Thursday, June 25, 2009

Looks Like This is The End...

Pop culture reference. Again.

Novelist/ screenwriter (and so many more titles it makes me green with envy) Clive Barker once commented that a great monster can save the ending of almost any movie. Granted, he was saying this to explain an odd affection for Howard the Duck, but it’s still a solid point. An ending can make or break a story. A so-so film with a phenomenal ending will usually get favorable reviews. A strong manuscript that spirals downward at the end will, more often than not, be tossed in the large pile on the left.

Now, bad endings don’t always have the same root problem. Sometimes a weak ending happens when people have a really cool idea for a story, but don’t know what to do with it past that initial idea. Perhaps the writer had a phenomenal way to start a film or novel, but wasn’t sure how to wrap it up. What is certain is that there are some endings that almost always don’t work, no matter what.

Note that I said almost always. As I go through this list, you’ll probably be able to name some books or films that use one of these endings very successfully. I’ll even name a few of them myself as we go along. For one reason or another, though, these endings are exceptionally difficult to pull off.

So, keeping that in mind, let’s go over seven of the standard bad endings

Everybody Dies and the Antagonist Wins—Hard to believe that after centuries of storytelling this is still considered an unsatisfying ending, I know. One of the biggest problems with wrapping things up this way is it gives the reader a sense that the story was pointless. They’ve just invested a few hours (or perhaps days) of their time into this tale only to see it come to an unpleasant ending. This can be even more frustrating if any of the characters made foolish decisions somewhere along the way. After all, it’s bad enough when you have to watch the fifth person in a row walk through the archway marked Painful Death, but when that’s the point the writer chooses to end the story on...?

Your protagonist doesn’t need to come through unscarred, mind you. Heck, you can even get away with killing your lead (The Dead Zone comes to mind). But they still need to win.

The Left Fielder—Called such because it’s the ending that comes out of nowhere. The office slacker finally gets his act together, saves his friends, gets the girl—and then gets hit by a bus as he steps off the curb. The crack whore decides to go straight and get out so she can raise her little girl, but then the preschooler gets into the bottles under the sink and drinks five gallons of bleach. In my experience, the vast majority of writers who use this kind of ending are trying to achieve art. It’s an attempt to show how random and meaningless life can be by having a random and meaningless ending.

Besides suffering from all the same frustration issues as the previous ending, the left fielder just isn’t that special anymore. It’s become one of the most common conclusions in indie films and “literature.” So besides exasperating an audience, it’s an ending they’re probably going to see coming for the simple reason it wouldn’t be what they’d expect.

There is nothing wrong, shameful, or pedestrian with putting the right ending on a story. Notice that nobody got hit by a train at the end of Slumdog Millionaire yet it was still well-received.

Nothing Changes—Pretty straightforward. If the first ten pages and the last ten pages show the characters in the same place, doing the same things, with the same people, and they’re not any wiser for the experience... well, that’s not much of an experience, is it? For them or for the audience. Even if people don’t have some huge emotional growth or breakthrough, there has to be something notably different or this was just more wasted time.

One type of story that does this a lot is the “slice of life” tale. Just two or three average days in the life of two or three average people. Now, yes, most of our lives don’t change radically in any given moment. Most of what I’m doing today is what I did yesterday and what I’ll probably do tomorrow. So, yes, it would be a truthful ending if a slice of life story about me ended with me back here at my desk where I am most every day.

The question you need to ask yourself is, why would anyone want to read about that? I know I sure wouldn’t. I go through a slice of life every day where nothing changes. I want to be entertained!

...And They Write a Book/ Screenplay About the Experience—I’ve mentioned before that this is, hands down, the worst ending you can have for a screenplay. It isn’t much better in a book. This is almost always a tacked on ending to assure the audience the protagonist didn’t just survive this story—they benefited from it. A lot. Yeah, you would think kicking drugs, reconnecting with the family, and getting the girl/boy would be plenty of reward for most folks, but noooooooo...

In my experience, writers tend to fall back on this ending for one of three reasons (sometimes more than one of them). One is a desire to add that patina of reality to the story, thus making it more valid somehow. Two is that it falls into that silly “write what you know” tip we’ve all heard for years and years. Third is that it’s sort of a wish-fulfillment validation. If Yakko writes a story about surviving the zombie attack and it becomes a bestselling novel/ Oscar-winning film... well, logically, when I write a story about Yakko writing a story about surviving a zombie attack my work will also be worthy of such success and validation.

