Writer Wednesday: Androidism by Paul Trembling

I like to pat myself on the back occasionally. I don’t know if you remember the webzine that I used to publish – “Welcome to Wherever” was the name of it – but I like to think that in the two years that I managed to keep it up and running (hard to do when it’s just you doing everything!) I may have inspired a writer or two, or set one of them off on the road to success…

Anyhoo… one of those writers is Paul Trembling. He’s been pretty prolific for a while now and I thought I’d highlight one of the stories on his website.

It’s a short, but sweet tale and I think you’ll like it!

So click through this link and once you’ve read Androidism , explore the rest of his site, there’s some pretty interesting stuff there!

How??!!

How do you make your writing unputdownable?
How do you make readers fall in love with your characters or the world they are in?
How do you make the reader want to spend time with the story you have written?
In short, how do you make Readers want to read your books?

As a writer, one of the things that I do is read. I read Non Fiction for interest, research and inspiration. I read The Internet (which is an interesting mix of Fiction and Non fiction) for the same reason.
When I read fiction, it’s for interest & escape (genres in which I have no intention of writing in), to learn how other people write and finally, to try and piece together the answers to the questions that I started with.

I’ve read all sorts of books, all different genres.

The truly great writers all have one thing in common. They have (whether they know it or not) figured out those answers and are making use of them.

When I read a book where the writer has used these answers, I am sucked so deeply into the story that it’s an effort to get out of it. I have to be yanked out by the hair to make dinner or help PW go to the bathroom or go shopping…

I’d love to be able to make my own writing that compelling.
There are times when I read something that I have written and I think I might have it… and usually it all falls apart on me moments later.
So how do I do it?

Well I started by watching the work of some of the best writers in the business… yes, that’s right, I said watching.

When was the last time that you watched an animation? I’m not talking the nonsensical stuff that they put out for the littlest of children; I’m talking properly developed, well thought out animated movies.
Studio Ghibli, Square Enix, Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks – there are many others, but these are the biggest and they have the best writers that they can afford working with their teams.

It’s no secret that I’d love to work with any of them… if I ever had the opportunity.

The films that make billions in box office takings aren’t just because of the quality of the animation or the design of the characters and environments – it’s because the story sucks you into the film itself and you’re not just watching anymore, you’re living it through the eyes of the characters. A lot of that comes from the writing – the compelling stories and the inability to look away because even if it’s cringeworthy or a little scary, you watch from behind your hands… you have to because you want to know what is about to happen.

And when they’re finished, you feel satisfied but a little sad because you’ve had to leave the world.

I love animation because it gives me an escape that live action films rarely manage. The ones that we have bought on Blu Ray are the best ones, they’re ones that will suck me in and keep me watching. They’re the ones that give me that satisfied but sad feeling.
There are live action films that do it; oddly, they’re ones like the Marvel Comic Universe films, Star Wars films, the Potter Universe. Some of the DC Universe films have done it; the Michael Keaton Batman’s and the first two Christian Bale Batman’s, and I think that Wonder Woman might be another (I obviously haven’t seen it yet, but it looks like it might work!)

Obviously films (whether animated or not) are a tricky subject; so many things influence their success, so it clearly isn’t “just” the writing that makes them great. But great writing will produce at worst an “okay” film; at best it produces a “superb” film. The writing has to be there for the actors, directors, producers etc to work with.

So how do books and movies intersect?

Obviously they both need writers, but they also need writers who know their craft.
They need writers who know how to create a believable world, how to design a character that isn’t two dimensional and who can make the reader /watcher connect with the character somehow.
They need a story that draws the reader/watcher into the world and keeps them there with action that ebbs and flows, until the story has concluded and they can sit back and wish they were still in that world.

And how do you get to be that kind of writer? Let’s look at my original questions and answer them one at a time:

1) How do you make your writing unputdownable?
You craft your story carefully and make it draw the reader into your carefully designed world so that they don’t want to leave it.

2) How do you make readers fall in love with your characters or the world they are in?
See above… plus, world design and character design is a whole different blog post… I’ll do that another time.

3) How do you make the reader want to spend time with the story you have written?
I believe I have actually answered this – were you reading carefully though?
*peers at blog reader and frowns thoughtfully*

4) How do you make Readers want to read your books?
See #1…
*winks*

And the Question I finished the post with?

