*A more amazing debatable collection never before written, or seen. *South of Tasmania
|As you move past the moments of your day tomorrow, try this. See if you can memorise 5, no say 10, short conversation grabs.
A phrase, random few words smacked together. You'll hear them at the normal boring times. Shouting at the bathroom door. Greeting someone on the way to somewhere. The sayings that are cliche. Even writing "the sayings that are cliche" is cliche.
You don't want that. Do you? What you want is what your readers will remember. Oh yeah. They'll remember your stories because of clarity. They'll recall those bits and pieces of description, dialogue, club spiel, drama queen...queen-ness, speech impediment repetitions, back room badness, lunch money lewis listenable charisma.
Does ANYBODY know what you're trying to trap, in your daily life tomorrow?
There will be something said, or if you're someone whose days do not intersect with other humans very often, or at all, then maybe something will be baa'ed, or moo'ed or bleated.
For the rest of us, me too, something will be said in passing that you trap in your ears. You must be vigilant. Snippets are easily missed and flutter about like bright little coloured lego pieces with pencil sharpener shaving wings.
Yes, Dean Koontz said recently seven or so tips for novelists to be more cutthroat with each other than ever before.
And in one of these he mentioned the old fashioned styles of writing we should still use. "Metaphor, simile, all kinds of figures of speech have evaporated from much modern fiction, and many new writers have no interest in using the language in vivid and inventive ways."
I just attempted to google "which author recommended filing snippets" but realised that snippets these days are not what they were, not what I thought they were and are.
I give you Snippets as sort of defined in this online article, dated 2013
"Structured data" is a broad term that encompasses various standards and encoding mechanisms but, at the end of the day, refers to information provided to data consumers specifically for machine consumption. This machine-readable code is closely-allied to, but separate from, the presentation layer that us humans consume when we read a web page, providing a way for dumb machines to better understand the entities and connections between entities present in a piece of content.
My snippet is like a small note you make, and file it away in your trusty alphabetical concertina file. Riiiiggghhtt. Who does that any more? Nobody.
Because Google. And the unacceptable (but still widely used I bet) Wikipedia, and whatever else is conveniently at hand to get anecdotes, bits, pieces and the odd missing sock jammed in the Fisher & Paykel Smart-drive housing.
But surely we still do notes? We still keep things of interest, like my Grandmother used to hoard paddle pop sticks, RedHead matchboxes, spectacle frames, plastic bags, egg cartons, rubber bands, and many other things I can't remember from 1976, at Rocky Glen, NSW Australia.
Yes. A picture of Rocky Glen on Google brought up is surprising. And ironically accurate. My Grandmother used to say, and I'm sure she should have been a writer rivalling Alfred Hitchcock himself, she told me more than once in her sombre deadpan dead body in shallow grave voice that "They put the town signs for Rocky Glen each end of here, on the highway, but it's wrong. This isn't the real Rocky Glen. No. No, Rod. The real Rocky Glen (wait for it!) is over there near the bridge that you cross around that death trap blackspot corner (that xyz number of people have been killed thereon) and across a couple of hundred yards into the bush. That's where the council plans show streets and housing blocks. Not here where we are, not here at the shop. My nan and pa ran a shop. I ran around in that shop. I nicked (stole) lollies (confectionery, candy, sweets) from those old glass shop display counters. Ah those were the days and I must be getting old for moving off the main subject of this blog entry.
Snippets. Those bits we hear and overhear right next to us at the cafe, at the photocopy machine, at the front door waiting for the boss to arrive with the keys (on his day off cos Jacko forgot his set and he lives 2 hours away across Melbourne) and wasn't very impressed.
So try to find 10 short bits that impressed you in a flash of inspiration-slap, fair up your right cheek, making your face flare in redness, and your eyes spring with salty tears of annoyance and good, solid, honest pain.
You've heard of the New Zealand earthquakes. Yes. more than one. A couple of folks didn't make it, cause uncertain with one person.
I tried to find out if New Zealand was moving towards Australia and found this...this snippet.
You see, these bits of information, however trivial they may seem at the time, if you remember them, if they were unusual enough for you to retain that information bite, then these are the very pieces you'll value even years later, should you have a gap in your story, a reply in a conversation between characters, a smart remark by an antagonist, a bit of back blocks advice from an old sawmiller about chainsaw sharpening.
What about something you heard, and you DIDN'T write it down anywhere?
It's probably over 2 years since I pushed my Father in Law around in his wheelchair. He was my father in law, but not my wife's dad. Sound weird and impossible? No. He was simply my wife's step dad. Her real dad died when she was 4. Died of leukaemia in a few weeks after they diagnosed it. If it was now, he'd have been saved. Medicine has progressed, even if I am a tad cynical about the delivery of it at times.
My pop in law said to me, out of the blue, random type stuff, as I was wheeling him along trying to get to a meeting in time, we were running late and it was never a good thing when with Grandpa. Because he wouldn't be rushed sometimes. In this instance, I think he was losing his marbles a tad, and we were paused in the hot sun as I listened somewhat impatiently to what he felt was most important.
How to stoke coal fired train boilers.
Yes, I didn't write down one of the most valuable snippets I'd heard with my own ears first hand. From a steam train STOKER. Yes, he was old enough to have stoked STEAM TRAINS on the line from Sydney Central Station all the way through to Blackheath and on to Lithgow. Yep. He did that job. He knew the detail of which coal to shovel in where. There were two types. A cheaper stuff that didn't burn so well, and the premium that you slapped straight in the middle. He told me a lot of these bits of detail. Where they'd stop to fill with water. These trains had to have coal. But just as importantly they had to be filled with Water. And you can imagine. People on the train didn't care about how the train worked. They wanted refreshments and to get on with their trip. So Pop had to know exactly how much time it would take to refill, and so many details I do seriously regret not writing them down.
You don't have to have known a STOKER of coal fired steam trains to hear interesting phrases, one offs said by folks nearby. Even at the pay counter in a petrol station (gas station Americans)
No, at the Creche. A neighbour shouting at the kids down the back yard. What someone said on the phone on the train. A mistake the newsreader stumbled over during the weather report or sport. I mean, Youtube is full of this stuff. Mistakes newsreaders made. Bloopers.
And pay attention to this. What you hear may be said wrong. Incorrect facts encapsulated in a speak-blister-pack of unique words you happened to prick your ears towards. Someone said it wrong.
THAT IS A VALUABLE SNIPPET.
You can use that little nugget of gold. Someday. Somewhere.
And it can be on purpose in your conversation. Not an accident. Not an axlebent.
See that? There was one I put in the notes of my iphone. I heard a client say that. A disability client I supported said axlebent instead of accident. And the mistake was brilliantly apt. Though incorrect and not even a real word, the word he'd invented still meant the same thing in a more interesting, more intense way.
Some of these things you wouldn't invent in a million years.
And yes, I know the first video of the parachutist is probably fake. See the likes against dislikes ration?