[sticky entry] Sticky: Hi (version 2.0)!

Jan. 31st, 2014 06:24 pm
lookingforoctober: (Default)
Hello, and welcome to my blog! This is a public blog, please feel free to follow and/or comment in any way you wish.

If I have a fandom, it's probably writing, because I'm interested in techniques and details about writing far more than anything else...but the stuff I'm writing is mostly in the Avenger fandom at the moment (with a few forays back into Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I'm not sure I would say I'm in the Avengers fandom, though. I haven't finished any of those things I'm writing, and I'm generally more of a lurker at the edges of fandoms anyway.

I also post occasionally on random things I'm watching or reading.

If you want to know who I used to think I was and what I was doing, version 1.0 of this introduction can be found here. I think the biggest change is less Buffy and more serious about writing. Though it's still fun too!
lookingforoctober: (Default)
You can't write the same thing twice, in two different contexts, and have it be exactly the same thing.

Not even if it's a fact (and especially not if it's a made up fact), not even if you're very carefully paraphrasing like they used to tell you to do in school to avoid plagiarism. If there are different words, it's not the same thing. This is because fiction isn't really about facts, I suppose. The opinions (and the characters having those opinions) matter a lot too.

This is both fun (if you want to play around with it) and annoying (if you want to decide things and those "facts" keep being slippery). It's probably best to just try to make it fun.
lookingforoctober: (Default)
Two Things the Mind Does

To simplify in a way that would probably be horrifying to the author of the post above, the two things that the mind does, I'm going to call logic and values. The post above explains in far more detail.

If I had to pick, I'd say that I'm generally more interested in logic than values. I rely more on logic, and I find values a bit...well, I am willing to concede that lots of things are matters of opinion or dependent on context... Not everything, but lots of things.

This affects how I consume stories too. I like logical stories, that explain what's going on so that it can all be followed like some kind of complicated story proof. I want to know what everything is, with all the steps for how it was discovered to be exactly that filled in. Especially when it's science fiction.

And it occurred to me that some of the things (probably a lot of the things) that I consider "explanation lacking" are actually appeals to values. Specifically, and this is one that I've seen multiple places, "creating new weapons is bad" is not meant to be a logical argument or to be a response to any specific situation or to take into account any of the complexities of a specific situation, it's supposed to be...it's the end of things. If you find out there are new weapons being created, you can stop there, because you know the value of the situation, and the value is "this is bad".

Which is...definitely a cognitive shortcut at best, and a ridiculous way of assessing a situation at worst, but it's probably going to work most of the time (especially in fiction), which is after all what cognitive shortcuts are supposed to do. I mean, I agree, I'm not in favor of new weapons at all. And yet, I don't consider that to be the end of any possible question about what's going on.

For example, Spoilers for Orphan Black Season 3 )

This is actually why I have a hard time with Orphan Black, I think. I mean, sure, it's fun to watch, and the characters, especially the sisters, are all great and Tatiana Maslany is the most amazing actress ever, but I expect some logic in my science fiction, and Orphan Black pays lip service to the idea of the story being based on science (epigenetics! protein folding! to the extent they address it, I think they know what they're talking about), but in terms of story, it keeps coming up to something value-based and stopping, and then having a fight scene or a chase scene or a party scene or whatever. They don't want to share any of the details of what something is, they just want to know if it's good or bad.

I feel like the whole idea of "tropes" fits into this somehow too, but I don't understand what a trope is well enough to speculate. (Look, trying to be logical again!)

Oh, also "chemistry", yes? Totally based on value assessment, not logic :)
lookingforoctober: (Default)
Writing software and writing fiction are not the same thing, and this is a post about writing software. But as it points out,
Making software is probably more like writing fiction than any branch of engineering, in how it's made of decisions. Fiction, too, is 100% made of decisions.

It's a very interesting way of looking at both fiction and software, and as someone who's created both, I completely agree with the idea that programming and writing fiction have their similarities. In fact, that's part of where my recent push toward outlining comes from -- remembering how useful the design phase was in writing software. Also, I have used something a bit like class diagrams for playing around with mapping out relationships in one of my projects, and every now and then, I've played around with the idea of using sequence diagrams for plotting. And I still may, if my outlining ever gets to a level where it would be useful. Software is, IMO, a bit further ahead than fiction in terms of developing good visualizations to help with design.

But anyway, the thing that really stuck out for me here was this:
It is true because reaching the very end edges of our ability to anticipate how we are going to want things to be and coping with the unknowns we encounter is part of the fundamental nature of developing software.

There is a joke in science, "If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn't call it 'research'." I have long wished we had an expression for a similar sentiment about programming. Because programming naturally, regularly, and just about always involves an encounter with the unknown, and having to reckon with what you didn't reckon with.


No one will ever write a spec that is so foresightful that it will correctly anticipate all the decisions that need to be made, and all the revelations that emerge along the way about what the decisions should have been.
The thing I have to remember, even as I try to come up with my own personal design process, is that what is called the waterfall method in software development, moving from design to implementation without ever looking back, doesn't really happen (as the article points out). You never move from design to implementation and then never so much as tweak your design to fit what you learn as you go, and you never move from an outline to writing real words and then never mess with the outline again.

(Although I have to admit, I keep thinking that part of the reason for software design is coordination among a team, and if I'm creating an outline -- a design -- just for me, instead of handing it off to someone else or needing to be able to hand it off to someone else, then it ought to work better...

But this is clearly a fallacy, because I am changing. Maybe not much, but I learn more, and change my mind as I learn... And the point about the process of creating something leading to the unknown, and to, inevitably, new insights as you grapple with what was originally unknown, is also very true. You don't know how something works until you've already made it. No matter whether it's just you or a whole team.)

Anyway, I know I have a bit of a hang-up about this and have to realize it over and over again, but I am once again reminded that the outline doesn't have to be perfect. Furthermore, while iteration more commonly enters the writing process as "revisions" and "drafts", a more agile process is probably a workable thing in writing, just as it is in software :) I really ought to remind myself of exactly what software has come up with in terms of agile processes, and how that might work for me as a writer.

Also, NaNoWriMo just started, and I'm pretty sure that's where the term "pantsing" originated, and in any case as NaNo begins, I've been hearing about the perpetual theoretical dichotomy between "planner" and "pantser" again. So at this point, not really seeing exactly why anyone would want to draw a line, I just want to say, I am pantsing through the design of my outline something fierce lately. (Although I do really hate the word "pantsing".)
lookingforoctober: (Default)
Every now and then I end up interested in Myers Briggs, the model of personality...this time, I ended up on this page, reading about the four functions: Sensing, iNtuition, Thinking and Feeling (the middle letters in Myers Briggs).

At the same time, I've still been thinking about the article I already linked recently about writing the perfect scene, because by some weird coincidence, I keep seeing this stuff repeated elsewhere. (The first link is still written in an irritating prescriptionist way, fair warning. The others are advice-y but not quite so irritating, IMO.)

And it suddenly occurred to me--

All of these patterns that are being presented in these articles boil down to action-reaction, which is pretty simple, but that's not the sum of what they are about. It's not just action-reaction, it's specific kinds of action-reaction, and the specific kinds model to the four functions, Sensing, iNtuition, Thinking and Feeling.

So maybe these patterns are not just about how to write action-reaction, but how to write it in a way that will have something for everyone, no matter which function they prefer to use, or which function they relate most strongly to? Because these patterns use all of them, which means that within the course of a scene and a sequel, if the writer follows the pattern, they'll have presented any reader with something to relate to, something to latch on to.

The scene - sequel pattern uses both sensing and intuition, which are about how a person processes information, either in terms of facts or ideas. A scene has a conflict, which is clearly dealing with facts, it's having facts pushed upon the character and forcing them to do something about it. It's all about what is there in the here and now. And then a sequel has a dilemma, which is about exploring ideas and generating possibilities.

