Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The trouble with being a Writer

Today's blog entry doesn't really have a point, except to discuss my own personal dilemma, specifically the question of when do I let people read things I have written.

As you all know, I finished NaNoWriMo last month (and won - see the banner thing in the sidebar) and last night I re-opened the document to have a look at it and start to figure out where to start in the editing process. And there's so much. And I don't know whether any of the novel is any good.

So I thought about getting people to read it and give me feedback, which would be fine, except that I really want to re-organise it and get it sorted out before anyone reads it, but I don't know if it's worthwhile sorting out or whether it's just a big mess of ramblings. (Much like these blogs often are)

So my question today is directed to other writers - when do you decide it's time? Do you ask people who you know will say nice things just to encourage you? Do you insist on honesty all the time?

I just don't really know where to start - instead of editing anything last night, I simply organised and finished naming the chapters, with some wierd chapter titles, some of which are just strange.

Don't believe me? Here's the list (WARNING - Very long list)

Chapter One – Just Another Night at Work
Chapter Two – Alone…
Chapter Three – The Trouble with Jack
Chapter Four – The Misadventures of Erroneous Hinge
Chapter Five - Angels and Beanstalks
Chapter Six – The Time Travel Begins
Chapter Seven - Releasing a Mentally Deranged Man into the Surrounding Area
Chapter Eight – No Longer Alone…
Chapter Nine – A Normal Dave-Based Day
Chapter Ten – Taking Victor from Victory leaves Why?
Chapter Eleven – Back to the Present
Chapter Twelve - Lords and Playwrights and Short Skirts, Oh My!
Chapter Thirteen - Dave, a man in search of the plot, or at least some suitable exposition
Chapter Fourteen – Exposition 2: This Time it’s Personal
Chapter Fifteen – Up, up and… down again
Chapter Sixteen – Return to the Scene of the Crime
Chapter Seventeen – An Evening in the Pub
Chapter Eighteen – The Story so Far
Chapter Nineteen - A lab, two scientists and a shadowy figure
Chapter Twenty – The Investigation Continues
Chapter Twenty-One – In which two groups of protagonists finally meet
Chapter Twenty-Two – A Victor(ious) return
Chapter Twenty-Three – Follow the Yellow Brick Road? Really?
Chapter Twenty-Four - Rest and Recuperation (Or at least, not getting shot at for a change)
Chapter Twenty-Five – Turtles need Love too
Chapter Twenty-Six – Return to 1864
Chapter Twenty-Seven - The Loss of the Road
Chapter Twenty-Eight - Which is set in the present, but occurs before Chapter Twenty-Six in Sian’s personal Timeline
Chapter Twenty-Nine – The Wizard’s Abode
Chapter Thirty – Escape!
Chapter Thirty-One - Erroneous leaps into action (Slowly)
Chapter Thirty-Two - The arrival of Angel
Chapter Thirty-Three – Backstory
Chapter Thirty-Four – Extended Cliffhanger
Chapter Thirty-Five - The Present Past Andrew meets the Past Present Andrew
Chapter Thirty-Six – Cliffhanger Extension Part Two
Chapter Thirty-Seven – 19th Century Espionage
Chapter Thirty-Eight - The Resolution of the ever-more-irritating Cliffhanger
Chapter Thirty-Nine - The Tale that Sam just promised he’d tell you
Chapter Forty –The Continuation of Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Forty-One – An Erroneous Climax
Chapter Forty-Two – Everywhere and Nowhere
Chapter Forty-Three – The End?
Epilogue – What Happened Next.

I invite comments / suggestions / answers for the questions I posed in this post (or anything else you want)

Monday, 14 December 2009

Theatre 2: The Rise of the Theatrical Sequels

My dear reader, have you noticed the rising case of sequel-itis in the world today? (Yes, it is a word. I don't care what you say, my blog - my words, clear?) Everything seems to get inappropriate sequels at some point or another - films, books and now stage shows.

Yes, in a (not-really-very-at-all) veiled way, I'm talking about the new show from Andrew Lloyd-Webber "Phantom: Love Never Dies".

So it's a sequel to Phantom of the Opera, which, if he feels there is a good story to be told in it (And seeing as Frederick Forsythe managed to get an entire novel "The Phantom of Manhattan" out of the idea of a sequel to the show, and being as Lloyd-Webber has used some or all of that plotline in his new show, then one has to assume that he does) then it's fine by me, but the cynical part of my brain does wonder how much of it is a desire to revisit that world, and how much of his enthusiasm was simply to do with the fact that every show he has written since that point has been compared to Phantom.

