I like a good dénouement

For those of you who don’t know what a dénouement is, it’s the part of a story that occurs after the falling action.  Falling action is when the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist is decided.  The dénouement is basically a kind of conclusion that ties up all the loose ends and provides closure to the story.  That’s precisely what I like about dénouement.  We can see what happens after the dust settles, what happens to the characters.  We get to see how their lives are impacted and how they carry on.  I really like that sense of closure, to be able to see the results of the final conflict.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of movies that lack a dénouement.  The final scene of most Hollywood movies is the very end of the final conflict.  We don’t get any closure at all.  Whenever I watch an action movie, the final battle happens, and then the movie ends.  We know there’s a winner and a loser, but what happens after that?  We never know.  They don’t show it to us.  When that happens, I think, “That’s all?  There’s nothing else?”  I feel like the story isn’t over.  I feel a bit empty.  I want to know!

While this isn’t an issue with all Hollywood movies, a good chunk of action movies are like this.  Those movies don’t seem complete to me.  It’s a shame.  But this is my opinion.  Others may feel differently and enjoy finishing a movie on an adrenaline high.  It all comes down to personal taste.

What do you think?  Should movies always have a dénouement?

Map making

Fantasy stories usually have a map. Sometimes science fiction stories do, too.  I made a big one.  I made it on 16 A4 (8 1/2″ by 11″) sheets.  I have even included latitude and longitude, created countries, cities, mountains, climate zones, and general types of ecosystems.  The countries and cities have names.  The mountain ranges have names.  And you know what?  I even made a smaller map showing the tectonic plates.  It consists of a large continent that spans from the Arctic to the Antarctic regions, a smaller temperate continent, a smaller tropical continent and a southern polar continent with a more temperate peninsula.  To show the south polar continent, I even made a polar projection map.  I love geography.  I love planetary astronomy, as well.  I set the diameter and density of the planet, then calculated the mass and gravity.  Knowing the size of the planet, I used a clear plastic sheet with a grid on it to calculate the land area of each country, as well.  I enjoyed every moment of it.

So, why did I make it?  For the setting of my future science fiction novels.  I have 3 books planned for now, with the storylines basically figured out, though that may change as I write them.  I’m always thinking of new ideas to improve the story.  But the map gave me the setting to place my characters and story in.  I hope to explore this world and its cultures, examine the politics, and live out the lives of many people.

While this is a fictional planet, the star it orbits is real.  It’s similar to the sun, but is a bit younger.  But since this world has different circumstances than Earth, life evolved a bit more quickly there.  I’ve got plants and animals to create.  At the moment, they aren’t going to play a major role in the stories, but they may in the future.

I hope you can enjoy this world in the future, as well.

Long journeys

As you may know, I’m a fan of epic fantasy.  In those stories, the characters usually go on a long journey.  The journey is a highlight of the book.  I also like real life journeys.

Two years ago, I made my first long distance walk.  I walked from my home in Kamakura to Jogashima, in Miura City, which is at the end of the Miura Peninsula in southeast Kanagawa.  This was a challenge for myself, after reading one man’s own journey.  The walking fool, a New Zealander who used to live in Japan, walked the Tokaido Road back in 2009. His walk was nearly a month.  Mine was only on one day.  I walked 35 km in 8 1/2 hours.  Last year, I walked from Kamakura to the town of Oiso, which was about a 21 km walk.  It was only 5 hours.  These walks were very interesting, and I enjoyed them very much.  I was hoping to walk again a couple months ago, but was too busy.  My wife and I have done some 10 km walks in the past few months, though.

Walking isn’t the only way to make a journey.  Cycling is another good way.  In Japan, crazyguyonabike did a Honshu tour.  But there’s a really big one that came to my attention through Freshly Pressed on WordPress.  Cycling 4 Cancer is in the early part of a cycling trip through Europe, Asia and Australia.  I’m extremely interested in seeing the photos and experiences from this journey.

Have you ever done anything like this?

Wow! Moment: The summit of Mt. Fuji

During my first summer in Japan, I had the opportunity to climb Mt. Fuji. Most foreigners in Japan seem to want to try that. I was quite interested in it.

So, on July 31st, 2005, I and 4 other teachers left Shinjuku in Tokyo on a bus to the 5th stage of Mt. Fuji. It’s halfway up the mountain and the highest point that vehicles can travel.

