Thought I’d try something a bit different from my OTHER posts today
Just sort of a round up and few thoughts of various writing related posts I’d absorbed over the week:
This quote on r/lotrmemes https://www.reddit.com/r/lotrmemes/comments/vtgmyx/ironic/if772zt/?context=3 taken from Tolkien’s On Fairy Stories
“However good in themselves, illustrations do little good to fairy-stories. The radical distinction between all art (including drama) that offers a visible presentation and true literature is that it imposes one visible form. Literature works from mind to mind and is thus more progenitive. It is at once more universal and more poignantly particular. If it speaks of bread or wine or stone or tree, it appeals to the whole of these things, to their ideas; yet each hearer will give to them a peculiar personal embodiment in his imagination. Should the story say “he ate bread,” the dramatic producer or painter can only show ”a piece of bread” according to his taste or fancy, but the hearer of the story will think of bread in general and picture it in some form of his own. If a story says “he climbed a hill and saw a river in the valley below,” the illustrator may catch, or nearly catch, his own vision of such a scene; but every hearer of the words will have his own picture, and it will be made out of all the hills and rivers and dales he has ever seen, but especially out of The Hill, The River, The Valley which were for him the first embodiment of the word.”
What I love about this quote is it captures a key difference between visual and written mediums. Basically the idea is that in writing you spark the imagination of the reader by prompting them with some element of the thing you’re describing, whereas say on television you are showing exactly what is happening on screen.
While the gist of the comments is about how this impacts people’s impressions of TV adaptations, the thought that popped into my head is that writers have a lot of variability on how they present descriptions and actions. As in do you try to capture a general sense of something and let the reader fill in the gaps, OR do you dive deep into description and leave less specifics to the imagination? I’ve noticed that the style of description is a key difference between different works.
This is such a common online question/post, people who are either curious about how to ‘git gud’ at writing without reading, whether they can still expect to be a published author while not reading, or just how much reading they might have to suck up to pass.
Understandably its quite frustrating for most writers who as a group usually read a lot but I do just have to laugh sometimes. It’s kinda hard to think of any vocation or hobby that doesn’t need you to consume the medium as well as try to create. Directors not watching movies, musicians not listening to music, artists not looking at other works.
Other than just naivety, I cynically suspect that most people asking this question actually see writing as an easier or more accessible pathway to blockbuster TV show or movie franchise fame. They know of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, or perhaps are a fan of a cult Anime, but don’t think they are able to directly create TV content and think that writing some amazing books will be their path.
Other r/writing Posts of Interest: I kind of regret self-publishing my first novel
This is another interesting problem for self-published writers. I think the comments get a little distracted by the authors potentially dumb views, but more importantly its often recommended to be careful with self-publishing without adequate care, as you can sink your publishing reputation rather than boosting it.
In this case its not that the book was a disaster, it simply didn’t sell well or go anywhere (and the author was a bit worried that his political comments might put people off). On the surface poor sales might not seem a big deal, after all don’t many authors build up an audience? The issue in this case is that if you want to pursue traditional publishing a poorly selling book under doesn’t just look bad, its that the publisher might not want to back you knowing that your previously published works might be lumped into their efforts too.
It’s not so much that the agent or publisher is worried they’re going to get pulled through the muck exactly, its more just a poor look for them right from the get-go.
A well-sold or even niche or cult popularity book is a bonus that a publisher might even consider getting 2nd rights for – but something average or poor.
As a strange side note the original poster also seemed very attached to their own name, and didn’t want to consider a pen name in case they didn’t leave a legacy or something? Possibly a poor misconception, I think ultra-fans usually find out an authors real name, I don’t think there is much risk to being unknown and successful.
An Excellent Blog from Jane Friedman’s Website: 7 Questions to Design a Better Arc of Change for Your Protagonist
I confess I only read the section-titles! But I love this approach to character creation – asking guiding questions rather than a novel structure. Something I’m still working on is shaping my characters with some sort of pre-existing problem that is resolved by the story, I have a tendency to just think up some random person/alien/insect/robot that gets dumped into a story.
Finally a Trolley Problem: https://neal.fun/absurd-trolley-problems/
Those following this blog for a while have probably seen me go on about this stuff before. I love my moral quandaries, and the linked sequence does not disappoint – let me know what your decision on the clone one was…
Anyway that’s the week that was: Let me know was this a useful way to blog, do you want more content, less, give up blogging entirely?