From the Web: Never too late!

A really cool article off Bang2Write talks about how many authors and screenwriters wrote their hits in their 40s or older. So there is hope for me.

Take a look to give yourself motivation!

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From the Web: Another Explanation of Fermi’s Paradox that sounds wrong to me.

Happy New Year.  My first post of 2017!  Here’s to hoping for a good year.

As I usually do when I want to write my novels, I stare at my computer until I get the urge to write or look at Facebook or something.  This morning, Facebook won out.  I found a post about Brian Cox explanation of Fermi’s Paradox.  Another article talking about how all aliens must destroy themselves before they break free of their home planet.

I have addressed how I feel this is wrong in this previous post, so I will not dwell on those reasons here. Of course; I, like them, have no clue whether aliens exist or not. We have no substantiated proof either way, yet.  It is all conjecture.  But what fun this is!

To me, these arguments for self-destruction is superimposing our behavior on any alien race that might exist. While I believe this is a very possible outcome for the human race.  I do not believe that means all intelligent races will do the same.

Look at other examples on Earth. Bees for example.  How do they expand? Do they grab every possible hive location as soon as possible?  Do they constantly war with themselves? They do have their cold-blooded aspects but not like us. Bees expand, or swarm, when they have grown large enough that they can not “smell” the queen. When a hive is so large that the queen’s pheromones can not reach all members in the hive, those members not ‘under her spell’ make a new queen. When she is born, the old queen flies off with a portion of the workers.

A hive grows larger because it has produced enough food to allow the colony to successfully grow.  So instead of producing swarms that go out and just find land, they do it when they are over populated.  Could an alien race act like this?  Why not?

Another example could be the big cats or wolves. Normally they also do not go out and grab all they can grab. They keep their territory unless resources are scarce.

Why would aliens not have a similar behavior? Why would we think that aliens would make their main goal of exploration of everything?  Why wouldn’t they just explore their immediate surroundings, find a few places and settle in for a while to develop these resources.

Within 10 light years of Sol (our solar system) there are 15 known stellar objects (stars and red/brown dwarf stars). These are the ones we know of.  The last being discovered in 2014, with a few more found since 2010. This leads me to believe there might be at least double this number in this space.  If there are 30 systems in this small space, that is a lot of exploration for us to undertake.  Each one requiring a mission to be set up, speed up and slow down of the craft on the way, communications between the stars, etc..  That is a lot of resources.  And we still have problems on earth that are priorities.

Within 100 light years of Sol, there are over 500 known G type stars (ones we can see as a twinkle of light in the night’s sky).  In the 10 light year range, only 2 of them are G type. So if we take a similar ratio of dwarf stars to G types, in 100 light years range there might be 2500 stars.  Include even fainter ones, like we are discovering still in 10 light year range, and that might be 5000 or more.  Again think of all the trip planning and particulars of the trip to get to all of them.

Humans seem to have the wanderlust that makes them always go over the horizon. That doesn’t seem to be a trait of most of our fellow species of Earth. Why would aliens act more like us and not more like one of the other species of Earth?

Additionally, there are so many resources in this solar system, why would we need to go elsewhere? Yes for humans, its wanderlust.  If the species was not prone to wanderlust, when would they need to move?  When they have exhausted the resources of a solar system?  How long would it take for us to mine out this system?  It has been 5000 years of recorded time and we still have not mined out the resources of Earth. What about the moon? asteroids? Mars? Jupiter and her moons? etc…

If a race takes 1000 years to exhaust the resources of an entire star system and thus requiring the aliens to move on.  It would take this race 30,000 years to exhaust the 10 light year range from Sol.  With the Milky Way galaxy being 100,000 light years wide, it would take this race 30 million years to strip a 10 light year wide strip from one end to the other.

To do this for a 1000 light year wide strip, it would take 3 billion years. That would still leave the vast majority of the galaxy untouched and that is a quarter the age of the galaxy. So even if we had a locust acting race out there, chances are, the galaxy is just too big to swallow.

Have a Happy New Year!

From the web: Reading Level of Writing

So I am cruising through entries in an FB group “Writing Fiction”, using my best procrastination techniques and I come across this blog entry from Shane Snow, “This Surprising Reading Level Analysis Will Change the Way You Write”. This article talks about how many of our great writers write at a middle school level for readability. This translates into higher comprehension and more enjoyment for the reader.

