Watson likely stories

Sunday morning pages

We were at a party yesterday where a Parrot AR drone was being flown around outdoors and it was way cool. This is an electric quadrocoptor with a camera on it. You control it with your iOS device and can watch the video from it while you're flying it around. Definitely a solid nerd toy. It was sadly free of weaponry, though.

We gave the cats their monthly dose of anti-flea goo this morning. They have become extra-smart about figuring out when we're planning to hit them with this evil goo. The containers make little tiny clicks as you pop them open, and the cats can recognize this sound from across the house. So first one traps them in the bedroom by closing the doors on them while they sleep. This somehow puts them on yellow alert. Then one seizes them and doses them as quickly as possible, while avoiding claws (Cow Kitty) and accusing glares (Inky Blot). Then they hide under the dresser and run from humans all day.

Until the food bowl is empty again, that is.

Have been using Google+ for a few days now and it is as unsuitable for fandom as Facebook is. It has some nice sharing control features, which are like LJ filters with a sane user interface, but it is still all about the short-form update. No tags. Fandom's wait for a modern home continues.

Mr Pedia read my SoG story in progress and didn't have much that was useful to say. He was convinced Xander showed up near the end and I'm like, Xander isn't even in this story at all, dude, what were you reading? Maybe I'll make him read it again after first priming him with a cup of coffee to ensure wakefulness. It's getting kinda long, though. I'm thinking it'll end up at 45K words at the least by the time it hits a postable draft. Longer if I have enough time to relax into some scenes that are a little on the sketchy side right now. I've got some set pieces that are demanding more description than they're getting right now.

One thing that drives me nuts as I read a lot of fanfic right now is the unrealized state of much of the writing. There's the two disembodied heads talking on a bare stage kind of writing extreme example, but often even scenes that have been given some kind of setting are bare of description. I so often need more than what I get. I have to do too much of the work in making the scene live in my head. I have to provide too much willing suspension of disbelief. It gets to be exhausting reading.

I quote to you John Gardner from The Art of Fiction, which was a big whammy on me when I first started writing:
In all the major genres, vivid detail is the life blood of fiction. Verisimilitude, suspension of disbelief through narrative voice, or the wink that calls attention to the yarn-teller's lie may be the outer strategy of a given work; but in all major genres, the inner strategy is the same: The reader is regularly presented with proofs—in the form of closely observed details—that what is said to be happening is really happening.
I think this is part of how it all works, and thus you see one of the principles underlying my prose style. More from Gardner:
[W]hatever the genre may be, fiction does its work by creating a dream in the reader's mind. We may observe, first, that if the effect of the dream is to be powerful, the dream must probably be vivid and continuous—vivid because if we are not quite clear about what it is that we're dreaming, who and where the characters are, what it is that they're doing or trying to do and why, our emotions and judgements must be confused, dissipated, or blocked; and continuous because a repeatedly interrupted flow of action must necessarily have less force than an action directly carried through from its beginning to its conclusion. [...] Insofar as the general rule is persuasive it suggests that one of the chief mistakes a writer can make is to allow or force the reader's mind to be distracted, even momentarily, from the fictional dream.
If you think about the job of fiction this way, some of the demands of the craft fall out naturally. Details, the right details, the ones that make the scene real and move the action along while pointing the reader's attention to things you want them to notice. And notice that this explains why expository dumps are bad: major interruption of the fictional dream right there. (Gardner talks about metafiction a bit too, but I'm tired of metafiction. Give me a straightforward story written in the past tense, kthxbai.)

The Art of Fiction is one of two books about writing that I have found worthy of not being thrown across the room. The other was Robert McKee's Story, which is all about screenwriting which is all about structure which is useful in all forms of fiction. Check it.
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