Man Made Boy
by Jon Skovron
Amazon † Barnes & Noble
by Jon Skovron
Amazon † Barnes & Noble
Love can be a real monster.
Sixteen-year-old Boy’s father is Frankenstein’s monster and his mother is the Bride. A hacker and tech geek, Boy has lived his whole life in a secret enclave of monsters hidden beneath a Broadway theater, until he runs away from home. Now, the boy who’s never set foot outside embarks on a madcap road trip with the granddaughters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that takes him deep into the heart of America. Along the way, Boy falls in love, comes to terms with his unusual family, and learns what it really means to be a monster—and a man.
Welcome to the MAN MADE BOY blog tour! The son of Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride, 16-year-old Boy has lived his whole life in a secret enclave of monsters hidden beneath a Broadway theater, until he runs away from home after he unwittingly unleashes a sentient computer virus on the world. Together with the granddaughter(s) of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Boy embarks on a journey across the country to L.A. But Boy can only hide from his demons for so long…
How 2 write like a haxx0r
Before we begin, two points:
First, do not trust anything I say. According to certain Zen Buddhists, if you see Buddha on the road, you should kill him. That’s because you would be tempted to ask him how to achieve enlightenment and if he were, in a moment of weakness, to actually tell you, it would ruin your chances of actually discovering it on your own, which is the only way to genuinely achieve enlightenment. Fortunately, I’m not Buddha, so you don’t have to kill me. You just have to remember that I’m full of crap.
Second, you must hate Microsoft Word. You must hate it like Vader hates Jedi. You must let your hatred for it fill you up. You must let it make you so strong that you could shoot lightening out of your eyeballs. If you are indifferent to Word, or god help you partial to it, you are not ready yet. If that is the case, crawl back to your precious Word and toil away some more, watching it choke on any document over 400 pages, experiencing time and again as it crashes right in the middle of copyedits and loses the last hour of your work, and wait for that inevitable day when you try to open a document and it won’t open because the file has become inexplicably corrupt. Only then will you be ready to begin your journey and escape the horrors of Microsoft Word.
Start small. Try Pages, perhaps. Or if you’re slightly more adventurous, the open source Libreoffice or Open Office. You might even dabble a bit with Google Docs. Many stop with these, deciding that as long as it’s stable and runs at a decent clip, there’s no need to tinker more. And that’s fine.
But there will be some of you who, now that you have that first heady taste of something better than Word, will wonder just how much better it can get. If you are one of those writers, you will most likely find yourself eventually trying software that has actually been designed to work how you work. You will try out something like Scrivener and it will be like the choirs of Heaven have started singing when you realize that such a thing exists as writing software designed with writers in mind. It might be a little scary at first, coming to grips with the idea that a project need not be one big gigantic file, that indeed a project can be made up of many files that, when ready, can be compiled and output in whatever way you require. When you are ready to accept this truth, it will be a beautiful day for you. Many will be satisfied to remain here in the embrace of Scrivener, with its templates and its enforced rich text format. And it is a fine place to be, far removed from the fear and loathing of Microsoft Word.
But there will be a select few who see that this is not the end of the journey. That indeed it is only the beginning! Perhaps they stumble across a brief overlooked passage in the advanced section of the Scrivener User Guide called “Markdown”. Or perhaps they discover it under the auspices of Tumblr, Day One, or some other text markup enabler. Those people will discover the joy of plain text and markup languages like Markdown, Pandoc, and Fountain.
Yes, true freedom from format, from sluggish word processors, from worrying about fonts and sizes and all the rest. Just you and the text, an intimate dance, a holy union. You want a chapter break? Just type a “#”. You want a section break? Just type “##”. You want to indicate italics? Just put a “*” on either side of the word or phrase. It’s that simple, that beautiful. And there are a surprising number of apps that support these markup languages. Blog apps, journal apps, simple word processors even. Apps that can make it look pretty and handle the export and conversion features for you. And for most, that will be a perfect place for them at last to rest from their journey of writing tools.
But even among this select elite, there will be a few tragic souls for whom even that will not be enough. For those poor creatures, there will be no turning back. No rest until they have reached the end. If you are one of them, know that you are not alone, no matter what they say in the forums.
By this time you will be drunk off the freedom that plain text brings. It will occur to you that if your writing is only plain text, then it can in fact be treated just like code. Perhaps you will break each chapter out into separate text files, create a master TOC file, and compile it yourself from the command line. There may even come a day when you find yourself muttering “Yes, yes, if I really want to control my output, perhaps I could write my own XSLT file…” And that, my friend, is when you know you are well and truly lost. That is when you can expect some day to find yourself eschewing the user interface all together, preferring to write everything from the terminal interface on a 2002 blueberry clamshell iBook.
And on that day, your editor will weep. Because it will be a giant pain in the ass when that manuscript goes to production.
About Jon Skovron
Jon Skovron is the author of STRUTS & FRETS and MISFIT. Visit him at jonskovron.com.