[Abandoned] Story Idea ‘Guilty’

One unintentional slip-up and the perfect life falls apart…

Cody Simmons has been blessed with a special set of mutated genes that give him special powers. As the masked vigilante ‘Mutant’, he works with the local police to help against crime while fulfilling his hero fantasies… until the day he turns into the public enemy number one.

The right man at the wrong place…

Zackary Owens is just a nobody and he’s satisfied with this label. But when his hobby of capturing random things with the lens lead to devastating consequences, he finds himself as the biggest obstacle in bringing the truth to light.

The self-loathing we carry

We know it’s not right.
We know it goes against us.
We know we should say no.

But we don’t.

For sake of stupid relationships that don’t really exist.
For sake of a social standing that’s really nothing.
For sake of lies we tell ourselves about that we will make up for it.

And we ignore that feeling that settles in deep within us, adding another piece of explosive to the time bomb that’s ticking. The bomb that’s always ticking.

Welcome to Narrating The Dream and this is about something very few of us are able to say no. It breeds within, striking when we are down to keep us there, and always hang in the shadows of our normal moments. It’s name? Self-loathing.

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‘Let’s just get it over with’

“Something that matters more is coming up, let’s just get it over with!”

“This has gone on too long! Let’s just get it over with.”

“I don’t want to do this. Let’s just get it over with.”

It is a tendency most of us share when dealing with things we don’t really want to do. We take shortcuts, making the work short and cutting corners, and ultimately turn in a work that’s not the quality we would ever be proud about. The consequences always follow an action and this lazy piece of work often leads to situations where we wish we had just cared a little bit more or did things a bit better. Sometimes, we might just get away with things of poor quality but that’s not a fair expectation to hold for ourselves. Because here’s the thing: When being evaluated/reviewed, we are only as good as our worst piece of work.

Welcome to Narrating The Dream and this post is about facing the limitation that is most likely to stop us from being great.

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Writing: Haunted by the characters

After so long, here’s another writing tip that I have experienced. This one hasn’t been there for all of my characters from the start, so it’s not a compulsory one to begin with. Well, that’s a lie. Every story idea I ever tried to consider writing has haunted me at one time or another. Because I took it as a sign that I was really interested in telling their tales, I was willing to give them a chance. And that’s exactly my point (which fits nicely with the points I made in another post of mine ‘Idea’). If you are not haunted by the characters who keep giving you flashes of what things they go through, if you are not interested in their journey and its end, then why are you even trying to force what their story should be? If you think about it, you’ll realize that the actions that your characters take are not what their personality would make them choose, those actions are what you would choose in their position.

I remember that there was a test of how close you are to your main character. It was so long that I’ve forgotten the website but I do remember that results were quite surprising. Most of my characters were way too similar like me to have their own unique personality. It felt as if I was role playing in these stories as the main characters. Obviously on first sight, this doesn’t sound bad. But if you reread the whole stuff later, you’ll find a gap between the person and the personality. And the odd fact about the test was that the one story I was least willing to start (not because of personality but due to lack of knowledge regarding the setting) was just perfectly crafted as per the text. This realization was what made me think about what exactly were my responsibilities towards the characters and the story.

I realized that most of my work was done the moment I introduced the setting and put my characters in it. What happened from that point onwards was not to be influenced by me (at least not in any prominent way)  and all I had to do was simply report their thoughts and actions. It was kind of like watching a movie with all senses immersed. I can hear what they hear and say, I can smell what they smell, feel what they feel but I was not them. They were separate people with their strengths and weaknesses and we may not even have anything common at all.
But I didn’t dare to judge – or even restrict – them, letting their personalities and thoughts and pasts to settle in my mind so that they can make the choice most suited to their character.

Writing is said to be a solitary thing but if you do it right, you won’t be alone in the head. And if you have the luck in spades, you won’t be alone outside your head either.

[WIWTS] Choices We Get – Careers

This is the age of technology. This is the age of progress. This is the age of future. This is also the age of unemployment. This is also the age of burnt out and disgruntled youth. This is also the age of suffering, both mental and physical. All of these are the truths of our generation.

