Tuesday Hangovers

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Monday Hangovers

And on that note of snark–which hurts me, really and truly, it does–happy Monday. At some point this week expect posts on: life in glasses, Marcy Demansky’s fabulous novel Twins, television goodness and conspiracy theories. Or at least some of that stuff. A few other Monday items below…

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More on Storyteller

Cory Doctorow joins the chorus of praise for Kate Wilhelm’s Storyteller (must read!); I suggest you check out his take. He excerpts some practical advice from the book which I now unashamedly steal for here:

When beginning a story, do not:
* Let your viewpoint wander
* Confuse immediate setting with background and let your camera eye wander in, out, and about randomly
* Start with a lecture in anything — history, physics, biology — anything. Expository lumps anywhere are to be avoided if possible, but they are deadly in the opening.
* Start in the middle of a scene. This is why flashback openings are a mistake almost every time. You interrupt an ongoing scene to tell us something that happened earlier that results in ongoing scene. Once started, the scenes should be concluded before you move on. An ongoing conversation is hard to catch up with. Who are these speakers, what is their relationship, what kind of voice should I be hearing in my head? Introduce them before they open their mouths.
* Mislead the reader with false information or try to create suspense or arouse curiosity by withholding necessary information. What you arouse is mistrust and annoyance.
* Sprinkle around neologisms or made-up words that cannot be found in a dictionary.
* Use words that only you and a few other people in your speciaility can understand.
* Use contractions if you can avoid them, and only sparingly no matter what.
* Have your character look into a mirror or other reflective surface in order to work in a description of her.
* Let your character talk to an animal or inanimate object in order to give information to your reader about what is going on.
* Play games with the sex of your character.

Related Link: Small Beer also has a page of "Memories and Lessons Learned at the Clarion Writer’s Workshop" from Doctorow, Jeff Ford, Gordon Van Gelder, Jim Sallis, Kit Reed, Greg Frost and Nancy Kress. Check it out.

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Tween Fiction Call

Lizzie Skurnick, aka the Old Hag, aka Associate Editor of Girls’ Life, sent the following note the other day. I know a number of you YA types are out there, so I’m passing it on to you*:

Girls’ Life mag features the best in teen and tween fiction — spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge but not about suicide or anything — and we’d like to feature you. (Except if your story has sex. NO SEX.)

I invite you to check out a recent copy of the mag to see what we’ve been up to lately. You can send me whole stories — no queries necessary — or you can kick me a paragraph or two to see if you’re in the ballpark. We like all styles — no sci-fi or fantasy please — and we’re looking for new twists on old themes. For those of you with novels coming out soon, we love to feature excerpts.

For more info, drop a line to theoldhagATtheoldhag.com.

*I myself think longingly of the day when I finish this f-ing rewrite, and then of the new genre story I have to write for the FSF class I’m taking because I know the teacher.

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Three Little Saturday Hangovers

And then I go (re)write till my ears bleed.

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Everything is on screen…

The marvelous Hank Stuever reviews Everything is Illuminated and likes it, sorta:

"Everything Is Illuminated" is no average tale of let’s-go-find-where-Grandpa’s-shtetl-shtood. Heavy with the burden of translating the shiftingly excellent narrative techniques of Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2002 novel on which it is based, the movie can’t help but take on a slightly too twee tone. Depending on your pop-cult sensibilities (Do you like the Dave Eggers crowd? Do you pay rent in Williamsburg, Brooklyn? Do you listen raptly to public radio’s "This American Life"?), you are free to revel in "Everything Is Illuminated’s" magical groove (I did) while at the same time finding it puzzlingly dull (I did that, too) and not quite the storytelling achievement you once considered it to be.

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Friday Hangovers (update)

*Which is not to succumb to the argument that she doesn’t usually pick good books, just to say that there are some pretty banal choices in that list alongside the Marquez.

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Natalie Angier weighs in on the human proclivity for cursing in a lengthy essay in the NYT:

"The Jacobean dramatist Ben Jonson peppered his plays with fackings and "peremptorie Asses," and Shakespeare could hardly quill a stanza without inserting profanities of the day like "zounds" or "sblood" – offensive contractions of "God’s wounds" and "God’s blood" – or some wondrous sexual pun.

The title "Much Ado About Nothing," Dr. McWhorter said, is a word play on "Much Ado About an O Thing," the O thing being a reference to female genitalia.

Even the quintessential Good Book abounds in naughty passages like the men in II Kings 18:27 who, as the comparatively tame King James translation puts it, "eat their own dung, and drink their own piss."

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