Monday, August 26, 2013

The Pen That George Used

So... this weekend was Bubonicon again.   I'm on my fourth year as Gofer Wrangler (elsewise known as the Volunteer Coordinator or cat herder... actually, my volunteers are awesome) so I was working rather than going to panels (and this seemed like a good idea, why?)   I got to one panel on publishing by a gentleman named Robert Vardeman which was wonderful and informative.

Most of the time, though, I was holding down a table.  When I wasn't holding down a table I was badge checking programming venues.  We had some great Guests of Honor... Brent Weeks and Tim Powers... but I never saw any of their panels or went to their readings.

Because we also had George.   You know George... as in R.R. Martin?   Yeah, him.   Well, I didn't go to any of his panels or reading either.  I was *working*.

The pen that George used.
Poor guy is local so we're all terribly unimpressed, though that might be rather restful for him, who knows.   But anyhow, we had to close the door on his reading because too many people wanted in and I'm the person who stood in front of the closed door and had to stand up to super-fans who'd traveled from out of town and tell them "No!"   There were a few who tried wheedling and a couple who managed it by begging please if someone came *out* could they go in?   But mostly I made statements with some variation of "Fire Marshall" in them and everyone backed off like I'd waved a magic wand.  I did have one other gofer with me for back up, which I was glad of!

I also guarded George's door and line for the mass book signing.   Everyone was incredibly polite.  They got to have two things signed and then get back in line as often as they got through it.   I only had one case of line jumping, and I pounced on them and said no no no... but their friend you see... and I said, no! no savesees! (because your brain is always the first to go on Con weekend) and I got a badly snotty "I'm attending a disabled person!" and a huge sneer like I was a mean hater.  It had been a group of five people and three were not getting anything but wow... who doesn't ask?  Someone is standing right there directing traffic and they don't politely ask that the disabled person step in front? Just jump on up there? (Also, if you've been to a sci-fi convention "disabled" isn't unusual at all... people spend the weekend in wheelchairs and this girl had a cane.) It didn't ruin my day or anything but the "friend" in line came afterward and apologized profusely for how rude her friends had been and how they made her complicit in the rudeness.  Well, I didn't blame her anyhow.   The goodness of everyone else (and I do mean EVERYONE else) just made it tons of fun.  People who'd driven from out of state just to get George's signature got everything they brought signed, got through the line as many times as it took in the hour and a half given... *even* an independent bookstore staff with every Game of Thrones inventory item they had.  And they were wonderful too.  Every time a straggler came with a personal book to get signed they boosted them ahead, even though the signed comic books, posters, calendars and books were their bread and butter.

The most fun, though, was a lady right at the end that got her item signed... I'm not sure what it was, maybe a game or artwork or something about 15 x 15.  I didn't notice what it was because I was looking at her face.  She walked down the hall holding her treasure out in front of her so she could look at it and just *smiled*, so obviously pleased and so obviously joyful at her good fortune that she just oooozed happiness all the way down the hallway in little drips.   It still makes me smile.

Anyhow... the pen.  So I was off doing something or other and my friend gave my silver sharpie to George Martin's assistant.  (He had several other metallic sharpies, too.)   And then she got it back again at the end, which embarrassed me a little bit because really, I'm not concerned about losing my silver sharpie!  But we've been having fun ever since making a big deal of my famous silver sharpie and laughing our butts off over it.  So I thought I'd take a picture - it lasts longer.  ;-)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Elmore Leonard 1925 - 2013

Ace posted a link to an article on writing by Elmore Leonard.

(One article about him from the Guardian)

Elmore Leonard was elderly and passed away and I know nothing about him other than that he wrote "Fire in the Hole" which I've never read but was turned into the first season of the television show "Justified" which I liked a whole lot. After that show came out I noticed his name quite a bit but I still hadn't read anything that he'd written.

  Until I read this.

 Having partaken in a fair amount of writing advice over the years I will say that his 10 rules for writing (and summation of the 10 rules in the rule "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.") is short, to the point, and spot on. It's concise and even laconic.

 As far as I'm concerned writing fiction shouldn't be about the author, it should be about the story. Part of what I don't trust about "literature" is (other than the mistrust born of science fictional tribalism) that I expect the story to be about the author being clever. And then, afterward, all the critics exclaim about how clever the author was. Why should anyone at all care about how clever the author was?

Some of his 10 rules I've heard a million times. Some of them were surprising. Such as: 1. Never open a book with weather. Dark, stormy nights are right out, but I'd never heard anyone say not to do it at all.  I found this rule bemusing: 5. Keep your exclamation points under control. I imagine a novel full up !!!eleventy!! and wonder... someone does that? But perhaps they do.  I think that my taste likely favors more description than he prefers but most of what I read and write tends toward either Romance (so you have to "see" how sexy the hero is) or science fiction where the world that exists around the character is often a character in its own right, and he wrote crime fiction, mostly, I think.

From the Guardian:
For most of his career, Leonard was undervalued by critics, both because of his consistently high sales and his facility with dialogue: some critics distrust speech-led novels as shooting scripts for future movies. 
Yes, but of course.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Hooks vs. Explanations

"Hey, did you see what I did there?"

 I've just seen both Pacific Rim and The Wolverine. Both are popcorn movies and not meant to be particularly deep. Both had obvious and less obvious elements included in their construction. Some of those included details may have been meant to support other parts that ended up on the cutting room floor, but I'd like to think that sometimes an artist/writer/director/actor includes some detail on the sly because the story-word demands it, even if very few people will notice what they've done.

 I also think that including open hooks instead of set explanations makes for richer writing and better stories. People think more when you don't do all of their thinking for them or demand that their "take" is the same as you, the creator, intended.

 I don't intend to "spoil" either of the movies, but if you're worried about it you'd probably better not read the rest.

Read more »

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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Human Wave Garage Sale

Over at According to Hoyt.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Beings of Furritude, I come not to bury grey goo plotting but to yawn at it and to sigh “I don’t care what happens to all these characters” and — occasionally, when a novel rises a little bit above the common style –, to sigh and say “I want them all dead by chapter two.” (Ah, for a minion I could dispatch to story world. “Guido, see to it. I want them all dead by chapter two before they all start the belly button contemplating until it reels the mind. Make them dead. Hide the bodies.” Of course, in many cases this would improve the pacing and action of the plot. In others no one would notice.)
The antidote is called Human Wave fiction. The Garage Sale is a list of (mostly) Kindle special deals from authors who have promised not to serve up grey goo or contemplate belly buttons.

Scroll down, but don't skip reading Sarah's post because each and every word is put there with malice aforethought to engage and entertain (even if you refuse to be properly thoughtful.)

You know you need more to read, you know you do! So go.