Examples according to my extensive research (and by extensive research, I mean thinking about it hard, because I saw both of these adverts myself) are that Whistle Down the Wind had "Lloyd-Webber's best show since Phantom" as a quote outside the theatre when it ran, and The Woman in White had almost the exact same quote also. So is it just the case that he decided he should return to the scene of what is considered to be his greatest success?

And if that is the case, how much of it will carry over? Will it be an entirely new tale just told with the same characters and nothing else? Or will we be expecting a reprise of the title song from Phantom of the Opera when the Phantom first dramatically reveals himself? (And of course he'll do it dramatically, he's a deformed psychotic who wears a white half-mask. He'll have trouble doing it in any un-dramatic way). Will Lloyd-Webber go further than that and incorporate themes and reprises from the previous show? Will anything happen in the sequel that devalues the original (such as the entire of the original show, up to and including it's conclusion, turns out to be part of the Phantom's plan all along)?

Put broadly - how familiar will you have to be with the original in order to watch the sequel? Because if anything more than a passing familiarity is required, then I have a feeling that it will be a short-lived experiment. Looking back at the history of them, theatrical sequels have never done particularly well. Examples include:

Annie Warbucks - An attempt to continue the story of everyone's most irritating small ginger child, this ran for 200 performances in 1993... which is OK. I mean it's not an outright failure like the original Annie sequel was (apparently entitled Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge, and if you read the synopsis, it sounds hilarious - for all the wrong reasons!) but it's not going to trouble any "longest-running show on Broadway" records, or even make it's money back, is it?

Snoopy!!! - The Musical - A moderately successful sequel to "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown", I suspect that the secret to it's mild success is that it belongs to the camp of sequels where you take the characters (which had the advantage to being instantly recognisable to millions of people anyway) and just tell a brand new story around them.

The Best Little Whorehouse goes Public - A Sequel to "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" this ran for just 16 performances, making it the most obvious outright failure in this list.

So what's your opinion for the general failure of stage sequels Brawny? asks the average reader (Look at me, assuming I have more than one reader, how confident am I?)

It's simple. Sequels on film and in print can work, especially given the rise of Video/DVD (And for those youngsters out there, Video is those big black tapes...) so that now we can own the original and see it any time we want. But stage isn't like that. If you need to have significant knowledge of the original show, then you need to have seen it before you see the sequel. Snoopy!!! - The Musical (Yes, the three exclamation marks appear to actually be part of the title) probably worked best because it was a new, self-contained story, featuring characters that you could have been exposed to any other way.

Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge, however, appears to be the worst type of sequel, picking up straight where the original left off and effectively continuing the story. Films can get away with this (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for example) but shows really can't. So I watch how the Phantom sequel progresses with interest. I'm sure I shall see it at some point, as I'm interested, and Neety is a big fan of the original, so I shall let you all know.

And now, for your comic amusement, potential sequels for current West End Shows, as considered by Money-Grabbing Producers, following the obvious trend of trying to tell a new story while bringing back as much of the audience-pleasing elements and characters as you can:

Oliver! 2 - Ignoring the fact that Dickens never wrote a sequel to the original novel that inspired the musical, the new story starts with Oliver getting left behind as his new family move out of the city, and he then has to wander through the city attempting to find his new home. Part Road-Trip, part Home Alone (or Home Alone 2: Lost in New York), it gives Oliver plenty of opportunity to run into previous characters such as Fagin or the Artful Dodger, or maybe even Bet (who, being as she is so pointlessly sidelined in the original, is the obvious choice for a female lead, continuing in her quest to be the next Nancy). Who would be the antagonist? Why the returning Mr Bumble of course, who has decided for whatever reason, that he wants Oliver returned...

Mamma Mia 2 - After the anti-climatic ending of the previous musical, where Sophie's father is not revealed, and she doesn't actually get married, this production picks up a couple of years later, with her preparing to wed again, and re-opening the question of who her father is, as Bill and Harry have disappeared from her life again, and Sam is too busy fighting with Donna to spend any time with her. What follows is basically a re-hash of the first plot, utilising the second tier of ABBA songs (i.e. the ones that weren't good enough to put in Mamma Mia) ending with everyone happily married, the parentage issue sorted and a curtain call identical to the one from the first show, just so the audience don't feel ripped off...

