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bear by san

March 2017



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it's lovely weather for a sleighride together with you.

More sentence-level work:

How to take a flabby sentence and make it buff!: I scorched my palm on the painted wood.

Painted wood scorched my palm.

via tanaise

This Sunday, on 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl will look into the U.S.military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, offering evidence in the form of Army Sgt. Darren Manzella that the armed forces look the other way during wartime, refusing to discharge troops even in the face of"graphic proof" that they are gay.

Some Youtube from Andrew Bird, since my flist has earwormed me....

ETA Some A/V from Mr. Bird's website, including downloadables of "Heretics," "Fiery Crash," and "A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left." His stuff is good. No, really.

It's a song about tardive dyskinesia. How geeky can you get?

And also:

I can see why coffeeem keeps saying he looks like cvillette, only Caucasian and without the scary cheekbones. He's nearly skinny enough. (Sorry, Coyote. That's not intended as a cut. I have a thing for skinny geeky boys, anyway. *loff*)

Speaking of which, did you see this? From Neil Gaiman's blog today:

Sometimes making stuff up feels a lot like Coyote* running across the empty space between one rocky pinnacle and the next, and as long as you keep moving you're fine. When you stop and look down, it's suddenly all too apparent that there's absolutely nothing underneath and that you're keeping in the air by a peculiar effort of will.

And then a good day comes, and you start running through the air once again, and, if you're smart, you resolutely don't look down.

* Wile E, or the American Indian one who created the world.


I read that and thought, "I know that guy."

But what if there's bears?

Because I am sneaky, I have renamed the "secrit projekt" tag "wtf". So if you wondered where it went, or wanted to go back and look at stillsostrange's pretty art (more to come) that's where you'll find it.

JJA (John Joseph Adams, to those of you whom he does not regularly reject) is going to be on NPR's All Things Considered tomorrow talking about I Am Legend.



Re: But what if there's bears?

Aw, hee! :^D I'm posting that one to the animal_bears community. Thanks for sharing it!

Because you know, They Must Need Bears.

Soon all the polar bears will have to move to DC and eat politicians.
Item # 2 is SO straight from a fanfic setup.

"What must we do to prove that we're gay? Felate each other in the mess hall?"
It doesn't count if you're only doing it to get out of KP.
LOL, but at what point *must* they admit that you're gay? What about just sitting around and making out in the rec room?
Mr. Bird at the 9:30 Club: brown suit, white dress shirt, mismatched striped socks. Shoes neatly tucked away back by the amplifiers.

Why can't I dress for work like that?
Sweetie, you do. Except the shoes off part, and I bet they last exactly until your feet are tucked under your desk, don't they?

Is Mr. Bird one of the mismatched sock brigade, too? Bless you, Mr. Bird: soon we will be a movement. Matching socks are a tool of the man. (Mr. Gubler up there in the icon is One Of Us, also.)
I love Andrew Bird's music! He's really cute, too!

Unfortunately, lace-ups are the only things that fit. Loafers would be so much easier for the kicking-off...

The shoes over by the amps were very nice brown dress oxfords. Wonder if he's got skinny feet, too?
I scorched my palm on the painted wood. has better rhythm.
Not to my ear.
You tagged it "Wastelands." Silly editor.

How about World Famous Editoring? That would be a good tag.
There's a bunchamo stuff on Youtube. I highly recommend "Imitosis."
Hmm. Funny thing about Andrew Bird. Just on Wednesday, one of the Seniors in my Advanced Screenwriting class mentioned him, and was utterly disappointed that none of of us knew who he was.

And then I come here not two days later and find him on my F-list.

The Universe. It's telling me something.
Hee. And now you do!

Tightening sentences vs changing connotation or meaning--ignore if this isn't appropriate

*Edited because somehow the paragraphs got switched when I first posted the comment! Thank goodness for paid accounts.*

Please don't get angry with me, as I am serious about asking this general craft question. I'm wondering whether anyone else catches the different shades of meaning when you make the change from what you said was a flabby sentence to a tighter one. The current example was:
[I scorched my palm on the painted wood.] ==> [Painted wood scorched my palm.]

It bothers me to think that a writer should just go through a manuscript and change every sentence of pattern A to one of pattern B as part of editing--perhaps that's not what you're saying? Maybe I'm the one in the wrong here--I'm not trying to challenge anyone or say I'm an expert--but to me, there's a complete change of focus. "I" in the first sentence is acting, and we anticipate a feeling of pain or the snatching back of the hand. In the second sentence, the wood is the focus, and we expect a follow-up sentence that's about the thing made of wood. Perhaps that is why you were changing the original sentence, but if not, I would ask why it's generally thought that the shorter sentence is always (or mostly always) better.

I might even have come up with a different phrasing entirely. "The painted wood of the X scorched my palm, and I snatched it away." "Without thinking, I leaned on the X, and the painted wood scorched my palm." I would never think to condense either of these down to "Painted wood scorched my palm." I generally don't like to omit the article, either, but that's another personal-preference rant.

In your previous post, you mentioned changing In a previous post, you used the example of: [He would not let the rest of the team know his palms were greased with sweat.]==> [His palms were greased with sweat.]==>[Sweat greased his palms.] The second transformation is like the one I just talked about, but to go from "He would not let the rest of the team know. . . ." changes the focus differently. If it's important that he is hiding his nervousness from the team, that should stay in, perhaps? Or am I too old-school and doddering? To me, it's more interesting to know that he's determined not to let them see him sweat. "Never let 'em see you sweat, baby!"

