sartorias: (desk)
On Valentine's Day, I hoped those who like it too would talk to me about glamour.

Emulation

Jun. 12th, 2010 06:48 am
sartorias: (Default)
via [livejournal.com profile] supergee, The Ten Most Harmful Novels.

While I know I'm not alone is considering Ayn Rand's stuff largely gaseous emissions, I thought I was the only one in the world who thought Cormac McArthur wrote overwrought crapola.

That aside, I was thinking about writers who start out by trying to consciously emulate someone's style--you know, when you're thirteen. I recall trying to write like Louise Fitzhugh when I was in junior high, when Harriet the Spy came out. (If I'd actually learned anything by that, I would no doubt be much better than I am now.) Another one I tried to write like (and failed) was Lucy Boston. Oh yes, and Alexander King.

Writers whose tics crept into mine and had to be consciously excised . . . Patrick Dennis, Georgette Heyer, Enid Blyton.

Emulation

Jun. 12th, 2010 06:48 am
sartorias: (Default)
via [livejournal.com profile] supergee, The Ten Most Harmful Novels.

While I know I'm not alone is considering Ayn Rand's stuff largely gaseous emissions, I thought I was the only one in the world who thought Cormac McArthur wrote overwrought crapola.

That aside, I was thinking about writers who start out by trying to consciously emulate someone's style--you know, when you're thirteen. I recall trying to write like Louise Fitzhugh when I was in junior high, when Harriet the Spy came out. (If I'd actually learned anything by that, I would no doubt be much better than I am now.) Another one I tried to write like (and failed) was Lucy Boston. Oh yes, and Alexander King.

Writers whose tics crept into mine and had to be consciously excised . . . Patrick Dennis, Georgette Heyer, Enid Blyton.
sartorias: (Default)
There's an author whose stuff has pretty much always appealed to me, with a couple of exceptions (though those I admired if I didn't enjoy) so when an ARC hit my desk for consideration for this year's Norton Award (the book comes out before December), woohoo, was I excited.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
There's an author whose stuff has pretty much always appealed to me, with a couple of exceptions (though those I admired if I didn't enjoy) so when an ARC hit my desk for consideration for this year's Norton Award (the book comes out before December), woohoo, was I excited.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
I’ve been hassling round the snarled topic of rewriting, prose, what constitutes good prose, and so-on, with a fellow writer.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
I’ve been hassling round the snarled topic of rewriting, prose, what constitutes good prose, and so-on, with a fellow writer.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
Buried in work, plus getting ready for exchange student, etc etc.

Goo.

You high-style, literary-salon slumming auteurs will laugh, ha-ha!, at the image of this slub of a visual writer galoshing about in the mudpit of word choice. I spent how long yesterday trying, unsuccessfully, to find a verb for the effect of a shadow subduing the bright colors of a garden? Some verb accessible to the middle grade reader who will presumably be perusing this deadline-looming assignment when it makes its appearance sometime in 2006 or 7. No, it’s not one of 'my' projects, it’s work for hire to pay the bills, and yes, the money is embarrassing, but I still will not write “The shadows crept over the flowers.”

Crept. It can mean stealthy movement, but its primary meaning is to crawl on hands and knees—prone position—or a thing low to the ground crawling with its many little legs. If a bug creeps into your salad, there’s a nice, strong, vivid image. But if a note of hope creeps into your hero’s voice, never mind wondering what note registers as “hope”—my own preference would be for A flat, a nice mellow tone--and how it can possibly move about on little legs—somehow the verb isn’t strong enough, so we reach for the adverbs. A note of hope creeps stealthily into her voice.

Blegh. Verbs are so . . . versatile. We all know what that hope-note creeping means, but we sure don’t really hear it. ”I hate you!” she stormed. tells us that heroine is mad—but stormed has become so generic outside of its original thunder and lightning and rain, we usually end up seeing she stormed shrilly or brokenly and most often, of course, passionately. Hmmm. A passionate storm. Now that’s a concept—we sure need one here in SoCal, where not a drop of rain has fallen since that one single day in February.

