E-Feds and Writing (and War Stories)

Part 2

Photo by Carlos E. Ramirez on Unsplash

SWF (Continued)

I created a character that I would end up using for years: the Oakland Oddball. He was an erratic bad guy. looked like a bald surfer (but despised surfers). For a brief time, I even had a Website for him.

Drawn by my friend artist Gabriel Morrissete

I created three other characters around him, two his brothers (and fellow wrestlers, one their manager:

The Fresno Fanatic His younger brother. He was an even wilder aerialist. If you know wrestling on TV, he was based on Sabu.

Kodiak His older brother. Wrestled for many years in Japan. If you’ve ever seen puroresu and strong style, you know they work stiff there. Some performers there have broken their necks for real there, and one man died in the ring a few years ago (a stunt went wrong and a vertebra in his back was severe.

Kodiak was loosely inspired by an American who made a huge career in Japan, Big Van Vader, but his look and style were bear-based.

To round them out was their manager “Maniac” Michael Gates. He was a mix of Rocky’s trainer Mickey, brother Paulie’s style of dress, and a touch of Hockey Night in Canada announcer Don Cherry.

I also created two Japanese technicians: the Gyroscope and his rival Githyankii.

My time in SWF was a good…bad, and the ugly situation:

The Good

During this time, I got together with the other guys who ran the fed. We recorded an ad-lib version of a show. I played “Maniac” as a color commentator.

Out of the blue I riffed on a line Don Cherry says about players he doesn’t like:

He wrestles like a Swede!

(If you’ve ever heard Cherry, you get it.)

Both other guys broke into laughter. Even now, over 25 years later, we still laugh at that line.

I built up a cast of characters for the Oakland Oddball. Two of them (“Maniac” Michael Gates and the Oddball himself) became well remembered.

What writing lesson it taught: A detailed cast fills out a character.

The Bad

In the SWF, most of my characters went nowhere fast: Doug Christian got to the end of the heavyweight title tournament, didn’t win, then vanished.

Gyroscope had two matches, the guy running the e-fed got bored with him, he vanished. Githyankii didn’t even have one.

The Oakland Oddball had a batch of matches to establish him as a viable threat — for the sole purpose of giving wins to another wrestler gimmick.

Kodiak and Fresno Fanatic each got one match, then nothing else.

A lot of what happened was similar to the Creative departments of real-world wrestling promotions: if they have no more interest in you, you no longer get used.

The Ugly

I wrote a card. I was one of the three people in change, it was my turn.

I wrote the show, listing all the mechanics — without any emotions. Every performer seemed impervious to pain.

There’s a term used in wrestling: a move is ‘sold’. Wrestlers act as if a move actually hurts. A Terminator-like dominant wrestler is said to ‘no sell’ moves.

In my card, everyone no sold.

What writing lesson it taught: When writing fight scenes, remember to also use the emotions and reactions involved. Just the mechanics alone won’t make a satisfying read.

My current novel has fight scenes like that. I need to rewrite them.

This article is long. I’ll make a part 3.

My History With E-Feds And How They Helped my Writing

First, Though: What’s an E-Fed?

A slew of masks from Mexican wrestlers, lucahdors.
Photo by Larry Costales on Unsplash

An Electronic Federation. A wrestling federation that exists online and in the imagination of its players.

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Slow blogging, and some virus anxiety. Time to get back in the saddle.

Working on these helped me to develop characters and develop characters, in both good and bad ways:

Ace Championship Wrestling

This was in my early 20s, on the precursor to the Internet, a local BBS (Bulletin Board Serice). I would use my analog landline telephone to call someone else’s computer, usually after midnight when it was available to call (I was a night owl back then).

Most of the players just took the names of wrestlers they saw on TV, so there was a Macho Man, a Million Dollar Man, even a Hulk Hogan (he didn’t last long). Even worse: they took the names, but built no real personalities to go with them.

I came in with my creative writing and acting backgrounds, and created a brand new character: the Bullroarer, a masked Aborigine from the land down under, Australia.

I invented catchphrases for him, a whole mystique, and something I was proud of back then, but with the passage of time not:

In wrestling, all that they pretend is called a ‘work. You work a match to make it appear you’re really hurting your opponent . You work your story to make it seem believed… there are other terms like ‘shoot’ and ‘botch’, ‘legit hurt’… but none of them have any import to what I have to say .

