The dreaded M-word. No one really wants to go to meetings: A bunch of people droning on about targets and metrics, goals and actions, grinding axes and scoring points. (What’s that trusim? What to make sure nothing gets done? Have a meeting.)
But what about when it’s just you and your solopreneur business? How can you have meetings when there’s no one else to meet with?
You likely have things that are just as dull and dry called “weekly reviews.” Maybe you look forward to them when you’re in full-on Venkman mode, in the swing of your personal business, but in the beginning, when going into business for yourself sounds hella cool but looks pants-packingly scary (like a green slimy ghost charging down the hallway of an upscale New York hotel hotel at you), why would you want to spend time with yourself admitting how much you sucked in the last week and setting up all new ways for yourself to suck next week?
Well, what if I could told you you could invite others to your meeting – awesome others - and still have it be just you?
This is a result of the Hangout I was part of on the morning of Tuesday, July 9th. We were talking about how you organise your personal business and having team meetings with yourself. I thought it’d be something a bit different from a dry set of minutes!
Five sets of eyes – or optic sensors – turned as the door of the main entrance to the meeting room opened once more. With a rumble of engines, the red truck with silver detailing slowed to a halt behind the vacant seat at the table, then unfolded itself into a massive robot. It placed a manipulator on the back of the chair, then turned it slightly so that the robot could sit.
“Thank you all for coming,” it said in a low, resonant baritone, “especially at such short notice.”
I’m not, by the way. Too much on.
But supposing I were…
(Yes, this is what I was hinting at back then.)
Whaddya reckon? NaNo 2013?
I didn’t think I’d be able to say this with only four episodes of this podcast under my belt, but I am very pleased to be able to mark my guest for episode 5 off my wish list:
Gavin Dunne, Miracle of Sound. Image sourced from the Miracle of Sound profile on Last.FM
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present for your listening pleasure, Gavin Dunne, the one-man band known on the Internet as the Miracle of Sound!
Gavin sat down with me over Skype on Thursday evening, Ireland time (which translated to before sparrows, Cairns time) to talk about how he went from the frontman of a band that broke up on the verge of hitting it big to a full-time, self-employed musician with a dedicated fan base that stretches across the world!
Gav was a pleasure to chat with, and had plenty of stories and insights on what it takes to become your own personal success story in the Internet age. Plus it was fun to geek out with him about games toward the end! Listen and enjoy!
As I explained in my post before last, I’m practicing the writing of an outline using the Hollywood Formula as a template. In order to get a feel for how the Hollywood Formula plays out, I decided to divide one of my favourite movies into its individual scenes and organise them into the Hollywood Formula’s acts.
While that exercise has given me a better idea of story structure, I’m still having trouble actually creating an outline. I’ve been making notes and scribbling bullet points but it just doesn’t seem to be hanging together. So I’m trying something different: I’m going to blog about the process, see how it all comes together.
As practice, I’m working on a short story. I have no real idea how long it’s going to go for, but I’ll shoot for 20,000-30,000 words, something I can knock over the first draft of in a couple of weeks at the most. If I take the average, 25,000 words, and break it down in Hollywood Formula terms, I’m looking at 6,250 words per quarter of the story – Act 1, Act 2 pre-Twist, Act 2 pre-Low Point and Act 3.
Ten years. Has it really been that long? In some ways, it still seems like yesterday that I bought my first ever gaming console and played through that epic campaign. It’s even more remarkable that while my original Xbox and most of my game collection has come and gone, that my original Halo: Combat Evolved disc still has pride of place on my gaming shelf, as does Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach.
Now, though, it has a new title – okay, well, sort of new title – next to it: Halo: Combat Evolved – Anniversary, which revisits the original game with a gussied-up graphics engine, remastered sound and a musical score completely re-recorded with a live orchestra at Skywalker Sound.
It seemed like an odd move – why re-release a ten year old game which a lot of gamers will have already played, and whose gameplay has aged by that decade? Well, the reviews are in, and even with ten years’ gameplay evolution between it and titles like Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 and even Halo: Reach, the consensus of the professional review market is that Halo: Combat Evolved still feels like a modern first person shooter.
I’ll leave the objective breakdowns of Halo: CE-A’s merits to those review sites. Instead, I’d like to tell you why I still find Halo: Combat Evolved one of the most unique and entertaining games ever.
I’ve spent a good chunk of the last couple of weeks dissecting the plot of the movie Aliens by seeing whether the three-character, three-act Hollywood Formula holds true within it. We’ve seen an Opening Act that introduces our Protagonist but also a character who could be either her Antagonist or her Relationship Character, then has her make her Fateful Decision some ten minutes early. Next was a pre-Mid-Point-Twist Second Act that gave us an extra candidate for each of the other two core characters, then made us doubt one of them whilst making us think better of the original.
After the Twist, we finally figure out who the Antagonist is, only to see the villain kill him before the Protagonist can have her final confrontation with him. While the Second Act seems to end on a Low Point right on time, we get treated to what looks like two more Low Points in the Third Act before the Protagonist finally resolves her issue with the Relationship Character and confronts an Antagonist we’ve only just met – but who’s been there all along.
Aside from curiosity, there’s a reason behind this endeavour that relates back to writing. In the recent past I’ve been trying a couple of different ways to create an outline before I get stuck into creating a draft. My last two attempts at creating a draft of Slamdance have petered out when I got to a point where I wasn’t sure what should happen next.
Now, I’m sure the writers among you may well say, “Who cares? Just write something! Pull a Chandler! Send a man with a gun in! You can make it make sense when you start revising!” I get that way too; after all, I was able to crank out The Second War of the Worlds for last year’s NaNo with only a week’s worth of notes. Yet my gut keeps telling me that I need a little more backbone for Slamdance; 2WotW had a clear concept and some pretty hefty themes behind it that I think I’d internalised so well that it pretty much wrote itself, while SD is more of a straight-up action adventure novel with stuff going on that I haven’t really got as good a grip on yet (yes, even after ten years). You’d think that ought to make it easier to write, but instead I’m finding it to be the opposite.
That’s why I’m going back to one of my inspirations, possibly the best SF action adventure film ever, and trying to figure out how it did what it did so that I can come up with a solid structure for Slamdance and… the other side-project I’m working on right now.
And so we come to the final act of the movie Aliens, where, according to the Hollywood Formula, we’ll see our Protagonist resolve her issues with her Relationship Character and, in doing so, address the movie’s theme, then rise from the ashes of her Low Point to defeat her Antagonist. In previous postings, we’ve identified our Protagonist (Ripley) and seen her make her Fateful Decision, then watched as she began to work toward her goal, encountered the Mid-Point Twist and lost almost all hope of success.
But the writers of Aliens has already shown themselves to be tricksy bastards thus far; it’s been hard to tell just who the Antagonist (Burke? The Aliens? Bishop?) and the Relationship Character (Burke? Bishop? Hicks?) are. Heck, one of our candidates – Carter Burke – was slain before Ripley could resolve her issues with or defeat him – before she even hit her Low Point.
So all we have left for Act 3 is Bishop and Hicks… or do we? Maybe our Antagonist is something we haven’t seen yet…
Welcome back (or welcome, if you’ve just stumbled across this series) to my analysis of how the Hollywood Formula plays out in the plotting and action of the movie Aliens! As of part four, I’m halfway through the movie. How do I know (aside from the time count)? Because we’ve identified our Protagonist (Ripley) and seen her make her Fateful Decision, then watched as she began to work toward her goal and encountered the Mid-Point Twist.
In theory, we should have met our Antagonist and Relationship Character by now, and wile we’ve been introduced to every character who’ll appear in the film, our supposed Antagonist, Burke, has taken clear action in Ripley’s aid twice, while our seeming Relationship Character, Bishop, has acted a bit squirrelly (there’s also some question as to whether Hicks, introduced with Bishop after the Fateful Decision but before the theoretical half-hour-mark end of Act One, is the real Relationship Character). At the movie’s halfway mark, a dropship crash changed the movie from a military action flick to a survival story. (Noteworthy point: So far we’ve only had the one action scene.)
So now, I’m tackling the rest of Act 2. Per the formula I’m looking for our Antagonist taking more direct action against Ripley and the event that signals the end of Act 2: The Low Point. This sees the Protagonist at her lowest ebb, when everything has turned against her, her resources have been stripped from her and the chances of coming out alive, let alone successful, seem infinitesimal.
Okay, okay. Unlike the last time I tried to analyse Act 2, Part 1, I’m actually writing this during the day, so I won’t get the urge to nod off before I finish.
When I left off my analysis of how the Hollywood Formula plays out in the plotting and action of the movie Aliens, we finally had solid candidates for the roles of Antagonist (Burke) and Relationship Character (Bishop) by the half-hour mark, if not by the end of Act One. As we progress through Act Two, we’re looking for signs of the Antagonist getting in the way of the Protagonist’s goal (Ripley’s desire to wipe the aliens out) and the Relationship Character aiding the Protagonist’s mission and / or discussing the Protagonist’s motivations. We’re also waiting for the mid-point twist, a plot event that shakes the story so far up, changing its direction.