Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What We Got Here Is...

...the inspiration of Luke as an RP character. Regardless if more modern or even medieval, whether Luke or Lukas, there's always a bit of Cool Hand Luke in him. ;)


Goodbye Google AdSense!

Was going to just post this on Facebook, but turned into a bit bigger rant than expected. So here's the reason I cancelled my Google AdSense account:

Upon doing a bit of research after getting yet another "Get $100 free ad credit" offer code card from Google Adsense, I decided to cancel my Adsense account and de-monetize my YouTube videos.  Never mind that the catch is that you have to spend $25.00 to use the code on the card, thus rendering the credits actually being $25.00 of real money for $100.00 of ad credit, and thus effectively paying Google for the privilege to spam your website and videos with Adsense ads. Quite simply, after having Adsense for a couple years, it's only generated $0.99, of which even that I couldn't receive because it's below the threshold that they would pay out to a canceled account.  That basically amounted to about 2 or 3 years that Google has gotten who knows how many hundreds of thousands of free ads posted that may have attributed in some way to Google's potential $2.3 billion earned (or $9.7 billion annualized) that amounts to 28% of Google's total revenue through Google AdSense (see the Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdSense).

So yep, I'm not going to spam people on my blog or on my YouTube feed with ads in so-called monetization that does very little to actually provide what is promised.  Especially troubling is that there are stories about how Google had disabled Adsense accounts before they had to pay out those accounts that finally made it to $100.00.  Many of these people had waited out months, even years, to generate this amount of money after allowing the spamming of hundreds of thousands of ads on their websites or blogs.  And what it their reward?  To have Google accuse them of fraud, claiming in an email that, after review, these accounts had certain questionable activities, but never specifies exactly what.  Sure, there is a process of appeal, but a good portion of those people that try get stonewalled.  It would seem Google banks on them figuring it too much a bother to take legal action upon Google for this scam. The legal fees alone would cost more than the actual money that would be fought for.  What fairness would there be to support this sort of thing or expect that I would be an exception to the rule?  Therefore, Google can scam its billions of dollars through the program without me.

As for evidence of this scam, you don't have to take my word that it goes on.  Not only can you check the Wiki link provided, but you can, in all irony, Google it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tolkien: Where's The Hook In Lord Of The Rings?

I write this partly in argument with regards to the standard formula that many people tell you must be done to write a good book.  In particular, there is always in one writing group I try to get to as often as possible, when the question is always asked, "Where's the hook?"

Depending on what writing school of thought you come from, the narrative hook is among the top things that perceived important to get to in the writing of a book. First or second to that is the initial exposition. Some also seem to confuse or infuse the two.  But the main aspect of the narrative hook is something that sets up the main conflict of a story. It's supposed to be the crucial purpose that gives the reader a legitimate emotional reason to continue reading. This hook can be a paragraph long, or simply a sentence in length.  It is expected to, come some time withing the first chapter, and some debate that it should be the first sentence.

So let's look at Tolkien's first line of chapter 1 of The Fellowship Of The Ring:

"When Mr. Bildo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement  in Hobbiton."

Is this a hook?  No, though it is a bit of exposition in a rather run on sort of sentence.  Some would even call it passive, and it is highly descriptive.  It sets up the scene for what much of the chapter is to be about, which is the party that Bilbo Baggins is about to throw.  But it certainly does not hook a reader into any conflict  per se.  Nor do I know what legitimat emotion reason is had there for continuing to read on other than the curiosity of what this party will be like, and what may happen at it.  

The next paragraph continues in exposition of who Bilbo Baggins is, and what is the nature of his place in the society of the hobbits.  By the fourth paragraph, we are introduced to Frodo and his relation to Bilbo. The fifth paragraph furthers exposition by giving some relevance to Bilbo's age of 111 and Frodo's at 33.  It isn't until the last page and a half that you get to something of a hook. That is, the conversation between Gandalf and Frodo about the ring and Frodo's desire to go off on his own adventure.  This hook isn't neatly packaged in a single sentence or paragraph, but flows out as the events to lead on to what's to come. But a concise hook, it is not.

However, do readers of The Lord Of The Rings even care about this?  No. Why? Because the book isn't driven by the same sort of cookie cutter character progression that more modern writing has made essentially standard.  The idea is not to limit the story to the formula, but to drive it with descriptive scenic writing that give a reader the sense of 'being there' - that is, to be immersive into the world, and not getting so engrossed into the characters and the icon of persona.  Naturally, people will gravitate towards Frodo's main story as the main protagonist, but, there is also intrigue in the other characters, races, and their homes and how they live that go beyond the cult of personality that is so ingrained in our modern authorship.  

Formula should help set up the road, not drive in the roadblocks to a story.  Tolkien is a great example of how you can use formula, but also follow in the instinct of storytelling as well. 

That's not to say that the whole putting of exposition and hook in same first sentence ought never be done and doesn't work.  It has for thousands of years, such as in the Illiad's  first two verses:

μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε

Which transliterates:

menin aeide thea Peleiadeo Achileos
oulomenen, he mnoi Achaiois alege etheke

Which translates:

Wrath, chant goddess, of Peleian-son Achilles, 
accursed of countless Achaeans' suffering sown.  

Just remember that you don't have to go straight to action and talking about tragedy, killing, and death to attract the reader's attention.  And sometimes subtleties work better than a direct approach.