Probably the verb that needs the most help adverbially is ‘went’. Go and its various forms through the tenses is so very all-purpose there is almost no image save the flicker of movement. I am especially bad at jamming down ‘went’ when I dash along in my text, and when I go back to rewrite, I have discovered that when I encounter that naked went I have to look for its clothing, sure to be flapping behind--went slowly, went speedily, went unhappily. Whoa. Time to press the replay button and watch the character again. She, what, sauntered? Ran? Scrambled? Slouched? from the room—what body language do I want to express? One thing for sure, I won’t say she crept unless she really was on hands and knees.

Back to my shadow.
sartorias: (Default)
Buried in work, plus getting ready for exchange student, etc etc.

Goo.

You high-style, literary-salon slumming auteurs will laugh, ha-ha!, at the image of this slub of a visual writer galoshing about in the mudpit of word choice. I spent how long yesterday trying, unsuccessfully, to find a verb for the effect of a shadow subduing the bright colors of a garden? Some verb accessible to the middle grade reader who will presumably be perusing this deadline-looming assignment when it makes its appearance sometime in 2006 or 7. No, it’s not one of 'my' projects, it’s work for hire to pay the bills, and yes, the money is embarrassing, but I still will not write “The shadows crept over the flowers.”

Crept. It can mean stealthy movement, but its primary meaning is to crawl on hands and knees—prone position—or a thing low to the ground crawling with its many little legs. If a bug creeps into your salad, there’s a nice, strong, vivid image. But if a note of hope creeps into your hero’s voice, never mind wondering what note registers as “hope”—my own preference would be for A flat, a nice mellow tone--and how it can possibly move about on little legs—somehow the verb isn’t strong enough, so we reach for the adverbs. A note of hope creeps stealthily into her voice.

Blegh. Verbs are so . . . versatile. We all know what that hope-note creeping means, but we sure don’t really hear it. ”I hate you!” she stormed. tells us that heroine is mad—but stormed has become so generic outside of its original thunder and lightning and rain, we usually end up seeing she stormed shrilly or brokenly and most often, of course, passionately. Hmmm. A passionate storm. Now that’s a concept—we sure need one here in SoCal, where not a drop of rain has fallen since that one single day in February.

Probably the verb that needs the most help adverbially is ‘went’. Go and its various forms through the tenses is so very all-purpose there is almost no image save the flicker of movement. I am especially bad at jamming down ‘went’ when I dash along in my text, and when I go back to rewrite, I have discovered that when I encounter that naked went I have to look for its clothing, sure to be flapping behind--went slowly, went speedily, went unhappily. Whoa. Time to press the replay button and watch the character again. She, what, sauntered? Ran? Scrambled? Slouched? from the room—what body language do I want to express? One thing for sure, I won’t say she crept unless she really was on hands and knees.

Back to my shadow.
sartorias: (Default)
I'm workshopping a ms that I really love. In fact I'd rather read it than some of this pile of published books (that I've already picked over pretty often). It's not a matter of if this thing will sell, but where. A fantasy, its magic system alone scintillates with kewlness, and then there's there characters! But. I do see something that might need to be addressed, the more because it's more evident up front, and too frequently "up front" is all the chance a manuscript gets these days.

What I'm thinking is, rather than risk frustrating someone by saying Let's talk about your narrative voice--thereby engendering a long discussion of What-I-mean-no-what-do-you-mean-no-what-do-you-Think-I-mean, I want to ask: Who is your narrator

So my question is, would a discussion opening posed that way help or hinder you of someone threw it at you?
sartorias: (Default)
I'm workshopping a ms that I really love. In fact I'd rather read it than some of this pile of published books (that I've already picked over pretty often). It's not a matter of if this thing will sell, but where. A fantasy, its magic system alone scintillates with kewlness, and then there's there characters! But. I do see something that might need to be addressed, the more because it's more evident up front, and too frequently "up front" is all the chance a manuscript gets these days.

