Saturday, August 25, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Your Score: Modern, Cool Nerd
65 % Nerd, 56% Geek, 30% Dork
For The Record:
A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.
Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!
Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Love & Sexuality
Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST
|Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test|
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Pretty much everything we write comes down to three tools: narrative, dialogue, description.
Narrative: straightforward, what's happening now writing.
Dialogue: characters, you know, talking.
Description: those good old sense impressions.
For me, the goal is lean, evocative storytelling. I have a rule of thumb:
Talking beats telling.
Describing beats talking.
It's an idea cribbed from screenwriting and comics, but an effective tool nonetheless. I'm sitting in my recliner with laptop (or lately, pen and paper) in hand. I know that John and Martha are about to come together, and they ain't none too fond of each other.
I have to make a choice about how to tell it.
Narrative is one heck of a workhorse. Nothing moves characters from A to B faster than just telling the reader they moved from A to B. Careful about overusing the narrative, though. Like an all-fiber diet, nothing moves faster and is less interesting:
John looked up as Martha came into the room. John felt disgusted. Martha wanted to claw his eyes out.
A lot of writers love dialogue. I'm certainly a big fan of the stuff. It breaks up those dense paragraphs on the page, lends a bit of personality to those characters and gives Gentle Reader a sense of motion:
"Your drinking sickens me," John said.
"The nerve. I've half a mind to claw your eyes out."
"I'd like to see you try..."
Like I said, zips right along. And if you're not doing this in a blog post, great be had when your characters reveal their feelings gradually.
Description is a powerful, subtle, often underrated tool. Comics and movies use it all the time, in those wordless passages where looks are exchanged, fireplaces or crashing waves shown, etc.
The tick-tick-tick of high heels grew louder in the hall, stopped with a scrape of shoe leather on polished wood. The twin scents of vodka and cheap perfume hit his nostrils, and John's upper lip curled away from his teeth.
Martha stood in the doorway, swaying slightly on her heels. Her hands were curled into claws at her sides, and her eyes were thin green slits.
Description lets Gentle Reader fill in her own blanks, but it can also bog down if overused. And there's the possibility that, like a Mad Lib, the blank might be filled in wrong.
Which one's right or best? Depends. How important is it? Stands to reason the most important elements get the most coverage. How effective will each tool be? Some stuff really does need just one tool more than any other. And, of course, which tool feels most comfortable on the day?
And yeah, in the course of actual writing, we find ourselves jumping from one to the next all over the show. Sometimes, a powerful result comes from letting the dialogue run independent of narrative and action:
John looked up as Martha came into the room. His mouth turned down at the corners and a muscle jumped under one eye before he brought his face under control.
"It's good to see you," he said.
Martha's eyes narrowed to thin green slits.
"Just thought I'd drop by. Not interrupting, am I?"
"Get you a drink?"
He reached for the bottle and a spare glass. The movement turned his face away from her.
It was quiet in the room, and still. John heard the snap of Martha's purse, smelled gun oil and baby powder.
"She's young enough to be your daughter," Martha said. Her cheeks were bright with tears.
The bottle fell. Shattered glass flew. Brown liquid stained the floorboards.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Usually, the 'beat' I write to is the rhythm of the language (eg. my punctuation choices above), but the beat I'm trying hardest to listen to is the heartbeat of the story.
Screenwriters use the term 'beat' a lot, probably because movies unfold in real time. McKee has a very structured idea of which beats are important to the unfolding story. Probably because movies cost heaps per minute, so every unnecessary minute is clipped trimmed, folded into another scene or otherwise elided.
His idea: the heart of a story is forcing your protagonist into a tight place where she will be forced beyond her limits. The structure is one of pushing your hero, watching him react. The reaction will often make things worse, so that the next push will be harder. And again, harder still. Hopefully, at the climax all looks hopeless for our heroine, until she saves the day.
It's not a bad idea, and works as well for The Manchurian Candidate as it does for Bridget Jones.
Think High Noon:
Will Kane is happy, contented, the toast of the town. He and his new bride are looking forward to spending his retirement together. *yawn* But wait...
Word reaches Kane that Frank Miller and his boys are coming. Kane's conscience won't let him leave town. One by one, the townspeople prove to be unreliable cowards. There'll be no posse. No deputies. Kane, married that morning, is facing certain death.
Every act of cowardice that leaves Kane more isolated and alone is a major beat in the story. The minor beats are found in the back and forth that lead to those cowardly betrayals.
In my first draft, I'm watching my characters act and react, tracking those major beats to the story's end. In my second draft, I'll take these beats of conflict right down to the dialogue. I want *every* interaction to uphold the story in some way.
In a way, it goes back to Conflict vs. Complication. Every story has a central question at its heart: Will Frodo destroy the ring? Will Bridget finally choose Mister Right over Mister Wrong? Can newlywed and newly retired sheriff Will Kane stop the outlaws coming in on the noon train?
Resolving that question is our conflict. Everything else is complication with Two Important Caveats:
1) It may be necessary to set the conflict up. The first big chunk of Rocky is about what a crappy life the poor palooka has. It's necessary to understanding the stakes of his fight with Apollo. Just about all of High Noon is setup. We need to see just how alone Will Kane really is.
2) Subplots. These should have their own conflicts, beats and climaxes, spaced around the story to allow the writer to control the tension.
Aragorn's heritage and lovelife, Gandalf's death and rebirth, the dark spiral of Saruman's soul are all subplots that help mask the large amount of walking involved in Frodo's effort to nuke Sauron. Rocky's relationships with Talia Shire and Burgess Meredith (who I always expect to wave an umbrella and quack) keep us involved in that sorry man's life until his One Big Break comes his way.
To keep my own subplots from being pointless complications (or pointless, parallel stories) I try wherever possible to tie them back into the main plot. It can be thematic (for instance, all characters face a simliar decision, and in the subplots we get to see how different reactions play out). It can functional (there's a running conflict in Lee Child's ONE SHOT between Jack Reacher and his wildly inappropriate boat shoes. They're a constant hinderance, up until the final climax.). If they really are just complications, well, out they come...
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Wordy post. I'll go out on a joke: