Job Basics: Roundup

And here’s the roundup of the Job Basics series.  For those of you that are new here (or came to see it), the goal was to list out job search basics, focusing on the geek audience here, as a reference.

  • Why I did this in the first place.  Seriously, you may want to know.
  • The Goal.  Setting your goal is the start.
  • The Path.  Once you know where you want to go, you have to figure out how to get there.
  • Growth.  Your path is going to require you to grow and develop to get to your goal.
  • Awareness.  Things are happening all the time that can affect your career – being aware is vital.
  • Tools.  The things you need on your job search and for your career.
  • The Search.  How to do a good job search – and adapt it.
  • The Social.  Hw to make your career part of your life.

Thanks for everyone who inspired it – and I hope it helps you.

 
Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.

Job Basics: The Social

People And Profile

You’ve got your resume, you’ve researched your career, you’re on the search.  In fact, you may even have a good job or found one and are well on your way.  There’s one final factor I wanted to address – the social side of your job and your career.

Now I’m not talking about hanging out with your co-workers, though if you like them well enough go for it.  Nor am I talking only about Networking.  I’m talking about opportunities to both connect with people, connect professionally with people, and just have fun exist.

The hard truth about many good jobs, good careers, and successful people is that being social is part of it.  Connecting, networking, learning, joining.  It makes it part of your life and helps you meet people like yourself, and it lets you take what you want to do and do more with it.  A career, alone, isolated from the rest of your life, is not for everyone.

By making sure you socialize with people like you, with groups that do what you do, you help get a larger, visceral sense of what’s important and what’s going on.  You learn about what’s coming, you get the lingo, and in some cases you discover you really, really don’t like where things are going . . .

Finally, you can enjoy the events, parties, seminars, and more out there.  You can have fun with your career.

So here’s how to take your social side and use it in your career.

Networking And Linked In

Yeah, yeah, I’ve said this before.  Network and join LinkedIn.  I also warned that this stuff had to be repeated for a reason.  So I’m repeating it.

The thing is that good networking isn’t just about job connections, as noted, there’s often fun events, parties, etc.  You may find social opportunities with people of like professions, so go and have a little fun.

Join A Professional Association

Seriously.  Join a professional association, a group of similar professionals or future professionals.  Do it now – I’ve got a list right here.

Professional associations, at least good ones, provide resources, events, classes, and social opportunities to meet, work, and learn with people like you or people you want to be like.  I don’t care if you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, these are the people you want to hang out with – moreso if you’re new to the scene.

The opportunities are vast:

  • You meet people of similar interest – and whom you can learn from.
  • There are resources, classes, magazines and more to help you out and keep you connected.
  • Assorted events are usually held by associations, from serious classes to charities to fun social events.
  • Meeting people like yourself can help you get motivated.
  • It looks good on a resume.

Really, go join a professional association.

Join A Club Or Meetup

If you’re near any kind of large city – and even if you’re not – there’s probably assorted clubs or events at www.meetup.com that fit your professional interests.  You just have to look for them online, in your local paper, and so on.

The benefits are the same as a professional association – people to meet, changes to socialize, opportunities to learn.  It’s often less formal, there’s not certifications, and so on.  But it’s also something right in your area.

The lack of formality (compared to a professional association) is also an advantage.  It’s more fun, more social, more relaxed, and may do things no professional association would think of – or dare.  If you worry about getting “too professional” a club or meetup may be just for you.

Start A Group Project

I always recommend people have A Project to do – some big effort they do, at least partially for fun, that uses their skills and interests.  It could be a book, blog, indie game, something.  But having A Project means you’re focusing, learning, growing, and doing something for real.  It teaches and uses both skills and meta-skills like organization.

So why not do one with other people.

Now I’m not saying you have to do this.  It’s just a suggestion.  But it has advantages:

  • You can do more with a team (usually) than on your own.
  • You meet people, socialize, and connect both within and without your area of interest – you may want to write on video games, and meeting a webmaster may give you a new appreciation of technology.
  • You can work with each other to promote your work.
  • You learn to work with people
  • There are pure social and fun opportunities.

For me, my Group Project is Crossroads Alpha, and it’s definitely been worth it.

Look For Lectures, Seminars, And More

You want to learn more about your profession, and meet people of similar interests, and have fun.  Go look for lectures, seminars, and film showings in your professional vein.

If you’ve got colleges, schools, museums, libraries, and so forth within a reasonable distance, there’s probably a few lectures and so forth going on now and then – and all the time if you’re in a major urban area.  A check of a college website, local news site, and so on will give you enough.  Some colleges even send out information on adult education and seminars in the ancient form called “mail.”

