A Little Light Writing Challenge

I was watching a review of a movie recently.

I read and watch reviews, but I have little respect for those that write the ones that are extremely critical of story flaws.

Simply put, when I see someone dissect a story, tear it to shreds and be a snot about it, my first thought is, “If nothing out there measures up to your standards or is worth a shit, then by God write one that is great and show us all how it’s done. If you can’t, then stop tearing apart those that actually try.”

OOOH! Now I remember what I was reading, it was a feminist tearing apart Disney’s Brave as being a horrible piece of shit. That’s what it was, got it.

Please note, I’m not labeling the critic a feminist, it is what she labeled herself. I don’t tend to slap labels on people, myself.

Except asshat, that one I throw around quite freely. Perhaps too freely.

Anyway, the saying goes, “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, criticize.”

Actually, it goes “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach. And those that can’t teach, teach gym class.” But never let the facts prevent you from delivering a good line.

So, I really liked Brave. And I didn’t understand a lot of the reviews I saw about it. Mostly when I heard refrains along the lines of “Tired old princess story I’ve seen a million times before”, and I kept wondering, “When did we see that same movie? Ever? Because I want to see those, too.”

Many reviews about it mentioned “this type of story.” Meaning the princess story.

And I’ve been looking around, and noticing other such terms and labels used in criticism. Talking about types of stories.

“Oh, this was a decent example of the buddy story.”

“Oh, this was a fairly boring version of the classic fish out of water story.”

It’s been making me wonder about writing, and where people are coming from.

This may surprise you, but I tend to be very analytical about some things. I examine beliefs, my own and others, I examine how things work, I try to get at the understanding of the why, in order to better appreciate the how.

I also write a lot. Some of this, which you do not see, is the writing of fiction. Stories. Stuff what I done put on this here hard drive.

When I write, I do not set out to write a certain kind of story. I don’t really even know about that stuff. I don’t chart it all out ahead of time.

I’ve heard before that there are no new stories, everything has been done, and it’s becoming clear to me that a lot of people have spent a lot of time doing the dissection and analysis of the structure of the story.

Perhaps that is what some folks think it takes to write a story, or maybe it’s what critics use to prove something isn’t original, by comparing it to similar things the author might never have even heard of. Who knows. Maybe it’s very helpful to know what everyone thinks are the only types of stories in existence, so you can choose which one you’re doing this time. Again, really? Okay, I’m not that educated, what do I know. I’m winging it every day, what do I really know.

When I write a story, it’s because I get an idea for something that seems cool to me, including a vision of the people or personalities involved. I want to know more about that story, so I write about it. If it turns into one of these tired old devices, then that’s just the way it works out.

Just because that’s how I’ve been doing it, doesn’t mean I can’t try something else.

What if I actually tried to write a story the way critics describe them?

What if I picked a format, and then intentionally tried to write a story like that?

That’s when I thought to myself, “I haven’t seen fresh creative writing from some of my blogging friends in, like, forever. This feels like a joint venture. Writing challenge time!”

So here is the challenge.

You pick a type of story, and then once you have the type picked out, write a short story of that kind. Then critique yourself.

How did writing that way feel? Was having a structure or framework in mind helpful to you in bringing the story to life, or did you feel restricted or hemmed in by self-imposed rules?

I am going to pick the fish out of water type, and if you’d like to do the same, go for it. Or pick any other type of story structure that suits your fancy.

I am going to sit down at some point this weekend, and try to intentionally write a fish out of water style short story.

When I’m done, I’ll post it here along with my own self-critique.

See, the thing is, I think critics are full of shit. I don’t believe that writers sit down and go all coldly analytical about what they’re going to write about, create flowcharts and graphs, count numbers of male characters versus female characters, brown lizard people versus green lizard people, dogs of small size versus dogs of large size, numbers of night time scenes versus daytime, inclusion of types of food or whatever the hell kind of bullshit I read about.

I think writers get a story stuck in their head, and sit down to get it the hell out of there and onto a surface, any surface where they can look at it in peace.

Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe most writers do sit down and graph everything out in advance, try to write something to cater to a particular audience, then go back and flesh it out.

Really, what the hell do I know? I just peck at the keys, and you can tell I’m a Druid by how well I can mangle.

If you’re interested in taking part, just for fun, I think it would be great to see some more of the wonderfully creative, powerful writing that I saw last time we did a challenge. I also think there is a good chance I’ll learn something new from this exercise, about myself and my writing. So, fuck it, it’s worth it for that alone.

As always, if you do write something, please let me know so I can link to it and feature you here.

Good luck!

P.S. Just to be clear, it doesn’t have anything at all to do with World of Warcraft. Whatever inspiration guides you… once you pick a structure, that is.

