Sunday, August 27, 2017


MEDIEVAL FIGHT BOOK - The leather covered book dates to over 5 centuries ago, written in Old German, illustrating war technology in middle aged Europe. It’s an enigma, not so much for what it leaves in, but for what it leaves out. What is known? It was authored by master of arms Hans Talhoffer in the year 1459. Few facts are known about his life, other than the Lion of St. Mark in his coat of arms, a possible sign of him being the founder of an early fencing guild. The volume portrays footwork, weapon-handling, defensive moves, wrestling and horseback fighting. One of the key images is said to be of Talhoffer himself, displayed as a blonde knight, shown holding a broken chain. It appears that medieval times were more advanced than previously recognized. Trebuchets, diving suits, siege machines, tanks, strange shields and elaborate blade designs are depicted therein. While the inventions are incredible, the exact functions of many apparatus are obscured. Presumably only Talhoffer has the key to the puzzle. What do you think? Can you unlock the enigma? 

Sunday, August 20, 2017


THE VISIONS OF TESLA - When Nikola Tesla saw a drawing of Niagara Falls as a boy he told his uncle he’d place a wheel underneath to harness its power. He went to university but didn’t finish, before immigrating to America from Europe in 1884. Tesla found work quickly at Thomas Edison’s laboratory, often interacting closely with the brilliant inventor. Edison’s electrical system, based on direct current power (DC), was supplying light to homes in Manhattan but its reach was limited to a mile. Not long after leaving Edison, Tesla showed his alternating current (AC) motor design to George Westinghouse, another captain of industry. AC waves have gaps between the peaks, transmitting a secondary wave to fill in, thus switching directionality back and forth. A vision of AC came to Tesla in the form of a picture, allowing him to see the transmission of power over long distances. Meanwhile, Edison was shut out of the company he founded (Edison Electric) and further humiliated with a name change to General Electric. When Niagara Falls was harnessed as a power source in 1896 as Tesla predicted, General Electric dropped DC which obliterated it forever. Even today, AC is still the standard. Tesla’s ideas surpassed what he was able to accomplish in his lifetime. Particle beam weapons, the Tesla coil, radio antennas, the quark, remote control, neon/ fluorescent lights, X ray, seismic activity, radar and atmospheric energy transmission. Tesla demonstrated the principles behind the radio nearly ten years before Guglielmo Marconi. Radio patents were issued to Tesla, then reversed to Marconi, only to be posthumously credited back to Tesla. Westinghouse convinced Tesla to foolishly give up his patents early on during the AC/DC energy wars. At the age of 86 in 1943, Tesla died penniless, the recipient of more than 800 patents. Science looks to his notebooks for new discoveries to this day. 


Sunday, August 13, 2017


THE WRITE CONCEPT - Every great story begins the same way. What if? The term high concept is often used incorrectly. It’s not a simplistic concept, explained in a minimum of words. Continue to read a bit more about the elements of high concept fiction. 

A great hook – A character trait or inciting incident grabs the reader’s attention and carries them through to the end of the novel. Entertainment value – Think of a blockbuster film or your favorite novel, in your preferred genre. Does your concept measure up?  Original ideas – The same way clichés are to be avoided, so are recycled concepts. Do you really think you can do it better? Mass appeal – Returning to your favorite blockbuster, does this concept have wide appeal? Think multiple demographics and marketability. Visual appeal – There is an obvious connection between crafting a novel and screenplay writing. Sure, most of your story will be about the character’s transformational arc. But how can you enhance this visually? How to punch up tension with exciting backgrounds and locales? Emotional resonance – If all of the above elements are portrayed correctly, you will naturally end up with an intense novel with a sense of immediacy. High concept – Here’s how all of this comes together. High concept has a unique, fresh idea, with enough tension to maintain interest and an eye toward the cinematic/ dramatic. 

Not sure if high concept is right for you? Try to develop several one page length synopses. I refer to these as treatments, one of which is sure to stick in your head. That’s the treatment you should be developing into a short story or novel! What are you waiting for? Get to writing!



Sunday, August 6, 2017


EVOLUTION OF FLIGHT - Around the year 1500, Leonardo da Vinci produced sketches, mostly ornithopters, of flying machines and bird flight.  The man-powered helical airscrew might have been able to lift off the ground. Unfortunately the engine wasn’t available at that time to produce a functioning helicopter. Prior to 1700, kite jumping and tower jumping were the earliest forms of human flight. The first manned hot air balloon was piloted in 1783 by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier on the order of King Louis XVI. The design consisted of a fire in an iron basket under a balloon neck, it sustained for 25 minutes at a distance of 5 miles. Gas balloons, blimps, dirigibles and zeppelins came later - relying on the tenants of the original design. Sir George Cayley developed a flying machine concept in 1799, actually built a glider in 1849, which carried a boy on a short flight. He correctly predicted a flying machine wasn’t possible without a powerful engine. After years of experimentation, the Wright brothers made their first flight in 1903 at Kitty Hawk. Orville and Wilbur’s manned/ powered flight measured 120 feet in length and lasted 12 seconds. Biplanes, monoplanes, jets and bombers succeeded one after the other - each one improving on previous designs. The world’s first practical helicopter took flight in 1939, invented by Igor Sikorsky, it was based on a single blade design still in use today. The Soviet Union launched the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin on the Vostok 1, for a single orbit around Earth in 1961. With the Apollo 11 spaceflight in 1969, the United States landed Charles Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. They spent 2 hours on the surface and collected rocks to bring back to Earth. NASA is planning a human surface expedition to Mars slated for mid-2030. The crew will explore the Martian surface for a year, 6 decades after the first human stood on another celestial body. And the next step into our solar system? The Milky Way … and beyond.