How to make proof reading easier.

I hate proofreading. I truly hate it. I don’t think I’m good at it. Lucky for me, I found a simple hack that has reduced my error rate significantly and made proofreading a lot, lot easier.

I slowed the hell down.

It wasn’t deliberate. I’ve been experimenting with using a stylus on my tablet to write. I wanted to find a way to write when I had little or no time it to do so. It worked, but it wasn’t until I printed and proofread what I’d written that I noticed the difference. There were far fewer errors than normal. Far, far fewer.

It took me a while to realise why, but it’s simple – the stylus slowed me down. 

Handwriting recognition isn’t perfect. You have to check that what you wrote is what the system read. It also limits how much you can write at once. I can write roughly six words before the input area is full and I have to wait a second (literary 1 second) for the system to process my writing and convert it into text. Then, I check it and fix any errors.

Word by word, line by line, I’ve realised that I’ve been proofreading my work sentence by sentence as I’ve been writing it. That’s actually something I’ve never done before. Head down, fingers at the keys, I smash through the words as they come to me, chasing that elusive “zone” where the words are writing themselves. It’s a rush, it’s a high, but maybe it’s also the writing equivalent of blasting across the alkali flats of Nebraska in a rocket-powered car, navigating by monkeys, in a blindfold.

So, here’s today pro-tip: Slow down, read as you go, and don’t leave a mess behind. Future you will thank you for it when editing time comes.

Horror Story Collection #1 Free on Amazon Kindle

Horror Story Collection #1, will be free on Amazon Kindle from March 10th to March 11th.

I’m experimenting with both boosted Facebook posts and Amazon’s own marketing platform to help push the book up the Amazon charts and hopefully pick up some positive reviews. I have a respectable 4 stars, but would love to pick up some more positive reviews and (of course) introduce my work to a new audience.

I will post some blogs about the relative merits and success, or not, of my marketing efforts later this month.

It even rains in space – The perils of writing weather on alien worlds

A lot of writers ignore the weather. It’s sunny when things are good. It always rains at funerals. These old tricks are sometimes considered a part of “The Pathetic Fallacy”.  But weather counts, and when you’re screenwriting for outside shoots it’s more than just mood.

In a few weeks, my first ever feature length film script will start filming. In Wales. In April.

To my pessimistic mind, rain is almost certain. However, rain isn’t something we’ve taken into account in the script – a script that happens predominantly outdoors.

Now, in what I would consider a “normal” production the shoot would work around the weather. We wouldn’t film when the weather wasn’t right. Wolverine 2 was majorly delayed by weather problems in Japan. Game of Thrones Series Seven was delayed because it was too warm (Winter, it appears, was not coming after all). The Revenant moved parts of its shoot from Canada to Northern Argentina to find snow.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

We don’t have the option of booking indoor scenes as cover – there just aren’t enough indoor scenes. We also don’t really have the option to delay. Our actors are working for free, so are the camera wizards, directors, sound wranglers. We have permission to film for one week.

In April.

In Wales.

So, right now, I’m hastily adding “optional” dialogue and directions to our script, to be used only in the event that it rains or, for later scenes, that is has rained in the past.

These additions will live in a “Wet Weather” shooting script that only my co-writer/director (Terry Cooper) and the Assistant Director (Chris Bevan) will have a copy of. It’s “in case of emergency, break glass” territory.

I can’t reveal too much about the changes without risking spoilers but, suffice it to say, the crew have a series of tough decisions to make and weather would absolutely be a factor. It would just be too weird for them to ignore it. I’m also adding in some additional directions for the actors. Ultimately, we’ll end up shooting the version the elements allow.

The lesson? Set your film indoors.

Dear Mr. Perfect Cupcake Maker

Dear Mr. Perfect Cupcake Maker,

I clicked on the link to your article “10 steps to the PERFECT cupcake” when it appeared in my social media feed today. I am writing to let you know that it left me somewhat disappointed, to say the least. In an effort to stop you from disappointing future readers I would like to confirm with you that you actually understand the definition of the word PERFECT.

For the sake of clarity, here it is:

having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

or, when used as a verb

make (something) completely free from faults or defects; make as good as possible.

You will note, I have highlighted some aspects of the above definition for emphasis.

I would like to understand by what measure you consider the cupcakes created using your 10 step process to be “perfect”? By which, I mean, how did you reach the conclusion that never, in all of human history yet to happen, will a cupcake ever be made that will surpass, even in the most minor way, your own?

I am not a professional baker. I am not a food critic. As such, I am unaware of the unit of measure appropriate for grading a cupcake but I fear, to your cost, that this may actually be quite a subjective matter.

I have the Rubenesque figure of a man who is clearly, barring a glandular malfunction of some sort, no stranger to the cupcake. I have, in my time, eaten cupcakes that I would, subjectively, describe as “good”. I have eaten cupcakes I would describe as “excellent” and “great”. I have eaten cupcakes in which I have found noteworthy aspects, such as sweetness or moistness, which have made them of particular interest. I have also eaten cupcakes that I would describe as “poor”, “bland”, “dry” and, in one instance, “diabolical” (although, in the maker’s defense and in the spirit of the accuracy I should point out that in hindsight I feel they were merely sub-par and can provide absolutely no evidence of demonic malfeasance).

My point, long winded though it may be, is that there are any number of ways to describe a cupcake to make it clear to the reader that you believe it, subjectively, to be markedly superior to other cupcakes. You do not need to tantalize me with the false promise that my friends and co-workers will drop to their knees and weep in awe as they take their first bite of my “perfect” cupcakes. You do need to imply that I should begin to make plans for where the National Trust will put the brass plaque on my house so that future generations will know that this is where it, the “perfect” cupcake, happened. You do not need to rob me, my children, and my children’s children of the hope that cupcake science may yet progress in even the smallest way, just to get me to click your link.

I have tasted your cupcakes, Mr. Perfect Cupcake Maker and they do not taste perfect.

Their taste is the taste of my hope for the future dying.

Yours Faithfully,

Clickbait.

Words the Internet broke: “Need” vs. “Want”

The English language is constantly evolving, but that doesn’t mean that we should be the sort of irresponsible parent that leaves its baby with its fingers in the plug socket and a nappy full of poo just so that it can experience “independence”. No, sometimes English needs a helping hand.

“Need” is a word that is massively misused, especially online. The vast majority of the time when people say “need” the appropriate word is actually “want”.

You do not need to buy a computer game, new iPhone, or special edition boxed set. You do not need to see the latest superhero movie on opening night and rarely are there “Ten things you need to know” about any topic (even if “number 10 will shock you”).

You might want any of these things. You might really really really want them, but you don’t need them.

Most dictionary definitions of need now define it as a “strong desire” but this definition has really already been polluted by our bad habit of saying “need” when we actually mean want. Yes, we already broke the word. Still, there are still some people who know the difference between a need and a want. Normally, I would be more likely to build a wicker man and sacrifice these people to an obscure pagan god than to quote them but… needs must. Yes, it’s the economists:

Needs would be defined as goods or services that are required. This would include the needs for food, clothing, shelter and health care. Wants are goods or services that are not necessary but that we desire or wish for.

So, if you can replace “I need” in a sentence with “I will suffer significant, even life-threatening, physical or psychological harm without” and not sound like a self-obsessed narcissistic idiot then… congratulations! You’ve got yourself a bonafide need. If not… then it’s bad news. Your “need” is just a want trying to falsely legitimize itself, even if that means making you sound like a self-obsessed narcissistic idiot.

There are times when need can be used for things that fall outside the economic definition of need, but in all of these cases there should be a qualifier in the statement. For example: “I need a faster engine to break the world speed record.” Our wants, therefore, can engender needs, but only insofar as the one serves the other. You do not, generally speaking, just “need” a bigger and faster car. You “need” one because you “want” to break the world speed record. Ergo, still not a real “need”.

Now, this might all sound like a load of old-man grumbling about the use of words but there is slightly more to it than that. If you take a good look at the things that you need vs. the things that you want, you will find that you need a lot less than you think. Don’t worry, this isn’t disappearing down some “all you need is love” rabbit hole (because love, for all its power, doesn’t actually prevent starvation or hypothermia) the point is that every time you misuse the word “need” you are reducing its power. Our social media feeds are an endless stream of things that we “need”, or are being told that we “need”, and that other people want us to know they “need”. It’s impossible to see the wood for the trees.

But there are things individuals really do need. There are things society, collectively, really needs. There are things that the world needs.

And we need to focus on those things a little more.

So, don’t start saying “want” instead of “need” because I’m asking you to. Do it because… you need to. We all do.


Definition from: www.mcwdn.org/ECONOMICS/NeedWant.html

Magpye Remastered

Over the next few weeks (or maybe months) I will be revisited one of my earlier prose works, “The Magpye”, for a serious re-edit. The updated version will be re-published on Amazon (and made available to anyone who already bought the book) and an updated set of sample chapters will be posted up to the website.

Revisiting old work is strange. You notice style changes; things you used to do but don’t anymore. Sometimes these are things you like, sometimes now. Sometimes there’s the thrill of hitting a piece of writing that really works. Sometimes… the opposite.

Imperfection is the only thing that can be guaranteed, I suppose.

It’s got me thinking about whether having the kind of unimpeachable digital archive of our lives that social media provides is a good thing or not. I quite like being able to edit my past in my head, discarding the bad bits and hanging on to the good. My Facebook and Twitter feed, by contrast, offer only a stark and perfect recollection of things as they were, not how I wish to believe they might have been.

That is, perhaps, a different story.

Magpye: Circus of the Dead / Chapter 01 / The Living are the Interlopers

Everything in the circus was dead except for Marv, Marissa, and maybe Magpye.

Nobody was sure about Magpye.

Part of the problem was that Magpye wasn’t always completely Magpye. Sometimes he was Able Quirk, and he certainly looked a lot like him. A dead him, but still him. Other times Magpye was someone else entirely, the ghost of some other person, or persons, speaking through Able’s body. But always, underneath it all, he was Magpye. Whatever the hell that meant.

Above ground, the circus had been burnt long ago. The caravans were nothing more than rusting skeletons, their blackened skins blistered from the heat of the fire, ruptured, and now rusting in the merciless elements. Their black frames looked like the bones of elephants, great beasts come together in their graveyard to die, far from the herd. Tattered tarps, colourful shrouds for the dead circus, clung to the ruined frames of the tents and awnings, and the ground was a black, scorched skin. Above it all towered the fleshless carcass of the big top, casting its grim shadow across the place like a cage. When the wind was right, you could still smell burning. If you listened carefully, you could sometimes hear screams too. Murder hung in the air like a fog and clung to everything, a sticky miasma that made the flesh crawl and the heart pound.

Something bad had happened here. The kind of bad that stained a place.

Even when the circus had been open, before everything had burnt, there had been strange rumours. The place was built on an old, forgotten cemetery some said, and the ghosts of those interred here haunted the circus and plagued its visitors. Well, there were ghosts here, that much was certain. Magpye could hear them. He could hear them all the time.

Below ground, in their tiny sanctuary underneath the vast corpse of the circus, Marv and Marissa were cooking. Pans steamed, lids rattled. Ever the showman, ever the magician, Marv made even a simple stew cooked over a camping stove look like a conjuring trick. Behind him, Marissa laid the table. Impossibly, some china had survived the fire-storm that had consumed the circus, and she arranged it carefully on the table.

Their sanctuary was a small mausoleum: an expensive tribute, Marv had suggested, to a family long past. Despite all the ghosts that Magpye could sense, he had no inkling of who the original denizens of this place might have been. Unlike the ghosts of the circus, their spirits had found peace, he suspected. Marissa had done her best to decorate the place, papering the vaulted stone ceilings with old posters from the circus, scrounging up what furniture she could. With the original tenants gone, they had turned the place into a shrine to their own lost loved ones. Salvage from the burnt out caravans was piled everywhere, a ramshackle museum built up from the everyday detritus of people’s lives mixed with what was left of the paraphernalia of the circus. They had used some of the larger boxes to block up doors, limiting themselves to just a few small rooms. Marv wanted to explore the place, but Magpye’s keen sense of the dead and their demands had bade him leave the rest of the crypt alone. This was a dead place. The living were the interlopers here.

Perched on the edge of an old steam trunk, Magpye watched Marissa laying the table. The plates were fragile, just like the girl, he thought. Survivors, but chipped and crazed and changed by the whole thing. He was changed too, of course, more than any of them.

“Sit down to the table, son, you’re making us all nervous,” Marv said. “Or make yourself useful and help Marissa.”

Magpye cocked his head to one side, an affectation that let Marv and Marissa know that he was no longer listening to them, but to one of the many voices that only he could hear. Dead voices, never quiet. “Sorry,” he mumbled, hopping down from his perch.

“That’s OK,” said Marissa, unsure whether the apology had been for her or not. “Everything’s ready. Why don’t you sit down and we can get started?”

Magpye shot Marv a look. “I can’t…”

“Try,” said Marv, pouring steaming stew from the pan into the waiting bowls. “Just… try.”

