Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Dialogue Part 13 - Writing Inner Dialogue Of A Hero by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Part 13
Writing Inner Dialogue Of A Hero
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous parts of Dialogue series are indexed here:


And depiction posts are indexed here:


Depicting a Character is tricky if the Character's dialogue does not match what you, the writer, assert is true about the Character.

Dialogue is usually considered to be what a Character says aloud to another Character -- but in science fiction Romance, Paranormal Romance, and all our favorite variations, one must consider telepathy as part of Dialogue, even when not worded-thoughts.

Realistic Characterization includes the Character being unaware of his/her own true motivations.  Most silent, inner dialogue -- the things we repeat to ourselves -- are rationalizations for how we feel, justifications for feeling that way, and consequent "reasons" for why we act that way.

Real humans are complicated.

Characters have to be ultra-simplified, at least in the first few novels you write to introduce them.

Hollywood screenwriting insists Major Characters have 3 (and no more than 3) Traits that distinguish them from other Characters.  But in screenwriting, you don't usually get to reveal inner dialogue.  The Actors supply that counterpoint embellishment,and you, the writer, don't get to telll the Actor what the Character is thinking or in what words (telepathy being an exception).

But note how telepathy has been handled in Star Trek -- silence, leaving the audience to guess what Spock learned from the Horta until he interpreted -- and we don't know if he told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Here is a bold and inconvenient truth for Romance writers to ponder.

Readers judge Characters by the Character's inner (silent) dialogue with him/herself.

You can tell the reader this Character is a highly placed, powerful executive whose word is law in an international corporation (the "How To Marry A Billionaire" story needs a Billionaire readers can believe is real) -- but if the Character is not thinking (inside their own mind) like a successful Billionaire, the readers won't believe a word in the entire novel.  In fact they won't finish reading it.

But since writers aren't Billionaires, or action-heros of any sort, how do you learn what your Character (human or Alien) should be thinking in a crisis, where the stakes are saving the Galaxy, where failure is not an option?

We see in the remake of the TV Series, MACGYVER, how the ultimate problem solver thinks when everything he tries fails.  He "innovates."

Usually, in real life, that doesn't work, which is why it is so fascinating to see on TV.

What does work, what allows humans to survive on this fragile world, is team work.  But every team has a point-man, a leader, a person who thinks faster about more things, who sees the big picture and charts the course through the current mess.

A Hero in a 3 piece suit and tie.  Or coveralls and boots.

Every team has a Leader or it isn't a "team." (at least for humans).

However, at any given time, any particular Team may follow any one of the members -- whichever one has the Big Picture and a Plan.

Which team member is the Leader is not a distinguishing Characteristic (among humans).  Any follower might become a Leader in the right circumstances.  Take for example, a ship's crew in battle, and the Captain and First Officer get killed (or beamed off the ship), -- so a Lieutenant steps into the Captain's role and does what they've seen the Captain do.

Leadership is not a property of a given Character.

Leadership is a property of Inner Dialogue.

A lot of the mystique of Leadership is shrouded in Silent Dialogue.


We discussed Culture and physical movement (all humanity has body-movement "codes" alike such as eye-blink-rate and mirroring or matching another's micro-moves), but Cultures differ in what means what.

Robert J. Sawyer has written a solid science fiction (somewhat Romance, too) about a psychiatrist who discovers a way to identify sociopaths by micro-movements of the eye.  We are, in fact, close to being able to do such fine tuned work.  The novel is QUANTUM NIGHT.


The Characters are well depicted scientists (both the man and the woman) with real emotional lives, and a solid grasp of the sciences they are known for.

Now, put this all together, and study this article about how NASA trains mission control folks to avoid panic in an emergency.  It is so much better, more effective, and more realistic than the British WWII "Stay Calm" nonsense.

Telling someone to stay calm just makes them more acutely aware of all the reasons not to.

Read this article:


Note this list of questions -- these will guide you to creating the thoughts.  Your Characters will not be thinking these questions -- but rather listing in their minds all the answers they know, and what specifically they can do to find more answers.  Study, internalize, practice using this list in your own life's panic-situations, until you have polished the performance.

---------quote from NASA Flight Director--------------
Mission control has a strategy for staving off panic
This intense focus is partly how the flight controllers are able deal with potentially catastrophic situations. Instead of "running down the halls with our hair on fire," Hill said the team would focus on a series of questions.

• What was everything they knew — and did not know — about the situation at hand?

• What did the data actually say about the situation at hand?

• What was the worst thing that could happen as a result of the situation?

• Did the team have enough information to know for sure — and how could they get more information?

• What immediate steps could be taken to continue making progress in the mission or keep everyone safe?
--------------END QUOTE-------------

It is vital not to fall into the habit of assuming that things will now go as they always have before.  Old solutions can not be relied on in new situations.

That is the source of the non-Leader Character's paralysis before fear in a crisis.

When time closes in, and a correct action must be chosen and executed perfectly without thinking, Characters who have graven habits will fail.

Characters who avoid letting habit rule them, but who use habit as a tool, subordinate habit to achieving objectives, who go to the trouble to understand all the moving parts, will succeed in an emergency.

It is the same sort of training that is done in Martial Arts.  The objective is to identify an incoming threat and counter it WITHOUT THINKING.

In Martial Arts this is "muscle memory" and reflex -- in Mission Control it is Situational Awareness and a holistic grasp of the Big Picture.

Thus, Billionaires and other successful people generally have a sports hobby -- whatever is most popular in their circles.  Handball or MMA -- whatever uses the body-brain interface, because that same brain circuit provides the instant response to emergencies -- new emergencies never dreamed of before are met with smooth idea processing and solution generation.

Study the new TV Series, MACGYVER.  It is silly, contrived, not nearly as cleverly done as THE A-TEAM or the original MACGYVER -- but well worth studying for the depiction of smooth response to crisis.

The Successful Billiionaire, and the (still alive) Astronaut respond smoothly, and stay in control of the moving parts of a complex Situation gone awry, by drilling constantly (starting as toddlers) in that series of Questions from NASA Mission Control.

The Character who can meet a bizarre - ever seen by humans before - Event, parse it, decide, and act successfully, will not be telling themselves inwardly "don't panic" -- they will not be thinking of all the ways things could go wrong, they will not be picturing their messy deaths, they will not be AFRAID for their Soul Mate.

The Hero Character -- to be convincing -- must be working the problem using that list of bulleted questions.  Not one at a time, but the whole list all at once.

The Leader of the team will be taking what information the team can supply from that list of questions and DEVISING (improvising) ways to acquire more answers.

This process occupies so much of the brain, all at once, that the Hero Character's inner dialogue convinces the Reader that this is a Hero.

More than that, it convinces the reader to practice being like that in their own lives.

Ultimately, this is why we read novels -- to find role models that are not present among those we know personally.  Or perhaps, are present but not recognizable until we start practicing these habitual thought patterns.

Note, processing problems via NASA's list of questions will make sure that this Character is never a victim, never thinking of him/herself as a victim.  But this Character is also never -- ever -- an attacker, a victimizer.

Successful people are not attackers, not victimizers, not bullies.

If you see success and you see a bully -- suspect there is something else going on that you don't yet know about.

Make your Characters realistic by giving them an inner-voice commentary on events that reveals a true understanding of Life, of human psychology, of History, and Reality.  Such Characters are always questioning, always curious, always marveling, always certain they don't know everything -- and their awareness of their ignorance does not make them afraid.

What you don't know can kill you.  So what?  Don't bother me.  I'm busy solving this problem.  Focus.  That's the secret to inner dialogue.  Unfocused, random, wandering, distracted inner dialogue is the sign of a very weak Character who will not succeed.

Depict your Hero Character as able to deal with catastrophe with his hair on fire, and people will believe that Character is heroic (but the character will deny it.)