These are a grab-bag, dependent on your location and the institutions there, but they provide all sorts of diversity and learning opportunities.  In a few cases local clubs and meetups may even go to said events, letting you double up the professional socialization.

And who knows, you might even be qualified to do one someday . . .

Stay Social, My Friends

The social aspect of our careers can be easily ignored or forgotten – sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not.  But by making it a part of your life, you’ll take your ambitions and your passions farther.  They won’t be isolated – they’ll be a part of your larger social picture.

And you may even have fun with your career.  Which is always nice.

Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.

Lost in Translation – August Round-up

Welcome to Lost in Translation’s news round-up, looking at information about upcoming adaptations, remakes, and reboots.

Warner reschedules Batman v Superman – Dawn of Justice
Warner Bros blinked and moved their movie to March 25, 2016, so that it wouldn’t be in direct competition with Marvel’s Captain America 3.  That moves the film to outside the summer blockbuster months, but may gain a bit with March Breaks in high schools.

Babylon 5 getting a feature film reboot.
J. Michael Stracysnki has announced that he will be writing the script for the reboot film.  JMS was the creator of the TV series, and is hoping to get Warner Bros. to fund the film.  If not, then Studio JMS will provide the funding.  No other details are known.

John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War becoming TV series Ghost Brigades.
The pilot script is still being developed, but SyFy will be airing the series.  Scalzi has a FAQ and an interview with one of the scriptwriters, himself.  This is in addition to the Redshirts TV series on FX.

Shazam movie confirmed; Dwayne Johnson has undisclosed role.
Dwayne Johnson may play either Captain Marvel (get it right, CBC!) or Black Adam, but he didn’t say which.  However, one of his favourite characters is Black Adam.

Casting announced for Andy Serkis’ Jungle Book.
Benedict Cumberbatch has been named as the voice of Shere Khan in the Warner Bros.’ version of The Jungle Book.  This should not be confused with Disney’s remake, which will have Idris Elba as the tiger.

Phineas and Ferb to have Hallowe’en special.
Sure, most of Disney’s properties have Hallowe’en specials.  None had Simon Pegg or Nick Frost recreating their roles from Shaun of the Dead until now.  The pair will join the rest of the cast from Phineas and Ferb in a so-far undisclosed story.  The writing for the cartoon targets the entire family and has been known to throw in references to The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the past.

Power Rangers movie has release date set.
Lionsgate has set June 22, 2016, as the release date for Power Rangers.  Now all they need to do is film it.  Cast and director have not yet been named.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life to be adapted for TV.
Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, who commanded the International Space Station during Expedition 35, will have his book adapted for television.  ABC has picked up the rights and will have Col. Hadfield as a consulting producer on the pilot.

Minority Report in development for TV series.
Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television may be adapting his movie Minority Report, based on the Philip K. Dick short story “The Minority Report”.  The series is expected to focus on the PreCrime unit from the movie.

Way With Worlds: Heroes and Villains – Dark Mary Sues

Chess Pieces

NOTE: I am addressing Mary Sues in this column, which often involves questions of definition. As Mary Sues (and the male counterpart Gary Stu) are often a continuum, I wanted to clarify my defintion. My definition is of an “author’s pet” – a character who gets vastly preferential treatment by the author in a way that distorts the story. Thus I am discussing them entirely in the negative.

A Dark Mary Sue? Most people would say that Mary Sues often darken things as it is. They may make works into pandering creations that are hard to enjoy. An author or game creator may be worried that, after so many Mary Sues, a new character idea will be seen as an ego-fulfillment vehicle. Wether they annoy us in literature or gaming or make us worry how others view our works, they’re there, worrying us.

In the worlds we build, we may even be cautious about how we design heroes, heroines, and supporting characters. We take that extra effort to make sure they’re not Mary Sues, or even that they’re not perceived as such. For all people may enjoy a good wish-fulfillment story, there are times they can be quite harsh on other tales (namely ones not fulfilling their fantasies).

So we’re careful with our heroes and our heroines. Perhaps very careful.

But maybe they’re not the ones we should be keeping an eye on.

Through The Looking Glass Darkly

When you’re busy scrutinizing your cast you might miss where else Mary Sues pop up. These authors pet, Mary and Gary are tricky little devils, and maybe you should be looking at the other side of your cast.

Because sometimes they’re the villains. Not in the ruined-my-story-sense but in the fact that real Mary Sues and Gary Stus can be the bad guys. The Villains. The Antagonists. The characters raging at the meddling kids and their pet.

Sometimes they can be even more annoying than Mary Sue heroes. Watching a likable, interesting heroine deal with a well-armed overblown author’s favorite Dark Mary Sue is a great way to kill interest in the story. When the threat is so bad you can’t see anyone realistically coping with it, or so beautiful-powerful-great that you feel like you’re reading ad copy, there goes interest in your tale.

