Thursday, June 28, 2012

Great Reporting

Good reporting is building trust.

CNN wonders why they are losing viewers.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What makes a story tick?

The bomb in the last chapter.

This is a perfect answer to a hard question. It nails it like the Romans nailed Jesus.

One way to keep a reader hooked is to let them know in the beginning that there is a bomb in the last chapter ready to go off.

You could do it Micheal Bay style and have a bomb that is activated for no reason and have it do a five minute countdown for twenty minutes of the film. (I know this is the fifth post to pick on that movie, but it deserves it.) It's better (better than a Micheal Bay movie, I've got low standards) to have a ticking bomb be a symbol of change.

I'll grab another bad film. One that really shows the checklist of things to put in an action thriller. Dirty Dancing. I realize Dirty Dancing either wasn't an action thriller or the writer didn't know the definition of action thriller. But it does have all the elements perfectly laid out.

It introduces the ticking bomb in the first scene. Baby says her life will change in two weeks that they are at the resort. Tick Tock.

She meets the hero, Swayze, who has a conflict. He wants to do Dirty Dancing (which is tame these days) but must follow the rules. She is conflicted herself she wants to help everyone, but her dad wants to protect her.

She does a dance montage, (action films need a montage) and her clothes get skimpier. The entire time we are reminded that she must learn how to dance quickly as the clock is ticking.

Finally the bad guy wins. In this case by being good, but misguided. The moment of peril is at hand. Will Baby be in the corner forever? Will Swayze be able to do the final dance?

Naturally the hero comes in and cuts the green wire of the bomb by saying, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Evil is defeated, or at least the Dad realizes he was under the wrong impression. Same thing.

Although Dirty Dancing is downright funny in how bad the dialog is. How simplistic the plotting is. A number of other things. It still sells and rents out. That's because it follows an action plot better than a whole lot of action films these days.

Every story has a ticking bomb at the end. That moment that changes the characters lives forever. If the characters aren't moved at the end of the story, why should the reader be?

The job of the writer is to make sure the reader can hear the bomb ticking in the background. If they can the story will tick along with it.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ego driven poll

My last poll ended in a tie. Half the people thought Romney's best slogan was Rmoney and half thought “Mitt will work to expand and enhance access and opportunities for Americans to hunt, shoot, and protect, their families. (”

Obviously Mitt believes in the right for Americans to hunt and shoot their families.

On to the next self indulgent poll.

I'm about a third or halfway through the rough draft of my latest novel. I've gotten to the point where the heroes faced a horrible defeat. They must have an inspiring speech in the tradition of Winston Churchill's “We shall fight” or William Wallace's “all men die but few men really live.” So I had them take turns giving an inspirational speech.

Luckily all my characters are quirky so they can give interesting lines. Which freedom speech do you like the best?

Nomi: I shall go on to the end. I shall fight in France, I shall fight them wearing pants. I shall fight on the seas and oceans, I shall fight with peas and potions. I shall fight on the beaches, I shall fight using leaches. I shall fight on the landing grounds, I shall fight them with a hound. I shall fight in the streets, I shall fight where ever we meet. I shall fight in the hills, I shall fight in the mills; I shall never surrender!

Edgar: Fight and we may die. Run and we may live. If that's the choice I say, 'fight'. They can take our planet. They can take our freedom. The can steal our wealth, leaving millions to die in poverty. But when they start messing with our strippers. That's where I draw the line!

April: Can't is a word I hear all day. I can't do this, I can't do that. Can't is just a four letter word for a four letter emotion: Fear. Expose yourself to your darkest fear, then fear has no power. Only then are you truly free.

As always vote on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Success or Failure

Here's a couple of interesting facts:

Isaac Asimov's first four books were published by a pulp paperback author mill. The Foundation Trilogy and I. Robot. He didn't make a dime off those until many years later when Doubleday picked them up.

Even though he is considered a legend in writing, it wasn't until he had written over 200 books that he hit the bestsellers lists.

In other words his first forty years of writing is what Traditional Publishers would call a failure, or at best a mid-lister.

This isn't a rant about the book industry. You can look at nearly every industry and find “failures” like that. In comedy movies, Kevin Smith's movies have grossed a little over $200 million. Armageddon grossed $500 million. I consider Armageddon a comedy because of the quote, “Tragedy plus time equals Comedy”, Armageddon is nearly two and half hours long.

Asimov, Smith, and thousands of others aren't huge successes by traditional standards. But their work will live on long past the “successful” people in their industry.

The thing that Asimov and Smith have in common is they were passionate about their work. Asimov loved writing. If he never made it to the bestsellers list I doubt he would have cared. Kevin Smith might never hold the title of highest opening weekend, but he will still make movies.

So to all those out there that want to success by some random standard, I say, “Shut-up Stupid. Here is the standard for success, passion plus work. If you are passionate about something and willing to work at it the results is a success that no one can take away from you.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Character Descriptions

One area I'm weak in is describing my characters. There's three reasons for this. First, I don't pay attention much when authors describe their characters. I tend to make up my own image of them in my mind. Second, I tend to think it draws me out of the action to stop and look at a character, then return to whats going on. Third, I don't get a really good image of my character until until they've been forged through the hell I put them through.

