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[process] Working in different modes - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-06-30 05:15
Subject: [process] Working in different modes
Security: Public
Tags:awards, conventions, process, writing
So I'm still working on the Hugo award script with [info]kenscholes. We're in divide-and-conquer mode right now, direction settled and under way.

It's an interesting process, to be working in a different mode than usual. I've written speeches before, and outlined less formal presentations. In my Day Jobbe, I've prepared hundreds of presentations over the years. And I can't count the number of live performances I've done as an emcee, a toastmaster, an improv player, a reader, a panelist, a charity auctioneer, a masquerade host, etc. But I've never written a live performance script before. Everything I do is extemporaneous. Give me a live mike and a couple of talking points and I can entertain an audience for an hour. I've never needed to write a live performance script before. Probably the closest I've come is doing detailed interview prep when interviewing famously laconic and short-spoken subjects. (To that end, I once interviewed Howard Waldrop for an hour at an ArmadilloCon (or maybe it was a Westercon, I forget) with a three-question prep, and we never got to question two. By contrast, I did a very good one-hour interview with Larry Niven at RadCon one year that involved five pages of researched questions on my part, and I ran out of prep partway through and had to finish on followup notes taken on the fly.)

The demands of the form are simply different. Because there are two of us, and we're working with a lot of others as well, in doing the initial draft I had to include timings and blocking information. I'm having to really drill down into the requirements and limitations of each point in the ceremony. And I have to provide the ceremony managers with a lot of detail for their own technical prep. It's a lot more than words on the page, and it's really stretching my brain in some very good ways.

The reality of course is that we're going to get up there and go off-script in about the first ninety seconds. Ken and I are both extemporaneous players at heart. But the script will still anchor us to the flow of the event and the key points, most especially the timings.

But the writing of this... oh, what a workout.

Meanwhile, yesterday evening I completed and turned in an initial draft of the Sekrit Projekt. All I will say is that it, too, was in a form I don't normally work in. Not a piece of narrative fiction in my usual mode. And much like the Hugo script project, the Sekrit Projekt stretched my brain in some very good ways.

All of which is making me think that maybe I need to dedicate more time to trying my hand at things other than narrative fiction. Maybe a graphic novel script, or a television treatment, or a gaming treatment. A one-act play. Or, God forbid, a movie script. Because this kind of stretching feels like it's really very good for me.

How often do you write outside your accustomed modes? Is it worth the effort?

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User: mlerules
Date: 2011-06-30 13:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Stretching = Good, TMM, FYM.

May it all go swimmingly, both Hugo thingie w/Ken and t'other thingie, too.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-06-30 15:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:steampunk Lady Marie
Generally, I have several different modes operating simultaneously. There's the day jobbe mode, which can involve picky tech reports with a preset format, observational memos to file, or persuasive writing. There's the occasional (very occasional) nonfiction professional mode. Then there's fiction.

I am seriously contemplating learning how to write a graphic novel script. I think some of my ideas might come across better in that format. Hmm, if you start it up, want to compare resources?

IOW, I am a firm believer that stretching one's boundaries is good in writing.
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User: lillypond
Date: 2011-06-30 16:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I wanna graphic novel by Jay Lake!
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User: voidampersand
Date: 2011-06-30 17:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It is possible to write for another form and still publish it as a novel or novella. It's been done with good results.

The Big Time is commonly described as a locked room mystery, but I think it is a one-act play. I would love to see it staged sometime. Fritz knew his theater.

I remember getting to the end of Game of Thrones the first time and thinking I would camp in line overnight to see the movie when it opened. (This is not something I've ever done, but it seemed called for.) The writing is cinematic, proven by its very easy conversion to a mini-series.

Another example is Always Coming Home. The first time I read it I latched onto the traditional narrative because that was what I understood how to read. But the more I come back to it, the more I feel that the poems and songs and incidental observations are what makes the book so great.

So yes, all you writers, please go for it. By all means.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-06-30 20:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I get asked a lot about the difference between writing fiction and non-fiction, which are -- for me, anyway -- very different modes. WIth non-fiction, the bulk of the real work is already done: the writing stage is tying up of ends, by and large, and has a very fluid feel to it. I can write several thousand words a day of n/f without much trouble. Fiction, on the other hand, is more manual -- I'm doing the mining while putting down the words, instead of just synthesising stuff I've already dug up. It's more -- I was going to say visceral, but that isn't quite it -- it's more basic, and slower and much more frustrating.
Writing for performance -- which in my case is either a lecture to students, a paper to peers or a talk to a general audience -- is another beast again. The paper is very like the n/f, with the caveat that I have to make it fit a time slot (and thus end up reading drafts to whichever cat is in the room). Lectures are weird: there's a perpetual juggling act between what needs to be conveyed and how much I think students can deal with, and, over time, I found I wrote shorter and shorter lectures, with more recaps and reminders. Talks... talks tend these days to be key points on cards and a lot of wandering around muttering to myself in the days beforehand.
Long non-fiction is the easiest for me, and fiction the most annoying. I like my words to be tidy, and fiction seldom works that way.
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