January 30th, 2008


[funny] Movie mashups

It's time for a round of movie mashups. I'll start:

Old Hobbits Diehard — Peter Jackson directs a digitally shrunken Bruce Willis in this tale of terrorism in the Shire.

Your contributions? If there are enough good ones, I'll throw up another voting poll with another Audible book credit as the prize.

[links] Link salad for a 4 degree (F) morning

stu_segal on his Hugo nominating picks — Includes my Weird Tales story "Tom Edison & His Telegraphic Harpoon", as well as work by frankwu and Eric Amundsen. Also, don't forget to register for Denvention if you want to nominate, and if you are registered, don't forget to nominate.

markteppo on the Next Weird — (Thanks to Paul Jessup.)

A grammar funny — (Thanks to willyumtx.)

A Dutch product catalog — Just watch it for a minute or two...heh... (Thanks to safewrite.)

Tiny living machines — Using heart tissue to power microtech inside the bloodstream. Paging Raquel Welch to the Proteus.

1908 — Interesting little bit of retrospection from Paleo-Future.

"Piss off, Biggles" — One man's argument with the RAF.

Florida Couple Find Jesus in a Potato — These are the days of miracle and wonder. I shall cast off my atheism like an old cloak!

Cop tickets police cars for expired stickers on last day on job — (Thanks to danjite.)

Security and privacy aren't opposites — (Thanks to danjite.)

Vermont considers waiving driver's license fees for organ donors — I have never realy understood our medical system's absolute prohibition on organ sales. I understand the arguments which get made, but they don't seem convincing to me.

Early Kansas history from The Edge of the American West — For those with an interest in Midwestern history or the politics of slavery in America.

A chart comparing basic American statistics at the end of the Clinton administration and now — (Thanks to etcet.)

[process|poll] The gentle art of rewriting

blakehutchins comments that rewriting coherently is a skill. Coincidentally, I got an email this morning from another friend commenting on the fact that he first started writing fiction on a typewriter, which gave him a radically different work habit than word processors do — specifically, rewriting each page after he'd first drafted it, before going on to the next. This, of course, in order to avoid retyping the bulk of the manuscript due to a few changes somewhere in the middle.

The transition from longhand to typewriter significantly affected the structure and flow of fiction. The transition from typewriter to computer has certainly had a profound effect as well, though I'm uncertain how much scholarship has yet been done on this. (See here for a discussion of this phenomenon.)

For me, writing fiction would be close to impossible without a computer. I have a very difficult time with handwriting, in part because I'm quite literally unable to hold a pen or pencil the traditional way, so I in effect scribble with my fist. In high school and college I did some work on a typewriter, but the rewriting process was an absolute horror. (This is almost certainly one of the reasons I learned to write very clean first drafts.) I obtained regular access to a computer in 1985, and my own computer at home around 1987 (don't recall exactly when now), and never touched a typewriter again except for special purposes.

I've commented a number of times before that clean first drafts can be a real trap. When "good enough" is good enough, the motivation to reach for better, or even excellent, can be vitiated. I've never struggled with ideas, and even my very earliest attempts at wordsmithery have a detectable cleverness. Rewriting, or more precisely, refining my prose, has always been my struggle. I've gone from hating it to disliking it to, just lately, rather enjoying it. That only took about 25 years.

If I had to rewrite on a typewriter, I'm pretty sure I'd have another line of work. The Muse is vulnerable to the toolset. (Both the physical toolset and the mental toolset, btw, but that's a topic for another post.)

I know there's people out there who first draft longhand. I suspect some of you might even use a typewriter occasionally. Me, I'm quite happy in the land of word processors. And I'm finally getting the hang of rewriting coherently.

And just because there hasn't been a poll hereabouts in a little while, I give you the writing and rewriting poll.

Poll #1129905 Writing and rewriting

How do you first draft?

"Classic" word processor
Current or recent generation word processor
Eldritch glyphs of my own devising, scrivened in the blood of hummingbirds
Something else I'll explain in comments

How do you rewrite/redraft?

Hah! Rewriting is for wimps!
Line by line
Scene by scene
Tear it all apart
Blank sheet redraft
Haruspicial divinatory aids and some good Scotch
Something else I'll explain in comments

[process] Line level edits vs scene level edits

davebara asked (in part):
Could you delineate the difference, in your mind, of line-by-line to scene-by-scene?
I answered:
Line-by-line, to me, is where I'm going through looking for echoes, clunks, passive constructions, crutch words, infelicitous phrasing and flat out typos. Often I do this by reading aloud. Generally speaking, this read isn't looking for plot, character or continuity issues, though of course I don't ignore them if such beasts jump out at me.

Scene-by-scene might be a misnomer, but I'm reading a level above the lines. Here's where I'm checking for character issues, plot bobbles, potholes in continuity or storyflow — especially trying to figure out of I missed something. Still not reading it holistically (ie, as a reader), but not looking at the mechanics of word and sentence either. As with the other direction, I don't ignore line level stuff if it jumps out, but that's not the snark I'm hunting.
Just in case anyone else was wondering...

Later I may ruminate more on other levels of editing. Meanwhile, feel free to ruminate on this topic your own selves in comments.