Sunday, February 27, 2022

Faking The Deep

Deepfakery seems to have two faces, like the twin masks of tragedy and comedy, except those masks have been associated with the theatre/theater for 2,500 years, and deepfakery is new, and exciting, and dangerous.

Panda Security wrote a fascinating 3-minute read article on How Dangerous Are Deep Fakes;

It's something that ought to be on the radar of alien romance authors.

Legal bloggers Vejay Lalla, Adine Mitrani and Zach Harned for the lawfirm Fenwick and West LLP discuss the emergence of deep fakes, particularly in the entertainment industry, both for putting famous faces on substitute bodies, and giving a distinctive voice to one that is silent, and giving an analysis of the associated legal considerations and risks.

There are copyright implications, not to mention right of personality and right of publicity issues.

There are also frightening political implications.  Imagine, if deeptomcruise can appear to tell a joke about an imaginary conversation with former President Gorbachev, what international mischief could be created using deepfakery.

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FAKEBOOK is being sued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for scraping the faces of Facebook users, and non-users by collecting Texans' facial geometry without their permission.  Legal blogger Linn F. Freedman, representing Robinson + Cole LLP explains what DeepFace is, and why it is frightening that artificial intelligence is believed to be almost as accurate as a human in recognizing faces.

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Even humans misidentify similar-looking individuals, and when law enforcement, or plausible witnesses do so, the consequences can be dire one would suppose.

Jake Holland wrote a fascinating column for Bloomberg, which is cited in the Robinson and Cole article,

Meanwhile, innocents' faces are being stolen on the internet for use by romance scammers. If a love interest is targeted, it is called catfishing.  "Love Hard" was a movie with catfishing as a plot.

Blogging for the law firm Cozen O'Connor, legal bloggers Lori Kalani and Bernie Nash discuss the high cost of romance scams that exploit the lonely, (and also the attractive whose images --and even identities-- they snag.)

The FTC numbers are staggering.

Even banking and brokerage houses are issuing warnings about imposter scams.  

There's been a movie or two about catfishing, but as topical as it is, there's room for more. It's not so different --albeit in reverse-- from all those Prince/Pauper type plots where the Prince pretends to be a commoner in order to be loved for his deep self.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 
EPIC Award winner, Friend of ePublishing for Crazy Tuesday 

Comment On Comment

Word to the wise. 

Over the last month or so, this administrator has, with great reluctance, deleted approximately 400 apparently laudatory comments submitted to this blog.  Thank you for the kind words, they were read and enjoyed.

The heartwarming high praise reminds me of pom pom crabs,  or a scorpion bearing flowers in its pincers. The sting in the tail, and the disqualifier from getting approved for publication is that the praise always contains a live link to another site... or worse.

Prose is all good, but since the law changed, the copyright agent for this blog (yours truly, rowenacherryauthor) is legally responsible for what we post, and to some extent (in GDPR countries) what you pick up from us. 

Tracking cookies are unavoidable, but we try to minimise/minimize them. This is as good a time as any to implore visitors to review what cookies Blogger shares with your devices. Sometimes, a "do not track" request is not honored.

We advise visitors to delete cookies often, hover cursors over links before clicking, empty caches daily. We don't accept paid adverts, and we don't share mystery links.

On the other hand, if any reader would like to write a short guest article about a well-run, legitimate and lawful writing contest, for example, or magazine or zine accepting submissions, we would love to hear from you.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Karen S. Wiesner: Arrested Development

 Writer's Craft Article by Karen S. Wiesner 

Arrested Development 

Based on CPR for Dead or Lifeless Fiction {A Writer's Guide to Deep and Multifaceted Development and Progression of Characters, Plot, and Relationships} by Karen S. Wiesner 

Character Plot Relationship Developmental Signs of Life 


Evidence of functionality, breathing, heartbeat, the spark of life. 


Not simply existing and going through the motions but possessing fully developed external and internal conflicts. 


Dynamic, realistic, and believable relationships. 

Vitality and Voice

Three-dimensional character attributes. 


Definable objective and purpose of being along with goals and motivations. 

