it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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Writing: Need versus Need.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice; pull down your pants and slide on the ice!" --Sidney Freedman

[00:07] matociquala: Yeah.
[00:07] matociquala: Make him read (Tim Pratt's) harpy story.
[00:07] cpolk: harpy story.
[00:07] matociquala: and then explain why in your estimation the protag is a stupid sellout bitch
[00:07] cpolk: and if he doesn't get that it really is a harpy?
[00:07] matociquala: and she's doomed herself to misery *g*
[00:07] cpolk: yes.
[00:08] cpolk: dooooooomed.
[00:08] cpolk: that is not a happy ending.
[00:08] matociquala: Some people think it is.
[00:08] matociquala: That's why it's a good story.
[00:08] cpolk: they're dumb.
[00:08] matociquala: Nah, not dumb.
[00:08] matociquala: Just have different priorities.
[00:08] cpolk: well, they'd never have a harpy as a roommate.
[00:09] matociquala: But it's a good story because Tim can make that work.
[00:09] matociquala: It's a happy little love story for thems that want that, and for us it's a tragedy.
[00:09] cpolk: but he wrote it for us.
[00:09] matociquala: And yeah. I'd rather have the harpy. *g*
[00:09] cpolk: *all stubborn*
[00:09] matociquala: Heeeee
[00:09] matociquala: I dunno. I dunno what Tim thinks.
[00:10] matociquala: I talked to him about it a little, and I get the feeling he thought it was a story about sacrifice.
[00:10] cpolk: mm.
[00:10] matociquala: It's Peter Pan.
[00:10] cpolk: yeah, see, i didn't dig that either.
[00:10] matociquala: It's why I love Peter Pan, and hate almost all the adaptations.
[00:10] matociquala: have you read the book?
[00:10] cpolk: and I'm more about Lucy than about Susan.
[00:10] matociquala: Or seen the most recent movie?
[00:11] katallen: (on reflection I think it can also be a story about leaving an abusive relationship for some)
[00:11] cpolk: haven't.
[00:11] matociquala: Yeah, me too. Lucy, not Susan. And Dorothy stays in Oz.
[00:11] cpolk: I saw the Disney animation
[00:11] cpolk: and hook.
[00:11] matociquala: Okay, Disney fucks it up.
[00:11] matociquala: And so does hook.
[00:11] cpolk: yeah, it's like in number of the beast
[00:11] matociquala: They Don't Get It
[00:11] cpolk: when they get to oz
[00:11] cpolk: and deja can't have her baby because she's there.
[00:12] matociquala: Because nothing changes in Oz.
[00:12] cpolk: nothing.
[00:12] matociquala: But Peter Pan--Neverland is not like Oz.
[00:12] matociquala: What Peter pan is about, is opportunity cost.
[00:12] cpolk: opportunity cost.
[00:13] cpolk: sounds like accounting.
[00:13] matociquala: Economics. *g*
[00:13] matociquala: Wendy can have Peter or she can have her family and her future.
[00:13] matociquala: She can be a Lost Boy's mother and a pirate's enemy or she can be a real mother.
[00:13] matociquala: And she chooses to be a real mother and regrets that choice forever.
[00:13] matociquala: And Peter--
[00:13] matociquala: Peter can have Wendy or he can have freedom.
[00:14] matociquala: And this is the part all the adaptations miss.
[00:14] cpolk: nodnod
[00:14] matociquala: Peter chooses freedom--and regrets that choice forever.
[00:14] matociquala: You see?
[00:14] cpolk: yes.
[00:14] matociquala: Both are valid choices.
[00:14] matociquala: but you cannot have both.
[00:15] matociquala: And the simple socially acceptable tame answer is that wendy's choice is the 'right' choice.
[00:15] matociquala: But that's not what Barrie gave us, and that's why Peter Pan is literature. *g*
[00:15] katallen: the road not taken
[00:16] matociquala: 'cause he doesn't have answers. he has questions.
[00:16] matociquala: Disney has answers.
[00:16] matociquala: Fuck Disney.
[00:16] katallen: ugh
[00:16] cpolk: i was actually quite surprised at brother bear.
[00:16] cpolk: wolf made me watch it.
[00:16] matociquala: oh?
[00:16] cpolk: and i was surprised at it.
[00:16] matociquala: owcome?
[00:17] cpolk: well, all the death, first of all.