There’s a medical term for this. It usually involves lots of therapy and certain prescription medications.

The Y’see Timmy—If you’ve never seen it, go watch Speechless (written by Robert King), where Michael Keaton does a better job explaining this idea to Geena Davis than I’m ever going to manage with you folks. Plus it’s just a fun movie.

This ending gets its name from the old Lassie television show. Little Timmy would encounter some problems, work his way out of them, and at the end Mom would sit him down and explain what happened and why. “Y’see, Timmy, sometimes people get hurt inside and it never heals...” Timmy and the audience learn a little something about life and we all go home as better, happy people.

Alas, in inexperienced hands the Y’see Timmy quickly becomes “beating your audience over the head with a blunt line of dialogue or three.” If you’ve ever made your way through Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, you probably remember the 98 page monologue at the end which recaps every one of the subtle lessons that were shown in the first 800 pages of the book. You also probably ended up skimming the monologue, just like everyone else did.

If the moral of the story is clear, do you need to explain it to your audience again? If it isn’t that clear, then the problem isn’t your ending, is it? Go watch Gattaca, which actually manages an amazing double-Y’see Timmy.

It Was All a Dream—All too often the amazing tale of adventure ends with one of the heroes waking up on the couch or in a hospital bed. No, none of the story the audience has just invested their time and attention in really happened, not even in the world of the story. We all just put ourselves into a story about a person who was putting themselves into a story.

Now, there was a time when this ending was daring, new, and caught people off guard. For the record, that time was 1890 when Ambrose Bierce sold his short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” Since then it’s been used once or thrice in literature and about a billion times since the creation of the sitcom. Was there anyone who went to see Click who didn’t immediately say “it’s all going to be a dream!!” the moment Adam Sandler stretched out on that Bed Bath & Beyond display? Think about it—it’s such a common ending most folks could spot the moment the dream began.

I could recommend one or two great dream sequence films, but that would kind of ruin the point, wouldn’t it...?

The Wedding—There are a few reasons weddings can make folks yawn at the end of a story. Right off the bat, it’s such a ridiculously common ending. Much like the artsy Left Fielder, so many writers have taken to ending their romances or rom-coms with a wedding it’s become the default, which means it’s far too common to use in any other genre. Also, a wedding tends to clarify timelines in a story, which is not always a good thing. It can either emphasize that these folks are getting married less than a month after meeting each other, or it can point out that the narrative just skipped seven or eight months between pages, which emphasizes that this is just a tacked on ending.

Really, the only thing worse then just ending on a wedding is when your real ending is something completely outlandish and ridiculous on its own--say, for example, having your hero return a crystal skull to a Mesoamerican flying saucer--and then you tack on the wedding as a complete afterthought so you can hint at a spin-off.

But maybe that’s just my opinion...

So, there they are, seven endings that were tired and worn out long before Isaac Asimov ever heard the word “robot” or Edgar Rice Burroughs thought apes in Africa might be able to raise a human child. Like many of the tips I toss out, I’m not saying it’s impossible to do one of these. It is very, very difficult, though, and you may want to think twice before tackling one of them.

Next week, we’ll try to settle that age-old problem that’s kept scholars, philosophers, and savants awake at night for many years of their lives. Who would win in a fight—Jean Grey from X-Men or Tia from Escape to Witch Mountain?

Before that, though, you have more writing to do. So get to it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Location, location, location

While doing about a dozen articles for Creative Screenwriting and waiting for the release of Ex-Heroes, I’ve been poking at another clever idea for a novel (I hope) which jumped into my head one night while driving past a graveyard. One of the biggest elements is coming up with a believable moon base for the 23rd century. Sure, it would be easy to scribble out pages about oxygen generators and gravity plates and all that, but I like to make things as believable as possible. I also firmly believe in the plusses and minuses of capitalism, and how I predict they’ll affect space travel in the future.

About the same time, while skimming through piles of astronomy books, I noticed something on a message board I frequent. One of the semi-regular readers here (a whopping 10% of you, by all available numbers) who also posts there was asking questions about a location she wanted to use in a story she was working on.

