Friday, November 9, 2012

A Hat, a Blog, a Golbat. Aha!

I hope you're all ready for a bit more guest column-ing before the weekend!  Today we have Chicken Vortex at the helm, author of (among other things) the previously-reviewed-on-this-blog Getting Lucky.  Also, in my humble opinion, one of the better writers out there when it comes to using humor and depreciation to make a point.  Also, just for kicks and giggles--I'm not the one who came up with that post title, after all.  Click below to see him exercise those talents while discussing that oft-asked question: "How do I come up with (good) ideas?"

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IDIOCVY: THE ARTS OF MAKING UP STUPID CRAP

Hello, dear reader. My name is Chicken Vortex, and I am here to talk you you about the common misconception that you have to be good at writing to be a good writer. This may sound silly at first, because of course, and has been said, no one starts as good writer right off te bat. Experience and understanding of the craft along the way no doubt helpanyone who wants to write, or likes to imagine writing things, become batter at teir craft. What I speak of is the fact that people tend to assume in order to write good stories, you need to know what you’re doing.

I remember whenI was younger, I would read books and think to myself, “Wow, whoever wrote ths must have been a genius! How else could they make such an amazing story?” This belief continued on far into my mortal existense, but then I began to realize something. Something rather profound. Those writers didn’t actually just write a good story. They bult one. All writers are peopl (or cats, perhaps. I’s hard to tell on the internet sometimes, but anyway), and although it is nice be imagine them as some sort of susper beings in the beginning, it’s important to come to understand as your skills improve, that they’re not anything special—or to be clearer, they aren’t anything youcan’t bevome.

Several times, after people have read my stories, they’ve said things like, “You are a genius, Chicken Vortex! I hope to be as amazing as ou are someday.” The thing to realize, though, is that there’s nothing at all exceptional about me. The only thing that makes my writing any good is that I, due to my own standards, try to make what I write look as good as possible before I share it. That’s the key. Presentation. Make it lookgood bfore other people can see it.

Now, you may have noticed that this article is rife with errors. That’s because I haven’t edited anything I’ve writted so far, and it’s obvious that, off of these few paragraphs, that my writing is not anything spectacular to speak of. Anyone could have wittted that, yet if you look atany of my stories (Getting Lucky, for example, which Chris had reviewed on this very blorg) you will see that it looks much better. That’s because of editinf! Plai and simple. At this point I would like you to witness the difference as I not oly begin editing my grammar, but also take some time to thing avout what I’m saying. 3 2 1 go.

Take a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds, and... release. Isn’t that better? Hello, my dear friends. My name is Chicken Vortex, and I am a terrible writer. I’m a terrible speaker as well, but what’s magical about writing is that despite being bad at it, I can make as many mistakes as I need, yet in the end still have something passable for all you sexy, charming, and otherwise just generally attractive people of the internet to aim your eye holes at. This is true for all writers, and it’s the way it should be, because that’s what gives the written word its unique charm. With enough work you can say whatever you want, exactly as you want to say it, forever.

Earlier, if you could make it out among the chaos, you may have noticed that I said writers were just people. This is true. It may be hard to believe, but even I’m a person... for now. To give an example, do you know what I was doing before I started writing this? I was drinking juice. Here, the can is still on my desk. It’s strawberry banana V8 Fusion juice. It’s got... 170 calories and 110 milligrams of sodium. I don’t even know what that means. Is that healthy? I just drink it because it’s in my fridge and it tastes good.

Point being, anyone can drink juice like a writer, just as easily as anyone can write like a writer. The secret is not to inhale while you’re doing it, or else you’ll get juice in your lungs and start coughing, and that’s just not a good feeling. Try taking a breath in first, then, even if you do manage to get it down the wrong pipe, you won’t end up sucking in any more when you choke. The secret to writing like a writer, however, is much easier than drinking juice. All you have to do... is make up stupid crap.

Although it takes many forms, and goes by many different names, making up stupid crap is really the basis of almost all forms of art, as well as a good deal of science, and 100% of journalism (Ooooh! Burn!). In all seriousness, though, that’s where it all begins. Let me briefly share with you my philosophy on this least complex of matters.

