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bear by san

March 2017



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criminal minds pentiss and reid back

this summer i might have drowned. but i held my breath & i kicked my feet & i moved my arms around.

Words to live by, that. It's amazing how much one can actually accomplish by applying that as a metaphor for life.

So yesterday I did not blog my progress, for various reasons that mostly amount to absolutely everything taking longer than it needed to. But I got about three pages on the replacement story, and my plan for today is to get even more.

I also did a bunch of research on north African dinosaurs. Which led inevitably, and with a kind of terrible logic, to watching Jurassic Park III so I could make fun of it on twitter. (I also watched Agent Carter and surprised myself by quite liking the first half, which was stylish and had great dialogue. I only half-engaged with the second half, though--somehow it lost tension for me, which may have had more to do with losing the plot when I went to forage for cheese and crackers than any failing of the show.)

I seem to have a mild bug, so I have an excuse to curl up with the dog and not do much else but write. And convert some leftovers into pot pie for dinner.

I did have an interesting conversation with fadethecat earlier this week regarding writing plot, which I wanted to write down for posterity.

I was arguing that plot is the easy part, because plot is a machine. (Okay, #NotAllPlots, but three act structure is pretty much a thing where you can put a quarter in the slot and get a plot out the end, once you know how to turn the cranks.)

Basically, the most common forms of working with plot are a science. The hard part is the parts of story that are arts--character development, theme, emotional resonance--the things that work in more mysterious ways. The things that are emergent properties of other things, basically.

But plot, and to an extent language--in the sense of rhetoric--are pretty well defined and well discussed in various places. One still must practice, of course, but there's not a lot of mystery in how they work.

The tricky bit is that some of us come in with a set of skills in one of the more mysterious aspects--so characterization, say, is easy for us. But at some point, we're probably going to have to up our game on that front too. And because it's been instinctive up to that point, we have a hell of a time learning how to learn.

Tea yesterday: Caribbean blue lady
Teacup yesterday: Dragonfly tea bowl


My core skill seems to be voice, which is all very well and good, but not a lot of use for plotting, at which I am poor and with which I struggle. It's partly that I'm a writer-into-darkness. I can't pre-plan too much or the book dies on me. It's partly that I'm vague, though.

I deal with the into-darkness thing by positional plotting. I set stuff up, and then I try to remember to use it later. Sometimes I do outline, though, when I am stuck or doing something complicated.
But... if it were science I would understand it.

And I don't, despite at least one lecture from you and all sorts of other attempts. This is the one aspect of writing fiction that would seem to be most suited to my existing skills, and it gives me fits.

Brains are weird.
Yeah. I dunno. Maybe it's better to say that it's a machine.

I couldn't figure out how to make it work properly for years, mind you. But once it clicked...
I couldn't figure out how to make it work properly for years, mind you.

Oh thank you. I feel slightly less incompetent. I understand the theory, I think, but making it work?

Tea & Teacup Envy

I'm slowly stepping back into the world of LJ and had to pipe in here that I am experiencing tea and teacup envy when reading your posts. I hope you're HAPPY.
I found the name for the thing I am struggling with currently while waiting for the T the other day, and that name is "marrying plot to theme".

I thought for a while that I am struggling with plotting, but I can put a coin in and turn the crank just fine when pressed, I just hate every moment of the process, and the results often exemplify themes I find distasteful because tropic gravity. And perhaps that needs be pushed through anyway, but my life is currently full of more fulfilling things, and isn't that a wonder itself. I don't need to be a writer, as some people seem to, it's just one of the things I do. So I choose to look for a less painful way where the results say what I want them to say.

The stories of my heart are the stories around big ideas, and figuring out what plots best explore those idea is a question which has me rending my garments, but at least it has a name now.
Does it help if I say that theme is an emergent property of the tension between internal and external conflict?
Oh. Oh! Uh. Hmm. *looks thoughtful*

No wonder Die Hard 2 is less satisfying than Die Hard -- no internal conflict.

Ask me again in six months. And thanks. :-)