As a wise man once said... link up here, link up there.

So, hey, let’s talk a bit about settings.

The setting is the when and where your story takes place. Simple, right? Some folks would argue it’s almost a character in its own right, because where you set your story can have a great effect on how the story is told. I’d agree, to the extent I think you should put at least as much thought into a story’s location as you would into one of your single-name supporting characters.

For all our intents and purposes, there are three types of settings.

A historical setting is one which takes place somewhere in the recorded past. It is limited to the world as it existed at that given time period, despite what the author may know happened later. Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo is a tale with a historical setting, as is The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Braveheart was set against the backdrop of history, and so were Titanic and Public Enemies. If you’ve got premium cable, Deadwood and Mad Men are two series that used a historical setting.

Note that a historical setting doesn’t mean this has to be a 100% true story. More than half the tales I listed above are fictional or heavily fictionalized. There weren’t really two star-crossed lovers with a huge emerald sailing on the Titanic, but it was still set entirely in its respective time period and was true to that period.

A modern setting is set in the real world, usually within the past ten or fifteen years. It uses modern technology, terminology, and so on. Most television shows are set in the modern world for the simple reason it’s cheaper to film. Stephen King puts most of his stories in a modern setting, as do Thomas Harris, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, and countless others.

Again, a modern setting is not always a true, factual story. Castle Rock, Maine is not a real place. Stars Hollow, Connecticut does not exist. There also isn’t an occult library over the SoHo coffee shop in San Diego. However all of these places confirm to the rules (well, the overwhelming majority of the rules) of the world we see them in.

An imaginary setting is one which involves imagined locations, usually in an entirely imagined world. It’s anything the writer has to create mostly from the ground up—sci-fi, fantasy, future, and so on. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry is imaginary, as are Miskatonic University and Starfleet Academy. The worlds of Perth, Gallifrey, Vulcan, and Caprica were all created by their respective writers. While there are numerous uncharted islands in the South Pacific, I feel safe saying none of them are home to numerous ghosts and dueling Egyptian gods.

This is one of the hardest settings to pull off, as the writer needs to create an entire believable reality. You need to be able to answer questions which may not ever come up in your story and also come up with consistent ways for things to work under the new rules of this new world. Even an imaginary world needs boundaries and limits, after all. Can magic really do anything? Has mankind actually reached another galaxy in just five hundred years? Did Abraham Lincoln or JFK surviving change the world that much?

That brings up another point about the imaginary setting. It’s even tougher, sometimes, deciding what doesn’t need to be changed or created. What parts can you just leave the same as the real world? Measurements? Currency? This strange thing called love?

Now, one other little note before we move on. As important as the setting is, it’s still just the backdrop. It isn’t always directly connected to what’s happening in front of it. We can still write fantasy stories set in the real world. That’s why aliens can help build the pyramids in a historical setting. But note there’s a big difference between a world where aliens help build the pyramids as intergalactic trail markers and a world where these aliens are fought off by the combined magical might of sorcerers from Egypt, Babylon, and Rome.

So, how do you make a solid setting, of any type? Pretty much the same way you’d make a character. You just make it as believable as possible.

If you’re using a modern or historical setting, actually know the place you’re talking about. Spend time there if you can (it’s no coincidence most of my stories are set in Los Angeles, San Diego, or New England). If you can’t travel there, read every book you can. Look at every picture. Every place is unique, and it will be your job as a writer to learn those little (and not so little) tics that make them what, where, and when they are. 21st century London is very different from 15th century London, after all. Los Angeles and Boston each have their own unique vibes. Romeo & Juliet and West Side Story line up point for point, but the setting makes them two very different stories. When you get these points right, the millions of people who live in--or know of--these locations will commend you for it and raise their estimate of your story a few notches.

That also ties to the biggest danger with a modern or historical setting-- people will know if you get things wrong. Lots of people. Your potential audience lives in the real world, so they’ll catch on if you’ve got characters sitting on a beach in Maine watching the sunset across the water. They’ll cry foul if you claim it’s a forty minute drive from London to Cardiff. And they’ll call shenanigans if you say the taxicabs in Cairo are bright yellow (they’re black and white—blue and white in Luxor, and all white in Aswan).

