Happy Alien Day, 2017. Here’s An Alien Poem

Well, we’re once again on the 26th of April, making this 4/26 of the year twenty ought 17. That makes this Alien Day, one of my favorite pop culture celebrating days of the year.

Yes, more than May the 4th.

The past few weeks have been exciting for me building up to this occasion. For one my MoviePilot page has been gaining increased traffic due to my, some would say excessive Alien themed posts. What can I say? I love Alien. I even had the privilege of getting one of my articles shared by Lance Henriksen, who portrayed Bishop in Aliens and Alien 3. That was pretty exciting.

The Alien has always been a creature that fascinated me. I always found the beast darkly beautiful, and wondered just what their civilization was like. This was aided in no small part by the games which allowed you to explore the world from the Alien’s perspective, something I always found fascinating.

I’d certainly never want to meet an Alien, especially not a facehugger. But this is a creature I continue to admire from afar.

To honor this occasion, I decided to write a poem from the Alien’s perspective. I hope you all enjoy it.

 

 

You fear the darkness, but to me it’s the light.

You kill without reason, yet I give your death purpose.

You cling to crude concepts, which to me are all worthless.

To you I’m a monster, but to me you are less.

To me you’re the air, and I draw you to breath.

Every breath that I take, to you is a nightmare.

Is a monster really all you can see?

Or do you know that I’m more, and is that what you fear?

You draw plans to cage me for something unknown.

When I’m not you’re monster, you think I’m your tool.

Beware though, fool, for no bars can hold me.

I’m not a monster to fear, but you should fear me.

It may not be the best poem, but it is one I’m proud of. Hope you all enjoy it. I’m also sharing a few articles I wrote for MoviePilot to celebrate the occasion, one a retrospective on Aliens, and one that goes into detail how the Alien is portrayed in the sequel. Hope you all enjoy them, feel free to share, and let’s all have an awesome, acid drenched day.

Raiders Of The Mini Arc

I find myself in the writer’s temple, and before me lies a series of booby traps. These traps won’t kill me, but they do have the power to kill my story if I don’t watch my words and steps. What is the trigger to this trap? The ever challenging character arc.

Yes, the character arc, that change that happens in every good lead of every great story. The growth they experience between pages and frames that puts them on an internal journey as well as an external one. Why the character arc is so powerful, Indiana Jones uses it to melt the faces off Nazis!

Okay, we’re not talking about that kind of arc, but this is still one of the most important aspects of writing.

Our novel Never Heroes is the first in a series of four books, which poses an interesting challenge in the way of the character arc. Developing a character over a series is tough because you can’t complete the arc on the first go around, but you still need to show your character transforming somehow. Yet you also can’t just do the same character arc over and over again or else the audience will just roll their eyes and groan.

“Seen it.” They’ll say.

And that’s the trap I find myself in. I plan for my lead to undergo some pretty profound changes in temperament and character, yet still want them to contain the same snide personality they have in the opening pages. Even by the closing of the first book, our hero has grown by quite a bit, but there’s a very long way for him to go before he’ll be willing to do what my planned ending calls for.

My challenge it seams is breaking down that transformation into specific beats and using each of the three sequels to focus on one change at a time.

It’s something I like to call the mini-arc, a series of small changes that on their own are distinct, but when you put them together you’ve got a character who is irrevocably changed.

Raiders-of-the-lost-ark-poster

Take my favorite series ever, the Indiana Jones movies. Each of the original three focus on one aspect of Indy’s character. The first one is about him rekindling an old flame and falling in love with Marion once more. The second one is when he sacrifices his own fortune and glory for the sake of those who need protecting. Last but not least, the third shows his strained relationship with his father and insinuates that is the reason he became a treasure hunter in the first place. Each are distinct stories that focus on the same character, yet each focus on a specific aspect not addressed in the other two.

And let’s just not talk about that fourth movie.

I’m in a similar situation with my lead. My hero has become…well…a hero by the end of book one, so what else does this entail? What does this new responsibility mean for him? What things will he need to abandon and what things will he pursue in their place? I’ll have to think a lot about before I start writing book two. The good news is I may have an answer for just what aspect of this change the second book will focus on. The third and fourth books however will still need a lot of work.

 

If I don’t put in that work, I’m not sure this story can outrun that giant boulder just itching to crush the next failed draft.

When A Favorite Actor Shares Your Writing

I’ve been working for MoviePilot magazine for the last four months, a fan powered community of writers contributing new and op eds on all things pop culture. Since arriving there, I’ve earned my first ever payment for my work, an exciting event in the life of any writer. Today however I received an additional perk that has left me smiling wide.

I’ve been shared by one of my favorite actors. Lets talk about an actor named Lance Henriksen.

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For those who don’t know, Lance Henriksen is an actor best known for his appearances in films like The Terminator, Near Dark, and the television show Millennium by X Files creator Chris Carter. His most well known role is the character of Bishop, the heroic android from Aliens, James Cameron;s stunning sequel to the original 1979 classic. Henriksen is the only actor apart from Sigourney Weaver to appear in multiple entries in the series, having starred in Aliens, Alien 3, and Alien vs. Predator.

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Bishop the Android has his hands full fighting Alien in the 1986 sci-fi shocker.

I had the pleasure of meeting Henriksen himself a few years ago at a convention. he autographed my poster for the film and threw in a free singed copy of his book Not Bad For A Human. Aliens is my favorite film of his. No surprise as I’ve stated numerous times the Alien saga is my favorite science fiction series.

That being the case, I’ve written about the series quite often on MoviePilot. My Alien articles have been my most consistently successful pieces, aided in no small part by a loyal fan base to which I’m glad to belong. This week I decided to write an article on the underrated Alien 3, with special emphasis given on how the 2003 Assembly Cut vastly improved the movie.

How ‘Alien 3’ Received Redemption Through a Second Release made a pretty immediate splash in the fan community, appearing on several pages I frequent mere hours after I published it. That was a pretty promising sign as it meant bigger exposure for my work. Overall the article was well received.

Back to old Lance, I follow his page on Facebook where he talks about his films, shares his pottery and paintings, and lists upcoming convention appearances. I was checking my feed today when I happened to scroll past Lance’s page and noticed an article he was sharing.

Lance Henriksen Shared My Article

It was my article.

This marks the second time an actor associated with the film I was writing about shared my article, the first being when Tom Noonan shared my article on Manhunter. Lance However was something different. This was a guy who I’ve admired and loved since I was 12 years old. His films have left an indelible impression on me and have continued to influence my work. To top it off, he’s one of the nicest movie stars that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

That he noticed my article makes me very happy. Not just for the increased view count, but that maybe he recognized something of value in it, and therefor something about my writing pipe dream that maybe means it’ll all be worthwhile.

Thank you Lance. You’re always awesome.

For those who are interested, feel free to check out my MoviePilot profile page. I write about a variety of topics from Predator to Pokemon.

Who knows? Maybe Sigourney Weaver will notice the next one.

Script Coverage: Extra Money & Artist’s Security

Since completing my book I’ve managed to get a job covering scripts. The money isn’t great. I get paid around $150 for reading ten scripts over two weeks. But it’s a little extra money, some good reading material, and a new industry connection that may lead to some perks down the road.

Of course this job has other perks, and one of the biggest is it has helped me grow more secure as an artist.

How does it do that? Well, I’ve read some bad scripts.

Some very, VERY bad scripts.

There are two types of artists in the world, ones with ego rampant that learn nothing more due to imagined perfection, and those that continuously strive to get better because they think they’re no good. I’m the latter. They say artists are their own worst critics. My work finds itself at the receiving end of a sledgehammer when I get ahold of it.

Since finishing my book, I felt both relief and apprehension. I wonder if anything will come of it, or if these ten years of effort will only net me fifty bucks and an outing to Denny’s. It is a sad feeling to believe so fully in a project, but not believe in your ability to give it the exposure it needs. That insecurity inevitably bleeds over to the project itself, and you wonder if it’s good enough to turn anyone’s head.

Then you read a bad script.

Most of the scripts I’ve read on this job weren’t terrible. Pretty much all of them have good ideas and show promise. A few of them are even close to being done. But there are some…

I read a script last week that literally had no plot. The character had no goal, the story drifted aimlessly from point to point with no direction, and it seemed to be setting a record for just how many cliches it could check off.

I must sound terribly snooty typing this, shitting on someone else’s work when they no doubt worked very hard on it. Art takes effort whether or not it comes out good or bad, and the completion of any project should be commended for the artist having the guts and the tenacity to see it through.

The artist who wrote this script had a lot to learn, and I do hope they’re able to make their dreams come true. But reading work like that reminds me of how far I’ve come, and that I have done things that can be valuable. That’s a pretty good feeling to have.

This week my collaborators and I will attempt to craft the perfect query letter for our labor, and hopefully start shaking some fruit off the tree.

In the meantime you can still check out the sneak preview of our novel following this link. We hope you like it as usual.

Catch y’all later.

My First Writing Check

Today I received a check for $50. This may not seem so earth-shattering an event to some, but to me this was a highly symbolic event. I got $50 for writing.

I was hired for MoviePilot magazine back in December and was told I would be paid 1 dollar for every thousand views my articles get, though they would only pay in installments of 50 dollars. So every 50K views my work gets, I get a nice little check for 50 dollars.

I took a half month hiatus from MoviePilot to finish my book, and didn’t exactly have a lot of material bouncing around upstairs I was interested in doing. Yesterday however, I went back and hammered out a quick article, which has unexpectedly received a lot of traction.

Got an email this morning from the head of the company welcoming me back and thanking me for the article. A few minutes later my email notification pinged again. I’d just had $50 deposited into my Paypal account.

Most writers never see a cent for their work.

Hopefully this will just be the beginning. I’ll be experimenting to see what format works best for me to maximize my views. I’ll do my best to make sure this next check is a lot more than 50. May this be the first of many.