Blue-State Locusts

  • by Gitabushi

We’ve all seen this happen.  A strongly-Republican state begins to occasionally go Democrat in the POTUS election.  The largest city (or cities) in the state grow in population, and become solid Democrat for representatives.  Maybe one Senator goes Democrat, then both.  The state’s government begins to struggle with poor services, and raises taxes.  Then the entire state struggles badly in even mild economic downturns, causing more residents to vote for government help, and the state “turns blue.”

blade of grass blur close up dew
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Then the economic/business climate worsens, and companies and workers flee to a Red State with a good economic/business climate, and the cycle continues.

This is the hypothesis.  Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame says the Right should organize Welcome Wagons to explain to these economic migrants that if they don’t change their assumptions and voting preferences, their new state will suffer the same fate that drove them from their old state.

I’m beginning to think that isn’t how it works.

I think the process is based on articles like this:

https://www.forbes.com/pictures/54f4e701da47a54de8244284/the-10-best-and-worst-pla/#348bd88f10ba

Or look at these graphics:

retire

retire2

Of course, this isn’t exclusive.  Of course, companies and workers moving is still part of the equation.  But if my hypothesis is correct, the main impact comes from people who think their old state is just fine, but their personal goals in life have changed.

The ones moving and turning their new state blue are actually upper middle or lower upper class: moderately successful people with the money to create demand for things like “walkable downtowns” and “bikepaths”. Being retired, they have the leisure time to agitate for stuff.

Worse, they’ll probably die before they see the damage from their consumer preferences and voting patterns.  There is no downside to them to turning their new state blue.  It matches their preferences. If they think about the political aspect at all, they’d most likely feel some pride at being wealthy missionaries bringing enlightenment to a poor, Red State working class.

It is axiomatic that you must accurately identify the problem before you can solve it.

If my hypothesis is correct, welcome wagons won’t help: Retirees DGAF.

Maybe the key is to stop just playing defense, and stop just trying to slow the decline. We need to go on the offensive and attack malicious Leftist education. Stopping illegal immigration will help, too.

 

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Big Post of Magic Rules, SF vs F Categorizations, and Anything Else I Can Cram in Here

  • by Gitabushi

This morning (establishing a temporal anchor that will be overtaken by events soon), my good friend and compatriot Emily30Red (soon to be known as Kikanshabushi) posted these categorizations on twitter:

And:

Those a pretty good definitions/categorizations as far as they go.  She developed them herself from her own readings and analysis, so they are organic and original.

I have a slightly different take, because my set of readings are different, and my analysis comes from a different brain (naturally).  For instance, I think Fantasy is also about what makes us human, but from the opposite direction than Science Fiction.  To me, they are both speculative fiction because speculative fiction is grouped by the question “What does it mean to be human?”, as explored through “What if humans were in this sort of society, or encountered that scenario of events?”

So with that common starting point for speculative fiction, I divide SF from F thusly:

Science Fiction is about normal people doing great things, and Fantasy is about extraordinary people chasing mundane goals.  There are probably lots of holes you can drive through with that formulation (for example, Frodo is nothing special, but achieves a great success through sheer, dogged determination, which fits more under Science Fiction), but I think it works fairly well for a rough starting point to divide the two.

But another difference is the way the fantastical elements are handled.

This is something I’m a stickler about.

Arthur C. Clarke famously ruined everything by saying, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

I say “ruined everything” because he’s not technically wrong: if you can find a previously-unencountered tribe deep in the amazon, and show them some technology, they’ll freak out as if it is magic, because it is beyond their ken.  In contrast, a 2-year-old exposed to amazing tech will take it for granted, like the baby that thinks a magazine is a broken iPad:

So his formulation is already of limited utility, unless you happen to have some primitive tribes hanging around.  And it ruins everything for writers, because no, significantly-advanced technology is not indistinguishable from magic. To the reader, maybe. But to the writer, they must be handled differently.

Go read this.  Then come back.

And then, I guess you should read the post he was responding to, here. And at this point, maybe the lesson is I repeat myself, because I had forgotten that I had already slagged Clarke for his 3rd Law.

And while you’re at it, might as well read this, too, because I think it captures what my thoughts were on genre early on, before refining the views with challenges.

In fact, you could probably stop there and not miss anything.  However, the value in this continuing post (if there is one), is to sum up some of these views, and go deeper into the difference between magic and technology (in my arrogant opinion).

At one point in my running battle with PCBushi, I referred to magic & tech as furniture, as in, the term gun people use to refer to the things that change the appearance of a firearm without changing its function.  PCBushi correctly countered that another way to put it is like a skin on an app or character.

At one level, technology and magic are like that. This is particularly true in video games or roleplaying games or superheros.  If you blast the bad guy, does it matter whether it is a laser blast or a mana blast? Not really.

Maybe it doesn’t matter much to the reader/audience, either.  No one cares what the tech is behind lightsabers in Star Wars, and you can go round and round arguing whether the Force is magic wielded by Space Wizards or psionics, and it doesn’t matter. It’s just a skin for power.

Except as a writer, it does matter. And to the audience, perhaps it should matter, too, because Lucas doesn’t seem to really be clear what they war, and he made a bunch of missteps as a result.  From my formulation above, Star Wars got worse when it changed from an ordinary farm boy using the exercise of a talent to defeat an Empire to Space Wizards trying to reunite an estranged family.  I.e, a normal person doing great things through effort => special people dealing with normal life problems.

So what makes the difference? How the power is handled.

Orson Scott Card teaches in How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy that magic must have a cost to make it be interesting in your story.  I think that’s correct, but I don’t think Card really goes far enough, or explains it well enough.  I have the hubris to think I can.

My notion is that fantasy is about great people (special people, uniquely-powered people) doing mundane things.  To the extent this is correct, it is an exploration of what it means to be human, because it shows that even great people deal with normal life problems.  Magic is part of that, because it is magic that sets them apart, and magic must have limitations and a cost to make the story make sense.

This is because if there are no limitations or costs, everyone will have it, and then what’s the story exploring?  A story where everyone had the ability to make wishes come true would probably be a boring story.  But a story where only the protagonist (or perhaps, only the antagonist) had this power…now that creates some interesting opportunities for drama.

The counter to this argument is possibly: well, technology has a cost, too. It’s just the cost was paid in development, or in the expense (not everyone can afford body modifications that include hardwired reflexes?).  But that counter doesn’t work for me.  Televisions provide a communication ability that would be magic to a primitive culture, but what cost is there to the average person in the US?  It’s factored into life.  US cultural statistics went from Zero Anywhere to how many families have one to how many per family.

So while the difference between fantasy and science fiction settings may just be a skin, technology should be something everyone in your science fiction world should have, pretty much without any significant cost or sacrifice.  What makes the story in science fiction, then, is how the main character uses that technology differently to resolve the central problem of the story.

Example, Larry Niven wrote Neutron Star, a story that included an alien-made indestructible spaceship. Magic! Except that anyone with enough money can have one, and so the main character is given one to explore a scientific phenomenon and discover the answer to a mystery.  The answer to that mystery is actually an application of a scientific principle regarding gravity and orbital mechanics. Thus, it is a Hard SF story, despite the potentially magic elements.

Magic, in contrast, should have a cost, or a sacrifice, or a limit of some kind.  Not just everyone should walk around your story with magic.

So you have to consider the nature of your magic.  Is it something anyone can have with enough effort, but to perhaps varying levels of skill?  Compare to playing guitar or basketball.  Literally anyone of sound/whole body can play guitar or basketball.  What makes a basketball or guitar wizard is the years of study put into it…although someone with greater talent may achieve that mastery with less relative effort than someone else with less talent but more drive.  And voila! you might have a story right there.

But mostly not.  In most fantasy stories, the magic character is just special, and it often isn’t explained.  Harry Potter was just a wizard. He had to work to get better at it, but either you had magic or you were a muggle.

The Force started as a talent.  Before the family bloodline storyline entered in later, Obi-Wan Kenobi had no reason to think Luke might not be able to do the Force.  It was something to be taught, and you could take it as far as the combination of your own talent, teaching, and effort took you.  Everyone had some measure of it, but most just didn’t even try to develop it, possibly because most didn’t have the talent or interest to gain any real facility with it.  Like guitar.

But then it changed to a power that ran in the family.  Because Luke had it, and Leia was his twin sister, she has it, too. As did their dad.  As will their kids, if they have it.  I haven’t paid much attention to the reboot sequels, but apparently Rey blows up the blood theory…except that she thinks she’s Luke’s kid because of her power with the force, which just tends to reinforce the “ability by blood only” theory, just her parents were a previously-unknown Force-enabled bloodline.

One theory about magic (to the extent there can be something theoretical about something completely unreal and made up) is that magic should be calibrated so the cost/sacrifice is just slightly greater than the the amount of effort it would take to achieve that goal through mundane means.  So if you want a million dollars, the magic it takes to get it with a snap of fingers should have a cost/sacrifice just slightly greater than it would take to compete for a good college and complete a difficult major and work the drudgery job for enough years to get that million dollars.  The interest would then be why this person wants the money now, instead of putting in the normal effort. What does that say about his character, good or bad? It should always be a slightly higher cost then the mundane path, to balance out the immediacy of the magic.  But this is just a theory of a way to balance magic. I don’t know if I read it somewhere (was it Card?  I haven’t read that how-to book in over a decade) or if it is my own sense of proportion.  But let me know if you try it.

However, that theory aside, this goes back to Emily’s view of Fantasy: what does it do to the Self if you have power beyond that of the people around you?  What if you can snap your fingers and have a benefit or a good that would take others years of hard work to achieve, if ever?  Character questions are absolutely about self, the corruption of unique power is absolutely a common theme in Fantasy, in contrast to the SF common theme of overcoming due to unique force of will (which is how Beowulf survives in Neutron Star, btw).

So to sum up: magic should provide benefits that allow the avoidance of effort. As such, magic ability should be unique and have a cost, or it will be imbalanced in your story, and probably damage the enjoyment of the reader.  The exact same power can appear in science fiction, but the focus is different: the focus is on the unique application of an ability that anyone else could do, but doesn’t; or the focus is on the unique determination of the individual to overcome, in a high-tech world where everyone has pretty much the same physical ability and powers.

The lesson to you is (should be?) that if you are considering including a power or ability in your story, consider whether you want it to be unique or common.  If unique, you might want to write it as a fantasy.  If common, you might want to write it as a science fiction story.  And then further subdivide from there.

You don’t have to do this, of course.  But I’d be interested to hear from those who did, and had it work; those who did, and had it not work (and why); those who didn’t start with this decision and eventually realized they were writing the wrong sort of story; and those who didn’t start with this decision and made it work (not just a random/happy accident).

 

 

 

Culture > Race

  • by Gitabushi

I’ve encountered some white racialists a few times.  By the term “white racialists”, I mean those who see “white” as an identity, the same way blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc., see it as an identity, or as a shorthand for making accurate assumptions about people.  You could also call them White Identitarians, White Nationalists, or similar names.  I think they are distinct from White Supremacists, although they apparently hold some views in common.

Anyway, I don’t like white racialists.  Here are some of the views they’ve expressed that I disagree with:

  • calling other races “mud people”
  • claiming the US Constitution was written for white people
  • claiming only white people (for the most part) can understand the US Constitution or live according to its precepts
  • claiming that low IQ, violence, and other negative character traits are inherently and inextricably connected to race

I disagree with all these notions.

But SCIENCE! they cry.

Nonsense.  First, I understand there are high correlations between race and IQ, and high correlations between IQ and success in life. But what science *actually* tells us is that correlation, even *extremely high* correlation, is not causation.  The white racialists who cite statistics on IQ and its relation to success, and thus conclude that blacks and Middle Easterners cannot live peacefully in a liberty-based society are clearly reasoning based on assumptions of causation.  Race *is* IQ, and IQ *is* destiny, so therefore Race must be Destiny.

Again, I say: Nonsense.

I am not a scientist, and I will not attempt to replicate or debunk any studies.  However, I do understand how science works.  I do understand that a science experiment is only as good as the researcher, that the conclusions they draw are not always supported by the data (again, only as good as the researcher), and that social science is much less definitive than physical science.

As such, the scientific method is based on observation, forming a hypothesis, and testing that hypothesis. If that hypothesis cannot explain what you observe, it is a false hypothesis, and should be rejected.

And the hypotheses of the white racialists doesn’t stand up to even casual scrutiny.

First, the notion that because the US Constitution was written by white Anglo-Saxons, it only works for Anglo-Saxons doesn’t follow.  I point to the fact that two of the most prominent and effective advocates for the US Constitution  and its original meaning are Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas.  They counter with arguments of IQ and point to inner city blacks to claim that there may be exceptions, but the vast majority of blacks prefer to live in violent squalor, dependent on government largess.  They point to the mess that is most of the nations in Africa, and will throw dozens of charts at you showing the average IQ of Africans by nation, with many averages of 85 IQ or lower.

