Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Dialogue

Once of the things I think I’m pretty good at is dialogue. I was decent at it when I first started writing and I’ve only improved. I can craft voices for characters, I know to make it interesting and relevant, I only use dialogue tags when absolutely necessary. And of course, I remember that dialogue in books never sounds like dialogue in actual conversations.

If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that last point. Have you ever read a transcript of a conversation between two actual people? Let me put it this way: if you tried to pass that off to an editor, you’d get laughed out of his/her office. Ever read Waiting for Godot? Probably one of the more realistic conversations I’ve ever read.

Weird, isn’t it? It’s kind of the same as the rule of believability—namely, that just because something happened in real life, doesn’t mean a reader will by it. The difference between fiction and real life isn’t truth or lies. The difference is that fiction is crafted to make it seem real, not to be real.

Keep that in mind while writing.

So, in the battle of realistic versus believable, which side are you on? Is it possible to meld the two? Heck, is that even necessary?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Random Thoughts

---Yeah, another one. I don’t mean to inflict so many on you, but I didn’t do my posts on Saturday and then I got a headache on Sunday. So…
---The world might run out of seafood by 2048. Just a happy thought to start your day
---“Hike up your skirt a little more/show your world to me.” Dave Mathew’s songs touch me in a bad place.
---In your face, Happy Birthday copyright!
---In a completely unrelated note, thank you, Luke Barats.
---Mind twister: calling something unremarkable is remarking on it, thus making it remarkable.
---If your five year old is having problems on the bus, the solution isn’t to beat up another five year old.
---For some reason, I find this comment suspicious: “I always take the time to read this website for its articles or reviews. My website: PORNO!”
---What the hell is a “Channing Tatum”?
---For every person on Earth, there’s one million ants. We should just find a new planet now.
---You got to check out “Scale of the Universe 2” on Newgrounds. Amazing. Seriously, go do it now. I’ll wait.
---See? Look at me waiting.

And now, another transcript of a conversation between me and my mom. It was during the Superbowl (for all you non-Americans, it’s a day to eat chicken wings, drink beer and yell at men on TV who can’t hear you) and since neither one of us is interested in football, the game was only turned on by accident. The Pats were ahead at this time and closing in on the Giants’ goal (before as per usual, getting their asses handed to them in the last minute).

Me: Close score.

Her: If the Giants make the next goal, they’ll tie the game.

Me: Yeah, but they’re closer to their goal right now, so it might not happen.

Her: Well, look. It’s only ten yards away. They could do it.

Me: No, I’m talking about the Giants, not the Patriots.

Her: So am I.

A moment passes, both of us confused at what the other is getting at.

Me: It’s the Giants’ goal.

Her: I know! They could make the point.

Me: No they couldn’t! The teams make points by crossing the other team’s goal!

She pauses, trying to figure it out.

Her: Really? That’s how it works?

Me [crazy by now]: In every game in every sport!

If she wasn’t so honestly unenlightened about football, I’d think she was messing with me just to drive me insane.

Of course, she ended up being right. Not about the goals, but about the Giants making another touchdown and winning the game. Pretty impressive considering the last time the Patriots and the Giants played in the Superbowl, I turned the game on just as the same thing happened.

Apparently, my super power is to decide who wins these games. You’re welcome, New York.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Language of Confusion: Oh, the Humanity!

This may surprise you, but man did not always refer to the male of the species. The reason “mankind” seems male-skewed is because it was formed when “man” referred to the entire species. Words are dropped and created all the time in languages, so after wer, the Old Englishword for male human, was dropped in the tenth century, they picked man to replace it. Honestly, that makes sense. The people with the most power were men, as were those who had access to books (monks and priests). I can believe they’d choose the equivalent of human to represent themselves.

The word human itself showed up in the mid fifteenth century as humain or humaigne. Unsurprisingly, it comes from classical Latin (humanus) by way of Old French (humain). Humanus most likely comes from homo (which means man), as in Homo sapiensand all those other species names.

And of course, it wouldn’t be fair not to mention the origin of woman. Back when man used to refer to both sexes, Old English used wer for men and wif for women. Before you ask, yes, it is the origin word for wife, too. They combined wif and man, kind of softening the f until it became wimman.

Interesting, huh? Well, I think it is.

English Club’s page on the history of the English language
Orbis Latinus’s page on the French language

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Campaigner Challenge

Hey all! Time for the First Campaigner Challenge! Or would it be, the Fourth First Campaigner Challenge? Anyway, I’m posting about a day early so I can get in on the fun.

