No Plot? No Problem is a writing how-to book, but more importantly, it's a writing how-to book specifically geared to the madcap NaNo writing experience. You might not be writing your novel specifically during November along with the other NaNo participants, but the expectation is that you're going to be writing a short novel with minimal preparation and an emphasis on quantity over quality--the sheer exuberance of creativity. While some notes at the end talk about how to revise, that's not the focus of Baty's book.
I will own that I love this book. It is cracky and funny and irreverent, and as it turns out, that is exactly what I enjoy in my writing how-to books. Not the only thing, but one of the things. Here's an example:
Like any good vacation, half the fun of writing a novel is getting properly outfitted. A month-long noveling trip requires a shopping spree every bit as enjoyable as a jaunt to the Bahamas. And if you pinch pennies, you can get all the tech gear, low-tech tools, and copious amounts of treats you need for under $35.
The stuff you need falls neatly into two categories: things you can put in your mouth and things you shouldn't. We'll tackle the inedible writing tools first, and then move on to the essential snacks and drinks.
Needless to say, this requires that the reader be able to tell when Baty is being tongue-in-cheek. Nevertheless, some of the writing advice is genuine, and genuinely useful to me. Whether it's useful to another writer is going to be a matter of YMMV.
One of the exercises I like is to create what Baty calls a Magna Carta I and a Magna Carta II for your writing. In Magna Carta I, you list things that you enjoy or find appealing when you're reading. In Magna Carta II, you list turn-offs. The point is to be able to stuff in bunches of things from the former and avoid writing the latter. This sounds like it might be obvious, except Baty's contention is that writers often find themselves writing things that they don't enjoy writing out of a sense that it's more "literary" or "serious" or "good for them." I have definitely fallen prey to this in the past!
For the curious, here are my current lists, incomplete:
Magna Carta I (things I love in fiction)
- big space battles
- chessmasters (I get all my tropes from TV Tropes)
- Magnificent Bastards (I get all my tropes from TV Tropes)
- moral event horizons (I get all my...okay, okay, you get the idea!)
- grimdark worldbuilding
- grace notes of hope
- complicated and conflicting loyalties
- nonstandard worldbuilding, especially sociocultural stuff
- conlang and linguistics notes
- cracky comedy
- bureaucracy hijinks
Magna Carta II (things I usually can't stand in fiction)
- love triangles, etc.
- multigenerational family sagas
- plot points only happening due to people refusing to communicate with each other when it would make senes for them to do so
- cardboard villains
Please note, this is not the same as "good" or "bad"--some of the things I hate in fiction are perfectly good tropes that work fine for other readers! And sometimes things I hate can be done so well that I'm won over in spite of myself. But in general, I should probably avoid writing things that aren't my jam.
In any case, while I can't do NaNo this year, I will happily cheer on anyone else who's going for it! Are any of y'all giving it a swing?
Netflix now has the first seasons of Supergirl and Gotham, so I've been watching them back-to-back.
Talk about a thematic clash, huh.
I like Supergirl, but...the thing is, I want to love it, and it keeps not letting me. Keeps falling down on little things that should be so easy.
Like -- I appreciate that they're bringing in lots of female characters from the comics, but two villains in a row whose motivation is "professional woman turns evil after rivalry with other professional woman"? When it wasn't even their original backstory.
Or -- red kryptonite temporarily turns Kara evil, okay, but the warning signs include "she gets more assertive about not wanting to be taken for granted" and "she starts dressing sexier"? Really?
And Cat Grant eventually decides to make a video warning about how Supergirl has gone evil...and orders her news network to play it on a loop. That's not how TV works! Much less a TV network that's supposed to be wildly successful!
Gah, Cat is the type of character I usually love, but that's because she's usually written with lots of competence kink and a sense of internal logic that is coldly consistent. Whereas these writers keep sending Cat in such dumb and/or random directions.
...also: when male characters figure out Kara's identity, she brings them in on the secret pretty quickly. When Cat figures out her identity, Kara bends over backwards to deny it, finally bringing in a shapeshifter for the most convincing possible fakeout. Whyyy. She's one of the smartest people you know even with the writers handing her the idiot ball at obnoxious times.
On another note, I wish we got more alien backstory and culture shock for Kara. She was already a teenager when she got to this planet! Everything's sorta self-consciously a metaphor for young perky hopeful generic millennials, and that's not what Kara is. She's a young hopeful foreign refugee. You could get so much topical mileage out of paying attention to that, even.