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Takeaways From "Developing The Digital Marketplace for Copyrighted Works"

"You bargain, or you beg!"

On January 25th, 2018 from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm (approximately), the USA's Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force hosted an international meeting to discuss the tension between licensors and licensees in the digital marketplace for copyrighted works, the importance of registries, and the hands off role of Government.

Usually, when discussing one's point of view in front of the government, one is perky, excruciatingly reasonable, and highly positive about the government. Circumlocution can be expected. It's not a forum where "the truth will out"... unless the listener can read between the lines.

You can watch some of the archived footage for the day for yourself at:
For writers who have great sympathy for song writers and musicians, one of the most enlivening comments of the day was from an audience member who said "granularity is the enemy", and stated that "per play" licensing takes value from the album. Before streaming, music lovers would buy an entire album because they wanted one song on the album. Now, streaming services only pay for the hits that they use. (And they don't pay well.)

(Granularity also affects non-fiction writers. Instead of every student in a course buying an entire text book in order to access certain chapters, those most excellent chapters can now be isolated, licensed, and distributed
while the drossy remainder fusts unused, and unread.)

A realist in the "bargain or beg" camp explained that if a rights holder did not accept the new reality, there are myriad musicians trying to move up the "long tail" of the "snake" that is the music business who are willing to pay to be played. (The same goes for publishing.)

In a let-them-eat-cake like moment, someone touted the money to be made by musical rights holders whose tunes were used as television news themes.

It seems to me, I have almost never heard an unknown tune being played on cable news channels. Have you? It's almost always a rock star band getting this lucrative gravy. I have the impression that Fox News, for instance, frequently plays a clip from Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" when the topic is DACA.

The opening lyrics of that excellent tune are more appropriate for Vikings.

Snatches of tunes used in advertisements probably pay more than on streaming services, but again, the advertisers use big hits by head-of-the-snake bands.  Although politicians' "walk-onto-the-stage" themes were not discussed explicitly, there was a mention (in a discussion of Hollywood, TV and film) about creative people being out of luck if they do not want to do a deal.

Sometimes, a creative work will be licensed and used, despite the objections of the creative person who does not want their work used for a certain purpose or venue or campaign.

Sometimes, a creative work by an obscure individual is used without payment, and apparently the Government's view is, the big seven (or however many) publishers are paid on a percentage basis, and it is up to them to distribute the royalties.... or not, if the obscure individual is not part of their system.

The Copyright Office's position is (allegedly), "It's not our mission to disambiguate works from other works." 

If that is the case, one wonders why the Copyright Office is accepting and burying millions of Notices Of Intent To Use copyrighted works, supposedly on behalf of rights owners who will never be paid unless they have the time, resources and skill to search through the compressed files at the Copyright Office info dumps.

Apparently, every obscure rights owner who wants to be paid for their work is expected to take responsibility for joining the appropriate registries (even paying to be entered in those registries), so they can be located, and paid whatever the streaming service or the Government decides they should be paid.

So much for willing seller/willing buyer.

With regard to Google, "if you (the creator and rights owner) don't do something, someone else will do it for you, and you may not like their solution."

To be continued....

Rowena Cherry

PS.  With regard to the snake imagery from the music world, apparently the top 2% of musicians (the head of the snake) receive 98% of the royalties.  80% of sound recordings get zero plays.  However, according to Ms. Chris Kleeman (formerly with Wiley academic publishing) the long tail is alive and well in books.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Animal Minds

TIME magazine recently put out a special 95-page publication called THE ANIMAL MIND, which (according to the cover) is supposed to be available on newsstands until the middle of February. Pick up a copy if you can. It includes lavish photo illustrations and eight thought-provoking articles on topics that include animal communication, whether animals grieve, whether they're capable of friendship, why people like creatures such as dogs and detest creatures such as rats, animal rights, etc. The first article is titled, "Animals Have Brains, But Do They Have Minds?" As you probably know, seventeenth-century philosopher Rene Descartes dismissed animals, even the "higher" ones, as automata without consciousness. Nowadays, few scientists would deny that many nonhuman creatures have emotions and feelings of pain and pleasure. Some animals pass the "mirror test" for self-awareness (they recognize their mirror images as themselves, not mistaking them for other animals inside or behind the glass). Some species have been shown to understand cause-and-effect and abstractions such as "same" and "different." Among birds, parrots and corvids (e.g., crows and jays) display surprising intelligence. Some animals have "culture" in the sense of passing on learned behaviors to future generations. A "theory of mind" shows up in a few animals, which display awareness that other creatures don't necessarily know the same things they know. The boundary between human and animal minds becomes more and more blurry, as abilities once believed to be unique to humanity, such as tool use, have been discovered in other species. One driver for the development of high intelligence seems to be living in social groups. It takes more cleverness to learn to cooperate with members of one's group than to lead a solitary existence. Great apes, cetaceans (whales and dolphins), and elephants stand out for their superior intellect.

The October 2017 issue of PMLA contains an article by Bryan Alkemeyer on "Remembering the Elephant: Animal Reason Before the Eighteenth Century." In classical antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the early modern period, the creatures assumed to be most human-like weren't usually the apes, as we take for granted now. That honor often went to elephants. Elephants were thought to have remarkable memories, mourn their dead, altruistically share food with their companions, and perform quasi-religious rituals. With elephants as an example, Michel de Montaigne, in 1580, suggested that "there is a greater difference between one man and another than between some men and some beasts." As Alkemeyer puts it, these "largely forgotten perspectives on elephants challenge the concept of the human by suggesting that the category 'rational animal' includes beings with emphatically nonhuman shapes." Contemplating the possibility of human-like reasoning in the mind of a creature with a nonhuman shape would be good practice for first contact with extraterrestrial aliens.

One feature I especially like about Diane Duane's outstanding "Young Wizards" series is the way she populates the novels with many ET characters who are definitely "people" without being at all humanoid, including a species resembling giant centipedes and an ambulatory, sapient tree—as well as nonhuman "people" right here on Earth, such as cat wizards, whale wizards, and the sapient dinosaurs (discovered in THE BOOK OF NIGHT WITH MOON) in the alternate-dimension Old Downside.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Depiction Part 35 - Depicting Marriage by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Part 35
Depicting Marriage 
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

This Depiction series is about finding ways to show-don't-tell the nuances of intangibles -- like Love or Romance or Heritage or Family -- without blasting the reader with "on the nose" description, exposition or even narrative.

The previous parts of the Depiction Series are indexed here:


In the Depiction study we have discussed Proverbs and Psalms



And recently, Prophecy, and other components of culture used in Worldbuilding.

To depict a Human-Alien Romance, you must depict the "human" culture (is there even such a thing as "the" culture of Earth?) and the Alien culture.

If there is no single "Earth Culture" then why would any of your readers think there is a single "alien culture?"

Star Trek fanfic writers often handle Vulcan, Romulan, or Klingon culture as if there is and always has been only one such culture -- monoliths.

As Americans have discovered in recent decades, there is no single, monolithic Moslem culture, religion or belief.  Islam comes in as many shades, gradations, and stark contrasts as does Christianity or Judaism (and most other 'isms).

Complexity is the hallmark of old civilization -- at least on this Earth.

For decades, science fiction has assumed the direction of human cultural development is toward the monolithc -- so that in the future, Earth will have one single culture every human belongs to and is comfortable with.

However, today's trend has reversed.  While, in the early 20th Century, the trend was toward plain vanilla washout of cultures, the melting pot, with the publication and TV Series "Roots" we hit an inflection point toward "multi-culturalism."

That may not last, but today's readers grew up in an environment that values multiculturalism, diversity, and respect for the values and customs of others.

If you use a monolithic society -- a whole world with billions of individuals and only one culture now and throughout all history, you must convince this new reader that such a thing can exist, be viable, and interact with Earth plausibly.