And then they’ll toss your work into that large pile on the left and go get lunch.

Even imaginary settings should be unique. The world of Barsoom is very different from the world of Hoth. The future of Rendezvous with Rama is not the future of Terminator: Salvation, and neither of them resembles the future world Buck Rogers found himself in.

Once you know your world, you have to be consistent with it. We can’t have Army grunts one minute and the highly advanced U.S. laser battledroid squadron the next (or first—I’m pointing at you, George Lucas). Magic shouldn’t be something extremely rare until it conveniently starts flowing like water. Alien invaders who can build interstellar starships shouldn’t be baffled by doorknobs and stairs. In the same way it’s annoying when characters randomly act out of character, it can frustrate a reader when the entire world suddenly bends to suit the momentary needs of the story--or for no real reason at all.

And there you have it. Some random musings on story settings.

Next week... well, we all have to deal with it sometime. We’re going to talk about the end.

But keep writing until then.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dodging Bullets

Check it out. Fifty posts and people are still paying attention to me for some reason. Or at least they’re keeping their laughter to themselves...

As I’ve mentioned a few times, there is no trick to writing. No one expects to sit down at the piano and play a concerto, or to jog out on the field and do a five-minute mile. In the same way, writing—not basic middle school literacy, mind you, but the ability to write-- is a skill which needs to be learned like any other.

Like most skills, some folks have the knack for writing, some don’t. There are a lucky few who have natural talent and those who have to struggle to produce every line. I can do a few laps in the pool, but no matter how much mom pushed me at a young age I was never, ever going to pose a risk to Michael Phelps. Likewise, I love music and can sound out a few things on a piano, but I just never put the effort into learning an instrument (although I’ve been toying with the idea of taking up the violin)

Y’see, Timmy, there are those folks willing to put in the time and effort to become better at something... and those who aren’t. If anything I’ve said here impresses anyone, keep in mind there’s about thirty years of literary roadkill stretched out in the road behind me. Cliché-filled fanfic, some God-awful sci-fi and fantasy tinged with high school angst and college melodrama, plus at least three versions of that long-lost American classic Lizard Men From the Center of the Earth.

So, with all that being said, I’d like to take a few paragraphs and talk to you about the Warren Commission report.

In 1963, a week after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the newly sworn-in President Johnson ordered Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the killings. Warren assembled a group of congressmen and specialists (including future president Gerald Ford) to assemble all the evidence and quash the numerous “conspiracy theories” that were growing.

When the Commission finally delivered their report, it was like throwing gasoline on a fire. One of the most amazing (and still controversial) declarations it made was that a single shot caused all of the non-fatal wounds to President Kennedy and Texas Governor Connally. Critics swiftly pointed out this one bullet would need to change directions numerous times during its flight. Even more amazing, the bullet was miraculously found on the floor in Connally’s emergency room, having supposedly fallen out of his thigh, undeformed and completely clean of all blood and human tissue.

The popular term which developed from this, which you’ve probably heard before, was the magic bullet. A small, simple thing which could defy every bit of common sense yet still somehow produce all-but-impossible, borderline miraculous results.

Many people think to be a successful writer, it’s just a matter of finding a magic bullet. I mean, it can’t actually be that difficult, right? Surely there’s just an idea so clever nothing else will matter and Hollywood will buy it. There must be a certain type of novel that’s selling better than anything else, so then it’s just about doing a tween urban fantasy story over a dark techno-thriller. Some folks believe finding the right tone—perhaps a somber introspective or something in an off-the-cuff conversational—guarantees people will fight for their manuscript.

Alas, there is no such thing.

So, here are a few beliefs you should be actively avoiding...

The special word—Ready to hear an amazing true fact? You can get a Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting just for including the word “mellonballer” in your script. Seriously. It’s an unwritten rule Don and Gee Nicholl set down as a condition of the fellowship because of a high rated episode of All in the Family which revolved around a mellonballer joke. Many people who’ve gotten the fellowship don’t even realize this is how they got it. Honest. I’ve spoken to the fellowship’s director, Greg Beal, twice in person and interviewed him once on the phone. Contact him yourself if you don’t believe me, but expect him to be a bit coy about it. Do you really think I could make up something like this?

Oh come on!!! Of course I made it up. How gullible are you?

The people who read for the Nicholl—just like the readers of any competition, production company, or publication—aren’t looking for some magic word. There is no clever bit of vocabulary that’s going to give you an in, although I can probably guarantee if you use any words incorrectly it will keep you out. The only “right” word you need to worry about is the one that’s right for your story. Don’t worry about anything else.

And please don’t bother Greg Beal by checking on the mellonballer thing. The man’s got enough to do this time of year without fielding any more nonsense emails than he already gets.

The special genre—With the desire to make a sale, it’s not unusual seeing people leaping to follow the “hot” markets. Right now sparkly teenage vampires are hot, yet it seems like only yesterday everyone wanted nubile teenage vampire slayers. When Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code took off, publishers started looking at every other quasi-religious manuscript on their desk.

The problem here is timing. Even if you lunge at that new hot genre, there’s simply no way to get a comedy/ sci-fi/ historical manuscript done, polished, and in front of someone before the trend has passed. None. And if you think you can, you’re probably doing something wrong. So catching this bullet in the shoulder just guarantees a manuscript will either be weak or hit the appropriate desk about eight months after the trend has been declared dead.

Don’t try to follow a market trend. Try to set one. Write the horror/ romance/ faith-based/ mystery story you want to tell and make sure it’s the absolute best one anyone’s ever read. That’s what will catch someone’s attention and make hundreds of others rush to hop on your bandwagon.

The special aesthetic—More than a few folks think the secret is to create "art." Stories which will be recognized immediately as classics and counted as such for the ages. That deep, over-educated, overwritten sort of art that makes college literary students swoon in the middle of intellectual discussions.

This one’s a double edged sword, though, because a lot of the folks going for this bullet end up taking it in the chest (how’s that for a mixed metaphor?). Often, attempts to create art lead to forced scenes, painful dialogue, and unbelievable characters. Plus, that same art then becomes a blanket excuse to let the writer brush off any comment or criticism their work may get. After all, only the sophisticated and intelligent people are going to understand art. If they don’t understand, it just proves they’re not intelligent and thus not qualified to judge it, right?

As I’ve said many times before-- don’t try to create art. Try to tell the best story you can the best way it can be told. Let other people worry about if it’s high art or if it’s going to be the next summer popcorn movie/ bestselling beach book

The special message—Close behind the above bullet (someone’s shooting on full-auto) is the belief a story has to have a deep, powerful meaning. Every element of it should be loaded with subtext. Each line should make the audience rethink their lives. I made a joke a while back about using Jason Voorhees to represent Hamas, and also talked about having very fitting names for characters.

While it’s great to have subtext, though, a writer shouldn’t be fighting to force it in. Likewise, if you’ve come up with a clever metaphor which applies to the catchphrase/ scandal/ fashion of the moment, much like the special genre above, odds are that ship will have sailed long before anyone ever sees your work.

If you feel your work must have a greater meaning, ask yourself a few questions. Do you think it does, or are you trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? Will it still be relevant six months from now, or six years from now? Most importantly, does this greater meaning serve your writing? Or is your writing bending to this greater meaning?

The special people—One of the most common magic bullets you’ll see these days is networking. The belief your writing is irrelevant compared to knowing the right people who have the right jobs. Some would-be-writers spend more time hunting folks down on the internet than they do working on their writing.

Alas, networking is dead. To be blunt, it was stillborn. Any cocktail party, message board, or newsletter which promises you tons of networking opportunities will not offer you a single useful one. It’s one of those things that can only happen by accident, and trying to do it defeats it immediately.

The people you really need to make connections with are the ones who will help you perfect your writing. They’re always out there and you’ll always need them. One person’s honest opinion about your writing is worth more in the long run than twenty forced, tenuous “contacts” made by deliberate networking.

So, there you have it. A handful of things you shouldn’t be spending time looking for. I mean, really, who spends their time trying to get hit by bullets?

Next time (assuming you survive that shootout) let’s take a look at where we are. Or more importantly, where your characters are.

Until then, go write.

Go! There are bullets everywhere!! Go!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Radical New Concept

My apologies to all of you regular readers of the ranty blog out there (I think there’s ten of you now). Many deadlines at the magazine these past two weeks, plus apparently I turned old last weekend. These things happen, and I thank you for waiting semi-patiently. Unless something goes horribly wrong, we’ll be back on a regular Thursday schedule for the foreseeable future.

Enough of my lame excuses, though. That’s not what any of us are here for...

So, if you’ve been playing around in the creative fields for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard people talk about concepts. A concept is really just a fancy way of talking about an idea. Alas, it’s now become the standard term in many story-related industries, and you’ll hear far more people talking about concepts than ideas. From a filmmaking point of view, there’s a solid argument to be made that many development people talk about concepts because they don’t have any actual ideas...

But I digress.

Pretty much every story starts with an idea. Stephen King talks about the “What if...” question some writers ask. Hollywood talks about “high concept” ideas where just a few words sum up your whole movie. Not all ideas are good ones, though, and not all ideas work for all types of stories. One problem I’ve seen from many fledgling storytellers is that they don’t understand what kind of idea they have, and this inability to distinguish often leads them down the wrong path.

There are, in my experience, really two kinds of concepts. Unlimited ones and limited ones. You may also have heard them referred to as open and closed stories.

Allow me to explain.

An unlimited concept generally has a very broad scope. The crew of the starship Enterprise is exploring space. The old house up on the hill is haunted. Doctor Who travels through time in his TARDIS. Spider-Man and Batman fight crime to make up for the death of their loved ones. James Bond is a kick-ass secret agent who fights enemies of the British Crown. These ideas are unlimited because you can just keep going and going with them. There are always more idiot college student to wander into the haunted house and more villains to fight Spidey, Batman, Bond, and the Doctor.

However, an unlimited concept is almost never a story. While they can be parts of a story, they tend to be traits for characters or key points about settings. A lot of time when I hear people say “I have a great idea for a story,” they’ve usually come up with an interesting unlimited concept. But there needs to be more to it past that. Which brings us to...

A limited concept. By its very nature, a limited concept can only go so far. It is a bare-bones story, though (more on that below). Richard Kimble wants to find the one-armed man who killed his wife. Robinson Crusoe wants to be rescued from his tropical island, as do the passengers of flight Oceanic 815. Atticus Finch wants to keep his client out of jail, and possibly from a lynch mob. The crew of Voyager wants to find a way across the galaxy and back to the Alpha quadrant.

All of these have straightforward, distinct goals, and once said goal is reached, the story is over. That's the limiting factor--attaining the specific goal. It doesn’t mean Atticus Finch never tries another case or the Voyager crew doesn’t go into space again, but those would be different stories that have nothing to do with the limited concept we’ve started with.

There are a few common problems with limited concepts. One is when people try to keep pushing the goal away artificially to extend the story (for example, when Dr. Kimble catches the one-armed man only to discover he really needed to find the one-legged man...). Another is when a writer piles on the limited concepts in a single story, creating dozens of goals that need to be achieved. Often this is to make up for a lack of interesting characters or because none of these goals are that challenging. You also see it a lot in genre pieces, where many fledgling writers take the kitchen sink approach to their storyline.

It’s tough for either of these, the unlimited and limited concepts, to work alone. When you can combine these two, though, that’s when you get a solid story. It’s a bit like when I prattled on about horror stories a few months back. You can have a big overall story, but you can still focus on this particular, contained part of it.

--Bond is a kick-ass secret agent (unlimited) who is currently trying to stop the terrorist banker known as LeChiffre (limited).

--The old Marsden Mansion had been haunted for decades (unlimited), and the six people locked inside somehow have to survive until sunrise (limited).

--Batman fights criminals (unlimited) and right now Rhas Al Ghul is threatening to destroy Gotham City with a fear-inducing gas (limited).

Look over all those story ideas you’ve got jotted down (you know you do) and figure out if they’re limited or unlimited. Then figure out which ones work best together. You may have a great short story, screenplay, or novel sitting there, waiting to be noticed. Dissect some of your older work and see what the ideas at the core are.

And then come back here next week, when I shall teach all of you how to dodge bullets. Seriously. Because if you can’t do that... well... you're not really taking this seriously.

Until then, though, get back to writing.