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CoffeeMug

The Creative Process

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For a while now I''ve been thinking about the process a writer must go through to "design and implement" a relatively long novel. I ended up breaking up the process into a number of distinct pieces I will describe below. Some pieces seem relatively simple (to me), others relatively complex. I don''t suppose this process works for everyone and I am interested in hearing your opinions about particular pieces and the whole process in general. 1. Theme accumulation. This seems like the simplest part of the entire journey. Before writing a novel I would want to come up with a list of themes the story will explore. A few examples would be "why does god let bad things happen to good people" and "why does a relationship between man and woman often becomes a burden after a certain time". I don''t know about others, but to me it is impossible to come up with a diverse and interesting list in one sitting. In one month, however, I could come up with more themes I could ever hope to explore. Going out and breathing some fresh air might lead me to an idea. Seeing sunset/sunrise, going to a new restaurant/club/car, meeting a new person, seeing a number of plays on different topics, going to neighborhoods of my city I''ve never been to, travelling to a different city for a while, changing a setting (urban/rural) are some ways that should lead to interesting and diverse ideas. If you happen to pass by Amsterdam, drugs seem to be an excellent option 2. Research. Since there''s nothing new under the sun every theme you could possibly come up with has been discussed to death. Ancient greeks seemed to have discussed everything (most of the stuff our founding fathers have been talking about is redundant, the greeks had much more exhaustive discussions about democracy ). I believe researching what''s already been said is an excellent way to improve your future novel. One reason for this is that a thousand year old discussion may very well pass as new to modern generations. Another is that researching will give you ideas about the theme you never thought of. I once made a "test run" and for every theme I came up with I found at least ten primary sources, dozens of secondary sources and hundreds of fiction books that deal with the theme in question. Philosophy books are always a great place to look. My conclusion was that for every theme it''s a good idea to read two-three opposing primary sources from every age (ancient greece, enlightment, modern, nordic, etc.) which would add up to about 10-15 books, then at least one secondary source for each of the primary sources and perhaps one or two really good fiction books that explore the theme. The research stage should take an enormous amount of time but should provide good returns in terms of your understanding of the themes and ideas. 3. Preliminary character design. This is *relatively* easy and seems to naturally develop from the list of themes and opposing views on each theme provided by the research stage. Different characters should represent different views and allow for a development of the story to serve the exploration of themes. This is of course preliminary as characters must evolve with the story. This stage should provide a starting point for story design. 4. Architecturing the story. To me this is one of the hardest parts of the overall process. Preliminary characters provide a starting point, but how do you go about creating a thrilling page turner that is instrumental in exploring the themes? Perhaps studying story forging techniques? Reading a lot of fiction books and getting a feel for the stories? Stealing story lines and techniques from old classics like The Bible and The Song of Roland? To me this is black magic. 5. Putting the damned thing into words. This is relatively complex but for prose it''s more of a science than black magic above At this point I am not even considering this stage, hence I have little to say about it. This is is a big "Part II" while the four points above are "Part I". For now I''d like to limit the discussion to Part I, if possible.

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quote:
Original post by CoffeeMug
For a while now I''ve been thinking about the process a writer must go through to "design and implement" a relatively long novel.



Hmm, well since this is the process I''ve been going through for the last three or four months, maybe I''ll have some insight into the question, and maybe thinking about it will actually help me with my novel design.

quote:

I ended up breaking up the process into a number of distinct pieces I will describe below. Some pieces seem relatively simple (to me), others relatively complex. I don''t suppose this process works for everyone and I am interested in hearing your opinions about particular pieces and the whole process in general.

1. Theme accumulation.
This seems like the simplest part of the entire journey. Before writing a novel I would want to come up with a list of themes the story will explore. A few examples would be "why does god let bad things happen to good people" and "why does a relationship between man and woman often becomes a burden after a certain time". I don''t know about others, but to me it is impossible to come up with a diverse and interesting list in one sitting. In one month, however, I could come up with more themes I could ever hope to explore. Going out and breathing some fresh air might lead me to an idea. Seeing sunset/sunrise, going to a new restaurant/club/car, meeting a new person, seeing a number of plays on different topics, going to neighborhoods of my city I''ve never been to, travelling to a different city for a while, changing a setting (urban/rural) are some ways that should lead to interesting and diverse ideas. If you happen to pass by Amsterdam, drugs seem to be an excellent option



I think I would agree that for me theme is also the easiest part (along with character) but I have met writers who find theme fairly difficult because they are more concrete and less abstract thinkers, or people who thing in terms of action (plot) rather than characters'' thoughts and emotions.

If the area of theme holds any difficulties for me, it is finding a collection of themes that I feel strongly enought to write a whole damn book about.

Hmm, lets see if I can list the themes that are involved in my current novel project. (Working title is _Gained in Translation_, btw.)

So, themes, or rather theme-clusters:
1) Slavery, ownership, responsibilities of these, dominance, submission, orders, military and patriarchial hierarchy, second-class citizens and outcastes, tyrants and other people with absurd amounts of authority, and the ethics of all of the above.
2) People with different skills and temperments working together; humorous conflicts re egos and preconceptions, finding a balance, the gestalt phenomenon that the people cooperating are more powerful/resourcesful/successful than any of them would be alone, different kinds of love and how they hold a group together, jealousy, creating family and holding it together against outside pressures.
3) Management/manipulation/brainwashing/persuasion/charm; the techniques and ethics of using this skill, especially using it to counter patriarchial/military/tyrannical power. Also the central role of this power in the phenomenon of creating family.
4) Similarly, the power of the sharp tongue and the strategic mind, as used to counter ditto ditto. The problem that this power tends to socially isolate those who use it.

quote:

2. Research.
Since there''s nothing new under the sun every theme you could possibly come up with has been discussed to death. Ancient greeks seemed to have discussed everything (most of the stuff our founding fathers have been talking about is redundant, the greeks had much more exhaustive discussions about democracy ). I believe researching what''s already been said is an excellent way to improve your future novel. One reason for this is that a thousand year old discussion may very well pass as new to modern generations. Another is that researching will give you ideas about the theme you never thought of. I once made a "test run" and for every theme I came up with I found at least ten primary sources, dozens of secondary sources and hundreds of fiction books that deal with the theme in question. Philosophy books are always a great place to look. My conclusion was that for every theme it''s a good idea to read two-three opposing primary sources from every age (ancient greece, enlightment, modern, nordic, etc.) which would add up to about 10-15 books, then at least one secondary source for each of the primary sources and perhaps one or two really good fiction books that explore the theme. The research stage should take an enormous amount of time but should provide good returns in terms of your understanding of the themes and ideas.