I guess a lot of this falls under the heading of "wanting the show to be smarter than it is."
Finally: what's with the conspicuous avoidance of so many names? Do they have a copyright restriction where they only have the rights to say "Superman" twice a season? The constant references to "my cousin" are...well, super awkward. There's also a line about heroes wearing masks in "that other city." Was that supposed to be Gotham? Or somewhere else?
Specific references would make Kara's world feel grounded in a larger world of superheroics. References this generic just make it feel artificial and thin.
Speaking of Gotham:
I've been itching for someone to take on the "police procedural set in a superhero universe" concept for a while now, and this show hits the balance really well. The era of costumed crimefighters and cartoon-style supervillainy hasn't arrived yet, but you can see it bubbling under the surface, can see the bad guys just starting to get weird.
It can be gorier and more gruesome than it needs to be -- we get it, the mobster characters are violently double-crossing each other for the umpteenth time, what else is new -- but at least there are other interesting things going on. It's not like the writers are counting on the violence to carry you through a lack of plot.
I'm a sucker for origin stories -- all the continuity-porn moments of "aha, it's you! I know who you're going to be!" -- and this show delivers in spades. Ivy! Selina! Ed Nigma! Harvey Dent!
Little Bruce in particular is delightful, the way they're slowly nurturing the seeds of the future vigilante/action-hero/World's Greatest Detective. Foreshadowing the ridiculous levels of competence he's going to have, while making him still feel like a kid who has a long way to go.
A special shoutout to Renee Montoya for existing. And Barbara for having a thing with her, and Jim for being exactly as affected by that as he should be -- i.e., no more or less upset than he would be if she had those same Feelings and History with a guy.
I like the ethical quandaries, the way our heroes have to wrestle their way through a tangle of corruption and crossed loyalties even among their own departments. I like Bruce's whole arc. It would be great to have less mundane criminality, but I'm willing to hang around through that for the sake of the good parts.And I'm crossing my fingers that we get Kate Kane at some point.
I cooked ground beef fajita filling again tonight, this time with an Ortega seasoning packet. The flavor is better (and the texture much less gritty) than the store-brand packet I used the last time I did this, but I ended up having to play spice doctor anyway.
You see, the assumption is that Americans don't eat vegetables. This packet therefore instructed me to use 1lb of meat, one small onion, and one bell pepper. I duly used 1lb of meat, but because I do believe in vegetables, I used three small-to-medium onions and the equivalent of two bell peppers: one big store-bought plus three of my own small homegrown peppers. The seasoning packet just flat wasn't big enough to provide adequate flavor to the enlarged ingredient base. So I chucked in some ground chili pepper, some cumin, some garlic powder, and some oregano to stretch the packet, cooked the whole mess another five-ten minutes to let the flavor sink in, and then dumped most of it into tupperware for future meals.
I am happy to report that the small portion I ate tonight (with shredded cheddar, of course; cheese is important!) tasted lovely, though it probably could have stood even more supplemental spicing. :)
(I also cooked a batch of rice, which is now packaged and cooling in the fridge. I will freeze one of the containers and use the other as starch under a chicken thing I'm still working to finish off, which will probably make another two or three meals.)
[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded image inevitably breaks]]
The Black Sea Maritime Archeology Project wasn’t looking for shipwrecks. Its brief is to survey the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea for data about the rise water levels after the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago. To accomplish this aim, marine archaeologists have been scanning the seabed using cutting edge Remotely Operated Vehicles that can detect land surfaces underneath what is now the Black Sea but in prehistory were on dry land. They’ve also taken core samples, laser scanned and filmed the sea bed both in video and with high resolution 3D photogrammetry. One of the two Black Sea MAP ROVs has broken records for depth (1,800 meters or 5,905 feet) and speed (over six knots) and was able to survey 1,250 km (777 miles), recording everything with its path using a full panoply of geophysical instrumentation, high definition cameras and a laser scanner.
A felicitous but entirely unplanned side-effect of this exceptionally thorough geophysical survey is the discovery of more than 40 historic shipwrecks, including ancient Byzantine, medieval and Ottoman ships. Some of them may even be the first of their kind ever found, previously known only from documentary sources. Such a large, varied group of shipwrecks from different periods will give archaeologists a whole new understanding of trade and maritime links between towns on the coast of the Black Sea.
