January 30th, 2009


[links] Link salad wishes it was a fisherman, tumbling on the seas

Science fiction: the genre that dare not speak its nameThe Guardian discovers our shame. It's like I always say, millions of people who won't touch that science fiction trash read that nice Mr. Crichton's book about cloned dinosaurs.

SF Signal Mind Meld with Shrewd Writing Advice

Found in Translation: How a Thirteenth-Century Islamic Poet Conquered AmericaThe best-selling poet in America today was born in Afghanistan, practiced a form of Islam that originated in Iraq, and has been dead for 800 years. (Thanks to Bill M.)

Weather sizzles on a planet that kisses its star — Exoplanetary weather, anyone?

More on the remote-controlled beetle — From a slightly more reliable source.

For GOP, a Case of Misshapen Identity — Gosh, destroy the economy, sharply degrade our international diplomatic and military power, corrupt the Constitution, run up the highest deficits in history. GOP, think you might have lost your way just a little? Oh, look! Over there! Liberals!

?otD: What is a hurtling fever train, anyway?

Body movement: 40 minute ride on the stationary bike
This morning's weigh-in: 221.6
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville

Originally published at jlake.com.


[process] On greebles and telling details

James Gurney talks about greebles on his blog. He defines greebles as "small details used to break up a large form, usually to give a sense of scale or to make an invented object more believable."

We have greebles in fiction, too. These are superficially similar to "telling details", but in fact serve almost an inverse function.

A telling detail is a small but very significant element that unpacks fractally into information and assumptions about a character, setting and/or plot. For example, in William Gibson's Neuromancer the reader realizes that Molly's mirrorshades are surgically implanted, and begins to sense the manifold implications of a technology and a culture where that's a reasonable choice.

Greebles are the sorts of things that make a piece of fiction crunchy, textured and interesting, serving as a sort of matte painting behind the foreground action. Vide Gibson, the nearly obsessive use of consumer branding, both realworld and fictional, in Neuromancer. They lend dimensionality to a text, provide incidental verisimilitude, and can both engage and distance us depending on auctorial choice and reader experience, but they aren't directly engaged in advancing the story.

I keep learning about writing fiction from reading art blogs, but I think Gurney Journey is my favorite.

And as always in these matters, your mileage may vary.

Originally published at jlake.com.


[writing] Progris riport, day 9, The Heart of the Beast

Two and a half hours work, no net wordcount. That's because I spent the whole time closely reviewing more of Jeff VanderMeer's handwritten notes, transcribing 20+ pages into a scratch file and working on the detailed outline.

It was an interesting process. I had a couple of fascinating insights that brought the book more firmly into focus. I'm not used to working with so much detail in advance of drafting. So much of my discovery has historically been from within the actual process of writing. it's kind of like being a real writer for a change!

No WIP tonight, since there were no new words to speak of.

Originally published at jlake.com.