I just read several books on how to write romance novels and several on the military mindset and the social programming aspects of bootcamp and other military training.

quote:

3. Preliminary character design.
This is *relatively* easy and seems to naturally develop from the list of themes and opposing views on each theme provided by the research stage. Different characters should represent different views and allow for a development of the story to serve the exploration of themes. This is of course preliminary as characters must evolve with the story. This stage should provide a starting point for story design.



I find that this is actually two different processes, one for primary characters and the other for secondary characters. Primary characters are most likely to come to me as a fascination with someone else''s character (usually not a vuewpoint character but instead a more mysterious one like a villain or secondary character). Pretty much I know I''ll be happy to spend page after page writing the same character if I''m already obsessed with curiosity about how their mind works. The most difficult part for me is finalizing the smaller details of the primary characters, like what their interests and special abilities are, and their family and personal history. I think I find these the most difficult decisions because they all matter enough that you have to think about them, but not enough that the answer is ovbious or will come to you in a burst of inspiration. And then, they tend to be circularly dependenant on each other.

But basically, this is the area I am the closest to finished with, because I know who my three main characters are, as well as the first secondary character, and more-or-less how they all percieve and react to each other, and how their relationships should mature over the course of the story.

quote:

4. Architecturing the story.
To me this is one of the hardest parts of the overall process. Preliminary characters provide a starting point, but how do you go about creating a thrilling page turner that is instrumental in exploring the themes? Perhaps studying story forging techniques? Reading a lot of fiction books and getting a feel for the stories? Stealing story lines and techniques from old classics like The Bible and The Song of Roland? To me this is black magic.



I would call this plotting, and this is also the most difficult part for me, although I have met people who are natural-born plotters. They tend to be lousy at either character or atmosphere though, so I''m not _too_ jealous of them. This is what I''ve been more-or-less stuck on since July. I know I want to write a romance novel, so one of the things I found very helpful to do was to make a list of all the romantic/sexy/lonely/relationship-angsty moments I''d thought of, and then try to cram these into some sort of chronological order. I know I want a happy ending that will be dependant on my theme number two (different people cooperating to accomplish something great together when they couldn''t do it alone) but darned if I know exactly what that climax should be. I''m pretty sure I want a military academy in there somewhere, but I''m having a hard time placing it because logically the bootcamp part should happen about a year before the rest of the story starts and the characters meet, but in a romance novel you have to introduce a love interest by at least chapter two and many do it in the very first sentence. I can''t decide whether two of the characters should have a failed relationship in their past, or whether they should be meeting for the first time. I can''t decide what one of the character''s job''s is, and another character''s name is. o_O I did the thing where you put all your ideas on notecards and then rearrange them, and that was somewhat helpful, but not a breakthrough. I keep a notebook where I jot down all my ideas, read them over, and try to combine the best ones, but some of them are stubornly refusing to be combined. I tell my sister and my roommate about my ideas; my sister at least is encouraging, if not terribly helpful, and my roommate, not liking the type of story I want to write, has been sufficiently discouraging that I quit telling him much of anything, and that arrangement is much better for my motivation and self-esteem, if not for my relationship with him.

As I see it the plot of my story myst be built around the changing relationships between the three main characters. I know where each relationship is when the two characters first meet, what general stages it passes through, and where it has settled by the end of the story. The problem is to take these three evolutions and overlay them on top of each other in some kind of logical chronological way. Should character A meet character B first, or character C first? Should character A get sexually involved with character B before or after character B meets character C, and should character C find out about ththe relationship or should it be a secret? Questions, questions, and no good answers.

quote:

5. Putting the damned thing into words.
This is relatively complex but for prose it''s more of a science than black magic above At this point I am not even considering this stage, hence I have little to say about it. This is is a big "Part II" while the four points above are "Part I". For now I''d like to limit the discussion to Part I, if possible.


Err, what happened to the world-building part? I know that many times the things I enjoy most in others'' writing are the cool worldbuilding ideas, and I''m having almost as much difficulty building my alien society and its magic system as I am with plotting. The central gimmic of my story is that these aliens sculpt bodies (called Constructs) and steal minds from elsewhere to use to animate these bodies. Thus my main character is a human whose mind is stolen (killing his original body) and put into a new alien body on an alien planet where he has no idea what''s going on, doesn''t speak the language, and is expected to take the social role of a trained animal something like a dog of war or a trained monkey. So I''ve thought up some neat worldbuilding things to go with this (like the aliens have cockatoo crests that express their emotional state and scent glands which have lots of social uses and taboos...) but I still need a lot more before I''ll have a world as rich as, say, that of the Harry Potter books.

Anyway, I don''t know if this helped, as you seem to have basically the same problems I do. Do tell me if you find any magic tricks for getting a plot to sort itself out.

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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Hmm, lets see if I can list the themes that are involved in my current novel project.

A nice list One suggestion I can make, for every theme consider writing down particular points you''re planning to explore. This should be short enough so you could reread it in twenty minutes and long enough to encapsulate most points you''re interesting in covering. For instance, your slavery theme. What kind of slavery are you talking about? Worker slaves, sex slaves, servant slaves. Do they love their master, do they hate him? Do they feel like they are lesser beings and deserve to be slaves? Is slavery moral (some people will tell you it is, perhaps you want to introduce a character that adopts this philosophy). I could think of 5-50 pages of notes on this particular theme. I''d keep my notes short though, ten pages at most. I found this to be necessary because it''s next to impossible to keep everything in my head.
quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
I just read several books on how to write romance novels and several on the military mindset and the social programming aspects of bootcamp and other military training.

