|I've just edited an item in my portfolio: |
More of a poem (maybe?) put to music.
If you'd like to hear this mutant come to life...
Happy 11th Anniversary James...
Time to PaRtY...RoCk On! Here's to many more!
|As with most traditional blues songs, there are about a million versions. St. James Infirmary is one of the best and eeriest. The "stretched out on a long white table..." part is obviously very creepy but I always thought the most ominous verse was: |
Seventeen coal-black horses,
hitched to a rubber tied hack.
Seven girls going to the graveyard,
only six of them coming back.
Anyway, if you haven't heard the song, I recommend the Cab Calloway or Dave Von Ronk versions.
|Been writing for a few hours. Managed to churn out just under 4 pages. I think that is a respectable number for the time I've invested. I guess it's not a race but I'm always trying to gauge my performance. |
I'm conflicted about whether or not I should keep going for a while longer. I've been experimenting with a technique that seems to be working. I stop writing before I'm done, if that makes sense. When I come to a point where I feel absolutely certain about my next few paragraphs, I stop and save them for the next session. There are few things that intimidate me as much as the blank page. If I can come to it ready to fill half of it, I'm that much more motivated to write. And just the process of writing and swapping a synonym here or there usually enough to prime the pump and get me inspired.
So I got this Looper pedal for my guitar on Tuesday, and that is calling to me... but I kinda want to keep writing.
I really need to sort out my priorities.
I don't have a list of noted writers who are also skilled musicians. Jimmy Buffet leaps to mind.
I urge you to integrate, rather than prioritize. Write some, play some, write some more ... Accept the musical influence on your prose and the narrative influence on your music. Embrace whatever synergy may emerge. The economy of lyrics that fully convey their meaning in 3:20 has influenced me as much as have Zelazny and Kipling.
If there is a plotline to the aeolian scale, or character in the linnaean, you are distinctly prepared to find them.
|Thanks runoffscribe It's never occurred to me to put something of how I write music into how I write fiction. But I can actually grasp this idea. It feels like seeing the falling code at the end of The Matrix. |
I think of how we aim to gently draw readers in with delicate intimacies and once we have their full attention, haul of and whack when once we're past their guard. Kinda like when Jimmy Page kicks in the overdrive towards the end of the intro to Since I've been lovin' you.
This is a lot to chew on. But it's nourishing.
|Wouldn’t it be bizarre if we were all having constant, minor hallucinations? All the time. An extra face in the crowd or Dandelion on the side of the road, nobody sees but you. A cough in a busy restaurant or particularly giddy cackle on the laugh track of a 90’s sitcom. Or maybe two blind, naked old men, talking backwards in your shower on Tuesdays instead of the usual one. Wouldn’t that be weird?|
Alexa, where's my truck? Alexa? Oh, come on, honey! He didn't mean it!
Is your cat really so big that it can bat your bowling ball around like a marble? That reminds me of the dung beetles that work unremarked keeping the "stalls" clean in the bestiary of Newt Scamander's travel case.
|My cat is really small. I actually use marbles as bowling balls. |
All kidding aside, I do have a small cat, but no bowling balls... or marbles for that matter.
I can imagine the work of a dung beetle to be a pretty thankless job. Though they must find it rewarding.
All kidding aside.
For all of its sardonic synonyms, sh__ has to be one of the commonest words on George's List in ordinary usage. Just my opinion, but it's one of the ugliest words in the lingua franca, maybe the most repulsive. How about a few absurd substitutions?
It's a dung job, but ...
Grab your dung and get out.
Just once, spare me the dung.
I dung you not.
Nodding now. Night, night.
|Indeed, I did fan... |
This story is so well crafted and should get a little buzz on the site.
If you haven't read this yet, I highly recommend it.
|Sincerest thanks, James Heyward |
I am happy with this story. It is the second of my angel tales, and very different in tone from
The difference is intentional. I want look at the angel from a different perspective every time. Yes, I will write more angel stories. I have another started already.
|Hey Gang, |
I thought I'd open a discussion (for my own selfish reasons,) about character arcs. Any one is welcome to chime in.
I was just wondering how you folks approach this aspect of writing, and most importantly how you decide which of your characters develop in this tradition.