The motivation - response pattern uses both feeling and thinking (though it does say that either of them is optional, but since the motivation - response pattern is supposed to be the lowest level thing and occur over and over, you can leave something out of a few repetitions of it but still have a lot of it). A response consists of a feeling, followed by a reflex, followed by ration action/speech (i.e. thinking). So thinking and feeling are both right there in the description.

And happily, thinking about it this way helps to make it more general. If you want to write a more intuitive story or character, you can have more sequels, more instances where the character is exploring the world and discovering possibilities rather than dealing with the here and now in terms of conflict. I want to say that you ought to be able to take thinking or feeling up a level and model your scenes after them too, or take sensing and intuition down a level (perhaps to structure the motivation part with either facts or possibilities?)

I think it's really all a matter of focus -- you can write more about any aspect you want, while minimizing other aspects -- but it also provides a way to focus without losing sight of the big picture, the whole that really needs to include all of these things. And by circling around to each aspect and not leaving anything out permanently, you are probably less likely, even in a story or a part of a story with a strong focus, to completely lose whatever part of the audience is going to be paying more attention to certain things.

For example, if you want to write a story with a stronger internal conflict, you'd probably focus a lot more on the thinking and/or feeling parts of it (the reactions, the dilemmas) than on the action parts of it (the motivations, the conflicts). (That sounds weird mostly due to terminology, I think. Internal conflict is not using the word conflict in quite the same way as "conflict" in the scene model, IMO.)

I think this probably also applies to acts, and to the story as a whole. It might be interesting to try to map types of climax to these functions... Achievement, revelation, discovery, realization. Well... Okay, maybe not, the climaxes are more about something final, and the functions are more about process.

On the other hand, if you look at the end point of a process:

Achievement = Sensing
Revelation = Thinking
Discovery = iNtuition
Realization = Feeling


So if the climax is the end point of the process, then a book with a climax of achievement should maybe focus more on sensing? I.e. on conflict? And one with a climax of discovery, more focus on intuition? I.e. on exploring possibilities / working through dilemmas?

Acts could be focused a specific way too... So you could have an act where primary axis of change happening to the character is through what they feel, or through what they think. Or through what possibilities they perceive, or through the facts that they know about.

And what about turning points? Structuring your turning points like this? Hmm, turning points are about the world, aren't they? Everything changes, not just the character. (Or am I misunderstanding turning points? Now that I've written that, I'm not so sure what exactly changes at a turning point.)

But in any case, that leads to the big weakness I see with this: the world as a separate entity almost disappears. It only exists as seen through the character's perceptions. Some, of course, might consider that a strength, and perhaps it is, but I like my worlds. I mean, yes, you can see the world through the characters...or I suppose you can have lots of "motivation" sections that delve more into the world...or you can go full omniscient and see everything through the narrator instead of one of the characters?

Anyway, I think it's got a lot of possibilities as a model.

(Sort of a side note, but I think introversion vs. extroversion can also apply to writing. Introverted writing is the kind that tries to simply show the reader something or share an understanding, and extroverted writing is the kind of writing that tries to make the reader feel or think something.

As for judgment and perception, well, some writing is clearly more interested in structure and some more interested in flow, right? Though...well, it sounds like if you use this model, it ought to be all about structure and not flow, because just look at all those definitions and structures. But...this is about the perception that the reader will get about the writing, not about whatever process that was used to create it. So structure vs. flow is really more how you arrange the pieces, IMO. I think you can do flow in this manner, it's more about how you move from one thing to the next. If it always follows, that's flow / perception, and structure / judgment would be more when you put things out there in little chunks and the structure slowly forms, but you have to wait for it. ...and if you really want to do both at once, with different aspects of the story you're presenting, then you're just really ambitious.)
lookingforoctober: (Default)
I've been trying to make outlining work for me, and it has been a struggle, but I've realized exactly why I need to make this work:

Writing words cannot be allowed to be the hard part of writing, because you have to write lots and lots of words (at least, you do if you're me, and want to actually finish one of the really long things in your head). It's okay if outlining is hard. You don't have to generate so large a quantity of outline.

I just need to get it into my head that outlining is hard, and that it's okay if every stage of expansion takes some time (and isn't perfect, that's okay too).


Oct. 21st, 2015 09:00 pm
lookingforoctober: (Default)
Thank you in advance for your writing! I hope this letter will be helpful to you, but obviously it's all optional, and in some cases, just putting ideas out there.

In general, I prefer stories with some amount of plot. Either gen or something centered on a relationship is fine, but I'd rather not have any explicit sex, or sex as the main point of the story, please. I like things that are fairly close to the spirit of the original in these fandoms.

Starfarers Series, by Vonda N. McIntyre - Basically, you cannot go wrong with this. Write about any of the characters in the whole series, I love them all. Write about OCs if you'd like. Write about the squidmoth or about any of the other alien species in general or in particular, write about Starfarer, the ship, and its future... I'm especially interested in the future, what happens next, and how Starfarer fits into it. How does Starfarer's mission hold up to the return to Earth? How does Earth respond? Where does Starfarer voyage next, who lives on Starfarer, what does the future look like after the events at the end of the last book? I'm also especially interested in alien biology and societies, alien politics, human politics as it relates to space travel... I also like the spirit of openness of Starfarers, and the aspects of it that are a lot of diverse people together on a starship, so if you want to write something that highlights that sort of thing, that would be lovely as well. Oh, and the archeology art project is my favorite side plot in the series, for what it's worth... Really, anything that evokes anything about this series.

Forsyte Saga - Irene Heron - I would especially like to see Irene in a non-Forsyte context. Despite Irene's importance to the plot, in Galsworthy's work, we only see her as she relates to the men in her life, and I'd like to see Irene standing on her own, as we know also happens. I'd be especially interested in Irene at school (obviously a formative experience for her, she's very sure in herself when we first see her, and I think her school is a big part of why) or Irene after she leaves Soames for good and before she reenters the Forsyte circle (it can't have been easy for her, but she not only survives, she does what she can for others as well -- but how did she overcome the difficulties she faced? Obviously, society was against her for the choices she made...)

Dragaera, by Steven Brust - Tazendra, Aerich, Khaavren, Pel - I love this group of friends, and I would like to have at least two of the four, but if you want to center the story on a pair or on three of the four of them (but not, preferably, in a romantic context, I prefer friendship to any sort of romance here) that would be fine. My favorite books are The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After, I never really imprinted on the later Viscount of Adrilankha trilogy, though it is set during a very interesting time, so if you want use the events of that trilogy or ignore it or go AU with it, that's fine with me. I'd love something that's all fun and adventure, or if you want to do something more serious and not purely light-hearted adventure, I'd enjoy that too. If you feel up to including a sword-fight, that would be lovely! Anything from light-hearted through delving into character to taking on the immediate aftermath of Adron's disaster...
lookingforoctober: (Default)
It amuses me that when I tell myself that I need to write more words and fewer plans, what I end up doing is...well, first I think 'which words should I write?' and from there, eventually I end up revising my outline.

But it's better quality plans!

Instead of adding random worldbuilding which I may or may not need (on this specific project, I'm actually trying to leave out as much worldbuilding as possible because I have a theory that I usually over-worldbuild) I'm planning stuff that will actually help me write real words :)

But still. Need to get to those real words soon!
lookingforoctober: (Default)
I had a really long post I was going to write about how the techniques for writing non-chronologically are very similar to the techniques for writing multiple viewpoints, and today I went to look at it to see if I could finish it off and post it and sometime between then and now firefox ate it.

I can really only blame myself, it's probably been a month or more, but firefox is usually really nice about not eating things.

Oh well.