I’m actually leaning towards doing a storytime. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done up a proper storytime. We’re about due for more personal anecdotes and embarrassment around here.

Stay Tuned

The Bear family and I are afk, vacationing at the Walt Disney World Resorts.

Sadly, the blog shall be quite quiet while we’re gone.

This vacation shit is hard work. For those of you who know me well, it should come as no surprise that we have theorycrafted the optimum multi park timeline to gain the most fun without wasted resources.

So far, we’ve nailed the objectives, but the blister boss is taking multiple tries (and nightly lotion) to down, and we experienced our first wipe when Cassie was so stubborn she made herself pass out.

True story, I thought she had died right there in animation class at Hollywood Studios this morning.

Side note, Cassie says the EMTs at Hollywood Studios are very cranky people.

Anyway, stories are what you get when life happens, and we’re in some interesting ones.

I am not idle, this is a working holiday. I am diligently gathering research data for the most epicest Big bear Butt post ever seen.

When the post goes live, I’m not exaggerating when I say it will draw millions of pagehits all on its own.


It might also bring jail time, I’ve still got to check on that.

Still. Millions.

To use a favorite movie quote, “You just let your imagination run riot.”

In the meantime, if you find you miss your daily dose of Bear, you can find me on Twitter, I’m on it each day until the phone dies.

Just look for @bigbearbutt and follow the bacon jokes. You can’t miss me.

Happy Veterans Day!

For all of you who have served in the American Armed Forces, doing your part to protect and defend our country, our honor and our way of life, please accept my thanks and my gratitude.

I’ve been in the service myself, and I’m going to take a moment for a ‘no shitter’.

When following the news, I can remember so well that it can seem like nobody really cares, they just say they do.

You look at the headlines, and it’s all about crowds of squatters demanding something or other, democrats and republicans fighting over control of the country like two dogs worrying both ends of the same bone, millions of people without jobs or a means of income being reduced to a bullet point stat for purposes of debate, talking heads arguing over who America should invade next, or police for the next couple of decades, and all sorts of other “WTF” stuff to wade through.


Sometimes it feels like Veterans Day is just another opportunity for people who 364 days out of the year couldn’t give a shit less about you to stand up and wave the flag and say “Oh yeah, I’m patriotic, love those troops! You go, guys and gals! Give ’em hell!”

It can seem like that, and maybe in a lot of cases it is that way.

All I can tell you is, from one veteran to another, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you, one and all, for your service.

I don’t care why you chose to enlist in the armed forces. It does not matter, at the end of the day, whether you enlisted for benefits, a steady job in an uncertain economy, educational opportunities, world travel, adventure, to live the dream, or from a genuine desire to serve the country that gave you birth and preserve the freedoms we hold dear.

It doesn’t matter, because once you’re in, you’re in. As my Drill Instructor once told me (okay, shouted at me), there are no White Marines, Black Marines, Red, Yellow, Brown or Purple Marines, there are only Green Marines. Wherever you came from, whatever originally brought you together, you made that commitment.

What does matter in the end is that you stepped forward and you have done or are doing your part for the benefit of us all, and because of the combined efforts of each and every single one of you, I and my family continue to enjoy the freedoms we possess.

It is thanks to you that the conditions in America exist that give me the opportunity to have this website, and to continue speaking my mind EXACTLY how *I* choose to do it, without repression or censorship. I enjoy my freedom of personal expression thanks directly to you and the continued efforts of all veterans.

So, thank you. Thank you all very much.

And remember… when I go off the rails here, this website is all your fault.

Okay, NOW my journey to the Feral side is complete

Tesh has taken up the challenge, and crafted the ultimate Ring of Power™.

Or at least, the ultimate Ring of Furry Feral Druid Pride.

Yes, I said Furry. We’re Druids. Get over it. SOME of us are even Taurens, so if you can’t at least handle the label with humor, dare I say “let it slide like water off a Manatee-forms back”, then you’re in the wrong end of the class pool.

Tesh has opened a new Shapeways store, called Tish Tosh Tesh Toys (I love that name), and has presented us with several different Feral Druid ring designs.

One of these rings is exactly, EXACTLY, how I envisioned the ring I wanted to design… except a little better, because it has our Druid shoulder markings on each side of the claw design;

It’s amazing! And on Shapeways, when made out of Stainless Steel, it’s only $23.00!

Now, at this time it is only on there at size 11. I do not know what size my finger is, but it’s unlikely to be 11. I ain’t that lucky. But Tesh tells me he is going to be adding more ring sizes soon.

I think if we ask nicely, he may also add the option to have it made out of other materials… I don’t know what the options are exactly, and I know I will buy the stainless version so I can wear it without worrying about breaking or chipping it, but it seems to me you can have things made of other materials, some colored. Perhaps a Night Elf purple or Tauren brown version are possible.

