ilthit: (you're my hobby)
[personal profile] ilthit
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. 


Oct. 13th, 2009 07:35 am
guardian_of_hope: Take a breath, it gets better (Rose)
[personal profile] guardian_of_hope
People say to write what you know, but I've also heard that in fantasy, anything is possible.

So here's the background, in my story there are talking animals, they're created by the God and Goddess who look after that particular land, mostly just to appear wise and occasionaly offer useful advice. If I wrote what I know, there would only be dogs, cats and horses, but if I took the 'anything is possible' route, there are a variety of wild animals that I could find useful that I know little about beyond species and random facts.

Here's the question: In the 'anything is possible' version, should I take the time to research things like, say, common illnesses in birds of prey, and make the animals be close to their mortal brethern, or should I just assume that since they were created by the God and Goddess for the purpose of being sort of guides to humans such things are not a concern?

I'm not saying the animals are immortal, but they do have an extended life time, roughly from the time their human partners are thirteen until said partner dies. And they can be killed; like shot down by arrows or stabbed.


Oct. 8th, 2009 03:30 pm
ilthit: (writing)
[personal profile] ilthit
Stories need to be to the point and include nothing extra, say the experts.

I agree in most cases, though I'll also not budge in my opinion that every arguably boring scenery/walking passage in Lord of the Ring was pure gold, but then I'm a nerd. This is a very specific question though.

Mentioning a character's race: necessarily significant and generally insignificant, or not?

The argument being that if race is mentioned, it must be relevant later on, and that unless it has an effect on the plot you do not need to know the race of any particular character.

My counter-argument being that the race of the main characters are significant in the same way their gender or age or ability status are important, because it colours their experiences of the world and change the way the people in their world view them. Even if it doesn't change anything in the story, it adds its own nuance. I think it IS significant, for that reason and also because the assumed default race is so often white; leaving out the characters' race works out a lot of the time as if you're writing all-white casts, even when you're not.

This was probably covered somewhere during RaceFail '09, but I'd like to know what you think.

Edit: This post on The Magic District is relevant to this conversation!
dameboudicca: Blowing papers (Default)
[personal profile] dameboudicca
You know, that advise you get all the time. It has some truth to it (especially if not taken to literally).

But what do you do if you suffer from prosopagnosia (facial blindness), when you couldn't describe the face of someone you knew if your life depended on it even? If you are incapable of reading facial expressions (at least, if they are not really exaggerated). Does that mean you have to write stories about faceless beings who never shows the slightest hint of an expression on their faces? It would be all right if your character had the same condition, but if you don't want that...?

This is not just a question out of idle curiosity, I have these problems, and so far I have avoided it by using generic descriptions (put together from stuff I've read), but it feels a bit like cheating (no, no, not word-by-word, of course not - but still!) - and I'm terrified someone will, eventually, see through it. After all, I know it's fake!

Or, do I have no choice but to continue as I do now?

[somewhat cross-posted]
sterling: (Sephiroth - Creativity)
[personal profile] sterling
Does anyone know of any original fiction themed communities or websites?

I've been searching for a forum of some sort where writers talk about things, but it seems tough to find anything. Genre isn't really important, just looking for something not heavily fanfic influenced.

Links, and any suggestions appreciated. ^_^
meoryn: (Default)
[personal profile] meoryn
Do you think it's a good idea to visit a place you plan to set your story in first or do you think research about the place is good enough? I struggle with this one when I need to set my stories in a "real world" place. Often, I don't have the luxury to go visit the place, particularly if it's overseas.

lilsneak: (Default)
[personal profile] lilsneak
Well, hi.
This is my first post and I wanted to start a discussion, so I hope I'm not breaking the rules and such.

So, me and my friend got into a friendly debate [ha, that's an understatement] on whether or not a writer should have experience about the stuff he's writing. For example, how can you write about falling in love and having a boyfriend if you've experienced it before? Or, your first break-up or switching school, etc. In short, can you write about something you've never experienced before and don't know? I'm not talking about how to make a cake or play tennis....that's what research is for.

So, bbs, what is your opinion on this matter? I'd really like to know.


writers: The Writers Community (Default)
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