Friday, January 31, 2014

Texas Drums

I should have a song with this.
Gene Krupa?

Gene Krupa

Action Verbs for our Character S

   Reading a lot of books lately, looking for ideas to improve (among other things) my rendition of dialog. One of things I've noticed, some of the better dialog has verbs that just don't fit quietly into context. However, context doesn't always need verbs that clarify. So, the verb can provide a twist, color, emphasis or it can say something about the speaker. In the novel, The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, many characters are uneducated and their verbs are often wrong tense, archaic, or slang. But sometimes they can deliver volumes. The example I read a few minutes ago first caught my eye because I thought I'd spotted a typo. First a little background: John Brown's "army" attempts to repel the advancing militia.
"They powered the militia with balls and drove 'em back outside the gate."
    The Good Lord Bird is full of these. Or should I say, "the text is powered with these verbs."

   While I'm on the subject of dialog, I have to say it ain't what it used to be. I forget exactly why I started reading The Forsaken Inn by Anna K. Green, first printing 1889, but it was probably about dialog. Specifically, identifying the speaker. I expected Green would carefully identify each speaker and she did so. I spotted something I had never noticed before, dialog frequently separated from a long introductory paragraph. She would end the paragraph with a colon and follow with a blank line.
   What I didn't expect was her variations using quotation marks. The novel started with double quotation marks at the beginning and end of dialog. That was expected. But then, her dialog started with a double quotation mark and ended with a single quotation mark. The next variation was even stranger. The narrator's introduction to a new scene, situation or even a speaker-identified paragraph, would start with a double quotation mark but wouldn't end with a quotation mark of any kind.
   In Ms Green's defense I should point out that her novel has had, at different printings, three publishers. With the first two she was at the mercy of typesetters but with the third she was in good hands, Project Gutenberg proofreaders.

   "Stay thirsty, my friends."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two Mentors for our Character S

So OK, S*has two trusted mentors. The Old Shaman, (S calls him Grampa though he does have a name,) has seen S's potential as an acolyte. The other, a Computer-Entity who we shall refer to as W**., lovingly employs S as a tool. W must teach S to live survive in worlds that are eons apart.

Of the two, the Shaman has the first responsibility for S's education. He will start his acolyte's training as early as age 4-5. I have a rough mental outline to introduce the spirit world with  the old tried-and-true relationship between the sculptor and the stone. That view of religion/spirituality can be compatible with W's science education goals.

Then the question of what and when S learns about science will start with Animism***. I think I'm comfortable with that. My gut says that a grasp of the-world isn't-flat concept is not a problem with Animism.

One thing that S has on his side is trust in his mentors and persons of authority in general. I envy him. I don't have that trust and I don't think I'm alone. That trust started slipping away at least 50 years ago. I wonder, is that a negative or a positive as I write?

* In case you missed it, the character names are in a state of never-ending flux. I'll try, at the least-but-don't-hold-me-to-it, to keep the first letter of a character's name fixed. For a but-don't-hold-me-to-it example, S's best friend's name started with L yesterday but is holding dearly onto C today.
** W really truly loves S. He/It is S's father.
*** The cap is intentional.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG - character S*

Over the past few months, 

I've had an ongoing internal debate about posting and have been leaning in the direction to forget about posting because I should be spending a lot more time on the novel I decided to write.

My writing style has flaws. Try as I might to tame the beast, there are more developing ideas, critical plot changes, character adjustment, and just plain old disasters in what I've already written.
I've tried to jot down important things in a notebook. A week later it largely indecipherable or lost in the margins. I've rewritten my outline at least three times. (I hate to lose anything in that outline that might be important later so I've taken to numbering them.)
I digress (or at least I would if I could spell). 
So this is my latest idea: If I jot down a few words on ideas that I've managed to grab -  before Alzheimer's spirits them away - here in a post, maybe I'll find some order to my efforts.
So the place to start, hopefully, is on the character development of S. In a nutshell, S is currently 4 or 5 years old. Long before he reaches puberty he needs to get an education in science. Science that hasn't been developed yet. I know I'll have to break it to him gently but where do I start? Thank God for copy, paste, and Ctrl Z. 
Speaking of God, I guess I'll list what I have I've done messed up so far and their wrinkles.

  1. I thought I'd start with: Science good - Religion passe. (with good reason at that time)
  2. Then I apologized tried to apologize to S because he still has to live in what is a real world for him. The apology is mired in coming up with: Science good/critical - Religion necessary critical
  3. Some messy stuff: Teaching just enough science and not too much all at once. Or where to start - earth is no longer flat - there is no Fire God. How do I believably convince a 4/5 year old not to tell everyone else in the hunter-gatherer village (not an oxymoron, I've been doing my research) he lives in. Like his father the shaman or his best-friend?
  4. Currently, he has to know there is no fire god and he has to know that his Teacher isn't a god either. However, the current (January 2014, North-America) culture's grasp of science probably gives me a lot of latitude. (Big-foot, anti-vacc'sers, global warming deniers, creationists etc.
To be continued:

* It's probably a good idea to keep his name S. It has already changed more time than I care to remember. It's like an idea-wind comes along and suddenly everyone has a new name. Also, shortly before I started this post I realized some of the characters might have the wrong gender (in 2014 I have many to choose from)
Off topic. I hope to introduce the character of his best friend soon.
Off off topic. Please grant some "spelling-error, punctuation-mess" 'cause I gots no time to fix'um. (An damn this Windows 7. It keeps mentioning that it's unable to save a draft of this post. Sh*t!)

Happy motoring - Dennis