tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Doctor Who - Political Animal)
I am also, foolishly, allowing RPing to soak up a considerable amount of writing time. It's an odd and unfamiliar way to tell stories, for me, and it's also strange to have other people effectively hanging over your shoulder and asking, in OOC brackets, why you're doing this and whether your character would know that and when another character should jump in.

I'm also bemused by the fact that sometimes it doesn't go anywhere. Whereas I would just abort a scene in which two characters aren't doing anything, in an RP people let it play out. The final product is not structured, may not have a unifying theme, and may in fact be boring for other people to read. But sometimes the loose, messy results of multiple RP sessions really are interesting.

Another weird and frustrating thing: you have no access to notes on characters other than your own! No other players know your internal rationales either! People don't always tell you the plot, or not all of it! Your character may, or may not, actually matter to the story!

It is all freaky. I'm enjoying it. I also feel bad about neglecting my real projects. I'm rather stuck on a plot point in THL at the moment, so I'm taking it on faith that work on one writing project always amplifies the others (this is true, I've found) and plot-knots resolve themselves in time.

So, y'know, give me some time.

(If you're actually interested, you can check out [ profile] negability and my character, the teenage reincarnation of the Roman poet Juvenal. It's a fun RP.)
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Andrew by nomorewolfie)
Man, this is why left-brained people shouldn't be allowed to do basically anything. Put them all in camps, I say. No, I have not thought this opinion through. That's not how I roll.

I used to believe every word of these methods, because I had no confidence in my own ability to plot. I still don't consider plotting my greatest strength, but I'm better. That's mostly because it has finally gotten through my head that:

(a) rigorous, airtight plotting like this guy promotes is not necessary for every sort of story. Look at motherfucking Hamlet. Is it meticulously plotted? Not really. Will even seems to have forgotten some crucial story details between the first and fifth acts. He certainly could do intricate plotting, as the comedies show. It just wasn't necessary for Hamlet, because the external events are not really why the story is good. So who the fuck cares how Hamlet got back from England? Pirates, what the hell. You know you're still going to stick around to see what this brilliant crazy hot tortured Danish prince is going to do, and more importantly, what he's going to THINK, what he's going to SAY. Plot is not story. Plot is story's bitch.

(b) there are broken stories and then there are BROKEN stories. This physicist nerd rightly points out that you can easily waste tons of time on a meandering draft before you figure out that the story is just fucked. But. There is a point right in the middle of a difficult plot where the thing seems impossibly tangled, and that point is when you really do have to stick it out. Aphanes certainly can't be accused of having a convoluted plot, but in the middle of it I was convinced that I couldn't fix it, couldn't write a convincing ending for it. But the unconscious will work this stuff out, and with a sudden pop everything falls into place and you don't see what was so difficult about it. And your unconscious cannot do this sort of work before you've started the draft. Fuck you, it just can't. Characters act completely different in outlines than they do in drafts. They promise to behave and do logical things and be very respectable, and you're all, "Okay, if you're sure the NYTBR will like you, then I guess we'll do this thing." Then before you know it they're pulling ridiculous shit and you send them to a party with their best friends and they start strangling each other and your outline is useless.

So the upshot of all that is that if you don't start off on the page with the real people and the real story, you don't give your brain a chance to solve those unsolvable problems. I used to reject stories just on the basis of, "Oh, I love this, but I can't make a coherent plot out of it. So I won't start writing it."

Sometimes you do invest the time and you find out that the story really was fucked. I have been writing terminally broken stories since I was 14 so I know whereof I speak. This is just tough titties and you'll have to hope you can reuse the characters/situations/sex scenes in something else. Usually you can.

In summary: plot is for geeks and story is easy. It happens all the time.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Default)
I had to break one giant ream of action into two chapters, even though I usually prefer to have them all much the same length (this lets me pretend I am Dickens, all getting paid a penny a word and published serially). So today we have Chapter 9, Under the Microscope [way to put the wrong link in, ed.], and in a week or two you should have another shortish chapter.

Words OpenOffice didn't know:

Words I'm surprised it did know:

[Read from the beginnning.]
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Default)
[ profile] stjeandedieu is where I'll be posting notes, meta, and other fic-related stuff that I don't want to lose and which might interest fans and/or other writers. I've had enough of rooting through my HD looking for a document that I (a) deleted in a fit of byte-parsimoniousness, (b) actually wrote on a different computer, (c) only dreamed that I wrote in the first place, (d) wrote on a napkin and neglected to transcribe. I'm committed to being a little bit more organised, and having people looking over my shoulder helps. That said, a lot of stuff will be private and the rest will be friends-locked.