What I'm thinking is, rather than risk frustrating someone by saying Let's talk about your narrative voice--thereby engendering a long discussion of What-I-mean-no-what-do-you-mean-no-what-do-you-Think-I-mean, I want to ask: Who is your narrator

So my question is, would a discussion opening posed that way help or hinder you of someone threw it at you?
sartorias: (Default)
In the thread about writing fantasy that [livejournal.com profile] janni started

here

[livejournal.com profile] lnhammer provides one of the most clear, succinct definitions of voice that this fumbler who has never been able to articulate it to her satisfaction has ever seen. I'm gonna quote it, and hope he doesn't mind:

Voice is different from Heart. Voice is (for me) a bag word that collects several aspects of telling the story: who is telling it, how they are telling it, the attitude of the narrator(s) to what they are saying, and so on. Or to put it another way, all the rhetorical aspects of storytelling. Tone is part of voice, but isn't all of it. POV is another part, but even with a tight third-person limited, there is still a narrator making selections and otherwise shaping the storytelling.

Heart is the emotional conviction of the storytelling/storyteller.

Caveat: As a journeyman narrative poet, I've been thinking a lot about rhetoric and fiction, so it's possible I reduce too many things to rhetorical issues.


I would love to know more about rhetoric and fiction--and what others think of this definition, while I pull on my rubber chicken suit yet again, don my flippers & goggles, grab up the featherduster, and splash back into the mulligatawny soup this particular ms has become to hunt the snark called "voice."
sartorias: (Default)
In the thread about writing fantasy that [livejournal.com profile] janni started

here

[livejournal.com profile] lnhammer provides one of the most clear, succinct definitions of voice that this fumbler who has never been able to articulate it to her satisfaction has ever seen. I'm gonna quote it, and hope he doesn't mind:

Voice is different from Heart. Voice is (for me) a bag word that collects several aspects of telling the story: who is telling it, how they are telling it, the attitude of the narrator(s) to what they are saying, and so on. Or to put it another way, all the rhetorical aspects of storytelling. Tone is part of voice, but isn't all of it. POV is another part, but even with a tight third-person limited, there is still a narrator making selections and otherwise shaping the storytelling.

Heart is the emotional conviction of the storytelling/storyteller.

Caveat: As a journeyman narrative poet, I've been thinking a lot about rhetoric and fiction, so it's possible I reduce too many things to rhetorical issues.


I would love to know more about rhetoric and fiction--and what others think of this definition, while I pull on my rubber chicken suit yet again, don my flippers & goggles, grab up the featherduster, and splash back into the mulligatawny soup this particular ms has become to hunt the snark called "voice."
sartorias: (Default)
One of the things recently discussed: it’s even more difficult to define what is, and is not, good literature when our fundamental definition of the purpose of literature is radically different from another’s.

That’s not to say that I believe there is a single definition. I do not. I will only go so far as to posit that my own definition works for me—for how I read, and write. In the summer of 2000 I was conversing with one of my reading friends about various books, each of us issuing summary dismissals and inclusions of this or that book in our private pantheons of Great Literature. I asked the person for their definition of the purpose of literature because though we could agree on various superficials, we did not seem to find any points of agreement on deeper questions. After some thought I was told (and this is, of course, approximate as I was not taking notes and this was four years ago) that the purpose of literature, as opposed to “mere” popular writing, was to depict the irruption of the irrational into our false perception of order.

My own definition of the purpose of literature is not just to hold up a mirror to ourselves—we are endlessly fascinating to ourselves--but to posit how we can improve this civilization by extrapolating this or that idea through the form of entertainment. Jane Austen flicks her pen in this direction in Northanger Abbey:

Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the Reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens,--there seems an almost general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.
sartorias: (Default)
One of the things recently discussed: it’s even more difficult to define what is, and is not, good literature when our fundamental definition of the purpose of literature is radically different from another’s.