Both in email and in person I worked the idea that I really was an Australian, and they bought it. Looking back, the emails written in dialect should’ve seemed fishy (we were young then), but in person… from acting, I picked up many accents.

They’d annoy natives, but local Montréalers? Hook, line, and sinker

One guy caught me near my workplace a few months later. I think that embarrassment shaded our future dealings — but that has nothing to do with this post.

The Bullroarer won a few titles, but vanished into memory — but the creative ideas taught me for the future.

AEWA

This fed is long defunct. I run a long-struggling wrestling message forum hosted by the creator of it. If you’re interested in that give me an email address in a comment and I’ll send you the link (I moderate all comments before they go live. Those won’t).

I started with this nearly a decade later. The Internet was around by then, so it ran as a bi-weekly program in email, written by a stable of writers.

All the characters were original. The main goal was to create better shows than those we were seeing on TV back then (wasn’t hard). Often, we succeeded.

My character, Doug Christian, was a good guy, but bland. He won several titles, was the last World champion, but I doubt he’s remembered.

This post isn’t meant for just ‘war stories’ also for how it shaped my writing. Here, my first understanding of subplot and payoff of them began to form.

Ring psychology (the reason for what’s done) for fiction writing works as well. Why does a character do something, and does it make sense for them?

SWF

I may have the name wrong. If you were there, feel free to correct me.

While the Internet was growing more popular, some of us tried to keep BBS culture alive. I ran a wrestling discussion forum then. In my mid-twenties I was still dealing with the bullying crap I faced from day one grade 3 – grad, so I was authoritarian. Throw in strong ego users, you were waiting for a disaster… but that’s off-topic.

Two of my friends started an e-fed on it to test out new mechanics they created.

I brought Doug Christian to it, but he did well in the champion tournament, then vanished. I created two technical Japanese stars, The Gyroscope and Githiyanqui, they didn’t take off.

===

This post is already long, and I still have a lot left. I’ll make this a 2-parter.

Comicbooks: Modern Mythology?

Not All

Three-headed Buddha statue. I
Photo by Varun Tandon on Unsplash

The latest version of Opera doesn’t keep any cookies, including passwords. Getting back here took much time. Now I’m very late!

Opera’s loss…

Some are amateur in both art and writing, but the others can fit the idea.

The Legion of Superheroes 

I’ve been a fan of this for more than three decades, but it’s been around since 1958. They were created by  SF legend Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino. Over the years, many others have both written and drawn them.

Readers know ultimately Computo is an evil being, kills one of Triplicate Girl. Mordru is an ancient sorcerer with a fear of being underground… for stories set in the far future they have quite a past!

Some could argue these stories are known only to their readers… but outside Norse myth fans and readers of the Thor comicook is Ragnarok common? How about the Fenris wolf? Ygradsil, the World Tree?

Different song, same dance.

Superman

Some say there are many Jesus metaphors in Superman. I find that funny. Like me, the creators of the character, Jerry Siegal and fellow Canadian Joe Shuster, are also Jewish. So’s Jesus… but this isn’t meant to be a theological debate.

More people know Superman than the Legion. Ask many strangers and they’ll know Superman, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and Kryptonite. A big chunk of them will know Jimmy Olsen and Perry White. The Daily Planet is a modern–day Mount Olympus.

As I said, he has Jesus metaphors thanks to his death and resurrection to life. He’s also the first superhero, the inspiration for all to come.

Superman has become part of our zeitgeist the way Zeus was to Ancient Greece. The exact stories aren’t important, but we remember the characters.

Retcons

“Retroactive Continuity” is when due to an event everything you knew about a character is suddenly changed to reflect a new interpretation. The killer of The Bat-Man’s parents changed often like this, and whether they’re caught. Superman’s power level was sometimes lowered, or some abilities removed, some events (like the deaths of Ma and Pa Kent) get changed too.

Mythology is like that. I’m not an expert, but I took some Mythology classes at University. This was over 30 years ago. Correct me if needed :

In the Greek Pantheon, many of the goddesses now called Zeus’ daughters were his wives first. They were the goddess of a region until Greece conquered them. To smooth over the takeovers, Zeus became their spouse.

Over time, the mythology got rewritten and changed.