[00:17] cpolk: and all the REVENGE!
[00:17] cpolk: and then some "bears are cute!"
[00:17] matociquala: Hah!
[00:17] cpolk: and then I had my stomach drop into my shoes when I realized what must have happened, and they didn't flinch from that
[00:17] matociquala: Disney flicks have lots of killing.
[00:18] cpolk: though I figured it out a few minutes before it was revealed.
[00:18] matociquala: I haven't seen it, though.
[00:18] cpolk: and then I realized that there was the right choice, and the choice that should be taken.
[00:18] matociquala: Oh. Did you notice the people who liked the ending of Harpy were the same ones who got so mad at me over Elaine?
[00:18] cpolk: and he took the choice that should be taken, though they syrupifed it.
[00:19] cpolk: yes, i did notice that.
[00:19] cpolk: and they were very - they tried to convince me that my take on it was wrong
[00:19] cpolk: that i shouldn't think that way.
[00:19] matociquala: Elaine stayed with the harpy.
[00:19] matociquala: And it made her a monster.
[00:20] matociquala: And here's the thing they missed--
[00:20] matociquala: Whiskey made the opposite choice, and so did Keith--
[00:20] matociquala: And so did the Mebd.
[00:20] matociquala: They all walked out of legend and did the human thing.
[00:21] matociquala: (And this is why I will always be a niche author, and not a best-seller.)
[00:21] matociquala: (The real world is shit scared of the harpy, and likes to pretend she's not ever a valid choice)
[00:22] cpolk: hee.
[00:22] katallen: or possibly the real world is shit scared of choices
[00:22] matociquala: Or making the wrong choice?
[00:22] katallen: and goes with what the crowd says they should
[00:22] matociquala: I was so mad at that girl for leaving the harpy.
[00:22] matociquala: furious.
[00:23] matociquala: I felt betrayed.
[00:23] katallen: because then no one can say they were wrong
[00:23] cpolk: i couldn't believe that she left the harpy.
[00:23] matociquala: As mad as people were at Elaine.
[00:23] cpolk: i couldn't BELIEVE it.
[00:23] matociquala: And that made me realize something--
[00:23] cpolk: that crazy bitch had the nerve to say that it was WRONG for her not to need her.
[00:23] matociquala: That's why those stories that get the high/low reviews sell.
[00:23] cpolk: because they actually *do* something?
[00:24] matociquala: I'll sell B&I because Somebody Hated It.
[00:24] matociquala: And Tim sold the Harpy because we hated it.
[00:24] katallen: heh
[00:24] matociquala: Because they're *true*
[00:24] matociquala: Tim's right.
[00:24] matociquala: Tim's fucking right.
[00:24] matociquala: Leave the harpy, marry the girl, live happily ever after...
[00:24] cpolk: well i hated it.
[00:25] cpolk: but I would have bought it.
[00:25] cpolk: hee
[00:25] matociquala: Take that feather out at two AM and touch it and wonder what the hell you did wrong.
[00:25] matociquala: that's life.
[00:25] katallen: ::kicks::
[00:26] matociquala: And we hated it, Chelsea, because we would have made the other choice, and that fucking story is our fucking feather.
[00:26] cpolk: yes.
[00:26] matociquala: And people hate B&I because B&I is their feather.
[00:27] matociquala: It's the story that says there's another way to do things that marrying the man and being the human being he needs you to be.
[00:27] matociquala: It's not any better. But it's not any worse.
[00:27] cpolk: ayuh.
[00:27] matociquala: Barbara Hambly pulled it off in Dragonsbane, too.
[00:28] matociquala: I would have gone with Morkeleb.
[00:28] matociquala: I know it.
[00:28] matociquala: I would have gone, and I would have regretted it.
[00:28] matociquala: Somebody else would have stayed and regretted it, like Jenny. *g*
[00:29] cpolk: hee!
[00:29] matociquala: Isn't that a great magic trick?
[00:29] matociquala: It looks so complicated--
[00:29] matociquala: --and then you figure out how the writer does it--
[00:29] matociquala: and it's a rabbit and an elastic and a bit of string.
[00:32] katallen: it's an extension of story = choice
[00:32] matociquala: and want vs. need
[00:32] matociquala: It's...
[00:32] matociquala: fuck.
[00:32] matociquala: it's need vs. need, isn't it?