"I misjudged you. You're not a moron. You're only a case of arrested development." ~Harvey to Cohn in The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 

In the field of medicine and psychology, the term "arrested development" means a premature stoppage of physical or psychological development, or the cessation of one or more phases of the developmental process resulting in a lack of completion that may produce potential anomalies. Arrested development can be applied to many situations, including writing. It's something that happens often in fiction with the three core elements of every story--Characters, Plots, and Relationships (CPR)--becoming arrested in their development.

We live in a publishing era that can easily be viewed with growing concern given that the absolute requirement of developing CPR in a story is being sorely neglected in books made available for purchase. In the ideal, a reader wants to immerse himself in a glorious story that pulls him into a fictional world so realistic and populated with three-dimensional characters, plots, and relationships he never wants to leave. He's paid for that, after all, so why shouldn't he get it? Instead, he's saddled with a story that starts bad and only seems to be getting worse. Why would anyone keep reading? The author obviously didn't care to do it right. Despite the time and money invested in this endeavor, it's just easier to walk away. Whether subpar writing is done out of laziness, a lack of skill in crafting, or simple ignorance, having a reader drop a bad book and never come back to it (or to the creator) is the last thing an author should want or allow.


Deep, multifaceted development of characters, plots, and relationships can only be achieved through three-dimensional writing, something I've written in-depth about in my writing reference Three-Dimensional Fiction Writing (formerly titled Bring Your Fiction to Life: Crafting Three-Dimensional Stories with Depth and Complexity). All of those concepts are crucial to character, plot, and relationship (which I'll call CPR often from this point on) development.

What makes a person alive? According to WebMD, the three organs that are so crucial to life that you'll die if they stop working are the lungs (breath), heart (blood and oxygen), and brain (functionality). The three work together and without them (or life support), a person is either comatose or deceased.

I would add a fourth component that may not bring around true death to live without: A person needs a soul to live and do more than simply exist--and that means there's an objective or purpose in being. Arguably, a lack of soul can steal all the joy out of living and/or never provide the "spark" that exemplifies life.

If you noticed the CPR Signs of Life Acronym Chart I included at the beginning of this article, we can certainly say that it's possible to see the animation in a character that provides evidence of functionality, breathing, heartbeat, and the spark of life. To truly be living, characters aren't simply existing and going through the motions. They possess fully developed external and internal conflicts. They're interacting in dynamic, realistic, and believable relationships. They have three-dimensional character attributes that give them both vitality and voice. Finally, they're engaged in what makes life worthwhile with definable goals and motivations.

Characters, plots, and relationships need to be breathing, blood and oxygen flowing through their veins in order to function, or they're in a vegetative state or just plain dead. The soul of the character is what turns an ordinary paper doll into a vibrant, memorable personality.

In fiction, the potential for zombies is only too common, and I don't simply mean zombie characters. Plots and relationships can be just as zombie-like. Who wants to read about something that's alive (i.e., not dead) but not really living either? Even in books about zombies, it's the heart-beating, breathing, functional characters, plots, and relationships that make the story come to life. (By the way, if your zombie is living--as in iZombie style--and not simply alive, it's not a true zombie by definition.) As we said, a soul--providing unforgettable character traits, conflicts, and interactions with a very definite "life spark" that makes a reader care and immerse himself in a story--is imperative to make the characters, plots, and relationships compelling.

CPR development is a two-step process:

1) Establishing: Foundation begins in plotting and planting the seeds of development for the CPR process right from the very first scene in a book. You wouldn't just plunk down a plant you want to flourish in an area where it won't get sun, rain, or the nutrients it needs to survive, would you? Plotting and planting are all about properly setting up before setting out, anchoring and orienting readers before leading them with purpose through your story landscape. That's something that needs to be done in every single scene of a book with the basic grasp of setup. The longer it takes for a reader to figure out where he is and what he's doing there, the less chance he'll engage with the story and agree to go along for the journey.