Many years from now, some comicbooks may be unearthed and thought of as our modern mythology.

Writing For Comicbooks

A bookcase of comicbooks.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I’ve been a full-time comicbook reader since I was 13. I read my first book when I was 7 when a dog-eared copy of an issue of The Brave And The Bold came into my possession.

I’ve had many RPG publications of the superhero variety. I founded an APA about comicbooks in 1990 and a zine about them in 2007. In 2009 it won an award here in Canada. In part, a series I read in the 1990s is an influence on my novel.

With all these influences and past ones and my writing skills, you’d think I’d be a lock to write comicbooks.

You’d be wrong

I was successful with one short script, but every other I’ve tried failed.

(Many writers would only hype themselves as successful. Not me. I admit –and own — my gaffes.)

1999

This was the year of my sole success in writing the script for a short story in a comicbook.

It was for an erotica anthology a friend asked me to contribute to.

That’s not a genre I’m comfortable writing. In fact, I’ve never been able to again.

I soldiered through, putting the smallest of adult scenes, and for the lack of a less bizarre term, I wrote a literate erotica tale.

My friend liked it. His editor… not so much. The important thing, but paid.

Steampunk Revolutions

Steampunk Revolutions

In 2014 I tried again. I knew very little about the steampunk genre, but I thought I had a good story idea.

I never finished it. Still haven’t. I’ve broken one of Heinlein’s Laws (finish what you start).

The Future?

Maybe I’ll do better in the superhero genre since I read that a lot. I won’t try it yet, however. I have my novel and other projects to finish first.

Wrestling: an Alternate Fighting Style

May Not Be What You Think

All I could find royalty-free was teenagers in amateur wrestling, but this image is for professional wrestling.
Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash

Before you brand me a fool. hear me out! I’m not saying this is real. I’ve been watching it for nearly 40 years and always knew it was orchestrated. It’s like stuntmen in movies, except matches sometimes go for longer.

No matter, wrestlers can show you a lot about developing a character (a man was always seen as a Russin was revealed when he died as French Canadian), getting others to care about an upcoming match, and even some basic storytelling (yes, a good match tells a story). There’s much to learn.

Origin of This in my Novel

When I created Rigger, Mortiz, and Shivver decades ago, puns were a huge part of the name choices.

When I created Alex Rigger, I thought of him as a former wrestler, ‘Oil Rigger’. 

I’m what folks call a ‘smark’ (a smart mark. Smart enough to know what’s happening, but still a mark for my favorite performers). 

Why a Wrestler?

Some people I know would wonder why I’m writing another wrestler (I’ve created a few). Thing is there is a saturation of former boxers and martial artist characters. I’m trying something different. 

Style

The fighting style is different. Some of the moves are flashy, but couldn’t be used in the real world. They would cause fatalities if they were. 

A lot of real fights would be punches and kicks, with some basic slams thrown in, dropkicks and clotheslines too. 

Another interesting thing about fights using wrestling: as with many Kung Fu fights, many wrestlers have a different style. Some of the bigger guys don’t do aerial moves… some of them do, but it’s considered unusual in the US and just looks strange in Japan. In writing, we just strive for uniqueness. 

In the hand of a good writer (hope I am), this could be interesting. 

I’m going to try to post here more often. I’ll wait until I’ve done a few more to state a schedule, so I don’t let readers down. 

Updating This Site

For the last two days, I’ve been updating things on this blog. Don’t be surprised if there are some glitches in it because of this. I’ll fix them soon:

Email List

I’ve been using MailChimp for a long time, and I won’t rag on it.

They made many small changes in their service lately, making it less appealing to me.

ConvertKit isn’t in my budget, but MailerLite is.

I’m slowly changing all pointers to the new list. I also have to back up my archive of previous newsletters and bulletins.

Social Stuff

I used to use a different sharing plugin. Now, I’m using Social Pug.

I haven’t figured out how to use it properly yet. Advice would get major props from me.

I seem to have figured it out.

Write Like a Pulp Writer


Not Purple Prose, But…


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

I’ve read several books about this:

These aren’t affiliate links.

How to Write Pulp Fiction


Pulp Era Writing Tips

You shouldn’t try to write the style of pulp. It’s purple prose, bad writing for readers today.