Big mistake. Your novel can become a lot deeper than you yourself can possibly imagine if you research enough. To get back to the slavery theme. I gurantee you the ancient greeks have discussed this topic to death, it''s morality, it''s implications, etc. There are plenty of diaries available that can help you get into the mindset of a slave as well as the owner. Philosophical and political implications. Economic implications. This may seem unimportant in a romance novel, but if you think about it, why not progress beyond the pigeonhole? Introduce more levels of complexity and symbolism? You get the idea.
quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
I would call this plotting, and this is also the most difficult part for me, although I have met people who are natural-born plotters.

A major problem with this is that in any novel (like in life) early events affect the future in ways we can''t even begin to imagine. This won''t happen with a linear approach. Have you ever read a novel where a little thing mentioned in the beginning plays vital importance at the end? Or when many threads weave perfectly into one? You simply can''t do this by progressing from a beginning to end. Essentially in order to come up with a *good* plot you have to adopt a very long iterative process. You''d have to go back and forth and constantly reshape the plot until every little detail plays vital importance and every thread ends up fitting perfectly into the story. I simply can''t do this well. I can''t imagine how someone would do this naturally (although I''m sure such freaks exist ).
quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
I tell my sister and my roommate about my ideas; my sister at least is encouraging, if not terribly helpful, and my roommate, not liking the type of story I want to write, has been sufficiently discouraging that I quit telling him much of anything, and that arrangement is much better for my motivation and self-esteem, if not for my relationship with him.

Romance novels aren''t my thing either but I don''t consider myself a bad person Don''t be too hard on your roommate, perhaps what you''re trying to accomplish just isn''t his cup of tea.
quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Err, what happened to the world-building part?

Ah, yes, I missed this part for some reason. This comes to me fairly naturally though and is a direct consequence of the themes I chose. Basically, look at your themes, try to image what setting would suit your exploration of these themes best and then create your world

Except for actualy writing I find plotting to be the hardest part of the process. I wonder if there are any advices masters of plotting ever gave in interviews to young authors

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"reshape the plot until every little detail plays vital importance and every thread ends up fitting perfectly into the story."
hmm, I disagree, you don't have to explore every hook or thread thats introduced in a story there can still be unresolved issues and problems when the story comes to an end. That often helps the story since it provides a sense of continueness, that events and characters continue going on after the story has ended.

I've read through this thread, and well I don't do any of those things when I write. To be honest I usually just jot down ideas I have for the story, events I want to happen, characters, concept and ideas I'd like to portray and that about it for the planning. I Take extra couple of minutes to decieded roughly how the chapter will begin and end. Then thats it, I sit down and write. The rest of the details just fill themselves in along the way. Of course every now and then I have to stop and think out the details of an abstract idea that neededs to be included at that point in the story.

For me the most challenging part is the wording, going back over what I've written and impoving the lanague and artisty of the words. But that could be because I think I'm hack and that my work is poorly written. Other people seem to disagree but then again they could somply be being polite.

I thought about it again sometime I do reserch, if there are import story details that I need to know more about. Such as the time I reserched british legends in order for a story.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I'm a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document



[edited by - TechnoGoth on October 6, 2003 8:50:01 AM]

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I think this process is unique to every writer, and it even differs from idea to idea. Sometimes complete ideas for a story just hit me from nowhere. Other times I come up with a core idea, and then build around it. And sometimes I just suddenly have a character in my head, and I have to find a story for him.

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quote:
Original post by CoffeeMug
A nice list One suggestion I can make, for every theme consider writing down particular points you''re planning to explore. This should be short enough so you could reread it in twenty minutes and long enough to encapsulate most points you''re interesting in covering. For instance, your slavery theme. What kind of slavery are you talking about? Worker slaves, sex slaves, servant slaves. Do they love their master, do they hate him? Do they feel like they are lesser beings and deserve to be slaves? Is slavery moral (some people will tell you it is, perhaps you want to introduce a character that adopts this philosophy). I could think of 5-50 pages of notes on this particular theme. I''d keep my notes short though, ten pages at most. I found this to be necessary because it''s next to impossible to keep everything in my head.


Thanks, this is helpful! I''m still working on making these lists, but they are already helping me generate ideas for interesting scenes and organize the ideas I already had.

quote:

Big mistake. Your novel can become a lot deeper than you yourself can possibly imagine if you research enough. To get back to the slavery theme. I gurantee you the ancient greeks have discussed this topic to death, it''s morality, it''s implications, etc. There are plenty of diaries available that can help you get into the mindset of a slave as well as the owner. Philosophical and political implications. Economic implications. This may seem unimportant in a romance novel, but if you think about it, why not progress beyond the pigeonhole? Introduce more levels of complexity and symbolism? You get the idea.



I didn''t find the research overwhelming - I''m not a detail-oriented person so I always ignore the details of what I research anyway; my goal in reading the military stuff was to understand the psychological effects of basic training and indoctrination, and the way drill seargeants talk, and I succeded at the first - the second I will have to re-read a few of the novels and practice before I can do it well enough.

The problem of ''this may seem unimportant in a romance novel'' actually doesn''t apply to me. I''m not writing a romance novel qua Silouhette or one of the other big lines; ironically I detest most romance novels because they''re written by dumb people about dumb characters with a minimum of worldbuilding. Similarly I''m not writing a military novel qua military novel because these are created by and for macho traditional guys who have a totally different mindset than I do. The only reason I refer to my book as a ''romance novel'' is that it has a traditional romance plot structure (well, as close to traditional as you can get when you have three main characters rather than two) and the relationships
between the characters are what drive the book, so it really is about romance. But when I''m done I hope to have something like a Lois Bujold or Catherine Asaro''s books: a blend of romance, military, and science fiction/fantasy, but marketed towards sf&f readers.

I''ve actually already researched slavery to death, since I''ve been interested in it since highschool and often use reasearch paper assignments as an excuse to read about plantations and roman slavery and relevant philosophy. Really, I don''t think I could write anything without introducing levels of complexity and symbolism. If you like, take a look at one of my longer pieces of writing, you''ll find yourself tripping over philosophy and landing in piles of symbolism.