We started our climb at 10pm and planned to arrive at the summit in time to see the sunrise. It was dark, so we needed lights. There was a line of lights all the way to the top, hundreds of other climbers. While it was dark, the thing that amazed me was the night view. Not only could we see city lights, but the sky was very clear and thousands of stars were visible. My first “Wow” moment was when I saw the Milky Way very clearly. I’d never seen it before. Absolutely beautiful!

By the time we reached the top, the sun was rising. That’s my second “Wow” moment. It was amazing to see from the top of Japan. At the top, we rested, at ramen, looked at the crater, and finally headed down. What amazed me then was how red the mountain was. “Wow” number three was for how it looked like pictures from Mars.

We arrived back at the 5th stage around 10 am, feeling very sore, tired and hungry.

And you know what? I really want to climb it again.

Why I like reading science fiction

I guess you can say I’m a geek.  I’ve always liked anything to do with science, as well as science fiction.  I was and still am a Star Trek fan.  Science fiction allows us to see what could be.  Like fantasy, we can experience a new world and a new way of life.  Sci-fi is rooted more in reality, and is often based on science, real or not.

I think sci-fi is kind of romantic, especially stories related to space travel.  My university degree is in physics and astronomy, so space is a big interest of mine.

Due to the fact that I am educated as a scientist, I like to see some realism in sci-fi, so hard sci-fi is always great to read.  But I also like space opera, which is more focused on the story, and not so concerned with the realism of the science.

As I stated before, I like to explore new worlds.  I like to find out about alien planets, human colonies, and more.  It allows the imagination to be free to picture those worlds.  I also enjoy imagining the advanced technology, the spaceships, the space stations, and so on.

It seems that my two favourite genres deal with something that is beyond current reality.  Fantasy and science fiction are similar that way.  It’s great for the imagination!

Wow! Moment: Killer whales

Have you ever tried fishing on the ocean?  I’ve done it many times with my grandfather and dad.  My grandparents lived on Vancouver Island, and we often went fishing for salmon whenever we visited them.  Sometimes we caught plenty of fish, while other times, we caught nothing.  One time, we went back after catching only some seaweed.  Most of the time, we spent our time just watching our fishing rods bouncing as we went over the waves, as well as watching the sonar to see if there were any fish down there.  If we were close to the shore, we sometimes saw seals.  But there was one very special time.

It was just like any other time that we went fishing.  We weren’t catching many fish, but it was fairly relaxing.  I don’t recall how old I was, but probably when I was in junior high school.  The weather was calm and the waves were small.  I remember that I was looking north when we saw the fin.  And then another and another and another.  They weren’t just to the north, they were to the south as well.  And east.  And west!  They were all around us!  It was a pod of resident killer whales.  They were swimming to the southwest, closer to shore.  They were probably following some salmon, which is also what we were looking for.  The moment we realised that we were surrounded by a pod of killer whales, I had to say “Wow!”  That was a remarkable experience.

Why I like reading fantasy

Everyone has their favourite genres.  Some like everything, while others stick only to one or two genres.  I don’t like everything.  I read mostly only a few genres, but I am open to others.  With this series of posts, I will explain why I like certain genres.  This time is fantasy.

My exposure to fantasy started with The Hobbit in junior high school.  It was required reading in grade 8, and I enjoyed it immensely.  That got me hooked on fantasy.  Fantasy gave me what other genres couldn’t (with the exception of science fiction), a new world to explore.  I’ve always been interested in geography and other countries, and fantasy gave me a taste of what it would like if we could create an entire new world and new cultures.  Whenever I’ve looked at fantasy books in a bookstore, I’ve always looked at the map.  That’s also how my love for writing fantasy started.  I started with the map.  It gave me a world to fill with countries, cultures, landscapes and endless possibilities for stories.

Fantasy allows the author to be very creative.  Anything can happen.  With magic, gods, strange creatures, demons, and unique cultures, a rich and adventurous story could be written with many surprises.  While many fantasy stories try to mimic the types of people from classic epic fantasy, introduced by J.R.R. Tolkien, some go a different way and make a completely new world with new races and monsters.  Imagination rules in fantasy.

I love being taken away to another world through fantasy.  It gives me a way to get away on a brief vacation from reality.  It’s good entertainment.

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.