Monday, October 31, 2011

Sleepless Nights

Morning came, much like the mornings before it, bright and clear and beautiful.  I would have loved waking up to it.  A good morning stretch with a wide yawn cracking my jaw and ending in a smile would have been a cheery way to greet the morning.

Had I slept.

Had sleep even been part of my vocabulary last night.

Sadly, it was not.  Instead I lay awake, watching the night slip away into the darkness as it ate itself slice by slice and turned into day.  There was no appreciation for the sun, no sweet dreams to kiss regrettably goodbye for another day and no welcome stretch to greet the morning.  I met it with a frown instead.  One more day to chase away the sleep I yearned for, one more hour to trudge through.

I got up.

It took me another half of an hour but I did get up, finally admitting I wasn't going to sleep and I had things to do.  I drifted from one room to the next, preparing for a day that I'd never really left and hoped to finally leave that night when I chased after the hope of dreams once more.

It wouldn't have been so bad if I had at least been tired.  If I had at least been rewarded from my long night of laying awake and thinking with some sign that this night at last I would lay down and find rest.  But no.  I was as awake as a rooster after a good night's sleep, even without the good night's sleep.  My body was heavy, run down but like the night before my mind was quick, ready to go, wanting to learn, to move to sing.  I let it go, trying to sleep once more even with the sun so high in the sky but still my mind refused to settle.

Oh well.  Another day, another minute, none of them wasted as each moment was crammed with thoughts of this, that, and the other.  What was I to write today?  What was I to sing about with so many thoughts muddled together and raging?  Where was the sorting, the organization and the order!

There is no order in a sleepless mind.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Having a Clear View and a Loose Hold

I have been very badly stuck for the last several weeks but I have been incredibly reluctant to call it writer's block.  Really?  I should have labeled it as that to begin with and then just found a way around it.  I wasn't sure what to do and I was allowing myself to be really depressed about a number of things.  I've come to the conclusion that for my own ability to write I MUST NOT send my work to anyone else for any reason other than that I am sending them my completed novel to read for their own enjoyment.  I am far too influenced by every opinion and I so desperately want to please people that I will change everything with every opinion I get.  I have realized I am not one of those people who can sift through the opinions for the gems and keep the writing my own.  I need to focus on my own writing for my own reasons.

Now that does not mean I will cease asking for help.  Of course if I'm stuck I intend to ask for loads of help, but it's not quite the same as having someone reading your work with the purpose of judging it.  I can't stand judging from that perspective.  I really just want everyone to love everything I do.  That being said I know that's not possible too, but if I am serious about this I'm going to have to give that illusion up especially.  So I am going to take some advice from a very wise man (I'm sorry it took me so long to get it Warren) and I am going to eventually put my work out there for people's enjoyment but I am probably not going to utilize critique groups any longer or ask for critiques from people.  I need to learn to do it on my own at some point anyway, especially if it's going to be a career.

Now, as to having a clear view and a loose hold, I've found that some advice from another friend of mine has been very useful in getting me to write again.  I ended up free writing an interesting scene for the story that popped into my head.  It's only about 5 pages, I have NO idea where it actually is in the story but it allowed me to decide a great many things about where the story was going.  I haven't done a concrete outline with this one in the same way I have previously and writing this future scene I have found the desire and recaptured my interest in the story.  From that point on I started writing the chapter I'd left unfinished and I am feeling altogether good about everything once more.

Will I end up using that chapter?  Who knows, I might use it and expand on it, I might use it as a jumping point or I might never actually utilize what I've written in this story in any of my chapters but I find I'm not so worried about that at the moment.  What I need to concentrate on is what I CAN do and what I can do is write and get more of the story done.  For once I've actually been up for incredible amounts of time and I'm still going strong.  Every time I stop and hesitate this time I go back and continue writing on a different scene.  I read in one of my books a suggestion to write scenes on cue cards with character names.  You write all the interesting scenes you can think of for each character then arrange them.  That's the quick look of it, but hey!  It seems to be a good system for me.  I'll keep it up and maybe I'll finish another chunk of my novel.  I think this has finally been my tipping point and now I just have to keep myself from procrastinating!

(The blog post is an obligation and it helps me keep track of the things I find out, so I don't entirely consider it procrastination! lol!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Consistant Characters

I find one of the hardest things to do at times is to keep my characters consistent.  Usually if I write them all at once they end up being consistent but at times (like right now) when I'm not righting consistently the characters can suffer.  I forget what they look like or what they were supposed to be doing in the story, I forget their motivation or the way that they speak.

The best way to combat this that I've found is to keep a separate note-book for all of the information that is actually just information instead of "story".  I have a synopsis for each character which includes their Motivations, a little bit of their history, some notes about where I was going with them.  I also have their appearances so it stays consistent from beginning to end.  It's been incredibly useful when I'm writing (even when it's in a short period of time) as a handy reference to look back at.  It's also a great place to keep the names of smaller characters.

Who wants to flip through the novel while they're working at it just to find a name that's mentioned once of a guard or something who made a ten second appearance?  (Makes me go, why did I name that character again?  He's never going to be seen after this...)  By keeping track of who says or does what I can reference it easily and then I don't have to go through the story again.  That's a good thing as far as I can tell since it does keep me writing at a relatively quick pace when I do write.

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Rule of Writing - WRITE

I find myself in a quandary today.  I am trying to think of something useful to write that will be interesting to those who read my blog (since I know there's a few of you, hi all!).  Yet I find myself stumped.  For the first time in awhile I find that I am excited to be working on my writing (say hello to the cable being out for 4 days, it's back now but I can pretend it's still out >.>), yet I can't think of anything to write here and writing my novel terrifies me.

Maybe that's something to talk about.  Have you ever written something that terrifies you to continue?  I don't even know why working on my novel freaks me out so much.  Maybe I'm afraid of success.  Or maybe it's failure.  Or possibly both.  Though if I'm so afraid of failure I don't know why I wouldn't have finished it already twice over!  You'd think in that case I'd want to finish it so I wouldn't feel like a failure, so I guess that leaves that I must be afraid of success.

I had a really bad experience with a critique group that was repeated in my classes in university rather too many times for my liking.  At that point I was so crushed because of the things I let other people tell me I had no spirit left with which to write.  I tried art, computers, anything to get me out of my writing funk but it really just came down to the fact that I didn't think I could do it anymore.  I let mean people who didn't know what they were talking about any better than I did tell me that I wasn't good enough.  In all fairness I had esteem issues before that class so it probably hit me a lot worse than anyone intended, but there it is.

Now I've let that affect me for far, far too long.  I've got to realize that yeah, it happened, some people didn't like my work, so what?  I don't have any less to say, it doesn't make me less creative, it doesn't make my world less likely to be written.  The only thing that has any affect on any of those things is me, myself, and I.  So it's about time that I take responsibility for that.

The first rule of writing is to write.  So if I'm going to follow those rules then I need to stop making excuses, stop blaming everything else around me and go write.  So let me encourage you to do the same.  If you're serious about your writing, if this is what you really want to do with your life, stop making excuses, find the moments, find the time, find the courage, and just go write.  That's what I'm going to do.

Friday, October 21, 2011

He said, She said

I got into an interesting discussion on the WD forum recently.  I had mentioned my utter disgust with the word "said" in my own writing.  Now let me be clear about one thing, I CAN read it in other people's work, usually I don't even notice it.  (I usually skip over the "said" though I know it's there).  In my own work?  I can't stand it.  I will write dialogue and then reach the end where "he said" would go and I just stop and shudder when I consider putting "said" in there.

Again, there's nothing wrong with using Joe said, or whoever said in your writing.  I came to the realization that I disliked the word when I was younger and writing a lot of dialogue.  I realized that I was using it every few lines and frankly I already have problems with repetition in words...  I decided to stop using it along with "replied" and "asked".

The first problem I ran into when I stopped using he said, she said was clarity.  I was no longer using any tags at all to indicate who was speaking.  When dialogue is really strong and there's only two characters chatting it's easy enough to write it without using "said".  The reader can assume that the characters are going back and forth in their discussion and realistically quotation marks are already telling the reader that the characters are talking, so why reiterate that with said?  However I did find that when my character's voices weren't very strong it got confusing very, very quickly.  So how did I fix it?

I began to add actions.  What are the characters doing?  What is their expression like?  What are they observing?  It's easy to add too many descriptions, if the dialogue is going well and it's firing back and forth and easy to follow then it's probably not the right place to add an action unless it enhances or directly affects the dialogue.  That's the key I try to follow.  I add action descriptions for two reasons, one to denote who is speaking when there's more than two people and two to further the scene, the story and the dialogue.  I will always believe that adding something like this is more useful than saying "Joe said" after your speech unless absolutely necessary.  It's become a pet peeve of mine in my own writing and I do think I'm very much in the minority on this, but that's okay.  Everyone's got their own style and this just happens to be a part of mine that I see no reason to change.  I'm sure a "he said" will pop in my writing somewhere eventually, but for the moment I've got too much of a block toward that particular phrasing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Family vs Peers, who should read it first?

Lately I've been considering who to give my novel to when it's finished.  Do I give it to my family?  Friends?  Peers?  Try and find an agent or editor to read it?

My first question is going to be this, who is my audience?  If my family reads the type of book I write and can give me an honest review then yeah!  Why wouldn't I?  But if they're not my audience, if they don't have any interest in the things that I write then as supportive as they are they're not the right people to give it to.

So what about friends?  Again, audience is a huge aspect of it.  With friends though you have to remember which friend you're giving it to.  Are they going to be able to tell me not only an honest review but one that is going to be constructive in its criticisms and specific in the things that work and that they like?  If they're not or if they're not into that kind of book do I really want them to be reading it?  And if they don't like it will they be afraid to tell me for the sake of our friendship?  Consider your audience and the people you're giving the work to, if you don't think you can take what they have to say, they're probably not the best person to give it to.  Again, even if they're super supportive that may not be what you're looking for.

Your peers (other writers) who have shown a good ability to take and receive criticism (which could also be your friends), and who are interested in the genre you're writing is perhaps one of the best ways to share your work and get very good feedback.  The only problem with this avenue that I've found is that sometimes your peers forget that they shouldn't be editing your voice along with the rest of their critique.  I've definitely been guilty of that in the past and I've been learning how awful it can be if you don't pay attention to that.  When you're critiquing someone else's work you're not supposed to make it yours.  Don't change the language but highlight what you don't understand.  If you've got some awesome peers?  Then this is definitely one of the better ways to go in my estimation.

The editor?  An awesome option right?  Someone who's professional, who knows to edit your grammar and to clarify your story and language.  There's only one problem.  They can be expensive!  You're definitely paying someone to do the work and if you can afford it awesome!  Make sure you talk to them first and that you're clear about what you expect from them and what they're willing to give you for the price they're asking.  I've heard a lot of horror stories as well as good stories in regards to this version.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ups and Downs of Writing

More and more I've been reading and in everything I read that talks about the life of the Writer I've been seeing how life goes up and down.  Not just in life itself, everything there could stay exactly the same, but the writer is one of those people who suffers.  We suffer from the art of self doubt, overconfidence, depression, elation... we go up and believe we can do anything and then the next moment we're down where nothing can work and all we can write is to be thrown in the trash.  Take heart though, if you're a writer reading this who recognizes this in yourself as well, we're definitely not alone.  It's something that most writers seem to suffer from.

This week I got banned from the Writer's Digest forum (permanently and my IP address was banned so I can't register with a different name) for "spamming".  I've emailed the guy they said to but I haven't heard anything from him. Fortunately!  As I just went and checked again to see if I as still banned, I found that not only am I no longer banned but that it was an admin problem for the power going out that resulted in a great many people being banned who should not have been.  I'm back to full access.  Yay!

That incident did however lead me to start reading more of the writing books that I've been slowly collecting for the last little while.  And that's how I discovered today's topic.  There's always things you NEED to do if you're going to be a writer.  The first rule of writing is WRITE so you always, always need to be doing that, no matter how down you are or how up you are.  You've got to find a way to keep writing.  However you should also know that the ups and downs are normal, that if you keep working through them eventually you'll come up with your novel.  Once your novel's done then you can start editing and finally you can get to the point where you let your novel fly free on its own.  When that happens good!  Try not to let it get you too down and move on to the next novel.  Keep writing.  Right now that rule's the hardest one for me to keep doing.  There's no good reason I haven't written a word in two weeks, but I haven't and I am failing badly at rule number one.  At the very least I've been keeping up with this blog which now has a schedule!  (yay!) so there's a reason to write all the time on something.  Now I just have to figure out how to get my butt moving on the rest of the chapters.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Characters - A Study of Evil

I've been considering what it is to make an "evil" character lately.  I remember once a long time ago I used to have discussions with people about what constituted as "evil" when you made a character.  At the time these discussions started it was the "obvious" evil verses the more subtle ones.  (Think drowning kittens vs taking over a kingdom.)  Now in the case of drowning kittens (or people as the case may be), most people would consider that a more obvious type of evil.  Murder = bad, if you don't know that it also = evil.  So what about the other one?  Taking over a kingdom.  I use the idea of the kingdom but it could also be country or anything else that requires a leader.

If you look at history it's always, always the victor who dictates how things are seen because they're the ones who will write the history books.  Imagine what would have been written about America if Germany had won WWII...  It wouldn't have been pretty I'm sure.  The atrocities that were committed by the furor and his followers would have been justified in their minds and in the history books that they wrote after.  Fortunately for a great, great many people those atrocities are not only seen as such but there are a great many efforts by many more people to ensure they do not happen again.  The world has moved on and away to try and understand how to accept all peoples, no matter their differences.  We're not there yet obviously, but we're working on it and that forward motion is a good thing to my way of thinking.

What I find really interesting is that I bet a lot of people would hesitate over saying whether or not invaders are "evil".  Invasion of another land or kingdom or people often includes a great deal of death, torture, destruction of land, maybe even slavery, theft... huhm... alot of those things are lumped in the evil category aren't they?  We seem to think of them as "necessary" evils, and it's all in the presentation.  In a fantasy novel "invasion" much like in real life can happen lots of different ways.  If you're portraying the take-over as a response to a different invasion force, it's much more acceptable.  The person invading is often (if not always) seen as the bad guy and those defending or fighting against the invasion are the good guys.

Yet the ways you could write such a thing are limited.  As interesting as the bad guy might be to write about, very few people actually want the bad guy to win in the end.  Why would we want the bad guy to win in the end when that happens far too often in life?  Yet look at the history of the world and think about how many things would be different if someone else had won the battle.  Would we really be more "evil" than we are now?  I'm not so sure.  So I've been considering my novel and what I want to do with my books in this light and I realize that I always seem to make my bad characters redeemable in some way shape or form.  Now I like that because I believe all characters must have motivations that are true to the character and the choices they make in the story (much as we are in life).  By keeping in mind that the "bad" guy has his own motivations and believes in them just as strongly as the "good" guy it's harder to see who the "bad" guy is.  Hence the word Antagonist.

When you've got someone in the story who presents an obstacle for your protagonist they don't necessarily have to be evil, they just have opposing goals to your protagonist.  I think that's one thing that I'll always enjoy exploring through my writing.  What is it that makes a person evil, vs good, especially in gray situations where the outcome makes all the difference?  I've got my own theories about it, but it's still interesting to explore.  It goes along the same lines for me as "why does God allow bad things to happen?".  There's always reasons for things in life, I believe that even when it's really hard to see or acknowledge, and I utilize the same thing with my writing.  My bad guys so far always believe in what they're doing just as strongly as any of my good guys, though perhaps the biggest difference is the good guys try to do things selflessly while the bad guys are often selfishly motivated.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Characters - What's in a Name?

After my last post I've been thinking about character names a lot.  When I name a character I know that the name is going to be part of what defines them.  It says something about who they are, where they're from and the way they're going to be.  Ideally I love it when characters come with their own names.  A short search sometimes yields one without any problem.  Sometimes it's not a name I understand, sometimes it's an earth name (aka in one of the baby sites).  The odd thing that I love when the characters I meet come with names attached is that often the meaning (when it's an earth name) suits the character.  It's one of the amazing things about writing that I really love.

It's not always that easy!  Any writer who's written more than one story knows there are some characters who are stubborn, who won't tell you a thing about themselves without you wrestling them to the ground and making them cry uncle first!  When a character like that rolls around I will first flip through my mind and try out different sounds.  Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.  When it works I"m happy enough since I usually get to name them and make up the meaning when that happens and since it's something that was chosen specifically for that character it fits them well enough and I as the author feel comfortable working with the character.

When making up sounds to form a name doesn't work I have to stop and consider what I already know about the character.  The very first character I meet for a story is the hardest.  They're the one that you may not know everything about to begin with and finding a name for a character when you know nothing about them is HARD.  You don't know what they love or hate, or why they're important or what kind of story they're going to feature in.  Sometimes you don't even know if they're going to be your main character.  It's in this case that I find two things helpful to pursue immediately.  First of all where are they from.  It's the where they are from that's important not the where are they now for a very specific reason.  If you know where they're from, you know the (or you should have an idea of) type of names those people give, you know the culture that the character is going to have come from, you know the possibilities for class that are likely, whether the character has magic or not, whether it knows a lot about science (fantasy vs sci-fi would be a place difference), even things like how the character will handle problems, what kind of prejudices your character might have, what experiences were likely when your character was growing up, etc, etc, etc.  Wow, all that just from a place!  Now, knowing where the character is currently will help you start to fill in all that in between information.  How they got where they are, what happened along the way and why they're the way they are now. 

That's fabulous!  With two questions you've got a handle on your character so now the name, that's when I choose three or four things that really personify the character and I track over to one of the web's baby name sites.  I specifically go for sites that let you look up the meanings.  I pop the first description of that person's personality into the search function and peruse the names that are conveniently placed before me.  Usually the first trait I put in comes up with something I can use, sometimes I don't like any of the names presented to me or they don't quite fit, or if it's a not entirely positive trait it may not show up with that specific word (synonyms are useful there).  I'll move on down my list of traits until I find the name that fits the best.  If that still doesn't work I'll start looking at the sounds of the names that kind of fit and re-arranging them to create a mix of names that suits the character.

Very, very rarely I'll come across a character who is so stubborn nothing seems to fit them.  But in that very rare case I've almost always found it's because the character is hiding something from me that I need to understand about their personality before I can name them.  When I go back and find out more about the character a name is almost always revealed.  If they won't talk even then?  Well, then they're not worth the trouble and it's time to find a new character and story.  You'd be surprised how often they start talking quickly after that... no character likes to be left behind for another!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Character Creation - Who am I?

So I have been considering what to write for today's blog post.  I should probably make a schedule and post to that but so far it seems to be every two or three days.  I'll try not to let too much time pass in between for anyone who's interested in reading it more frequently.

Today's post is on Characters since I haven't yet posted anything directly about them.  I've been considering my own characters for the novel I'm working on and I've been comparing them to my favourite characters in various books I've read.  There is always something about each of the characters I love in other books that speaks to me in one way or another.  I'm a fan of the down and out or misunderstood characters personally, but I do love other characters as well.

Phantom by Susan Kay has long been my favourite book, it's an in depth look at what the Phantom of the Opera's life before, up to, during and after the whole Opera thing might have been like.  Erik (predictably perhaps) is and always have been one of my favourite characters.  What I love about Susan Kay's version over other versions is how real she makes him.  He's someone who grows up in a world that doesn't understand him, and he is brilliant and very, very human.  (Also see Elizabeth which is another of Susan Kay's book, though they're both out of print as far as I know if you can get your hands on it, definitely do it).  Erik is a rich, complex character at all ends of the evaluation.  One of the things I think really works for this story is that you also get a good look at his parent's history as well as his own.  It's not a huge in depth thing but it tells you what you need to know so you understand why his mother raises him the way she does and a lot about their relationship and his subsequent life choices.  Susan Kay does the same thing with Queen Elizabeth in her other novel (mentioned above).  If you want to know how to write intricate well thought out characters Susan Kay has long been one of my favourites.

The Redemption of Althalus by David and Leigh Eddings is another book whose character has stuck in my mind for a long time as someone I love to read about.  Althalus is witty and entertaining at his very heart and he carries you through the story rapidly because you want to know more about him.  He's so engaging in that book that despite it being a fairly sizable book you go through it rapidly.  So there's another type of character, is he misunderstood?  Probably, but I found him simply enjoyable to read as opposed to being fascinated with his complexities or with his history (although he does have a history int he book if I remember correctly).  Some characters are just so fun to read that they could be doing the dishes and you would still think it was funny!  By that way of looking at it, you don't always need a complex character but they have to be somewhat amusing to the reader.

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey was the first book by Lackey I'd ever read of her rather in depth and massive series.  I loved Talia (she's the main character) because she was so shy and awkward and out of place.  It really resounded with me at the time and the more I learned about the character and the world the more I fell in love with the character and the writing.  There's people that you can like and admire and there's people that you just want to cheer on.  Talia you grow with as you grow with the series so there's yet another type of character.

I could go on but this post is already pushing it for normal post lengths.  Every character in these three examples has its own uniqueness to it.  Now since I"m the one identifying with them they've all got something in common with me and so with each other as well.  But at the same time they are incredibly distinct and unique.  What you want most with your characters are to make them memorable to people, characters that someone can identify with.  To that thought, I know I need to make my characters unique from each other.  I use different parts of my own personality, my own traits to make the characters someone I identify with and then try to write someone else who might identify better with someone else.  It's really hard to write a character I don't identify with so I have to search myself to find that little thread that makes me understand the character and thereby get a character who's different from me, who I would not normally identify with so that someone else might be able to later.  I don't identify with every character and neither will everyone who ends up reading my books.  That doesn't mean the characters can't draw people in if I can make them unique from each other and engaging.  There's always someone who will get them if I keep them consistent and true to themselves.  To do that I make certain I know everything about every character, even those that aren't going to be important for this story.  And hey, who knows, sometimes characters can surprise you if you let them!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Short Stories vs Novels

Generally I have always been a novelist.  I don't like reading short stories and I hate writing them.

That being said this foray into attempting to write a short horror story has been highly educational!  I never would have expected to find writing horror not only educational but kind of enjoyable.  I get to work with a new idea (that I can later turn into a novel) that I put all the important bits into one short scene that reads like a complete story.  I think horror is a little easier to do this in since I don't actually have to have the good guy win in the end.  Horror can easily be a tragedy.

Novels are usually much more intricate, have a larger cast of players, and more than one plot.  You've got to pare a short story down to the most important plot (no subplots!) and maybe a tiny bit of backstory (preferably not much is needed) and a lot of action in a very short period of time.  This is very challenging for me since usually my mind starts spinning new characters and plots and places... but it's a good exercise to bring that spinning down to a very tight spiral and try your hand at controlling your words and your characters as well as your situation.  It's also nice because the story has a shorter end goal you can finish the initial draft faster and feel like you've accomplished something.  If you're finding you're a little stuck and you usually write novels, why not try a short story as a "break" to let your story breathe but to continue writing!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Genres - Sharing Borders

So I have been stalled with my current story as I figure out how many plot lines I actually have going at the moment.  I've got a good handle on them now I think but I decided to let them stew and to work on a horror story for a contest with Writer's Digest.  I haven't yet decided if I am going to submit it to the actual Writer's Digest Horror Story contest or if I'm just going to submit it to the forum version of said contest.  One's free and one costs money, but one wins money for that monetary submission and one wins little trophies for the forum.

Now.  That being said, regardless of where I end up submitting it, I've been finding some interesting things while I've been working on it.  First of all being that I am most definitely not a horror writer.  Secondly I've realized that writing this other genre (regardless of my personal feelings toward it) is definitely stretching my writing skills and imagination.  And thirdly, I am both more and less critical of my work.  More because I'm trying to make it a horror story that I would read and less because I don't usually read horror so I don't have as much to compare it to.  Now either way I'm definitely going to be taking advantage of the Writer's Digest Critique section to try and improve it since I don't believe that's against the rules for either contest. (of course I'll be checking that first).

I don't know what most writers would recommend in regards to writing outside your genre but I have read over and over again that writers should also be avid readers.  Not only should they be readers in their own genre but in as many different areas as possible.  I think that writing has the same reasoning to it.  If you want to write a really tense scene in a fantasy novel then why not study how to write thrillers or horrors?  Depending on the feel you want for the scene I can only see studying that genre assisting in your final creation.  Stories need to be well crafted in all aspects and few stories are exactly the same the entire way through.  So, my foray into horror is at the very least an interesting exercise because it's challenging.  Perhaps I'll try writing a short romance next... I've never liked those though I usually like some aspect of it in my fantasy.  Go figure!