Basically don’t try to write to impress with big words that takes the average reader out of the story. If they have to try and understand the words then it is work and not fun.  The goal is to make it easy for the reader to comprehend the story and then visualize the action in their minds.  Make it easy for the reader to get into the story and stay there for as long as they are reading it.

Makes sense, right?

It is much more enjoyable to use your imagination to see “Chief Grog, swings his mighty club and with a booming thud smashes the knight backwards. The man flies back into the cavern’s wall and crumples to the ground.”

Than something like: “The leader of the orc tribe, Grog, uses a cudgel, in a round house swing, to impart a massively kinetic blow to the chest region of the hapless armored knight.  The forward momentum of the knight was viciously reversed, resulting in the man being thrown backwards, into the wall with bone crushing force.”

For many the second passage might be just as easy to understand. Some might even like the additional detail but it also takes more away from the imagination because it actually details more thoroughly what is happening. This additional detail, with the use of some words that might not be common enough, could stop the flow of the story for the reader and force them to confront the literary reality of reading a story, than living it.

I have read many blogs and articles talking about how the writer should just say enough to give the read the foundation to create the picture in their mind. I like this goal of striving for low detail scenes, for the reader to flesh out.

Well with so much energy going into a blog entry, I should be able to bust out the last few passages of book 1 of my trilogy.  Have a great weekend!

A thought on Fermi’s Paradox

With the idea that our world is probably not so unique among the millions of star systems and billions of planets, in the Milky Way alone. The chances of there being other intelligent races is pretty good.

Also we tend to discover something mind-blowing every decade or so. Things we had no idea existed a generation ago (atoms, quarks, types of planets around other stars, DNA, etc..) are a reality today.

Having said that, I believe there are many alien civilizations in our neighborhood of the Milky Way and faster than light (FTL) travel is possible. We just aren’t there yet.

Many ask. “Why don’t the aliens visit us?”  Well let’s be honest and put the ego aside. We really are not that special are we??  If an alien race has discovered how to travel between the stars in a time frame that is acceptable to them, then what are we to them?  A pre-contact Amazonian tribe?

How many of us are rushing to go say hi to those that remain? Yes, we like to see the occasional article about them and maybe a National Geographic special or a Youtube video but really how often do we think of them?  Please realize this is not to denigrate these tribes, just using as an example we might understand.

If there are millions of earth like planets in our galaxy, then aliens coming here for our resources is probably an idea that should only exist in Hollywood. Humans are the resource they want, you say?  Okay why? We are rather frail, we can not exist easily in many other environments, we are rather annoying and hard to keep in line. Wouldn’t a prospective overlord race think that robots would be better choice of labor than these little meat bags?

They want to rule us you think?  I would imagine before they “pushed the button” they would investigate us for a while. Especially since we do not have the technology to detect them. Once they watch us for a while, what do you think?  Would any self-respecting conquering race try to bring a bunch of psychopathic, inventive short lived creatures into their empire?

With the ability to gain any resource anywhere else in the galaxy and us being primitives, what value would we serve?  Also we tend to fight ourselves and not just for mating, we are really good at killing each other. Why bring such a crazy race into your empire with the chance they might infect others or God forbid, learn new technologies where they might challenge the established rule.

No, if anything it would be best to watch us.  Like we do the Amazonian tribes with fly overs. Keep an eye on us. See if we kill off ourselves or actually learn how to work together and get into space. Then they can take us over or if not the conquering type, they might welcome us to the neighborhood.

“We should hear their signals.” One might say.  Well think on it.  We have only been broadcasting roughly 100 years. In that time most of our communications is now via the internet (land lines mostly), mobiles (short range) and satellite (directed communications). Most broadcast medias are being replaced. There is talk of quantum communications, where there is no signal path.  With us doing this in 100 years and still have barely left our planet, what do you think a race that can go between stars is capable of?

Most likely to hear another civilization, we would have to catch them in the first 200 years of their space age. After that, then the chances for them to emit radio waves for us to pick up will drop off significantly.