Brains are weird. Brains do stuff, and no one knows why. Lots of people spend a lot of time trying to figure out how they do this in order to make them better in the future, but for us, who do not have the luxury of being in the future, it’s important to accept that brains really just do whatever they want, and we can’t stop them. What’s important is to learn how to use the brains we’ve been given, and this, friends, can be harder than it sounds.

Can you recall a dream you had at some point in your life that seemed really cool at the time, but when you woke up and thought about it, you realized that it was actually incredibly idiotic? Like, so stupid you had trouble even believing you were the one that imagined it? I keep a journal of my dreams, so I know I have. One time I dreamed that I was trying to make a sandwich, but I couldn’t because I didn’t have bread, so I dressed up as a goose and tried to trick people near duck ponds into giving me theirs.

In my defense I’ve also had some cool dreams, like hunting zombie bears with the Game Grumps, and saving hostages in a giant clock tower while parkour leaping over moving gears and shooting bad guys, and yes, I’ve had pony dreams as well. Once I hung out with Luna in Catholic church after the main meeting had ended. She won a contest of some sort, so she was feeling pretty good. I’m not Catholic, by the way, so don’t ask me why my brain chose that, yet one still has to wonder... why did my brain choose that? The short answer is I don’t know. There’s some freaky, messed up hooplah in my dream journal. What’s more important is that despite the weirdness, there’s something to be gleaned from things like this, and that thing is inspiration.

When you dream, the reason you don’t question what the heck is going on is because your brain very literally shuts down the WFT-is-happening part of itself, causing you to accept everything as it is. Did you just look in the mirror and notice your hair is made of dry grass? Well that doesn’t matter, because you have work in half an hour and you need to find a way to cover it up.

When we dream, our minds combine things in ways we never would when awake. It’s an expert at making up stupid crap, and we should all learn from it. When I say that, I don’t mean we should just learn what to do if our hair turns to grass, but we should also learn how to not reject our own ideas. Sure a lot of dreams are stupid, and make no sense, and are often unspeakably frightening, but they’re original as heck, and that’s what making up stupid crap is all about.

Let’s go back for a moment to the example of Getting Lucky: my story about an accident-prone pony named Lucky and how he learned that love and snow cones are pretty much the same thing. Several kind people have said kind things to me about that story, which was kind of them, but do you know how it started? If you’ve read it then hold on to something, because this might come as a shock.

Getting Lucky started out as an innuendo-filled Apple/Dash shipping fic simply called The Ship.

It’s okay! Deep breaths! It isn’t anymore. That crisis is for a different dimension in the multiverse. Now, you may be asking yourself what exactly happened. How could it ever have started that bad? And furthermore, why would anyone not reject such an idea immediately upon thinking it? The answer is one and the same: I’m kind of stupid.

You see, I think romance is fine in and of itself, but mashing together two random characters and saying “Now kiss!” has always bothered me. I didn’t want to write a shipping story, but I felt it my civic responsibility to do so at least once, purely for academic reasons. Because of this, I planned to write the worst shipping story ever. It was going to be about three of the main six going on a cruise and discovering a box in the cargo hold. Rainbow Dash would become curious, and recruit Applejack to help her try and find out what was inside. Twilight would mistake overhearing their attempts at opening the box as them doing other stuff, and they, thinking that she was trying to get them in trouble for attempting to open the box, would add to the confusion by nervously denying they were doing anything at all whenever she caught them.

There was no character growth in this story. In the end they would open the box and discover that there was a smaller ship inside it. That was the punchline. The ship was shipping a ship (presumably to another ship) amidst a chaotic mess of shipping. That is a really stupid idea, and I was very disappointed in myself for putting so much thought into it at the time, but something magical happened at the end of that story. As I imagined the final scene in my mind, I saw the three of them standing on the main deck, having finally gained a mutual understanding of what had actually happened when, for no reason whatsoever... Lucky ran by.

Now, I didn’t plan this. My brain simply decided on its own to have him run by all happy-like in the foreground. I was actually so surprised that I said out loud, “Wait, Lucky is there? Cool!” and that was when I made the connection. It was in that instant that I realized there was something better I could do. Okay, so technically anything would have been better, but I mean I realized there was something I could do that was actually good. After that I got to work writing the real story, and for what it’s worth, I think it turned out out pretty well.

