I Did This Fast When It Should Have Been Slow…

How was your weekend? I learned there’s a place for doing things fast and a place for doing them slow–and it all depends on the circumstances.

Let’s get to it.

One of the interesting things I did with my new computer was a malware scan. All right, fine. But after the first one, I did a second one (after I downloaded some apps and had been using the computer for about two days).

Scan number 2 was finished in a little under 90 seconds (1 minute 26 seconds, if my memory’s doing right on this). Since the scan didn’t find anything, it took me all of 5 seconds to figure out I could move on.

Contrast that with the draft of a sales letter I read just yesterday. I was all hotsky-trotsky about telling the writer about some minor grammar stuff here and there, because I thought they needed to know, or it could help them in some way (without me being a jerk about it).

I fired this message off after one reading of said sales material.

The writer thanked me, and then said he’d hoped I’d go over what he’d written to dissect and learn from it, instead of only focusing on repeated words and what-have-ya.

If I would have taken more time, or read things more than once, I may have been able to hold off on this (the writer told me it hadn’t been edited yet, which made me feel ridiculous for bringing this stuff up–and I said so).

I’m usually not like this–I think I mentally got ahead of myself. And I’m finding out, yet again, that’s almost never a good thing.

And that it’s best to let things cool off before jumping the gun (even though I never did very much track and field stuff).

Until next time,

Ty

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Triple F: That’s Not What It Said Before…

How’s your week been? It’s a bit over, we have some of it left…

And since it’s Friday, you probably all know the drill–if not, keep reading and you will.

Let’s get to it.

Today is Fabulous Fiction Friday, aka awesomeness, aka prompt day (and I don’t care if you’re late to it or not).

The only things I did of note this week was try to get a referral appointment set up and get my computer put together (and I’m embarrassed to say how many times I read the directions on the card that came with the monitor–it was something like three times, and the thing only came in 3 pieces if you don’t count the cables that were in the box).

Your prompt for this week’s Triple F is:

Your character is reading a set of directions for something, but every so often, they notice the words themselves shifting slightly.

All right, here we go. There’s no gender, backstory, or what-have-ya to be seen, just a tiny plot point. Why are these directions changing–assuming the character doesn’t have two different sets in hand by accident?

Ronnie is trying to get some furniture put together–that IKEA jazz, maybe. He’s getting frustrated with all the brackets and whatnot, until he realizes the ink on the pages is actually changing–one sentence here, another there. Is some inter-dimensional traveler taking his directions for landing instructions? How could that be? Is the equipment on their end out of date? Or are they thinking they can ask Ronnie for a bite to eat and a couch to crash on once they arrive?

Or maybe Chloe is assembling a dollhouse. She’s never done it before, and she didn’t think they made such complex things for little girls. She’s about to just give up when some dude appears out of basically nowhere and says “Oh, hey. Sorry. Were you using this? I was making some notes. Nice place. I didn’t mean to barge in, but it seems I took a wrong turn.” A bit of the same, but with a twist–he’s totally out of fuel and ready to go out the door, when the dog bounds in from the next room and licks the dude like he’s a long-lost friend…even though Chloe and her dog have never seen this guy in their lives.

That’s enough to get the mental snowball coasting downhill, I reckon.

February 2017 is just slightly over halfway done here (and everywhere).

Make it a good weekend, with good memories, all right?

Until next time (and week),

Ty

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Instead of Next Week, I’ll Tell You Today…

How’s it going? I didn’t expect to be writing about this until sometime next week, but things worked out a bit differently. So this will be a short one.

Let’s get to it.

I woke up today…to a screen staring me in the face from across the room. Then I remembered the monitor came yesterday, and I was finally able to get my new computer set up.

I ordered the tower from Amazon and the monitor from Walmart.

I went with a desktop instead of a laptop because I realized the wi-fi around the places I go during the week isn’t that spectacular and/or I’m too busy shopping or what-have-ya to fully concentrate on doing work when my primary objective is actually something else.

The monitor looks like I could eat a chicken and mashed potatoes dinner off of it–a whole chicken, with room for maybe a piece of cake (for the record, I’ve never tried to eat a whole chicken at one time before).

It’s all refurbished, but I don’t care. Same with the tower.

But this is the most powerful computer I’ve ever had.

I’m just happy things load way quicker (especially Facebook) than they used to with my laptop.

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m genuinely and pleasantly shocked by this turn of events. This type of gear looks like it all belongs to somebody else.

But it doesn’t–it’s part of my world now, and (strangely) belongs to me.

This is why you write fiction or copy (or both), isn’t it? To bring people into your world or into your client’s world. To entertain them and help them live a better life.

Geeky as it sounds, that’s how I think this setup helps me (or is poised to help me). It’ll be way more efficient, too.

Tomorrow is Triple F. Be sure to stop by.

Until next time,

Ty

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I Forgot I Broke This Until Too Late…

How’s it going? I wasn’t quite sure my brother would have brought this up, but then again, considering how deeply he’s embedded into internet culture, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

But I was.

Let’s get to it.

I was looking at a post on a website–somebody wanted ghostwriting services for fiction, and offered ongoing work for the right dude/dudette. The pay was a teeny bit on the low end, but I was thinking it might be worth it for awhile to get my feet wet providing a new service, because hey, it was in my genre wheelhouse for sure.

Then I looked into the comments, and some of them were pretty sobering.

I told my brother all this, and even sent him the link. After I told him I looked into the comments, he said:

“That breaks the rules. Never read the comments.”

I’d forgotten about the rules of the internet. He’d mentioned them before, but this time, I actually looked them up.

There were a lot of other ones–some made sense, and some were just creative blabbering.

That reminds me of fiction writing and copy, too. For a lot of fiction, you have to do research (especially for historical, steampunk, and what-have-ya). That gives you realism to draw on. There are other things like genre conventions, too–readers expect X to happen in Y type of story…or else.

Those are the rules.

Copywriting has some types of projects that require more research than others–that research is something you have to abide by as part of the process. Like the rules, but slightly different. I’m thinking of the health and financial markets here, mostly, but there are others.

Rules are meant to be known, and then broken, in that order (there are exceptions, unlike some of the internet rules, of course).

 

Even though these web rules were meant to be funny, I think someone, somewhere really tried to tell people important things.

So you can think of the rules for the internet, fiction, copy, and more as principles to abide by…or as something to be literarily trounced just because.

No matter what, it’s best to know the value of what you’re ditching by the roadside as you roar off into the new dawn of your current project.

Until next time,

Ty

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Two Dings in the Armor of My Daily Routine…

How’s it going? I’d like to talk about something seemingly insignificant today that’s somehow having an effect on me (or that I’m allowing to affect me, more than likely).

Let’s get to it.

I have a chair I sit in (usually) when I’m writing (the one I’m using right now). But my current circumstances seem to dictate that I work elsewhere for part of the day, to do work-related things my laptop seems to think is a pain in its butt to do.

During that part of the day, I’m in a nicer chair, but one that doesn’t scream “WORK” because I haven’t trained myself while sitting in it (to an extent–I don’t only use the writing chair for writing, which is a big no-no…I’m only highlighting how weird this change is to me, mentally).

The other change that bothers me is the slight unreliability of something I’ve come to mentally depend on–meaning my laptop. It does things a bit slow, and I’m not sure why. I’m working on a solution, which will, more than likely, result in the laptop being shelved for a time.

I’m not in a tailspin about this or what-have-ya, it’s just annoying (and preps me to adjust for bigger changes that may come down the road).

How about you? Do you have a special “work area” with your stuff in there? Drop me a line in the comments.

Until next time,

Ty

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Super Bowl Bonus…I Just Couldn’t Stay Away…

How was your weekend? We got slammed with snow here, so there was a lot of shoveling on Friday and Sunday, and a bit of a surprise shopping trip for butter (it wouldn’t be half as interesting if it weren’t true).

But enough of that…

Let’s get to it.

As the title suggests, I realize I left something out, and wanted to touch on it before moving on.

Since it was so funny, I’m sorta embarrassed I forgot the commercial where Alexa loses her voice (the Amazon contraption, not someone named Alexa).

They have a bunch of different people serve as the voice for peoples’ requests (including Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Hopkins, who were the only two I knew offhand).

These subs did, uh unexpected things, let’s say (including refusing to play country music).

All right, what’s this hilarity got to do with writing?

Plenty.

Okay, what? Well…

Sometimes being mysterious is good.

Think of mystery, for instance–even if you don’t write it very much (any mystery I’m doing is usually part of some other genre, but you get the picture, I’m sure).

If you can guess who the crook is halfway through the book or story, is there a reason to read on? Probably not (unless you’re some odd completionist or just worried you could be wrong, or want to see if you were right).

It’s the same with any kind of writing–even writing copy like emails and sales pages, to an extent.

Sure, a lot of people know what Alexa is, but this commercial took that understanding in new directions and/or possibilities.

That’s what both good fiction and copy do–especially if people think they’ve heard it all before or think they know the answer, but maybe aren’t sure.

We have to keep readers guessing, to an extent, or at least curious to follow where we’re leading.

Readers will be willing to guess as long as you don’t cheat them with something/the solution from nowhere…but with fiction especially, they have to feel they knew it all along, based on what they ignored along the way.

With copywriting, it’s more like the thrill of discovery and overcoming the problem they have that you solve has to override everything else in their way (even if that’s the prospect themselves, to an extent).