The writing process is absolutely fascinating to me, and I'd join in a minute if some other writer I liked did this, so I'm going to try not to be too apologetic about it.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Andrew by nomorewolfie)
Dammit, I can't find the [ profile] metafandom link whence the discussion started, but a week or two ago (I am always behind) people were talking about scene length and chapter length. [EDIT: Found it! here] This is always interesting stuff [to me, anyway] because writing on the Internet is such a very different animal from writing on paper. Open your favourite contemporary novel sometime and count the following:

words in a line
lines on a page
pages in a chapter

Average and multiply. You'll be shocked, I think, if you grew up writing online. Way back in the late nineties I remember articles on Zeldman/ALA talking about how reading on the computer strains your eyes or something and so you have to be concise and have lovely clear typography. Eight years later this sounds a bit like medieval science, but the fact is that people just write less to a piece that has its genesis in the online world. Wee babbies who've read more fic than I have Dickens will bug their eyes out after they do the word count exercise, and wonder, "What on earth are they WRITING, to fill that many words? What am I not seeing?"

Because the weird part is that a fic of 2,000 words really does feel long and luxurious. And a short story of the same length will be a bit more like a Tofutti Cutie--very nice, but not particularly satisfying. On paper you rather want the entire banana split.

Writers have known for a long time that what feels interminable to us is just a paragraph that the reader probably skims in a second. Writing speeches is hell for the same reason. While James Joyce apocryphally struggled with seven words, the reader is trolling along at a good clip in search of the lede, the hott sexings, the prettiest simile.

So the answer is this: fandom is made up of writers, who toiled over their drabbles for a WHOLE MATH PERIOD, and these writers are also readers who devoured the source material for the hott sexings.

I'm not inclined to say that this is all awesome and indicative of an exciting new form, perfect and jewel-like as some ancient Zen thing where you use a single raisin to [FILL THIS BIT IN LATER -ed.] We are Westerners and when we see a fic that is 87 words long we treat it as disposable. If we want to write something good, we need to put the time in and say more than we think we're saying.


In a less didactic vein, one of my favourite things in fiction is the extended narrative-in-dialogue. (This probably has some name of its own, but I'm a philosophy/Classics major now so I don't know it.) Yes, it's unrealistic--no one ever gets through a long story in real life without interruptions, forgetting the important parts, going off on tangents, or leaving out the unimportant but delightful details. The Victorians abused this device terribly. I don't care.

My top dialogue narratives:
- Reuven's father talking about the Baal Shem Tov in The Chosen. I don't know why this one springs first to mind, but it does. Chaim Potok is just that good. Reuven's gentle, professorial father drinking glasses of tea and talking about the Hasidim, about a terrible genius, about religious fervour, and asking his son repeatedly if he's boring him--you could read just that section and you would have the entire novel in miniature.

- Frankenstein's monster describing his life. I'm not one of those people who sympathises much with the monster--I felt for Dr Frankenstein himself, the tortured creator, who learned ethics too late. But the improbable Victorian zaniness of the articulate monster and the little melodrama of the blind old man and his daughter is fabulous.

- Mr Enfield's story of encountering Mr Hyde, at the very beginning of Stevenson's novel. I had to get the book to look up the name of the storyteller, but the tale itself is what I always think of when I think about what made Victorian novels good, when they were good. That door under its "blind forehead of discoloured wall" and Hyde's trampling of the little girl, which immediately and brutally remove all the romance and glamour from the idea of an evil man. Movie adaptations have never understood that, of course. Did any of them even show that scene? I can't remember right now, which probably means they didn't. It would be hard to forget a scene where a grown man tramples a little girl. "It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see."

[I think I mention those two novels in almost every book list I make. I should write a gooey entry sometime about why those creaky old monster novels are so much better than The Mill on the Floss or Gravity's Rainbow or any of that shit.]

{{Also, for the record, they're very short novels--The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is really just a novella. So I'm not saying that fans need to churn out tomes of hundreds of pages, necessarily.}}

Anyway, yes, I did just write one of these into Heart's Landscape, an 1,100 word story in a 2,500 word scene. So word counts and stylised dialogue are on my mind.

Oh man, read this stuff. This will open your eyes, if you've never thought very much about how Writers Write When They Are Not Writers Who Write Just For the Sake of Writing But Also For Money. The kind of people who call it "content", I mean.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Default)
The long-awaited Chapter 8, Snakes and Ladders, is done. Don't blame me, blame capitalism and Tim Horton (God rest his soul).

Words OpenOffice didn't know:

[Read from the beginning]

Yeah, it ends on a lame little cliffhanger. Not even worth mentioning, except that I usually have more closure at the ends of chapters than that.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Andrew by nomorewolfie)
This entry is here to shame me so that I don't slack off and go to bed at eleven. I hate gainful employment so much.

And if I'm really on fire I'll post on writers and philosophy, like I told [ profile] the_red_shoes I would.