 Still…. behold the power of creation!

And if Tesh acts fast, it is entirely possible that some lucky Druids could be seen wearing one of Teshs rings at Blizzcon! Talk about a head turner, eh?

In other Tish Tosh Tesh related news, one of the things he intends to create and place for sale on his Shapeways store are Zomblobs! figures for a tabletop game version of his game design.

Just sayin’, this ain’t a one-shot store for a one day wonder novelty item that will quickly and quietly fade away. Tesh has plans. Exciting, imaginative plans. I’m really looking forward to seeing where his vision will carry me next.

I don’t know what it is, but it has Aggro

You remember that post a few days ago, where I laid out my son’s wish for a special kind of pet?

Well, Tesh, being the master of video game art that he is, with sidelines in Mad Science and Fun Stuffs, took that as a challenge.

I hereby present to you his interpretation of that dream!

Upon seeing that, my son said, “Wow, that’s even BETTER than I imagined!”

High praise, but I agree. That’s just amazing.

If you think that is good, though, you should see some of the other creations he’s done, and hey, why not go buy A Kingdom for Keflings, and play a game that is infused with his artistic genius?

There will be a shirt soon, since as usual, I want to wear shirts with Tesh’s art on them, and he won’t start his own store. But it’ll have to be after this weekend, since right now I’m at the North American Discworld Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, and I’ll be taking pictures, livetweeting and having fun basking near the brilliance of Sir Terry Pratchett.

Well, truthfully I’ll be spending my time having fun meeting other fans of the works of Sir Terry, but I’m sure he’ll be in the building somewhere.

If you happen to be near Madison, Wisconsin, you ought to come down, I hear they have one day passes. I’m going to be there all of Friday and Saturday, so maybe you’ll see me there! And, you know, be able to throw fruit at me or something.

Merry Christmas to you, blogger style!

I wish you all a very merry Christmas morning, wherever you may be.

May you all find yourselves safe and sound and full of hope, and if you are not home with the ones you love, may you be held close in their hearts and be home to see them soon.

In the spirit of sharing Christmas wishes on a blog, I leave you with this message of the day, in a form we can recognize all too well.

Again, Merry Christmas to you all, and God bless you and keep you safe from harm.

Welcome to the month of Movember!

Movember? Is that like move to the groove?

Well, I’m sure you can move to the groove all you’d like, but, no.

But if you do, I bet you look fabulous!

Movember is this event originating in Australia that I have never, ever heard of before this week, but that I am embracing with both hands and a big ‘stache.

Are you confused? Would you like some explanation?

I’m not going to give you one.

However, I WILL say that if you’re dying to have some kind of clue before telling me I’m an idiot, you need to go here and all of your questions will be answered

Yes, all of your questions. You can ask Gnomer any question, and he will have an answer for you. AN answer.

Wait, you wanted a right answer? Geez, what do you want fer nuthin’… a rubber biscuit?

Those of us that are Feral are at least part cat, so is it mean of me not to satisfy your curiosity myself?

Yes, of course it is. I’m part cat, I like toying with people.

Getting back to Movember, now that you’re on board with the concept and all of your questions have been answered, I want you to know that I am throwing all of my support behind Team “Gnomes Get The Blues Too!”

Normally, I walk around completely clean shaven. That wasn’t always the case, though, as my wedding picture clearly proves.

I have to walk around clean shaven now, because the last time I grew facial hair, well, I attracted a supermodel who demanded to marry me. After we were married, she forced me to shave it all off, because she knew that other supermodels would continue to throw themselves at me if I didn’t.

It’s not that she was jealous, you understand. She just didn’t want my ego to get any bigger than it already was. 🙂

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, anyway, I’m clean shaven now and have been for years. But it’s Movember, and while I’ve never heard of it before, I care about my good buddy Gnomer, and I’m a gonna support him in his endeavors!

That means I am going to grow a moustache this month.

Or at least, I announced Saturday night that I was intending to support Gnomer and allow my facial hair to grow unfettered.

To which, Cassie replied, “No you’re not.”

I stood fast. I was adamant. I was going to grow a face full of ‘stache.

And this ain’t an idle statement, because my Bear-like nature is so powerful that if I don’t take a machete to my face every day, by the end of the weekend I start getting calls from ZZ Top asking me if I can play backup guitar on their next tour.

So Cassie resorted to reason.

She bribed me.

Seeing I was determined to show my support for Gnomer and Movember, she told me that if I DON’T grow my facial hair out, she’ll let me donate money to Gnomer’s Team. Also, she reminded me that I have to sleep sometime… and she has scissors.

Hey, whatever works, right?

And I call it reason… because extortion is such an ugly word.

Go thee and see the awesome of a brave Gnome!