This is a tall order, and may take over your plot, oblitterating all the space you want to devote to a hot Romance.

So depicting your Aliens as having a vast, varied, and confusing past, perhaps irrational and persistent into modern times, could make them seem more human.

Since we are looking at Alien Romance, we should focus on "marriage" or whatever passes for the stable partnership that tends to ensure the survival of the young, the training (acculturation) and education of the young, and perhaps most of all the transmission of Values to the young.

Yes, Romance is actually all about "the young" -- because Romance usually happens to the Young.  Of course, there are "autumn romance" stories, touching beyond words, but the forward looking hope, optimism, and goal directed drive to establish a safe, happy, stable home is for the Young who have not done it yet.

Such youngsters set out to establish themselves mostly because they have been raised in a stable home and understand what makes it a base for "family."

Setting out to write a human/Alien romance immediately raises the question of where do you do the research?  If you want to write a Regency, you know where to find history books.  If you want to write a tale set in Ancient Rome, you know where to find factual material.  But where do you find out about Alien Marriage?

Where do you find out about Alien History, Alien Religion, Alien Customs?

What do Aliens do for "something borrowed, something blue" -- and why?

You will never be more aware of our mixed up, blended and re-separated human cultural heritage and all the customs surrounding marriage as when you set out to create some Aliens.

Science Fiction has always drawn on the strange corners of human history, other parts of this globe, far back to the dawn of time, to generate odd but believable Alien customs.

Most human customs have arisen from biology combined with available technology.

For example, once cloth was woven, it became feasible for people to wear "veils" -- shrouding the head and face.  In certain parts, such as desert where dust blows, face coverings made of cloth became standard wear.

Leather doesn't work so well for face veils because you can't breathe through it.  Cloth woven tightly enough to keep out most sand is perfect.

So growing plants, extracting the fiber, spinning thread, weaving it -- very complex technology with weavers and textile dye experts harboring many trade secrets as dynastic wealth of a family.

You can look up how that developed among humans -- keeping in mind by the time of the Pharoahs of Egypt, textiles were a well developed industry.

Part 21 - Depicting Alien History (Testosterone revisited)

Part 22 - Depicting Alien Nostalgia With Symbolism (Dean Martin song Memories Are Made Of This used in a Video of nostalgic images, perfectly composed and compiled)

So in Worldbuilding your Aliens, research the roots of our current civilization -- from Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, onwards.  The more you know, the better long-range perspective you can envision from human history.

Then you can derive an Alien marriage custom which will not resemble any human custom, but will seem comprehensible and plausible to your readers because it evolved along a path similar to the path of human custom evolution.

Religion is always a cultural wild card, and an easy way to slip in twists that can become potent Character motivations.  Religion can prompt behaviors that are otherwise implausibly Good -- or insanely Bad.  So any Alien world you build is not complete without a Cosmology and Cosmogany -- and the accompanying epistemologies.

Most people who think with, use, and live by these intellectual abstractions do not know the academic terms for them.  Most people call it their gut.

What do your Aliens use for a gut?

For example, most people today do not know why Brides wear veils -- and modern ceremonies often do away with the tradition of the bridal veil.

See Why Do We Cry At Weddings - Part 2 has a link to Part 1.


Here is the historical reason for the Bridal Veil from


Many of the wedding traditions are rooted in the Biblical stories found in the Torah.

Q.  Why according to Jewish tradition, is the bride's face covered with the veil before the Chupah.

A. ...  The Torah tells us that when Rivkah met her future husband, Yitzchak, for the first time, "She took the veil and she covered herself" (Gen. 24:65).

------------end quote-----------

This was long before Egypt became a Superpower of that world, and cloth was commonly worn even then.

Also, from the same source:

Q.  Why is it customary that the bride's family presents the groom with a Talit?

A. The Talit has four corners, with eight strings on each corner. In total, the Talit has 32 strings (4X8=32). "Heart" in Hebrew is "Lev," which has the numerical value of 32. The Talit expresses the blessing that the couple's life be filled with love for each other.

-----------end quote----------

Here is a video on the Tallit:

The Veil custom promulgated through thousands of years in a lot of cultures that have no obvious connection to the Biblical figures of Rebecca and Isaac.

The Talit -- the fringed prayer shawl worn today by Jewish men (in some traditions, only married men), is also a custom many simply execute routinely and have no idea where it came from, why they do it (except their parents did) or what any of the (many) symbols incorporated into it mean, why they mean that, or how they came to mean that -- thus what the symbols might be evolved into and what they must not be evolved into.

People know their customs, but not the thousands of years of history behind them.

Customs lose meaning through generations, but they don't lose power and impact.

Failing to execute a "good luck" custom (like something borrowed; something blue) may be cited as the reason a marriage failed.

It might actually be the reason.  People subconsciously nagged by a sense of failure to do the right thing will often subconsciously arrange for their own punishment.

In fiction, that is called Poetic Justice, discussed under depicting random luck.


So, Romance focuses on the period of initial encounter - the Love At First Sight between Soul Mates -- well, it can be Hate At First Sight in a deep psychological study of the true nature of Love.

Romance is the beginning of the beginning.

But it has its root in the blending of dynasties -- each living human (and presumably most Aliens) has an ancestry that stretches back into the mists of pre-history.  We all come from somewhere, but have been cross-influenced by many strands of culture.

Throughout Time, humans have lived mostly in mono-cultural environments since travel was so difficult.  War, famine, draught could cause mass migration, and later the Americas were colonized due largely to religious incompatibilities, but the migrants would then settle in and absorb or be absorbed into the local culture.  Archeology shows how this pattern repeated through the evolution of human kind, now genetics revealing how Cro-Magnon cross bred with Neanderthal as populations overlapped.

So the trend seemed to be toward blending into a mono-cultural association creating tribe, village, city, kingdom.

A trader, bard, fugitive from justice, wanderer, exile, soldier of fortune, shipwreck survivor might wash up on the shores of a community -- but would be always the "stranger" (maybe for several generations of his children).  But the community would be mono-cultural, harboring the stranger and absorbing him.

Today, we are reversing that trend, accepting strangers among us who view right/wrong/life/purpose in wholly different ways.

Today, in the world of mobility, and mass migrations is producing communities in ferment, but multi-cultural marriages abound, just as between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon.  Imagine what those partnerships might have been like - rape and abandonment?  Or the male protecting the offspring of the female?

As far as we know, these original humans did not have "marriage" as we know it today - (Credit Cards, Bank Accounts with Joint Tennants, house in the title of a Living Trust, Pre-Nup Agreement).  But their children survived, which says something.

So what is marriage?  How do you depict marriage without pointing to a set of rules laid out in a book so old people can't agree on who wrote it?  How do you depict human/Alien marriage to a reader who is convinced the rules in that old book should be discarded as archaic and inapplicable?

For humans, you can't say marriage biological -- because human males have been known to abandon their own children.  Human mothers have been known to discard newborns, espcially from men they disliked.

Yet even without a legal document, men and women (or two men, or two women) live together, settle in, raise children together, create a domestic arrangement that suits them.  Perhaps it is just inertia, but such arrangements can last longer than some document-supported "marriages."

Does going the documented route spoil a Relationship? (the answer to that is a Theme, you know).

Our modern TV shows are fraught with depictions of dysfunctional families, failed marriages, second marriages, men who skip from woman to woman, and twenty-and-thirty-somethings who dread even calling their parents on holidays.  The trend is to depict the broken family dynamic.

There are many depictions of the heartwrenching sorrow at the death of a parent (aunt or uncle) with whom the survivor did not reconcile.  The assumption is always that there had (just absolutely had) to be something to be reconciled.

The idea of a family with nothing outstanding needing reconciliation is simply absurd.