2) Progressing: The one thing a story can't and should never be is static. Development isn't something that stops with the foundational introduction or establishment of threads. Development keeps happening throughout a story. Every single scene that follows the first must show a strong purpose in developing, revealing and advancing characters, plots and relationships in a wide variety of facets. Progress must be made to push past the point of plotting and planting seeds to cultivating the core element "blooms" that pop up into the landscape in every scene. The only way to achieve three-dimensional development of characters, plots, and relationships is to actively take each opportunity to establish and advance the elements that--if properly sketched--should appear in an organic way along the path to telling the story. 

If your characters, plots, and relationships that make up each scene in your story are truly three-dimensional and properly developed and advanced, your book will be so vivid, readers will be haunted by the unforgettable, vibrant world conveyed through your words even after they finish reading.

Karen S. Wiesner is the author of CPR for Dead or Lifeless Fiction {A Writer's Guide to Deep and Multifaceted Development and Progression of Characters, Plot, and Relationships}

Volume 6 of the 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection 

Happy writing!

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series. Visit her here: 

Thursday, February 24, 2022


The final chapter of C. S. Lewis's STUDIES IN WORDS shifts from the narrowly focused topics of the rest of the book (each chapter delving into the history of a particular term and its relatives) to a general overview of what he calls "verbicide," the degradation of the meanings of words. Not that he expects words to stay frozen in their original denotations. As he says somewhere else, expecting a changeless language is like asking for a motionless river. What he objects to are changes that empty words of meaning. Most words now used as insults or compliments began as descriptive, neutral terms. "Cad" is short for a reference to boys or young men, surviving in the golf term "caddie." "Villain" originally meant a peasant and eventually became derogatory when it grew to emphasize the alleged boorish, thug-like traits of the typical peasant. (That's almost certainly how Richard III uses it in Shakespeare's play; he plans to act like an uncouth brute, not a mustache-twirling incarnation of evil.) Now it just means a very bad person. "Gentleman" denoted a man of a particular social class before it gained the connotation of someone who displays the fine manners and honor expected of that class. By now it has lost all connection with class status and simply means a polite man or, even more vaguely, a man the speaker approves of. To call someone a good Christian, in Lewis's day, had come to signify a favorable opinion of the subject's behavior rather than a statement that the person belonged to a certain religion and believed, at least theoretically, in its doctrines. Lewis deplored the trend of turning previously useful words, which at least implied specific grounds for praise or condemnation, into yet more all-purpose synonyms for "good" and "bad." "Awful," which originally meant "awe-inspiring," evolved to mean "very bad." "Fantastic," which implied wildly imaginative or incredible, came to mean "very good." I shudder to think how Lewis would react if he visited our era and discovered "awesome" has morphed into a substitute for "very nice."

Speaking of "very," it has changed from meaning "truly" to a general intensifier that writers are advised to avoid. Mark Twain famously suggested that we replace every "very" with "damn." The editor would delete all the "damns," to the great improvement of our writing. (Not that this trick would work nowadays, when few editors would blink at that once-unprintable word.) As for "damn" itself, it has little more content than a snarl. To echo Lewis again, someone who trips over the furniture and exclaims, "Damn that chair!" doesn't really expect it to be endowed with a soul and condemned to eternal torment. "Literally" has become, for many casual speakers, another content-free intensifier even in statements the diametric opposite of literal.

Then there's the phenomenon of euphemism creep. Valiant attempts to replace taboo or insulting words with less offensive equivalents sooner or later result in the euphemism taking on the stigma of the word it replaces, so a new alternative has to be invented. "Retarded" originated as a euphemism implying a little slow rather than feebleminded. During my teen years, "idiot," "imbecile," and "moron" had already served as insults in popular speech for a long time, but high-school lessons on mental health taught us they still had sober scientific meanings in reference to precisely defined IQ ranges. In my youth, "colored" and "Negro" were the polite words for Black people; now they're considered at best old-fashioned, at worst offensively patronizing (except in the names of organizations such as the NAACP). Long before I was born, "toilet" shifted from a personal hygiene ritual to the room where it was often performed, then to a particular plumbing fixture in that room. As a result, in my teens I found the older use of "toilet" in Victorian novels puzzling, and at that age we were apt to snicker at the label "toilet water" for a type of perfume.