[00:32] katallen: we put choices into stories because they help stories be better
[00:32] katallen: but yeah, this is the further on
[00:32] katallen: need v need
[00:33] matociquala: Oh, I am so blogging this.
[00:33] cpolk: it's need vs. need.
[00:33] cpolk: and you can't get everything that you want.
[00:33] cpolk: or need.
[00:33] matociquala: Yes.
[00:33] cpolk: and that's just life.
[00:33] matociquala: Yes.
[00:33] cpolk: take the need that you need more, and regret the need you gave up.
[00:33] matociquala: Guys, can I just cut and paste this IM session to my lj?
[00:34] katallen: it kind of turns the conflict back and focuses it on the choice
[00:34] matociquala: Names edited to protect the guilty?
[00:34] katallen: but in a different way
[00:34] katallen: eh... I hardly say anything so, for sure
[00:34] matociquala: *g*
[00:34] matociquala: Chelsea, yeah, I think exactly.
[00:34] katallen: bugger, everything written is about a variation on a few tricks
[00:34] matociquala: Opportunity cost.
[00:35] katallen: just like magic
[00:35] matociquala: Kat, it so is.
[00:35] matociquala: how freaked out is that?
[00:35] matociquala: This is so damned simple.
[00:35] cpolk: it is so damned simple.
[00:35] matociquala: How come I never saw this before?
[00:35] cpolk: you weren't focused on it?
[00:35] matociquala: I wasn't trying to explain Peter Pan to a couple of writers.
[00:36] matociquala: It's like the Damon Knight thing--
[00:36] katallen: because it isn't until you know how to do one trick well that you can see how the next one is done
[00:36] cpolk: hmm.
[00:36] matociquala: Stories have a beginning, a middle and an ending. Some stories have a resolution instead of an ending--but you can't do that yet.
[00:37] matociquala: This the "that" you "can't do yet."
[00:37] matociquala: Or one of them.
[00:37] cpolk: yeah, there are things that I understand now that there is no way I could have understood if I had been told them in 2000.
[00:37] matociquala: Wow.
[00:37] katallen: I was saying pretty much the same to Kelly earlier... you have to be ready
[00:37] matociquala: you were. I remember.
[00:38] katallen: heel... would we have got it if we hadn't all read the Harpy story?
[00:38] matociquala: But, gah.
[00:38] matociquala: It's... fuck me.
[00:38] matociquala: Casablanca is a need v. need story.
[00:38] matociquala: Rick needs Ilsa.
[00:38] matociquala: But he also needs to be Rick again, and not a shadow of Rick.
[00:39] matociquala: The Last Unicorn.
[00:39] katallen: ::grins:: path not taken...
[00:39] matociquala: Schmendrick needs his magic, and the unicorn needs to save her people, and both of them need love--
[00:39] katallen: whichever you take, you will always know there was another
[00:39] matociquala: --but not as much.
[00:39] matociquala: Yeah.
[00:39] matociquala: God.
[00:39] matociquala: That's why they make me cry.
[00:40] matociquala: Because I want both, dammit.
[00:40] matociquala: I want the harpy and I want the girl.
[00:41] matociquala: It's the Gordon Lightfoot ending.
[00:41] katallen: and I wonder if Somebody who didn't like B&I also wants both, but from the other side
[00:41] matociquala: Yes, of course.
[00:41] matociquala: Or she wouldn't have been mad at Elaine.
[00:42] katallen: I'm swearing too much
[00:42] matociquala: Hambly has it right.
[00:42] katallen: but it's cool and I want to see how to make it work
[00:43] matociquala: I want the dragon, and I want the man and the boys and the mended chair.
[00:43] matociquala: and dragons and mended chairs and dorky, aging human men are not compatible.
[00:44] cpolk: nay.
[00:44] katallen: so what if you set up two needs against each other... two needs which aren't the same and appeal to different groups
[00:44] matociquala: Yes.
[00:44] matociquala: You get the story Charlie talks about.
[00:44] katallen: how would you pick which to have win?
[00:44] matociquala: The one people hate and people love.
[00:44] matociquala: Kat, I think you pick the one you root for as a human being.
[00:44] katallen: because I'm thinking about a couple of stories which I think tried it and failed
[00:45] matociquala: I have to choose the harpy.
[00:45] matociquala: Somebody else has to choose the girl.
