Saturday, December 29, 2012

Zegin's Universe

Mapping Zegin's Universe
My vacation week of writing was pretty successful.  I didn't crank out a full length novel but I did get over a significant hump I was having with Zegin's Abduction.  I would read through what I have done so far, feeling that something just wasn't right.  But I would go ahead and start writing.  Each writing session I would repeat.  Finally, after 3 sessions of writing I decided that I better do something.  After all, if I'm not feeling good with the story then the readers are not going to feel good with it either.

After some in-depth analysis, I finally determined that the story was just dragging.  I put on my editing hat and thought about those chunks of deleted scenes that get added as extras to the "Special Edition" DVDs of movies.  When I watch those I usually agree that they needed to be cut out of the movie to keep from slowing it down.  That's what I ended up doing with ZA.  I cut some major chunks out of it that just were not necessary.  Too much detail can detract from the story.  While it took some time and struggle to chop it up, it was well worth the time.  The story flows a lot better now and I feel better about writing it.  I'm enjoying the writing of the story. ;)

Another step I took was to produce a Zegin's Universe map - a graphical layout of the characters, places, things, organizations, and situations in the world of Zegin.  Since I'm developing a full set of short stories all based on this environment, the map is a great help in keeping everything straight.  I guess it's something that I learned as a programmer.  In order to develop a good application I need to have a road map of the functionality and a diagram of the database.  (Seems a lot of folks are interested in that too since a major portion of the hits to my site are from searches on Entity Relationship Diagrams.)  Sorry, I'll take the geek hat off and put the writer's cap back on.

If you're struggling with keeping details straight about your story (or series of stories) I highly recommend taking the time to build a map of the universe.  After all, isn't world/universe building half the fun of fiction writing?

Social Networking Progress
Wow!  Oh wait.  That's what I said last week.  I just can't help to be impressed with the growth of the statistics.

Klout Score: 44 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 1025 (+9)
Twitter Followers: 362 (+133)
G+ Peeps Following: 163 (+63)

The Twitter and Google Plus followers have both made significant jumps.  While this is still just a few atoms in the bucket compared with the likes of Marissa Meyer, Stephen Ames Berry, or one of my favorites - David Brin - it's not a bad start for someone who hasn't published anything in the fiction market yet.  It does make for a good experiment and exercise in the value of social network marketing.  Especially with the huge growth of eBook sales and the fact that around one third of the entire world's population is now using the internet.  It will be interesting to see how the statistics improve once something is published.  In the meantime, I like to think that you're all enjoying my postings here and will continue to visit, and allow me to share my ride.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Yoplait   
I love Yoplait Yogurt!  It is soooo smooth and creamy.  I can have a nice satisfying treat without worrying about having to do an extra five minutes on the elliptical (which does feel like an extra lap around the sun by the way).  However, I have a major hate of the container!  Now I can understand some marketing person, or group, coming up with the decision to shape the container in a very appealing way.  Or maybe it's all scientific and the shape helps to keep all those "Live & Active Cultures" from escaping.  Regardless, I don't think there was much QA (Quality Assurance) testing or user testing involved.  I'm sure that the note taking ended before the last 5% of the yogurt eating activity was completed.

The first 95% of the event is pure pleasure.  The gentle fingernail scraping of the foil cap in a circular rotation of the container is a great endeavor for anyone that has engineering genes in their blood.  Removing the cap in a single fluid motion while retaining its flatness is a great accomplishment.  This allows for a complete removal of the sweet yogurt essence from the bottom of the cap in a single flick of the tongue.  Then the process of consuming heaping spoonfuls of the luscious, creamy, and flavorful yogurt is enough to make the eyes roll back and induce a catatonic state of yummyness. (Yes, I made up that word.)  The next process of scraping the inside of the container is also very satisfying.  The gentle scrape of the spoon as remnants of the yogurt are piled into tasteful lumps.  It is at this point that spoon licking begins.  Top, bottom, sides, and even the stem of the spoon are fair game for finding left over molecules of flavor.

But then the pain and frustration begins.  There's still yogurt under the lip of the container!  And regardless of how hard I try with the spoon, I can't get it all.  I pronounce curses of "may your blaster get jammed in a fight with a Bantherdog" toward the engineers who decided to put those four indentations at the top of the container - preventing me from getting a smooth spoon scooping of remaining yogurt.  I stick my tongue under the lip of the top and twirl the container in the hope to gold dig out the yogurt remnants, resulting in a small groove being cut into the tip of my tongue.  I realize that this is the same physics as a circular saw as I withdraw my tongue from the container.  But being tenacious, I go in for another lap around the rim, using less pressure to prevent loosing the tip of my tongue into the container.  And what's with that gap between the walls of the container and the base?  There's still yogurt sitting down there!  My tongue won't reach!  I bet Gene Simmons doesn't have this problem.  And the opening of the container is too small for me to fit my head into it!  The base appears to be welded on and thus prevents me from removing the bottom.  Then I notice the words on the side of the container - "PROTECT WILDLIFE CRUSH CUP BEFORE DISPOSAL".  What?  No comma?  And then I have visions of squirrels digging through the trash with little Yoplait containers stuck to their heads because they were digging for the last remaining bits of yogurt in the bottom.  Well, if the Yoplait folks would let me eat the last of the yogurt we wouldn't have this problem - would we!?!  I gladly crush the container before flinging it into the trash.

I pause to calm down and relax - then reach for a second container of Yoplait.  Yep.  It's a vicious cycle.

Enjoy reading (and your yogurt). ;)


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