Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Incomplete Thoughts

1. Superpowers is a manuscript. 600+ typewritten pages. I think it's some of my strongest stuff, but then, I wrote it. Oddly, it has the tonal structure of a Hong Kong kung fu flick, which was not something I did consciously. (Too many viewings of Fong Sai Yuk and Swordsman II? Nah, no such thing.)

2. New story taking shape, first in a while. Every time I write a new story my thoughts on writing have changed, which is both scary and cool. Collaborations are part of this, I think. Structure and foreshadowing and paying off what's set up. Tricky when you're doing speculative stuff, because the rules aren't always clear at the beginning. And you have to have rules, even if you're breaking a lot of them. I remember talking about this with Barth at WisCon a couple of years ago, how you can't mess with traditional structure effectively unless you really understand it; you might be bored with straight-ahead storytelling and want to be clever and avant-garde, but if you don't know how it works you can't subvert it. Like demolition engineers taking down one building without touching the others around it. Maybe sometimes it's necessary to fit into the box in order to raise questions about the need for boxes? (Remembering A Season of Mists, and the cardboard-box Lord of Order--if you put Chaos in a box, is it contained, or does it just destroy the box? Rambling, sorry. Maybe I can say something coherent later.)

3. Finished some assigned reading and started Hal Duncan's Vellum, which is, yeah, like nothing I've read before. OK, it's like some things, but it's also wholly original. No complete thoughts yet, just Wow. Good onya, Hal.

4. Can I be done with school now instead of waiting until May? Just wondering.

5. Congratulations to all the Glaswegian Hugo folks. Good to see awards going to worthy works; too bad they can't give out multiple awards in some of those categories, though. 'Nuff said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

...how you can't mess with traditional structure effectively unless you really understand it...

Hmm. Hmm. This is one of those very sensible pieces of advice that--I don't know what I think about it. By which I mean, I know exactly what I think about it, but may not be able to say it in a way that makes sense.

My issue, I guess, boils down to this: how can you understand something like story structure without getting in and messing it up?

- H

1:36 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I don't think it's a chicken-and-egg thing so much as it is an intersection of learning curves. You study stories that work according to the rules. You write stories that break the rules a little, and in the process you learn a little more about why the rules are there, and which ones to respect while you shred the others. Like having one foot on the Ladder of Structure and the other on the Ladder of Deconstruction (except for the part where I hate that word), and climbing both ladders at the same time.

Maybe it is the same thing, in a way. But it's one thing to have the enfant terrible impulse to tear everything down, and another to actively examine and understand what you're tearing down.

1:47 PM  

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