. You have to attack it and get it done or else you wind up losing steam, losing thoughts, and eventually you can’t remember why you were so intent on writing that piece titled: How you are being judged constantly by strangers you’ll never meet.

Which is why this blog is so short.

First Line Stories

The opening lines of a book are always the most important, but what if that’s all there was?

During lunch at work, I had a thought, a dangerous game to play, but I wondered what would happen if I strung together a bunch of first sentences? Could I make a story out them?

Here is the first batch, if people enjoy this, I am going to be tempted to make more.

 

Title: The Flames Of Our Love

Author: Chris Hanson

First line: “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. It was a pleasure to burn. It was love at first sight.”

Analysis: I think what Mr. Hanson is trying to do here is encapsulate the forbidden love he’s always held in his heart. For whom, we’ll never know.

 

Title: My Life, My, Words… My Story.

Author: Christopher Walken

First line: “Call me Ishmael. I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner.”

Analysis: I… don’t know what Mr. Walken was trying to say here, but he writes with such conviction that I just can’t look away.

 

That’s about it for now! If you enjoyed this, I will do more, but please tell me so over Twitter!

Citations

-Lolita, Fahrenheit 451, Catch-22

-Moby Dick, Notes From Underground, The End Of The Road