All posts for March 2016

Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned: Playing Catchup Dept.

Batman v Superman, and Writerman v Plotcomplicationthings.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/31 11:20

Busy several days and weekend, not much blogging time. Some catch-up.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned Superman comics movies real life superheroes writing

Snapped In Half, All Burned Up Dept.

How the other half of the new novel came to not be.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/21 09:00

Ever drop a plate and have it break exactly down the middle? There's your analogy for what happened with draft 4 of the outline for Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. I got to the halfway mark, and realized everything after that point had been, uh, "rendered inoperative" by all the changes I'd made.

Liberation or disaster? It's great to not have to walk around with the baggage of one's legacy decisions in a story, to be sure. It's also a mess to have to come up with something to replace it all. Guests are coming over for dinner, you've just burned the roast you were making, and there's nothing else in the fridge. Sometimes, though, you have to burn the roast to make a better meal.

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Tags: writers writing

Good Guys Wear Black Dept.

Good guy, bad guy, or interesting guy?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/19 10:30

Fellow author Leo King posted another quick video diary, this time about the practice of "petting the dog" -- that is, having a character being likable by having them do good things. I agree with this up to a point, since I think the notion that a character should be likable covers only half the territory. A character is not worth following because he is likable, or "good", but because he is fascinating, because for whatever reason we want to find out what they do next. That could be a good thing, that could be an awful thing. How we get hooked into wanting to know more matters.

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Tags: characterization characters writers writing

None-Hit Wonders Dept.

If I'm in the habit of listening outside my well-worn grooves, nothing is disappointing or distasteful.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/15 19:00

Review: In ‘Every Song Ever,’ Ben Ratliff Helps the Listener Discern - The New York Times

It remains debatable whether there is a right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy way to listen to music. Being an omnivore doesn’t even guarantee increased enjoyment. There are people who derive endless delight listening to just one kind of music, or even a single artist, as Mr. Ratliff acknowledges in a section about people he has encountered who have all-consuming obsessions for Frank Zappa or the Grateful Dead’s live recordings. Conversely, one of the downsides of the age of plenty is that the more widely you listen outside your well-worn grooves, the more frequently you’ll experience disappointment, distaste or just indifference. More is less.

This is a strange attitude to take. If I'm in the habit of listening outside my well-worn grooves, nothing is truly disappointing or distasteful. The mere act of listening without prejudice is itself elating, if you can get to it in the first place. Just having open ears is its own reward.

To my mind, "enjoyment" has a broader meaning than just "I'd buy it" or even "I liked it". I wasn't sure I liked all of Renaldo & The Loaf or Green Velvet or Nocturnal Emissions or what have you, but I know my ears have been made all the richer by way of encountering them. It's made all the other things I hear seem that much deeper, that much more riddled with unexpected dimensions. How is that not enjoyment? Not everything has to make me wanna get up and dance.

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Tags: criticism music

Can You Picture That Dept.

Failures of imagination are about more than bad worldbuilding or ripping off someone else's warp drive concept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/15 10:00

I've mentioned before about how when we talk about imagination, we're not just talking about the ability to make things up -- worldbuilding, or what-if scenarios, or what have you. Imagination is also about being able to see more of what's actually there than others might, to not approach the material in question wearing blinders. Nobody ever really knows all the ways they do not see things (I think now of James Tiptree, Jr.'s story "The Women Men Don't See"), and so when they have their blind spots pointed out to them, it's not a huge surprise when they respond by either blowing it all off, or getting indignant, or constructing elaborate refutations that have nothing to do with what's being pointed out, etc.

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Tags: creativity creators fantasy writers writing

The Dose Makes The Cure Dept.

Pilling the cat, made simple.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/14 20:00

Neither here nor there, but here's one of my long-time pet ownership tricks that's worth sharing: how to pill a cat without the use of eyedroppers, blowguns (for shooting the pill into the back of the throat), Pill Pockets (often ignored once they realize what's inside it, etc.).

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Tags: pets

Open Up And Bleed Dept.

On undeserved misfortune as the technique to demonstrating character.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/13 10:00

A fellow author of mine posts a regular video diary where he talks about various things writerly, and in a recent post he described how one of the ways to introduce a character to the reader in a galvanizing way is to make the character the recipient of undeserved misfortune. Emphasis on the undeserved; you want to make it clear they didn't have this coming, and so we feel for them and want to see them do well. Harry Potter is one such example; the kid's living under the stairs when he first gets his invite to Hogwarts.

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Tags: characterization writers writing

Still Sorting It All Out Dept.

More notes on using a wiki to declutter my creative head.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/11 13:00

Continuing from my discussion about using a wiki to sort out creative projects. Out of all that I've derived two general observations, and a theory I am attempting to put to the test:

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Tags: TiddlyWiki software writers writing

Sorting It All Out Dept.

On using a wiki to declutter my creative head.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/07 20:00

I've mentioned in the past that I use a wiki application, TiddlyWiki (I think the name is silly, too), to organize notes for creative projects. How I ended up using it was twofold: just writing stuff down in a linear fashion wasn't scaling, and the existing creative-organization apps out there didn't cut it. Version 5 of TiddlyWiki made major changes to the way things worked under the hood, but the net effect is the same: it's a tool that conforms to your expectations of how the tool is supposed to work, assuming you have such expectations in the first place.

(Note: Some of this post may be redundant with another post I made some time ago on the same subject, but I'm reiterating a lot of the points in question both for newer readers, and for the sake of seeing what new insights might be had on the subject. It's also kinda long. Read for flavor.)

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Tags: Scrivener TiddlyWiki software writers writing

Rules Are Made To Be Broken Dept.

How laying the ground rules for my new book almost ground me down.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2016/03/02 10:00

Busy couple of days, so not much blogging time. Much of it has been eaten up by trying to whip into shape the fourth iteration of the outline for Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. It's turned into a grinding wheel, and my job through this iteration is to stop that grind from perpetuating itself.

Here's how I lost a boot inside this whole quagmire, and how I hope not to lose any more footwear in it in the future. It will require at least two parts, so brew some coffee.

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Tags: Welcome to the Fold fiction storytelling writers writing

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