The world is completely stupefied in how to handle the problem of the working population and the ‘job’. There are sections of the world where people find little or no choices in what they do to earn. The opportunities available to them are not even enough to fill the stomachs of all those who depend on them. And the cost of such jobs is too high on the people’s minds. Some are forced to sell whatever dignity they barely held on to for so long while others lose sight of their own identity, theirs minds too repulsed by their present to even risk recalling the past.

Then there are those who have way too many opportunities. Not everyone knows what he/she is meant to do on this planet and though there are some who, with a bit of luck, find the most suited work, there are many who live and die in unfulfilled lives. Not all are self-aware enough or talented enough to be able to make the right choice. And in the times when education has become a common man’s polio, the need of getting things right in the first time is even higher.

And, when we move across the Pacific from our current site of observation to the south-east Asia – I am getting to India, of course – I find the people stuck in a strange mix of the two scenarios. Since childhood, the youth is being told – or at least, it is made clear in other ways that are equally strong – that social status matters. That the opinion of the people around you, for some reason, is worth just as much as your personal satisfaction. And so, when the time comes for this youth to make a choice of their future occupation, there is only a handful of choices that really matter. In words deceptively casual, in the change in mannerisms around other people and in countless other ways, it is made clear that only certain choices would be acceptable.

There are some (in comparison to the entire population) who choose a different route. But even they don’t succeed in silencing the looks. They are fortunate to have enough strength to ignore them. But the truth of the generation is not many are strong enough. The fear of failing in making a new way weighs heavily on the mind of those who fight against the idle jabs of overwhelmed. Everyone has a weak point and when everyone seems to be taking a shot, someone’s bound to hit a nerve. Because we are all perverted enough to be willing to inflict misery.

But what I preach in Indian context isn’t really one bound by the lines we draw on pieces of paper. It’s in every culture, for the ‘status’ is a thing everyone lusts after. People influence the choices of the younger generation, whether it be under the guise of ‘safe’, ‘respectable’ or something else or in outright statements. The people are bound by the choices in the dreams of a better future. We just don’t realize that the global dream of having a good time is already shattered. There’s no waking from this nightmare. It has already become our waking reality. And the way we are right now, we are destined, it seems, for us to guide the young ones similarly.

[What I Want to say…] Indian Herd

One of the many reasons why I started to blog (or more specifically, post the articles in the section [ABANDONED]  or [POTENTIAL]) was my desire to put my words out into this digital landscape. Ideas are lost because they remain unspoken and I have no doubt that many others have made posts similar to this on this vast Internet. Perhaps people even stumble upon them occasionally but mostly these end up forgotten. But if it exists, then there’s hope – no matter how small – that someday it might get notice.

It is with these intentions of making this a reminder and to put this out for someone to notice, I begin this series of posts.

The title ‘Indian Herd’ sounds strange but look closely at the mindset of the masses and you’ll see that it is a herd mentality. What one preaches, others follow. The society preaches that only certain career routes are admirable, there’s little or no hesitation in following others. The society calls that a certain practices or beliefs are holy – even if they might go against the concept of kindness and understanding – and there’s little doubt.

Few rise amidst the masses and these have fought against the herd mentality. These people are either received as an ‘inspiration for a generation’ or threatened and humiliated for their thoughts. Personal opinion is personal opinion and though it is ideal to debate and argue, violence erupts more often than not. This too is a herd mentality. Look at the records, both large scale and small, and there are many people – though only a small fraction – who stirred the pot. It gives hope. But it is also a lie. A particular thought is as likely to breed extremists as any other. And often, a large number of the people who caused a stir were just that… Extremists in their own way. Some are even worse, causing ripples for the sake of their own 15 minutes of fame. And all this has breed something far worse in the population than just simple herd mentality. Indian population is more like an indifferent herd.

There are people vying for change. Some have even been successful, to various extent. But most of us don’t care anymore. We are too used to seeing a new person take up the spotlight that we dismiss even those who matter because we believe they’re simply looking for their own moment of glory. Tell me, does waving a hand at the camera as a part of the crowd really that worthy of bragging about in front of neighbors for weeks? No one cares, at least not past the initial second of awe and jealousy.

