Wednesday, March 26, 2014
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014
I’ve talked about beginnings of novels before but recently I’ve seen a few articles on a different angle and had someone ask me how beginnings have changed over the eons of writing. Had another someone, reading an Ebook, comment he didn’t have time to read works like War and Peace because its length depended mainly on long introductions and pages and pages of description that goes on at length about a tilt of a head or small gesture. (you might pop over to Em’s Talkery and see the short video of writer/dancer Emily Frankel and actor John Cullum discussing Tolstoy if you’re interested).
It got me to thinking, and reading, and thinking some more.
Here’s the thing. Each way of writing is correct for the era it’s written in. The old classics are mostly filled with long descriptions, some with flowery prose, and the like. It was a different time. And it lingered that way for quite a while. The writer would feed the reader a whole backstory right in the beginning to set the stage. They’d provide lots of description to give a feel for place and time.
Then along came big changes. First films came into being. They leaned heavily on literature for input and method during their infancy.
But things kept changing. Stories got tighter. One script page equals about one minute on screen. Stories had to fit into a timeframe.
And that’s not all. People began living at a much faster pace. The movies weren’t the only ones evolving.
Novels, once the great influence on movies were now being greatly influenced BY them.
Readers really are no longer interested in long narratives at the beginning. In fact they don’t have time for them and don’t like them.
The reader wants to be thrown right into the story.
Because of that the writer must evolve and adapt. Get the story moving already; backstory and description (minimal) can be woven into the story as it moves forward. Just provide enough information to trigger the reader’s imagination and that reader will fill in many gaps.
The cover of a book and the first couple of pages must grab the reader immediately or that Ebook gets passed over, the hard copy book put back on the shelf. Last I read the cover gets about 3 seconds, the reading of the first page scant more before the prospective reader makes a decision.
The same applies to script really. Those first few lines better grab the reader or it gets tossed quickly aside.
People are reading on Ereaders, smart phones, tablets and of course still in print. All modes are affected.
Writing and reading are evolving – have evolved – and will continue to evolve. The smart writer keeps up with the times, continuing to evolve with the reader. If you don’t. If you insist on writing in the footsteps of Tolstoy or any of the great writers of bygone eras you risk your book being put back on the shelf – that is, if it’s made it to publication which right now would be doubtful unless you’ve published it yourself.
Yes, beginnings are changing, stories are evolving, but I like it.
What about you?
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Okay, yes, guilty, I missed posting an article yesterday as is my usual thing to do.
But I'm not missing Writers and Readers Websites Wednesday - today on non-fiction.
It's true, many writers write things other than fiction - thus, non-fiction.
So go on, head on over to the Non-fiction Authors Association. You can join basic for free or pay a fee for 'authority'. There are events, a blog, a member directory you can list yourself in and more. A nice developing resource for those who go the non-fiction route.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
A little fun for the Writers And Readers Websites Wednesday this week. An amusing and fascinating site: Bot or Not. A lot of fun for poets and amateur poets - other readers and writers as well. Read a poem and decide whether a human or a computer wrote it.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
It isn’t often that I go off on a rant – well at least this kind of rant. Mostly as my followers know I write about writing and reading and associated things in that area. But this does apply to writers and workers. It’s hard to create, work, whatever when your brain is fuzzy from screwed up sleep cycles.
So, today I can’t help it. I don’t know about you but I, personally, am so sick of Daylight Savings Time I could hurl invectives at the nearest politician, local or national.
Really, for something that was begun in the early 1900’s (I hear so workers could work all day, then do some gardening in the evening for the war effort – correct me if I’m wrong on that), aren’t we done with it yet?
It’s simply idiotic, jerking us back and forth twice a year between one time an another. And now with it beginning even earlier in the year, courtesy of the late Bush administration, we barely begin to crawl out of the deep morning darkness of winter when we’re thrown back into it again. The average worker who gets up at 6 a.m. to go to work now gets up and goes to work in the pitch black. Kids who were seeing daylight for more safety at bus stops are now in the dark again (I understand there are more school bus crashes as well when daylight savings sets in though I have no statistic to back that one up). Statistically more heart attacks occur the week after daylight savings. Sleep patterns are wrecked (I fall into this category) for weeks after. There are all sorts of negative effects of daylight savings. Don’t believe me? Just Google “detrimental effects of daylight savings” or “negative effects of daylight savings” and watch the millions of pages pop up (no kidding, over 2,300,000 last time I googled – many of them relating to health problems it causes and talking about countries that have sensibly stopped the practice).
