Since I flipped that switch on the Hyperphasic Temporal Desynchonizer yesterday, I haven’t been quite sure what time it is; but whatever that time is, it’s the time to save some money on t-shirts.
So hie you, I say, over to Retropolis and The Celtic Art Works and buy yourself (and everyone you know!) some shirts at the low, low price of whatever-fifteen-per-cent-off-is.
I think it’s roughly eighty-five per cent of the usual price. But don’t quote me. I’m still having a surprisingly difficult time trying to unflip a switch that may not have been invented yet.
This may confuse you. It confused me. In your case, though, I may be able to clear things up by directing you here and here, where you’ll find that in my real world editor’s absence I’ve been taking feedback from my imaginary editor, instead.
This may not be less confusing. I can’t help you there.
I’ve got two big objections to my imaginary editor this week. Since it’s just you and me here, I’m going to share them.
First off, this week’s feedback isn’t constructive. In fact it crashes through the walls of constructive criticism and roars down the road through a cascade of nuns and orphans, only to plow into a ditch filled with kittens; then it explodes into a roiling, toxic cloud of what we have to call destructive criticism.
This may sound harsh.
Honestly, though, how am I supposed to improve my manuscript based on this kind of feedback? I’d have to travel back in time and make sure that human language was at the top of my to-do list before I even got out of the crib. And, you know, that’s pretty much how I think things went. I mean, my ‘first word’ was actually a complete sentence, which was “Get this stuff off of me!”.
So the utter brutality of this message is my first objection.
My second objection to this is that I have it on pretty good authority that it’s not even original. The story is that Harlan Ellison, at a writers’ workshop, once delivered this same bombshell to a writer who I’m pretty sure was not having the best day of his or her life just then.
So my imaginary editor cheats. Of course if you’re going to steal it’s good practice to steal from the best, and that would have to be Ellison. But it’s still stealing.
So I’m wondering whether I can leverage this plagiarism in some way. Risky, I know. But I’m starting to suspect that the history of publishing may be filled with these little stories of extortion, blackmail, and mayhem. There’s Christopher Marlowe, for example. There’s François Villon. And there’s my imaginary editor.
Times like these, I really wish I could have my real editor back. He seems like such a nice guy, especially now that I’ve seen the alternative.
Publishing? Not for the squeamish. Not for the weak. And apparently not for robots, either.
I’m probably winding down on my new Retropolitan character models, but these ladies just wouldn’t be put off. Wherever they’re headed they seem to be pleased that they’re on their way; my guess is, they’re scrambling for their rockets. You can tell by their aviator’s headgear.
Goggled female pilots were in a sad minority among my character models. There’s a pretty simple way in which I actually grow a cowl out of the male heads – but that same method doesn’t really work with my female heads. I could fix that, but it would be a long, painful process. So I fell back on a workaround that I’ve used just once before.
I was happy to do it: now I know these ladies will be fully equipped for their travels over the city. It’s a weight off my mind.
But like I said, I’m probably winding down now. There are a couple of other things that I really should be working on. But once I got on a roll with my characters I just couldn’t stop… until now. I think.
I guess we’ll just have to see.
So, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that I’ve been getting editor’s notes from the Bizzarro World, Mirror Universe evil twin of my actual editor. He’s tough, but he’s fair.
Or so I thought until this morning. We’re a little early in the week here because my imaginary editor is off to his own Bizzarro World version of Worldcon (which, this year, is really saying something). And I have to admit to a bit of surprise.
This is a terrible accusation to make against Chapter Three, a chapter I’ve known for quite a while now and which I feel privileged to call my friend. Chapter Three has never had a mean thing to say about anybody. And although it features a description of an inertrium warehouse, and has some things to say about architecture and the usefulness of decorative statues, I’m frankly puzzled as to why this Mirror Universe editor thinks it’s a non-stop festival of exposition*.
I’m starting to think he’s just got it in for me. But that sounds kind of paranoid, now that I’ve typed it, so maybe I’ll just go back and read that chapter again.
* Please don’t confuse this with the yearly Altoona Festival of Exposition, with which I am not affiliated and which, in any case, can’t be called non-stop because they take a break on Thursday night for the parade.
Okay, after my post the other day you may think that I’m spending all my time considering feedback from the Bizarro World version of my editor. Not true!
Over the past few weeks I’ve been spending much more of my time on the sort of thing we see here. I’ve been adding to my collection of persons from Retropolis by modeling new characters; I’ve also worked out some tricks that extend the use of older characters. And I’ve done a bunch of them! I left out the imaginary editor you saw in my earlier post because you’ve seen him already, and all that exposure tends to make him more demanding; while another character that I like very, very much doesn’t appear here because he constitutes a spoiler, sort of, and as a result I’m keeping him under wraps.
The tricks I mentioned each have to do with the use of morph targets. I use those already for facial expressions, and for parts of expressions, but the first new thing I thought of was to use morphs to combine two existing character heads into a new character. I’ve mixed, say, 40% of Character A with 60% of Character B to get a new head that looks different from either of its parents.
This is possible because all of my recent male heads share the same topology, while all of my recent female heads also share a common topology. (No… sadly, it’s not the same topology as the male heads.)
So I mix the same amounts of two characters, the same way, in every one of their facial variations, and hey presto, new character. I should have thought of this years ago. I’m sure other people have.
This worked really well, sometimes… though not always. Some of these characters have so much personality that they just keep looking like themselves. Still: very neat!
The second trick is even more useful. I do a lot of work on UV mapping on these heads, and although it’s always very similar it’s a thing that’s frustratingly incompatible between models. In addition I calculate vertex colors to accent the creases and hollows in the faces, and that takes about two hours every time I do it.
But I don’t have to! I mean, this was the really clever idea that I ought to have thought of a long, long time back: because I can also morph an old head completely into a new head. My UV mapping and vertex colors remain the same as they were in the earlier character.
I can’t even imagine how much time I’ve wasted by doing those steps manually for every head. It’s a lot of time.
I decided many years ago that a truly lazy person should be willing to work very hard, one time, in order to prevent hard work that has to be done over and over again. I have aspired to be that person. But I see I’m not quite there yet.
Truly, the Way of Laziness is a long and difficult path to master.
Back when my agent was negotiating the contract for Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom, I was aware that my editor had a lot of projects on his plate; heck, even he was aware. It was him who told me.
Which is great, of course: you like to see good people working, after all. But it concerned me a little.
So I proposed a new clause for the contract: the Pierrot Clause. Any time I had to wait for feedback from my editor, he would be required to wear a Pierrot costume. All day. Every day.
Me, I thought this was genius. Who wouldn’t want to see people contractually compelled to wear costumes out of Commedia dell’arte? I mean, it’s literate and it’s ridiculous. Everybody wins!
Maybe Steven King could get the Pierrot Clause into his contracts. Sadly, I just don’t have the clout; I had to give it up. This is perhaps the biggest reason why I’d like to be a bestselling author. I’m convinced that the Pierrot Clause is a thing that’s meant to be.
So, maybe next time. In the meantime, though, and in the most polite way possible, I am waiting for feedback from my very busy editor, and I’ve decided that what we have right here is the next best thing. I will imagine him giving me feedback. In full color. As often as necessary. With ray guns.
I can’t wait to see what he has to tell me about exposition and passive constructions. Maybe next week!
Hey! From now through August 16th, you have a chance to win a paperback copy of Matthew Hughes’ collection Devil or Angel & Other Stories, which I mentioned just the other day. You know, the one with with a cover by me.
The promotion will run until August 16. To enter, click on the widget: