Brandon Sanderson lecture mirror

Brandon’s lectures have been a tremendous help to me, but they are divided into parts, sometimes the color is bad, and in a few cases the aspect ratio was garbage. Being a student of such things, I decided to pull down a copy of all the videos I could find, throw them through a couple quick tweaks in AfterEffects, and re-upload them.  I also added some notes to help people find what they are looking for (something I use for myself too, when I want to see what he had to say about a particular thing). Also, it never hurts to mirror important content, just in case it gets taken down or otherwise blocked.

The playlist is up with his 2010 JordonCon lectures, and most of the 2012 BYU lecture series.  I’ll also be posting the 2013 and 2014 lectures when I finish with 2012.  Enjoy!

Court throws out lawsuit against FAA drone registration

4/25/16 UPDATE: The cited article below is mistaken. Thanks to John for checking into that!

I’ve been following this case since early January when a Maryland man named James Taylor filed suit against the FAA for a new law that requires all of us drone owners to register our information in a public database.  I’ve been waiting patiently (without registering) to see how this settles, and unfortunately, the outcome is not good:

The basis of the lawsuit was that the new regulation violated Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which stated that none of the regulations the FAA might set forth could be applied to model aircrafts, elsewhere defined to mean aircrafts used for entirely hobby purposes.  That being the case, it didn’t make sense that hobby drones were suddenly compelled to operate under these new regulatory codes. There was also some concern about the hasty and over-reaching manner the FAA employed to get this law on the books before Christmas of 2015.

My own biggest issue, is that of privacy. I don’t want my information and address public, nor the fact I own a drone. This isn’t a handgun we are talking about, it’s a toy for taking cool pictures.  Sure, it can be abused, and idiots might fly it over a highway and crash, but you get irresponsible people in every walk of life… since when has the answer been, register everything publicly so it is traceable?

Well anyway, that is my rant of the day. Now I just need to decide what I do… register, or let this thing sit on the table for a while. *sigh*

Here is a details analysis of Section 336.

Walking in the dark

I’m continuing to make progress on the Lunhina Trilogy, discovering the plot as I advance. While I am enjoying the process, I find it a lot harder to break into a new chapter. Without a clear plan forward, my confidence holds me back as I second guess the best place to start, the best info to drop, and the best place to end.

I think the reason for this is I know I could write the same chapter a dozen different ways… so how do I pick out the best one? I don’t want to keep rewriting the same chapters with different directions just to see, so I am relying on intuition. I suppose like anything else, this is something that will strengthen as I go. I’ll lean on feedback from my writers group to help me focus.

The other interesting thing I am finding is when I do finally lay out the plan for a chapter, it ends up becoming two or three when written. It seems that I overestimate how much I can get done in just a couple thousand words.  I am curious to see how all this pans out as it goes out for feedback, as it could be a sign I am laying words with a heavy hand, or it might just mean the organic nature of the character’s movement requires more time to complete.

Final POV locked in

Status Report: Lunhina (d1) 14,075 words.

I finished writing the first scene with my fourth POV: Svaran. I am reasonably happy with all four voices, although a little concerned the “narrator” leaks through.  Really, I should change my style of description and even my vocabulary from POV to POV, to make them fully unique.  I am not sure I can pull that off, though. I’ll wait and see what alpha feedback I get, then decide if that is necessary.

I had fun with Svaran. I gave myself a challenge, one that originally stems from Brandon Sanderson’s online lectures, and it was this: write the scene with the character and don’t EVER mention (in inner monologue or in exposition) what the character is doing. See if you can write it so that the reader figures it out on their own.  This simple-sounding exercise was quite fun and really changed the way I approached the chapter.  In the past, I would write a scene in order to communicate a specific plot step to the reader. That works, but readers enjoy figuring things out, it is what humans do in life and in social situations, and we like it.  So with this exercise, I wrote the scene without any regard for the reader, instead I just planted myself in the character’s head, and watched her do her thing.  It was surprisingly natural.

I think I got it down and I am excited to share it with my informal writing group to see how early on they can tell me what Svaran’s “deal” is.  Or if they get to the end, and can’t, well then I dropped the ball.

Anyway, it is one of a few POV/voice exercises I am working on to try and get my character voices stronger and more story-driving.

Well, that was unexpected!

Lunhina: 10.8% Draft 1

I had my first genuine “wow, I didn’t expect that” moment while writing today.  It was quite extraordinary… something I have read in other authors, but did not quite believe.  How can a character really tell you, the author, what is going to happen?

Well, turns out they can. Without an outline, you really become the character as you write, and you live with them in the moment, documenting what occurs. I was doing this in a Kinius scene, and I arrived near the end of the scene where he is injured on a boat, understaffed, and running for home.

I knew I couldn’t end the scene there… something more needed to happen, something interesting or character building at least. It seemed to me the enemy needed to find them before I could close the chapter.

BUT, I don’t want them dead! I need these characters still. How can a Galley of a hundred men catch a longboat of five, and the five come out alive (more or less)?

I stared at the page for a while on that one, and then stalled a bit by writing Kinius as he squirms and thinks.  And then— BOOM. Idea. It came from his mind as I was playing it out, not my authorial-outlining mind.  I went with it, cleaned it a bit, and I like it!  This was not in my outline at all, but it worked great.

Discovering Discovery Writing

Lunhina: 9.8% Draft 1

For the Lunhina Trilogy, I am dipping my feet into discovery writing for the first time. It is refreshing and exhilarating and makes me feel like a blind man with no idea which way is up.

To be fair, this is not a total discovery project. Every character has a start and a finish point in my outline, as well as one or two major scenes along the way. I also have a general start and end for the book, and for the next two books.  So in that sense, this is still outlined, but compared to what I did for Spawn, it is a whole different ballgame.

Right now, I have no idea what to do in each chapter, where it has to go, or how it has to get where it is going.  All I know is “eventually” I need to reach certain things, but that is really it! I finally understand what writers mean when they say that characters show them things as they write. I get it. You just write what makes sense while you are in the character’s head, throw in a twist, and roll with it.  None of it was choreographed, none of it was outlined. It is real!  But it is also meandering and random sometimes. This will take some work to get right.

In any case, I am so far enjoying the process. I suspect I will hammer in a few more details on my outline as I work into the characters, to try and find a good balance between discovery and architecting, and we’ll see how it goes!