Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dystopian literature

The Plan for the next 6 months...

Dystopian Novels is a blog that looks at the in's and out's of writing dystopian literature, and explores the philosophical relevance it has, while looking at the tools available to a writer to express it in their works. The goal for this blog is to create a community of like minded individuals who write fiction, but want their fiction to mean something about the world they live in.

The emphasis is going to be placed on sign ups and comments. If we can get a good amount of those within the 6 month span, then that will be great. It will create the beginnings of a network that can help each other by sharing tips and exploring social topics together.

A forum will also be constructed in the near future once there is a following, and from there, who knows...

There will be monthly reviews on dystopian literature, daily thoughts on particular social & cultural issues, and daily topics on the writing craft its self. While sharing useful links that help increase the experience of the user.

This site won't be monetised, because I believe the experience of the user and the content it delivers is the number one priority.

Spread the word!
thanks all

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Learn To Write

Most people will tell you, you either have it or you don't. To me that's complete BS. If you stick at it, learn, read, write, everyday, then you're going to get good, simple as that. But the learning process isn't like a staircase. You don't slowly get better and better. You have peaks, valleys, you go forward, then you go backwards as you're trying new concepts out.

For me, I had to unwire a whole lot of stuff that was going on in my mind. I had been writing for years, pretty much since childhood, and I was only doing it for fun (and you get some pretty tight stuff coming out when you're writing for fun). I had no intention of getting better, or learning the craft, or becoming a pro writer. It was just something I did in my spare time. Now, as it started to dawn on me that I could in fact do it for a living, my first thoughts were, "dude, you been doing this for years, just write something, send it out, done." But there were many misconceptions about the craft rattling around my brain, so it didn't go so well.

I thought writing was about cool - vivid language, I thought it was just about writing cool passages that sounded rad. Sure, to me they did, and I enjoyed writing them, but without an engaging plot, a strong POV, and a dedication to the storyline, your sunk. People won't read on.

Basically now, I have learnt to turn off the vivid language and just stay dedicate to telling the story. If you don't need to say that sentence, then don't say the damn sentence! Stick only to the plot, if it further's the plot, then keep doing it, if it don't, throw it out yo!

Writing is a skill, you can learn it. I firmly believe it. Even in Stephen Kings book, "On Writing" he says you either have it or you don't. I disagree (respectfully of course), I think you can, because hell, we're human beings, the most intelligent organisms on this planet, yet, we can't learn how to write? One of the most fundamental and basic methods a human being has to communicate? Come onnnnnnn!

No real content in this post, it's really designed to motivate you. To put you in a good emotional place to inspire you.

Have a good day

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Monday, March 28, 2011

We Think Too Much

Been really racking my brain lately, trying to connect a few things together so that I can choose the right course for the future. It has caused me much stress, and only really have release from it when I stop thinking, calm down and focus on what is in front of me. The more I thought about not thinking (yeah a paradox) I began to ponder a few things. Which I think can apply to the worlds we create in fiction, and in life.

As human beings, we are always trying to create a context for the perceptions in our environment. We need these "bigger picture" boxes because it allows us to frame and give meaning to the smallest context stuff. This is why religon has been such an important part of human society since the beginning. There wasn't any science to determine the bigger questions, so religon gave humanity certainty to act day to day. And we need this certainty. We need to know that if we get out of bed in the morning that we aren't going to fall through the floor into darkness.

This is how our minds are wired. We create a context around everything, and the biggest context is what relates everything underneath it. It's this biggest context that is expressed through art, but expressed directly through living realities so it can be percieved directly, rather then lost in abstraction.

Human beings (espeically males), are highly logical creatures, and is what seperates us from all other life forms. We can percieve something, conceputalise about it, and then store it in our sub conscious so we can continue to determine the meaning of our environment. The fact that we can use the word "forest" and know what it means, signfies this. we can periceve a tree, but we can't percieve a forest because there are too many trees, so we conceptualise it, and thus, give it meaning.

But we can get lost in this conceptual world, and is responsible for a lot of the conflict we see today. A lot of dystopian novels explores this in depth because many are based on idelogies that take over society and determine human behaviour on a mass scale.