Needless to say if you’re a dedicated worldbuilder, they devastate your setting just as sure as any Mary Sue can. Mary Sues, authors pets, distort the world and make it unbelievable as the author’s blatant biases are more important than an understandable setting. Your suspension of disbelieve flies out the window pretty quick when a Mary Sue makes his/her appearance.

Of course this may be an odd statement – a Dark Mary Sue? Aren’t Mary and Gary supposed to be beautiful, perfect, wonderful, loves, etc.? How do you do that to the character everyone is supposed to root against? How do you Mary Sue-ify them?

Theres something peculiar to many of us writers and worldbuilders, perhaps all of us, in that one time or another we create an author’s pet. Maybe it’s a wish-fulfillment, maybe it’s identification, maybe its a power trip. Mary Sues are powerful, lucky, have it all, and are something we, sadly, get attached to.

But none of these qualities say that Mary Sue or Gary Stu have to be good guys. You’ve probably seen a few of their ilk that were so annoying you wondered why the hell they were the heroes and heroines.

In my experience, a Dark Mary Sue or Gary Stu make it even easier to make their stories a power trip and use of authorial fiat. Consider:

  1. The villain has to be a threat. It might get awful tempting to step into their shoes or make them an author’s pet.
  2. The villain has power. If you’re on a power trip, then it’s going to be awful easy to fall into the trap of Mary Sue-ing them.
  3. Villains are great for angsty backstory and redemption tales, which can be awful tempting to play with a wee bit much.
  4. Villains get a lot of attention, and it’s fun to have attention – and thus one may Mary Sue the villain.
  5. Villains are bad guys and lack moral restraints (in some cases). It can be fun to write a character without inhibitions or to fulfill one’s fantasies.
  6. Marketing. It seems everyone loves a bad guy/girl/woman/robot.

If this starts reminding you of some characters here or there, then you understand what I mean. Ever see a particularly foul character be strangely popular with some people? You get the idea – far more dangerous you may make your own.

Dark Mary Sue’s actually irritate me more than regular Mary Sues – they seem to lean more towards wish fulfillment, provoke even more excuses, and drag the story down – especially if the hero is just someone for the villain to push around.

Things To Watch Out For

So here’s a few signs you have a Dark Mary Sue on your hands:

  1. The hero/heroine are constantly outsmarted by the villain and are basically a punching bag.
  2. The villain is so charming, suave, debonair, and likable they don’t need an Army of Evil – they should just be able to make a good case of why they should rule everyone.
  3. The villain has inexhaustible resources, yet there’s no reason in your world to have said resources.
  4. The villain is so lucky, you figure they should just try and win the world in a game of Poker.
  5. People dislike the villain as they’re too perfect. THe perfection is more annoying than their actual crimes.
  6. The villain is giving voice to things the author thinks a wee bit too much.

See these traits in your villain? Get out the Mary Sue detector and give them a careful examination. YOu may have a Dark Mary Sue on your hands.

Closing

A Dark Mary Sue is a real kick in the worldbuilding, as well as just a poor thing to create as an author. It’s also a bit easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.

Have I see these? Oh, yes I have, and they’ve always crawled up my nose. There’s something partially sad to see an author make a bad guy the author’s pet and have it affect their work or misdirect their talent. Also there’s only so often you can hear “He/she is just misunderstood” before you want to say “no, this character is a psychopathic a-hole.”

I also think that Dark Mary Sues can eclipse good villains or morally ambiguous heroes – the areas of really good writing and worldbuilding. I can think of a few characters like that I’m quite fond of, and I’d rather not see their bad names besmirched, if you know what I mean.

Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.

Amazon’s Kindle Worlds Didn’t Catch Fire

Compared to fanfiction sites, it’s just not cutting it.  When you look at all the free sites out there, the numbers don’t add up.

Oddly, I can’t fault Amazon for trying.  This is an obvious market, it’s nice to get approved fanfic, and I can see some companies going for it as a way to find middle ground.

However the issue simply is that the limits are against what fanfiction is about.  It’s often crazy, freewheeling, contrarian, extrapolatory, and at times sheer nuts – or seems to be.  I know enough fanfiction authors of many ages and part of the goal of fanfiction is going outside the property – or inside it in a different way.

And I don’t think you can manage that inside the legal concerns of many major property holders.  Or minor ones.  Not without some serious community involvement and outreach.

So what’s next?  That’s what I wonder – is this a failure, or will some new idea emerge?  Will companies give up?  Will this meander along?  Don’t know.

But still, it’ll be interesting.

Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.