What we might be able to watch their graviton emissions from spaceships flying near our solar system. We have recently figured out how to measure gravitons. Now it is just for the truly big objects in the Universe. In time we might refine that ability. If the aliens use big ships, then chances are they will cause a disturbance in the gravitational waves as they fly by, snapping their versions of pictures at the primitives.

Like the tribes people looking up at the sound of an airplane and wondering which Gods they might be and what would happen if they come to visit. We will hopefully one day track a graviton emission passing our solar system at speeds well above the normal stellar objects. We too will wonder what god-like beings are doing that and what does that forebode for us, if they decide to stop and say hi.

 

From the Web: An Idea for Netflix

An article on the Hollywood Reporter from Kim Masters talks about Netflix and its impact on Hollywood. To summarize the article, it’s talking about how much money Netflix is spending buying up original content. Also how the company is changing the game in how things are done.

An interesting read on the new giant in town. Will Hulu and others take a similar route? That remains to be seen. One thing I think they ought to consider is combining different entertainment streams into their basic pricing scheme.

Imagine Netflix, Hulu or others offering books and gaming for the same or slightly higher monthly pricing? Might even be able to add music in there but I must admit I do not know that industries revenue means as well.

Where Amazon and some of the current choices are aggregators of most, if not all types of offerings in those realms, Netflix and the others should be selective. I will talk about the book publishing idea, since that is near and dear to my calling.

If I were at Netflix, I would suggest acquiring a book publishing company. The goal of this endeavor would be two fold. Find and publish original works and acquire the rights to include quality published works.

My model would include the ability to read online any book that is listed on the service. Maybe increase the cost of the basic service or include that as a higher level service offering. Downloading ebooks or ordering physical copies would cost more per ordered copy.

Downloaded ebooks would be very low priced as they really do not differentiate themselves from the online copy. Physical copies on the other hand, should include additional items in  that would entice customers to order. Something like additional internal artwork, background data, collectible type bindings would be included.

Having a publishing house on board would allow Netflix to help the author’s they select to turn out quality books.  Acquired rights to already published works would probably go for online copy or ebooks unless physical copy rights have been returned to the author.

This service would pay the author for the rights of including their book on the Netflix service for a determined amount of time. For original works, Netflix could use their publishing arm to place in other services as their business needs direct.  The author would also get paid a small fee per book read during the period. At the end of the right’s period, Netflix could decide if they wish to continue renting the rights at the current price, a renegotiated price or drop the book altogether.

I would assume some of the original works would be retained for an initial 3 years or so with full rights to Netflix. They might offer exclusively on their service for one year and depending on the popularity, place on other services as well or print for book stores.

The additional advantage of this type of offering is the ability for Netflix to find content that could be turned into Netflix original movie/tv content.Both the original works and acquired published works could be reviewed.

So yes, for authors, more selective and not an option for everyone. For those that get it right, it could be a nice alternative to the traditional publishers or being a new pebble in the ocean that is Amazon.

From the Web: Finding Aliens with Gravity Waves

Recently, there has been a lot of talk of being able to detect gravity waves. The dreamer in me definitely loves that idea. An article on Gizmodo by Jennifer Ouellette discusses that they think they can detect waves made by very large objects.

Assuming that they have figured out how to measure gravity waves, how can we use it? I think we have discovered our first long range detection system for alien craft. Similar to Radio Direction Finding techniques, we will have Gravity Direction Finding systems.

These systems will “listen” for the waves, in all directions. It should be linked to provide a direction finding solution on where the object that caused the wave is located. The detection system will need to be able to determine which part of the sensor first registered the wave. That site will then send their direction solution to a central system.  All sites in the cluster will report their solutions and the central system will calculate where the object is.

In time, we will be able to increase the sensitivity of the detection system. The more sensitive the system the better chance we can “listen” for transient gravity waves.  Most objects in space are fairly stationary, in a relative sense, to us. We can soon identify all the larger waves that will come from one particular direction (like distant stars or black holes).

A space craft, asteroid or comet would be moving across the spectrum. Also this is probably more than a single wave, so successive waves will hit different parts of the sensor over time. Most stars would probably hit the same sensor. A comet or asteroid would, over time transit across the sensor giving a track to follow.