And so the three of them sat and stared at their plates of stew. Marv, the once great circus conjurer, and Marissa his daughter and former assistant. Magpye knew them both, but couldn’t be sure if the memories were his or if they belonged to one of his ghosts, to the one of the voices in his head.

He felt Marissa’s hand on his. It was warm, far warmer than his own cold and cadaverous flesh.

“You used to love this stew,” she said earnestly. “You’ve got to eat something, keep your strength up.”

Magpye pushed the bowl away angrily, spilling some of the steaming stew onto the old wooden table.

“I can’t,” he said flatly, his temper immediately subsiding. “I can’t eat this.”

He stalked away from the table, damning the voices in his head for their sudden silence as Marissa began to sob behind him.

 

***

 

Sitting in his lair, Magpye listened to the girl’s sobs fade away, and to the muffled sounds of Marv’s calm, deep voice. He was a hypnotist, amongst his other conjuring skills, and Magpye wondered if Marv had ever considered reaching into Marissa’s mind and turning off the things that plagued her. The voices said no, but Magpye still wondered.

The “lair”, as Magpye had come to term it, was the smallest of their rooms. Marv’s old trick cabinet stood against one wall, co-opted by Magpye for his own storage. A bed of sorts, cobbled together from part of one of the old caravans, lay awkwardly to one side. A jagged shard of warped glass was propped up in one corner, a poor substitute for a decent mirror. Magpye liked to look at himself, he said, to see if he could see any trace of them, the voices in his head, behind his eyes or on his face. Marv said that Magpye had once stared into the mirror for almost two days. All he ever saw was his own warped reflection, of course. The dead were far too cunning to be caught in mirrors.

A soft tap on the door and the creak of hinges announced Marv’s arrival.

“I’m sorry,” said Magpye instantly, “I shouldn’t have…”

“It’s fine,” Marv interrupted, dragging an old crate away from the wall to make an impromptu seat for himself. “But you can’t hide what you are from her forever you know.”

Magpye looked down at the floor. “And what is that, exactly?”

“You’re a young man with some incredible gifts, Quirk.”

“Don’t call me that!” snapped Magpye. The bed creaked under his weight as he shifted himself back and forwards. Marv knew the movement well and understood the inner torment that it signified. He couldn’t imagine what it was to have so many voices in your head, especially when, according to Able, they were always screaming.

Marv sighed and rubbed at his face. “You can’t afford to forget who you really are, son.”

“Who I really am is why all of my friends and all of my family are dead, Marv. Who I really am is why we live in a tomb underneath what used to be our home, why we have to scavenge in the wreckage of our lives, of their lives, for the things we need. Being Able Quirk is why all of this happened.”

Magpye stood up and stalked across to the trick cabinet. Yanking the doors open, he revealed the contents – a small arsenal of throwing knives, a long handled axe, a belt hung with loops of trapeze wire, and his great coat. Stitched with a series secret pouches and pockets, even Marv didn’t know the full extent of the coat’s contents. Hanging from the top of the cabinet, was the mask. In a cabinet full of weapons, it was the mask that frightened Marv most of all.

“You’re going out?” he asked, warily.

Magpye pulled on the great coat. Inside, Marv could see holsters swinging.

“And you’ve got yourself some guns, I see.”

“Malcolm put me on to them. He kept them in a secret compartment in the floor of his caravan.”

“Malcolm…” said Marv wistfully. Malcolm had been the circus’ sharpshooter. British by birth, he dressed as a cowboy and affected a Texan drawl as part of his act. He’d been great, in his day, but he’d never told anyone the secret of where he’d learnt to shoot. Marv had always suspected that he was more than just a sharpshooter or a trick shot. For one thing, he’d never come across a trick shot who knew how to shoot a man in the gut so that it took him a whole day to bleed out.

Magpye unhooked the long handled axe and slung it over his back on a leather strap.

“I’m not going to try and stop you,” said Marv.

“I know.”

“But you can’t do this forever. Eventually, you’re going to have to stop hiding and remember who you are, underneath all of this.”

“Doing this,” said Magpye, unhooking the mask, “Is the only thing that makes sense of any of this.”

Marv stood, placing his arms on Magpye’s shoulders. He could feel hard plates stitched underneath the cloth.

“I used to feel that way, you know I did. They were my family too.”

“You left.”

“And I came back.”

“When they were dead. When it was too late to help anybody.”