I wish I could remember what I said, though. It was mostly about worldbuilding, I think. Something about how both multiple viewpoints and non-chronological sections allow a writer to quickly and economically explore large portions of the world, I think. Or about how both of these are really good for exploring non-linear subjects (like worldbuilding, but there are probably other things that are non-linear that you might want to show)?

Something about change too, and how plot is change but to really explore a world you need to be able to stand still long enough to see it...or see it from different angles...

Or maybe...well, worldbuilding isn't plot, lots of things aren't plot, but sometimes the worldbuilding (or something else, character? group dynamics?) are almost more important than the plot (or have to be understood very well in order to understand the plot)? So it can be worth structuring things so that this is presented in the most effective order?

Or maybe about how historical change can show a world more clearly than any snapshot? Or how a snapshot can show certain complicated moments more clearly than any progression? And it all depends on what you want to show?

Anyway. It would have been a much more coherent post if I hadn't lost it, I'm sure, but I just wanted to note for the record (I sometimes look back at these things) that I was surprised to realize that if you want to move around in space in order to show different aspects of the world (or whatever), there are two options: move around in space directly (i.e. multiple viewpoints) or move around is space indirectly (i.e. move around in time too), and you can use a lot of the same techniques for each.


Oct. 15th, 2015 04:00 am
lookingforoctober: (Default)
You know that feeling when someone on the internet is wrong? And you feel like they need to be corrected, even though it may be a bad idea?

Is that what conflict in a story is, except that it's the protagonist who wants to correct them (needs to correct them, or even must correct them to survive), and it (probably) won't turn out so terribly badly, at least not in the very end?

Is that why conflict is supposed to be so good for stories? Because it creates that feeling, the one where you really want to see things change or be corrected? And so you read on...
lookingforoctober: (Default)
The better it is written, the easier it will be to revise it, even if revising it means totally changing some aspect of it. (As long as revising doesn't mean totally changing all aspects of it?)

...or maybe I just want to believe that better writing in an early draft isn't wasted. I don't know. It seems to make sense...

...actually, I think I want to believe that I've gotten to the point where I know what to write well enough that I know what to focus on and won't write something where all aspects of it don't belong / need to be changed. Well, maybe I have, at that :) At least most of the time / enough of the time not to waste too much time. I guess I will see at some point.
lookingforoctober: (Default)
You can leave out (as long as it's not the focus of the story) anything you want to leave out, except the well-earned consequences of the character's actions.
lookingforoctober: (Default)
I've been experimenting with outlining lately, and several days ago I was looking for some resources about outlining scenes/chapters (this was before I gave up and put together my own method of outlining scenes
(which I don't know yet if it works, but it was fun)). Anyway, I didn't find much out there about outlining scenes (and most everything about outlining chapters was for non-fiction), but I did come across this post: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/writing-the-perfect-scene/

WARNING: the author of the post in question is clearly following the Great Prophet method of writing about writing, the one where the author of writing advice claims that everything they say is pure gospel, but doesn't support their assertions.

For example, "There are plenty of other patterns people use. They typically work less well."
Uh huh. If you expect me to believe you, you really ought to support your assertion with examples of other patterns and why they work less well, because if I look into my favorite book and find that my favorite author uses an "other pattern" that works "less well", I'm going to think that my favorite author probably knows more than you do. Because I like the stuff my favorite author writes, whereas your writing (i.e. this writing advice that I'm reading) is just a bit grating.

(I did actually look in a few books, and didn't find in any of them this oh so wonderful pattern that's claimed to be the perfect scene pattern, at least, not obvious enough to be recognizable to me, though you could probably get it to fit if you were really good at the rationalization side of analysis. So. Clearly not a useful model for me.)

But I digress. The thing I actually wanted to talk about was not the scene description stuff, which I think is pretty much bullshit as a set of rules for writing scenes, but probably worth looking at in times of stuckness because if you don't think of it as a hard and fast pattern but as a set of possibilities, I bet it could be pretty useful.

