Fatal Flaws of Socialism

  • By Gitabushi

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably reject Socialism.  You know it doesn’t work, you know it has never worked everywhere it’s been tried, and you know that as soon as it fails, it is deemed “Not *real* Socialism” so the True Believers can retain their dreams of a successful implementation, someday, somewhere.

But because we know Socialism doesn’t work, we often take it as an axiom, and we don’t look deeper.  However, in the marketplace of ideas, we must constantly hone and refine our ideas. We must put these ideas out there for the unconvinced and unpersuaded to see and evaluate.  If we never argue against Socialism, we increase the chance that a younger generation will fall sway to its siren call.

construction destruction power steel
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here, then, are some of the arguments I’ve seen for Socialism, and my debunking response.

Selfishness:

Under quasi-Free Market Capitalism (or the Current System, to whatever degree of Free Market Capitalism we have), the rich are encouraged and allowed to be selfish, rather than sharing their wealth with the poor.

Response:

Accepting for the sake of argument that rich people are motivated by selfishness to use their skills to exploit others, adopting a Socialist system doesn’t change human nature. Selfish people with ability will figure out what it takes to be promoted to positions of power within the Socialist government structure and use their position to ensure they get the best food, best clothes, best living spaces, etc.

This plays out a number of different ways.

  1. Socialist leaders must be compensated better than average, or else they might be susceptible to bribery.
  2. When everyone is equal, the Socialist leaders would be swamped with petitions unless there is some method of gatekeeping, which often takes the form of “gifts”, i.e., bribes
  3. Playing games with “equal”. If everyone gets a pound of meat, the Socialist leaders get the pound of filet mignon, the peasants get a pound of Spam.  If everyone gets 2000 sq ft of living space, the Socialist leaders will get the Manhattan penthouse, the peasants will get an unheated hovel in Alaska, or an un-cooled tenement in Houston, Texas

Democratic Socialism:

The argument is that Socialism has always failed because it was authoritarian socialism, imposed by force.  Democratic Socialism will come into being via Democracy, and being voluntary, will actually work.

Response:

Has there ever been anything in the history of the US that has had 100% agreement?  One representative (from Montana, alas) voted against declaring war for the US entry into WWII.

Some people are always contrary. Some people will choose to go against the tide *because* it is against the tide.

Socialism is based on the principle, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”  There are no exceptions allowed.  Socialism requires *everyone* to be on board to work.

And universality really is a foundational concept for Socialism.  If people could opt out of the supplying part, well, what stops people from giving according to their ability now?  Is there some magic spell that makes people more generous if the society adopts formal Socialism?  So why would you even need to vote it into place?  If Socialism is a great idea, convince people ot give up their wealth now, voluntarily, in a charity system.  Make virtual Socialism.

If you can’t, then you can’t make it work in a government, either, without force.

Nepotism:

Socialists complain that the wealth gets locked up in a rich class, where the parents pass on wealth to their children, who use that wealth to maintain their position, locking out the poor. They own the houses that the poor must rent, they own the businesses and factories where the poor work, and they can skim off the top without working.

Response:

Again, human nature doesn’t change.  One of the main motivations for people to work is to give their children advantages. In a Socialist system, there may not be wealth to pass on to children, but the children of the Socialist leaders will go to the best schools, where the best teachers are assigned. The children of the Socialist leaders will have the best opportunities to excel in competitions and events. The competitions and contests may even be adjudicated in favor of the children of Socialist leaders (to curry favor). But as sure as the sun rises, there will be a class system where the children of Socialist leaders do not have to work in factories or in the fields, but the children of factory and field workers will have no chance to enter the Socialist leadership.  It will be systematic nepotism, rather than the conditional nepotism of our quasi-Free Market Capitalism system. There is some economic mobility in our current system.  Less than a few decades ago, but the Elite Coastal Democrat class has gotten itself more entrenched since the boom of the 50s and 60s has faded.

Equality/Fairness:

Under Socialism, everyone will be equal, and everything will be fair.  We’ll get Socialism when we achieve a post-scarcity society, like when almost all occupations are filled by robots and AI software.

Response:

Humans will never be equal, and things will never be fair to satisfy everyone. Human nature is such that we always overestimate our own contributions, underestimate the efforts and contributions of others, and underestimate how much trouble we cause other people.