Les Miserables 2 - OK, so nearly everyone died in the first one but that's never been a big problem for sequels. Taking Marius and Cosette, the story follows them fighting their way through the early stages of a relationship against the backdrop of 19th century France. Returning characters Thernadier and his wife become overly comic, losing all of their threatening edge, and almost annoy the audience to the point of leaving, before attempting to bring back some goodwill by bursting into their original show-stopping number "Master of the House". Meanwhile a shadowy figure is attempting to destroy Marius and Cosette's lives, who is revealed at the end of the show to be none other than Javert, whose suicide failed, and he had spent all this time plotting his revenge... Will Marius and Cosette survive? Will Javert succeed? Does anyone care?

Wicked 2 - The novel on which this wonderful piece of theatre would be based already exists, and Son of the Witch utilises one of those most traditional traits in sequels, the children of the original protagonists. In this story the son of Elpheba and Fiyero basically goes on a quest, and stuff happens. I'm amazed this isn't in production right now.

We Will Rock You 2 - Take more Queen songs, and glue them together. Oh wait, this is in production and entitled "The Show Must Go On". Oh well, at least Queen had enough good songs to fill a second show, unlike ABBA...

Any further suggestions? As always, feel free to make them in the comments section...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Well - The Internet Finally Got Me

You remember when Internet shopping was just a fad that only geeks did, and everyone said "Oh be careful, you never know what you're buying, someone will rip you off"? Well I never had an issue with it then...

Shame I do now.

I attempted to buy a DVD from a retailer I had never used before last week, and said DVD was for a Christmas Present. They were very efficient and sent me e-mails confirming my order, confirming every change in it's order status, and telling me when it was sent out.

However, when I received it (or rather, when I picked it up from the Post Office on Saturday because I'd had one of the stupid little red cards again) I was less than impressed. It was a bootleg.

Don't get me wrong, it was a pretty well made bootleg - but there are signs, and the picture quality wasn't as good as it should have been, and there's no way I'm giving it to someone as a Christmas present.

So this is just to warn you - the website www.dvd4utoo.com - sells bootlegs. (I'm not going to link them, because then they get the attention). The Paypal name utilised by the seller is Benaya. And my advice is as follows:

Don't go near it.

Thus ends Brawny's public announcement, go about your daily business.

(Next blog will be funnier / more informative, I promise)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

A follow up...

While my previous rant was about the uselessness of Facebook Groups, there are ones that set out to achieve things, which is good.

In particular this one, which is encouraging people to club together and buy "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine next week, so that it can defeat the pointless X-Factor winners single and become Christmas Number One!

It's all just a bit of fun - plus it's a good song!

I shall be buying it any time on Dec 13th or later, feel free to join me!

Simply clicking on a button is not (usually) a valid form of protest

It's time for that infamous question - What's been annoying you today Brawny?

Well, apart from the usual (lack of money, annoyance with job, still no concrete plans to move back to Poole, still worrying about the Christmas presents I ordered online weeks ago that haven't yet arrived), there is one thing that's been irritating me in the last few days...

Facebook groups.

For those few of you who don't have Facebook, groups are exactly what they sound like, people united under a common banner or cause. When Facebook started (although I obviously mean when I started to use Facebook, as I have no previous knowledge of what it was like before I used it. For all I know it could have been a site which flashed up an image of Santa Claus knifing a small child while a loop of a distorted version of "Santa Claus is coming to town" played in the background. I think it unlikely, but one never knows for sure (Incidentally, can you tell that I'm having a strangely festive day, due to the large amount of Christmas influence in that metaphor? Thought so)) then groups seemed to primarily be for people to show appreciation of films, TV, music etc., or to group up with some of your friends (groups for organisations you belong to, etc.). Now, since they created pages for which you can become a "fan", most music/TV/Films have graduated to those, (Although there's still no Norwich and Saggers page, shamefully) and groups have become the subject of "comedy".

