ljlee: (jz_tears)
[personal profile] ljlee
Today I revisited this post that discussed why movies like Fight Club and A Clockwork Orange don't really work as stories advocating the author's intended morality while Mad Max: Fury Road does. (Fight Club spoilers and Fury Road plot points at the link.) To cut a long story short, though I think the whole thing is worth a read, the poster who discussed Fury Road had this to say:

The thing is that the narrator is always sympathetic. Intimacy and familiarity breed sympathy. The audience is primed to feel sympathy for the narrator simply because they are speaking more than any other individual character.

No matter how unreliable, or morally dubious you make the narrator, they are still the hero or the story. Every villain is the hero of their own story. And when the villain is the narrator, the audience is hearing the version of the story in which the villain is the hero, and the audience is moved by that perspective.

Do you agree with this? Have you experienced it? The thing is, I'm struggling with this to an extent with my own work in progress. Though the bulk of my story is told from the viewpoint of morally sympathetic characters, I do have major morally gray or evil characters whom the story follows for a while and who have reasons of their own for the atrocities they commit. I'm actually hoping the reasons will be sympathetic, not to justify their actions but to show that it's everyday human beings, not incomprehensible monsters, who commit terrible acts. I'm pretty sure it'll still read as justification to a fair portion of the audience, though. Heck, even Immortan Joe from Fury Road has his defenders, so obviously even effectively written morality won't get through to 100% of the audience.

One way I think (hope) the narrative sympathy effect might be overcome is by showing the full impact of the immoral in-story actions and to give victims more narrative time and weight than the villains, making them and not the villains the protagonists. One way I think that morality in stories fail is when the story agrees implicitly with the villains' logic that their victims are objects to be used and discarded rather than people in their own right, by reducing victims to objects to be ogled rather than agents in their own stories. Maybe the problem with story morality is not that villains get to tell their stories but that the victims don't.

I'm not entirely sure about any of this, these are just hypotheses I'm turning over in my mind and the proof will be in the writing--and more importantly, in the reception. I'd welcome any thoughts on this.
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
[personal profile] ljlee
Note: I posted this last week but forgot to make it public. [/doofus] I've updated the date so it would show up in the timeline. Apologies for the mistake!

I'm listening to an audio lecture called Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques. I'm only three lectures in, but it's covering the bases pretty well. The second lecture was about the age-old admonishment of "Show, don't tell," and says that a) yes, showing is generally more evocative and immediate, but b) telling has its place as well. I remember quite a few occasions where editing to show instead of tell made my writing stronger, but I've gone in the other direction as well--simply summarizing an action that wasn't important instead of going into excruciating detail. What's your experience on this front? What are your thoughts on showing vs. telling? Is "show, don't tell" useful advice at all?

Also, I know this comm isn't generally about writing exercises but the end of Lecture 2 had a pretty interesting one if you want to try it: Describe a building, landscape, or object from the point of view of a parent whose child has just died--without mentioning the parent, child, or death.
ljlee: (jz_glasses)
[personal profile] ljlee
I am heartily sorry for skipping the public post last week, I was writing a story under a deadline and the weekend has been a blur. To make up for it I'll write two public posts this week.

So, to turn my excuse into an actual discussion subject, do you do well with deadlines and other types of pressure when you write fiction? How does it help you? How does it hurt? Do different kinds of pressure work differently on your writing?
ljlee: (hug)
[personal profile] ljlee
Hi everyone! I've passed a major RL milestone (defending my thesis) and have started working on a history fic exchange. I found a wonderful source on my assigned character and am having a lot of fun reading about that time and age. I've only worked on one fic exchange before but enjoyed that one, too, and I think I liked the gifting part even more than being gifted with a fic in return.

One of the things I liked about the fic exchange experience was that it wasn't in my comfort zone and forced me to stretch (I wrote about that experience here), and with this prompt I am similarly challenged to research and think about a historical personage I knew nothing about, and to immerse myself into an unfamiliar era and way of thought.

Have you ever gifted a story to someone else, whether in a formal exchange or because you were inspired by, or dedicated a story to, someone? Have you, or do you plan to, write a character inspired by a real-life person? What was the experience like? How is it different from or similar to writing for yourself?
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
[personal profile] ljlee
What do you write with? What's your workflow like? Is there particular software that you like to use for certain purposes, or do you prefer writing in longhand and transcribing to a computer later on? Has technology affected your writing process in any way?

I have a mix of processes. Generally I like Scrivener for its ability to organize snippets of writing and to keep all my research in the same place, but its lack of mobile options means I use Evernote a lot when I'm away from my computers. I'm also fond of longhand writing when I'm in libraries and on public transport. This means I have a lot of scattered notes and bits in different places, all of which I swear I'm going to transcribe to my Scrivener project someday.

A major boon for research purposes is Zotero, a citations database program where I can organize my citations and take extensive notes, with search and tag functions available for later reference. Like Scrivener via Dropbox and Evernote it's all synchronized online, meaning it's automatically backed up and available on whatever machine I log into.

The availability of cloud and synchronization technology like Dropbox, Evernote, and Zotero made things easier in some ways and gave me peace of mind in the form of automatic backup, but I also have a lot of paper notes that are one careless placement or a house fire away from getting lost forever. Better get to it, I guess.