If you haven't heard me winge about my troubles with my novel, we probably don't talk much. Currently the wrench in my cogs is having created a character that was just designed to move the plot along, and having that character turn into one of the more "human" or "real" characters in the book. Unfortunately the plot finishes him off without any real resolution to his story or personal journey. I'll figure this out, but it has got me thinking.
How do you decide which characters evolve and which don't? In Of Mice And Men, only George and maybe Candy have an arc. Lennie and (perhaps the most interesting character, to me) Crooks don't really have developmental arcs. So it doesn't always come down to being a "main character".
In The Picture Of Dorian Gray, the main character is practically a personification of character arc. But while Basil gets his own development, Lord Henry doesn't.
I can imagine a cautionary tale, where the main character misses the human experience so spectacularly that he is completely unchanged by the events of the story. Or perhaps a character who is killed before having the opportunity to experience a metamorphosis and the reader is compelled to mourn that loss. So I think the absence of a character arc could be a powerful tool in a story.
Anyway, being a website full of writers, I thought I'd put the topic out there, and see what you have to say.
Good evening, James Heyward,
The theory of the novel that I learned a few years ago seems to be passe, superceded by an epic frame and high philosophy about Man and his place in the universe. That is something of an on overstatement, but I will stick with what I learned after milk and cookies.
At its best, a novel is the story of a life at the decision point. Everything before leads to that point. Everything beyond emerges from that point. Thus, the character arc. The protagonist arc.
Unlike a biography or a history, which may be based in conflict, the novel requires conflict. Of the three classic conflicts (Man against Man/Nature/Fate), only Man has a character arc. From this, the antagonist arc.
These are the only two arcs required to implement the conflict. Other characters facilitate the conflict.
From the conflict emerges the theme. General themes are in the vein of war, business, discovery, romantic love and more.
Now, you choose your protagonist and antagonist. From the nature of these two will emerge more specific themes. These are forms of strife -- revenge, escape, creation, et cetera.
Minor characters do not require a full arc. All that is required of a minor character is one or more steps to the advancement of the plot. A minor character might be the embodiment of a single trope. This is the rule of the ruthless. When your minor character has duly effected the plot, stop writing that character and move on to the next trope that will advance your progress.
Some minor characters will recur. Some will recur so frequently that they seem constant. Think Frodo and Sam Gamgee. Others come and go. Think Gandalf. For those that have a recurring arc, we engage with it only in instances in which they advance the plot.
Write ruthlessly to regulate the arcs of your supporting characters.
|Hey runoffscribe thanks for taking the time to weigh in. I knew I could count on you to offer some meaningful insight. |
At its best, a novel is the story of a life at the decision point.
I read once that a novel (or story) should be thought of as meeting an interesting person, faced with an interesting challenge, at an interesting time in their life. I'm still found of this quote but it's not as concise as your definition. Though I believe they drive at the same point.
It's interesting that you mention the Lord Of The Rings. I believe Tolkien had a slightly different story in mind, but was unexpectedly hijacked by the introduction of Aragorn/Strider. In developing the character the author discovered a larger story and expanded the ranger. That being said, I'm having a little bit of trouble sourcing this so I could be full of BS.
When your minor character has duly effected the plot, stop writing that character and move on to the next trope that will advance your progress.
That is a hard pill to swallow, my friend. The most painful aspect being that it may well be the medicine. But that is a conundrum. As writer's we strive to populate our stories with rich. real characters. I don't know if it is the pinnacle achievement in fiction, but it has got to be close to the top.
I think maybe where I am going wrong is the assumption that a complete character requires an arc.
This is a lot to chew on...
So, you plowed through that long monograph? Then it was worth the calluses.
Remember that this was pitched at me in high school. It's just the basics of the most basic type of novel, about half a semester's worth. Nothing hard and fast in the eyes of a professional.
Development of minor characters rests at the cleft of a stick. Even a minor character needs enough development that he/she can credibly influence the plot. On the other hand, the more you write into a minor character, the more you must remember (and are stuck with) the next time you bring that character up on deck.