But we must realise that thought is simply a sign post to reality. It's something we have created, in accordance with our already established contexts, because we can't percieve which we don't already believe. Thought isn't reality, its the lense we view reality with, and is the corner stone of any post-modern analysis of reality, (although some go too far, i.e The Secret, and say we create reality with our minds...ludacris, how would a starving ethopian kid feel about such an ascertion?)

So step back from your thought, perhaps let emotion dictate what you do for a while. Might make you happier.

Hope to see you again,


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The Purpose of Fiction

We live in a contradictory time for art. Back in the heyday, hundreds of years ago, people like Da Vinci didn't create art to satisfy his publishers, "target market". The genius in his work was the only thing that mattered, and hence, a lot of the finest work the world has ever seen dates back to these time periods, (although I was in the Lurve a few months ago, and think The Mona Lisa is highly overrated. I mean who gives a shit that her smile is indefinable?)

But today we live in a time where even if a piece of work is of the highest order i.e. engaging plot, interesting characters, well written verses, if there is no target market for the piece, then publishers can't generate sales for it, thus no $$$ for them, and no publication for you. Now, there is no need to get all angst-ridden with this, it's just how it is, and if a writer is going to become successful, this needs to be addressed. But this creates a contradiction in the writer’s psyche (the real writer that is). Does the writer write for themselves? Or do they write for their target market?

Now just for conceptualization sake, I'm going to define what I believe the purpose of fiction is. I of course write dystopian fiction, because I believe it best serves the purpose of writing fiction. To me, writing is about tapping into the deepest values of your mind, and then expressing your fundamental, abstract views of existence, into a living, breathing reality, that the reader can perceive directly and respond to. This may be a mouthful to grasp, so let me break it down in relation to my novel, "Ressentiment".

Resssentiment is about two societies opposed to each other. One is poor, one is rich, one is on the east side of the bay, and the other is on the west side of the bay. The east side (the poor side), perceives the west to be evil oppressors, while the west side perceive the east side to be evil criminals. This structure explores the "us vs. them" mentality of human beings. We always want to identify ourselves with a particular group, and then create "others" to tighten our relationship with the group we believe we belong to. We can see this all over the world today, and I believe it to fundamentally be one of the greatest challenges to peace on this planet. Now, this is an abstract concept, and I just can't explain it to you in a novel. Instead I set up the scenario so it plays out in "real time" for the reader, and I explore all the ramifications of it, such as politics, society, culture and the effect it has on the day to day lives of human beings. This forces reflection.

Now, this has meaning to me because it's fundamental to how I view the world and I believe is the purpose of all art. Every artist should look at his or her work and state, "this is how existence looks to me." But your publisher doesn't give a shit about how existence looks to you, they will say, "well this is how the market looks to me, so make it fit the market, or get out of the industry."

So you got to find that fine line. You have to realize that although modernity brings with it benefits that far outweigh the downsides (in the first world that is), there will have to be a compromise made to fit the market. I suggest knowing what is real to you, and picking a target market that is closest to what you love, while knowing that you may have to change some of those things you feel "passionate" about. Sure, the idealist will say, "no fucking way, I'm an artist, and will only publish what I believe in," and this person may of read to many bio's and up lifting movies who really promote this kind of thinking, but in reality, they probably comprised too but just haven’t chosen to show that part.

That's enough for me for now. This blog is still gathering a following so please spread the world and link to it so we can get a philosophical fiction community happening!


P.S I'm reading a lot of young adult dystopian novels right now, trying to gage the market to see if I can pull off writing one or two. Reading "The Ember" series right now, and not half bad. If you're not reading novels in your market, then get on it!

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Movie - The Break Down

Ok, the “Atlas Shrugged” movie is just on our doorstep. So I have decided to break it down for all the diehard Dynostian novel fans out there.

Firstly, it is NOT a star studded cast. The original buzz around the film a few years ago threw around names like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but now it turns out they were all false rumours. But don’t let that discourage you, (I know it discouraged me at first) because the early reviews seem really good.