Luckily with the word processor I can go back and put descriptions in after I've written the book. (Once again I wonder how authors could write full novels before computers). After the book is done I've got a clear picture of my characters. I know what's important about them so I can add that element to the description. And I can highlight what will be important about the descriptions.

So here are the descriptions of my major characters from MIND THIEF, in order of appearance:


Even with the campus nearly deserted, Hanson made sure to keep up his appearance before coming in. The comb over of his dyed black hair hid his bald spot. His thin beard was groomed to hide his saggy jowls. He wore a dark suit to hide his frame that was thirty pounds overweight.

Only for a few more months. After that I'll have my own private island to retire to. He reminded himself. I won't have to worry about appearances, I can pay people to flatter me.


'Don't stare. It's not polite' Howie thought as he entered the lobby to Dr. Randolph's office.

A college-aged girl with red velvet colored hair sat on one of the couches flipping the pages of a magazine. She was an absolute knockout. The low cut shirt she was wearing showed off her ample breasts nicely. Her jeans dipped in the front much lower than he had seen other girls wearing and hinted if she were to move just right he would be able to tell if the carpet matched the drapes. He tried to pull his eyes away, but she moved slightly. Maybe she flashed him, maybe it was a shadow.

She lowered her magazine to reveal gorgeous brown eyes. She made no attempt to hide the fact that she was sizing him up like she was starving and he was a prime cut of steak. Her eyes lingered on his crotch for several seconds, and then she went back to her magazine. From the grin on her face he knew she caught him staring.


He smiled. Girls complimented his smile and his light blue eyes. Luckily, he shaved that morning so she would be able to see his strong jawline. Being on break he had only brushed his short light brown hair after showering. He didn't think a visit to his family's shrink would need special grooming. Now he wished he had put in the extra effort.


The perky blonde stood with her sisters from Gamma house. Her tight white sweater and jeans looked like they could have been picked out from wardrobe on a movie set for “Sorority Girl #1”. Her makeup could have been copied from a magazine on her flawless skin. There was something about her composure, that even at a glance, made her more than just a cardboard cut-out of a sorority girl. She held her sculpted chin high enough to be confident, but not snobbish. Her shoulders were pulled back and chest out just enough to show she felt she belonged there, without saying, “Hey guys, look at these.”


It's still a weakness in my writing. But these brief descriptions should give readers a quick outline of what my characters look like. But still give them room to fill in the rest.

Let me know what you think. Do you get a good image of the characters, or is it something you would skip over?

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Monday, June 4, 2012

Slogan Poll

My last poll ended in a tie. Half the people wanted a Physics Inhibitor and half wanted Personal Teleportation. Both have a lot going for them. I know sci-fi film writers like the Physics Inhibitor as they use it in almost every movie.

On to the next poll:

Mitt Romney is running for President. He is trying out catchy new slogans. Which do you prefer:


A Better Amercia

Mitt will work to expand and enhance access and opportunities for Americans to hunt, shoot, and protect, their families. (

As always vote on the upper left hand corner of the page.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Neo-Feudalism

On a recent Real Time with Bill Maher, he started out by asking Paul Krugman and Arthur Laffer, “If economics is a science, how come the two of you have completely different answers?”

Unfortunately it wasn't answered until the very end of the talk segment when Bill had to move on to the next segment. So Bill missed the answer.

Maher said that an example conservatives like to point to of money actually trickling down is, “The Government begging the rich to help, that's Feudalism.”

Laffer nodded, got a look like someone told him we breath air, or fish swim, and agreed.

That is why Krugman and Laffer come up with different answers. They have goals that are in opposite directions.

The tools for ending this depression are different depending on how you want the world to look afterward. If you want a feudalist society your approach is very different than if want an enlightened democratic society.

The role of the government is very different in these two societies.

In a feudal society, 99% of the people are locked into either real physical slavery or wage slavery. The wage slavery being living paycheck to paycheck, having a large debt load so employers have something to hold over you. Basically having the workers tie their very identity to the job given to them by their employer.

The opposite is having the 99% treat their labor like a small business. A healthy small business positions themselves so that no more than 85% of their income comes from one source. If a business takes more 85% from one source, it is merely working for the larger company.

The economic path to either of these is clear. Both preserve Capitalism, by the way. So accusing me of being a socialist doesn't hold water.

To go back to a feudalist society, cut taxes for the rich, get rid of the safety net, keep the minimum wage low, get rid of laws restricting the number of hours worked in a week. You end up with a society where 99% of the people spend all their time working to survive and owe their survival to the 1%.

To have a truly free and enlightened society do the opposite, a progressive tax structure so the more you earn the more you pay. This keeps money circulating. Higher minimum wage, so people have money to invest in learning new skills. And a shorter work week so people can spend time on hobbies. The hobbies part seems strange, but that is how an individual can empower themselves. If you spend several hours a week doing something you love, you'll get good at it. Then when you need something extra you can use that skill to make money. Suddenly you've got a second source of income and your primary job isn't all you need to survive. The hobby becomes a source of freedom as if you get fired and unemployment pays 50% of your old wage and 15% of your income comes from your hobby. That 65% gives you some breathing room.

So to all the “Conservative Economists” out there, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, you can use all the terms you want, 'Supply side economics' or 'Trickle down theory' or 'Unicorn Fart based economics' but the goal of these is the same: Feudalism. So call it what it is.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE