Heading towards an ominous ending with lots of rabbits (rjs) Sun 6 Apr 03 10:28
Kelly Link (kellylink) Sun 6 Apr 03 12:39
>Name three of your favorite writing rules -- and if you can think of them, where and why you like to break them. Well, for example, show don't tell. Telling is harder to pull off than showing -- as a style -- so it's easier most of the time to show. But sometimes it's more fun, and more appropriate to tell. You just have to think about what you're doing, and why. Telling the reader something is intrusive -- it's bossy. It's old-fashioned. But it's one of the ways that you can choose to tell a story. For that matter, telling the reader that you aren't going to tell them something is also a perfectly reasonable ploy. Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler use a sentence from Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books -- "Ask not how Tantor [the elephant] and Tarzan became friends." Possibly I'm mangling that sentence, but anyways, you can see how satisfying it can be to tell/not tell. My personal unofficial writing rule since I started reading slush is that writers should abstain from mentioning the eye color and hair color of their characters, and from all scenes where characters look into mirrors and check themselves out. I'm very tired of reading manuscripts where characters have gem-colored eyes: jade, amber, etc. Frequently the writer has spent too much time color-coordinating the hair, eyes, and outfits of various characters, and not enough time on prose-style. It's like reading a J. Crew catalog, or a wine list. A good, general rule is just to read your work out loud, to hear how it sounds. I can't think of any reason to break that rule.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 6 Apr 03 12:44
Even when the writer tells me eye color etc. I rarely think about it while I continue to read about the character. On the other hand I wonder if I'm terribly off the chart in that regard, and if readers of my stories are going nuts at how rarely I describe their clothing.
Kelly Link (kellylink) Sun 6 Apr 03 12:51
>What are you reading this week? Jerusalem Poker by Edward Whittemore Pavane by Keith Roberts Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler In the Forests of Serre by Patricia McKillip "Frankenstein's Daughter" by Maureen McHugh (on Scifi.com) Problem Child -- Lori Selke's new zine And I'm listening to Kathleen Edwards, the new Rilo Kiley cd, and The Mendoza Line oh yeah, and we're watching The Young Ones. I like watching bad movies because there aren't enough good ones. "Ghost Ship" had a horrible, grisly opening scene (my stomach still hurts whenever I think about it) and after that, it was good, spooky/cheesy fun -- an EC comic, with an EC comics ending. So far, I love all horror-at-sea movies -- "Beneath" was great, and so is "Deep Rising." (i love Famke Janssen -- i wonder, is there any chance she's related to Tove?) I'd even argue that movies like "Alien" are as much horror-at-sea movies as they are haunted house movies. ("Pitch Black", for sure.)
Kelly Link (kellylink) Sun 6 Apr 03 12:57
>Even when the writer tells me eye color etc. I rarely think about it while I continue to read about the character. On the other hand I wonder if I'm terribly off the chart in that regard, and if readers of my stories are going nuts at how rarely I describe their clothing. Me too. I think it's a reader-to-reader specific preference, or fetish. I think reading is a fetishistic act (is that a word?) in any case, but kind of eye-color/hair color writing that I'm talking about always makes me think I'm going to get a porn scene next.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 6 Apr 03 13:31
I realize that what I wrote above sounds like readers would expect me to describe the readers' clothing.
Gavin Grant (gavingrant) Mon 7 Apr 03 11:33
Anyone who wants to send the complete Young Ones on DVD to us will be profusely thanked. We watched three BBC videos with 3 episodes each on them (in either two or three days...lots of violence and random swearing at our house). Most of the violence and swearing is directed at the squirrel who has worked out how to eat birdseed from bird feeder which is protected with a "squirrel-proof cage." Wonder if that was guaranteed to keep squirrels away, because I have the photos to prove it doesn't work. The squirrel has black anthracite eyes and grey fur the color of, um, squirrel fur.
Gavin Grant (gavingrant) Mon 7 Apr 03 11:37
On horror movies and stories: the endings often let down the good buildup. Films like The Ring and even The Sixth Sense stand out because the end is not the expected comfortable fiction where the bad monster is cleaned out from under the bed and the world is safe for bedroom slippers once again. Why is so much horror written to be comforting?
Gavin Grant (gavingrant) Mon 7 Apr 03 11:38
Aha! So, you're reading zines. Any others you've enjoyed? (Take a look at the stack on the top of the boookshelf in the office if you can't remember.) Snow snow snow. Ice age is coming.
