Guest Blogger: Carol Kean, Author of “Left On Stonehaven”

Today’s guest blogger is Carol Kean, author of the in-progress novel I’ve adapted for machinima. She and I make a ritual of “talking each other up;” I guess we’re trying to see who can say the nicest things about each other. 🙂 At the risk of this post sounding like a PR pitch for Yours Truly, I’ve left her post more or less intact. Truth is, I brag about her quite a bit, too. She’s a fine person, a truly talented writer, and a very, very dear friend.

Without further ado:


Seeing my own novel unfold before my eyes as a machinima video taught me things no writing workshop would ever help me learn.

I met Rhonda in such a workshop. I loved her meaty yet elegant writing and her insightful critiques. Offlist, she sent me the link to a machinima video she produced for a local Sociology class. Wow – welcome to the world of Sims and movie producing Simmers! I mentioned how exciting it would be to see scenes from my own novel on the video screen, and Rhonda offered to make that happen. I had no idea what a tremendous labor of love and how many arduous experiments it would become for her, nor what a learning tool it would be for me.

As a writer, I indulge in complicated family sagas that slow the pace and probably cost me readers. Let’s not even discuss the science and history info-bytes I love to sneak into my prose. How many harsh critiques would it take to get me to purge it from my text? Mise en abîme! An abysmal number! But on seeing Rhonda’s Sims-video images unfold on the screen, I finally internalized “less is more.” Rhonda is a master-manipulator of visuals as well as words, so she instinctively chose exactly what was needed to tell a story. With only a fraction of a percent of the dreaded 100,000 word maximum for a novel. And in only so many minutes of viewer attention.

My own children scoff at machinima as the province of Emo kids and Goths who listen to outdated music. Duly noted: at 21, 18 and 15, my kids prefer opera and jazz to Evanescence or Thirty Seconds to Mars. They think anything less than Toy Story or The Incredibles is choppy, weird animation. I’ve tried to share with them what Rhonda is achieving. My girls play Sims 2 and their first reaction to Rhonda’s stunning visuals was, “She has more software than we do.” Uh, no. Rhonda has tenacity, determination and the patience to find out how to go beyond the Sims 2 game and achieve things that novice Simmers can only dream of.

But I’m not trying to sell my kids on the idea of my novel as a machinima video. They’re my flesh and blood but not my target audience. That’s another cool thing Rhonda taught me. Moviestorm and machinima, like steam punk, is a new wave, a technological marvel of our century. Who said the beauty of 19th Century prose couldn’t be married to home-grown video? After all, steam punk fuses the Victorian technology of steam engines with futuristic sci fi plots.

Rhonda has a finger on the pulse of the times. Maybe she’s only blowing smoke from pipe dreams, but I think she’s blazing like a comet through new territory, while my kids listen to Mozart, read Les Miserables and roll their eyes at Mom.

But Mom is learning lots of things, and not just about writing.


One response to “Guest Blogger: Carol Kean, Author of “Left On Stonehaven”

  1. Wow, amazing guest post! Yes, less can be more. I agree. But I also like cool weird little details in stories. It can be tough to know how much is too much. The nice thing about machinima (and graphic novels) is that they can say a lot with few words because of the images. I’d love to write graphic novels for that reason.

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