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500 Words on Remakes

Courtesy LionsGate

I’ve taken it upon myself, on multiple occasions, to take tales told since time immemorial and put them in modern context. Greek myths in space, Norse myths in the Old West, and so on. So, as a rule, I have nothing against remakes. I think they can be good, if they are done correctly and with respect. I

Consider Dredd and the 2011 version of Conan the Barbarian. In both cases, the title character eschews a great deal more towards the material from which they were born. Karl Urban as Dredd never takes off his helmet, doesn’t go for bombastic declarations, and the atmosphere around him is gritty and realistic rather than grandiose and covered in shiny metal or neon lights.

As for Conan, while the 1982 version is a lovely classic of good old-fashioned high fantasy sword-and-sandals adventure, the 2011 version had a title character who hewed closer to Robert E Howard’s text. Conan was never a man of great words or deep letters, but Arnold’s nearly silent performance was a bit too stoic. Jason Momoa, in addition to being closer to the description Howard gave us, speaks often and echoes the original tales. I will admit, the statement of purpose we got from Arnold in 1982 is pretty killer:

“Conan! What is best in life?”
“TO CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES, TO SEE THEM DRIVEN BEFORE YOU, AND TO HEAR THE LAMENTATIONS OF THEIR WOMEN.”

But in 2011, Conan boils himself down this:

“I live, I love, I slay, and I am content.”

These words come from arguably the most well-known Conan story, ‘Queen of the Black Coast’.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

I for one would love to see Jason Momoa star in a depiction of ‘Queen of the Black Coast’, or ‘Red Nails’. I’d like to think there’s potential for an adaptation of one or both of these tales. Especially with the way Mr. Momoa broods, sneers, laughs, and fights when we saw him playing Conan. Basically, I’m adding this idea to my “future content creation” bucket list.

Hey, a man can dream, right?

Rewarding Rewrites

Courtesy floating robes
Courtesy Floating Robes

You finished writing something! Congratulations! All your time and sweat and inspiration and maybe even some blood has contributed into a new idea and a powerful work you feel some measure of pride for. Yay!

Now go rewrite it.

Any writer who’s actually worth their ink will tell you that you’re an idiot if you think the first draft of anything is worth reading. I mean, yeah, you have good ideas, interesting characters, some cracking dialog, and maybe even a powerful theme or two, but let’s face it, after tens or hundreds of thousands of words, you’re at a very different place at the end of the story than when you were at the beginning. Once you reach the end, you can go back to the beginning with fresh eyes and start pulling out things that don’t work. Use a scalpel in some places, a hatchet in others, and the rubber cement of new words in between.

It’s arduous at times, and takes time away from the fresh new ideas dancing like sugar plums in our heads, but it’s ultimately rewarding.

Rewrites make our stories better. As we smooth out rough passages and form more coherent connections between the events in the story, we make the read more enjoyable. Taking the time to rewrite means refining our story more and more. Sometimes this means losing words left and right, and other times you’ll find chapters growing or splitting to accommodate more text. Either way, once you’re done with the rewrite, you get to feel accomplished all over again.

The way I see it, every rewrite yields something new, and there’s always something that can be touched up a little. So if your writing is out there, and nobody seems to be picking it up, keep rewriting until someone does. Find your rewards in this process, and the rewards of actual recognition will be all the sweeter as a result.

And So It Begins

Red Pen

I spent a little extra time at the office last night printing out Citizen in the Wilds. Technically it’s now in its second draft, as I rewrote the first three paragraphs before printing. I think the opening is a bit stronger, now. The plan is to do a little revising and editing on the first chapter or two today, and transcribe those change into a Google document tomorrow. If you want an invite, let me know. The more the merrier.

In addition I’m looking to enter Blizzard’s fiction contest. They want a short work of fiction between 2.5k and 7.5k words in length. I’m shooting for the middle, around 4500. It has to be set in the universes of Warcraft, Starcraft or Diablo. In the interest of staying original, and veering away from self-insertion by channeling one of my Warcraft characters (which might actually be against the rules of the contest, to boot) I’ll be writing a story set in Starcraft’s worlds. Tentative title is The Haunting of Pridewater. Should make for an interesting sci-fi “war is hell” yarn.

So that’ll be my day, Internets. How’s yours shaping up? How are folks doing at Origins? Anybody else excited for the US/Ghana match his afternoon?

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