But the really interesting thing was the idea of the motivation-reaction unit (MRU). This idea ate my brain, because 1) it's so simple 2) it really does make a certain kind of sense (at least to me) that you need a motivation to respond to and then you respond in a certain order with emotion followed by reflex actions followed by logical thought and action. Plus, I looked into one of the books I had sitting around and actually saw the pattern happening, more or less. Not quite the simple form that was being described (the scene in question had multiple characters and no clear main actor, and it was written in omniscient), but a recognizable variant, let's say.

And it's perfect for roleplaying, which is all about back and forth anyway.

But having had my brain totally eaten by this new idea of the MRU, I became scared. It's so easy, I thought. Really, that's all you have to do...? But it can't be that easy, which probably means that it's just seductive crap that will make my writing horrible.

So I went looking in some more books and decided that whatever this bit of writing advice said, MRU isn't present (at least, not recognizably) all the time either. But it's still a useful idea, especially the part about putting reactions in order based on the speed that they happen based on human physiology.

And then I got to thinking about tension (I like to think about tension because I don't think I'm very good at putting tension into my writing yet). And it occurred to me that if you write a reaction without a motivation that causes that reaction, you're raising the tension a little bit...

(Tension is expectation. This tension is the expectation that there will be an explanation to come if the reader keeps reading.)

It's a fairly minor sort of tension in some cases, because there are some actions that can be accepted without clear motivation, or for which the motivation is assumed (I went to work in the morning -- motivation is assumed) and sometimes it's hard to tell which kind of thing you're looking at, tension that's going to be resolved or tension that might just fall away into some sort of assumed resolution, they must have had a reason but the reason doesn't matter. Or there was a reason, but the reason is outside the scope of this story.

Tension will eventually fade away if it isn't resolved, or brought to the reader's attention again to raise the tension further (but if you do that, you'd better resolve it eventually!)

And then I got to thinking about the thing I call backfilling: for example, when you start the story in media res and fill in all the background information as needed. Backfilling is all about manipulating tension via an implication and expectation of motivations, because you have all kinds of reactions and then eventually you fill in the backstory which provides the motivations.

(There is a thing that I made up that I call frontfilling which is also all about manipulation of tension, but it's actually more about providing really strong but incomplete motivations -- for example, showing how someone developed a strong desire to become a dancer and how much that goal means to them -- with the expectation being (at least, I think it works this way) that these motivations will become a problem at some point (there will be an obstacle) and then there must of necessity be a reaction, because...that's just how things work. And because the motivations are so strong.

Frontfilling is more tricky and needs more explicit manipulation of tension to work, I think, because the expectation is not as strong as with backfilling unless the writer does more work.)

Back to the expectation of motivation, though. If you fulfill the expectation, it's tension. If you don't fulfill the expectation, it's tension that drains away, which should probably be avoided (though probably can't always, because sometimes when I'm reading I find myself expecting things that in retrospect the author clearly not only didn't mean for me to expect but had never even had an inkling that anyone might expect).

And if, instead of fulfilling the expectation, you subvert it, or make it bigger than expected, (expecting a puppy, get a Saint Bernard) then it's surprise :) But possibly less of a surprise than if there had been no tension in the first place...

Which suggests another use for tension. Sometimes the thing you leave out (thereby forming the tension of the expectation that it will eventually explained) is the thing that would be most difficult to explain, so you leave it out, and make a picture around it, maybe a whole bunch of different strands of tension, until the reader almost knows what goes in the hole that you've left, and then you explain. That's not really tension for tension's sake, that's more...tension for persuasion's sake?

And then there's the kind of tension I mentioned a few days ago, where you leave out something for no reason at all besides tension. I still think this is annoying.
lookingforoctober: (Default)
Last week I read a book that had me thinking about how annoying it is when the author leaves out information that's clearly know by the viewpoint character. I.e.: Oh, her, CharX thought. It's she that's been causing all this trouble.

Who is she? Obviously CharX knows who she is, but the reader doesn't know anything more than that it's not a character who would have been described with some other pronoun.

I was all ready to theorize that I don't like this because I read so much, and I'm just tired of not knowing things but I don't actually care enough to be motivated to want to know more. I was all ready to call it fake tension, and a bad thing, because obviously the construction, in addition to whatever (fake) tension comes from not knowing, is also promising that with a little bit of patience, all will be revealed. Because it doesn't make me eagerly read on because I must find out, it just makes me roll my eyes and keep going because I will find out.

But I did wonder if my reaction was because I've seen this technique so much before, and if a less jaded reader would feel it as real tension, not fake tension...

I'm still wondering about that part, but this week I read a book that I think did a better job with the same thing, and fake tension or not, I'm not as willing to classify it as a bad thing.

In this particular scene, some details were left out and kept for later, but I think they were details that would have taken away from the scene (which was an important scene). The scene had to be there, but the details didn't, and might have gotten in the way.

(Possibly the distinction is that tension wasn't really the point -- at least, that's how I read it.)

So I guess...it all depends on how you do it. As with most things.


Sep. 27th, 2015 03:49 am
lookingforoctober: (Default)
I used to read that writing advice about how you never learn how to write a novel, you only learn how to write this novel, and be intimidated. It makes everything sound so difficult.

I never realized just how much fun figuring out how to write each novel (or each project) could be. At least half the fun of the whole thing, all this figuring, maybe more.


Sep. 25th, 2015 03:25 am
lookingforoctober: (Default)
I can look at my writing from the top down (outlines, structure, all very fun) or from the bottom up (words make sentences, sentences make paragraphs, it's all going somewhere and I'll get there eventually).

But I don't seem to quite have the trick of melding those two perspectives, or looking both ways from somewhere in the middle.
lookingforoctober: (Default)
I finished reading the Fraction Hawkeye, and I've been thinking about it off and on ever since because I found the last volume to be a totally fine volume but then I read on the back that it was the last volume and I just didn't get it.

I mean, it does more or less resolve a few things, and very specifically leaves some other stuff hanging, which I assume is some kind of hook into the main continuity or something, but sure, whatever, books leave sequel hooks too.

Part of the problem is probably that I don't think the volumes do enough backfilling / reminding the reader of the stuff that happened in previous volumes -- I'd think they're meant to be read at once? Except that I actually think they're meant to be read in...chapters? Whatever you call the individual comic books that got compiled into each volume? I.e. they do a tiny bit of reminding you of stuff, but not as much as I'd expect from a discrete book, probably because they're a compilation, not a discrete book.

Similarly, it brings in Clint's brother out of nowhere, just doing the backfilling at the beginning of the relevant chapter/whatever ...

It's very clever and economical, but it makes the shape of the story weird (at least, weird to my very novel-attuned sensibilities). Mostly because it's not following the rule about not introducing new elements at the end. I mean, there was absolutely no suggestion of Clint's brother for the first three volumes, then bang, by the way...

They did the same thing with his ex-wife, team-mates, etc., now that I think about it.

Which I suppose is because the series itself is not really meant to be one thing, precisely. It's more like one of those fix-up novels made up of short stories?

Or I suppose it's just comics, and they probably work like that. It's a small small world inside of each chapter / individual comic book, and they bring in backstory as economically as possible, and even when they have story arcs, they're made up of bits of small world pasted together, and that's how they make a very large world.

I can sort of see how that would be appealing. It leaves me feeling just a bit unsatisfied, I have to admit. Looking for the wrong kind of resolution, I suppose.
lookingforoctober: (Default)
I just think it's sort of funny that if you read books about leadership, the benefits of having a hierarchy and a central authority are lauded, and the primary benefit is efficiency. Without leadership, people would argue a lot and then just go do whatever and that would be very inefficient. Leaders are clearly needed to give their followers focus and coordination.