Marv looked away. Magpye’s eyes were pale, milky orbs almost devoid of colour, another of the mysterious changes that had come over the boy Marv had once known as Able Quirk, and it was impossible to meet their gaze for long. There was something more than that though, something deeper. Marv didn’t see the dead, or hear them like Magpye did, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t remember them. The circus had been his home too, once. Marv, the great magician, the master escape artist. He’d pulled his greatest ever escape without even knowing it, leaving the circus just a few weeks before it was burnt to the ground, the entire crew murdered.

“I helped you, didn’t I?” he asked weakly.

“Yes, Marv, you did,” replied Magpye. “And you’re still helping me now. Let’s face it, if I stop, what else are we going to do?”

“Live?” suggested Marv, his tone glib.

“As ghosts, maybe. Hiding down here in a tomb? We may as well be dead.”

“But we’re not. We’ve got a chance. I’ve got friends in LA, a few friends in Vegas… we could start over.” Marv gripped Magpye by the shoulders, tightening his grip, “Everyone who goes up against the Kings ends up dead, kid. Everyone knows that. What happened here, what happened to us? They’ve done things a hundred times worse. They own this city, and nobody is taking it from them.”

“I am.”

“Bullshit!” scoffed Marv. “Well, at least use that secret passage of yours,” he said, heading out of the room. “I don’t want Marissa any more upset than she is already. And don’t think you can come back and haunt me if you get yourself killed out there.”

But Magpye didn’t answer. As he closed the door, Marv heard the unmistakeable sound of Able Quirk zipping up his mask, and he knew that any vestige of the boy was gone in that instant. Inside the mask, there was only Magpye, and Magpye only wanted one thing.

Magpye was going to kill the King.

Iron Writer 2017

Last year (2016) I ran a two day writing challenge called “IronWriter” to raise money for Autumn Star. I spent two days writing random short stories (OK, some very short) and asking people to put money in a jar to take them away with them. Think of it like “story busking” … or something.

I raised a little over £150 pounds, I posted all the stories I wrote up to a website, and then thought… what next?

Well, this new Just Giving campaign is what’s next. If you’re reading this then you might have already seen the campaign and found my website that way or you might have heard of #ironwriter before. But, if not, no problem… here’s the skinny.

You donate money and I write a story.
Yep, it’s that simple.

You get to pick things in that story, like an object or a person or a setting. I don’t include real people (unless you want yourself in a story) and I like to keep it clean. No more than 49 shades of gray, thanks. When your story is written it will go up on the website and I’ll tweet you a hearty “Thank you” (if you’re on Twitter).

You can make it as tough as you like. The tough the better. Just don’t forget to donate.

No donation = no story, but even a £1 donation is enough.

Once you’ve made your donation, you can make your story request here: http://www.cwlynch.com/ironwriterwritemeastory

I’m not going to write paragraphs and paragraphs about why Cancer Research is an important charity. The sad fact is that there are very few, if any, of us who have not had their lives touched, changed, knocked off course, even devastated by cancer. You may be battling cancer now, be a survivor, or have a friend or loved one who is. Please, whoever you are and why-ever you are here… find a spare £1 for the jar.

Thank you,

Chris

Save the Cat Todoist Template

Here’s a template to quickly add Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat story structure to a Todoist project.

Blake Synder’s “Save the Cat” is one of my favourite pieces of “story engineering”. As a technologist, I love to find design patterns that work and are repeatable – my friends in Hollywood are much the same it would appear!

If you’re not familiar with Save the Cat it is a 15 beat structure that seems to fit any film you want to throw at it. I find it works equally well for comic books (especially 22 page 1 shots) novels, and anything else I’ve tried. I’ve developed a Google sheet that works out when each beat should happen for any length piece of work (which I’ll share in a future post) but for now, I wanted to share my Blake Snyder Save the Cat Todoist Template.

You can import the CSV file (download link above) into any Todoist project and it will instantly give you a 15 point checklist to work through when plotting your story. Alternatively, if your story is written but something feels wrong, you can use this checklist to make sure you’ve hit all your major story beats.

 

#comicbookhour Question 4: Is there a risk of offending people by using reality based content as plot points?

Today, there seems to be a risk of offending somebody no matter what you write.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the popular idea that people are more easily offended today than in the past. I do think that often people describe things as offensive when actually they mean something else, something more subjective and therefore not absolute, but by using the word offensive they magically confer a moral correctness to their opinion.