All this so it’s lighter a little longer in the evening – big whoop.
Look, there are so many hours in the day. There are so many hours of sunlight and darkness, determined by what time of the year it is. That’s it. Pick a time and stay with it. Enough of this ongoing idiocy.
And many people agree with me. In fact I can’t talk to someone who doesn’t ‘hate’ daylight savings time. Trouble is everyone just stumbles through it like the Zombie Apocalypse and no one complains – except to each other. And the ones who don’t actually hate it are generally pretty neutral. It’s a really rare bird who loves it.
So why is it still here? Is it yet another case of ‘follow the money’? I know I for one pay higher utility bills this time of year courtesy of this obnoxious foolishness. It’s dark when we get up, lights go on. It’s cold because it’s dark. Heat goes on. Are there other monetary reasons I can’t quickly come up with? If one occurs to you, add it to the comments here.
I’ve written to local politicians trying to lobby for it being eliminated in our state (like Arizona sensibly has done a long while back) and I’ve written on the national scale to Congressmen and Senators. None seem to want to do anything or even really think or talk about it. I guess they’re too busy well, screwing up the finances of the country or worrying about things like declaring a national cookie.
Folks, if you really don’t like Daylight Savings time, take a minute to email your local representative at state level AND your Congressmen and Senators. Heck drop the Pres. A line while you’re at it. Because unless people start complaining to someone besides each other, nothing’s going to change – except perhaps for the worse as this latest jerk into the abyss originally by the Bush administration and now sticking to this Obama administration – proves.
Really, it needs to end. Stop it already.
End of rant.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
All right readers, writers, and comic book lovers - Emerald City Comicon is almost here - March 28-30 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle Washington. My writer niece, Corinna Bechko and her great artist and writer husband Gabriel Hardman will be there with a whole lot of other folks - so what're you waiting for?
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
“I know all those words, but that sentence makes no sense to me.”
― Matt Groening
How many of us have been there when we’re reading? You read a sentence, then read it again, then shake your head. If the book or script is good otherwise you may well try continuing to read, hoping you won’t run across another sentence like it, or you might give up. For myself, I plunge on as soon as I can sort the meaning out, but be warned writer, do it again and you’re likely to lose me as a reader.
As a writer, those kinds of sentences are horrifying. Especially if you wrote it! I doubt there’s a writer out there who hasn’t been rereading a piece he or she’s written and paused, did a double take and wondered, ‘what was I thinking?’ It’s kind of a scary zone to be in and it just re-emphasizes the need to reread time and again. And if possible, ask others to read as well. And may I add, reading out loud doesn’t hurt either when making sure the material you’ve written actually reads smoothly and makes sense. It’s all part of keeping readers in the wonderful fantasy trance they enjoy when picking up a book to escape with.
So how do jumbled, unintelligible sentences and paragraphs happen?
It’s so easy as the writer to make this error. You know what you’re thinking, you know the plot and what the characters are up to and you might have gotten into a real zone, writing furiously, sure every word you’re laying down is brilliant. You become blind to what’s actually being laid down on the page (whether computer screen or paper) because you know what’s happening and it’s downright exciting.
At other times you might be tired, have written past your limit and what comes out onto the page when you press on isn’t the most intelligible copy. Sometimes you have to write it badly first, that’s okay.
But, this is why writers talk about, emphasize and beat to death the idea of rewrite.
Rewriting, editing and rereading is where you can catch jumbles like what Mr. Groening is talking about.
Regrettably I can’t give you a magic wand or provide the perfect formula for eliminating this problem in your writing. There’s no software (yet) that I know of that can catch this kind of snarl like your spell check can highlight misspellings (though of course you better reread anyway to catch things like ‘there’ and ‘their’, or ‘dessert’ and ‘desert’, etc.). Even if such a software is developed I’ve no doubt it won’t be any more perfect than your spell check.
On your own, bravely facing the storm, it is up to you, to ferret out snarls, to clarify your thoughts and to make sure they come across to the reader in a clear manner.
So readers have a laugh at the writer’s expense. This whole writer thing just might not be as easy as it first appears.
And writers, let’s try to give those readers less reason to put our books down. Engage, clarify and draw the readers in.