This could be why the HEA, the Happily Ever After, ending is considered insanely ridiculous - beyond contempt the way science fiction had always been regarded up until Star Trek was revived as a result of fan activity.

Today's TV would never broadcast The Brady Bunch or Leave It To Beaver -- which did depict family life in their respective eras.

Today, there are no depictions on mass-fiction-markets of tight-knit, solid, stable multi-generation families.

So it is up to novelists to lure, lull, entice readers into believing in the solid, tight-knit multigeneration family, and to depict marriage that is not dysfunctional.

Only, neither the reader nor the writer today has a model for a functional family in common with one another.

Depict a functional family, and the reader is held spellbound waiting for the Big Reveal of the Big Secret -- the grand lie -- the deception at the core of the matter.  Everyone secretly harbors hate, --- or so an Alien watching modern TV would assume.

So we must look to human history for a model for a futuristic Marriage - a Couple who might be from different cultures, but comfortably raise sane children who can go out and fall in love and form another (sane) generation that does not hate their parents.

Historically, there are such ideals, and a handful of principles of behavior that you can depict the parents of your Couple modeling.

If the parents of the Couple whirling through the Romance in you novel behave in the following fashion, you will show-don't-tell your readers that your Couple has a fine chance at an HEA, a Happily Ever After that will not end in a divorce.

Here is a quote from chabad.org  

Marriage is not a power struggle, and the home is not a battlefield. To give in does not mean to relinquish power, and talking things over does not mean you are entering negotiations.

The two of you comprise a single entity—a couple. What is good for one is good for the other. When you come to a decision, it is the decision of both of you as one being. Do it not as a sacrifice but as a gift, not as a defeat but as a triumph of love.

------end quote -------------

So try writing the scene in your novel where the parents of your Couple meet to resolve the issue of "My Kid Is Going To Marry An Alien!"

Here's a series I've recommended:

Lay out the scene using that set of principles.  Depict each set of Parents approaching the problem, modeling that problem-solving methodology.

This is an essential show-don't-tell of why it is likely your Couple will indeed arriive at an HEA (not that it will be easy, mind you).

"The Apple Does Not Fall Far From the Tree" and "Like Father; Like Son" and so on, is all true.  These are descriptions of family.  Culture propagates through solid, tight-knit Family.

Of course, humans have had trouble with our relatives since Caine and Able.  Even Abraham had to send one of his sons away.

Esaw and Jacob didn't get along too well, either.

These stories are preserved because they are a repeating pattern built into our makeup.

It is part of the human condition that families spawn aliens within our midst, and spit them out with considerable force.

Genetics does not guarantee acceptance.

Every large family has a "Black Sheep."  (grand source of drama)

But to have a "Black Sheep" -- a family must be a family.  The solidity of the family is a pre-condition for the drama of the "exception" -- the different one.

Two such "different ones" may end up in a human/Alien Romance, and a grand marriage where both functional families have to come around (far-around) to accepting this new, utterly strange, Couple.

The reader will expect there to be no chance for such a couple, two rejects of their cultures, to reach a Happily Ever After.

You can convince your skeptical readers by depicting the parents, maybe grandparents mixing in, settling their disputes over the Couple by using those principles of marriage.  You might even invoke some good-luck-charm custom, like the Talit, depicting it has having worked.

The HEA demands too much suspension of disbelief for today's reader.  So today's writer has to work harder at convincing the reader.

Get your readers to Cry At The Wedding of your Characters.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Musical Trojan Horse

Imagine what would happen if the sound system in Foxborough this evening were to be hacked by hippies, who installed a Spotify "Chill" playlist. 

Imagine if they played beautiful, soothing songs about sunny afternoons, peace, love, wearing summery windflowers in their hair, and being groovy.... instead of belting out warlike anthems about being champions, not taking disrespect, and assisting ones foes to bite the dust.

Would there be fewer penalties and less unnecessary roughness?

Music matters. Music makes a difference. Music can be dangerous. Or not. Perhaps one does not want music in the wrong hands.

Today, I connect three very different dots.

William R. Trotter's brilliant analysis of music and the art of war, which was published in the June 2005 issue of Military History magazine.

The Pierce Brosnan movie I.T., about what happens when one willingly installs an Internet Of Things home with convenient camera surveillance even in the bathroom, then upsets an unstable hacker.

Liz Pelly's warning about Spotify, emotional regulation by algorithm, mood (if not mind) control through music and curated playlists, and a passing mention of "overpriced, fun-sized plastic and metal surveillance machines."

If one connects those dots, music could be a Trojan Horse.  Since ancient times --even perhaps before Joshua used exceptionally loud music to demoralize his enemies and destabilize their fortress walls... perhaps by causing liquefaction-- music has been used in warfare.

According to Milutin Srbulov
Ground vibration can be caused by very loud noises, including by musical events, and by people marching or dancing. ... Damages can include excessive building settlement, liquefaction of sandy soils, slope instability, collapse of trenches, excavations, and tunnels, exposure of buried pipelines and other services, cracking.. .
Music has been used by the military to motivate troops, increase aggression, promote the "hive mind", to raise adrenaline and whip up violent emotions.

Marching to the beat of a drum was so prevalent that joining the army was called "following the drum". 

As William R. Trotter explains, there is a musical language of warfare. Machiavelli wrote explicitly about it in his Italian "Art of War" manual. Bugle and trumpet calls communicate distinct commands to cavalry or infantry. Warriors had their national anthems, so that when the forces were out of sight, one could identify friend or foe by what they were singing.

(Trotter tells stories where unscrupulous military commanders gained an unfair advantage over their enemies by singing the wrong song, or playing the other army's trumpet command to retreat. Musical dirty tricks!!)

According to Trotter, Music improves the X Factor.
"In his novel War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy observed that the effectiveness of an army is the product of the mass multiplied by something else; by an unknown ‘X’….the spirit of the army. Throughout history, music has had the effect of raising that unknown ‘X’ by a considerable power."

Did Simon Cowell know that?
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_X_Factor )

According to Liz Pelly, music can be sponsored and curated and manipulated for instance to persuade women to buy more exotic brassieres than they need, and playlists can be associated with all manner of product and services marketing... without the consent of the musicians, and perhaps without appropriate compensation.

If there is a playlist for shopping, are there playlists for political causes? What about for rallies, marches, and riots?  Considering the history of music for warfare, is this a good idea?  Should the police on picket lines have playlists?

It seems that music can be weaponized, and can alter moods and behavior. (I suspect, some types of music may be implicated in road rage.) If this is the case, probably an individual tune is harmless, but an extended serious of tunes that are put together for a specific purpose by a commercial or political enterprise might be a Trojan Horse.

One should worry when a government (such as the US Congress with the "Music Modernization Act" ) appears to be inclined to make copyright infringement lawful, or to retroactively absolve copyright infringement for the benefit of music services that produce curated music services.

Richard Bush points out:
"It also seems patently unfair to basically retroactively absolve Spotify of infringement damages, and willful infringement at that, just because a victim has not yet filed a lawsuit."

" technology companies are lobbying Congress to create laws to turn the creative community into workers whose own musical creations are not in fact their own."
How is it in the public interest to make music cheap-to-exploit for billionaire internet players and to prevent musicians from opting out of certain political or marketing uses of their creations if they object to those uses?

For more reading on Orwellian goings on to strip control of music from musicians:



By the way, in FORCED MATE, my alien ruling class explicitly outlawed music in their societies, except for use for patriotic, feel-good occasions such as royal weddings.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, January 18, 2018

An Author's Obligation to Readers?