[University of Southampton professor and Principle Investigator on the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project Jon] Adams comments: “The wrecks are a complete bonus, but a fascinating discovery, found during the course of our extensive geophysical surveys. They are astonishingly preserved due to the anoxic conditions (absence of oxygen) of the Black Sea below 150 metres.
“Using the latest 3D recording technique for underwater structures, we’ve been able to capture some astonishing images without disturbing the sea bed. We are now among the very best exponents of this practice methodology and certainly no-one has achieved models of this completeness on shipwrecks at these depths.”
With the data from the ROVs, researchers have created 3D digital models suing the photogrammetry process. Software calculates the position of millions of points captured in thousands of photographs and builds a model which is then overlaid with the visual elements from the pictures to make it look real. The resulting 3D models of the shipwrecks are, to put it mildly, spectacular. Minute details are clearly visible. There is no pixelation and the kind of visibility difficulties that might impede clear video are no match for 3D photogrammetry. The results speak for themselves:
("I don't really like sports" is an oversimplification, of course. I feel complicated about sports. I don't feel complicated about the Cubs going to the World Series. I feel baffled, for sure. Happy. Emotional. But those are pretty easy to parse.)
2. Via pokestop, Pokemon Go's having a Halloween event from the 26th through November 1st! I'm stoked. I'm swapping my Voltorb buddy for Magikarp and walking as much as I can in those seven days.
3. One of my many to-do list items this week: research my ballot. I want to vote as soon as possible and hide from the world until it's over. (I should also plan my Election Night activity. The past couple elections, I saw a movie. Basically, I just want to be away from news while returns come in.)
With any luck, we'll have a new transcriber in the office tomorrow! (A guy who has another job, and so is only available intermittently, but every bit helps.) If so, I'll probably do more flipping back and forth between transcribing and proofreading; last week was mostly the former, as we have a new proofreader this session (and I really like her, which is a perk).
[redacted: boring logistics of how we juggle the workload when we're understaffed]
Today I hit the bare-minimum point I wanted to reach in my freelance work for the second script that's due Friday, so now I have to polish and tweak both, and then, if I have any time around Casual Job, I can look at pushing into the second half of this volume (which is my next deadline). I'm also waiting on answers from the translator of the due-Friday script I got a draft on a couple days ago. *fidgets*
I never get over how much work some Hakusensha titles are. Do they pay their manga-ka by the word?! (I have zero idea how manga creators are paid in Japan. But the sheer wordiness of some titles is eyebrow-raising. And hair-raising. Meep.)
My other ambition today, other than doing laundry (done!), was getting some reading done. But when I finished working and went downstairs, Claudia wanted some blanket time as soon as I settled on the sofa, and after that I fell asleep before I even made it to opening the book I'm reading. >.> And then slept for two hours. Oops.
And now we've finally seen the extended Ghostbusters cut! Which, in addition to the extra 15+ minutes of footage (see this article I linked a couple days ago for an overview), has multiple places where different cuts were slipped in to replace lines and jokes from the theatrical cut. I knew that the "salty parabolas" line had been replaced from someone (twwings?) live-tweeting their viewing, and had a theory about why, but now that I've actually seen this version, my impression is just that the cast did so much ad-libbing and playing around that the director/whoever just swapped in alternate versions for fun/to shake it up, not because they thought these takes were inherently better than the ones in the theatrical cut.
Overall (and AFAIK this is the consensus from wildpear and Ginny, too) I think it's worth seeing, ( very short + no real spoilers, but cut for some pros and cons )
And overall, IMO the theatrical cut is just plain better paced. I imagine I'll stick to that in future viewings.
You can check out the people needing gifts here. Some of these individuals already have gifts by someone other then the person assigned to them. If they match the minimum requirements for gifts I will consider them filled when it comes time for reveals. Gifts only need to be 300 words or a nice sketch.
You can claim by commenting on this post, emailing me, messaging me, or any other method you can use.
( General preferences )
( Music )
( My requests, including some additional info: Automata, Black Panther (comics), Brother to Brother, Crash Pad Series, Daughters of the Dragon, Different from the Others | Anders als die Andern, The Get Down, and Sleep Dealer )
My brain just hasn't been in a vidding mood lately, and I'm not sure whether or not that's going to change over the next few months. I've very much been more of a writer than a vidder lately, and with D&D taking up most of my free time that isn't being spent writing... well, I just don't want to risk signing up and then having to default.