Assuming that space craft would need to be at higher speeds than a comet or asteroid, to make space travel feasible, they would quickly pass along the sensor head. While we could not really catch them in real time, we could tell of their passage.

This system probably could not detect craft too far away from our system, due to background noise. If a craft passed half way through the Oort Cloud, it would take almost 140 days for the gravity wave to get near earth. Our Oort Cloud goes out 1-2 light years which might or might not be a navigation hazard for interstellar travel.

The good news is that we probably can track an object coming into our solar system. With gravity waves traveling at light speed and assuming a craft would have to slow down their approach into the solar system, we should get a “hit” on our Gravity Direction Finding system before they show up.

I guess the worse thing would be to see a lot of UFOs come into the Kuiper Belt, stop for a short time, then move on. Boy that would be a massive hit on our self-confidence. Aliens find us boring.

So while we wait to see if E.T. has an interstellar highway near us, we can always use this to track asteroids and comets. A noble cause and something near and dear to most of us.

From the web: Why learning screen writing can benefit your novel.

From the writing blog, Bang2Write, is a post by owner, Lucy V Hay, discussing why learning script writing can benefit you when you write your novel.  That hit home as I try to rewrite my novel to align with the screen play I made of it.

Some background. I wrote and self-published my book, Wall of Destruction, a When Atlantis Fell novel, in 2014. In 2015, I thought about trying to turn it into a screen play and try my luck with Hollywood. Yes I know, pretty naive but if you do not try, you do not gain. So I researched how to write a screen play and then started into it. In October of 2015, I submitted my screen play to quite a few Hollywood agents.  Some nice “No thank you” notes but not much else.

In the process of creating the screen play, I learned to look at my novel in new ways. Screen writing is a different monster.  The rule is each page equates to roughly a minute of movie. Also, it is visual. Internalizing a character’s thoughts or providing background in detail, is out of the picture (literally).

I had to shave my novel of 200+ pages to less than 120 pages to get it to a movie length that producers would accept from your average script writer, let alone a newbie.  This forced me to remove large chunks of the story, externalize some internal character conversations and re-think how to provide detail. Literally I had to re-write the story.

Of course, you can not just remove chapters and consider it done. I had to re-write large parts of the story to flow, after the chunks were removed. Reduce conversations to something that people will not get bored watching. It might be cool to have a long conversation, when reading it, but a minute long dialogue on the screen can make people think about some more popcorn.

Another thing I learned was I needed an antagonist. In my book, the war party of the Atlantean government was the enemy. I did not have a prominent antagonist of the party to focus the reader’s attention. Moviegoers like heroes and villains. This forced me to create an antagonist and re-write the story to build the villainy of Jana (my villain). I think it also gave me the unintended benefit of having a final fight between Risor (my hero) and Jana.

I believe I will try to use this process for all my novel length stories. Do a first run as a novel. Get it to where I feel good with the story.  Then re-write it as a screen play. Once I get the screen play where I like it, re-write and publish the book.  A longer process but in a sense it will “kneed” the story in a way I think is best.  And if I get lucky, I get a movie to boot!

So taking the time to learn what a screen play “should have” has helped me better my story. The plan is to re-write the novel to reflect the screen play. My work will be to keep the story tight and not wander too far.  I hope in 2016, I will complete the re-write and publish the new version. I also plan on submitting my screen play to producers and studios as well.

Hope springs eternal!

 

Words to use instead of said in your writing!

I have not done this enough. Thank you very much!

Melanie Moxon

I found this on pinrest a few weeks ago and thought it was a great list of words you can use instead of ‘said.’

Pinrest link:https://www.pinterest.com/pin/A31qbQAQwKYBFRnX43gAAAA/

Any words I’m missing? Comment below!

View original post

From the web: Another take on Fermi’s Paradox

Fermi’s Paradox discusses the likelihood of alien civilizations existing in our universe. This article by Tim Urban breaks out some of the possibilities of why we have not detected these other civilizations.

While writing my Worm Hole Earth stories, I have thought about this and came up with a few more possibilities for why we have not detected an alien civilization. Some of these might have been discussed before but they are not in the few articles that I have read on the subject.