With the TV series GAME OF THRONES having outrun the books on which it's based, there have been speculations that George R. R. Martin may never finish the "Song of Ice and Fire" multi-volume epic. On the other hand, in July 1917 Martin assured the public that he's actively working on WINDS OF WINTER, which might even be released sometime in 2018. (We've heard that sort of claim before, haven't we? :) ) I'm reminded of Neil Gaiman's well-known blog post admonishing fans that George Martin does not work for us:

Entitlement Issues

Gaiman maintains that writing the first book in a series does not constitute a "contract" on the part of the author to write sequels, much less finish the series. He justifiably points out that writers, even bestselling ones, aren't "machines" and have a right to private lives. And I have to concede that readers aren't "entitled" to any and all books they want to read. Still, I don't completely agree with Gaiman's position.

I'm not talking about open-ended series—for example, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover universe and most detective series. These could in theory go on forever, if the author were immortal or, as with Bradley, Tom Clancy, and many others, bequeathed his or her fictional universe to literary heirs. A series like this doesn't tell a single, unified narrative building toward a conclusion without which it would be incomplete. (It's worth mentioning, however, that in her prime Agatha Christie thoughtfully wrote "final case" novels for both Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, to be published after Christie's death.) Works along the line of Stephen King's Dark Tower epic, Gabaldon's Outlander series, and, yes, "A Song of Ice and Fire" do fit the second pattern.

Not that I condone harassing an author about not writing fast enough. Some fans apparently complained when Diana Gabaldon published novellas and novels in the Outlander spinoff series featuring Lord John Grey, on the grounds that she should have been working on the next mainline Outlander book instead! Gabaldon patiently explained that her process doesn't function that way, and the Lord John stories had no effect on the progress of the "big novels." I do believe, however, that when an author starts a series that comprises a unified story, he or she makes an implicit promise to finish the story. A multi-volume narrative, in that sense, is no different in principle from the serialized novels popular in the nineteenth century. While public nagging and angry demands are unacceptable, there's nothing wrong with what we might call "reasonable expectations."

Speaking of which, while I don't begrudge J. K. Rowling THE CASUAL VACANCY and the mystery novels, what happened to that Harry Potter encyclopedia she as good as promised us? She even forced a fan project to shut down because she intended to produce such a guide. All we've gotten, so far, is Pottermore, a flashy website that delivers world and character background material in sporadic chunks and seems more geared to interactivity than information. No, writers don't work for readers, but we can legitimately feel disappointed when we get "teased" with promised books that never materialize. While Gabaldon (for example) goes a long time between release dates of her "big novels," she transparently keeps readers updated about the current work in progress to forestall cries of "when will it be out?"

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dialogue Part 12 - Plotting An Executive's Story by Jaccqueline Lichtenberg

Part 12
Plotting An Executive's Story
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous parts of Dialogue are indexed here:

All the parts through 12 are linked there.

Hitherto, we have taken great care to distinguish between Plot and Story -- because confusing the two leads to the biggest (and least fixable on rewrite) errors beginners make.

Which element you call Plot and which you call Story really doesn't matter much.  Different "schools" of writing use different nomenclature.  But I've never met a prolific professional writer who does not hold the stark distinction in mind, and finger it unerringly in beginner's manuscripts.

The Plot-Story dichotomy is very often the last thing new writers learn, and upon mastering it, they begin selling.  It is hard to learn because real life does not have any such distinction.

I use "Plot" to refer to the "because-line" (a term I invented) -- the sequence of Events, Decisions, Actions that drive the visible scenes of a novel.

I use "Story" to refer to the effect the Events have on the Characters.

For me, a good novel is "about" the effect the events have on the Characters.

I have read many best selling "action-thrillers" in which the wildly adventurous Events mean nothing to the Characters -- net-net in the end of the novel, they are the same people they were at the beginning.

This lack of "Character Arc" was a requirement in Anthology TV Series like Star Trek, so the episodes (which were, technically, just that, episodes not stories) could be viewed in any order.  That was required because of the way the distribution system worked.

The fiction distribution system has changed, drastically.  So now we can have major Character Arcs in Series like Babylon 5, or the remake of Hawaii 5-O.

Dialogue is the show-don't-tell tool the writer has to convey the impact of Plot Events on the Character, and "tell the story."

What people say, how they say it, how what they say changes upon Event Impact, is Dialogue.

What the Characters DO in response to Events is PLOT.

Speaking is Doing!!!

In other words, spoken words are plot -- but they are also story.

Here's the thing.

Spoken Words are Theme-Plot-Character-Story-Worldbuilding.

The Dialogue makes the reader figure out (and thus believe) all those plot elements.

See Dialogue Part 11 for where in dialogue you can put exposition about your Worldbuilding that readers will believe.


So, deeds are plot. But not just the deeds.  The criteria by which a given Character chooses what deed to do in response to which Event is Characterization which shows up in inner-dialogue (thoughts) as well as word said to other Characters.

The phone rings -- some Characters answer it; others wait for the Butler to answer.

Answering or waiting (with or without patience) is a deed, a plot element.  WHY the answering is done, or not done, is worldbuilding.  A Character shifting attitudes about phone answering is story.

For example, in scene 1, bad news arrives by ringing phone.  In the final scene, the phone rings, and the Character hesitates, chewing her lip, before answering -- clearly thinking about bad news arriving by phone.

Characterization relies a lot on Dialogue, at the point where words and deeds intersect.

Here is an article (listicle) that lets you Depict a successful person.  The opposite traits would work to convey that the Character is a Loser.


This is a list of what people do when things happen, and what the public looks for to find a person poised for "success."

Successful People:
embrace change
talk about ideas
accept responsibility for failures
give credit where it's deserved
want others to succeed
ask how they can help others
ask for what they want
understand themselves (their motivations)
always listen without talking much

This is a list as old as the hills -- you can use it in a pre-historic setting, Middle Ages, or Space Age.

Each of these attitudes is backed by an upbringing that infuses self-image with strength -- and that can be transmitted only by a parent who had such an upbringing.  Therefore, depicting Characters with these behaviors, reactions and responses to their world (study Captain Kirk's humor) telegraphs to the Reader that this Character will succeed, and depicts their upbringing in show-don't-tell.  Sometimes it is not an actual "parent" that transmits the attitude, but a surrogate (Mentor, Sports Coach, Science Teacher, Boy Scout Troop Leader, step-father, local beat cop, etc.)

I assert it is as old as the Hills - because this set of traits is actually depicted and prescribed in the Bible, and other writings from the BCE epoch.

So Dialogue is where the rubber grips the road in writing.

With two or three well chosen words you show-don't-tell if your Character is an Executive and if she is Poised For Success -- and if the other Characters see and understand that, or may be blindsided by the Character's success (this works particularly well in Paranormal Romance).

Who will be the "winner" and who the "loser" at the end of the novel is clearly presented on Page 1, with a few well chosen words.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Stop The Torrents! Copyright Infringement Is Not Protected Speech.

Apparently, there are people who think that, if they pay for a VPN subscription, they are a protected class, and have a Constitutional right to remain anonymous and not to be publicly shamed in the same way as anyone else who is found guilty of copyright infringement.

There are even some judges who appear to agree that privilege and protection can be purchased by anyone.

"Anonymous Internet Users Beware," is the legal advice of  bloggers Siena Sophia Magdalena Anstis  and  J. Alexander Lawrence  writing for  Morrison & Foerster LLP . "New Presumption In Favor Of Unmasking The Losing Anonymous Defendant."

Read more:

This legal blog has an interesting discussion of an argument presented by an anonymous blogger who was successfully sued for posting a hyperlink to a downloadable copy of an ebook without the consent of the author and copyright owner of that ebook.

The same lawsuit with a slightly different perspective is also covered by Brian J. Willett for Reed Smith LLP  in "Sixth Circuit Suggests Liability for Copyright Infringement May Justify Reduced First Amendment Protection for Anonymous Speech, But Recommends......"

There's a bit of a spoiler in quoting the entire title.

