Wednesday Hangovers

  • Mary Kole hosts a guest post from Melissa Koosmann on Good Telling, using Harry Potter as the well for examples. It's definitely worth remembering in the world of "show, don't tell" advice that all effective narrative requires a mix of showing and telling. Showing is slow; telling is fast. Determining what the best choice is in any given scene or bit of novel by thinking of it in those terms can often be the guide that helps you figure out when to do what. I love some nice exposition, myself, and think it often gets a bad rap in the overkill to avoid it completely. Learning when and how to tell effectively is just as important as learning how to show something in a full scene, particularly if you write in a genre like fantasy that tends to require more telling. (Another reason why Harry Potter was a good choice for Koosmann to use in her post.) Often, I see a lack of skill with telling in fiction manifest as a sense of disconnection between scenes or the main story and subplots, or in books that closely resemble screenplays in sparsity of detail and brevity of scene. Maybe I focus on this because it's something I really had/have to work on transitioning from writing screenplays to writing novels; screenplays are almost all show, and so I really had to convince myself it was okay to write the character outside and in (and usually only truly manage to do so in later drafts), etcetera. Anyway, there are lots of different kinds of places where telling can be a good choice–exposition, world-building, summary of past action or events, indicating the passage of time, and, sometimes, emotion and physical response. It isn't called storytelling for nothing.
  • Sarah pointed to this fantastic piece by Jamie Weinman on the evolution of the sitcom and multi-camera shooting vs. single camera: "When TV started, there were two ways to do a TV comedy series: do it live, or film it. The live shows naturally used an audience, the way radio comedies did. The filmed shows were, just as naturally, done like movies. (The laugh track was invented to make it clear that these shows were, in fact, comedies.) Then, famously, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball decided to combine the two formats — live and filmed — by doing I Love Lucy with three film cameras in front of an audience, creating the format which has remained unchanged to this day (except that now they use four cameras instead of three)." The whole piece offers a truly fascinating history of how camera choice affected the shows themselves.
  • A great installment of What A Girl Wants over at Colleen's, this time about what historical figure or nonfiction books the respondents wished they'd known about in their last year of high school.
  • I love the Library of Congress blog (and the LOC, too, obvs)–nice post about 25 new additions to the National Recording Registry, including my beloved Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter," Patti Smith's "Horses," and R.E.M.'s "Radio Free Europe."
  • Andre Leon Talley goes shopping with Maureen Dowd and Michiko Kakutani: "After Mount Rushmore-size portions of New York-style hot dogs layered with American cheese and chili (Kakutani orders hers without buns), and sides of French fries, we do a drive-by at Decades. It's too late to go to the second floor for vintage couture, so we browse the ground floor with clothes from the nineties to the present. Kakutani finds a mint-condition YSL by Stefano Pilati white cotton summer dress, and Dowd comes out with a supervampy, black crepe de Chine Roland Mouret with a flippy wing on one side of the skirt, totally Now, Voyager in attitude."
  • Wired has a look backstage at the American Museum of Natural History.
  • Michael Sims on vampires at The Chronicle of Higher Education: "As I read about the careful inspection of corpses for signs of vampirism, a curious thing happened. Slowly I began to get vampire stories: the horror of our aspiring consciousness finding itself trapped in a mortal body, the threatening presence of the already deceased, even the undead's gamble on a kind of credit—another's blood instead of their own—rather than acceptance of normal human fate."
  • And, finally, Delia Sherman (happy birthday week!) posted this amazing video.

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