Aside from that, responsibility varies from individual to individual.

The basic concept of Socialism is to ensure that no one starves, no one goes without housing, no one goes without clothes and other basic necessities.

Consider an analogy: Assume that by law, every child deserves a stuffed animal or an action figure.

Child One wants stuffed animals. That child cares for the stuffed animal, sleeps with it, protects it from harm.

Child Two wants action figures.  But the action figure is put through the wringer, its arms ripped off, its accessories chewed on, and it is ruined within a month. So you provide another one. Rapidly ruined. You provide another one. This goes on and on.

Child Three doesn’t want a stuffed animal *or* an action figure, but rather a fire truck.  Too bad.

This is all neither fair, nor equal. You put a dozen times the resources into Child Two. Is that fair? Child Three doesn’t get its preferred toy. Is that equal?

This is the same argument against providing a Universal Basic Income sufficient to house and feed everyone.  What if individuals use the money for something else besides food and housing? Well, then you have to give them additional money for food and housing.  What if they *still* don’t use the additional money for food and housing?

So you don’t provide UBI, you provide food and housing.  We’ve seen this with food stamps: an economy develops where people sell their food stamps for pennies on the dollar to buy other things.  Then they still starve and activists hold them up as examples of our unfair society.  Or the amount given via food stamps gets to the point that the people on welfare eat better than the lower levels of working classes.

The problem is that once you *guarantee* a certain benefit, or a certain amount of money, you run up against the perversity, selfishness, and exploitive nature of human beings.

The weakness of Socialism is that it is a system, and humans will always exploit any system to extinction.

 

These are some of the fatal flaws of Socialism.  Add more in the comments section.

 

 

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Hustling…and Zombies

I know, I know – I kind of dropped off the face of the earth. Posts have been sparse here for a while now, but I haven’t even been writing over at SFF Central.

Truth be told, my wife and I started up a business a couple months ago and that’s where the majority of my time has been going when I’m not at my full-time gig or rearing the bushi kid. No, we’re not exactly growing and selling premium pickles. I’m not willing to say much more about it right now, though. The super tolerant crowd is always ready to destroy your life for your wrong opinions and I’m not overeager to expose my family to that.

have scraped together a few moments here and there – on lunch breaks and stolen chunks of sleep time – to play Plants vs Zombies: Heroes. I’m sure the superhero bubble is poised to burst at any time now, but I love me a good collectible card game. PvZ Heroes has a lot going for it – it’s got enough variety of cards and strategy to make things interesting and frequently different, but it’s simple enough to learn and play quickly. Matches are usually only a few minutes long and so far it doesn’t feel unfair in the same way that these kinds of games too easily can.

Of course it’s taken certain elements from Hearthstone – you get an allowance of spend-it-or-lose-it sun or brains (aka mana) at an increasing rate each turn. But there are enough differences from Hearth to make it its own unique thing. You manage lanes, you get periodic super powers unique to each hero, and zombies and plants have different turn dynamics.

Oh and there’s also PvP. I love that wood tier is actually a real starting placement here and not just a put-down.

I’ve also been crawling through Jack Vance’s The Last Castle in small increments. I can sometimes find 15-20 minutes before heading to work in the morning, but if the baby wakes up early then all bets are off.

At any rate, I’m still alive.

-Bushi

bushi

Big Mother

Julia sank wearily down into the deep cushions of the staff lounge couch. The TV was on, set to some new reality show where politicians cooked meals for celebrities, but Julia hardly noticed. She was still processing.

A grueling, 36 hour labor. Normally a C-section would have been in order, but the patient refused to be cut. And at the end of it all…

Her eyes flicked up to the door. She could still hear the baby crying, though she knew it was just in her head. The Repose Room was soundproof.

Shaking her head as if to expel such thoughts, she looked down at the coffee table. The various sections of Today’s USA were scattered across its surface. The top-most, “Health and Living,” prominently displayed an article titled “New Healthcare Law Protects the Most Vulnerable.” Her eyes scanned the text; apparently it was a story about how the newly expanded universal healthcare system would greatly improve the lives of underpaid journalists.

Julia heaved a heavy sigh and buried her face in her hands. She had known that remaining in perinatal medicine would eventually test who she was. She just hadn’t expected it to happen so soon. Not here. Not at St. Agnes.