Valdemar Francisco Zialcita (dextly) Tue 8 Apr 03 17:35
A quickie (and a half): Kelly and Gavin, your new house sounds very nice, but ... why did you leave Brooklyn? And do you miss it?
Kelly Link (kellylink) Wed 9 Apr 03 11:28
>Kelly and Gavin, your new house sounds very nice, but ... why did you leave Brooklyn? And do you miss it? We both miss Brooklyn a ton. At the moment, we both have bad colds, and so I'm missing the chicken soup from an Israeli deli up on 51st street, in Manhattan, near 10th Ave. Every chance we get, when we go back for work, we eat dinner or lunch at Grand Szechuan International. I really miss browsing for CDs at Other Music, and at Kim's. And I miss friends. On the other hand, we had over 3 tons of books in storage while we lived in Brooklyn. At night, this skunk comes up and looks in the door of our work studio, and then goes underneath the house. We're closer to Oishi, in Sudbury, MA: my favorite sushi restaurant. I've never stayed in one place for very long -- when I was a kid, we moved every few years. So leaving Brooklyn didn't feel all that strange. What will feel strange is when we stay put, here.
Kelly Link (kellylink) Wed 9 Apr 03 11:33
>Films like The Ring and even The Sixth Sense stand out because the end is not the expected comfortable fiction where the bad monster is cleaned out from under the bed and the world is safe for bedroom slippers once again. >Why is so much horror written to be comforting? I completely disagree, by the way. Horror movies and horror fiction don't usually have tidy, comfortable ends, any more than any other kind of fiction -- i think ends in general are the most problematic parts of fiction, because they don't match up with how life works. I don't agree about horror being written to be comforting, either. There are cosy kinds of ghost stories, just as there are cosy kinds of mysteries. One aim of fiction is to comfort, and another aim is to unsettle. The kind that makes the most sense does both.
Kelly Link (kellylink) Wed 9 Apr 03 11:37
>Aha! So, you're reading zines. Any others you've enjoyed? (Take a look at the stack on the top of the boookshelf in the office if you can't remember.) I'm trying to get a short, weird story written for Christopher Rowe's zine, Say... I love the zine Peko Peko (which is all about food.) Meanwhile, as Gavin says, it's snowing, and we both have colds. Tonight we go up to Peabody, MA, for a reading and book group. I don't have much of a reading voice, but at least I don't have to sing.
The Phantom of the Arts Center (tinymonster) Wed 9 Apr 03 18:39
Get well, you two!
Gavin Grant (gavingrant) Thu 10 Apr 03 05:55
I refute that I have a bad cold. I am bravely teetering on the edge of a cold and refusing to give in. This portion of the story is called "Vitamin C never tasted so good, Or, It's All About the Garlic." The Peabody book group thing was fun. Long-time and a few new members. Everybody had read Stranger Things Happen, and they all had strong opinions. One of the things that came up was endings (which brings me back to what we were talking about before -- I'd love to have as many epiphanic (keep you mind out the gutter!) moments in regular life as there are in short stories. (Do short story protagonists laugh at novel characters for the amount of words it takes to get there?) Without asking a stupid general question (I'll get back to those later), what can we do about endings? How can they be made easier? (Oh, wait, generalizing.) Try that.
The Phantom of the Arts Center (tinymonster) Thu 10 Apr 03 20:09
Zinc, man. Lots of zinc. (For the cold, not the endings.)
Angus MacDonald (angus) Thu 10 Apr 03 22:33
Maybe. Even if it works, chewing zinc is worse than most colds.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 11 Apr 03 16:14
Well, this went fast! Thanks, Kelly and Gavin. Officially, this interview is over, and you can sequoister yourselves in a tub of chicken soup. But you're more than welcome to stick around!
Gavin Grant (gavingrant) Sat 12 Apr 03 08:34
Thanks, Martha! -- and everyone else. Have been trying this Celestial Seasonings tea with everything (zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea -- even good endings) and it is great with lime and honey (most things are, I suppose). Don't usually like their teas (too sweet) but this was hitting the spot. Back to the proofing of books. Paul Witcover, the proofreader, is our collective hero. Cheers!
Valdemar Francisco Zialcita (dextly) Mon 14 Apr 03 07:24
Good luck with the house, the new book, and many zines to come ...
Members: Enter the conference to participate
Non-members: How to participate