I have ranted so much but what does it matter? Because the truth is that no solution appears to be good enough. Every person we see as a potential revolutionary gets lost under the schemes of corrupt and their politics (not the political system’s politics but the scheming and deception and backstabbing in general). The only one that seems to hold merit is for the rich to step in with absolute seriousness. Money is power and power talks. Power opens doors for the changemakers to bring about a revolution.

What I say is not that change cannot be brought without the intervention of the rich. That’s a lie. It would be difficult but it’s still possible. But with the support of the rich, there won’t be people who give up due to lack of resources. There will be a reason to not worry at the sight of obstacles. With the help of rich, it will just be easier. And in a complicated cycle, this ranting turns back to the core issue that holds everyone, rich and poor, back from being involved. Nobody seems to care anymore. We are all just too indifferent now.

So what I want to say to anyone listening is to take a chance. History is the witness that the masses can bring about greatest of changes. All we need is a person who stays visible as a visionary under whom people can unite. One who cannot be pulled down by the schemes of the wicked. And one who makes everyone care about this world we live in.

And that’s the rub, ain’t it? Because the people of the world are like a herd. And we just don’t care anymore. (Plus what I called for above is perfection. A kind of it actually that is only just an illusion.)

Reviewed: W3Schools, Codecademy and FreeCodeCamp

For some reason, I spent the entire day today (it’s almost 9 at night here) searching for good and free tutorials for web designing. I previously had studied from W3Schools but I wanted to see if others could help. The experience has been an eye-opener, to say it in a few words. Let me review each of them in a few lines.

W3Schools is completely text-based with every new item getting a ‘Try It Yourself!’ section of website for testing and understanding the working. It was a great site to quickly read through (and even download – though the site getting updated means the old one isn’t as good anymore) and these self-practice sections helped us play with options. But after seeing the other possibilities? I think it is more useful to be thought of as a reference site. It’s a great site, and more often than not I still think it is enough for basics, but to those who prefer videos in tutorials are going to be disappointed. One pro worth noting is that the site is free.

Codecademy is offering free lessons and practice but the main feature that lured me to the site – and believe me, that was not the option of more things to learn (though it did play a role) – was the prospect of using what we learned to carry out pseudo-real projects. That’s when I stumbled upon two of its major flaws. The more important one is that you are out of luck in the free account. Codecademy PRO offers access to everything while the free account cannot take quizzes or try projects. Personally, I would like to say that the inability to take projects doesn’t matter but I must confess that if the option were there, I would have gladly recommended it to everyone. The smaller issue, after being used to W3Schools, is the fact that the window is extremely disconcerting. There’s like 10% of vertical screen for text, rest all for practice (and preview). I think I would have liked the ability to resize the screen to be done with text first and then do practice (or maybe even have the text as a Lightbox screen (superimposed over the rest of the screen that can be hidden. Sorry, can’t think of a better phrase to explain). So, though there is a free, you are better off with a pro account.

FreeCodeCamp has two major advantages to its side: A very large active user forum and an open course that can be continuously edited and improved (including practice projects). The ultra huge disadvantages? The fact that the course is NOT good enough and this mediocre course asks for, theoretically, 200 hours for completion. (I will leave the mental math to you to figure out how you spare that much time and over how long a time). You can go through earlier challenges in a breeze but that doesn’t mean you know all there is to know or that you understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing things. Plus, in the initial challenges, there was a lot, and I mean a lot of repetition in the challenge objectives. Plus, it suffers from a screen division issue like Codecademy. So there’s that. The course isn’t even complete but a major advantage over others was that it gave me a pathway on how to go on developing myself. The ‘MAP’ gives a complete idea of how you’ll develop as a Front-End Developer (developing the looks), Data Visualization (no idea, sorry) and Back-End Developer (developing the hidden infrastructure).

So basically, this is my report:

W3Schools is good for reference. Codecademy PRO seems good to work without any substitutes. FreeCodeCamp is good for projects after you’re done with theory and need to figure out how to go on learning.

If luck ever favors me again, there will be review of other sites that I may end up checking out.