I also thought that "greased with sweat" was kind of odd. Slick with sweat could be considered a cliche, though. Or slippery with sweat. (There's your sign: alliteration!) But it does bring to mind shaking hands with a nervous mechanic. *WINK*

I hope I haven't overstepped my bounds by asking this. Ghod(s) know(s) I've alienated a sufficient number of people already by questioning such matters of craft that seem to be assumed to be the Way To Do It, but that's not my intention. I'm just wondering whether you can expound on this a bit. You come up with very good explanations for craft things.

*slipping quietly away*

Edited at 2007-12-15 03:29 am (UTC)

Re: Tightening sentences vs changing connotation or meaning--ignore if this isn't appropriate

Nope, I'm not saying that every sentence of any pattern should be changed to a sentence of a different pattern. Right tool for the right job, what? And prosody is controlled, among other things, by variation in the length and construction of sentences. Like this.

"greased" is a metaphor, in that case. Strong verbs bring a bunch of implications. Vivid, specific, and precise is almost always better than cliche and general. (I would say "always" except I don't believe in absolutes and I can see cases in which a generality might be needed for a special effect.)

In case A ("Sweat greased his hands,") and in case B, ("Painted wood scorched my palm,") what I'm doing in both cases is using more direct language. In each case, the POV character is receiving the action rather than initiating it. And it's more direct--there's less scaffolding involved--to write it that way.

All the crap about hiding his nervousness from his team-members is the sort of thing that should be apparent from context, rather than having to be explicitly (and eyerollingly) spelled out as if for a fifth-grade class. A classic example of show, don't tell. If I tell you he's nervous and hiding it, you don't feel it. If I tell you, "Sweat greased his palms. He wiped them surreptitiously on his corduroys." or even just "Surreptitiously, he scrubbed sweaty palms on his corduroys," then if you don't know he's hiding nervousness you probably weren't paying attention. *g*

You should always question received wisdom, because the idea is to figure out **why** something works or doesn't work, not to do it by rote. And no solution works in every case.


Otherwise we'd only need hammers in our tool boxes, and no other tools.

Re: Tightening sentences vs changing connotation or meaning--ignore if this isn't appropriate

There *is* a difference in connotation. One of the unspoken bits I assume in a case like this is that it was an acceptable one, or that the change actually led to better connotations as well as phraseology.

This one caught my eye in particular because, a few years ago, I had an injury to my hand (not from scorching painted wood), which is when I discovered that apparently virtually everyone in the whole damned world, inquiring in a meant-to-be-casual-and-friendly-way about a wad of bandages on someone's hand, says - almost without fail - "What did you do to your hand?"

To which I replied irritably, "*I* didn't do anything! A psychotic sixteen-year-old in juvenile detention slammed a door on my hand and amputated the tip of my thumb."

After I'd had surgery, I was supposed to keep the area as dry as possible so that the skin around the wound didn't get macerated. As an herbalist and inveterate meddler, I took m6y mission seriously and went above and beyond the expectations of my doctors, using salves and radiant heat and a variety of other methods to take care of it. And that is how I discovered that when it's a matter of medical personnel reviewing a recovery process, they said - again, almost without exception - "This is healing up well!"

I baffled a lot of them by getting grouchy about the erroneous ascription of agency or absence thereof.

Because of this, I am (punchily) imagining Bear's character saying, "*I* didn't burn my palm! It's not *my* fault the wood turned out to be scorching!"

Re: Tightening sentences vs changing connotation or meaning--ignore if this isn't appropriate


There's a scene in that show I like where a secondary character has been horribly decoyed into a booby trap, and been badly injured. And she says, and I quote, "Can somebody help me? I cut myself."

The *agency* in that line of dialogue is just fabulous. Because of course she didn't cut herself. Somebody else trapped her into getting cut.

But she still takes responsibility for it. And it reveals a ton about the character.

That's some good writing there.

Re: Tightening sentences vs changing connotation or meaning--ignore if this isn't appropriate

Oh, that's lovely. Yes.
Gay people ... openly gay about being gay and serving on active duty?
Get outta here!

"Not in my Navy!"


There comes a time when people of goodwill must stand up in the face of injustice. In the case of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," that moment of truth is now.

The passage of 10 years has shown that the military policy is a failure on its own terms, an insult to the professionalism of the U.S. military and an affront to our Constitution. National security, our national reputation and our shared national values all demand that we reconsider whether this blight on our nation's integrity serves our best interests.
- Aaron Belkin, Tobias Barrington Wolff; Sunday, November 30, 2003 San Fransisco Chronicle

Excellent Article on Active Duty Gay Retention Here...


*discovers the underneath of the couch is just packed full of nasty queer people*

*The closet, too*

...well, I guess that was predictable.

Don't ask don't tell.

There are sound operational reasons for this.

If the military enforced it, the three fields that would be decimated (at least in the 1990's Army that I saw) were:

Medics (both genders)
Female MPs
Transportation Officers (both genders)
Male Finance and Personnel
Female Pilots and Mechanics

Guess who we need in Iraq/Afghanistan. Most of these are shortage MOS's (Military Occupational Specialties) in the best of times.

I can tell you in order to try and get me more confortable, I had my platoons starting to invite "my roommate" out for unofficial unit events. At the end of the day, they felt I was taking care of them and they didn't care if I was sleeping with goats and dancing naked in the snow. I was their LT and if it took overlooking my lover to buy me a beer, I had some very myopic in a good way troops.

A great book, although out of date, is Coming Out Under Fire. Predates DADT but the same rules applied then.

Re: Don't ask don't tell.

It's the way it goes. Institutionally enforced hypocrisy....
Life lesson: generally, people only quote the good bits.