Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Death to Sentences?

Yesterday I picked up a book to read that I bought in a yard sale. (In Australia normally called a garage sale) Published in 1984.

I read the author's note. Quite interesting. Studied the diagram of the ship, quite interesting. Started reading.

About halfway down paragraph one I had to stop to catch my breath. I looked for the punctuation to tell me the end of the sentence. None.  And not until the end of the paragraph?

As a first sentence, even a first paragraph did it grab me?
Couldn't make head or tails out of it. It goes on and on and on. In fact, I stopped to count the words. 

One hundred and forty five words in the sentence, and the first sentence of the book at that! Am I reading that book? No way Hozay. 

While in my apprenticeship of learning to write, I was advised to use no more than fifteen words in a sentence. Certainly the first sentence. I recommend that number when I review other people's work. 

I always wonder whether in the good old publishing eighties, publishers used to think an author would know their job by the time they'd been published half a dozen times. A couple of times I have come across books that seem like first drafts. The quality of the writing does not improve. There are dozens of things in it that aspiring authors are warned never to have appearing in their manuscripts. 

I don't recall people thinking this was pulp fiction. I do recall people raving about these novels, how good they were. At the time I was reading Alexander Kent's nautical war series. I found them as satisfying as reading science fiction as, for an out and out land lubber like me, they needed the same kind of strategies to get meaning. For example, put your curiosity on hold, you will learn/understand what something/jargon/seagoing term mean in the goodness of time. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Taking up where I left off ...

Photo by R de Heer

A while ago I was in a discussion about taking up where we left off in relation to writing projects after a number of years. 

Yes of course you can, I said with ignorant bravado. I'm having a go at that.

I'm working on a short story, SG, at the moment. Its working title. (I tend to initialise titles to get short file names.) 

I wrote it originally in about 2008.  Characters might have been a little sketchy. The premise was such a good idea. I spruiked it around with nary a nibble. I put it to bed, a problem child. 


A work opportunity came up for a feisty heroine in a 'different' fantasy.

All good, I thought. I've got such in SG. I'll dig them out and refurbish a bit. 

Transgender him to her. Make her a mover and shaker. Explain the scenario more clearly.

So far I have I had to re-imagine her point of view.

The premise was probably too obscure, and had to be reworked.

I had to activate my character's emotional intelligence. Showing requires it. Her stomach rumbled. Gas. Nausea. Telling often ... well ... tells what the character is feeling. She felt sick.  

I had to add joining bits, cut out useless frills -- she is meant to be feisty after all -- delete all the words not relating to imagery or action. 

Only the idea had stood the test of time, and that because it was fantasy. Science fiction dates. Premises get overtaken by scientific progress. 

What's this all to do with the image of the galls on the leaf? 

There's a story inside each gall. Isn't that enough?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Good grief!

Good grief, Google wished me a Happy Birthday!

The above flashed up when I opened Safari this morning. I don't recall ever giving out that fact to them. I thought I had kept the date between my ears and under my hat.

And here I thought that being one identity among millions I wouldn't be noticed. My apologies +Darko Luketic you were right.

I will have to take a fine tooth comb to my data. I guess it will be an interesting experiment to see if deleting the above will cause Google to 'forget'.