July 9th, 2004

Scandinavian robots

One of the fine points of writing sff that a couple of our instructors have made is that in this field you have to be especially careful with figures of speech. If you write, "A glorious sunset exploded across the western sky," in a romance novel, it will be taken as a figure of speech. But in an sff novel, your reader may be knocked out of your narrative by the thought that the sun really is exploding.

I remembered this a minute ago when I wrote, "The family room had been designed by Scandinavian robots." Um, wait a minute. This is a ghost story, there aren't any robots in it, but the reader doesn't know that yet...

"The family room appeared to have been designed by Scandinavian robots..."

Clarion, Day 34: In which our slide into actual polymorphous perversity accelerates

1. Our 900 word stories were read aloud in crit circle today. Not much per-story feedback, although we discussed the process a little, afterward. Jeff suggests that if you're blocked on a story, one technique is to try to write it as a short-short. When you've done that, then decide whether you want to keep it that way. Even if you don't you may have gained insight into a story that will help you when you write it to its proper size. There was some more discussion of the nature of the paragraph, and how it is critical to get paragraph breaks right. The end of a paragraph is a power position: what goes there has high impact on the reader.

Some other emphasis by Jeff and Kelly that beginning writers tend to tell too much, because they're afraid the reader won't get it. Let your readers do some of the work. They're smarter than you think. Kelly says that not nailing down the meaning of your story is helpful in expanding your potential pool of readers: different readers may get different things out of the story, including things the writer may not have intended. That's okay.

Hm. I'm getting echoes of the 'texts have no fixed meaning' stuff here.

My own 900 word story? I don't like it. It feels stale, both in the situation and the sciffy element. I probably should have done something else.

2. I am but an egg.

3. There is a party tonight. Nikki is organizing it. There will be mandatory crossdressing.
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Public Service Announcement

Relics of Santa Claus are for sale on eBay.

It's unclear what body part or body fluid is present. The vial of the relics of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in Lycia (present-day Turkey), the person known to us as Santa Claus, appears to contain dust.

Some day we'll be able to recreate saints from their relics, sort of like the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. I'd call it "Apostolic Park." I propose first to reanimate St. Christina the Astonishing, who, at her funeral, flew up out of her coffin and sat in the church's rafters.
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