Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Visualizing a story

It's been noted by people who study such things that one difference between chess masters and less-skilled chess players is that the masters have an excellent visual memory of the state of the chessboard. Walk the master away from the chess board at any point in the game, and he will be able to draw you the positions of all the pieces on the board. The chess duffer can't do this. He'll remember the position of his king, his queen, and a few other pieces, but that's it.

I've mentioned before that I tried to learn to draw at one time. I was not terrible successful, but it was an interesting experience. One of the things I learned was that when I tried to draw what I thought I saw, my failure was not a failure of the hand, but of the mind. It wasn't that my hand couldn't move the pencil accurately enough, it was that my brain hadn't seen accurately what I was trying to draw. I had looked at an object without truly seeing it, but I had thought I had seen it, thought that I had a good mental image of it. Trying to draw that object taught me that I was wrong, I had fooled myself.

William Gibson mentioned in his blog last year, when he was still keeping a blog, that he wrote novels instead of short stories because he found that creating a short story was similar to creating a novel a short story is a bonsai novel, so to speak, with all the same parts, taking the same difficulty to create, but tremendously reduced in scale. Novels paid the bills, short stories didn't, so he wrote novels.

I have discovered in trying to write short stories that I have the same trouble with short stories that I had with drawing. I believe I have a mental image of what that story should be, but when I attempt to commit it to paper, I find that I'm wrong. What was all smoothness and flow and building emotion in my mind becomes choppiness and incoherence on the page.

I wonder if one of the characteristics of the writing 'master' is an ability, like that of the chess master, to envision his entire creation and all its parts, in a way that can be accurately transmitted to the page. I don't mean memorizing every single word in advance, but being able to 'see' scenes and transitions, and how they interlock with plot, character, and thematic development.

I also wonder if this is why there exist 'perfect' short stories, but no perfect novels. If a short story is bonsai novel, it may be possible for the trained human mind to 'see' in its entirety a short story-sized work of fiction, but simply not possible for any mind to envision as a whole something as huge and complex as a novel.



meaning: capital, resources

学資 == gakushi == school expenses, education fund
天然資源 == tennenshigen == natural resources

Bottom radical is 'shell/money' (貝). Top radical is 'next' (次), acting phonetically to express 'possess'. Thus, 'to possess money', i.e., have capital or resources. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Next sum of money provides capital.'

Stroke order from Josh's Chinese Lookup Thingy (animated)
Stroke order from Taka Kanji Database
Other info from Taka Kanji Database
Gahoh kanji movie

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