Linkage for the curious:
_As the Moon Loves the Sun_, a _Lord of the Rings_ m/m/f fanfic (Rated PG-15)
_Facepaint_, a _Fushigi Yuugi_ m/m fanfic (rated NC-17)

quote:

A major problem with this is that in any novel (like in life) early events affect the future in ways we can''t even begin to imagine. This won''t happen with a linear approach. Have you ever read a novel where a little thing mentioned in the beginning plays vital importance at the end? Or when many threads weave perfectly into one? You simply can''t do this by progressing from a beginning to end. Essentially in order to come up with a *good* plot you have to adopt a very long iterative process. You''d have to go back and forth and constantly reshape the plot until every little detail plays vital importance and every thread ends up fitting perfectly into the story. I simply can''t do this well. I can''t imagine how someone would do this naturally (although I''m sure such freaks exist ).

snip

Except for actualy writing I find plotting to be the hardest part of the process. I wonder if there are any advices masters of plotting ever gave in interviews to young authors



Well, I myself don''t write linearly; I generally write whichever scenes I feel like I know enough to write, and then I fill in between these, editing as I go to foreshadow things and make things consistent. So in other words I do write iteratively; my problem at the moment is that I have to have certain plot points (namely the climax) decided before I can begin this iterative process, and, well, I haven''t decided them yet.

There are indeed several pieves of writing floating around where writers give advice about plotting. I''ve read several whole books on the subject, and more essaies, articles and interviews. But I found that I couldn''t use most of this information because it''s almost all about plots where there is an antagonist. My plot has no antagonist, or rather two of the characters could equally be considered the hero/heroine or the antagonist, depending on whether you picked one to root for. But reading those books on how to write a romance novel really helped me out because they assumed that you were trying to create conflict between the hero and the heroine, and one specifically talked about what to do if you don''t have a villain!

And then today (the reason I''m posting now) I just had an epiphany! See, I have 3 main characters, let''s call them M, A, and L. M is beyond question the viewpoint character, and I had been assuming this meant that he was the hero (or heroine, if you''re thinking in terms of romance novels). Which would put A and L as the love interests and each others'' rivals. This sounds okay... except the problem is A and L don''t act like rivals at all! They weren''t trying to compete with each other to impress M; L wanted A to pay attention to him and A considered M to be a platonic best friend and was actively avoiding L. O_o So today I was looking through my notebook, and I saw where it was written, "What is M''s heroic goal?" because the hero/heroine''s supposed to have a driving goal of some sort, and this is really the root of what makes plot happen, according to all the books. But I had put a "?" there because M didn''t really have a driving goal; all he wanted to do was figure out where the hell he was and what was expected of him as a member of a new alien culture.

So I was looking at this and I thought, "You know, it''s _impossible_ for M to have a heroic goal - he''s just been dropped into a completely new world, and to have a goal you have to know enough about your world to be determined to change some aspect of it. So... if M can''t have a heroic goal... maybe M''s not the hero?" Bingo! Eureka! Big lightbulb appearing above my head! "If M''s not the hero... then A must be the Hero (cause he''s the macho one, and he has a heroic goal of being a good soldier and man), and L must be the heroine (because he''s the non-macho one and he has a heroic goal of getting A to pay attention to him)! Erm... but where does that leave M? Caught in the crossfire, a mediator, the universal lubrican poured between the immovable object (A) and the irresistable force (L) until something slips! And each little slip and skid would be a plot turning point, from the initial incident of M''s arrival to the climax of the first arc where the tension between A and L is finally resolved!" So, now if I can just figure out how that resolution happens, I should have the bare minimum first plot art for the book, and be able to start my iterative writing process!


Anyway, tell me what type of plot you want to write, and I can try to recommend some books about that type of plot if you like.

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*bump* I think this is a great thread, I don't want it to die yet.

BTW I had another idea for my book's title. I didn't like _Gained in Translation_ much; anybody like _A Thing Worthy Of Loyalty_ better or have any ideas for variations on it?

[edited by - sunandshadow on October 19, 2003 9:22:01 PM]

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Today I was trying a new technique for outlining plot, and it worked pretty well, so I''ll share. I theorized that since I am a character writer, I have been having problems because I was thinking of plot as things that happen, or things that people do, neither of which really matter to me. What I needed to do instead was think of plot as "how individual characters and relationships between characters change." So I made a list of all the little changes in attitude or worldview each of the characters goes through in the disorderly scenes I''d been randomly generating. Came up with about 30 of these. And darned if it wasn''t obvious almost exactly what order they logically had to go in! ^_^ There''re still a few decisions to be made, mostly about the details of how things happen, (is it too cliche for L to kidnap M?) but now I have a rough plot outline! ^_^

And also, my dictionary of Indo-European roots arrived in the mail so I can work more on the language I''m creating. Life is good. ^_^ Now, if only I had a great title...

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Design and implement? Hmm, quite an analytical approach. Where's the inspiration? Where's the passion? Those are the things that are going to get you through the dark hours, the bland passage improvement areas.

The Design and Implement aspects are thoroughly documented at zillions of sites and in hundreds of books. There's no shortage of how to write books, what is in rare supply is 'being a creative person without falling into all the traps and myths that few break out of to success financially and critically.'

There's an old adage in screenwriting that you have to forget about the money. You've known how to tell a story since you were first introduced to oral tradition when being read stories as a child. All the structural elements and techniques, styles and approaches are analyzed to death and detriment of the art form, or as a great album title recently said, "The dying art of living."

I suggest the great stories come from great people, Hemingway, Faulkner, anyone you can just about name went out and took a bite out of fear, adventure, insecurity and the uncomfortable to find the things that makes humans great and then they described what they saw and how their take was on it. I suggest you are already an expert writer, but your best writing is going to come from great living, great experience and being a great human. The rest is rulebooks for teachers who couldn't lead themselves or others or an idea out of acknowledgement by doting, nodding paradigm guardians.

All you need to know about writing you already know and don't have to write down, what you do have to write down is your take on awe, discovery and reflection. And for that, you have to walk outside the door and go where you are not familiar, where you are not comfortable, where you are absolutely afraid, where things don't make sense and you determine to make sense out of them.

Writing is tough enough that you don't have to mechanistically grind yourself for months along a path that bring you little reward past recognition of accomplishement and some remunertation and status. The goal is to stand in awe and wonderment of what you have discovered that was not so easily researched, so easily architected, or, as Earnest Hemingway used to say, "A good book nearly kills you."

