• Mark Meier

I’m not sure if it’s my background in broadcasting, or something else, but I’m insulted by advertising. There are some commercials which are fun, some are funny, but today I saw one so beautifully done I had to smile.

And now I’ll share.

For those who don’t know, I’m an author. Almost everything I see or do is fodder for a story. Even the shows I watch are mostly about learning more of effective storytelling.

Enter Youtube. There’s a plethora of videos about how to construct a plot, which books some author or another finds helpful, and why “this” movie or book works and “that” one doesn’t.

Today’s video was How to do a Fight Scene. For the most part it reinforced what I already knew about storytelling an action sequence. If it doesn’t advance the plot then it doesn’t belong. BTW, that’s the rule of thumb for EVERY scene. Talking about a person’s morning routine isn’t very interesting . . . unless it’s followed up by (never mind. Watch this movie).

Back to my comment on advertising. In the middle of that video on fight scenes there’s a commercial for


The narrator of the video comes back on. “Don’t you hate that? If only you’d installed NordVPN.”

I wanted to cheer, and it was so well done I watched the whole commercial. It wasn’t entertaining exactly, but it also didn’t offend me with “drink this beer or eat these chips or drive this car and your life will suddenly make sense.”

Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve seen it and wanted to share. The commercial appears around 6:30 into the video, for those who only want to see what I’m raving about. For writers, the whole video might be a good reminder.

Back to your regularly scheduled day.

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  • Mark Meier

I watched a video this morning of Stephen King saying something like this: “Outlines are the hallmark of a bad writer.” That’s not the first time he’s said something I disagree with.

To be sure, I’ve always been a panster - someone who writes by the seat of his pants. I hate outlining, but The Archives pretty much demands it be done. There’s too much going on across thousands of years to keep it all straight in my head. So I need reference points, and a structure for the story to follow.

I just finished up my first raw outline of Neora. Last week I wrote out the first half’s outline, today I finished the second half. And I have to keep in mind this is a RAW outline. (Some assembly required.)

What I’d had in my head going into this project has changed considerably. Probably the biggest change is it’s now more concrete. Instead of simply talking about it, which I’ve done all year (and more), I’m actually moving forward.

With The Brotherhood getting closer to a finished product I find I have more time to devote to roughing out Neora. There’s only so much editing I can do at a time before I get bored and need something more . . . thrilling. Unlike some, I’d rather be composing than picking apart something I’ve already written.

Don’t get me wrong, self-editing is an important part of the process, but actual writing is far more interesting: “Streamers of fire blossomed across the red dwarf star, exploding across the close-in habitats and broiling the crops growing within.” Then comes the nitpicking of which exact word to use: “Broiling or baking? Blasting or exploding? OH! Shatter would be good. Can I rephrase to use that? Oh, no, I used ‘across’ twice. One of those needs to be changed.” I can only take so much of that before I need to put down something new.

It’s odd, really, finding myself outlining. Characters have surprised me so often that it seems like I’m suppressing characterization to get their actions down before I can fully explore what Neora is like.

She’s an idealist, to be sure. Hardworking, honest, hates duplicity and backstabbing. Not a fan of her father, who is mostly a good man, but those who serve him are sycophants and ruthless in their desire to ingratiate themselves to him. She doesn’t like them at all.

The outline doesn’t contain any of her flaws as a person, though. At least I’ll get to discover that as I go along. Part of expanding my existing outline will explore those issues. She’ll definitely be burning bridges as she leaves her father behind. Crossing the border from his kingdom in support of another will spark wars.

That’s for the future, though. The story titled Neora will be over before those wars come to fruition. Perhaps Daddy’s sycophants will be in charge when the war starts.

Hmmm. I hope I remember that when it’s time to do that outline.

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  • Mark Meier

The first settlements around the red dwarf star of Iseabail have been lost to antiquity. Suffice it to say, the larger city of Tzurel overshadowed anything coming from the backwater farming communities established in the neighboring system.

Records from the monarchy indicate a wealthy, unnamed man brought a colony ship to set up a self-sustaining estate, only to find a number of small “hoop” habitats already existing in close orbit. Though disappointed, that man stayed and his facility was a boon to those holding their habs together with wishes and starlight. He brought a minimum of heavy industry which allowed the others to continue, each hab helping the others as needed.

This colony ship became the first static satellite, or “statite,” which established a coordinate system necessary for effective flight control standards within the star system. Though the Iseabail system itself never grew beyond a small agrarian economy, Iseabail Statite provided enough of a resource base to service the local population.

Raiders and marauders, instead of setting up their own agricultural bases, plundered the existing farms for centuries. After sweeping through on their way to some other system, they left behind death and destruction. Otherwise Iseabail was largely ignored, the residents patching together the carnage to continue on. They, in turn, largely ignored the rest of the galaxy.

During the Kelmun Age, only one of the many Kelmuns came from Iseabail: Jacan. Even he was of no great consequence. All that changed when the first King of Avudel proved a disappointment and the Last of the Kelmuns visited the system and selected another to replace Shaan. Even then it would take another twenty years before King Mika took the throne.

The setting for the story of Neora is in a time relative peace, after the Kelmun Shyla vanquished the Yordanites with the assistance of Admiral Faran. That, though, was a hundred light years toward the Core and not much of an issue for those in Iseabail.

Shortly after the events detailed in Neora, the Mandarites began their own campaign of plunder, bringing to an end the peaceful interlude which is the backdrop for Neora.

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