Tag Archives: Smuggler

The day I went politely dark side.

Last week was stressful. I needed a break when I could be both un-creative and harmlessly vengeful. (Pundits have missed the point of violence in video games…it’s so we don’t act out in reality.)

Typically, I prefer light-sided Sith. Their questlines are convoluted, balancing acts of kindness with impressing their masters and hiding their secret generosity. Dark Jedi balance similar deception among their elders. The gun classes (Trooper, Bounty Hunter, Smuggler, Imperial Agent) are less polarized.

Dark Sith are a different animal. They’re afforded regular opportunities to be truly vicious. Normally, it’s exhausting. But sometimes you just need to play the villain. Tordethal was my first villain who pulled no punches. Weaklings and cowards who beg for mercy get receiving end of Force Lightning. *zap, crackle* Let that be a lesson to my coworkers! Yeah!

Read More →

Originality is as originality does.


So a few posts ago, my good friend Ben commented:

You and I do not normally see eye-to-eye about matters such as this, but I offer you the following comfort anyway, for what it’s worth.

Over the years, I have seen a number of artistic endeavours which I would consider “original”. Of these, only one (the Blue Man Group)could be considered “enjoyable”, or even “not nauseating”.

So please don’t be discouraged if your idea is not entirely original. When ideas are used many times, it is often because they are really good ideas.

The lesson there is a good one. One can write good fiction even if all the elements are Older Than Dirt. A story can only be so interesting unless there is some sort of Big Bad and it will be hard for the audience to care unless there’s a band of Heroes involved.

So on that note, I have this great idea for a kind of Space Opera. It happened A Long Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far Far Away, and follows a Farm Boy named something cool like Luke NounVerber who becomes a Knight in Shining Armor. I think I’ll open with two characters using Bilingual Dialog to add to the sense of mystery and fantasy for this series. They meet Luke NounVerber who falls into the Dulcinea effect when he sees a hologram of a Damsel in Distress. (Because Everything’s Better with Princesses.) So this Luke NounVerber meets a Cool Old Guy who is capable of using Charm Person, and is so powerful he Doesn’t Like Guns. Together they team up with a Smuggler who I think later may may an interesting Takahashi Couple with the princess.

This story will have Laser Blades which are Color Coded for Your Convenience, and Cool Starships to permit Casual Interstellar Travel. The first story will end Storming The Castle.

Personally, I think this story is going to make me millions of dollars, and so popular that I can have not only three installments, but 20 years later, I can do three more as prequels!

But if my chances of making this story a bestseller or a movie aren’t good, please, for God’s sake, Never Tell Me The Odds.


The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
—Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ca. 250 BC).

There really isn’t.

Striving for true originality in fiction is a fools errand. Any writer worth at least his own weight in third-world currency knows this.

And yet if you just remold and refit previously used ideas in obvious ways, you won’t be telling a worthwhile story. You’ll just be RE telling Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings. For more on the latter, see Brandon Sanderson‘s essay, originally titled “How Tolkien Ruined Fantasy” but since so many people objected — without reading it — it has since been renamed “Actually I Don’t Hate Tolkien“.

Here’s an excerpt:

His work was so revolutionary that the market couldn’t deal with it. Readers wanted more books like LotR, but other authors weren’t ready to produce high fantasy yet. The only thing they could do was try and do what Tolkien did.

But they didn’t do what Tolkien did. They didn’t create a new world, with its own mythology, its own society, its own technology, its own races and creatures. This wasn’t their fault–they just weren’t ready to jump to that level. So instead they applied their considerable creativity toward copying Tolkien. Instead of creating true high fantasy, everyone created more low fantasy–but they used Tolkien’s world as a base instead of our own. The result was a kind of tainting of the entire genre, a ‘Tolkienizing.’ Fantasy didn’t mean ‘the genre where the author creates his or her own unique setting.’ It meant ‘the genre where the books include elves, dwarfs, wizards, and quests.’

Copy a work too closely, and it turns out you’re not “copying” the author at all. You’re just reusing their work. The truest homage to Tolkien is to create NEW worlds, a form of plagiarism which results in some measure of originality.


Because tropes and cliches are like ingredients. They’ve ALL been used before. But sometimes you can still hit upon combinations of them which haven’t yet been tried, or even if they have, they weren’t done quite right. This is how the Matrix was able to see wild success in spite of the fact that it’s premise was an Overused Sci Fi Plot Device.

The image I chose for this post is spot on. You must be careful when combining different elements, or else you’ll end up with Ninja Pirate Zombie Robots.

I’ve told aspects of my new fantasy novel to a number of people, including several fed up with fantasy. But I’m combining elements of different cultures and genres and subgenres in a way which hopefully is a new recipe, and deliberately subverting some overused tropes and cliches, such as Luke I Am Your Father. (My related characters who end up on opposite sides of the Big Bad/Hero divide know they’re related the whole story long. There’s no revelation.)

The result?

Even the Skeptic is intrigued. (See Mr. Snuggles reply to my introduction of the Drim.)