There is so much more to this that is not being even paid attention to, and is yet the secret I just could not stand by mute. Wow, wonder what my response would have been like if I'd had a second cup of coffee.

[edited by - adventuredesign on November 1, 2003 10:19:25 PM]

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Adventuredesign - Huh, I think that''s the first time I''ve ever utterly disagreed with one of your posts.

IMO, great writing is not correlated with living an adventuresome life like Hemmingway did (or Bishop_Pass is always telling us to). I would say the best writers throughout history have been those driven by loneliness, boredom, or oppression to create an escape for themselves by imagining a world so vivid they could hide from the world in it, characters so cool they could pretend they were them, love objects so sexy they could forget their loneliness, a world with magic and the possibility to overcome any oppressive evil, etc.

It is passion that falters in the face of tedious editing and rewriting, and the scientist''s quiet intellectual enthusiasm that will pull you through. (Although passion is of course vital for having the courage to take on such a big project in the first place and to write the key scenes of high drama, comedy, thrills, and tragedy.)

While there may be a zillion places people have theorized about how to write, this documentation is not ''thorough'' and is extremely disorganized, such that a writer must study the various theories and impose his/her own order on them ( i.e. ''write them down'') in order to get anything useful out of them.

I have seen many novels-in-progress die because no one had the analytical skills to figure out what was wrong with their design, but not one that died from being over-analyzed.

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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Adventuredesign - Huh, I think that's the first time I've ever utterly disagreed with one of your posts.


Good! Discussion precedes solutions.

quote:

IMO, great writing is not correlated with living an adventuresome life like Hemmingway did (or Bishop_Pass is always telling us to).



Nope. Not correlated, integral and foundational. It runs deeper. I didn't advocate taking up extremem nakes sky diving, I did advocate abandoning the comfort of formulaicism in foundating one's work. There are a zillion how to write books and rare and infrequent Pulizters. This is why.


quote:

I would say the best writers throughout history have been those driven by loneliness, boredom, or oppression to create an escape for themselves by imagining a world so vivid they could hide from the world in it, characters so cool they could pretend they were them, love objects so sexy they could forget their loneliness, a world with magic and the possibility to overcome any oppressive evil, etc.


So escape is the reason to write? No, it is the reason to read. Comparisons with writers historically fail when accounting for modern times, modern perceptual maturities and modern functionality. Hemingway invented the bloody mary, and was a hopeless alcholic and womanizer; his kids are wrecks, I've met some who didn't off themselves. Faust was manic depressive and schitzphrenic on a good day. Discovery of what one did not know before, and great discovery being something few or none new before, is the reason to write, or create for that matter.

The majority of historically great writers were mostly wallflowers who chose to live life vicariously through composition rather than experiencing it firsthand, and the repressive heirarchal civilization we have built synomized the empathy readers had because they were in the same civilization. Coffeemug has *zero* of these restrictions, and I could not advise him wisely were I to say, "repeat the past." Three years before the mast is a good example of a discoverer who wrote a book about his journey. It is timeless, whereas "The Journey to write a book" will put most people to sleep. The latter may be more technically well executed as a manuscript, but the former has a pulse, breaths drawn in excitement, fear and terror, and is required reading in high school. The latter makes the author a little royalty income and newsletter subscription income. What a wasted life, imo.

quote:

It is passion that falters in the face of tedious editing and rewriting, and the scientist's quiet intellectual enthusiasm that will pull you through. (Although passion is of course vital for having the courage to take on such a big project in the first place and to write the key scenes of high drama, comedy, thrills, and tragedy.)


If passion falters and intellectual enthusiam sees you through, we are lost. Wait until your first masterpiece comes along, and the muse decides to amuse herself with your intellect enthusiastically. I have the greatest respect for your intellectual excellence and vast knowledge of literature, no one would harbinger that more that I publicly here, but it is eminently clear to me you have never been siezed with creativity to the point where you have to do it or feel like you will die.
This litmus test will come, and to believe otherwise is foolishness. This is not unexpected you don't realize this because you are still early in terms of body of work, length of artistic life and as anybody knows, it takes 20 years to get good at anything.

But I *guarantee* you the day your masterpiece drops realization straight onto you medulla oblongata with the force of Mjolnor's blow, you will, without hestiation, without further ceremony or study, follow your star, and you will do so without knowing exactly how to do it beforehand with a tight outline, a crisp treatment and well defined and documented characters.

This is what the process demands and to escape it is condemnation to mediocrity, the eightieth level of hell imho. You do things larger than you know with less that what you need, and you find out who you are and what you are made of in the gate at the time, and nowhere, and no way else. Or, you're a teacher.

The day (or in my case, night) this happens to you, you may, whether it makes logical sense or not, leave everything you know, trust and rely upon in your dust wake. Only in art is this kind of adventure and discovery non-destructive, and actually beneficial and contributive. On that day, you will realize, like I did, twenty years ago when I left Key Largo and moved to Hollywood literally, how to acquire not reliability through form, but mastery through substance and action.

Actually, I'm kind've excited for you, because you are one of the young writers here whom I see great, if not formidably groundbreaking promise in, evidenced in one aspect by your phenominal breadth of the literary subject. Take care not to make it your double edged sword. Mastery is not a class you can take or a book you can read. You have to go out there and fight for it with less information than you need, and fewer tools than you have, but with wit and sensitivity, boldness and risk. All the things you can't learn at Harvard School of Business, as the old capitalist saying goes.

quote:

While there may be a zillion places people have theorized about how to write, this documentation is not 'thorough' and is extremely disorganized, such that a writer must study the various theories and impose his/her own order on them ( i.e. 'write them down') in order to get anything useful out of them.


Well, we clearly don't go to the same library. After beginning, middle and end, character design and scene/setting and dialogue skills, there really isn't that much more you need to learn *unless* you have a fear of creativity problem, which is not a writing and structure issue problem. This is why writer's block doesn't actually exist, it's just attributed to the literary process when the issue is psychological. What was it Socrates said?