That’s not to say that I believe there is a single definition. I do not. I will only go so far as to posit that my own definition works for me—for how I read, and write. In the summer of 2000 I was conversing with one of my reading friends about various books, each of us issuing summary dismissals and inclusions of this or that book in our private pantheons of Great Literature. I asked the person for their definition of the purpose of literature because though we could agree on various superficials, we did not seem to find any points of agreement on deeper questions. After some thought I was told (and this is, of course, approximate as I was not taking notes and this was four years ago) that the purpose of literature, as opposed to “mere” popular writing, was to depict the irruption of the irrational into our false perception of order.

My own definition of the purpose of literature is not just to hold up a mirror to ourselves—we are endlessly fascinating to ourselves--but to posit how we can improve this civilization by extrapolating this or that idea through the form of entertainment. Jane Austen flicks her pen in this direction in Northanger Abbey:

Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the Reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens,--there seems an almost general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.
sartorias: (Default)
I'm not quite certain I agree, but as usual, Vladimir Nabokov gives in this passage of Bend Sinister us something to think about with respect to translation, particularly of great literature:

It was as if someone, having seen a certain oak tree (further called Individual
T) growing in a certain land and casting its own unique shadow on the green
and brown ground, had proceeded to erect in his garden a prodigiously intricate
piece of machinery which in itself was as unlike that or any other tree
as the translator's inspiration and language were unlike those of the original
author, but which, by means of ingenious combinations of parts, light effects,
breeze-engendering engines, would, when completed, cast a shadow exactly
similar to that of Individual T - the same outline, changing in the same
manner, with the same double and single spots of suns rippling in the same
position, at the same hour of the day. From a a practical point of view,
such a waste of time and material (those headaches, those midnight triumphs
that turn out to be disasters in the sober light of morning!) was almost
criminally absurd, the the greatest masterpiece of imitation presupposed
a voluntary limitation of thought, in submission to another man's genius.
Could this suicidal limitation and submission be compensated by the miracle
of adaptive tactics, by the thousand devices of shadography, be the keen
pleasure that the weaver of words and their witness experienced at every
wile in the warp, or was it, taken all in all, but an exaggerated and spiritualized
replica of Paduk's writing machine?


(The "writing machine" being a complicated "pantograph" that features earlier in the novel.)
sartorias: (Default)
I'm not quite certain I agree, but as usual, Vladimir Nabokov gives in this passage of Bend Sinister us something to think about with respect to translation, particularly of great literature:

It was as if someone, having seen a certain oak tree (further called Individual
T) growing in a certain land and casting its own unique shadow on the green
and brown ground, had proceeded to erect in his garden a prodigiously intricate
piece of machinery which in itself was as unlike that or any other tree
as the translator's inspiration and language were unlike those of the original
author, but which, by means of ingenious combinations of parts, light effects,
breeze-engendering engines, would, when completed, cast a shadow exactly
similar to that of Individual T - the same outline, changing in the same
manner, with the same double and single spots of suns rippling in the same
position, at the same hour of the day. From a a practical point of view,
such a waste of time and material (those headaches, those midnight triumphs
that turn out to be disasters in the sober light of morning!) was almost
criminally absurd, the the greatest masterpiece of imitation presupposed
a voluntary limitation of thought, in submission to another man's genius.
Could this suicidal limitation and submission be compensated by the miracle
of adaptive tactics, by the thousand devices of shadography, be the keen
pleasure that the weaver of words and their witness experienced at every
wile in the warp, or was it, taken all in all, but an exaggerated and spiritualized
replica of Paduk's writing machine?


(The "writing machine" being a complicated "pantograph" that features earlier in the novel.)
sartorias: (Default)
I don’t have a physical-world workshop. I constantly run up against the need to formulate my ideas, find out if they make sense outside my head—not just for the sake of being clear when I read ms for online friends, but of course for learning the skills to pluck the log out of my own eye, writing-wise.

The cob I’m mumbling over now is narrative voice, narrowed right now to point-of-view. I have to state up front that I don’t believe in the concept of “reliable narrator.” I think all narrators are unreliable—we’re writing fiction here, and no matter how hard we try to portray the truth as we know it, well, it’s still just as we know it.
Read more... )

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