And then if you read books about economics, the benefits of not having a leader or any kind of central authority are lauded. The problem with a centrally planned economy, many economists say, is that it is inefficient. It works so much better to have everyone do whatever they want (mediated by changing prices sending signals about what's needed/wanted, supply/demand, etc.), because the sum of everyone choosing what to do on their own is that you end up with the most efficient system possible in the theory of many economists.

I assume there's some really complicated point, involving scale, simplicity of the enterprise in question, degree of shared goals of everyone involved, and probably a lot of other things, that affects some kind of switch from one to the other (and I would love to read a book about this, if only this were a thing that anyone thought about instead of -- I think? so far as I know? -- falling into the cracks between the things that people generally think about). Not to mention the possibility of some of these theories being some degree of wrong, there being lots of points that fall in between strict hierarchy and total individuality, etc. But still. Sort of funny.
lookingforoctober: (Default)
I figured out something about how I read.

Totally made up sentence based on a real sentence in a book I read:
Fred and Joy and Carrie and John were sitting under the tree with Jane.
I've got this feeling that in context, this sentence was supposed to say all kinds of subtle things about group dynamics and who's sitting where and what that means about...well, stuff.

But what I read is more like "Some people were sitting under the tree with Jane." Even though I've technically met Fred and Joy and so on (see, I don't even have the patience to type out their names), I don't actually bring to mind everything I know about them just because I see their names...

So maybe the sentence was trying to say "A bunch of the artists were sitting under the tree with Jane" or maybe "A bunch of influential artists were sitting under the tree with Jane" or even "A bunch of influential artists were showing their support for the thing Jane just did by sitting under the tree with her when they could have been sitting somewhere more comfortable."

Actually, it was probably more like "Jane had been joined under the tree by some of her supporters and some influential people from other (allied?) factions, who were there to show support for her recent actions."

I don't know. I sort of wish the book had used fewer names and more spelling things out, though. Or maybe I should just learn to pay more attention to group dynamics and the positions of characters within the group dynamics and how that changes (which is actually subtly different from paying attention to the important-seeming things that characters do, because sitting under the tree with Jane doesn't seem important, especially when Jane is far more interesting and stands out far far more than Joy and so on...and yet, all those names have to be there for a reason, right?)

(Actually, I think a lot of the descriptions of the characters -- the real descriptions, the ones that were done in action, the ones that are trying to establish the character and who they are and what's important about them, not the ones that are trying to describe them physically in a few sentences -- were doing a lot to establish their social position more than anything else, too. Hmm.)
lookingforoctober: (Default)
I've been watching this show on Hulu, where it lists all the episodes as being part of "Season 1". I knew there was more than one season, and I've been sort of ambivalent about how things were going...

And then I found out that there are supposed to be 26 episodes total in the whole thing, so instead of being near the end of a preliminary season, I was near the end of the whole thing. And suddenly I was much more happy with this whole thing. Which just goes to show:

1) I like endings.
2) I like the ending they are aiming at, and didn't really want it to be a red herring on the way to some different ending twice (or more) as far along.
3) Context is everything.
lookingforoctober: (Default)
In the eighteenth century, per capita income grew very slowly. In Great Britain, the average income was on the order of 30 pounds a year in the early 1800s, when Jane Austen wrote her novels. The same average income could have been observed in 1720 or 1770. Hence these were very stable reference points, with which Austen had grown up. ... These amounts allowed the writer to economically set the scene, hint at a way of life, evoke rivalries, and, in a word, describe a civilization.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty

In other words, Jane Austen used actual sums in her writing (Ten thousand a year! Oh, Lord! What will become of me? I shall go distracted.) because there was no notable inflation over her lifetime, and these sums meant something that seemed permanent. People knew exactly what ten thousand a year meant, because it didn't fluctuate. Now, of course, we expect inflation and writers rarely use actual sums in their writing because it'll just get dated very quickly.

I did not know that, but it makes so much sense.
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