Oral tradition, well honed, millenia after millenia, responsible for the bulk of the preservation of knowledge and wisdom for ages (stone, metal, domestication, wanderer) before writing systems evolved, is practically genetically encoded in our brains congnitive interpretation DNA/RNA strands. If this were not almost the case, then people from foriegn lands, with vastly different cultures and intellect levels, would not be able to somehow get their message across so you understood what they wanted. Yet they do, and we get them.

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I have seen many novels-in-progress die because no one had the analytical skills to figure out what was wrong with their design, but not one that died from being over-analyzed.


But you have never seen a novel die because of a lack of passion, and you never will. Passion sees things through. Intellectual enthusiasm fails in death scenes, love scenes and conflict scenes, you *have* to feel This need to know, to understand, to discover, is at the root of what we are as cognitive entities, and all great discoveries were mosly by accident not design. Because we live in a civilization of exploitation and heirarchal classism, we tend to forget that play and discovery are our primary higher evolved great ape dispositions. Thus, it is clear now why structure has to be given precedence, because it serves heirarchy.

This should be distinguished from incremental discovery, which is not the same thing, which is almost always reached via structuralized methodology, because the distinction is important.

That passionately completed novel may lack structuralizing aspects meeting the definition of what the market or acquisitions editor expects, but one writes for oneself first, and audience after expertice. If coffeemug were to write two structurally incomplete novels without learning a thing from any other source first, by the time he got to the third book, he would be not only a better writer and self taught in most everything he needed to know skillset wise without being hampered with other ppl's opine, he would move more readers than the person who carried a rule book around their neck on their third book. To wait for all the information before making a decision is the surest way to arrive tardy to the decision time vis a vis effectiveness.

Art is risk, it is the willingness to do without all we need and still get the job done because we created what we needed in process. Great art is sacrificial risk. You must realize

One day you will have to walk away from everything you have learned and trusted and relied upon academically and intellectually to leap with faith in yourself into unknown areas and come out the other side with three things: your own literary voice, that which distinguished your work from all competitors clearly, your own point of view, that which distinguishes your take from all others distinctly, and your own superconceptually realized message - what you are on this planet saying - that which evolves about ten years after you realize you must leave the safety of pat hand artistic and creative concepts to find out what others don't know because you are the first to find out. One only realizes a superconcept after toying with highly evolved concepts for years . I suggest perusal of Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity though the lives of: Einstein, Ghandi, Eliot, Graham, Picasso, Stravinsky and Freud. The first three chapters are plenty food for thought, but for a psychologies, he's not a bad writer, so I would read the whole things.


That superconcept is the foundation of your masterpiece. Why go to all the trouble to write, evolve as a thinker and an artist, if you are going to walk over already trodden sod, and never put yourself in a position to take your best shot? This would be a waste of life, and we only get one, and it's short. Not to mention that in any creative discipline, any one you can name, our shot at the big time of thought and realization is a very narrow window, available only under a fairly strict set of conditions. Or, you'll be a teacher, and never know, but eternally wonder, or worse fate yet, rationalize salve.

Now, I've been a writer for 36 of my 44 years, and if it is one thing I've learned, that which comes so easily is worthless. Figuring out how to write is of minor import, figuring out what to say, how you as a unique and individual artist want to say it, and trying to uncover something new, something unsaid before, that, that is what makes the arduous journey worthwhile. And if you think that it's all be said before, then change would not exist were that true.

I kind've feel a little validated you disagree with me, because you will find, as a part of your artistic evolution years from now (given your considerable acumen perhaps sooner than later), that you too will have to walk away from your mentors, the ones who even nurtured you, you will have to walk away from the very precepts that got you to where you are at the leap off point and walk on that hallowed ground in the land called originality. It exists, it's not a myth, it's an adventure that lies out there. This perhaps is one of the funniest paradox's of life, that our internal solutions lie outside the ordinate and mundane, and the solutions to the world's problems lie within ourselves. According to the Dalai Llama, it the relationship that counts.

I implore you not to give up so easily on the risky unknown unavailable to historical approaches. With the precious time we are given, what more valueable time spent than to discover that which perscription knows nothing of and persecutes against when found? Erasmus wrote that the only mistake reformation made was using a hammer to drive it's message home. Coffeemug's story, and your masterpiece, lies at the soles of your feet that bring the ache to your back and the squint in your eye toward the light, figuratively and literally.

You may discover, when elation courses through you like lightning because of discovery of something you've only had partial glimpses of for years, the sadness one feels afterwards when it falls deaf on the ears of fools. This is why good record keeping and backups are so important, for what are you but your legacy? Both of you already know the rules, now have the guts to break them.

I am not saying do not plan your work and work your plan, I am saying that you will abandon it without hesitation once your creativity and imagination begin writing better than you can plan around page seventy or two hundred. That is what rewriting is for, in part, to give the creative process it's full chance in all it's manifestations. If you drive a straight line through a novel, or even design the curves and twists in the road plan to your satisfaction now, then, in the moment when your creative faculties supercedes the best laid plans of mice and men, you've got to have the sense to realize that your plan needs changing, the manuscript will require a major rewrite even if that mean a ton of reworking, and you find it curiously exciting (voila discovery! our highest human function) and you are greatful on a certain level because you trusted yourself to know that halfway through any work of significant length, you may become a better writer than you were when you started, and to not incorporate the improvements would be a disservice to yourself, the process, and your audience. This is what writers do, and is probably the reason why it is so oft said writing is rewriting, when it can also easily mean, replotting, rethinking, recharacterizing and major surgery. I believe the old saying is edit ruthlessly.



[edited by - adventuredesign on November 2, 2003 2:40:00 AM]

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Well, I''m glad you think I have potential. Your post was certainly an eloquent plea in favor of creativity. The thing is, I don''t have a fear of creativity, and I never have. Oh, I have plenty of other fears - a fear of producing something that isn''t deeply meaningful and supremely competent, and a fear of wasting effort being the two most crippling ones. It is these two fears that motivate me to study liteary theory and criticism, not any instinct or desire to rely on formula or be validated by history. I don''t possess that particular instinct; to illustrate, I thought it was interesting when I first heard the phrase ''think outside the box'' because it had never occurred to me to think inside any box. My teachers and friends have always remarked on my creativity and ecclecticism. I was fortunate to be born into a family that encourages innovation and handicrafts (my aunts and uncles and parents are engineers, teachers, managers, and an architect, all professions that require creativity for success) and educated in a Montessori school that did the same.

In other words, while you suggest I already know all I need to know about how to write and should study creativity, I submit that I allready know all I need to know about creativity.


quote:
Original post by adventuredesign

quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
IMO, great writing is not correlated with living an adventuresome life like Hemmingway did (or Bishop_Pass is always telling us to).



Nope. Not correlated, integral and foundational. It runs deeper. I didn''t advocate taking up extremem nakes sky diving, I did advocate abandoning the comfort of formulaicism in foundating one''s work. There are a zillion how to write books and rare and infrequent Pulizters. This is why.

quote:

I would say the best writers throughout history have been those driven by loneliness, boredom, or oppression to create an escape for themselves by imagining a world so vivid they could hide from the world in it, characters so cool they could pretend they were them, love objects so sexy they could forget their loneliness, a world with magic and the possibility to overcome any oppressive evil, etc.


So escape is the reason to write? No, it is the reason to read. Comparisons with writers historically fail when accounting for modern times, modern perceptual maturities and modern functionality. Hemingway invented the bloody mary, and was a hopeless alcholic and womanizer; his kids are wrecks, I''ve met some who didn''t off themselves. Faust was manic depressive and schitzophrenic on a good day. Discovery of what one did not know before, and great discovery being something few or none new before, is the reason to write, or create for that matter.

The majority of historically great writers were mostly wallflowers who chose to live life vicariously through composition rather than experiencing it firsthand, and the repressive heirarchal civilization we have built synomized the empathy readers had because they were in the same civilization. Coffeemug has *zero* of these restrictions, and I could not advise him wisely were I to say, "repeat the past." Three years before the mast is a good example of a discoverer who wrote a book about his journey. It is timeless, whereas "The Journey to write a book" will put most people to sleep. The latter may be more technically well executed as a manuscript, but the former has a pulse, breaths drawn in excitement, fear and terror, and is required reading in high school. The latter makes the author a little royalty income and newsletter subscription income. What a wasted life, imo.




So let me see if I understand what you''re saying. You agree with me that historically great writers have been wallflowers rather than adventurous types. And you think that readers empathized because they were in the same position. And you agree that people today read largely for reasons of escapism. The place in which we differ is that you think modern society, having freed people from assorted restrictions and social hierarchy, leaves wallflowers handicapped because they are not in a position to write things that are truly alive?

Okay, here''s why I disagree: I think it is true that modern (postmodern, actually) western society (i.e. late 1960s to the present) is significantly less hierarchal and restrictive than historical cultures. Interestingly this leaves out Hemingway, as he died in 1961. I _don''t_ agree that modern people aren''t wallflowers - there will always be lots of wallflowers, both for economic reasons and because many people (e.g. me) naturally have that temperament. I would argue that by their very nature wallflowers looking to escape and live vicariously are the people who are most likely to become heavy readers. And I would argue that it is almost impossible to be a good, much less a great, writer without having first or simultaneoushy been heavy readers. So I reach the opposite conclusion than you do - modern people who are wallflowers are still more in tune with their audience and at an advantage in creating great writers when compared with people who have spent their time adventuring rather than reading.

I will concede that probably the best writers are those with wallflower temperaments who have had adventures anyway, and can draw on these as source material for their writing. But I would also say that life is an adventure, especially the growing up part, and anyone who has survived it probably has enough material to write one great book. And I don''t see modern people as being fundamentally different from historical people - it''s true that some historical writers can seem alien and locked into the mindset of their society, but then all you have to do is read someone like Chaucer and you can understand that 500 years ago there was somebody who was just as capable of freeing himself from hierarchy and rigid social expectations to be a sociologist and objective commentator on people as any modern writer.


quote:

It is passion that falters in the face of tedious editing and rewriting, and the scientist''s quiet intellectual enthusiasm that will pull you through. (Although passion is of course vital for having the courage to take on such a big project in the first place and to write the key scenes of high drama, comedy, thrills, and tragedy.)


If passion falters and intellectual enthusiam sees you through, we are lost.


I have to wonder why. Imo it is the nature of passion to falter, to flare up and die down and flare up again. The human mind is not built to sustain any of the great emotions (creative passion, fury, grief, joy, wonder, etc.). All of these are dependant on the novelty or freshness of whatever caused the person to feel them, and novelty is naturally eroded by the passage of time. In creating a work of art as large as a novel there will naturally be moments when your passion had ebbed - and here is where I say intellectual enthusiasm, less intense but more enduring than passion, can motivate the writer to soldier onwards until the passion flares again or the manuscript is sent off to the publisher.


quote:
Wait until your first masterpiece comes along, and the muse decides to amuse herself with your intellect enthusiastically. I have the greatest respect for your intellectual excellence and vast knowledge of literature, no one would harbinger that more that I publicly here, but it is eminently clear to me you have never been siezed with creativity to the point where you have to do it or feel like you will die.


Why thank you. ^_^ I think I''m too intimidated by the brilliant and hopelessly well-read professors I had in college to claim that I have a ''vast knowledge'', but I''m happy with it''s breadth and it''s depth in the genres I''m interested in. (Except graphic novels - I need to read a lot more of those but there''s a limited supply of good ones in English.) I suppose I''m vain enough to claim ''intellectual excellence''.

''Siezed with creativity'' you say - Interestingly I was just discussing this with my roommate the other day. He is a heavy reader but not a writer; he actually does have a paralyzing fear of creativity and I have been unable to motivate him into even trying to overcome it. But anyway, he is observant and analyitical and likes to study writers and knows a little bit of literary theory, and since he''s the main person I talk to he naturally has a front-row seat on my creative process.