The movie was originally going to be directed by Stephen Polk, but Paul Johansson replaced him just nine days before the shooting begun. I wasn’t really aware of any of his work, so I looked him up, and it turns out he’s more of an actor than a director. He plays the part of Dan Scott in One Tree Hill, which is a show I stopped watching after episode 2, and personally, have no idea how it lasted so long. So it’s hard to say whether the guy is a good director or not, but the grapevine seems to say he is. There were also rumours he was going to play John Galt in part’s 1 and 2, but he has denied these rumours.

Dagny Taggart, who for years was apparently going to be played by Angelina Jolie, is played by Taylor Schilling. Again I’m not aware of her work, she is quite young and seems new to the film scene, but she’s going to be in a Zac Afron movie soon, so she must be up in coming. If you want to check out some of her previous work, she starred in the NBC drama Mercy.

Hank Rearden is being played by Grant Bowler, who has been on Australian television for years. I personally remember him being the host of channel 7’s “The Mole”, which was one of my favourite shows back in the day and he’s also the current host of “Australian Border Security.” My friend tells me he was in the second season of True Blood as a werewolf, and he is also planned to be the host of the new “Australian Amazing Race.” Let’s hope his performance in this film is so mind blowing that his days of television host are over.

A scene has been released online from the film, and I must say, it doesn’t look cheap. That was one of my fears. It’s a limited release, and has a budget of between 5-10 million. Sure, this is a hefty sum, but for film, it would mean a lot of crossed corners, and I’m hoping these corners have been crossed with the casting of less famous stars. But the scene looks good; it shows Hank coming home from a day of work to a family that doesn’t understand him. He gives his wife a bracelet made of the first metal of Rearden steel, and she doesn’t look happy. The environment looks sharp, the acting looks spot on, and there doesn’t seem to be a hint of cheapness at all.

The movie is schedule for a mid-April release, and I will be providing a comprehensive review once it’s released. My hope for the film is that it captures Ayn Rand’s philosophy “objectivism” correctly, and that it doesn’t bore the hell out of me. The book was great, because it contained so much personal reflection. In fact half the book is expressed with sentences such as, “she did it, as if the clouds had parted and a ray of sunshine had blessed her soul.” So it will be interesting to see how her words are captured on the screen.

Anyway, that’s enough from me for now. I will be back tomorrow with some philosophy and perhaps an article on the writing craft. This blog is still very damn new, and I hope that people start reading soon and contributing so it can grow. If you come to this site, and see that there isn’t much on it yet, please don’t leave without commenting. I want to get this blog up and running because I believe it will be a valuable community when it is.

Thanks for your time

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Movie

It's finally happening, the "Atlas Shrugged" film. Check it out!

This is my favorite Dystopian Novel. I dam well hope it's a good flick!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Dystopian Novels?

Dystopian novels are a sub genre of science fiction that explore “what if” scenarios within human society. I truly believe that they are the most awesome type of literature because they explore the deepest meanings about what it is to be human.

As Ayn Rand says in her book The Romantic Manifesto “
Art is the indispensible medium for the communication of a moral idea.”

Ayn Rand is one of my favorite Dystopian writers because she is able to create an entire philosophy around writing that she believes sums up the very purpose of art its self, and that purpose communicates what Dystopian novels set out to achieve, and that is to put up a mirror to humanity and society.

This blog is going to do two things. First it’s going to be a philosophic blog. It's going to explore modern day angst, through concepts, theories and commentary on modern news items. I hope to stimulate philosophical conversations on existence, society, humanity, and anything really that relates to the more important questions about life.

Secondly it’s going to explore how fiction can be used to express these realizations in profound and meaningful ways. That means addressing the writing craft its self, i.e. plot, characterization, theme, and then asking deeper questions about Art it’s self. My goal is that this results in a community where dystopian writers and readers can come together and discuss writing and philosophy and come to new conclusions in their own minds.
Peace out for now,

P.S Here is some great Dystopian novel lists if you want to dive straight in. (until I start generating good content that is :P)

Best Dystopian Novels
The 16 best Dystopian Books

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