It’s a delicate balance. That’s why writing is hard (or easy–and then editing is hard).

What’s your opinion on this commercial, the Super Bowl, or what-have-ya? Drop me a line in the comments.

Until next time,

Ty

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Triple F: That’s Not Snow…

How’s your week been? It’s been a bit up and down here–still trying to figure out if there’s a problem or other with the house wi-fi and not just my computer dragging.

Let’s get to it.

Today is Triple F, which means a prompt. There’s been a lot of snow in the weather lately, so I figured I’d use that.

Your prompt for this week’s Fabulous Fiction Friday is:

In your main character’s world, it snows salt instead of, well, snow.

A point about the setting itself, which I hardly ever characterize, at least for these prompts (it’s a shame, I know–especially for science fiction and fantasy settings).

Why it snows salt instead of frozen water is a reason you’ll have to come up with, along with gender, backstory, and what-have-ya for your character (which will cover how and why they interact with this setting the way they do). The character seems to be used to this, based on the wording I used (instead of something like “all of a sudden,” “one day,” or something else).

We could have:

Brandon throwing tarps over everything at the dealership and running for cover because salt destroys metal–especially on the transport field he’s taken so much time to build and maintain. He wants to find a simpler way, but for right now he just can’t–adjusting to life on a star a trillion light years from Earth has been problem enough, thank you.

Or maybe Melanie wants to figure out how to get rid of the salt that drops from the sky, instead of running from it. If the ground is too frozen, pouring water on everything will just make a salty flood. But what else could she do? What could she use the salt for, instead of just throwing it away or shoveling it into huge piles?

That’s enough to get the mental snowball rolling, I figure.

It’s about one week into February of 2018. As you read this, I’m probably outside shoveling snow.

Make it a great weekend, with good memories, all right?

Until next time (and week),

Ty

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2018: Post 4 after the Super Bowl–Different Perspectives Collide…

How’s it going? Today I’ll be doing a short roundup plus a little delving into an important part of writing for any writer, no matter if you’re doing fiction, copywriting, or something else.

This is post 4, and the last Super Bowl post I’ll be doing until next year (unless I mention something in passing over the next week or so).

Let’s get to it.

The Winter Olympics commercials were cool, especially the ones with Kayla Shiffrin and Lauren W. and all they both overcame to get where they are in their lives.

Dr. Oz talking about how amazing the human body is was super informative (mostly because I didn’t know that stuff–and they connected those facts to seeing the world in a new way, with an airline that doesn’t seem to be that mainstream).

Dodge did a super interesting job this year–everything from the ancient Vikings to a sermon preached by MLK.

I also liked the Kia ad with Steven Tyler driving so fast he got younger.

Not to mention the reversal commercials with Doritos and Mt. Dew that had Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones and everywhere else, and Morgan Freeman (also from everywhere else). Those types of things were unexpected, at least to me, and that’s a good principle to keep in mind, as long as your basics are in place, and you’re known for delivering on so-called “regular” concepts before you go off-road.

That’s also why I liked the line from the Jeep ad “The road is someone else’s idea.”

And why I thought the Crocodile Dundee ad that was really an Australian “Come Visit Us” ad seemed cool (even though I was a little lost for most of it).

The Rocket Mortgage ad was super cool because of how the spokesman was breaking things down for everyone before they revealed it was a mortgage company ad.

Moving on…

Then there was all those movie trailers–Skyscraper, Solo: A Star Wars Movie, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom,  The Cloverfield Paradox, and more (including Jeff Goldblum imagining he’s chasing a T-Rex in a Jeep for a Jeep ad).

A woman whose email list I’m on noticed the University of Minnesota band jamming with Timberlake during halftime…only to follow up later and say that someone told her that all halftime shows are prerecorded.

And I didn’t notice any of that–just “oh there’s some brass players over there.” Gophers? I didn’t see any animals.

I wondered how the 99 year old dude in the stands, Phil Basser, must have been feeling while watching his Eagles play–apparently he’s a big fan (why am I thinking he was a broadcaster?).

But nothing compared to hearing some of my Mom’s hilarious comments during the game itself.

Mom sees JJ Watt receive the Walter Payton award and says “He’s got a nice haircut. I could do [his haircut like] that.”

When somebody mentioned the Buccaneers: “Buccaneers–[you could just] switch out the B.”

She sees the Patriots offensive coordinator with the huge red sweatshirt and says “He’d look good with one of those crocheted mustaches.”

The camera shows the wife of an Eagles player celebrating in the stands and Mom says “I don’t know what it means” (meaning Mom thought the woman didn’t know the specifics of what was being celebrated).

I finally figured out the irony of what it must be like watching TV with me–because I make comments during shows.

Oh, and when I told Mom what I planned to do for this week, she said, “So, did I make it into a blog?”

