October 3, 2014
My brain’s a bit scattered today, so this is going to be a post of random things. Like, how I’ve spent the last couple of days dipping my toe into MRA and PUA screeds, in the interest of “know thine enemy,” and I’m really really glad I grew up expecting to make my own living and support myself in this world, meaning I would never need to depend on finding a guy to do it for me, and how that may be the real triumph of feminism right there.
Anyway. I’ve had Ookla the Mok’s song “Doctor Octopus” stuck in my head since FenCon (“Boom-shalaktopus!”). I got to meet and hang out with the band at the convention. They’re really great and you should check them out.
I have a million errands I’m going to try to get done today, like: new passport photo, flu shot, and putting together a Wonder Woman costume for my niece. Because that’s the kind of aunt I am.
Have a great weekend everyone!
October 1, 2014
So, I taught a workshop last weekend! And it went pretty well, I think. I talked about a lot of stuff, and I promised my students I would post one of the checklists I mentioned, but didn’t have a print out for. (See, every workshop I learn a lot about what works, and I incorporate that into the next one. I’m really getting to like slide shows and handouts.)
This is a character checklist, but a much more useful one that the one that goes “What is your character’s favorite food?” Because I worry that the “vital statistics” type checklists I’ve seen in some “how to write” books trick us into including information in our stories that isn’t actually necessary, while forgetting more pivotal details like Why is your character doing this stuff in the first place. So yeah, I’ve never really done “What is your character’s favorite color?” type characterization surveys, and instead think a lot about “How did my character get into this situation and what personality trait is going to get her out?”
So, here’s a character and plot checklist I’ve adapted from the course materials from the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop, by Jeanne Cavelos. (Yes, sixteen years later I still have all my course materials from Odyssey and I still use them.) Jeanne has put a ton of writing information and resources on the Odyssey website — and Odyssey even sponsors online workshops, if you’re interested in more in-depth work. So, without further ado, a character checklist:
Character Checklist (from Jeanne Cavelos & Odyssey):
- Does your character grow out of the setting in which he was raised? What is his relationship with the setting? Does he have any effect on it?
- Is the reader “shown” the character through powerful, concrete sensory details that allow him to visualize the person and his actions?
- Are small and large actions, appearance, and dialogue the main sources of revelation of character?
- Is what you tell us about the character consistent with what you show about the character?
- Are all the details included significant, or is there extraneous detail or information?
- Are there any generic elements in your character? If this character is an archetype, have you made him individual and specific?
- Does the character have some “consistent inconsistencies?”
- Have you researched necessary areas to be able to write about such a character?
- Does the character’s personality have an effect on the plot?
- Does the character have a clear central desire? Why does he want this? Is this desire integrated into the plot? Do we know what set this desire off, and how it is finally resolved? Does the character have something important at stake in the conflict?
- Does the character have clear opinions about what’s going on around him?
- Does the character enhance or embody symbols or themes in the story?
- Does the character change?
September 29, 2014
September 26, 2014
September 24, 2014
So last night was the season premiere of Agents of SHIELD: Dirty pool, you guys. Dirty effing pool. *sobs uncontrollably*
I will be at FenCon in Dallas this weekend as the Special Workshop Guest, crushing participants’ hopes and dreams (not really). My schedule is posted. Alas — you had to sign up for the workshop ahead of time, so you won’t be able to just drop in. But I’ll be around the rest of the convention.
I took some time out to do a little bit of sewing last night. I feel much better now.
September 22, 2014
Autumn is here. After coming home from a rainy Ireland to a rainy Colorado, I despaired that I had missed the end of summer entirely. But no, I got a good week or so of wearing shorts and sandals and sitting outside to read and stuff. And now the weather is turning.
As I mentioned last week, I’m working on five or so different things simultaneously — research, critiquing, writing, etc. What this means is I feel like I’m not getting anything done. But it also means I’m going to finish up most of these things at the same time. Then I will likely be at my wits end and flap my arms around like a mad thing.
I caught a couple of movies, or at least part of a couple of movies this weekend:
Another Earth: this is an art-house science fiction/slipstreamy thing. A very intriguing concept: one day, another Earth, seemingly identical, appears in the sky. It has some really beautiful shots associated with this phenomenon, and touched on at least some of the implications. But the story itself was so angsty and contrived I couldn’t take it very seriously. (Like, when he said his wife was pregnant when the accident happened, I laughed out loud, which I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to do, but it was so clearly the movie saying to us, “Hey, you thought it was bad before? Well it turns out it was even worse than you thought! Ha! Wallow in misery!” And no, I don’t think I will.)
Neptune’s Daughter: This is an old one, and I finally found where my line is. You know — you’re watching old movies and they’re chock full of really uncomfortable racism and sexism and the like, but you keep watching ’cause it’s old and interesting and classic and has some great acting and it’s important from a cultural standpoint? (Like, I totally put up with the harassing baby in Gold Diggers of 1933?) Well, I know now that it can indeed get bad enough that I have to stop, and this movie did it. The really terrible racist stereotypes, and the really ditzy man-chasing sister in a
comedy “comedy” routine with Red Skelton pushed me around the corner and I had to turn it off. Which is too bad, because this is an Esther Williams film — the woman who made an entire career out of being a swimming actress — and it also featured a young Ricardo Mantalban as a hot Argentinian polo player. So yeah, I wanted to see it, but I just couldn’t.
Also, a question: when did shaky cam and incomprehensible action scenes in big FX movies become a thing? Is there one movie that really started the trend? Transformers maybe? Because I caught part of the original Stargate movie this weekend, and I was kind of surprised and impressed at how clean it was — action-wise, it had quite 1980’s sensibility, which made it pleasant to watch but also made it seem a little older than it really is. (It’s 1994, which yeah, it might have more of an 80’s sensibility I guess.) It just got me thinking about when sensory overload became the way to do adventure movies, and I can’t pin it down.
September 19, 2014
This week I have been:
- Reading submissions for the FenCon writers workshop.
- Reading the first 35,000 words of a novel manuscript so I can start working on it again after leaving it alone for a month.
- Reading the revised version of my Wild Cards graphic novel script.
- Reading a meaty technical thing on prehistoric archeology in Britain in Ireland for this story I’m writing.
- Reading the books that are due back at the library in a week.
I feel like I’m back in grad school.