But they had allowed it to happen. Jennifer and the doctor spoke for a few minutes, in private, with the patient. And then the baby was wheeled out to the Repose Room.

Julia imagined her own daughter lying in the darkness, alone, left to expire. It was too much. The shock and confusion were gone, replaced by anger and determination.

She pulled herself up and hurried out of the staff room.

Kathy was leaning against the wall next to the Repose Room and nursing a cup of coffee while fiddling with her phone. The healthcare liaison looked up at Julia’s approach and smiled plastically.

“Hi, Julie. Are you okay?”

“No. Nothing about this is okay.”

Kathy reached for Julia’s arm, halting her entrance. She lowered her voice to a hush.

“Look, I know this is difficult. But we have to respect the mother’s choice.”

Julia shook off the restraining hand and entered the room. It was complete dark inside. The baby was no longer crying, but Julia could hear a soft whimpering. She paused as the door closed behind her and Kathy’s surprised exclamation was cut off.

She reached for her phone and unlocked the screen, using the light to look around the bare room. A sink and cabinet fixture was set against the wall – the same one found in nearly every modern examination room. In the corner opposite her stood the bassinet, mounted atop a sterile, steel cart. The baby lay swaddled inside.

As she stepped toward the infant, the door opened behind her and in stepped Kathy, accompanied by Jennifer, the shift supervisor.

“Julie, what are you doing? You shouldn’t be in here,” the senior nurse admonished softly, frowning. She reached into a pocket and drew out her own phone to further illuminate the dark room. Her other arm cradled a clipboard – clearly she had been interrupted while doing important paperwork.

“This isn’t right, Jen. We can’t do this.”

Jennifer’s face softened. It was Kathy who replied.

“It was Mrs. Peters’ decision after speaking with Dr. Danton. Even Mr. Peters agreed. It’s her right. Come on now, everything is going to be all right. Let’s just…leave it alone.”

“Not it, Kathy. Her. You want to let her die!” Julia had difficulty controlling her voice now, and the baby started to whimper loudly.

“It’s not up to me,” Kathy answered. “And it’s not up to you. The infant simply isn’t viable.”

“What the hell do you mean she isn’t viable? She’s laying there right now, breathing on her own. Alive.”

Jennifer cut in. “What Kathy means is the baby can’t survive on her own, without state resources. You know that. She’d have to be put up, and that’s expensive. And there will be no legal parents to put up climate credits…I don’t like it any more than you do, but there’s nothing we can do.”

“For God’s sake, she’s perfectly healthy, Jen!” Julia was practically shouting.

Kathy answered “It’s an unfortunate rarity, but post-birth abor-”

“Don’t call it that,” Julia snapped. “We’re letting a healthy baby die. And for what? Why? Why are they doing this?”

Jennifer and Kathy exchanged an uncomfortable glance and the former answered “Her eyes.”

“What? What about her eyes?” Julia asked.

“The Peters ordered blue eyes, but the baby’s are brown. It’s not what they paid for. Mrs. Peters said that she always wanted a daughter with blue eyes and blond hair, like a doll. She said that…that having to raise a botched child would be too traumatic for her,” Jennifer muttered.

Julia shook her head in disbelief. They were all silent for a moment.

“I’m taking her,” she said finally.

Jennifer’s eyes widened in surprise. Kathy looked scandalized.

“You can’t do that, Julie. It’s illegal!” the liaison exclaimed.

“Think about this,” cautioned the supervisor. “They’ll fire you. Hell, you’ll probably go to jail.”

“I don’t care,” replied Julia. “I can’t do nothing.”

Kathy glared angrily at her, looked meaningfully at Jennifer, and then exited the Repose Room quickly.

“All right,” said Jennifer. “But you’d better hurry. No doubt Kathy has gone for security.” Jennifer, too, stepped out.

Julia switched off her phone and flicked on the room’s fluorescent light. The baby girl squinted and began once again to cry.

 

-Bushi

bushi

 

 

Some Thoughts on Music, No Conclusions

  • by Gitabushi

Every once in a while, I encounter someone talking about “the Great Voices of Rock” or ‘the great singers of rock”, and my usual reaction is a mild puzzlement.

I don’t like many of the iconic voices of rock music. I don’t like Tom Petty, I don’t like Robert Plant, I don’t like Rod Stewart, I don’t like Bob Dylan, I don’t like Bono.

But even the bands I *do* like, I’m not sure I can say I really love the singers. I love Styx, but I can’t say I love Dennis DeYoung’s, Tommy Shaw’s, or James Young’s singing.  I can find flaws or aspects I don’t like much in any of them.  Same with Heart, Night Ranger, Loudness, Kansas, Foreigner, Queen (yes, I’m not a huge fan of Freddie Mercury), Survivor, Alice in Chains, etc., etc., etc.

But I realized the other day there *is* one singer I like:

Brian Howe, most famous for his stint with Bad Company.  I actively like his voice.  It isn’t just his vocal quality, but the expression he puts into it.

I’m not going to include a picture, because I don’t think he’s famous enough for anyone to recognize him by his photo.  His “most famous” time was with Bad Company, but I don’t think he’s even close to actually being famous.

If I said, “Brian Howe”, everyone except for a fairly hard core Bad Company or Ted Nugent fan wuold say “Who?”

I really like his voice.  But have I looked up his solo albums? I have not. I do not even listen to two of his albums with Bad Company. I love his voice on “Dangerous Age“, and that’s it.

I think that highlights my relationship with music: I like a song if I like the guitar, and possibly the drums.  If I like those, I will learn to enjoy the bass, the voices, and the lyrics.  But I won’t like a song for the voice.

As in all things, however, there is a probable exception:

Becker_&_Fagen_of_Steely_Dan_at_Pori_Jazz_2007
“Becker and Fagan at the Pori Jazz Festival,” by Kotivalo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34957543

I’m digging into Steely Dan’s catalog right now.  Unlike Blue Oyster Cult and Jethro Tull, it is resulting in increased respect and affection for the band.  Although Donald Fagen is not an objectively good singer, his voice is perfect for the songs.  I feel so strongly about this, I simply don’t like the songs he doesn’t sing on.  I hate “Dirty Work,” for example.  But Fagen’s singing voice is, if I can believe what I’m saying next, both cynical and introspective. It is so expressive, and it adds the sardonic note necessary to make the lyrics work; which, in turn, add depth to the music.

Steely Dan has good music, but this is the one band that I listen to for the lyrics.

Of course, I wouldn’t be listening to them for the lyrics if they didn’t *first* grab me with good guitar and drum work on the hits that made it to the radio.

And Donald Fagen highlights *another* aspect of my relationship with music: a good voice is immaterial; what I want is a voice that adds emotion. I think no one would say that Stevie Ray Vaughn is a good singer. But his voice has the emotion necessary to sell his songs.

So that’s true for the bands listed above. I don’t necessarily love Dennis DeYoung’s voice, but it has the emotional impact necessarily to sell the song.

Still, aside from that, there are two more singers I like:

Dann Huff of Giant.  “I’ll See You In My Dreams” was not the sort of song that should make me interested in a band.  But the raw emotion of his singing did. I ended up loving the guitar and compositions of the band enough that they are one of my favorite bands, and I think “Last of the Runaways” should be considered one of the most important albums in guitar rock pedagogy (but it’s not; it’s not even on the radar.  smdh).

I’d put his voice on par with Brian Howe’s for just plain my favorite rock voice.

Using the Donald Fagen metric of “fitting the style of music” would seem to open up lots of names to be listed as favorite, but I won’t. Robert Plant may be perfect for Led Zeppelin; Freddie Mercury may be perfect for Queen; Steve Perry may be perfect for Journey; I don’t care.  There is only one other voice I would list as iconic, and good enough to *make* the band the way Fagen makes Steely Dan work:

David Lee Roth, with Van Halen.

I know some people prefer Van Hagar. I don’t deny that lineup had some good songs.  But there is no band, no singer, no experience quite like early Van Halen. David Lee Roth made that band what it was.

So those are my Mount Rushmore of Rock Singers:

Brian Howe
Dann Huff
Donald Fagen
David Lee Roth

One other final point that may interest only me:

I listen to a bunch of Chinese rock music. I have the same pattern there: I like a song if I like the guitar part, and in some cases, the drums. In fact, it was my analysis of my Chinese music preferences that allowed me to separate my tastes from what was spoon-fed to me by the corporate music machine (the radio & MTV). It confirms that:

If I like enough of the songs, I like the singer. Some of my favorite Chinese singers are objectively not good singers, but add the perfect emotional flavor to the song itself, bridging any gaps between composition and lyrics, and adding depth to both.

But also

 

 

Misbeliefs as Story Momentum

  • by Gitabushi

I’m still struggling with the implications of “Story Genius”, as detailed here, here, and here.

brown haired female anime character figure
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For instance, blog proprietor PC Bushi responded to the last post with:

You had me until you said entertainment should not be the goal of a story. Strikes me that this is like saying enjoyment should not be the goal of a meal. Different meals and types of food aim at fulfilling different goals, just as different stories and types of writing do.

I wasn’t trying to say a story should not be entertaining, or even that a good story cannot just be nothing more than entertaining. My point was that if you are going to go to all the trouble to write an entertaining story, why not *also* make it compelling by adding in emotiona and character development?  If you are going to read a story, won’t you be more entertained if you are more deeply invested in the protagonist’s struggles?  Story Genius shows you how to get that.

The only thing is, the more I consider the book, the less certain I am that this is the only way to make a story more compelling.

I mean, I’m fully converted to the idea. It works. I can tell that it works by analyzing a bunch of successful movies, books, and television shows.  I have also discovered there are a bunch of other successful movies, books, and television shows that are not centered on the crisis of a protagonist’s misbeliefs.

For instance, Star Wars is undeniably a great story. Luke *does* start out with a misbelief that adventure is a grand, fun thing, and preferable to boredom on a backwater planet.

This is a misbelief. In short order, he is nearly killed by Tusken Raiders, his adopted parents are brutally murdered, and his new mentor that promised to teach him a whole new set of skills, is cut down while he watches.

But that misbelief doesn’t come to a crisis. He isn’t forced to abandon his misbelief or face destruction.  He just grows through it.

However, his emotional state *is* important to us throughout.

I think Die Hard is a great movie because as McClane is working things out with the terrorists, he’s also sort of working things out with his wife.  Maybe his misbelief is that his wife no longer loves him.  Or perhaps the misbelief that drives the story is his wife’s, in that she mistakenly believes he loves his job more than her.  But it doesn’t drive the story to a crisis, the bad guys do.  And the resolution of their relationship is more that he goes through all sorts of pain and danger to save her life, and that has a profound impact on both of them…but they don’t exactly work through it together.

However, their emotional state *is* important to us throughout.

All this being said, as I type this out, I don’t remember the author of “Story Genius” saying this is what you *must* use to write a compelling story.  I don’t remember her saying this is the way every story should be written.

And now that I think of it in those terms, I can still fully recommend the book. In fact, I urge you to buy it. I think it still is the best $10 an aspiring-but-struggling writer can spend.

Because my final judgment is:

Writing a short story can be hard. It is too easy to start with enthusiasm and excitement, and still hit a snag that blocks you. It is too easy to paint yourself into a corner.  It is too easy to struggle with developing the plot and not being sure your protagonist’s actions make sense.

Writing a novel is even more difficult. You have all the same problems as above, plus you have to layer in subplots.  You have to escalate the stakes to maintain interest. You have to develop deeper characters than in a short story. You have to handle more characters, and make them all realistic.  All this is too complicated: I can’t hold a novel in my mind. With this book, you don’t have to.  It teaches you how to add compelling aspects to your story that grab the reader from the beginning and never lets go, how to develop and mine the protagonists’ backstory for realistic developments, how to layer in complex and interesting subplots, and how to make the reader see through the protagonists’ eyes instead of through the writer’s eyes.

It all works, even if you don’t want to write a story based on misbelief.

But if you want to get a story written and have it be compelling, it’s a great place start.

The implication (mentioned indirectly at least once) of the book is that this process will become second nature as you grow more familiar with it. You could adapt it to other types of stories, but this book intends to tell you about the easiest way to craft an entertaining, compeling, memorable novel.  I think it does that.

For example, while Luke *does* have a misbelief about adventure, it doesn’t drive the story. If anything, the story of Star Wars says that Luke’s misbelief was only partial: it *was* fun, exciting, and enjoyable to fight his way off of the most secure enemy station in the history of the galaxy, join with other advanced pilots and, without any training, save the rebels from complete destruction.  He is rewarded with fame and gratitude, and might even earn the love of a beautiful princess.  Sure, his Aunt & Uncle and Old Ben had to die as part of the process, but they were going to die, eventualy, anyway, right?

The point is, Luke isn’t confronting the conflict his misbelief has created in what he wants and who he thinks he is.  It just ends up not being quite so carefree as he hoped.

But we still care about Luke’s emotional reactions to what happens, and *that* drives the story.  So what we learn in “Story Genius” still applies. It’s just writing a story in which an apparent misbelief actually turns out to be true.

There are plenty of other exceptions.  But these can be your advanced attempts, after you have a few novels under your belt.

Why am I pushing this so hard? Well, I think better when I talk or write. But more importantly, if y’all write more enjoyable, gripping novels, I have better stuff to read.  Buy the book, and write great novels!

What is a Story?

  • by Gitabushi

I’ve been pushing this book lately, and not just on this blog.   It has the unwieldy title of “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)” so from now on, I will just call the book “Story Genius.”

I love the book so much. It forced a paradigm shift on writing that excites me and convinces me I will be a successful writer. It also concisely explained much of the dysfunction we see in society, because so many people are laboring under misbeliefs.

For instance, Socialists are laboring under the misbelief that if they can win total political control of all major government and social institutions, they can transform and perfect society so that everyone is equal (at best) or that no one suffers from need (at worst).  There are so many misbeliefs in that assumption.  I think homosexual activists have a misbelief that their unhappiness comes from social rejection, so if they can just force society to celebrate their identity in more and more aspects, they will finally be happy.  The Right has the misbelief that if they just calmly and clearly explain their views and preferred policies, the Right will win elections, enact conservative legislation, and restore the US’ liberty and exceptionalism.  I could go on for days about these misbeliefs, but it is evidence that the book is correct that everyone has misbeliefs.

That’s how it improved my life.

I’ve been mulling on its application to writing for a month now, however.  *MUST* every story be a character development story?  *MUST* every story start with a misbelief that gets resolved?

I’ve really been considering this question. I’ve re-thought this question in light of “13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” and “A Princess of Mars” and “Coming to America” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Jack Reacher novels and even “Game of Thrones”.

My answer is that no, not every story must have a misbelief that causes the main character problems and gets resolved over the course of the story.

But the follow-up questions to that are: Do you want people to enjoy and recommend your story?  Do you want to sell your story?  Do you want to write *great* stories, or merely write stories?

Heroic action stories can be enjoyable.  I don’t think the Jack Reacher stories ever have Jack Reacher holding a major misbelief or learning anything in the course of the story.  He’s pretty much unchangeable (except that the author gives him mental abilities needed for the plot that mysteriously don’t exist in other stories where they might have been useful, but the author hadn’t thought them up yet weren’t needed for the plot).  The interest in and success of those stories is the author starts with a perplexing situation, so you want to read to find out what is actually happening.

In “Game of Thrones”, the misbelief is actually on the part of the reader: George R. R. Martin set out to upend several major expectations of the reader, such as Plot Armor and Deaths Mean Something.  I think he’s struggling to finish and the books are kind of fizzling out because you can only deny the expected tropes for so long. If he wants to finish, he’ll have to resolve the story, and it’s going to be trope-y as all get out.

So from that perspective, even if you aren’t dealing with a character’s misbelief, you are still using misbelief to make the story more interesting.

That admission aside, I think that while it isn’t *MANDATORY* to use the techniques in “Story Genius” to load your main character down with one or more misbeliefs that are resolved in the course of the story, it still is a good idea to do it.

Because the book has convinced me that the point of stories is to learn from other people’s mistakes.  You can be entertained by the story, but entertainment is the bonus, and should not be the goal.  We are hardwired to enjoy stories from childhood, but that doesn’t mean we should focus solely on the entertainment aspect.  If we only care about entertaining, we might succeed, and the story might sell, but I don’t think it will have much staying power.  Sure, it might catch on and become famous, and it might be read for generations, like Edgar Rice Burroughs “A Princess of Mars”.  But that’s not the way to bet.  That’s not a good model to base your own writing career on.  When ERB wrote that book and invented those characters, there was no TV, there were no comic books, there were no smartphones, and even movies had no sound or color.  Many people don’t read at all, and we don’t have a unified culture that allows an iconic character like John Carter or Dejah Thoris to capture the imagination of millions.  Put another way: there is so much mindless entertainment already out there, it is advisable to do your best to find ways to stand out.

