April 14th, 2004

bear by san

Wasn't there supposed to be a Tuesday in this week?

Damn, I just had it here a minute ago.

I'm a little sore this morning; the boy and I walked the 5.8 mile loop and I also did 45 minutes of yoga. But I feel very bouncy and good. I'm starting to get my cardio fitness and some flexibility back.

I had an interesting realization re: grounding and telling detail yesterday. It has to do with tightness of POV, as well--and it's triggered by working on some writing that's about two years old now.

At some point in the last two years I've learned how to immerse myself in a character's experience, how to--put him on like a skin and permit him to notice things as they happen to him. Two years ago, I would have tried to ground the reader in the pizza and beer the guy was eating--and, honestly, I wasn't doing all that badly. But reading it now, it's obvious what the difference is.

Two years ago, that pizza and beer would have been, in my head--the writer's head--just pizza and beer. Somewhere in there I've developed the ability to not only work those little details into the narrative so that there's no pause around them, if that makes any sense--to just permit the character to notice them subliminally, the way you would in real life notice that there's a chip on the rim of your coffee mug or that the E key on your keyboard sticks--but also to see this particular piece of pizza that's in this particular character's hand at the moment he's experiencing the story, and see how this piece of pizza is unique and unlike every other piece of pizza in the world.

In other words, I've somehow managed to learn to see things as specifics instead of as categories. And that different kind of vision shows up in my writing, and makes it better.

And--here's the interesting thing--I can't go back and put it into the old stuff. It's not just a matter of adding telling details and setting. It's a whole different way of... parsing and expressing. It's not transferrable.

The potentially useful-to-others bit of this self-absorbed mumbling is this:

I figured out today that the way I can pull off this trick is by, more or less, living in the skin of the character while I'm writing him. Method writing, as it were. Which has the added benefits of automatically providing a tighter POV and less telling/exposition and more incluing and inpositioning (explanations of those terms are available in the memories section--the first one is papersky's, and the second is buymeaclue and tanaise's term for a thing I noticed about immersive writing some time last year.)

So, you know.

Hope that helps somebody, and if it doesn't, at least I have it written down now so I don't forget it.
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bear by san

Wacky Neopro Answers to all your publishing questions, part the whatever part this is.

An email from a friend of a friend arrived today, asking in part--"Congratulations on your impending first novel-Hammered's an awesome title... from what I understand Hammered is the opening salvo in a series, and that you sold not one but three books to Bantam. I'm intensely curious about the dynamics of selling sci-fi series to publishers/agents, as that's precisely what I'm about to start trying to do."

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Yours for transparency in publishing,

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