I am delighted that you fan'd "A Man's Job". I hope the recent edits still read smoothly. As originally posted, there were a few clinkers in the skeleton.
|I'm hatching something that may or may not work in my book, and I thought I would throw this out there for any Science Fiction enthusiasts to have a go at. In other words, I need a hand... |
I'm trying to put a new spin on the colonized alien planet thing. The atmosphere is full of toxic gases, and I don't want to put the habitat under a dome. If the people of my story had the kind of technology that would render a force-field more practical than space suits, the rest of my plot is going to fall apart. So I'm wondering about the idea of some sort of gas acting as a buffer between the air they pump in and the toxic atmosphere? Is this a thread worth following?
The story does not require the concept and will be no worse off if I set this portion in a vast network of bunkers. But it's Sci-Fi, so I thought I would explore something new and interesting. If this is at all plausible, I'll enact the labor of figuring out how it is localized, not dispersed by the weather, and shaped to fit over the colony.
What do you think, gang?
BlackAdder I know this is sort of your forte, your thoughts would be much appreciated.
|Well, it's not completely implausible - after all, the reason that light bulbs have inert gases in them is to keep them from burning out faster - and that works better than making them vacuum chambers. But unless there's a huge density difference between breathable air and the toxic gas, they'll mix. I suppose you could have air-tight walls but no ceilings - but only if the toxic gas is a lot less dense than oxygen or nitrogen. Or on a heavy gravity planet with heavy toxic gases, a tower - with a dome. Not impossible, but probably difficult to make work.|
|Right. It's all about the buoyancy. I guess the part to work out first, might be: if there is a big enough difference in the density, why do you need the buffer at all? I like the idea of flipping it, though, building above the toxic atmosphere. |
Your idea sounds akin to the "air curtain" technique used by highly trafficked businesses to maintain indoor air quality against outdoor conditions such as temperature, parking lot fumes and pollen.
Your air curtain might deploy gasses or vapors that could catalyze inimical substances to render them inert, combine with others to produce resource gasses, or bind and encapsulate particulates to a density at which they would fall to ground.
|I’m sorry this is grim, but I can’t help but share this. |
One of the sources I’ve been using to follow the developments of the Pandemic is a website called Worldometer. With half my family in NY and the rest in Maine, the site offers some datapoints I like to keep an eye on. In addition to Total cases, new cases, recovered cases, the site does number fatalities. I’ve fallen into a rhythm of checking stats online before bed and when I wake up in the morning. While the rate of transmission in NY is pretty rapid, Maine is progressing slowly. Some of the lowest numbers in the country.
Through an association in Maine, I knew of a person who was hospitalized with COVID19, and I was regularly checking in to see how things were going. Sadly the news was never encouraging. Yesterday when I looked at Worldometer,I saw the number of deaths in Maine had increased by 1 and shortly after, I learned the individual with COVID19 had passed away in the night.
I think most of you are aware of the tendency to disconnect from tragedy when it is posed as a statistic. There is an ugly quote attributed to Stalin on this topic that isn’t worth repeating.
I don’t really know what I’m getting at. Or I do but I’m not completely sure how to get there. Looking at these numbers day in and day out can desensitize us. “200 more deaths today,” is being normalized, and terrible as it may be, will at some point become good news when it’s occurring on a downward trend from much higher numbers. Good news is a relative term.
I guess I’m just saying it is sobering to see a statistic personified in real time. And it’s a little bit shameful to require the reality check. But it’s hard because these cases are just growing and we are watching the numbers to try and have some sort of handle on where we are on the curve. Not all of you need this kind of reminder, and that’s good. The world is a better place for having you. I did need the reality check, and I’m grateful, I’m just sorry someone had to lose their grandma.
Sorry if this was a downer.
It seems to me that horror is amplified by a drape of normalcy, a cloak of words. I listen to the news and I wonder if the anchor hears the meaning of his words, or just the sound.