Yep, Mom, yep you did.

And that’s the importance of this whole thing–different people have different perspectives, that can help you see weaknesses/different directions you can go in your writing (which is what critique partners, editors, beta readers, and what-have-ya are for).

The Super Bowl was a lot of fun this year, and I hope I gave you a bit of a glimpse this week, if you missed it.

Tomorrow is Triple F. Be sure to stop by.

Until next time,

Ty

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2018: Post 3 after the Game…This Was Everywhere. Nope, It’s a…

How’s it going? This is post 3 of my Super Bowl commercial breakdown (well, the ones that impacted me a lot, anyway–sure there was more, but I don’t want to be here forever…that’s not sporting).

I’ll probably end up doing a short tack-on with another commercial or two tomorrow.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

I want to talk about an ad set that was just so darn clever even though it was technically a mashup.

I’m talking about the Tide ads.

These clever ads took what you expected the product to be based on the original ad (Old Spice, Mr. Clean, what-have-ya) and slipped Tide in there instead.

There was even someone who commented on Reddit about these ads that he didn’t remember much about the other detergent commercial (for Persil) because he was busy wondering when it’d be sprung on him it was a Tide ad, too (or thereabouts).

It’s a bit like Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. The British soldiers have him on the docks (I think that exchange is one of the most brilliant in all of movies and TV). In one part of it, one of the soldiers says “You got to be the worse pirate I ever heard of.”

And Jack says “But you have heard of me.”

But instead of being negative, this is super positive. I chuckled at every one of the ads with the horse and The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. The original Mr. Clean ad was a bit more on the shock value side (at least to me), and the Lincoln/Lexus/what-have-ya ad (with Matthew McC.) was pretty cool. That made it in there too, along with beer commercials, mattress commercials, pop commercials, and a few others (they even parodied a jewelry ad).

With a little pivot, they’ve inserted themselves into all those ads now, as a funny surprise. When people have an emotional reaction to something, especially if it’s funny, it’s sticks more and better/longer (no official research, just an observation).

These ads are also interesting because they broke the pattern of the original ad, and people remember what’s different.

Nope, it’s a Tide ad…right? They even planted a seed to have people watch the ads just to see if they’d turn out to be another ad for Tide. A little subconscious nudge that more smiles were on their way.

Tomorrow is post 4. I’ll be back then.

Until next time,

Ty

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Fiction File: 2018, Second Post after the Game, or How Not to Do Fiction…

How’s it going? If you’re soon-to-be-not-new around here, sometimes I write posts that I intend only for fiction writers (Fiction Files) or only for copywriters (Copywriting Codexes). The title betrays me on this deal today, and now that you know, you’re not new to the concept.

This is post #2 of the Super Bowl commercial thing that I’m running this week.

Let’s get to it.

Some of the ads incorporated parts or ideas from previous ads (one of which I hope to get to before this week’s out). The one I want to talk about today is the Bud Knight ad.

They actually ran the previous ad in the series before the Super Bowl, like a couple weeks before (where the commander talks about being out of booze and how fire arrows probs don’t hurt more than the regular kind).

I’m talking about the one after that one, where the Bud Knight appears, goes to the store, buys the booze, and tells the people he’s going to a party after they ask whether he’ll fight with them or not. He tells people to show up at the party he’s going to later (if they make it out alive).

When somebody says “that probably won’t happen,” the Bud Knight raises his sword and says something (I think it’s his name). There’s a massive shock-wave and all the enemy soldiers fall dead (or maybe just run off–the pic was too small for me to tell).

I enjoyed this ad a lot (and I think they were trying to imply Game of Thrones stuff, but since I’m 99.998% ignorant of that universe, I don’t know for sure–it could have just been generic Middle Ages).

Anyway, based on how things went in this ad, if it were a story…

99% of the time, this’d be horrible.

That’s because the Bud Knight is like an inexplicable solution to everyone’s problems with no struggle involved. There was conflict, for sure, but then it was just gone after the knight showed up.

This lives by the hard-to-say “deus ex machina” (the writerly term, not that game with the guy who has dark glasses).

It’s basically about a guy with a crane in Greek drama who lowers a god character on stage to fix everything when it looks like things can’t be fixed by anyone or anything else.

Readers will feel cheated if this is done. They want to experience your story as things go along–to be amazed, fearful, and more along with the characters. They want to wrap their minds around the characters’ problems and figure out how the characters will solve their own problems, as much as possible.

That gets them more deeply involved in the story. They deserve that, right?

As fiction, this may have worked a teeny bit better if the knight backed everyone as they picked up their weapons again and fought on.

At least he didn’t leave everyone to die, I will say that much.

That’s about it for today. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments about knights, Super Bowl ads, or what-have-ya. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Tomorrow is post 3.

Until next time,

Ty

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