Now when I say "Comedy" I mean it in the lowest sense, the comedy usually coming from funny group titles or strange situations. (Yes I am aware that sentence makes me sound like a comedy snob, but tough (Do you get comedy snobs? I guess you do, being as I am one of them))

Now this is fine - it's annoying when people invite you to join groups that you don't want to join, and I don't understand why you'd join a group which just had a funny name but nothing else - and therefore no reason to have a group rather than simply writing the joke in your status or anything else, but it does occasionally throw up such amusing titles such as the one I joined yesterday, purely to honour the title "Girls, stop flicking your bean to Twilight, and go make me a Bacon Sandwich", which is, quite frankly, hilarious.

But the types of groups which annoy me the most are the "If [enter stupidly large number] of people join, then [enter task / achievement]"

(By the way, I attempted to make the post easy to understand for those who don't use facebook, but I don't care anymore, so apologies if I end up alienating any of you)

These types of groups can be easily divided into two sections: The personal, which are challenges made by people, and the ones I like to term the NFW groups (if you don't understand what I mean by NFW, then tough, I'm not explaining it here), in which the result of the challenge is something completely out of the control of the person who made the group.

Having just searched Facebook groups for the key words "If people join" (Which, incidentally has returned a horrendous number of results) then I can see that the vast majority of these groups are personal, which while they may be stupid, I have no problem with. If you want to turn your house into a pirate ship, or tattoo Facebook on your neck, or legally change your name to Edward Cullen, and you feel that getting a million people to say you should do it somehow justifies the idiotic decision (talk about peer pressure) then fine. The point is that these tasks are achievable because the only idiot who needs persuading is the person who put it up in the first place. As soon as you involve other people, however, you know that it won't happen. For example there's a group entitled "If 1,170,000 people join, My Girlfriend will Marry Me!". I have news for you my friend, no she won't. If she doesn't want to marry you now, getting a load of strangers to click on a button won't change that.

The other type of group, however, which is still in the minority, gives examples of such things as "If 10,000,000 people join this, they will make an all Family Guy channel!", "If 1,000,000 people join then the original Facebook will stay" or "If 10,000,000 people join, Emma Watson will date me"

These are the types I hate - because they are blatantly promising something that they have no control over (OK, I grant you that the Emma Watson one is probably a joke) but people seem to think that just by clicking a button they can create a TV channel, or change the minds of people who have redesigned something for a reason. WAKE UP! NOTHING WILL HAPPEN!

Having just spent my time scrawling through some of my search results to find examples, what has also disturbed me slightly is how many comedy groups there are that say "If [insert number here] join then NOTHING WILL HAPPEN [Or some other comic witticism]" Whilst I hold no issues with their viewpoint, being as it is similar to my own, the number of groups with slight variations on that name now seem to vastly exceed the number of groups created by people being serious - so the parodies and sarcasm is now enveloping the original subject, until eventually the sarcasm and parody will be all that is left. Also, if you hate such groups so much, then why spend the time creating a group moaning about it? That just seems silly to me..

Although I have now spent time blogging about it, so maybe I'm just as bad...

Anyways - I shall return with another blog at some point soon. Maybe the next one will be interesting, you never know...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Criminally Idiotic, and a caption competition!

Is it just me, or is this the most pointless crime ever? Surely it's just one step from skip-raiding? (Which, incidentally, no-one cares about, because the stuff being stolen is rubbish) Yes, I understand that Oxfam are losing clothes, and that's a bad thing because charity shops need stuff to sell to make money. That I understand.

But what goes through the mind of the criminals who decide to do it? Apparently "Eight bags of charity clothing were stolen in the latest incident on Friday."

What are you going to do with eight bags worth of clothes that have been donated to Oxfam? Unless the thieves were very picky with what they stole, those clothes aren't going to fit them, so they're not stealing for themselves, and unless Skegness has a thriving underground second hand clothes market, then they can't be making much money off it.

I'm confused - it just seems like a lot of trouble to go to in order to procure bags full of clothes you can't do anything with... especially considering that apparently "They are putting a person into the hopper, usually a child, into a dark metal bank ..." Taking a child out with you in order to rip off some charity clothes seems overly organised to me. If it had happened once, then I'd think it was some idiotically drunk people who happened to have a midget with them (and who wouldn't like to have a midget with them when out on the town, they're party animals), who decided that it would be funny. But to do it repeatedly? They're wierd...


I think they work at Butlins in Skegness and they need costumes for shows etc. So they're on the scrounge. That's my theory (Which is in no way affected by the fact that Butlins in Skegness turned me down for a job years ago). I don't have any proof of it, you understand, but that's just how it is.

