Whiteout Wednesdays?? 

Well, this is a fun idea that I’ve seen some bloggers doing. You are provided with a section of text, and try to make something new out of it by whiting out sections of it. I’ve added my… result, below. Click the link beneath to see the original text. Try it out!

Untitled

 

Source: Whiteout Wednesdays #8

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I found myself inspired by the end of this book. The final sentence really wraps it up, and I liked the color it gave to all the preceding (and proceeding?) stories. It’s not really a spoiler, but it goes something like this:

“Your efforts will be nothing but a drop in the ocean!” “What is the ocean, but a collection of drops?”

Each story seems to be about a different type of predation. Missionaries prey on natives, a rich and influential man preys on his young assistant, giant corporations prey on consumers and the public, young prey on the elderly, upper class elites prey on the lower class, powerful tribes prey on the weak tribes…

In each story, the character ends up trying to do something about it, trying to make some difference, despite how small their actions may seem when pitted against the entire oppressive world.

It is inspiring, and hopeful while at the same time seeing the world for the brutal and disgusting place that it is. I don’t think I will soon forget this one.

I keep hearing good things about the movie, though I have no idea how they could fit such a story into two hours. I mean, each part would get what, 20 minutes? But, maybe I’ll check it out. I didn’t know until recently that it was the Wachowski’s, and they are usually awesome.

Very recommended!

Running out of thoughts

Is it possible to run out of thoughts? Or are they in infinite supply?

I think you could only run out of thoughts or ideas, if you stopped having new experiences. Every idea is a recombination of things you’ve already seen and heard, or some conclusion reached based on those experiences.

So, if you find yourself running out of ideas, read something new. Watch something new. Go out and do something new. Go someplace new. Then stir those new ingredients up into the soup of ideas in your head and see what floats up.

Don’t let your ideas be strangled to death by the monotony of work and daily life.

Keep experiencing new things, even if they are only in imagination!

Simple goals

Have a goal, a simple achievable one. Not simple as in easy, but simple as in not complex.

‘Write a novel’ is simple (not easy.)

‘Write 3000 words per week, or two chapters, every other week poetry counts as x2 word count, weekends don’t count, and each story submitted counts as an extra thousand words toward the goal’ or some such nonsense, is over complicated and confusing (though not necessarily hard.)

Once you have your simple goal, make a plan to achieve it.

What does writing a novel take? Come up with a simple, straightforward plan to reach  your goal.

“If I write x words per day, my novel will be complete in x months.” Are both of these x’s acceptable to you? Can  you write x words every day? Can you bear to wait x months? Once they are, bam, you’re on your way.

Once you’re on that path, each day will move you closer to your goal. All you have to do is start! (I know that’s not ALL you have to do, I’m being encouraging!)

Do it!

Challenge

Remember when I said I was going to write another novel instead of shorts? Then when I said no wait, I’m going to work on editing? Well, now I’ve got some other plan.

I’m going to sell a story to Clarkesworld, and keep writing stories until I do. If it means I write a novel concurrently with shorts, I’m going to keep writing short stories until I get one accepted there.

My most recent story was rejected, so now it’s on to the next. This one will be better, as will each one after that… eventually I’ll win.

It’s on, Clarkesworld! I’m going to defeat you!

Nested narratives

I’m about 3/4 done with Cloud Atlas and am starting to see the design of it. And it’s really great. At first I thought that the first three, maybe even four narratives had no relevance to the final two, where the action and interest really kicked off. But now, as I begin to see how they relate to each other, I’m thinking in the bigger picture they may make sense together after all.

I’m wondering how the heck this was ever made into a movie, and losing interest in seeing whatever hatchet job they undoubtedly made of it with every chapter I read.

Movies are becoming a storytelling device of the past, I think. They are short stories, flash fiction. Long-form television is the only way to properly tell a story with the depth of a decent novel–and is definitely needed for something with the narrative creativity of Cloud Atlas.

If you do check it out, have patience! Each part is more interesting than the last…

I cog it

I am nearing the end of Cloud Atlas, and the current viewpoint character has a very foreign (to me) dialect. The character is Hawaiian, but in a far future ‘we forgot technology’ situation. Perhaps some of this way of speaking is familiar to Hawaiians, but it’s not to me. And this is not just dialogue, but the narrator. The text is quite dense with unfamiliar idioms and phrases. Yet, I have hardly any difficulty understanding it.

Brains are good at figuring out contextual clues and filling in the gaps. I only had to think for about two seconds that ‘cog’ was ‘understand’ and that ‘beutsome’ was ‘beautiful’ and ‘hushly’ was ‘quiet’, and so on.  This is just one of an endless stream of reasons that you don’t need to do so much telling in your stories. Readers aren’t dumb. They will figure it out just fine. I didn’t need someone providing definitions, I just figured it out based on the context of what was happening. I could imagine a lesser writer feeling the need to insert a ‘fish out of water’ character to go ‘huh? what?’ at every new word so it could be explained to them.

This is the bane of many TV shows. Just pay attention next time you watch Law and Order, or some other basic cable TV show. One cop will say ‘The victim has deep lacerations on the abdomen.’ Then a second later, another one will say ‘He slashed her belly,’ to explain it to the supposed dummies who don’t know what a laceration or abdomen is. It happens every time anyone uses a word with more than two syllables. Pay attention, and you’ll notice it, though you might not be as irritated by it as me…

Anyway, all that is to say that over-explaining–or really, any explaining when you can avoid it–is not good for your story!