Rachhas given us a good one this time:
    Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count.

    If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:

        end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)

        include the word "orange" in the story

        write in the same genre you normally write

        make your story 200 words exactly!

Cool, right? So I spit on my mental hands and here’s my entry. Dystopian, of course:

Shadows crept across the wall. The sun hung over the trees, fat and orange. I used to love this time of day, the way every sunset was different from the one before it. Some pink, some gray. Some so rich it looked like you could scoop the color out of the air.

It’s a lie, you know, to say you don’t appreciate anything until it’s gone. I appreciated each one. I just never thought this was how it would be taken from me. That each sunset would bring screams from the people who didn’t make it inside. That I could never see one again because it meant the monsters were awake and hunting us.

My daughter asked where her mom was. I’m a coward, I didn’t answer. I told her there was no time, she had to get in the storm cellar. “Time for bed!” I told her. She frowned and it made my heart weep. She looks just like Amara.

I ushered her inside, stealing one last glance at the sun dipping behind the trees. Then my daughter screamed and I didn’t know why. It was beautiful.

It landed next to me, blood stinking on its breath.

Everything faded.


Like it? It's number 74, so vote for it if you do. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Top Ten Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Writing a Book

Yes. Another list. Hey, they say to write what you know, and I know how to write lists.

10. I want to teach a lesson.
            While morals, lessons and what have you are often part of books, that’s not all they’re about. Books written for the express purpose of teaching lessons aren’t stories. They’re episodes of Sesame Street.

9. My friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s brother works for a major publisher. All I have to do is give him an idea and let them do the rest.
            Even if this guy was willing to listen to the idea, he’s not going to care unless it’s marketable and you’re willing to put in the work on it. Or you have incriminating evidence against the company.

8. My story will be an inspiration to men/women/children/troglodytes everywhere.
            Maybe. But more likely not. Unless your story is compelling because of its characters, voice, etc. no one will care.

7. No one’s ever had an idea like this before!
            Yes. They have. Google it.

6. I want to be famous!
            So do all the college athletes desperate for a pro scout to notice them. But for every Shaq, there’s a thousand unknowns. I’d name one, but then they wouldn’t be unknown, would they?

5. Im a gr8 ritr!
            Get out.

4. I want to quit my day job.
            Yeah, Stephen King. Go right ahead and do that. Writing isn’t a replacement job. It’s a part time job you work at when you’re not doing your regular job. Except you might not get paid.

3. I’m famous already and want more money.
            I hate you.

2. I already have a publishing deal set up. All I have to do is pay and I’ll be famous.
            Er…you might want to make sure this company is actually a company and not some guy with a cell phone who also wants to sell you cloud insurance.

1. It’s putting words on a page. It couldn’t be any easier.
            Just…just no.

And as a bonus, the reason you should be writing: because you have to. Or the stories will make your skull burst.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lost in Translation: Thor’s Day

Time for another day of the week!

Italian: Giovedi
French: Jeudi
Spanish: Jueves
Portuguese: quinta-feira
Norwegian: Torsdag
Polish: Czwartek
Slovak: štvrtok
Latvian: ceturtdiena
Swedish: Torsdag
Dutch: donderdag
German: Donnerstag
Estonian: neljapäev
Croatian: četvrtak
Finnish: torstai
Icelandic: Fimmtudagur

In most languages, Thursday is the day of thunder. As usual, we can thank the Romans for this. They started with the day for their thunder god, Jupiter (or in Greek terms, Zeus). Actually, if you want to get technical, it’s a reference to Jove, better known as Jupiter (it means Father Jove, referring to his status as the father of the gods). But the original name survives in jovial, Jove, and most of the Romance languages’ Thursday. Most Germanic languages kept the spirit of the name. They just changed the god to Mighty Thor.

Many eastern European languages bypass the whole gods thing and just number their days. Latvian has ceturtdiena, literally quart-day (which comes after three-day). Polish, Croatian and Slovak have a variation on the word fourth—they don’t even stick day at the end, although Estonian does.

As always, Portuguese is unique for the Romance languages. Quinta-feira translates to fifth-fair, basically the fifth day after the fair, in this case meaning the day of rest, which a long time ago was the Sabbath—Saturday. Similarly, Icelandic doesn’t go by the usual thunder god-day, but fifth-day. These languages kept the tradition of numbering, with Monday as the first day of the week.

