ilthit: (you're my hobby)
[personal profile] ilthit posting in [community profile] writers
Signed up for NaNoWriMo! ...Did you? Who's for it, who's against it, does it matter?

Read this brief article (on FWD/Forward) about how odd it is to read "She couldn't breathe. Her heart skipped a beat" when you actually HAVE been in that situation and it's a little more crippling than feeling a little shocked at the time. There's a lot of descriptive shorthand and embellishment like this that authors use - that I use, too. I keep thinking I should pay more attention, and sometimes during re-read and edit catch really embarrassing mistakes that just sounded right at the time.

The point of the article was that people who have not had these conditions don't realize how odd it is to use them to describe something completely different. The same criticism could extend to a lot of other examples. In some situations I suppose it's obvious it's meant metaphorically - "the realization hit him like a sledgehammer" doesn't actually mean the character's skull is suddenly split - but then again it's easy to overuse gestures such as blushing, quirking an eyebrow, tapping a foot, frowning and sighing when people usually don't blush all that often. It's hard to find some other indication for embarrassment, scepticism, impatience or displeasure even though these states manifest in a lot of different ways.

I guess there should be a healthy balance between metaphor and reality, and a good visual and kinetic idea of how the character's emotional reaction shows in her body language/reactions other than just applying trope gestures (though, when appropriate and not overused, some of those can be good too). I never tap my foot when I'm impatient or irritated. Sometimes I swing it. Sometimes I tap a pen on the table. Mostly, then, I frown, twist my mouth a little and type angrily/walk faster, or begin shouting. When I'm shocked by a turn of events, everything goes a little hazy while the new facts sink in; I can't muster the brain focus to move or act. I do breathe, as it happens automatically. My heart rate might be affected, might not - I can't tell, I'm too busy being shocked. Oh, and hah, notice how we keep saying "shock" and "panic" when those medical states are a lot more intense than the states we often use those words for? 

Anyway, food for thought - editing thought, anyway. I'm not going to worry about ANY of this stuff while writing next November. The reason I find NaNoWriMo fab is that it forces you to get the bulk of the writing done, after which it's all just editing, cutting, adding and molding until it all actually works. 

(no subject)

Date: 2009-10-19 04:29 pm (UTC)
paganpaul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] paganpaul
I signed up 2 years ago and look forward to Nano.
But it doesn't matter.
I just like it. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-10-19 09:15 pm (UTC)
theserubyshoes: (black sweater sits)
From: [personal profile] theserubyshoes
I don't like nano. It makes me feel anxious, and frantic, and like I'm cranking out unsalvageable crap that I'll later feel guilty for not properly editing. So. No NaNoWriMo for me, although I do respect the experiences and feelings of the many people out there that love participating.

On the recommendation of Robert Olen Butler (who wrote From Where You Dream, a book that didn't work out that well for me on the whole) I've been trying to keep a journal of physiological responses to emotional situations. It's hard, because I rarely have pen and paper right there when I'm feeling anger, fear, surprise, etc. But the idea goes along with what you're talking about...giving you the tools to express feelings without using way overused and often inaccurate phrasing. Hopefully by the time I get remotely close to the editing phase I'll have a better handle on that skill.

Thanks for the food for thought! My thoughts need plenty of feeding.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-10-20 11:44 am (UTC)
theserubyshoes: (HollyWakeUpCat)
From: [personal profile] theserubyshoes
I generally just try and remember also, but I really do want to stick with the habit of journaling physiological responses at least once a day. It's not note taking so much as practice finding the words to describe the experience. It's a lot harder than it sounds to find the right phrasing without falling back on cliche or on simply "telling" (Ruby Shoes felt tired). For the record, Ruby Shoes DOES feel tired. Why is it so freaking dark when I wake up for the day? =__=

(no subject)

Date: 2009-10-26 06:56 am (UTC)
anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
From: [personal profile] anthimeria
Every novelist should try NaNo at least once, just to see if it works for them!

I love the idea, because I always get frustrated by people who claim they don't have time to write. Make time! NaNo is the opportunity to make time and share the frustration with a group of people who are also turning their lives to shambles for a month, trying to do this crazy thing.

I did NaNo once, finished, knocked off the second 50k of the novel in December . . . and when I went back to it in February (I believe in time and distance between RD and edit), the piece was an impossible, tangled mess. Sadly, NaNo doesn't work for me--but I'll probably use some of the characters and the world I created elsewhere, and I learned that I need extensive research and a thorough outline to follow. Important lessons, IMHO.

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