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

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WotF workshop, continued

Words I Did Not Know Dept.

jactitation noun. From the Latin.

1: speaking of yourself in superlatives [syn: boast, boasting, self-praise] 

2: (law) a false boast that can harm others; especially a false claim to be married to someone (formerly actionable at law)

3: (pathology) extremely restless tossing and twitching usually by a person with a severe illness.

Found in this brief biography of Elizabeth Chudleigh, 'courtier and bigamist', whose life appears to have been interestingly scandalous from a number of points of view. A 'suit for jactitation of marriage' isn't something one hears about very often nowadays.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography via jonquil, who informs us that if you subscribe, the DNB will send you a biography a day. Neat.

MS Word 97 doesn't know this word either, go figure.

Transcription of the WotF workshop sessions. First day, 8/14/05, continues

TP is Tim Powers. KW is K.D. Wentworth. PM is Parenthetical Me, my own glosses.

[KW]: Recommends Damon Knight's Creating Short Fiction. Also something by Lawrence Block, I didn't catch the title. Perhaps Telling Lies for Fun and Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers?

Not everyone can outline. About half writers do, half don't.

KW keeps a five-section notebook, which includes a running synopsis, a list of the cast, and the spelling of their names.

The first third of an novel states the problem, second third complicates it, final third solves it. KW tries to keep novel chapters to about 13 pages. TP averages about 5000 words per chapter, or about 20 pages.

TP, in writing a novel, marks Act I, Act II, and Act III on his calendar (see yesterday's entry). Even if you don't outline ahead, outline behind, to keep track of where you've been.

KW: if you're stuck, write down all possible solutions to your problem, even the stupid ones. You may need to get to 20 or more before finding interesting ones. "Fred (KW's term for her subconscious) will like something eventually."

TP: Talk into the keyboard, as a way of shutting up the internal editor

TP: "Self-esteem is catastrophic in a writer." 

KW: To be a writer is to be uncomfortable in the world.

TP: In good writing, every place is someplace. Every setting, even minor ones, has telling detail. TP counsels close attention to detail and description. Landscape: where are the shadows? Pay attention to incisive detail: the flecks of rust on a shotgun barrel, for example. [PM: this strikes me as harking back to late 19th century Romantic technique, e.g., Flaubert. But maybe it's always true.]

Poul Anderson said that in every scene, at least three senses should be invoked. [PM: I'd read this before. Alas, in Anderson's fiction it kept me waiting for the other shoe to drop: "That's sight, that's hearing, waiting for one more sense..." which badly interfered with my involvement with the story. But Anderson's prose strength was not in lush description or atmosphere.]

KW recommends Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses for expanding sensory knowledge.

TP: for every major character: know what that person last ate, and for how long and how well he slept.

Remind reader of the environment now and then (don't just set it up at the beginning of the scene and forget about it). If it's raining, mention the rain or its effects occasionally. If the characters are eating outside, for example, mention events that remind the reader of his. For example, a character may have to shield his match from the wind when he lights a cigarette.

TP does drafts in layers. First draft is little more than white room/dialog.

KW: don't spend too much time on scientific details. Don't spend too much time telling us how the hyperdrive works, because both the writer and the reader know it doesn't really work. [PM: interesting way to put it. An example I can think of is Larry Niven's 'Slaver stasis fields' from the Known Space stories. I can recall description of how they look, and what their results are, but no attempt to explain how they work. Which is just as well, Niven's interest as a writer is in how they work as plot elements, regardless of what their engineering might be.]

Read books about other cultures to understand the outsider viewpoint with respect to Western culture. Not so much for specific details, but to get a feel for what non-Western cultures can be like.

No planet ever has just one habitat or just one culture.

"Lazy history": vaguely medieval-oid, without details.

Avoid over-long fight scenes. What works in visual media movies and TV does not work in prose. [PM: I've noticed that fight scenes are never as interesting as the writer thinks they are, and tend to be a mark of the tyro. One of L. Ron Hubbard's essays in the handouts said the same thing, which is interesting: even the pulp writers of the 1930's knew this.]

Recommends a book titled "Checkpoint on Culture," from ??Yarddog press. [PM: can't find a book of that title, and it's not included in Yarddog's list. Anyone? Did I get the name wrong?][mtreiten has the answer: see comment below]

More tomorrow.


tsuka(u), ya(ru)
meaning: send, use, do

無駄遣い == mudadzukai == waste money on, squander money on, flog a dead horse
気遣い == kizdukai ==  (noun) fear, worry, solicitude

Left/bottom radical is a variant of 'pursue' (追), used here to mean 'follow'. Right/upper radical means 'gather''. This character originally referred to a 'gathering of followers', i.e. the retainers of a lord. It became associated with the idea of a messenger, and from there, in Japan, its current meanings of 'use' and 'do' developed. Henshall suggests taking the top right radical as 'middle/midst' (中) and 'one' (一), and as a mnemonic: 'Use one from amidst followers to send in pursuit.'

Info from Taka Kanji Database
List of compounds including this character from Risu Dictionary

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