As always, there are many more languages and many more words for Thursday. This is just what I could find and understand, so imagine how much more there is out there!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Now I Am The One Who Is It

Well, it took long enough. I wondered when someone would get around to tagging me. Is it weird that I thought it would be graffiti? I guess you learn something new every day.

Thank you, Julia King. Here are her questions, and my answers in blue:

1. What is your favorite childhood memory?
            Hmmm. I guess it would have to be when I was thirteen and we got a new kitten. She was so cute and fluffy and followed me around everywhere. Thirteen years later and she still does : ).
2. Who is your hero?
            In high school, I had an English teacher who was one of those rare, awesome ones who taught me a lot and made me enjoy the class. Plus she was a really strong person who overcame a disease, so there’s admiration there, too.
3. What is the first thing that pops into your mind right now?
            If you touch your nose and your foot at the same time, you feel it at the same time even though your foot is a lot farther away from your pain-sensing brain than your nose is.
4. What is your favorite food?
            The obvious answer is chocolate. But I enjoy vegetables cooked in soy sauce a lot, too.
5. If you were stuck in a "Groundhog Day" type experience, what crazy things would you do to shake up the day?
            You mean with no consequences whatsoever once the day is over? How about whatever I want?
6. If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
            A colossal squid. Because theyre elusive and gigantic.
7. Why did you start writing?
            I like living in worlds of my own creation.
8. Where is your favorite place to read?
            On the couch, with ice tea in reach.
9. What is your favorite book?
            Watership Down, by Richard Adams. I like bunnies.
10. What is your favorite holiday?
            Thanksgiving. I love leftover sandwiches.
11. If you could go anywhere in the world (paid in full), where would it be?
            Disney World. I want to go on the rides and visit the shops and go swimming in the beautiful Florida water.

And now, mwa-ha-ha, I’m tagging the following people to answer my 11 questions:

Melanie Stanford
Melanie Fowler
Is that enough? I had more, but then I saw that most of them have already been tagged. Kind of running out of people now. Enjoy the questions and pass on some new ones to your new followers!

1. What’s your favorite book genre?
2. Are there any beloved books that you don’t really enjoy?
3. What was your favorite class in school?
4. Do you write under a pseudonym or use your real name?
5. Do you prefer reading first person or third person?
6. An old question, but e-books or paper?
7. You’re stranded on an island that has plenty of food and water, but no electricity or way to contact the outside world. But you have one object of your choice with you. What is it?
8. Which do you like more, Facebook or Twitter?
9. Coffee or tea?
10. Pick one word to describe yourself with.
11. If you had one wish, what would it be? (PS: no fair wishing for more wishes)

Saturday, February 11, 2012


No, not this. 

Although it is adorable.

There’s been talk in my home town about switching the school times so the middle and high schools started later and the elementary schools start earlier. Whether or not this is feasible is being debated in the town, but my own reaction was “That would have been soooo awesome if it happened when I was still in school.”

Unfortunately for anyone longing for extra time to sleep in, there are a variety of reasons it might not work. Some are understandable, like how it may push after school practices too late and whether or not students will just end up staying up later, thus negating the whole extra sleep thing. But there are other reasons that are just plain rude. One man claimed parents were coddling their children and refusing to make them get up early like in the “real world.”

I hate the “real world” argument. The whole thing smacks of prejudice. Not every job makes you get up at six a.m. A nurse working the swing shift doesn’t have to get up early. Neither does a writer who works from home. Or a stay-at-home parent whose sleep schedule revolves around a child’s. Do these people not live in the “real world” just because they aren’t the majority?

When I was a teenager, I preferred sleeping until noon and staying up well past midnight. Getting up to go to school was painful for me. It’s not like I didn’t try to sleep more (that is, going to bed earlier) but at the time, I was plagued with pretty bad insomnia. If I went to bed at eleven, I was lucky if I got to sleep at midnight. There were nights that I tossed and turned until two, three, even four in the morning and then I had to trudge to school. Which I did every day, and worked hard for good grades. Same goes for college. Not very lazy for someone who slept past noon on occasion.

So I really don’t like it when people automatically associate late sleeping with laziness. Now I sleep at times that are considered “normal”, but that doesn’t mean I work any more or less hard than someone who stays up until four a.m. and then sleeps until noon.

What say you? What do you think of late sleepers? And what do you think of later school start times for older kids?