Now, personally, I don’t begrudge anyone the right to some symantic elasticity in the service of making a point. However, the collective Group Think of the Internet makes this broad, and broadening, definition of the word “offensive” dangerous, not because it confers power to weak positions but because in doing so it weakens the position of opposition of genuinely harmful, genuinely offensive, viewpoints.

Racism is offensive. Sexism is offensive. Misuse of the apostrophe, country music, and well cooked steaks are not.

So it seems that there is, today, always the risk of being accused of being offensive by someone. In that sense, it is not worth worrying about causing subjective offence – outrage is the background radiation of the modern Internet.

However, I think a very important distinction has to be drawn between causing impersonal subjective offense and personal offense.

When it comes to using real world events in a story the most important thing to remember is that you don’t own the events. Whatever else might happen, the events that you include are not your story – they are someone elses. As such, they should be treated with respect.

Especially when dealing with events in living memory, there is a burden of responsibility on the writer not only to portray the events accurately but also not to cheapen the events themselves by using them lazily.

The event that looms largest in my living memory is 9/11. Without a doubt, much of what is happening in the world today in economic and geopolitical terms can be traced back, in whole or in part, to 9/11. I suspect that may still be true a century from now – the roots of history grow deep.

Despite this, there are only a few scenarios in which I can imagine utilising 9/11 in a story.

One is to set a timeline against a story. Everyone knows 9/11 and if you are the right sort of age you will remember it. Everyone knows where they were when they heard – but how many remember the year?

Evoking 9/11 in an overheard radio news broadcast or on the front page of a newspaper is an effective way of conjuring a time and a mood. In this context, I find it hard to imagine someone being offended.

However, turn that same historical event into your main setting and I think you have a problem. Can you imagine the plot of Titanic being replayed inside the Twin Towers?

I can’t tell you what the “Storytelling Statue of Limitations” is in years, but I can feel in my gut when it is being broken. In this context I think them are obvious uses of real world events that would be upsetting and offensive to people who were directly personally affected by those events.

As writers we pillage and plunder the world to make our stories. We must be mindful when treading on hallowed ground.

#comicbookhour Question 3: Can a comic be bad because of how far it goes to be realistic?

I think this is a case of genre. Superhero books, generally, do not benefit from large doses of realism.

The first example that springs to mind is the run in Nightwing when Dick Grayson ends up on crutches after being injured in the line of, duty. He ends up undercover in a crime family as “Crutches” and gets involved in various broadly non-descript confrontations in which it invariably turns out that crutches are an ideal improvised weapon, tool, distraction, or actual crutch.

Forget Grayson, the whole thing limps along and is utterly painful.

For something that is supposed to inject “realism” the whole thing is also completely ridiculous. This is Nightwing, the protege of ultimate tactician  Batman who also happens to have Zatanna’s phone number. This character exists in a world where gods, magic, time travel, aliens, super-science, and resurrection from death are commonplace.

It might be realistic for Dick Grayson to end up on crutches – it’s completely unrealistic for him to stay on them, let alone build a whole new undercover identity around them.

Clearly, Zatanna gets it.

In other genres, the inverse is true. Introduce something too unrealistic and you risk breaking the “willing suspension of disbelief”.

It’s not a comics example, but Bond movies are a good example of this. Batman movies are too. You are only ever one Clooney on a surfboard away from being ridiculous.

Ultimately, I think every story exists somewhere on the “Spectrum of Realism” and must stay true to its own internal rules and logic, no matter how unrealistic these might be. You cannot measure realism on one universal scale – it must be measured relative to the story world.

In your story, having your broken leg fixed by a wizard might be unrealistic but in mine it may be the obvious choice.

Amplify audio in videos recorded on an iPad

iPads are great for recording video but they are pretty terrible at recording audio using just the on-board microphone.

If you want to amplify the audio from an iPad video (or any video format for that matter), you can do so using ffmpeg.

ffmpeg is an open source utility for “trans-coding” – converting from one video format to another. While you’re converting, you can also change things, like the volume.

Here’s my ffmpeg command to increase the volume of a recording

ffmpeg -i “INPUTFILENAME” -vcodec copy -af “volume=25dB” -strict -2 “OUTPUTFILENAME

You can adjust the 25dB to a higher value if you really want to crack things up. However, this amplifies everything so you are going to get a lot of background pop and hiss but, if you video is useless as it stands, this can be a really useful technique.