Strange points of view

I’m listening to My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, and so far there has been a chapter narrated by a dead man at the bottom of a well, and one narrated by a stray dog. These attention-grabbing narrators are fun to read, and I think they might be fun to write, too, so I plan to do something strange like that in my next writing, if it fits the theme…

There are so many ways to tell the story you want to tell, why go for the obvious one?

 

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King, Queen, Knave, by Vladimir Nabokov

This fun, funny, and darkly interesting novel is another masterpiece in the seemingly endless line of masterpieces from Nabokov.

This book has made me decide that I will no longer listen to any Nabokov books, and will read them all instead, because I am endlessly wanting to highlight things.

This story is about a woman’s affair with her nephew, Franz, and her husband, Dreyer’s, blissful ignorance of her, the nephew, and anyone’s needs or desires or thoughts other than his own. It’s about the Franz’s, inability to make decisions on his own, and his increasingly autonomous life. It’s about the woman, Martha’s, greed and distaste for her husband that consumers her both literally and metaphorically.

It’s also about the delicious, lyrical, humorous prose that always shines in every Nabokov novel I’ve had the pleasure of perusing.

So excited that I’ve got more Nabokov in my future…

An opening I’m tired of

John Smith did something as another thing happened. “Unexpected statement that sets the tone of the story,” he said. 

Stories that open this way somehow lose my interest in an instant, no matter how interesting the things John is doing or saying are. Why? Because the structure of the opening is so familiar it induces a sigh regardless of the words? Maybe…

Turk Johnston vomited vampire bats out his glowing mouth while the gates of hell crashed open behind him and released a hoard of demons. “What a day to quit my addiction to summoning demons,” he said. 

Is it possible to write an opening in that format that is good? Somehow that structure just tells me the story is going to be schlock.

Debbie Wilson sighed at the crinkled photo of her husband as tears trickled down her cheeks. “I can’t believe it’s been a century and I still love you,” she said. 

Better? Maybe? But somehow, the structure saps everything out of it. I think it is the  name that really does it. Is it so important in any way that her name is ‘ Debbie Wilson’ that it has to be the first words we see?

She sighed at the crinkled photo of her husband as tears trickled down her cheeks. “I can’t believe it’s been a century and I still love you,” she said. 

Why is that suddenly so much better? But still, it could be improved to not be trapped in that simple structure of ‘here’s what’s happening everyone.’ Must everything be so direct?

Her withered finger hovered over his fresh, vibrant face, and she wished that version of him could rise above the crinkled, creased and torn surface–weathered as her own hand–that trapped him. 

Now I’m not being directly told ‘she is looking at an old photo and being sad.’

I guess that is really what it comes down to. Show don’t tell.

And now I know why I dislike that kind of opening!

What is next?

I’m waiting for the next thing to grab me… probably not good. I should reach out and do some grabbing myself. I find it hard to be energetic about something that doesn’t take hold of me, though. There must be some way to manufacture that feeling…

Or maybe prolific writers are just as numb and tired of their work as anyone…

How is Nabokov not everyone’s favorite author?

Just curious…

What inspires you to write?

A certain feeling, or idea? A shade, or color? A memory, or a dream?

Grab every little thing that sparks your imagination, and use it. The bobbing head of a black bird, the way a leaf twists in the chill wind, the boiling shape of a cloud. The twirl of your gut while falling from a height, the similar twirl while falling in love, the flare of anger in your chest, the prickle of anxiety on your scalp. The mystery of an unopened box… the unease of a dark corner… the satisfaction of a smoothly interlocking puzzle…

Gather all these feelings and burn them in your mind’s furnace to fuel your fingers and write, write, write!

Amaranthine logophilia

I’m still flipping slowly through the dictionary, and am still, as you see, in the A’s. I came across another one I like quite a bit, and will probably use:

Amaranth: A flower that never fades,

Which leads to Amaranthine: Undying.

Those words are both ear-catching. I love the shape and sound of them.

Words are like finely crafted little puzzle pieces that fit with each-other in a myriad of ways. Each new piece you add to your pile expands the pictures you can create..