Scavvy Butlins Bastards :)

On a mostly un-related note (I say mostly un-related, I saw this while I was reading the article, so it's kind of related in that sense) I do think that BBC News should be careful as to what their overtly long article titles get reduced to on the sidebar...

Growing up with an absent fat what? Consider this a caption competition - leave your responses in the comments.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Return of the Brawn!

Hi Bloggees!

So I'm back, after my month-long silence (bar the two exceptions) having successfully completed my NaNoWriMo novel, which is something I'm pretty proud of. (Proud of having completed it I mean, not necessarily proud of some of the actual writing - but that's what editing is for)

And for my return, you'll be pleased to hear it's time for another Brawny rant!

Last week, I came across this news story which is so ridiculous it made me laugh and spit the coke I was drinking out of my nose. (Technically, that sentence used artistic licence as I hadn't been drinking coke at the time I saw the story, but if I had been then it would have come out of my nose, and I think that's important to get across).

In a week where discussions of Modern Warfare 2 were rife, it seems as if this study was conveniently released in order to play up the hype. Granted, it's not about Modern Warfare 2, but I suspect that's only because it wasn't released by the time the study was done. It is about other violent games of that nature however, and the things that made me astonished was when the news article makes this wonderful statement.

"Human rights groups played various games to see if any broke humanitarian laws that govern what is a war crime."

I'm sorry, what??? Since when did laws apply to un-real situations? You say that there are things you can do in any of the games they played that you would be arrested for in real life? I'm appalled...

And I know what you're thinking, you're thinking "Brawny, you're not appalled at all". I am, I'm appalled that anyone thinks this study is worthwhile! Seriously, the study that was done tells us that "... games were sending an "erroneous" message that conflicts were waged without limits or that anything was acceptable in counter-terrorism operations. "This is especially problematic in view of today's reality," said the study. "

Especially problematic in view of today's reality? What, because we all play video games and are all idiots who can't differentiate between reality and a game? But films and books are OK because they're passive and you don't interact with them?

Luckily, it doesn't appear that anyone of any legal or political power has taken any notice of this, and that's because it's ludicrous. However, in the spirit of the study I present a selection of re-designed games (all (C) Brawny 2009) in order to reflect real world laws within the game.


Instead of rushing around a maze eating dots from the floor (which do not belong to you) and then occasionally making a Ghost flash so that you can eat it (which I'm sure counts as murder, even if the Ghost returns after a while), my new version of the classic game has you moving Pac-Man around aimlessly until you find a Ghost, at which point you enter into a dialogue with him to find out why he keeps getting in your way and is trying to stop you at every step of the way. Maybe you would then go for counselling together as a way of getting over these hurdles. And if any cherries or other fruit stuff appear in front of you, you are penalised for eating them, instead you should pick them up and drop them off at the police station so that they can be returned to their owner.


The entire premise of this game is ridiculous, as you run through strange foreign lands, including repeatedly breaking into castles, in order to murder countless poor henchmen and then murder a large turtle simply because he has a spiky shell and therefore must be evil. Also, you maintain he did in fact kidnap the Princess, but do you have any evidence of this? Because if it's just that she told you, then you need some corroborative evidence or that'll never stand up in court. What you should do instead is simply call the police and hire a negotiator to persuade Bowser to release the princess.


You run around and kill Zombies. This is clearly murder. You can also destroy pieces of building, cars and anything else. This is clearly Vandalism. You also break into facilities in order to kill more Zombies. This is clearly breaking and entering. You may think you can cover this up by being a government agent, but you have never once proffered the correct paperwork to your victims before you blow their heads off. I can think of no way to make this game comply with laws at all - it should just be banned.


I believe the clue is in the title. Oh, and you can murder people crossing the street. Instead, the game should be re-tooled so that it is entitled "Do you mind if I borrow your car?". The object being that firstly you have to negotiate a vehicle from its owner, and then you have to drive around, sticking to the speed limit and stopping at every red light, whilst performing day-to-day tasks such as the shopping and going to work.


OK, I can't find any specific laws broken in this game, apart from possibly disturbing the peace. Unless my new law comes into practice which is the "If you're going to attempt to create music in any fashion, learn how to be in tune first" law.

Now I know I've been silly in this post (and aren't I always anyway?) but my point simply is that you cannot apply real world logic to un-real objects, be they game, film or book. So people shouldn't try.