Writers can't stop language from changing, not that we'd want to. Nor can we hope to stem the flood of verbicide. What we can do is try to avoid the latter in our own prose. Aside from dialogue, where current slang such as "awesome" for "very nice" may fit the character, we can take care to use words in their proper context with precise meanings.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Ripped and Exposed

“Ripped from the headlines” sounds sexy, but it has its dangers.  Overtly suggesting that there is truth to one's fiction can expose one to problems. Logically, the blurb "ripped from the headlines" seems to contradict the usual disclaimers about the work being a work of fiction, and any similarity to real persons and real events being coincidental and not intended.

Voice over commentaries in the closing frames of a movie are especially problematic.  Viewers assume that those voice-overs are factual, not an extension of the fiction.

 Jack Greiner of the law firm Graydon Head and RitcheyLLP uses a libel suit concerning the popular series Queen's Gambit as a hook to share some very wise and timely advice about getting facts right and accurate, and not mentioning real people.

Recently the Authors Guild forums have entertained with lively discussions about mentioning real people, and using real public figures in fictional circumstances. 

Mentioning a real person might add verisimilitude, but if one publishes something untrue and gratuitously insulting or even merely demeaning, they can sue if they are offended.

Politician-level American celebrities may not win in America; American public figures sometimes have to prove "actual malice", but lawsuits are never cheap and almost never a good use of one's time.

Another extremely interesting topic covered by Jack Greiner is 1st Amendment related, and this writer found it evoked memories of proverbs about barn doors and spilled milk.  Once one responds to a legal FOIA request, one cannot get a do-over if one omitted to redact information one (the one responding to the FOIA request) does not want to see published.

As for stories ripped from social media, that, too, can leave a writer exposed.  Legal blogger Kate Steele for the law firm Hill Dickinson LLP offers riveting commentary on an astounding case of libel and harassment over social media.

For an alien romance writer, or any other author of fiction, the old wives' advice is best, "if in doubt, don't".

On a positive note, this writer thoroughly enjoyed the movie "Words and Pictures", starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche about a published author and an artist who find themselves (double entendre intended) teaching Honors English and Honors Art respectively.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Karen S. Wiesner: Deep, Multi-Faceted Development and Progression of Romantic Relationships

 Writer's Craft Article by Karen S. Wiesner 

Deep, Multi-Faceted Development and Progression of Romantic Relationships

Based on CPR for Dead or Lifeless Fiction {A Writer's Guide to Deep and Multifaceted Development and Progression of Characters, Plot, and Relationships}  

"Character is not created in isolation or repose; it’s forged through interaction with others and the world." ~The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV by David Corbett 

Human beings tend to live in groups, whether because one person has the limited ability to live by himself or because we like to be dependent on each other--and of course we like and care about each other as well. This is how societies, communities, and relationships are born.           

All relationships must have purpose in the story or there’s no reason to include them and, quite frankly, what's the purpose in even writing a story without relationships? While there are interesting stories about hermits, survivalists or loners who have little or no contact with other human beings (Island of the Blue Dolphins, Hatchet, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!), most characters are social people in some degree--and that's where things get really interesting because there are rules in in a society that simply don't exist in isolation. People need people more often than not, and nearly all stories need incredible relationships that are completely cohesive with the characters and conflicts. What purpose do the relationships have in light of the plot?

Writing a Romantic Relationship 

Writing a romance story is the hardest category that exists. Nothing can convince me otherwise. Let me tell you why. First, I'm not a romantic in any sense of the word. That's true, and I'd be the first person to tell you that. But I do write deep, rich, realistic love stories. Realism is the most important thing to me as a writer. If it doesn't feel real, like I could step into someone's lives with these characters and their relationship, it doesn’t interest me. I want the down-and-dirty, gritty, excruciating pain and joy that could be actually lead to blood flow or shouts of exhilaration, the so-deep-I-can-feel-and-hear-the-heartbeat, so intense I can't breathe and my hands are actually shaking, I can't gulp because I'm paralyzed waiting restlessly for the next move. That's romance at its best, most ideal. That's what I want with every story that categorizes itself as a romance. 

I'm a strong believer that the things two people who become lovers go through together right from the start to the bitter end need to develop unbreakable affection and commonality, one step after the other, leading to an iron bond. I call them links in the chain of romantic relationships. Especially in a romance story, you can't rush ahead, skipping links, without leaving the reader behind, wondering what's going on and just not feeling anything between the two people you want to bring together romantically. 

Unless she's extremely talented, most romance writers can't hurtle from a couple's first meeting or meeting again (where they may already seem to be falling in love instead of simply being attracted to each other) to the middle of what's generally considered a romance (in which expectations are already in place and both want and need each other--too much, too soon). This forces a romance to never feel quite well setup enough to come off as justified, warranted, believable, and realistic. It also assumes the supernatural is in control, which is sappy and silly. Build each link in the chain steadily, providing the proper setup for every development. Readers won't accept anything forced or unprecedented. 

Mystical developments in a fictional relationship are nothing more than cheating. Basically, nothing has been set up in advance to produce a compelling reason for the characters to feel the way they suddenly (i.e., one minute it doesn't exist, the next it's there and in spades) do about each other, but they'll go from barely knowing each other to feeling strong affection or love in the course of two back-to-back scenes. Maybe some people believe that something magical happens when two people who are destined to fall in love and spend the rest of their lives together meet (those are the kinds of romance novels that make me and those with strong aversions to the genre as a whole want to puke!) but in fiction and I believe in real life, something has to warrant development in a relationship (any relationship--romance or otherwise and if you take the sexual component out of it, the chain of romantic relationship development links can be used for any relationship in your story) to make it authentic and believable. Usually, this amounts to a steady progression of things that help the two people to get to know each other better and actually develop strong feelings for each other. Again, links in the chain. Without steady development of one link after the other, the reader might never be brought to the place where she feels ready for anything overt that happens between a couple, or she'll feel frustrated and even disgusted, maybe even actively hoping they'll break up.

In a romance novel, romantic/sexual tension is essential, although novels in other genres may also develop the same tension between romantic interests. It’s like cake and frosting. Take away one, and what’s the point? This kind of tension refers to anything that brings the romance to the fever pitch of anticipation for the reader. It’s also been described as an exaggerated awareness between the hero and the heroine. You want to start this tension as early in the story as you possibly can. If you don’t start the suspense promptly and keep it intense, the reader will be disappointed--or worse, embarrassed--during moments she should be temporarily relieved or exalted. Just as with plot tension, a romance novel without romantic/sexual tension leaves the reader uninvolved and unemotional toward the focal relationship happening.

A romance story has to have a specific chain of development that can't be rushed, and it doesn’t matter in the least what genre of romance it is. The steady progression of sexual tension, emotional culmination, and physical demonstration is required to bring the couple to the place where they've believably fall in love and can justify declarations of monogamous love, sex, along with a commitment of forever. Even in a Christian or "clean" romance, sexual tension and physical romantic development are required and vital to making the romance genuine and believable. In the sweet romances, how strong or sensual the tension and romantic developments are may be somewhat muted with any heavy intimacy taking place off-screen.

What your characters are experiencing is what your reader should experience. But if the characters are chagrined or want to escape, that's what your reader will want to do, too. The point of writing a romance is to make the reader fall in love (an emotional and physical reaction) with your characters one scene to the next, escalating into the payoff you've promised, and experiencing bliss and joy at the culmination. Readers may even shed tears. I'll tell you this, if you've gotten a reader to weep, she'll never forget the story, the characters and their romance for as long as she lives, and she'll read that story over and over again in her lifetime. A romance author wants that scenario. Otherwise, what's the point of writing a romance story? No point. And that's why I believe writing romance is the hardest genre on the planet. Because, if you write a bad romance, it's not worth having told the story at all. It's failed on all levels instead of simply on one.

Only with the steady establishment and buildup of sexual tension and romance development--fully meshed with a logical resolution--will allow your reader be left satisfied and smiling upon closing the book.

Karen S. Wiesner is the author of CPR for Dead or Lifeless Fiction {A Writer's Guide to Deep and Multifaceted Development and Progression of Characters, Plot, and Relationships}

Volume 6 of the 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection 

Happy writing! 

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series. Visit her here: