Editorial – Feb 2018: Look into the abyss and your motivations look back at you.

February 4, 2018 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone

Motivation is a key part of any writer’s toolbox. It gives impetuous to the plot even at its most basic level of good versus evil. The characters might be doing one thing and be thrown into doing something different because of what is going on in the story. It is their drive that channels their motivation to the new task, if only for survival. Without the right kind of motivation, you just become a bystander, gawping at those with an apparent purpose. It works in fiction as in real life.

As such, motivation tends to become something you watch for in real life in others to understand something outside of our own motivations, assuming you can understand your own. In real life it is more complex than that, mostly because real people have multiple motivations depending on what they are doing in their lives. Fiction tends to simplify things down to the plot at hand. Much of this is for self-interest and then the interest of others afterwards. It can be far more difficult to put on paper although what you do in the fictional world can be picked up by familiarity to the reader and what they recognise. A hidden shorthand if you like.

We can see motivation in anything. Which is a bit odd when it comes to the motivation of the villains of the piece who tend to only out for themselves. Oddly, as we can get from some film villains, we are also fascinated by them even if we were never do it ourselves. At least, I hope that’s true. Then again, that’s how people read fiction. Do real-life villains read fiction to see how nice people act? If anything, it shows how much of a knife-edge self-interest and caring for others actually is. Whatever, it tend to be implicit than necessarily spelt out in a story. No character will stop and do an analysis or self-analysis to the reader, well unless they were a psychologist and hope the reader cared or could fake you out or when the character didn’t follow the profile given. Instinctively, we can sense something isn’t ringing true…most of the time. Another unspoken secret code between writer and reader. Motivation is there whether you can see it or not but it’s an under-current to how you see the characters. The judgment can be left to you as whether characters are doing the right or wrong thing but that can be down to circumstances. Very few writers go into both sets of characters doing the right or bad things at the same time. Mostly because readers like definable heroes and villains. If someone switches sides, you want to see why rather them just doing it. That knife-edge motivation again.

Even so, innate understanding of motivation can also be used with other people in mind. It all depends on what you want or think you need. Politicians, advertisers and even some sorts of religions do that a lot. I could probably convince you to walk across a live volcano to remove excess body hair. I won’t but I suspect it would some of you think it might be a good idea despite the fact that you wouldn’t complete your first step. If anything, it can also demonstrate how susceptible you are to other people’s suggestions.

Motivation is both a strength and weakness and equally exploitable. It can often be below the level of consciousness. If you think not, ask yourself the last time you thought about it? Well, again, unless you’re in advertising, psychology, writing or some of the other subjects above. You will just tend to think you’re making a conscious decision, not realising something is causing you to act that way.

Maybe you don’t call it motivation. How about reason? The ‘why’ of your selection. It might just be a feeling of want or desire but it’s essentially the same thing. Why should anyone be surprised motivation has a variety of names? After all, the same applies to your whole arsenal of emotions. They are all on fader controls from high to low, depending on what you are doing or how they affect you and work in combination. So why should motivation be any different? It gives preferences to your life even if you’re not always in control of what they are.

Motivation isn’t necessarily driven by emotion but by influence. It can be built up by choices made over the years, especially from when you were young. You get a bad taste for some food and you become reluctant to try it again. The same applies to liking a taste and forms of prejudice as well. It covers all kinds of subjects so it’s hardly a simple structure in your mind. It’s also flexible enough to change with new information.

Don’t confuse motivation with drive. The latter only propels a particular choice up to obsessional level as to what you decide. I use the word ‘obsession’ simply because this is the apparent guide to which choice you make when a coin isn’t available. You can feel yourself weighing up your decisions as to what you want far more than how it affects other people. Don’t ever think motivation is the way of easy choices. Well, maybe in fiction. I suspect the simplification in there tries to make it easier to translate if you apply it in the real world. You would think.

Don’t think I can cover all the ramifications of motivation in a single editorial. All I’m doing here is pointing out its complexity and why it doesn’t necessarily translate well into or out of fiction. It is just a layer that should never be forgotten when creating a story. It gives the edge to dimensionalise the characters.

Giving a Science Fiction spin on this, when it comes to Artificial Intelligence, you do have to wonder how you can program motivation? It would need at least an understanding of morals of right and wrong and we all know that these can vary a lot and be the same thing. If an AI learns off its programmers, would it pick up any bad habits that it can’t distinguish from? Morality is something that can’t be programmed, it has to be leant. With the closeness of proper AI ever closer, we have to learn more about ourselves and our motivations before hoping that a nascent AI can cope.

 

Thank you, take care, good night and know why you do some things and whether you’re being led to think you are.

 

Geoff Willmetts

editor: SFCrowsnest.info

 

A Zen thought: I think, therefore you are.

 

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: When young to assume that everyone has similar talents to yourself and maybe not using them. It’s even scarier to find out they don’t.

 

The Reveal: The Stan Lee you see in public and films is actually a Life Model Decoy (LMD). The real one is currently living off Nick Fury’s Infinity Formula.

 

Observation: Have you noticed how many forenames having spellings that don’t match their pronunciation?

 

Observation: The older you get, the more attention you pay to the age of other people and compare how younger or older than yourself. You either sigh with relief or jump a little based on how old or younger they look to yourself.

 

Observation: In stories, normal reality gets suspended.

 

Feeling Stressed: Thank the Illuminati that you don’t have a red button.

 

Missed Opportunity:

            If you aren’t seeing the types of book you would want to read, chances are that I don’t have any reviewers who do them. I’m stocking up on reviewers right now. The extended info is below but essentially, if you can write and breathe and make good observations, you stand a chance. If you make grammatical errors, then I have your back. Email me at: gfwillmetts at hotmail.com

NOTE: Although there are details below, please observe the bigger message elsewhere on site. I’m always recruiting reviewers and this is the time of year to recruit as the nights are shorter and so you might be sleeping less If you’re living in the UK, love books and feel a bit geeky then read the notes below. You have to love reading anyway. You might be what I’m looking for and I do train people up and it’s good for your writer’s CVs and books to feed your reading habit. As some of my team are discovering, they can also interview writers and write articles as well. You can do that without reviewing as well but reading and reviewing is a good discipline. We’re a good team to belong to.

Polls And Opinions: We did have them for a time but the new version was causing a mess in WordPress so until a new version that doesn’t cause conflicts comes around, we’ll have to do without them but please use the answer option at the end of any material to express comments because we do read them.

For the record: For the odd query I have about being linked to media contacts. I do not have either a personal twitter or facebook account. There’s enough of me here to not outstay my welcome. I’m also puzzled why some people see SFC as a blog site when we’re not. We were in this format long before blogs. It’s getting to the point that people can’t tell the difference between blog and butter.

Beware Of Virus Attacks: December 2012, even though I hadn’t left an active link to my email address, it got solidly attacked and then blocked from everyone, including myself. By necessity, having a form of open contact to me comes as part of the editor’s job. I’m still seeking reviewers and new material so follow the paths through the website and go where no spam-bot dares. I’ve yet to see them write anything. Humans and aliens can apply. Monsters need to prove they can read and write. We could do with some reviewers who like fantasy right now. Don’t be scared of the instructions, you’d be surprised how easy it is to learn. So, if you want to contact me, build these words into an email address: gfwillmetts at hotmail dot com I won’t bite, although that doesn’t preclude others. In fact, I’ll settle for any more willing reviewers who love to read. Did I say I was after reviewers?

NB: We do get digital books and if you live abroad and not in the UK, then this avenue could be open to you. I’m not putting it in as a link to avoid spam. Just copy and paste into your emails to contact me with my address noted in the paragraph above. I’m always recruiting and details are through a link on the top of the SFC main page articles and stories as well. Just because it’s sunny, doesn’t mean you’re going to read any less. We could do with some more fantasy readers right now!

If you’ve on a budget, a book for a review is a good bargain and I can teach the nervous how to do it by seeing what you do when you present a sample. It’s a good deal. We get books in a variety of formats these days so all things are possible to those with the knack for putting words into sentences and saying what they think.

For potential book reviewers in the UK, it’s a good way to keep up your reading habit and show you can write. There are detail links scattered over the website and on the forum. If you don’t think you’re up to scratch, you’ll discover why I’m the dutch uncle. Repeating this several times is for those who only scan and who don’t want to wind back up the page.

Another real Zen thought but this time for potential writers: If you can express an opinion independently of others and aren’t likely to bend to the masses then you might show potential as a writer.

Zen for those who are scared by all the instructions below: Many of the instructions are things you should be doing automatically if you’re developing your writing skills. If you do them already then focus on the ones that you don’t get right. They are there to help you as much as me to get the best writing from you. If you think you’re 80% there then I’ll help you get the final 20%. Trust me, I’m an editor and I can get things right.

BOOK REVIEWS    – Don’t feel intimated by all the info below or linked to. If you’re any good as a writer, much of it should be second nature already. This is just the long hand version.

Do you love books? Do you like curling up and reading a book in preference to socialising, even on the Net? You might not even want to curl up, that’s only an option. Do you have a preference for fantasy, SF or horror? We really could do with some fantasy readers!!! Do you find it the greatest pastime you have next to being on your computer?

Are you very vocal about what you like and don’t like in what you read?

Would you like to share your thoughts with others about books?

Would you like an endless supply of books to do this with?

Do you live in the UK?

Can you spare an hour every day to read?

Do you think you can write about what you’ve read?

Are you finding the recession is hitting your book buying habit?

If you’ve been nodding your head up to this point then link in below and see if you have what it takes to be a reviewer at SFCrowsnest. If you have that special knack to read and write or want to develop said skill then the only way you’re going to find out is to take the plunge yourself rather than wait for others to do it first. Reading a lot of books is a requisite for any writer. Being able to say what makes them good or bad hones your own skills. Even if you’re just happy with reading with a little writing on the side then this might be for you. It’s got to be better than waiting for the sun to come out in this weird summer and now cold winter. It’s also amazing how much you can read in an hour a day.

If you’ve survived this far in the editorial, let me reiterate something from the website newsletter and the above editorial. As you can see from the main page, we have one of the biggest SF/fantasy/horror monthly reviews columns on the Net. Our success has increased the number of books that comes in and our policy is to read everything and give it a roadtest before giving a review so you have some idea of what you’re letting yourself in for. You want the bottom line about what you’re going to choose to read. That means we need people actually willing to read the book and tell others they’re opinion in reviews. For that, we’re always on the outlook for more reviewers.

Do you think you have what it takes to review a book? It’s a skill that can be easily mastered and we need a few more. If you love fantasy, we have more than enough to keep you busy for instance.

Apart from the ability to put words into sentences, you also need to know how to précis, do a little research on associated subjects and can express opinions constructively about the good and bad points about the books you read. We even let you choose from our pile of received books rather than foster something on you that you wouldn’t normally read. You’ll even get a little editorial help in how to write good copy and that can always lead to other things. I’m not as scary as I sound editorially and it’s better to do the test review and see how you fare than not attempt to see how well you did. I did say you have to love books and willing to read beyond your favourite authors, didn’t I?

If you like reading books in the genre and can average two or maybe three a month, can really think and show you can write a decent review and, most importantly, live in the British Isles (sorry, expense, time and distance travelled mostly prohibits elsewhere), then use the link below and see our requirements. We can’t pay you but writing a review has to be cheaper than buying a book and a good incentive to see if you have what it takes to develop your writing skills.

Do you think you’re up to writing a review? If you think you can, then you’re really going to think you’ve landed your hands in the biscuit tin. It won’t hurt to try and see if you have the right stuff by sending me a sample review to show me you can write. If you want an added incentive, it can also be good for your CV.

Look up the Review Guidelines by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_reviews.php”></a> with a press of a mouse button.

SHORT STORIES

We always have an interest in running short stories which can be anything from one to thirty or so pages long. We’re always willing to give short story writers a chance to be seen if they can withstand my scrutiny even if we can’t pay for their efforts, your material will be seen by a lot of people if it’s shown on the SFCrownest website. If you can get a short story written well then it’ll make it easier to move up to novel-length.

Look up the Short Stories Link by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse.

FLASH OR ONE-PAGE FICTION

We’ve also a teaching ground of one page stories, so check out the rules elsewhere on the website. It’s a lot tougher than it looks and far too easy to just write and write and hope something good comes out of it. What writing a one page story does is test your ability to control your word count and still tell a story in a concise way. This doesn’t mean we don’t accept stories of different lengths – a short story can be anything up to 30-40 pages long after all – but opens up the means for really short stories from ideas that don’t need as much space.

Flash fiction stories by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_flashfic.php”></a> with your mouse.

NOVEL-LENGTH SAMPLES

For those keeping track, I’m actually now caught up but don’t tell everyone as I’m undecided as to whether to keep looking at novel-length story samples, move over specifically to short stories – which we do anyway for the website – or get a couple of my own book projects completed. The latter, I still intend to do anyway and now actually working on but don’t let that put you off too much. If you want me to look over a sample, you can contact me through the links on this website.

Before you submit, study the next section below as it’s there to help you do some of the right things and reduce the number of times I’m repeating myself over silly grammatical errors and spelling mistakes that you shouldn’t be making if you’re serious about becoming a writer. It makes editing a lot easier if any editor has less work pointing out poor English which you should have been sorted out in the first place and more focused on other areas of your work that deal with plot and the other serious elements of storywriting. As a writer, it is your command of the English language and its grammar that will show how serious you are about writing.

There might not be much of a wait unless I get a deluge, however those sending in ebook samples, please read the Guidelines by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse here or through the bottom line menu on the opening page of the SFC website.

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING BUT AFRAID TO ASK

General advice for those who want to become writers of any sort: There’s an old editorial adage: If you can’t aim for perfection why should an editor nurse-maid you to that state? Nominally, my job is to catch minor glitches not total mishaps. If you’re a writer, then you should understand the words, sentences and grammar of the job you’re supposed to be writing or are you considering it as mundane and boring as any other job to get right? Fall in love with making every sentence the best you’re ever written, read up and understand the rules of grammar. Put the time in researching any subject you’re using in the story. Be prepared to put a story away for a few weeks and go back to it for a self-edit until it’s as good as you can make it. Even I do that. You look good. I make you look better but you have to start off with good.

A lot of the time, errors will just stare you in the face when you didn’t see them the first time round. Once you know where your weaknesses are, they can be sorted out and allow you to move a little higher up the ladder towards making your material look its best and more importantly, getting your material seen by readers.

The link here will show you the Common Problems Link page and what I see mostly <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_commonprobs.php”></a>

with your mouse. It’s the smart writer who doesn’t get caught out with these.

Good luck.

Geoff

 

Category: World getting weirder

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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