  1. Signal Strength and robustness. How intelligible is a signal from a transmitter 10, 150 or 1000 light years away. I think, theoretically, the signal will not degrade over time, if it goes through empty space. But that is assuming that space is empty over many light years of distance. What if a large body or asteroid field is in between? What about our Kuiper Belt or the Oort Cloud?  Could they filter out most signals?  Would a large gamma ray burst or other event be able to blast the signal out of existence?  If any of these are possible, then could they not keep signals from reaching us? While we receive lots of signals from space, are they not from stars? I would assume the power of those signals would be much greater than a transmitter. Would our early transmissions, now nearing 100 light years out, be more than a garbled mess?  Maybe a story in the there 🙂
  2. Technological advancements. We have graduated from AM signals to FM to satellite signals in the last 100 years. Nowadays, most of our signal is very low powered WIFI or cellular or passed over landlines. Cable TV, line of sight, etc.. are handling most of our communications. Where will we be in 100 or 200 years with regards to communications methods? Maybe the broadcasting, for all to hear, is a short lived stage of advancement. One would think that communications between stars would not count on light speed.  Doesn’t really seem practical, so maybe there are other methods. For us to catch signals like ours, we would need to be listening at the right time in a civilization’s advancement. We have only been listening for 30 or 40 years. Chances of another civilization being in a 200 year technological range of ours within these last 30-40 years plus travel time is pretty miraculous.  While fiction, in my Worm Hole Earth universe, we have worm hole travel. All communications and commerce pretty much goes through worm holes. An alien race trying to detect where the Solarian Empire’s planets are, would need to detect energy or heat emissions of the machines, not their communications to one another.
  3. Machine Explorers. Explore all stars with self-replicating robots. Since we have not seen any, then they must not exist. Well, to have self-replicating machines that would also explore, assumes these systems would have to be very advanced. Here are some reasons I think this might not be the case.
    1. If a biological race created machines that were smart enough to search systems for materials to replicate, explore the environment and communicate back to the homeworld, then they would have to almost make self-aware machines. If a machine is self-aware, would it follow orders? Would the creators not worry that something could foul the machines “mind” and cause it to go psycho?  Would they worry that it might get to a system and build an army of its fellow machines and then return to take out the creators?
    2. Superior beings find these automated explorers. Would the creators not worry that a more advanced race would be found and would learn how to get back to the homeworld?  After all, for the explorer thing to work, it needs to know how to communicate back home. Even on earth today, there are those that worry we might find the wrong folks.
    3. Economic reasons.  We can barely keep a space program funded. What value would there be in having these explorers go out?  First, it will be generations or at least a long time before they get to another star. Even at one-third of light speed, it would probably take us 15-20 years to get to our neighbors (assuming we can not start/stop on a dime). Then 4-5 years to get a report back. This might be acceptable for stars in 10-20 light year range but wouldn’t it be better to report back and start building habitats, factories or terraforming of things found there, rather than build more ships and send them out? It would take the creators 20-25 years to get a report on the star system’s make up and make a determination if they want to send a colony to that star. Another 4-5 years to respond back to the explorer to continue on to another star, build copies or build colony infrastructure.

So just some additional things that I considered when working on my Worm Hole Earth stories. Some I plan on incorporating into the stories and others were just for fun.

What do you think?

From the web: The Mini Movie Method

Recently a friend gave me an idea about continuing my “When Atlantis Fell” stories while writing other stuff.  Sounds good 🙂   So sitting in front of my computer last night, I started to think what else could I do.

I will give the agent query letters process some more time to work but then I think I will also query producers/studios. Maybe next month, I will put it out to them.

Additionally, I think I will try my luck at ” Movie of the Week” TV movies. I love the Game of Thrones series and thought that might work. Since I have a two part story and some sub-plots I am interested in writing, I believe I have the material to intertwine the stories.

The Mini Movie Method, by J Gideon Sarantinos, on Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips, discusses how to break the script up into smaller 8-10 minute segments. If I read it right, the idea is to produce a self-contained scene in each segment. The key is to keep the viewer’s interest at the end of each sequence. Similar to a TV show that builds the action/anticipation, before each commercial break, to get the viewer to come back.

So I will try to make each segment a part of a different story. I have already outlined some of the subplot stories to progress through the time line of the main story. Will need to formulate the story to work in episodes.

Time to research more.