Star Rating:  ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Anyway, in the end my message is this: All of you who want to write, or are seeking inspiration in any other facet of your life, don’t give up on your ideas just because they’re dumb. Let them play out how they will, because even though it might seem like your brain isn’t the smartest organ you possess at times, it’s trying its best. Learning how to get along with it will help you infinitely more in the end than trying to get along despite it. Just... be sure not to show off what it makes until you know it’s something you can be proud of.

It’s been a pleasure, internet, and I wish you all luck in your efforts to become batter, because then you might become pancakes someday, and pancakes are good. Until then, stay classy.

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I don't think I'd have the courage to share my unedited typing with the world, even for the sake of making a point.  Thank you for the commentary, CV!  I wish I had more to say, but frankly, I don't.  There's just not a lot I can add.

Okay, there's one thing I can add, I suppose.  My CYOA, The Purloined Pony, started life as a meta-comedy about Carrot Top breaking the fourth wall during an episode and how the animators kept forcing her back into the episode's convoluted plotline no matter what she did.  It was a terrible idea.  Then I got a much better one (to write something sort of episode-ish based on the actual CYOA books, rather than just being a CYOA), and wrote it instead.  But without that first, painfully stupid idea, there'd have been no story at all!  So yes, don't be afraid of your own idiocy--sometimes, it's just the catalyst for something better.

23 comments:

  1. Haha, nice post, CV. I think I can safely conclude that you are insane, but when taking the above post into consideration that's probably a compliment.

    Not gonna lie. I laughed.

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  2. You have broken me with the title of this post. I can't.

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    1. Also, Chicken Vortex for second-best troll.

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    2. ‘Nuf. Si, PP. A tip? Pit app is fun!

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  3. Glad I finished reading before I commented. Those typos nearly killed me!

    This post reminded me of the Barak Goldman method. While researching it, I realized that one could come up with the stupidest crap ever, then run it through BG's method and turn out good material. BAM! No more writer's block. Ever


    Maybe one of these days I'll get off my butt and actually use that advice, but I don't think it'll be fanfiction. While I've had many, many stupid ideas involving ponies, and they probably could've been developed into something decent, none have stood out as possessing one quality I'm looking for: the requirement of a bibliography. Don't ask. I'm weird. Have any fanfics even used bibliographies before?

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    1. Also, I may not be able to comment for awhile, as I'll be serving time for comma abuse

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    2. Bibliography? Kni! So in, mofos… but tubs of omni OS inky HP—arg! Oil bib!

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    3. Ow! This am only thing can do. Words bad

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  4. Most things I've ever written are me trying to get down on paper all the stupid crap I dream up. Though, I write surrealist comedy, so that actually works well for me.

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    1. Words, Dan. Go dream a E.R. dog. Nads. Dr. Ow.

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  5. btw, if anyone needs extra idiocy, I have far more than I need and I'm always willing to share.

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    1. Only if nobody else does. It'd be selfish of me to deprive others of something I already have so much of

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    2. Trams? As in… uh… ew, no. It am it, Sessalisk. Si, lass. Estimation. We, hun, is a smart.

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  6. What I would give to be a guest blogger on here. I think I need to clean up my act a little though.

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    Replies
    1. To blog: Look west, lob Mudkip’s spik, dumb ol’ stew. Kool! Go L-bot!

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    2. West is not a palindrome of stew. That would be wets. :[]

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  7. If anyone is confused by my responses to their comments, that's probably because I'm trying to answer them in palindrome, and it's a lot harder than it sounds. Bear with me. If it gets to be too much, just yell something at me like, "Bird! Abolish silo bad rib!" or, "Oh Canada nacho!" and I'll tone it down.

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  8. It is my personal opinion that ANY concept can be enjoyable. It's all about the execution. As such, it sounds like I would've actually enjoyed that Appledashing fic. If it was.. you know, kept very short and simple and whatever else.

    This post has spurned to read this Getting Lucky though and I definitely enjoyed it.

    Also, I think I stepped in something....

    ...



    Dog doo!? Good God!

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  9. This is definitely one of the stranger comment sections I've seen.

    ...Carry on, I guess.

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