But, again, correlation isn’t causation.

There are significant problems with the efficacy of IQ tests.  Moreover, if IQ and race were the defining factor, then we would see successful liberty anywhere a majority of Anglo-Saxons dwell.

But the whites who vote Democrat are Anglo-Saxons. They are the biggest threat to liberty in the US, bigger than blacks, illegal aliens, and Islamic refugees.  In fact, they are the ones *enabling* illegal aliens and Islamic refugees to dilute US commitment to liberty and the Constitution.  And these are the highly educated US Elite, with IQs significantly higher than average.

Their theory of race and IQ doesn’t address that.

Their theory of race and IQ also doesn’t address that the highest IQs are scored by Asians and Jews, who should thus consider white Anglo-Saxons to be mud people, too. Asians and Jews, having the highest IQ scores, should have the most advanced technology, culture, society, and sustained success.

And yet: nope.  It’s the Anglophone world.

Sort of.

Because here’s the other aspect that destroys their racialist argument: Modern-day UK.

They do things like ban clapping.  They’ve banned guns, disarming their citizens and making it impossible for them to enjoy their Right to Life, and when that actually encouraged violence, banned knives.  They *lurve* them some big-government socialized health care.

This is the People that brought us the courage in the face of the Nazi Germany Blitz. This is the People of the Stiff Upper Lip.  The People that had the largest empire ever known to man.  They have fallen.

And how did they fall?  They sold their culture for security.  They couldn’t resist the lure of socialist policy.

And it’s happening in the US, too.  Moreover, as I’ve already alluded, it is happening in the US with white Anglo-Saxons as the leaders and instigators.  Blacks and other minorities are adjunct, followers, beneficiaries, support troops at best.  Whites are ruining US culture.

This is already long enough, so I’ll wrap up quickly.

Culture comes from the standards you set in  your family and your community. Very generally speaking, mothers impact most the way the family works, and teach you your role and status in your family.  Fathers impact most the way society works, and teach you your role and status in your family.  Mothers tell you that you are special, wonderful, unique, and uniquely valuable.  Fathers tell you that everyone you encounter every day is equally special, wonderful, unique, and uniquely valuable, so you need to respect others’ rights and ego, and work hard to outperform them.

Both views are valuable.

If you take away fathers, the culture declines and dies.  If you marginalize and weaken the role of women, the culture declines and dies.

There are negatives in the typical black culture and typical middle-eastern culture.  In the typical black culture, white Progressives have destroyed the role of husbands and fathers.  In the typical middle-eastern (Islamic) culture, they have marginalized and destroyed the role of wives and mothers.

This says nothing about individuals.

Culture > race.  Take a family from Korea and drop them in rural Alabama, but have them still only marry other Koreans. The first generation who are children here will be fluent in English.  The second generation of children will never learn any Korean.  By the third generation, the kids will have a Southern drawl.

Humans aren’t a true blank slate.  There *are* some racial differences.  But the differences aren’t significant enough or distinct enough to explain what we see.

But culture explains it well.

Culture > Race.  Fight for US Culture.  Let’s return to Constitutional-based governance, and restore our high-trust society, assimilating all minorities and/or immigrants into the best culture in the world (and, of course, ending the massive influx of those who want to exploit US freedoms rather than embrace them, but that’s another can of worms).

FGM Bans are Unconstitutional? Pt II

  • by Gitabushi

This could possibly just be an update to the earlier post on FGM Bans. But I think it is different enough to warrant its own post.

I initially understood that FGM bans could be unConstitutional by looking at it in isolation, i.e., from the perspective of Federal roles vs State roles. I could easily agree that the place to enact an FGM ban is at the state level.

But it never is in isolation.

blur close up focus gavel
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here’s an example: Judge Rules Mississippi’s 15-Weeks Abortion Ban is Unconstitutional

When a law is passed at the national level, Dems get it struck down as being against State’s Rights.  When conservatives get a law passed at the state level, Democrats get it struck down on other grounds.

It ends up being a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose ratchet that only allows things to go Leftward.

If you think I’m paranoid,  that’s exactly how the Left did things with Same Sex Marriage.

Same Sex Marriage was enacted in state after state in violation of the popular vote. (Maine and Maryland finally enacted it via referendum in 2012). It got so bad that in California, voters amended the state constitution to ban SSM, and a gay judge said the amendment violated the state constitution, struck it down, and then married his boyfriend.

That’s the thing.  Judicial Review is broken.  There is no mechanism for correcting an obviously-incorrect ruling except to continue to sue, which makes it easier for the Left, since they naturally collectivize everything.  But even if you have the funds and support to press your case through the entire system, you are facing 9 coastal metro-dwelling elites, who might have different sensibilities than most of the US.

Here’s the thing: the US Constitution was intended to be a contract that limited government violation of rights.  That has been soundly rejected by Progressive judges and justices, who look to foreign jurisprudence and social fashion to enact a Progressive agenda.  They don’t even need to have good justifications, they just need to come up with something.

(I know this from experience, when a judge took custody of my kids away because the military was sending me to San Angelo, TX, which had been in the news that week for the trial of Laredo polygamists; he decided that wasn’t a good place to raise children. The *trial* was in San Angelo, the polygamists lived at least 90 miles away. No other children were taken away from their parents and relocated to other states due to this situation. And the judge then let them come for visitation for three months about 6 weeks after he ordered me to send them to their mother.  It didn’t have to make sense, it just had to be made.  I was powerless to do anything. An appeal was  dead on arrival.  This is also how much of the Progressive agenda gets enacted)

And how they come up with something is to play with Rights and Standing.

Regarding abortion, the Left argues for the Woman’s Rights.  The Baby’s Rights are immaterial, as are the Father’s Rights.

With the FGM ban case, I’m sure the argument was that the doctor’s rights were violated by the ban, and perhaps the parents’ rights to autonomy over the children’s medical treatment/procedures.  But what about the rights of girls to not have part of their body amputated?

This never gets mentioned.  And when people who are harmed by the Progressive agenda sue, they are denied standing.

For example, there are very real issues with damage to society when SSM is enacted. In Europe, marriage rates and the birth rate plummeted after SSM became legal. This causes the social programs to run in the red, and so they have to import more third world workers to produce enough wealth to keep their social programs funded. But third world immigrants have different culture that is often incompatible with the original culture, and they were imported in numbers large enough to defy assimilation.  Lots of people are hurt by this, but when they sue, they are told one couple marrying doesn’t directly hurt them, so they have no standing.

In contrast, one could also argue that one heterosexual couple marrying doesn’t stop a homosexual couple from having a ceremony to declare their undying love, so there would be no standing to sue for a non-existent “right to legally marry whatever/whomever you love.”  But because that fit the Progressive agenda, standing was granted, and the ratchet went Left.

So back to the US Constitution. It was written to decentralize power to prevent tyranny and keep the federal government from violating your rights.

So let’s look at the question: how does upholding a ban on FGM allow power to centralize?  It doesn’t. How does upholding a ban on FGM allow the federal government to violate your rights?  It doesn’t.  Is there a right to mutilate your children?  No.  Is there a right to make a living by mutilating and crippling children?  No.

There is a Right to Pursue Happiness, which includes the right to pursue a livelihood.  But we don’t allow that Right to let drug dealers do what they want.  There is a right to religious freedom, but religious freedom doesn’t give you the right to harm other people. There is a right to make medical decisions for your own children, but I don’t think anyone would consider that is a right to sexually and physically abuse them.

The issue, then, comes down to a focus on who’s rights are being protected/violated, and what is considered criminal activity.

So, again, I would have no problem if this were a badly-worded law that could have and should have been written better to ensure it isn’t exploited to let the Federal Government violate other rights in other ways.

But I don’t think that’s how it is going to play out. To argue that there is no method by which a US Congress can enact a federal law that embodies the American principles of self-determination…I simply cannot accept that.  And even though no one is currently arguing that, the evidence of other topics is that this ruling will be used to further the Progressive/Leftist agenda, from protecting abortion, to enabling gender re-assignment surgery, to encouraging local/spreading Sharia, to using Islam to attack Christian freedom of religious expression.

Prove me wrong.

 

FGM Bans are unConstitutional? AYFKM?

  • by Gitabushi

So a federal judge said that laws against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are unConstitutional:

Conservatives are shocked and outraged.  Maybe some Progressives are shocked and outraged, too, but I don’t follow many of them, so I haven’t seen it.

I have several reactions to this.

First, I can almost understand the logic behind the ruling.  If FGM laws are Constitutional, it means the Federal Government has arrogated some powers of parenthood to themselves.  Can the government ban circumcision?  Require circumcision?  Ban ear piercings?

However, and more importantly, if there were a movement in the US of parents amputating the dominant hand of their children, I think we’d find a way to make *that* illegal without running afoul of the Constitution.  Or if that is too difficult to imagine, sexual abuse and physical abuse are illegal, and that’s perfectly Constitutional, right?

Perhaps the key to that is parents should not be allowed to commit crimes on their children.  So to make FGM band Constitutional, we have to make sure it is recognized as a crime.

However, aside from the logic of parental rights described (and hopefully fully refuted) above, I think there are three reasons for this ruling.  In no particular order:

  1. Islam is a Leftist ideology, and so the Left will try to accommodate them whenever possible.
  2. By couching this in terms of “religious freedom,” the Left is attempting to establish a wedge issue, by which they can paint Christians as religious freedom hypocrites; or if Religious Freedom FGMs are ever successfully banned, they can use those arguments in their assault on Christian religious freedom.
  3. Permitting parents to have FGM performed on their daughters is topologically identical to permitting parents to have gender re-assignment surgery performed on their children. Trans issues are *extremely* important to the US Left right now.
  4. At another level, the thought process that allows abortion allows FGM.  Strengthen the acceptability of FGM, strengthen the acceptability of abortion.  This is like 3rd-order effects, tho, so I’m open to being told this is nonsense.

This is just one battle.  Decency, Compassion, and Humanity haven’t lost the war to the Left yet, but we need to fight to find a way to make FGM bans Constitutional.

A Few More Thoughts on Writing

  • by Gitabushi

I *think* I have it all put together now.

flat lay photo of hands typing on a typewriter
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I’m not sure how I got here, exactly.  Big influences were Lawrence Block’s books on writing, “Telling Lies for Fun and Profit” and “Spider, Spin Me a Web,” and Orson Scott Card’s “How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy.”  So maybe you need those as background to find the following advice helpful. I hope not, or else this post will be a waste of your time.

The first key was The Plot Machine.

Oh, boy, does it make plotting machine-like.  The heart of a good story is a person overcoming obstacles to succeed. Or, if you want to write a cautionary tale, a person failing to overcome obstacles (most likely personal flaws) and failing horribly.

I used to think that once I thought of an interesting starting point, that I had a story idea.

But my failure point was always getting to the climax of the book.  And I’d read something like CJ Cherryh’s Morgaine Cycle, and see someone go against their demonstrated character to do something heroic, and get ALL THE FEELZ, and I’d wonder how I could ever write something equally surprising-yet-plausible-in-hindsight that could move someone.

So the Plot Machine recommends starting with the climax of the book, and then writing backwards from there, adding in the obstacles, then setting up the problem, then writing the final resolution.

And to heighten the tension to make the climax of the story better, you make sure you have a a false climax where it looks like everything is going to work out, and then everything goes wrong and it looks everything is going to fail.  But then the hero resolves their fatal flaw, and succeeds.  It makes the story seem worthwhile to read and enjoy and remember.

It makes sense.

But then a friend (who will hopefully be soon joining the blog) pointed out something else in a story idea I was explaining: what is the emotional conflict between the characters I had?

They were in opposition, so of course there was some inherent emotional conflict, but I had described them as friends, so how did the main character feel about winning the conflict?

Boom.  That’s a great point.  That’s one of the ways you can give your reader ALL the feelz.

I dunno. I claim to have it figured out now, but I have no time/energy to write.  So you can take all that with  grain of salt.  Or we can talk it out in the comment section.

But if nothing else, I thought I’d point out a few books that I’m considering buying next.  But I need to finish two stories before I do, because the point will be to make my writing better.  If I buy them and read them before writing anything, I’m just finding another excuse to put off writing.

Still, here are the ones I’m considering:

“How to Write Pulp Fiction,” by James Scott Bell (who has a number of How to Write books).

“Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict and Suspense,” also by James Scott Bell.  This one seems interesting based on the “start writing from the Second Act” recommendation of the Plot Machine.

And finally, a book I’ve purchased but haven’t read yet, “Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere).”

If you have writing figured out, or if you merely think you have writing figured out, what are the key elements for you?