[00:45] katallen: Katherine Kerr
[00:45] matociquala: I am false to myself if I choose the girl, and if I'm lying, the story will know it.
[00:46] katallen: three books setting up a choice between the girl having the guy and the girl having the magic
[00:46] matociquala: and?
[00:46] katallen: and when she chose the magic... I hated it
[00:46] matociquala: What about when you hate it and know it's right?
[00:47] matociquala: I'm thinking of "Unforgiven."
[00:47] matociquala: God, I hated it. I hated what Bill Muny chose.
[00:47] katallen: I mean, hate with a 'waste of my time reading that' hate
[00:47] matociquala: And I knew it was right.
[00:47] matociquala: Because he was a man who would choose that.
[00:47] katallen: and damn, but yes, she made the choice artificial
[00:47] matociquala: Ahhhhhhh!
[00:47] matociquala: There.
[00:48] matociquala: So the choice has to be honest?
[00:48] katallen: yup
[00:48] katallen: you have to believe the two are incompatible
[00:48] cpolk: yes.
[00:48] katallen: so you can't have a guy who'll do anything for you
[00:48] matociquala: So when Schmendrick suddenly steps up and becomes the protag of The Last Unicorn
[00:48] cpolk: that was something that bugged the shit out of me about summon the keeper.
[00:49] matociquala: And he has to choose---
[00:49] cpolk: the you can have this or you can have this was artificial.
[00:49] matociquala: And boy has he got a complicated choice--
[00:49] matociquala: lessee.
[00:49] matociquala: He can have unicorns in the world
[00:49] matociquala: And a woman he kind of likes
[00:49] katallen: it's people trying to pull off the choice ending... but not knowing the trick
[00:50] matociquala: Or he can have the woman he loves, who doesn't belong to him, or anyone
[00:50] matociquala: and he can not have unicorns....
[00:50] katallen: (they know the magician does this this and this... but they don't know why... they just do what they saw him do)
[00:50] matociquala: and if he takes the first choice, he puts Althea at tremendous risk...
[00:51] matociquala: ...and puts his fate and the fate of the unicorns in her hands...
[00:51] matociquala: ...and he knows she can be weak...
[00:51] matociquala: ...but does he trust her?
[00:51] matociquala: Anyway?
[00:51] matociquala: In spite of that?
[00:51] matociquala: Fuck.
[00:51] matociquala: So he chooses, and then she chooses...
[00:51] katallen: that's even going one further maybe
[00:51] katallen: ::nods::
[00:51] matociquala: and they both sacrifice...
[00:52] matociquala: and--
[00:52] cpolk: ouch.
[00:52] matociquala: --he gets this other, totally unsuspected reward.
[00:52] matociquala: Because he becomes the person he's always fought to be.
[00:52] matociquala: He's Schmendrick the Magician now.
[00:52] matociquala: the Magician
[00:53] matociquala: ...and yet, he loses the unicorn.
[00:53] cpolk: the magician!
[00:54] matociquala: Yeah, ouch.
[00:54] matociquala: and wow.
[00:54] katallen: and we are another level on
[00:55] matociquala: yeah.
[00:55] katallen: bugger... this may not help me make a story that would do that
[00:56] katallen: but I know a bit of how not to
[00:56] matociquala: It's fucking beautiful, though.
[00:56] cpolk: this is why i can't write rapture.
[00:56] cpolk: or at least, why I couldn't.
[00:56] matociquala: Because you have two needs
[00:56] matociquala: ?
[00:56] cpolk: what i set up is such an awful choice, that it's a kick in the ass either way
[00:56] cpolk: and I was afraid of that.
[00:56] katallen: ::grins:: fear not
[00:56] cpolk: because she can get off the planet
[00:56] matociquala: Yeah.
[00:56] cpolk: or stay.
[00:57] katallen: because as long as it's a real choice
[00:57] matociquala: You know all those stories we reject because of flat endings or because the risk isn't enough?
[00:57] katallen: ::nods::
[00:57] matociquala: why-do-i-care rejects?
[00:58] katallen: they're not even setting up the zero level
[00:58] matociquala: (Marlowe is staring at me and yawning)
[00:58] katallen: we need to get Chelsea in here earlier
[00:58] katallen: ::grins::
[00:58] matociquala: Heee.
[00:58] katallen: she's a catalyst

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