However, as these books say, parts of their methods we could learn from:


Speed


Pulp writers produced much content as fast as they could to pay their bills. Costs were lower than today, but the funds were too. If one story was rejected, others were ready to try their luck at the same time.

Another aspect of speed:


Quantity, Not Quality


We do this for NaNoWriMo. When you crank out so much material in a short time, you don’t wait for only your best work. If it’s readable, it goes out. The more you do, the better it gets.

Jump Straight to the Action

In their speed, pulp writers also don’t use prologues or character introspection. Those are, in their view, for literary works. Instead, these writers usually start with action. If it has to be explained, that comes later in the tale.

The action gets you in first.

Maybe we should all be like them.


I’m a commercial writer, not an author. Margaret Mitchell was an author. She wrote one book. 


Mickey Spillane

Originally appeared on The Writers Guild on Medium

Making Snow-Mageddon Useful

I was shut-in today (Feb. 13, 2019) due to the record snowfall outside (for my American readers it was more than 1 foot of it.

It’s 2 days later when I finish this post, Feb. 15. Belated Happy Valen Day.

Valen on Babylon 5.

Rather than do nothing on my time off, I was as productive:

Continued Ninja Writing

I spoke of that in my last post.

I worked on the next draft of my novel every day. I’m a few days closer to finishing as a result. I also found new things to add to it that I didn’t before. That’s the beauty of rewrites.

Updating This Blog

Although it wasn’t at the speed that I’d like I did this post. Even though the post and the amount of time it took don’t line up, all that matters is it’s here.

Reading More

I fell behind on reading magazines I’m subscribed to, so I’m doubling my daily reading.

So, the heavy snow kept me from travel, but I still did a lot else.

Why Ninja Writing Will Change Your Life

Ninja Writers logo

Your writing life anyway. It changed mine.

Before Ninja Writing

I began a novel in 2013. I finished the first draft in early 2014, and didn’t touch it again until November 2018.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I’ve been in the Montreal chapter of NaNoWriMo since 2012 and won it four years in a row. All the times I’ve done it filled me with confidence to go to the step of going forward to a finished novel.

One problem:

It’s 2019. I Still Haven’t Finished It

In 2009 I won a Prix Boreal/Aurora for a newsletter I write called The Original Universe. Because of medical and other reasons I stopped. I want to relaunch it. As a result, I started to write it ages ago. There’s a problem with that, however…

Logo for the Prix Boreal/Aurora Award
Logo for the Prix Boreal/ Aurora Award

It Sat on My HD Forever

Ninja Writing to the rescue! Fist, so that you don’t feel that I’m inventing a term:

What Ninja Writing Is

There are a few different methods named this term. The one I use was created by Shaunta Grimes. She was inspired by the prolific writer Ray Bradbury.



“Ray Bradbury”
 by Alan Light is licensed under CC BY 2.0

During his life he wrote a lot of short stories, collected into books like The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes… many short stories I’ve read in many publications.

He was a big proponent of the notion of writing and reading daily:

Based on his words, we write for 10 minutes every day, and read for another 10.

Why 10? Many potential writers get intimidated and overwhelmed by the idea of writing for longer.

If you write 10 minutes per day it’s easier to do it than to ignore it. With a time commitment like that, you may find you get a lot done. You can then work on other things.

Thanks to this:

My novel is now into editing. I’ve started Act Two.

My newsletter is now mostly written.

Give this method a try. The results may surprise you. Your writing, because you’re doing it regularly, will also improve.

Welcome, 2019!

I’m becoming an old man: I fell asleep, missing the ball drop, and woke after 3 AM… in the new year.

Many folks will make resolutions for the year. I’m not one of them.

Folks Always Fail Them

Instead, I do things differently, and get a lot of stuff done as a result:

I Make Goals

This year will be no different. Some goals are obvious. some not as much:


Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash
  • Update this blog more. I’ve written a lot on Medium in 2018, but not a lot on this blog. I need to fix that in 2019.
  • More movement on my novel. I finished my first draft in early 2014. I have been using Ninja Writing to write revisions (more on that in another post). I’m into Act Two now.
  • Justify my award. In 2009 I won an Aurora Award for a newsletter. I stopped in 2012. I’ve been writing my next issue for a long time. I hope to publish it soon.

I’ll stop my list there. We’ll see how well I do by 2020.