Can you guess which Ann bought, which I bought, and what came in the mail?
No, the thing above isn’t part of Amazon’s Friday Night Videos. It’s what you should play if you’re hanging around your computer on a Friday night. And then, when you’re done watching, go check out the feature: Lebbon and Golden’s Hidden Cities versus a Toddler Reading a Dinosaur Encyclopedia…
So I’ve decided to use my Twitter account, MightyFrogBeast, for a daily “twitter cookie” (instead of a fortune cookie). That’s right–I’m using twitter exactly one time each day. You’ll get an inscrutable saying of no particular importance or possibly a little sample of the day’s fiction writing or maybe just an obscure insult. For example, today’s twitter cookie is:
“When life hands you fire-bloated hedgepigs, make a nice soup that you give to your mother-in-law…”
The Art of Subtext is a marvelous book on writing. It is so focused, so perfectly presented, and it also is an enduring argument for the idea of fiction being about the human condition–and, perhaps more importantly, for any beginning fiction writer, it contains a veritable cornucopia of ideas on approaches to presenting details about people and their interactions. I’ve always thought that a good writer must not just be a good observer of people but have a keen eye for the subtext of life and human relationships–and then be able to convey this in subtle and complex ways through the fiction.
To review this book is in a sense to rewrite it, so I’d just urge any writer, at any level of development, to seek it out. The sections on dialogue alone are worth it. (If you do order it, please do so through the link above. I’ve joined Amazon’s associates program. However, I’ll only be using that program for books I like.)
Fiction, a dramatic medium, asks writers to unlearn the habits of conflict-avoidance for the sake of revelation. People who have practiced good manners and conflict-avoidance all their lives have to remember to leave those habits of mind at the door when they enter the theater of fiction. Stories thrive on bad behavior, bad manners, confrontations, and unpalatable characters who by wish or compulsion make their desires visible by creating scenes. Imagine Dostoyevsky’s contempt at the idea that his characters ought to be more pleasant, more presentable. The perennial Dostoyevsky question is, “Do you want the truth or agree-able seeming falsehoods?” Fiction is that place where human beings do not have to be better than they really are, where characters can and should confront each other, where they must create scenes, where desire will have its day, where all truth is beautiful. Fiction is the antidote to the conduct manual.
As a freelancer, I have a particular set of guilty pleasures. Like, right now Golden Girls is on in the background and in a few minutes I’m going to take a break and watch a second episode, followed by a couple of episodes of Frasier. (Those beer posts exhausted the heck out of me.) It’s pretty typical if I want to take a break from all the fiction/nonfiction work, I’ll catch an episode of one or the other. And, in the afternoons, if I’m working out at home, I’ll have Judge Judy on in the background.
So, there, them’s me guilty pleasures. What’re yours?
Despite many fine entries, I thought the streamlined simplicity of this one by Crowe was the most deserving of a copy of Secret Lives. (Which, er, should be out in a month or two or I will personally tie Sean Wallace at Prime Books to a stake and light a match. Figuratively.)
â€œBy the time Crowe was 16, she had wrestled an adder, disappeared into a Roman canal hidden under snow, learned the secret language of rooks, and won the annual Sea Cadetsâ€™ â€œKnotting By Night in a Force 10 Galeâ€ award for the second time – achievements that little qualified her to write anything at all.â€
Crowe–just email me your snail mail.
Interviews with Tim Pratt about his new urban fantasy series and musician/writer Doug Hoekstra. Also, look for Friday Night Videos tonight on Amazon, confirmed as an ongoing feature. (Publicists take note: contact me if you’d like to debut or re-run a video feature/trailer/author interview.)
I’m also adding a link in the sidebar to the archive of my Amazon entries.
Silence Without has an organic steampunk post.