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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Things that are boring in real life are almost never interesting in fiction.

  • stupid relationship fights.
  • people who are only interested in one thing (unless they are gloriously obsessive; then they can be fun).
  • people who are light-sucking vortexes of me-centric angst
  • drama consisting entirely of two or more people who will not talk to each other
  • manufactured drama of any sort, really
  • egregious bouts of smoochy face when one is not one's own self one of the smoochers

I blame stillsostrange for the list. Add your own.


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Hee. Best list ever.
drama consisting entirely of two or more people who will not talk to each other

Sooo... the latter half of nearly any romantic comedy and a sizable percentage of all sitcoms?
Why does that sound like all of the student fiction I had to read in creative writing classes in college?
Because it is like all of the student fiction you read in creative writing classes in college?
Now I'm thinking of the bit in Witches Abroad, right before the farmhouse falls out of the sky, when Magrat and Granny Aren't Talking To Each Other. I think it's marvelous, but there are exceptions to everything.

Other things that are boring in life and art:

- People who can't say what they're thinking clearly enough for anyone to understand them

- The same thing happening over and over and over.... The key here is that in literature, doesn't matter what it is. I read a (very bad) book in which someone was raped repeatedly, and damned if I didn't start to get bored after a while. I felt bad about it, but there it was.

- People rebelling when there's no real opposition.

- People taking themselves to seriously (larger set containing pretty much the entire set of manufactured drama). Books taking people who take themselves too seriously seriously are deadly.

- Apathy.
No, characters Not Talking To Each Other for a reason is not the same as conflict that only exists because Bob and Judy haven't bothered to find out they actually agree, because the fucking author can't imagine that any Right Thinking Person would Think Any Differently, so they must Agree, so the conflict has to be that They Are Misguided.
And the forty pages of packing the hats?
Corporate office turf wars. Always petty, always non-productive. (Found myself in the middle of one today, sigh.

Office turf wars, done right, are the very meat and blood of black comedy. We love 'em, we does, and we is milking 'em for an entire series of novels.

Of course, they need a little something extra to make the stakes worth paying attention to -- a little tension. Me, I chose Cthulhu.
Rude people.

Contrary to what some authors seem to think, when people are rude to me, I don't wonder what hideous trauma they might have suffered from to make them so unhappy, and resolve to make their lives better. I just try to avoid them.
* Misunderstood adolescents. Yes, you're misunderstood. You're supposed to be, it's in the fine print.

* Daft bints (of whatever gender) who wring their hands and wait to be rescued.

* Lyrical turns of phrase to describe one's clothing. Put on the damn dress and go to the damn ball, thanks awfully.

* Paragraph long chunks of Defense Department manuals. I don't care how much torque it's got, just fire the damn thing up already.

* Bad Guys with no motivation. I'll buy that he's the Anti-Christ crossed with a telephone cold-call salesman, but why?

Never mind me, I'm grumpy because I can't find the book I wanted to re-read and had to settle for something new and not very good off the loaner rack at the gym.

You seem to have described most of the Great Novels.
Like magic, isn't it?
- Perfect people who never make mistakes. (Well, they would be boring in real life, if there were any.)

- Ditto bits of technology. If it always works, it's not only boring, but I never met the beast.

- People who stand around talking about a problem forever, apparently in hopes that it, too, will get bored and go away.

- Static views. Even the Grand Canyon can only be stared at in worshipful awe for so long before you start wondering whether it does tricks.

- People who always follow the rules.

- Monologuers.

- Nitpickers.

- Finger-pointers.
My hammer always works exactly like it is supposed to. I sometimes screw up with it, but the hammer itself is reliable. It may eventually wear out, though I would give odds that I will wear out before it does. It is possible to make a reliable piece of technology. It is also possible to make technology with easily identifiable failure modes so that the person using it knows it is going to stop working and hopefully can minimize its impact (that is another piece of proper design for any critical piece of technology. It isn't failure proof, but it should fail in ways that an attentitive user can forsee and forstall.

(I would have said my shovel always works, but it started to die this spring so it won't always work, but when it breaks, it won't come as a suprise and I won't start any time critical task that uses a shovel until I have replaced it.)

For a lot of well designed technology, as long as you don't put it way beyond the situations it was designed for and you maintain it, it is going to be close enough to 100 percent reliable minus user error. I'd hold up the TI 8X series of calculators as examples. As long as you replace the batteries when the screen starts to fade (which is an indicator that you have no more than 10-20 more hourse of use before the batteries die) and you don't do something silly like drop it in the toilet, they will do what they were designed to do within the dual constraints of how well you know how to use them and is the thing you want them to do the sort of thing that a calculator is good at. (And depending on which TI 8x you have, that is a variable list of things. I miss my 89. Oh yeah, don't leave it under the seat in a busy lecture hall. But that falls under user error.)

Hee, the Grand Canyon does do tricks. You just have to be an acceleration buff. There is something neat about watching something fall from somewhere very very high.
I recognize myself in 2 and 3.
The day-to-day realities of most jobs. I can spin out dozens of amusing Stupid Student/Stupid Faculty/Stupid Librarian stories at the drop of a return button, but most of my job consists of answering the same dozen questions, all simple, again and again and again.

And whether it's about pilots or soldiers or system adminstrators, 10% of the job will be filled with terror, and so make (potentially) for good fiction, but the other 90% will be filled with boredom.
- one I learned from reading a Robert Jordan book, listening to long drawn out descriptions of people doing laundry
I quit reading a friend's novel when she even described with what, and how, her protag brushed her teeth.

Descriptions of packing, and getting to the airport, and the flight, and arrival, and getting a cab, and the drive to the hotel, and checking in, and unpacking, and brushing teeth.

Love, C.
Extended declarations of love.
I think you may get a pass on this one (as on many others) if your prose can be described as exquisitely lovely, hilarious, or both.
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