Pandora’s Box

June 3, 2011

I’m back! And it seems that the mutated corn husks have been suppressed…for now.

I haven’t been posting on here for a few days now. I was a little side tracked. While I’m sure everybody reading this was wondering where I was, I must tell you that I can not tell you where I was or what I was doing. If you try to guess where I vanished off to, I will neither confirm nor deny any of those things/places you guess. But I will tell you now that you are probably wrong.

While I was off doing something very mysterious I did get some reading done. Let me tell you that I really haven’t dug in to a book in quite some time. I’ve done my normal comic books and occasional lines from a very long novel I’m currently reading but I haven’t been invested in anything in particular lately. As a matter of fact, I haven’t done much reading since I have started this blog. So it was good to actually catch up.

Since my brain has been in “writing mode” for the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that I am reading differently. I’m reading much slower. I’m noticing how words are crafted. Sentence structure actually means something to me now. I’ve been taking note on how authors use these ‘identifiers’ to show the reader who’s talking at the time. (This is a made up term, remember, I don’t know very much about writing in the academic sense) Allow me to divulge.

Example:

Reluctantly, Pell nodded. He didn’t like it – was fairly certain he would never like it – but it was clear that John had made up his mind. “Yes, sir,” he muttered. “You mentioned a message to Team Eight. Will you be wanting me to transmit that?”

You see the use of action words in describing the speaker: muttered and nodded. I have known to use words like this to help show the reader what is taking place. When the character is actually moving and changing how they speak, it makes for a much more entertaining conversation as well.

But this passage shows something else; a series of logical thought (you think, then feel, then act). Pell is the person who’s eyes we are experiencing this story from. These identifiers (as I’m calling them) help to show who he is and what he is experiencing. Since the story is commited from his view, I should remember that the reader doesn’t need to know what everybody is experiencing or feeling at the time, just that character. The reader only needs to know what’s going on in one person’s head at a time.

I think i’ve been trying to go at stories with everybody knowing everything about everybody. Not only would that be hard on the reader, but it would be really hard on me. If I give away too much, then there’s nothing left for the reader to “discover” about the plot or characters. Trust me, once I learn how to remember this while writing, I think it will considerably shorten the time it takes for me to see where conversations lead. And that alone could help me increase my writing and planning speed. (A goal of mine)

While I’m sure there is probably some way for authors (more talented than myself) to accomplish an omnipresent perspective on all characters, I don’t think I’m capable of it. Hey, I think it would actually end up being more fun for the reader if I limit the perspective. I can play evil tricks on them. Maybe you are led astray as you actually believe what a character is thinking to be true. I think I remember this being called an “unreliable narrator”. I could check and verify this on wikipedia…but I’m pretty lazy right now. Trust me, I am very good at being unreliable, and I think I could really mess with the readers’ head.

Note: This is not a trick I plan on employing at all times, mind you. I understand that would be pretty lame to do it all the time.

Finally, notice the little injected thought process in the middle of conversation. Plus, he uses these things ( –  – ). Dashes?

Anyway, he uses those kind of like commas. I didn’t really notice an author could get away with injecting things like that. But as long as we are speaking from one person’s perspective, why couldn’t we? We are supposed to be hearing his or her thoughts. I really think it could help in trying to make the character’s motivation speak more clearly.

But what are the rules regarding it’s use? I don’t really know, (once again, Wikipedia and laziness) I also saw them used in an article in a magazine. You may be reading this and say to yourself well I knew about those, this guy really doesn’t know anything about writing.

You’re right, I don’t. But we all need to learn it sometime, it just took me longer in life to actually notice something like that. Now stop insulting me, imaginary person in my mind…

Now I really feel like I’ve opened up Pandora’s box.

I guess these past few days I’ve learned that becoming a good writer isn’t just telling a good story. It’s also about conveying a good story.Maybe it’s an incredibly good thing I decided to write on an open format like this. I will have to act as my own editor. This is stuff editors know like the back of their hand and stuff that I know like I know a calculus textbook.

Last Note: Don’t believe the corn husks are entirely ‘gone‘. After translating some of their scribble we have discovered their intentions to take the CEOs of major soda companies hostage. Something to do with high fructose corn syrup. We may have them tied up at the moment, but I don’t expect that to last very long. Zip ties aren’t the best for restraining corn husks….

Anyway, more to come later.

D.A.

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