EDIT: Gahhhh, no I won't. My promises are worthless. Tomorrow. I am literally one paragraph and a once-over from completion, but I am done like the dinner.

PS at least there is snogging


Jun. 1st, 2006 05:05 pm
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Andrew by nomorewolfie)
I just got a shitty Tim Horton's job, I have a bunch of school essays to write that I didn't do during the year, I still don't have a desk, and I think I'm going to have to give up sleep in order to do serious writing this summer. I might get something done, since Lord knows I'm all about putting off real responsibilities in order to write, but I'm up against some stuff. If I do discover that I'm related to the Summerses* and can timewalk, then I have a Tarot art project that's been bugging me for some time.

I think I was a better artist when I was depressed and unemployed and living alone. Lately I really miss high school and first year, the way I was able to completely envelop myself in ideas and moods because nothing was expected of me. I kept telling myself that I'd be a famous writer by the time I graduated, just because I'd been lucky enough to get a head start: genetics (or whatever makes a person good with verbal stuff) and the most encouraging family you could ask for. Nature and nurture both on my side. I knew what I wanted. The environment was perfect. It never occurred to me that the goal itself just wasn't reasonable.

Anyway. I promise there will be Stuff. Just maybe not a lot of it.

I picked up S6 and S7 of Buffy because there was a sale and hey new job plus I'm a greedy idiot. And because I love Andrew to pieces. Hence I needed an Andrew icon.

* That would be Scott Summers and not Buffy Summers. Although if those two were related it might explain some things.


May. 29th, 2006 11:33 pm
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Beast & Cyclops)
This gave me indigestion of the imagination. Sure, I enjoyed it as it was going down, but an hour or two later I feel bloated, unsatisfied, and vaguely ill.

To give an overprocessed popcorn flick its due: shit does blow up in some pretty bitchin' ways. But X-Men is not just about blowing shit up, as fucking awesome and unnecessary as the Golden Gate Bridge thing was.

Problems (which will spoil you) )

I'm a baby

May. 21st, 2006 04:30 pm
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Default)
Would you respect me less if I grovelled a bit for feedback on this chapter? Because since I posted it I've had this "did I turn off the stove" feeling that there's some glaring inconsistency that I missed during editing, and I've even been having dreams where people email me about it and explain what exactly the problem is and I wake up in great excitement thinking that I actually heard the Gmail Notifier beep.

(One of the Emails From My Subconscious said I use too many adverbs. My relationship with adverbs is a conflicted one, it would seem. (And man I had to struggle not to use "probably" or "apparently" in that last sentence because then the irony would have been too much.))

things only writers notice: the ASS )
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Default)
Chapter 7, Undoer of Knots, is finished. A week later than planned, because I got lazy.

Words OpenOffice didn't know:
Krav Maga
Telepaths (still! I was sure I added it after last time)

[Read from the beginning]

PS merci beaucoup to Eve Tushnet for the big pimpin'.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Wither)
I have had it with New X-Men. Hear me, Marvel? Yeah, that's right, you just lost one of those customers in the 18-24 gay female demographic that you care so much about. The book has gone to hell.

- The characters now fall into three categories: DICKHEADS, KILLED FOR NO REASON, and COMPLETELY IGNORED. Julian, Nori, Santos, Jay and Josh fall into the first category; Laurie and pretty much everyone else fall into the second; Cess, Sooraya, David, and (wibble) Kevin fall into the last.

- I was actually hoping that Cess would go after Kevin by herself. Or that the storyline would give him a bit of attention. Dear Marvel, this could be a good chance for him to be teh EVOL and sell out his friends because um he feels guilty and wants to be "cleansed" himself? The alternative (unhinged kid with nothing to live for and a power that makes him homicidal disappears and...nothing) is not all that plausible. It's also boring. Get into this.

- Speaking of Cess, COME ON. I want her and Sooraya to totally get their own book. Full of girlslash. Stop ignoring these characters, Kyle/Yost. I MEAN IT.

- Oh, the art blows too. I was willing to ignore that when I actually liked the characters. Not anymore.

- X-23 is the least annoying character, surprisingly enough. I'm sure that's deliberate on Kyle/Yost's part.

- It's a relief that Laurie isn't going to be in any more pain from the writers. However, I am really disappointed that there won't be a Bitchy McBitter Laurie with a bionic arm anytime soon. BIONIC ARM. That part is important, Marvel dudes, so write it down.

- Fuck Jay and his stupid wings. No one who likes Jay gets to call Kevin a Rogue knockoff, okay? "Let's take Warren and make him an Appalachian hillbilly rockstar who somehow acts like a California teenager and uh we'll make him really emo and selfish and basically get rid of everything that made Warren bearable. Cool? Where we going for lunch?"

- I like Josh when he fails disastrously. If he'd done that more often I wouldn't hate him.

Anyone whines about spoilers and I will CUT YOU.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Joel - Hands)
The Name for Its Own Sake, first chapter of the second part, so maybe everyone who was wondering if I'd abandon it will relax now. I'm slow, but I am not faithless, for the names of my readers are written on the palm of my hand. (Anyway, it's only like three weeks since the last update! And I was in the hospital and not writing for one of those weeks, which means I am ON FIRE.)

Words not recognised by OpenOffice's spellcheck:
Toyotas (got a problem with the Japanese, OpenOffice?)

[Read from the beginning.]
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Professor X by pureglasscup)
This is a very simple anonymous poll and shouldn't take long. I'm mainly curious about "hidden" readers who don't comment or email, but please, if you see this entry, do indulge me.


My recently-installed counter indicates that my circulation is about 11 people, which is about what I expected. I'm really uncomfortable doing much pimping so this is my own fault, and 11 serious readers is a very worthwhile audience. Still, I'm all about personal challenges. I'd like to horsewhip myself into advertising more, but, uh, where? Do people still use email lists and Yahoo groups in serious numbers? Is exposure on worth the icky feeling? Is this even the kind of writing that's going to appeal to very many people, no matter how hard I pimp? (I'm guessing no, personally. Not so much that I'm a special unique flower as that it's an OC story with prominent religious overtones featuring canon from an unpopular 80s comic. Canon which I am savagely mutilating.)

I'm just crunching numbers here and thinking about my game plan, so don't take this as a ploy for sympathy or anything else. Pimping is a good skill to learn.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Professor X by pureglasscup)
(Yes, spinning off from [ profile] fabu's Things I Know About Writing.)

I should include a lot of caveats with this entry. Instead I'll just give you two. (1) I have never been published in anything that people have to pay to read. (2) This has all been said before, and better.

Help your reader. )
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Joel - Hands)
Chapter 5, "The Darkest Midnight", is completed. Featuring! Walter Langkowski, the return of the long-suffering Professor, Christmas goose, burst capillaries, and Clare of Assisi.

Words not recognised by OpenOffice's spellcheck:
Adeste Fideles

[Read from the beginning]

tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Joel - Hands)
Takes a certain amount of ego to design an icon for one's own novel, but fuck it, that's what I post about most often. And the picture was too pretty to pass up [original]. Plaskett in his Thrush Hermit youth, with the flowing blond curls, could have played the perfect Indie!Archangel Gabriel in some Have Not Been the Same CanRock infancy narrative. ((Julie Doiron as the BVM, of course, the ever-chaste Martin Tielli as St Joseph, Bryan Adams as Herod, oh ho ho I am getting way too amused by this))

Chapter 5 should be done before too long. I know I ought to move faster (do not try to dissuade me from this or console me; it's a goal I've set for myself) because I really intend to finish this within the year, and one chapter a month will not get that done so long as I plan for twenty chapters. I'm not stuck: it's a matter of writing instead of obsessively reorganising my iTunes library or farting around in The Sims 2. In other words, discipline, which I like to pronounce in a faux-Classical-Latin manner as dis-KIP-lin-ay. Things may progress faster in the summer.

New X-Men is looking pretty weak. I'm not impressed with the way they've revamped the team, although Kevin's disappearance does bode well for my Evil!Wither hopes. Still, I may be in the market for a new fandom. I'm sniffing around the new Doctor Who since I think David Tennant is rather dishy, for a dude. It will have to wait until I move to the new apt. and have access to a TV, though.

Are there Robin Hobb fen? Do I want to know about them, if so?
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Default)
"The Ring of Gyges", voilà. Features a much-overhauled Snowbird (no, I am not writing a blond-haired Inuit demigoddess, actually), opera, status epilepticus, and a fucking soulpatch.

[Read from the beginning]

I'm hella glad to get this one done. For some reason it was absolutely exhausting.

P.S. In reading this entry on reader entitlement (linked on [ profile] metafandom), I'm a little shocked at how many people have blanket "no WIPs" policies. I understand how frustrating it is to start reading and have someone stop writing, but still, I find WIPs and serials to be the most entertaining part of online fandom. I like the soapiness of following a story as it unfolds, rather than bingeing on it all at once. More to the point (for me), I like writing that way -- there is no accountability like other readers and the instant gratification of feedback. I doubt I'd have finished Aphanes if I hadn't been posting it chapter-by-chapter.

Anyway, a little discouraging to see that so many people are probably skipping my stuff out of hand because it's not finished yet.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Wither)
Really am expecting the next chapter to be done tonight. For serious.

I couldn't resist this meme, though, since [ profile] the_red_shoes and I apparently both had fixations on Alexander the Great.

written in 2001 )

I was in a phase where I thought it was better to just avoid the point rather than risk being unsubtle.


tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Default)
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