And to be honest, the thought of signing up for a vidding exchange right now is exhausting on several levels. It's a lot harder to post a vid anonymously than it is a fic, and there's no way to transfer the posted vid to your main account once the anon period is over - you have to repost it. It's not like with fic exchanges, where the mods can just flip a switch and suddenly the creator's name is revealed without the fanwork going anywhere or changing. Comments are in multiple places, there's the risk of the unsigned vid being shared on social media and never getting the creator's name attached...
I'm just not sure that I have the spoons to deal with that, to be honest. So I'm just going to stick with my fic exchanges again this year, I think.
"“A Honeypot For Assholes”: Inside Twitter’s 10-Year Failure To Stop Harassment: For nearly its entire existence, Twitter has not just tolerated abuse and hate speech, it’s virtually been optimized to accommodate it. With public backlash at an all-time high and growth stagnating, what is the platform that declared itself “the free speech wing of the free speech party” to do? BuzzFeed News talks to the people who’ve been trying to figure this out for a decade".
"Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking".
"The story behind Michelle Obama's state dinner dress makes it even more stunning".
"Nasty women have much work to do". "The nasty women gather on the heath just after midnight. It is Nasty Women’s Sabbath, Election Eve, and they must make haste."
"E Is For Empathy: Sesame Workshop Takes A Crack At Kindness". [NPR] (Disclaimer: I read the article but didn't watch any of the video.)
"Dapper Crip: Queercrip Encounters with Fashion and Community". [Autostraddle]
"Surfing Under the Northern Lights: There’s a thriving surf scene in Norway’s Lofoten Islands, where the waves are cold and the air is colder". [New York Times]
Via Boing Boing, "How the Truth Set Snopes Free: For over 20 years, Webby Winner Snopes.com has debunked just-so tales and urban folklore. In today’s age of (dis)information on the Internet, we need Snopes more than ever. Esteemed journalist Rob Walker profiles the man behind the Web’s most trusted source".
"Why Black Cat Myths Are So Bogus". [Front Page Meews]
"19 Things You Need To Know About Bubble Tea". [Buzzfeed]
"A Man’s ABCs of Miscarriage". [The Rumpus]
"The hideous, diabolical truth about Hillary Clinton". [Washington Post] "Before Time, Before the Earth Was Made, Before Matter and Being and History: Hillary Clinton (Lucifer, Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies, Prince of Darkness, Satan, She Whose Many Names the Cats Scream in the Night) is cast out of heaven for overweening hubris. She is condemned to lie in eternal torment in a lake of fire surrounded by her fallen angels, or, alternatively, to run for a major office while female. For thousands of years she lies outside time, smelling of sulfur, before deciding to undertake the second option.
Oct. 26, 1947: Hillary Clinton, a robot, is constructed by Saul Alinsky, then slipped into a bassinet and delivered to the Rodham house, where it stores its Six Human, Relatable Memories of squeegeeing, family life and honest toil..."
"Dame Again - Early ‘lost’ Maggie Smith appearance painstakingly restored". [BBC]
Via alisanne, "17 Times The Internet Called Out The English Language". [Buzzfeed]
"The Racist and Sexist History of Keeping Birth Control Side Effects Secret".
"Trump has exposed the rot at the core of the Republican Party".
"The Stranger's Endorsements for the November 2016 General Election".
Black Tapes is a documentary podcast series sponsored by Pacific Northwest Stories that started off looking at interesting lives and... Kinda got stuck on their first topic; a paranormal researcher who doesn't believe in the paranormal. The series revolves around this researcher and his "black tapes", a collection of his unsolved cases.
... Or at least, that's in the in-universe explanation; in actuality it's a mockumentary-style horror podcast, following Alex Reagan, a journalist and podcast host, and Doctor Richard Strand, a paranormal researcher with his own institute that focuses on disproving what people claim to be paranormal phenomena, as they travel across America going over his Collection of Totally Unconnected Unsolved Cases. It's available to listen to on their website, and there are fan-made transcriptions available for those who prefer them.
I swear pretty much every podcast listener I know has recommended The Black Tapes to me at one point or another, and it's time for me to join the chorus.
( Read more... )
Weather is still pleasant. Farmers are harvesting the soybeans across from us, which is noisy and dusty. :/
Earlier this afternoon I saw a small flock of sparrows at the fly-through feeder. Not much birdfeeder activity yet, as there is still abundant food elsewhere.