Read it here:

For our European readers, please notice that Lexology offers sidebar links to different treatments of similar cases in the United Kingdom, in Canada, and in the Netherlands. (Where guilty copyright infringers wish to remain anonymous in defeat.)

In the USA case, the would-be anonymous blogger claimed that being anonymous is an aspect of Free Speech, and as such is protected by the First Amendment.  (How ironic that one pays a VPN as little as $40 per annum for this aspect of "free speech".)

The good news for copyright enthusiasts is that a judge said copyright infringement is not protected speech. The copyright infringer is publishing and distributing someone else's copyright-protected written expressions of ideas.

If the copyright infringer's "speech" is not protected by the First Amendment, it follows tha the guilty copyright infringer's identity should not be protected by the court.

As for VPNs, most online banking and brokerage houses won't allow clients to use them.  Their use tends to trigger annoying captchas...  even if one is attempting to donate to a charity.  One wonders if they are even much good for foiling those who would target advertising.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

PS. Disclaimer.  The reference to "torrents" in the title was purely artistic. I went from a vulgar, "No SHHH!" to a snarky "Wow!" to "Stop The Presses!" to ... the current form. Apologies for any disappointment.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Grabbing Attention

Cory Doctorow's latest LOCUS essay expounds upon the "arms race" for our attention in the media. He compares the "race" between the purveyors of memes and the consumers of them to the evolution of our immune response in reaction to the mutations of pathogens.

Arms Race for Your Attention

A fresh meme—for instance, the exciting new game everybody's playing—hits the "attentional soft spot" by deploying "cognitive traps" that lure the target into an "escape-proof limbic dopamine loop." Most people do eventually escape, though, as they build up resistance to the allure. So the forces clamoring for our attention have to escalate their intensity and develop new tricks.

By comparing old-style advertisements to those we see today, Doctorow illustrates how much harder we are to captivate than earlier generations of audiences. I'm reminded of how tame the TV commercials of my childhood in the 1950s and early 60s were, in contrast to those on the networks nowadays. Viewing some of those old commercials on DVDs of vintage TV programs vividly highlights the difference. Although I wouldn't go back to the 50s unless a time-twisting genie offered to compensate me with wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, in some ways that really was a more innocent era. Of course, nowadays we can fast-forward through commercials, so the ads have to become really flashy and cool-looking to snag our attention and keep us from skimming past them. As for Facebook ads, the scam e-mails that flood our in-boxes, and phone solicitations (which appear positively quaint compared to the Internet messages), does anybody actually respond to any of those appeals? Strange as it seems to me, SOMEBODY must, or the would-be sellers wouldn't keep producing them.

Doctorow also remarks that the battle for our attention is waged for more serious purposes than selling stuff and hooking people on games. It has political applications, too. So it's important to keep our "immune systems" healthy.

As for us authors, how can we best attract the attention of potential readers—in polite ways that don't backfire by turning them off? I've never paid for an Internet ad (although I've accepted the offer of free ads on a review website, where at least people visit voluntarily and are interested in finding new books). Since I ignore those kinds of things myself, why would I expect potential buyers of my books to respond to them? I don't want to become one of the scammers (which is the only issue discouraging me from trying that "boost post" strategy Facebook keeps nagging me about). On the other hand, if I don't promote myself in some way, nobody will know my books exist. When e-books were a novelty, being an e-published novelist was enough to attract attention. When my former publisher Ellora's Cave, the pioneer of erotic romance for a female audience, was practically the only game in town for the erotic paranormal romance subgenre, being one of their authors distinguished a writer from the throng, at least in a modest way. Now it's become a prime example of Doctorow's thesis that potential audiences invariably develop resistance to each new "attentional soft spot."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Dialogue Part 11 Writing An Executive's Dialogue by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Part 11
Writing An Executive's Dialogue
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

Previous entries in this series are here:


All the 10 previous parts are there.

One epic fail new writers experience when presenting a story that really grabs them is a disparity between what they tell the reader about a Character and what the Character seems to be to the reader.

We all have different experiences of "life" at different ages.  As we meet and work with different people, we get an idea of "who" a person is by "how" they talk.

Writing dialogue is nothing like transcribing real speech.  Dialogue, every line and every word or grunt, must propel the plot -- create an Event -- to which other Characters react, or which creates consequences.

In Mystery as in Romance, and even Science Fiction/Paranormal genres, one powerful plot driver is all about who knows what, and when they know it.

Who does not know what?

Who understands the connections among what they know -- and who doesn't.

Maybe most important, who can "fake it" until they "make it."

Getting a promotion, for example, often involves concealing what you don't know, then going out and frenetically learning it.

If you read fanfic, especially adventure fanfic, or space adventure-drama like Star Trek, you will have to write dialogue for a Ship's Captain, an Admiral, or even a Lieutenant who is in charge of some Ensigns.

What distinguishes the ranks -- and what tags a Character as ripe for promotion?

It's very simple -- but hard to create if you, yourself, do not have these traits.

Here is a way to acquire the speech habits of Captains and Admirals, of Corporation Heads, Planetary Governors, etc -- cocktail party conversation that moves the plot, depicts the top level a Character will be considered eligible for, and conveys reams and reams of exposition without any lumps and without disguising exposition as dialogue.

Remember, I pointed to an epic fail of expository lump in a previous post when discussing the Best Seller contrasted with a fun read.


So how do you craft dialogue to do all these things?

The process -- as opposed to the end result -- is by successive approximations.

You just write out the conversation as the Characters yell at each other -- write down all of it.

Then you edit out the kernal, the central operating system that runs all the "programs" you have to run to get the reader to know everything you want them to know.

Dissect out the central plot moving dynamic of the conversation.

Then carefully add back in, layer by layer, each objective for this scene.

Dialogue is the best tool for Characterization, but it works only if the two (or more) people conversing are sparring, jousting, jockeying for position (social or competitive).  One-upsmanship is a great tool.

So whether you're doing a Victorian Paranormal Romance, or a formal Conference of two Interstellar Civilizations in a War of Extinction, Dialogue is a potent plot tool because it can "show don't tell" motivations.

But along the way, even if your Main Character is on the wait-staff, you will have to craft dialogue for Movers And Shakers -- people who have worked their way up to top decision makers.  You have maybe two paragraphs to convince the reader this Character really is a top executive of his/her/its species.

How do you do that?

Here is an Article that explains, succinctly, just what your Reader will believe is the hallmark of a top executive (or someone on the way up that ladder, for sure).


I taught Andrew a technique called PREP, which he reported back to me, worked wonderfully.

It stands for Point, Reason, Example, Point, and it's a great tool to help you structure an impromptu speech or to answer a tough question when you're put on the spot.

This is how it works. Think of a situation where you might be required to defend your position or argue your point of view on a critical issue. This might be at your next executive meeting or perhaps in front of a potential client. Or at that next dinner party.

To illustrate, let's take an extreme example.

Suppose you're attending your next executive meeting and the CEO puts you on the spot, singling you out, she asks:

‘So, what's your view on how we're functioning as a team?'

If ever there was a question guaranteed to provoke an emotional response, this is it. It would be easy to become defensive and evasive in this situation, but that's not how a top executive would respond.

This is where having the structure of PREP to fall back on can help.

Note –before responding, pause and count to two. We sound ill-considered when we rush straight in. By pausing for two seconds you will sound more considered and it'll give you the thinking space to provide a concise and structured response using the PREP approach.

Point: "I think there is room for us to improve."

Reason: "The reason I say this is I feel we are tending to operate in silos and this is impacting our ability to cross-market and to service our clients effectively. It is also affecting our ability to communicate a consistent message to the business."

Example: [Provide one and preferably two relevant examples to illustrate your point.]

Point: "So, on that basis, no I don't believe we are operating effectively as a team right now. I think we have room to improve."

PREP allows you to deliver a mature and reasoned approach, which relies on facts not emotion. Others might not agree with you but you've delivered a mature and reasoned response befitting of an executive.

---------end quote----------

You should read the whole article if it's still available, or look up that technique.

Reading books advising executives how to behave and how to speak, how to do a Powerpoint, etc., will help you evoke the image of such a person with any Character.

But this simplification is an wonderful clue how to let your Characters "overhear" something that will motivate them to move the plot while letting the Reader figure out what is really going on that various Characters don't (yet) know about -- i.e. you create suspense!  With Dialogue - the most versatile tool in your craft tool box.

Note where the speech pattern inserts "example" -- it is inside that example that you hide your exposition, which has to be OFF THE NOSE.

In other words, you don't just say what you want the reader to figure out, you "code" the information so that the Reader can figure it out.

People believe what they figure out for themselves, not what they are told -- well, maybe not people in general, but I guarantee this is true of inveterate Science Fiction readers, and the modern Romance reader.

Here is the dialogue post on OFF THE NOSE.  This is "the nose" as in "hit you right in the nose" -- or force an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with an inconvenient truth.  Fiction works better when it sneaks up from the blind side, or hits in the back of the head (or the gut).

"On The Nose" is for nonfiction (which you might have to craft in the course of a novel), but fiction is about the emotional nuances that color our comprehension of facts -- so off the nose is the technique to master.


So, learn this PREP structure to keep your exposition off the nose, AND at the same time, depict Characters headed for the top of their professions (which makes a guy very sexy, you know.)

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Mashing The Mot Juste

Do you believe that words are "fungible"?  Are all synonyms equal, or are some synonyms more equal than others? In other words, does the "mot juste" exist?

Mot Juste = the exact, appropriate word.  (Plural: mots justes )

As some rely more on AI, and on automated plagiarism, "mot juste" will probably be expunged from Dictionaries. It is not a helpful concept. If there is no word for "the exact, appropriate word", people will cease to think that one word might be more exact and more appropriate than another.  Thoughts cannot exist without words. Vocabulary matters.

There's a rumor that pirate plagiarists are taking popular authors' published works, running these copyrighted works through an app to change the characters' names, place names, verbs and adjectives, and self-publishing the result as "original works" on certain online self-publishing platforms.

The name for such mashing up of words is "synonymize".

Check out this blurb for its logical flaw:

"Our machine is using paraphrasing software to replace words with synonyms to prevent plagiarism, but provides the same meaning of the content..."

No. That is not "prevent(ing) plagiarism". That is enabling and encouraging plagiarism.  It's purpose is not to "prevent plagiarism" but to prevent your plagiarism from being detected.

The plagiarism profiteers give fair warning, "...please note that it's only automatic tool and we cannot guarantee its quality..."

They know the difference between "it's purpose" and "it's only". Kudos for that. They seem to understand that their tool cannot deliver mots justes. However, from their use of English ("it's only automatic tool"), they may not be native English speakers. They hide who they are behind a Denver based privacy protection service.

They appear to offer to help one plagiarize ones own resume. Or ones own university admission letter. Or a document. Or a scientific paper. Why?

Here's an apparently British based rival with no illusions about what they are doing, if one can make such an inference from their "plagiarisma" name.  They are a free "article rewriter".

Some mash up enthusiasts gave the public fair warning on their Kickstarter campaign that mashing up Dr. Seuss Stories with Star Trek characters and imagery might land them in court.
While we firmly believe that our parody, created with love and affection, fully falls within the boundary of fair use, there may be some people who believe that this might be in violation of their intellectual property rights. And we may have to spend time and money proving it to people in black robes.

As David Stewart  legal blogger for Williams + Hughes (an Australian law firm) points out in "'Litigation, Jim, but not as we know it': Dr. Seuss, Star Trek, and Copyright Infringement in the US."     that disclaimer was clear evidence of wilful infringement.

David Stewart cites this helpful reminder to would be for-profit mashers.
The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals noted that “the claim of parody is no defense where the purpose of the similarity is to capitalize on a famous mark’s popularity for the defendant’s own commercial use.” Hard Rock Cafe Licensing Corp. v. Pacific Graphics, Inc., 776 F.Supp. 1454, 1462 (W.D.Wash.1991).”
David Stewart's article is excellent reading, but for the few who want just the bottom line, "wilful infringement", if claimed and proven against the loser defendant, can treble the damages assessed.

Jesse M Brody, legal blogger for Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP  (a very interesting law firm) also discusses same case and the same question of when is a claimed parody not a parody in "Oh The Places Copyright And Trademark Law Go!"

Jesse M. Brody examines the fourth factor of fair use (or not), which is whether the defendant's obvious use of  Dr. Seuss trademarks, font, titles, style, and stories combined with Star Trek characters and images could negatively affect future income for Dr. Seuss, for instance to the market for the licensing of Dr. Seuss's derivative works.

For more,
visit https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ebefd2db-1e70-410a-826b-84b12742574f&utm_source=lexology+daily+newsfeed&utm_medium=html+email+-+body+-+general+section&utm_campaign=lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=lexology+daily+newsfeed+2018-01-05&utm_term=

And visit https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=824c1cdd-7efb-4565-bf88-a8dd2159ce9f

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

PS.  My apologies for the lateness of this article.

PPS. Here's an example of a not-mot juste.  "That salacious book" that everyone is talking about.
The mot juste would be "scurrilous", as in "That scurrilous book".

A book cannot be "salacious", especially given the cover art of that particular book.  Salacious means lustful, lecherous, appealing to sexual desire.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Fictional Chronology Versus Real-Life Time

How do you handle the problem when the timeline of a fictional series slides out of sync with the real passage of time? The novels in my vampire universe were written and published over a span of many years, but the characters all exist in pretty much the same time frame although the technology of each book reflects the decade when it was written. Mostly, I don't worry about this situation, since the novels and stories can each be read independently (although some characters recur), aside from the novel that's a direct sequel to DARK CHANGELING, the first one published.

Now, however, my urban fantasy/horror novel FROM THE DARK PLACES is soon to be re-released, and I'm faced with a difficulty caused by the late-1970s setting. I've written a next-generation sequel set in the not-strictly-defined present, with cell phones, electric cars, and the Internet. The heroine, born at the end of the first book, is twenty-one. If time has passed in the books as in the primary world, she'd be about forty. What changes should I make in the new edition of FROM THE DARK PLACES to reconcile this inconsistency?

Some creators avoid the problem by aging characters more or less in real time, maybe a little slower but not slowly enough for their environment to fall out of sync with the reader's world. For example, the comic strips FOR BETTER OR WORSE and GASOLINE ALLEY do this. Another strategy is to ignore the discrepancy by changing the technology and cultural references to fit the time of publication while keeping characters the same age or letting them age very slowly, sometimes only a few years over several decades. The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary does it that way. On TVTropes, this phenomenon is called Comic-Book Time:

Comic-Book Time

In the James Bond novels, Bond's background was tacitly updated over the series, as the setting advanced with dates of publication. Therefore, as one critic noted, according to his age in the later books, he would have been a teenager in the first one, CASINO ROYALE. The TV program MASH famously lasted over twice as long as the actual Korean War, and there isn't much if any attempt to maintain consistency in the internal timeline, much less factual correspondence to the historical progression of the war. For a show produced before it was expected that fans would be able to buy all the seasons and repeatedly re-watch them, the discrepancies probably weren't obvious at the time.

Diane Duane's Young Wizards series (beginning with SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD) spans only a few years in the characters' lives, although the novels have been published over several decades. Duane has addressed the problem by issuing "Millennium Editions" of the earlier books, updating the years of the action and the associated technology, so that the characters now age roughly in real time.

