Thursday, July 18, 2013

Filler: Recommended Reading

I am not feeling well. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on "Incipient Sinus Infection", but it could be the weather, a cold (coming on or recovering from, take your pick), or just generally being over-scheduled and run down. I don't know. I've been making an effort to get enough sleep (my body seems to want about seven hours a night), but it seems like no matter what I do I'm tired, logy, slightly irritable. I'm also feeling useless, restless, and bored - in no small part because I can't seem to muster up the energy or concentration to take care of any of the things I need or even want to do. Last night added a minor cough and a bit of nausea as well, but again that could very easily just be allergies.

Throw in the fact that my boss is out of town, so I feel like I need to be really sick before I can take a sick day. Then add a dash of self-pity for flavor, stir, and simmer gently over low heat for, oh, three or four days now.

So, since I have nothing useful of my own to contribute, I'm going to steer you towards some things that other people have written.

First up: Jennifer Crusie looks at a Syfy Channel movie and says, "Carpe Sharknado!"
Never ever start thinking about the objections to your story before you’ve written your story. Never ever second guess an idea that makes you breathe faster, that makes a million story moments race through your head, that makes you think, “It would be so much fun to write this story, I want to write this story.” If a Sharknado appears in your frontal lobe, you must write Sharknado.
Next up, in keeping with the general theme of taking stories on their own terms, the first installment of Popehat Goes To The Opera carries us off to explore Wagner's Tannhauser.
The core of Tannhauser is a very conventional and familiar idea that you can easily see as the plot of a mainstream movie: troubled artist looks to faith and a new love to recover from his self-destructive habits. Imagine, say, Gordon Joseph Levitt as the guitarist who relapses but eventually overcomes drug addiction with the love of, say, Emma Stone and his devotion to, I don't know, indie acoustic bullshit or something.

But this is Wagner, and Wagner is all about majestic (if somewhat imperious) music overlaying overwrought silliness. So the monkey on Tannhauser's back is a pagan god, his dilemma is his tendency to lose dark age rap battles through uncouth lyrics, and he is redeemed only in death through the more-than-a-little-off-putting love of a woman who delivers him from evil through sheer force of grimly determined purity.
Finally, Terrible Minds explores 25 Things To Know About Your Story's Stakes.
It’s all well and good to have some manner of super-mega-uh-oh world-ending stakes on the line — “THE ALPACAPOCALYPSE IS UPON US, AND IF WE DON’T ACT LIKE HEROES WE’LL ALL BE DEAD AND BURIED UNDER THE ALPACA’S BLEATING REIGN” — but stakes mean more to us as the audience when the stakes mean more to the character. It’s not just about offering a mix of personal and impersonal stakes — it’s about braiding the personal stakes into the impersonal ones.

Read them. Read them all. I'm going to try to squeeze in a bit of writing before I actually have to work, and I don't manage that, well... I don't know. I'll probably mope, or something.

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Feel free to leave comments; it lets me know that people are actually reading my blog. Interesting tangents and topic drift just add flavor. Linking to your own stuff is fine, as long as it's at least loosely relevant. Be civil, and have fun!