5) How do you get to be that kind of writer?
If you were reading carefully, you’ll see that I answered it… before I posed it. It’s what I have been doing for most of my life and always go back to when I am having a problem with my own writing…

I read. I watch. I study, I practise, I edit.

In Fiction; I read writers who have inspired me, I read writers that are considered classics, I read writers (and stories) that have been around for eons, I read brand new, barely discovered writers.
In Non-Fiction; I read subjects that interest me. I read subjects that are uncomfortable for me, I read new subjects that I haven’t tried, I read subjects that are old friends.

In TV; I watch Documentaries, I watch TV serials of all sorts of genres, I watch Kids TV, I watch Adults TV (yes, porn too), I watch Foreign Language TV (by subtitles).
In Movies; I watch Small Screen, Big Budget, Foreign Language, Animated, Live Action, Independent.

I study Writing; I read How To books, I take modules from Free Online Course Sites, I read the books that the Big Writers have written about how THEY got into writing.

I Practise Writing; I try writing Poetry (Different styles and Meter), I try writing Flash stories (there are different word lengths), I write different Genres (there are so many I can’t list them all), I write different lengths of story (Flash, Short, Long, Novelette, Novella, Novel, Epic), I write for different ages (Child, Young Adult, New Adult, Adult), I write for different audiences, I write inside and outside my comfort zone.

I edit… this one is the hardest of all.

I do a basic grammar and spelling edit, then I get people I trust to read what I have written and they comment on it (these are Alpha Readers). Then I re-read it and consider their suggestions as I go along. I adjust it if I agree, discuss it if I don’t – the discussions always help me to understand what they see – and change it if I can see what they are getting at and agree with them.

Then I get a second round of Reading done (these are the Beta readers) not always by the same people. If they throw up anything that needs adjusting, I re-read and adjust if I agree… if it’s something I didn’t agree with the first time, I take a long careful look at it.

Then I get someone to do a General Line Edit for Typos and plot holes etc. This is always someone who hasn’t seen it before and has Editing Experience. Sometimes they may have been an Alpha/ Beta Reader as well, but they have to have Editing Experience as well.

And no, not every Writer is a good Editor – I’m a prime example of that!

Once it’s Edited, then (and only then) I consider it ready to be published. And bear in mind that until I think it’s ready to be published, it may go back for Beta Reading or Editing again.

That’s how you get to be a Writer.

To be a Great Writer, someone who can write a Book or Movie that will draw the Reader / Watcher in and hold them there until they’ve finished; someone who can leave them with that “Satisfied but Sad” feeling; someone who can bring them back for more of their work, time and again?

That takes Talent.
Do I have Talent?
*shrugs*
I don’t know.

I know “some” people have enjoyed my work because they have told me so personally or they have written reviews on my books that have shown they’ve read them and considered it good enough to leave a comment about it. That has been enough to make me want to keep me writing and publishing.
But is that Talent?
You’d have to ask them or read my books to answer that for yourself; because as it is with every Artform, Art is subjective and personal.

You have to make your own mind up.

FAT. It’s a Fact of being HUMAN.

By BruceBlaus. When using this image in external sources it can be cited as:Blausen.com staff. "Blausen gallery 2014". Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28761795

This is FAT

Fat is a particular type of cell in the human body. Some people have more of these cells than others. But everyone has them – even people who are so thin that you can see the shape of their skeleton through their skin.

Fat cells are like balloons – they inflate and deflate according to their contents. Then they reach a certain level and multiply. They can be stretched to fit in more content. This is why it is so hard to keep weight off. If you’ve stretched them, they just re-inflate until they’re full again.

Yes, I know this is a simplistic view and that it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s how I imagine the ones that I have under my skin. And I dislike people calling me “Fat”

Oh, it hasn’t happened recently, but with the warmer weather it’s more likely for me to hear a shouted comment from a passing car as I’m pushing PW along in her buggy, something along the lines of “Stay off the cake, fatty!” or “Go get some surgery, Fat bitch!”

And yes, I am willing to say that I have a lot of Fat.

I’m tall, it takes a large accumulation of fat cells to actually show up on my figure. So as I am a size 18, have a waist measurement of 40 inches and wobble in all the wrong places when I bounce, I am not going to deny the fact that I have a lot of Fat Cells.

However, I am not FAT. I have many other tissue types in my body (just like every other Human on this planet), I am not made entirely of Fat cells.

If I were, I’d be one of these guys:

Adiposeinthesink

Aww… ain’t it cute?

I’m not. I’m Human.

Fat is a type of body tissue. It should be used in a sentence thusly “Gosh, I didn’t realise I had so much fat!” not as a name for a type of person.

Am I bitter that I have this much fat?

No, not really. It’s an accumulation that occurred while I wasn’t paying attention. My attention was on looking after my children, writing and teaching and not on what I was eating. I don’t over eat. I don’t under eat.

I do eat some of the wrong things and don’t exercise enough, but when life is happening to you, making time for exercise other than scrambling after a toddler, or walking the older children to and from school, becomes a luxury.

I had less fat when I was working full time as a Teacher, because I rarely got time to eat anything, lived on tea & coffee and spent my days walking around a workshop / classroom / school grounds. It turned out that while I might have been making just enough money to pay for the childminder, it wasn’t all that good for my children’s mental health and my daughter’s autism went completely unnoticed.

So here I am scrambling after another toddler and I realised that the reason I was having trouble keeping up with her (she’s a bit of a whirlwind), getting out of breath pushing her up the hill or chasing her as she disappears up the stairs looking for bubbles (her code word for having a bath) is that I have too much fat.

There are justifiable reasons for having too many fat cells. Just in case you were wondering, here they are:

Underactive Thyroid

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) means that your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones, which play a central role in regulating your metabolism. Although an underactive thyroid can occur at any age and in either sex, it is most common in older women.

Diabetes

Weight gain is a common side effect for people who take insulin to manage their diabetes. Insulin helps to control your blood sugar level. It’s not uncommon for people with longstanding diabetes to eat a diet that “matches” their insulin dose, which can mean they’re eating more than they need to in order to prevent low blood sugar – also known as hypoglycaemia or “hypo” – from developing.

Aging

People begin to lose modest amounts of muscle as they get older, largely because they become less active. Muscles are an efficient calorie burner, so a loss of muscle mass can mean you burn fewer calories. If you’re eating and drinking the same amount as you always have and are less physically active, this can lead to weight gain.

Steroids

Steroids, also known as corticosteroids, are used to treat a variety of conditions, including asthma and arthritis. Long-term use of  corticosteroid tablets seems to increase appetite in some people, leading to weight gain.

Cushing’s syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome is very rare, affecting around one in 50,000 people, and is caused by high levels of the hormone cortisol. It can develop as a side effect of long-term steroid treatment (iatogenic Cushing’s syndrome) or as a result of a tumour (endogenous Cushing’s syndrome). Weight gain is a common symptom, particularly on the chest, face and stomach. It occurs because cortisol causes fat to be redistributed to these areas. Depending on the cause, treatment typically involves either reducing or withdrawing the use of steroids, or surgery to remove the tumour.

Stress and Depression

People respond differently to stress, anxiety and depressed mood. Some people may lose weight, while others may gain weight.

Tiredness

Some studies have shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a day may be more likely to be overweight than those who get nine hours of sleep or more. It’s not clear why, but one theory suggests that sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin, the chemical that makes you feel full, and higher levels of ghrelin, the hunger-stimulating hormone.

Fluid retention

Fluid retention (oedema) causes parts of the body to become swollen, which translates into weight gain. This gain is caused by fluid accumulating in the body. Some types of fluid retention are not uncommon – for example, if you’re standing for long periods or are pre-menstrual. The swelling can occur in one particular part of the body, such as the ankles, or it can be more general.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work. Symptoms can include irregular periods, trouble getting pregnant, excess hair and weight gain. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it’s thought to be hormone-related, including too much insulin and testosterone.

(Source: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/medical-reasons-for-putting-on-weight.aspx)

Thankfully, the toddler is now going to playschool, that means I have some child free time. Sadly, getting rid of it isn’t going to be as easy as putting it on. As I said earlier, Fat cells are like balloons – they inflate and deflate according to their contents. Mine have multiplied and inflated over and over again.

Every dress size I went up (I was a size 12 when I was sixteen) over the last twenty four years meant a new layer of fat cells. I can’t get rid of them now – not unless I can afford surgery – so I have to deflate them, and keep them deflated.

That’s the tricky bit.