I think “Story Genius” gives you what you need to stand out.

“Story Genius” requires more prep-work, but in the end, it saves you time.  It’s right there in the title “(before you waste three years writing 378 pages that go nowhere)”.  It keeps you from getting stuck.  It demands you consider every development in terms of the character’s misbelief, which provides a motive force for the story, and only then write the scenes…which keeps you from wasting as much time writing unnecessary filler that you’ll cut anyway.

The book helps you to add layers to your story via subplots.  If everything ties back to both the misbelief driving the story *and* the visible plot developments, your story will have depth.  I thought I might not be able to succeed as a writer because I couldn’t hold an entire novel’s plot in my head.  With this book, I don’t have to.

I have a dozen stories that have foundered on the rocks of painting myself into a corner, plot-wise, or not knowing what to do next.  Thinking about them in terms of misbeliefs resurrects their viability, because it gives me new ideas of how to make them compelling.

“Story Genius” tells you that the misbelief has reached a crisis in the character’s life.  The character has kept the misbelief up until that point because it worked more or less. The misbelief perhaps kept the main character from enjoying life more, or from fulfilling some aspect of life, but it also kept the main character from disaster.  But now the misbelief’s impact on the character’s life has come to a head.  If the character retains the misbelief, their life will be destroyed.  But if they accept life’s lessons and give up the misbelief, their self-image will be destroyed. Everyone thinks they are correct.  Giving up a misbelief is not only admitting you were wrong (very hard for anyone to do), it also is admitting that you damaged your own life for years by not realizing it sooner.

People double down on mistakes. That’s how we hold onto misbeliefs.  That’s why we hold onto misbeliefs.  Only if everything you hold dear is threatened by the misbelief are we forced to actually confront the fact that what we beleived, what we thought kept us safe, was wrong.

Doesn’t that, as a writer, excite you?  Wouldn’t you love to be able to write a story with that sort of impact, that level of import?  “Story Genius” will show you how, and walk you through it.

If the main reason we like stories is because it allows us to safely learn from other people’s mistakes, then yes: underneath and on top of whatever else your story is, you should include a character development aspect. You should make your main character’s misbelief the driving force behind the story.  It will make the story better, and will attract readers.

The only possible downside I can see from this is that it makes it harder to develop a character and setting and write an infinite number of stories in your “franchise”.

Frankly, I don’t see that as a downside.  With the possible exception of Lois McMasters-Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series, and the actual exception of the Jack Reacher and Matt Helm series, I don’t want or enjoy series focused on one main character.  There can only be so many self-image-threatening misbeliefs in one character.  Most authors don’t use the same character over and over.  They invent new characters, and new settings.

My favorite author, CJ Cherryh, is my favorite writer because she was good at this.  She had her universe, but she made new main characters for new stories to reveal different aspects of her universe, and it made it better.

Now she’s written an endless “Foreigner” series and I lost interest after book 6.  No one learns anything. The main character is always right. I mean, maybe that’s not completely true, but it’s true enough around book 5 or 6 that I lost interest.

Same with Steven Brust’s Jhereg series.  Same with the Miles Vorkosigan series, but only after book 10 or so, and that was because McMasters-Bujold used different viewpoint characters, allowing her to play off of the new characters’ misbeliefs.

Your fans may want an infinite number books with the same main character. I say, don’t give that to them.  Make new, fresh characters.  Wow them with your ability to create new compelling viewpoint characters, and stun them with your insight into human nature. “Story Genius” shows you how.

Two final thoughts:

No one enjoys message fiction, i.e., “Now I’m going to teach you something I think is true.”  I think “Story Genius” helps you avoid that, by letting you put a misbelief into the main character.  If I wanted to write something against Socialism (and I will), I would make my main character believe that humans are perfectible if they just have the right rules to follow and the right people in charge.  And then I’d show that character how that misbelief will threaten everything they hold dear.  Result: a great story that doesn’t seem preachy.

I haven’t finished my short story, and I haven’t started my novel (waiting to finish the short story).  So maybe I’m wrong about all this.  I don’t think I am. I’m stuck on some mechanical aspects of the short story (what traps or threats can I put into the underground crypt that will drive and highlight the main character’s viewpoint changes?), so I might just drop it for now and start another short story from scratch using this process.  If so, I’ll let you see the results and let you judge if it results in a compelling story.