If I would trust anyone to notice this insidious phenomenon, it would, my friend, be you.
|prettypoetry Im sorry to hear about your mother. Thank you for your kind words. This is a great community and I know I could count on you all for support if I needed it. I should clarify though, while my heart goes out to the people that lost a loved one, I have been blessed in that no one close to me has become ill at this time. I didn’t know the woman who passed. |
runoffscribe Thanks man. As important as it is to keep a positive attitude and live our lives, it’s probably healthy to retain a bit of dismay so we aren’t content with this. It’s easy enough now, given how new and scary this is, but in a couple months... I don’t know if I’ve ever regarded the word normalcy with a positive connotation.
|Yeah, the numbers feel pretty abstract. I don't think we can actually cope with reminding ourselves constantly that each of those 'numbers' was a loved one - a grandmother, a father, a sister, a son... We cannot grieve for hundreds of people all the time. Making them abstract numbers is a survival tactic. But there's a balance to be found. It's tricky though...|
|While some of you know me merely as a writer, there are a few undisclosed aspects of my identity. While I cannot go into all of them, I can say that as a matter of circumstance, I have various experts from around the world in my employ. Most recently I have tapped the economists, anthropologists and futurologists from my vast network and set them to the task of researching the unexpected changes we will see in the world once this madness has passed. |
Brace yourselves for...
THE TOP 10 UNEXPECTED CHANGES AFTER COVID-19:
The Kama Sutra is expanded and revised to utilize FaceTime and Instagram.
Forbes Magazine acknowledges Yoga Pants as business casual.
The Aromatherapy industry collapses as people are only comforted by things that smell like isopropyl alcohol.
Burger King officially changes its slogan from “Have it your way” to “Have it outside.”
Rubbing your hands together as if applying sanitizer replaces the high-five.
Top MMA fighters employ psychotherapy in their training routine after emotional abuse is recognized by the federation as an acceptable submission maneuver.
Designer surgical masks.
With only the die hard patronage of nineteen year old frat-girls remaining, Corona Beer officially goes out of business.
“Most likely to succeed” is replaced in school yearbooks by “Most likely to self isolate.”
The Church of Netflix is officially awarded tax exemption status causing practitioners to celebrate with an 11 season binge of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
That's all I could squeeze out of my hired geeks, but if any of you have any insight as to what we can expect, that we might not...expect, please feel free to share.
I received a Zoom link I don't think I was supposed to have:
Chalk it up to cabin fever. No way could I pass it up.
The first advisor wore a conservative polka-dot tie, doublet and hose in clashing colors. He offered me shares in an interplanetary exploitation venture. He demonstrated a compact telescope which would allow me to view the ship. It was upside down. I asked about that and he flipped the scope end for end. The ship was still upside down, but facing the other way. QED.
Somebody kicked my avatar. I turned it around to see a one-legged old guy in a cowboy boot and a diaper hopping away and shouting something about "... twenty-five points!"
I walked "me" over to a pink Kia Rio coupe with round pink ears glued to the roof header and whiskers taped to the bumper. The two doors popped open and seven guys piled out, all talking at once. The car continued to barf out "advisors" in pink tuxedo tee shirts who joined in the babble as though they had wakened that morning from pitching in their sleep.
I heard a shout of "Fifty points!" and turned to see two of the pitch men on their faces. The shout was lost in the crowd.
I received several more pitches. I left with a plain ticket for a fanciful flight, a tiny bouquet of pretty flowers that smelled bad and overnight accommodations in the new undersea resort of Lost Wages.
As the link broke, I heard an exultant shout of "Five hundred points!" When I tried a refresh, my browser returned a 404 message.
|In his exile, Gollum forgot the taste of bread. |
I couldn't find any of my belts today and the strangest thing about that was that I was even looking in the first place. This is how the world ends, not with a bang but with my schlubby-ass shopping for cat food in his pajamas. I'm paraphrasing, but I'm pretty sure that's T.S. Eliot.
I had no idea I would need to start using hand-lotion as a result of the present circumstances. I just didn't game-theory that one out but I've been moisturizing for a few days now. When I noticed my hands were dry, cracked, and slightly painful it was a surprise but no mystery. I've been washing them excessively. I know it's too much but this is the neurotic's equivalent to comfort eating. Anyway my wife is thrilled. She's always trying to get me to use this or that lotion. So I'm really doing it for her.
For some perspective, this is as bad as it is for me. Whingeing over things that are somewhere between mildly amusing and irrelevant. My Dad is in NYC and I know folks are worried there, as they are all over the world. I hope all of you writing.com-ers are safe doing as well as you can.
|It's a good sign when you're whining about small inconveniences! Things are fairly good over here in NZ too.|
You are testing me. Fair enough.
Did you know that Tom Waits played Renfield for Francis Ford Coppola in Bram Stoker's Dracula? You might need Pro Tools ...