Chapter Twenty-Three, in which our protagonist muses on a book, explores the written word, expounds

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

16 May 2008

    Several months ago, I started reading Michael Chabon’s "The Yiddish Policemen’s Union", an alt-history novel about the Jewish state in Alaska, 1999. It’s good – Chabon’s a wonderful author – but I stopped after about a hundred pages and moved on, telling myself I’d return to it soon. It was just too full of… schtick, if you’ll pardon the expression. Chabon seems too infatuated with his blend of Ashkenazi mannerisms and film noir, and it seems like the entire narrative isn’t going anywhere, but only serving as a vehicle for the stylistic romp, charming but eventually wearisome. I’m told it improves later on, or maybe one just gets used to it. Regardless, Chabon deserves a second chance.

But that isn’t the subject of this post.

    Reading novels, I have a tendency to rush forward, sliding down the narrative, surfing on the dialogs, not paying enough attention to the actual words used unless a particularly good sentence catches my eye. Maybe it’s due to my usual fondness for pop-culture-intensive books, with sparse prose, heavy on dialogs and with a deliberate preference to the spoken-word register. Or maybe it’s just that an average novel clocks at up to 100,000 words, making it hard to dwell on each and every one of them. However, due to my recent enculturation, I have begun to pay more attention to literary devices, patterns and themes embedded in the prose. If nothing else, studying poetry gave me a much greater appreciation of novels, as well.
    Now, however, I need to kick it up a notch as well. Poetry gives you insights at the word-, sentence- and paragraph-level. They’re all a great way to travel, but they don’t tell you where you’re going. Take a step back, you have characterization. Plot progression. Themes. These are all essential when you want to go from stanza to story.

But that, it turns out, isn’t the subject of this post either.

    After many years I have returned to the GM’s seat, running a regular roleplaying game. And now I am giving a lot more thought to the aspects of running a game that are shared with writing. You need good characters driving the plot, and an overarching theme or two. With these, much of the plot writes itself. Running a roleplaying game is different in many respects from writing, especially when it comes to plots. You can rely on players’ inputs to drive the narrative along without having a real, honest-to-god plot, and the gaming aspect mean that you can get away with more hackneyed storylines and in a crunch just throw in a good fight scene to liven things up. This has traditionally freed me from thinking up good plots. I can wing a good character-oriented scene or whip up a twist or a gimmick, but I’ve never found myself writing a full-blown STORY.

    So that’s my current mission. It will be a short story, probably. It probably won’t be very good, at first. I will write it, and rewrite it, and solicit feedback, and revise it again, until I am pleased with it. It will have characters, and it will have plot. It will not be a blog entry or a context-driven poem. It will be a story. I don’t know how long it’ll take me or whether I’ll give up halfway, but I’m writing this down so people will hound me with questions about my progress until I am shamed into completing the project.

That was the subject of this post..


In a completely unrelated note, a discarded early 2005 1995 script for the fourth Indiana Jones movie was tentatively titled "Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men From Mars. I.Shit.You.Not.

5 תגובות על Chapter Twenty-Three, in which our protagonist muses on a book, explores the written word, expounds



17 בMay, 2008 בשעה 21:06


All I gotta say.



18 בMay, 2008 בשעה 06:35

So – what’s the story? Setting, main plot?



18 בMay, 2008 בשעה 07:23

Haven’t a clue.



18 בMay, 2008 בשעה 09:46

איפה זה? קדימה, שלח.




18 בMay, 2008 בשעה 11:03

Re: איפה זה? קדימה, שלח.

מ’זתומרת, “שלח”? זה לא שיש לי משהו עדיין. כלום. רק רעיון מאד מאד מעורפל.

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פעם היה לי לייבג'ורנל. עכשיו הוא כאן, מגובה.