Writing Fiction for the First Time in Over a Decade, pt. 2

Just various thoughts I’ve had during this process. You can find the first part here.

Things I Have Googled While Writing

We should all know by now that whether we have given permission or not, there are plenty of websites that keep an eye on what we do on the Internet. Obviously, no-one will be fascinated by my search history enough to go through it manually, but an artificial intelligence is trying to figure out what kind of a person I am in order to sell me something I might be interested in.

I used to try to remember to use incognito-tabs and a VPN to help out, but I have a tendency to forget, so I’ve largely given up on that, so the AI given the responsibility to try to figure out who I am must be crying itself to sleep on most nights. (No, I don’t really believe this.)

Some of the more interesting ones:

  • how easily can you snap a neck
  • crushing bones
  • breaking bones
  • sexual abuse in [insert your least favorite religion here]
  • legality of punishing servants physically in middle ages
  • weird ancient gods
  • weird ancient religions
  • garotte material
  • animal forms of trickster gods (this wasn’t very fruitful on it’s own)
  • medieval marginalia (NSFW)

… and probably many more, but I couldn’t be bothered to go back further into my history.

Problems with Showing Rather than Telling

“Show don’t tell” is good advice, but as any advice, it is context-dependent. For example, there is a character who had never had a friend due to her circumstances. So, should I show that or tell that. I can try to show it, but how much text does that require? So, I decided to just state it. Sure, I could hint at it in different ways. The character could be awkward with other characters and so forth, but she isn’t interacting with that many people, especially with anyone who is even close to her equal in those specific situations.

When you can’t show, just don’t be afraid to tell. Of course, in a true novel, you do want to extend things, because that’s the point of a novel. You can go deep. Still, not showing, but just telling can be an interesting stylistic choice.

Writer’s Block

I’m currently at little over 30,000 words. Writing up to this point had been fairly easy, but then I just hit a wall. My approach has largely been this: Come up with an interesting character and then just put that character into an interesting situation. Like above: What if someone, who has never had a friend and has been abused to a point that she has major trust issues, finds someone they can befriend? Sure, this is something I’m not equipped or educated enough to make realistic, but it doesn’t have to be that, gladly.

So, now I find myself in a need to find a way through. The thing is that while I’ve learned many techniques over the decades (as even though I haven’t written fiction in a long time, writing this blog and writing for work has kept me active in this regard), like the ones presented by Purdue University are things I have been doing for a long while and actually found all of them on my own, right now I just can’t seem to be able to get ahead in my work. I even have an idea of what I want to do, but I just can’t seem to find a way to put what I want on paper. My progress seems to be just awfully slow. Gladly there’s still a few weeks of summer vacation ahead, and I’ll probably have a change of scenery during that time, which will perhaps help.

Dissociation Art

There’s a British band called Dry Cleaning, which I like very much, and while reading up on them, I stumbled upon an article named The Rise of Dissociation Music. It’s about how the state of the world being so horrible currently, that it’s easier to distance yourself from it emotionally, which has lead some artists, including the aforementioned Dry Cleaning, to choose to maintain that distance in their work. There’s a line “do everything, feel nothing” on the first song (Scratchyard Lanyard) of their first album (New Long Leg), which in many ways encapsulates the whole ethos.

I’ve always tried to maintain this in my writing (fiction) as well. I strive to be a neutral observer, who has no interest in outcomes, except that I want to see where things go. I don’t know how well this reads, but that’s how I see myself as a writer. I’m just narrating or chronicling, not but keeping everything at an arm’s length, so as not to become emotionally involved.

But, there’s an interesting example of this on film. And this is a spoiler for It’s Such a Beautiful Day, a movie you can probably find on Vimeo or something, but might otherwise be pretty hard to get your hands on, at least in Europe. The main character is Bob, who has some sort of disease, which affects his brain in horrible ways. There is not dialogue in the movie, but all of it is being narrated by this figure, who maintains his distance thoughout… until the very end, when he suddenly can’t take it anymore.

In the end, Bob has pretty much lost his mind and he just drives away, not really understanding what he is doing. Finally, when the he runs out of fuel, he wanders out of the car into the forest and dies alone, but at that point the narrator decides, that Bob deserves better. Instead of letting him just die, the narrator begins to come up with a wild scenario about how Bob basically lives forever.

I’m not going to try to do anything like that, but it was an interesting choice. It is actually one of my favorite movies.

Until Next Time?

If it seems like I want to share more weird thoughts.

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