As for my current quandary: The editor has agreed to go with my suggestion of locating FROM THE DARK PLACES in the indefinite past, by removing all explicit references to the 1970s but leaving the technology of the story pretty much as is. To avoid confusing readers, I plan to add a note stating that the book takes place before cell phones and widespread home computer ownership.

What do you do about a series whose internal chronology becomes disconnected from real time? Authors of historical fiction, futuristic SF, and secondary-world fantasy are lucky in this respect; they never need to worry about their stories becoming outdated. Although the Star Trek universe does have a peculiar problem along this line—some of the technology in the original series has been overtaken by present-day tech!

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Theme-Archetype Integration Part 6 - Woman Warrior Marries A Bully

Theme-Archetype Integration
Part 6
Woman Warrior Marries A Bully

Happy New Year.  Hoping you find many good books to read, and even more good story ideas to write.

Previous Parts of the highly abstract series on Theme-Archetype Integration are here:






This is Part 6 of this Series.

We've discussed the Bully issue in many contexts.  Here are a few:




We have discussed Bullying and the Bully Character in the Romance context because this behavior is much in the news these days.

"Ripped From The Headlines" sells books - provided the headline appeared long enough ago, or the approach in the novel is unique.  I pointed out two novels of International Intrigue, SAVING SOPHIE and VENGEANCE, using the setting of the Middle Eastern Conflict, a Headline Generator as powerful as North Korea, or various Russian scandals.


The problem the Web and the Internet now pose to us is highlighted best by the threat to children subjected to Bullying at school, and then every time they pick up an internet connection (phone, computer, tablet) to do homework, there is the Bully again right in the privacy of home.


And that, as you note from the telegraph.co.uk source is an International problem, maybe worse than politics.

Keep in mind that child bullies grow up to be successful business owners, and maybe progress to sexual harassment.  Using the power to fire a person in order to get them to do something (well, personal), is just another school-yard-bully in action.  Girls and Boys both are equally prone to bullying.  So sexual harassment, or in International Politics, quid pro quo "deals" involving "favors," are adult versions of the school yard (or now Web Streaming App) bullying.  Bedroom bullying is now available to kids, not just married couples.

The "Arranged Marriage" Romance novel is another form of Bullying.  Forcing a couple to marry for the sake of (the Crown, Descendants, Fortune, quid-pro-quo deals among parents) anything other than their affinity for each other is Legalized Bullying.

Just because it's legal, does that make it "right?" 

Can Bullying be "cured?"  Is it a "flaw" in human nature or a "feature?"  Answer those questions and find a Theme.

Can "The Good Guy/Gal Be A Bully?"

Is it OK to force an arranged marriage to save the human species?  A country?  A dynasty?  A Fortune that hires thousands and provides their sustainance?  How big do the stakes have to be in order to regard Bullying someone into doing something as a Righteous Use Of Power?

That is a theme -- the ends justify the means.  (or not)

The Bully can be regarded as an Archetype for the purpose of constructing a Science Fiction or Paranormal Romance Novel.  Like The Priest, The Warrior,  The Mother, and so on, The Bully is an Idea, not a specific person, not a Character.

So you can create almost any Character, and draw down the mantle of The Bully, to create a Character readers will believe is realistic.  Readers will know someone like that.

If you do that, if you impose "The Bully" Archetype on a Character, you are showing, not telling, a Theme.

THEME: Bullying Is A Removable Add-On to Personality.

If, however, you depict The Bully Character as intrinsically Evil, one who can only be stopped by killing, then you are showing not telling a different Theme.

THEME: Bullying Is Not A Behavior But Rather An Intrinsic Trait.

If Bullying can't be removed from a human person, a behavior adjustment most of us have seen, then humanity has no recourse but to make this behavior (emerging in childhood) a capital offense.

We have other examples in human behavior that we have not found "cures" for, such as pediphilia, or serial rapists.  There is an organized movement to make pediphelia legal.  That, too, is another Theme.

THEME: no human behavior should be illegal.

That is the sort of topic a University Debate Team might tackle.

Could your Main Character fall in love with someone who won that debate?

So studying Themes and studying Archetypes and how these two, very abstract, elements combine to become a cornerstone of any fictional universe, can take you a long way toward outlining a novel you can write, and that you will be able to finish writing and bring to market.

"Writer's Block" is not a real "thing" -- but misconceived novels are real.  Once your subconscious understands you have gone off the rails writing a confused story, you will just stop writing.  This can undermine your self-esteem.






Find a Theme and the Archetypes that illustrate that theme, and you will produce a whole story or novel.  It may turn out badly written, badly constructed, or with implausible Character motivations, and may or may not be something you can rewrite, but the task can be completed.  That, in itself, gives you career rocket fuel.

So, if Bullying is an inherent trait that can not be altered, then it is something that Love Can Not Conquer.

How many good Romances have you read about the "Bad Boy" - we all believe the right woman can tame even the most "lost" man.

Love Conquers All is the theme of our universe.

The joy that explodes within us at discovering "Love" alters the way the universe behaves in our vicinity.  The joy of love alters the odds, shifts the probabilities in our favor, and opens paths to impossible futures.

Of course, in real life, we all know of instances where it didn't work.

But we also know of many cases where "miracles happen."

A novel can start with a "co-incidence" but the conflict must not be resolved with a co-incidence.  That is called Deus Ex Machina.  Just SAYING that something unexpected (not foreshadowed and not logically impelled) happened and it just accidentally resolved the conflict will not give the reader the feeling of completion at the end of the novel.

You want your reader to feel the relief at the conflict being resolved, to look into the future of these Characters and "see" their happily ever after.

So you can't just have a Bully Character suddenly "see the light" and say, "I do."

The reader will "see" a future of an abusive marriage.

To pull off the "Bad Boy" transition into worthwhile keeper Husband, you have to delve into the psychology of "bad boys."  The Bully is one of the Bad Boy Archetypes (there are others).

The classic cure for Bullying is to punch the bully in the nose - a remedy I have seen work very well indeed.

Bullies are very often intrinsically cowards.

Traditionally, society "cured" (or suppressed) the Bully Behavior by other strong individuals repeating insistently, "Go pick on someone your own size."

That saying meant put yourself in danger of receiving the treatment you are dispensing.

The huge percentage of bullies who are in fact cowards quickly learned to avoid bullying behavior.  The rest went right on misbehaving.

Social rejection is often more feared than a punch in the nose.

Worse yet, is being rejected by potential sex partners.  Thus it takes a Woman Warrior to "tame" a Bully, and not always with physical resistance, but with Character Strength.  It is often noted how men change when they marry -- and later have a child.  Testosterone levels famously become lower, and men become more sensible once testosterone has achieved the objective it exists for, to procreate.



So if you are writing a futuristic Romance, create the society (worldbuilding) either for or against Bullying, depending on your theme.

Societies will be "for bullying" if they value (oddly) non-violence.  If violent behavior is out of bounds all the time, and for any reason, then all the non-violent people will be very non-violent, and thus marks for the bullies.  Good people will not fight back.

Societies will be anti-bullying if they value Disciplined Violence -- an application of force where and when necessary, and nowhere else.  In other words, where children are raised to be physically and mentally strong, self-willed, indomitable, and drilled to apply "good judgement" about when to use that strength (and when not to.)

Learning "where and when" a use of force is "necessary" can be the lessons in Love that come to the Bully from a Soul Mate.

Usually, (among humans), Bullies acquire an older man (or woman) mentor, parental figure, or role model teacher, who disciplines the Bully while getting at the source of the need to hurt others and bend them to the Bully's will.

Setting two such Societies (the pro-bully vs anti-bully civilizations) against each other can be the foundation for a long series of long novels.




Here are a couple of entries on "What's Eating Him" and "What's Eating Her."


And don't forget, The Hero Vs. The Bully


Jacqueline Lichtenberg