Recently we were speculating on what makes some writers (Tanith Lee, Mercedes Lackey, and Samuel R. Delany for example) finish their first novel at such a young age. He had read an author''s note by Tainith Lee saying that as a teenager she was practically addicted to writing to the point where, like you suggest, she felt that she would die if she couldn''t keep writing. It is true that I have never been compelled _quite_ that intensely to write, but I have a much more phlegmatic temperament than her anyway, and I never feel anything that intensely. However, I have definitely felt compelled to write. As the coders here say, I have gotten into ''the zone'', or ''deep hack'', where the only thing that exists is the thing you''re creating and it just flows and is alive right on the monitor in front of you. I do feel that some part of my spirit would die if I ever gave up on writing my novel. In point of fact I would guess that my masterpiece _has_ come along, at least in general concept, because when I look back over my writing progress I find that all of my major project ideas have just been versions of the same archetypal one: A character a lot like me (but not a Mary Sue, damnnit) is dropped into an alien culture, adapts to it, tries to keep secrets, has said secrets discovered, falls in love, and builds a family. A Bildungsroman if ever I''ve seen one. I know at a gut level that this is what I need to write, I just get hung up on the details, which is why I often turn to how-to books - they''re designed to help you sort out technical problems of this sort. I feel that the more I understand the pattern of what I need to write and why (socrates again) the easier it will be for me to see that certain implementation choices fit the pattern more naturally and functionally that others. In other words, if I can understand what I''m writing, how to write it should become clear to me.

Or to analogize to dreams - I am a lucid dreamer. Lucid dreaming is to writing what normal dreaming is to reading. Or rather, lucid dreaming is to writing while being aware of the process of writing, as regular dreaming is to writing instinctively and without self-analysis. Each method has it''s own strengths and weaknesses, but I can no more start writing non-introspectively than I could stop lucid dreaming. So what does this mean? It means that the problems I have in writing are much like the problems that come from not having normal dreams - my subconscious doesn''t get to finish chewing over a concept before my conscious gets ahold of it. So I''m strong on archetypes by weak on specific symbolism (like I said, implementation details). I have to use my conscious to make the choices that some other people make subconsciously, and when there''s no obvious good choice I get stuck. Maybe eventually I''ll figure out how not to do this - it seems to me that this is one of the abilities that distinguishes the experienced author from the first-time author. But I don''t really know, because this is the limit of my knowledge and experience. Is this what you mean by working with ''less than I need''? Because it does feel that way. Like I''ve found the ''superconceptualized message'', but I''m not sure how to ''realize it''. Any advice for this problem?


quote:

quote:

While there may be a zillion places people have theorized about how to write, this documentation is not ''thorough'' and is extremely disorganized, such that a writer must study the various theories and impose his/her own order on them ( i.e. ''write them down'') in order to get anything useful out of them.


Well, we clearly don''t go to the same library.



Lol. I did most of my research on literary theory in Penn State''s infamous Stacks, with supplemental material from the Erie County (Pennsylvania), Fairfax County (Virginia), and State College (Pennsylvania) public library systems. The first two of these have been commended for the richness of their collections. And then of course I have shopped at Borders, Barnes and Noble, Little Professor, B Dalton, etc., and online I have used Amazon.com and bookfinder.com, google and usenet and messageboards like this one. Where did you do your research? j/k You don''t have to flash your credentials. I was just finding it amusing to mentally count how many library cards were in my wallet.


quote:

After beginning, middle and end, character design and scene/setting and dialogue skills, there really isn''t that much more you need to learn *unless* you have a fear of creativity problem, which is not a writing and structure issue problem. This is why writer''s block doesn''t actually exist, it''s just attributed to the literary process when the issue is psychological. What was it Socrates said?



Socrates said ''know thyself'', and that''s important, but Socrates also said everyone was hopelessly ignorant and it was impossible to know anything, which I don''t agree with. I''m a follower of Descarte and Machiaevelli, myself. And Aristotle - have you ever read his _Poetics_? You mention play as the essential human activity; Aristorle is the one who says people create poetry as a playful expression of the mimetic and musical instincts. Ah, mimesis - the thing you mean when you talk about the instinct to communicate in certain forms, e.g. folk tales, being encoded in people''s brains. The storyytelling instinct and all that. Some damn cool stuff to read about. ^_^

The real difference between you and me here is that I have this vision of a ''grand unified theory'' of literary theory. I originally wanted to write my thesis on this topic and I still feel compelled to keep studying, discussing, and anyalizing fiction and its creative process until I understand this grand unified theory. If you otoh see the body of literary theory as complete as-is, and somewhat outdated and rigid, then naturally to you it would seem a waste of energy to keep studying it.


quote:

I have seen many novels-in-progress die because no one had the analytical skills to figure out what was wrong with their design, but not one that died from being over-analyzed.


But you have never seen a novel die because of a lack of passion, and you never will. Passion sees things through. Intellectual enthusiasm fails in death scenes, love scenes and conflict scenes, you *have* to feel This need to know, to understand, to discover, is at the root of what we are as cognitive entities, and all great discoveries were mosly by accident not design.



Great _discoveries_ are mostly by accident; great _implementations_ are mostly by design. Like in that Scott McCloud book _Understanding Comics_, the one is the sweet nutritious apple that''s banged-up on the outside, the other the bright shiny apple that is hollow on the inside. Call me hopelessly optimistic, but I want my novel to be as polished outside as it is rich inside.

quote:

I am not saying do not plan your work and work your plan, I am saying that you will abandon it without hesitation once your creativity and imagination begin writing better than you can plan around page seventy or two hundred.


This is an interesting suggestion. What happened to me the first time I tried to write a novel, almost exactly on page seventy, was that I suddenly realized I had no idea how to get from there to the next part I had planned, which would have been the beginning of the second arc of the story. I didn''t have a better inspiration, I had a lack of inspiration caused by my unhappiness with the structural problems in the part I had already written. Thus my attempt to design a solid structure first this time around. Maybe someday I will be able to just start a book and keep writing, but for the first one I feel that starting without a solid outline would just be repeating past mistakes and asking for failure. Thus, I currently have 30 little slips of paper grouped into the first 9 hypothetical chapters all over my living room floor. I''m going to continue trying this method for the time being, since it seems to be working. As you say, I can always abandon my outline later if a better idea comes along.

I''m going to type up the outline I currently have after I sleep a few more hours ( >.< The sun came up while I was typing this...) I guess I''ll show that to you guys if you want to see it - shouldn''t be a copyright problem at the current level of detail. My sister already requested to see it so we''ll see what she has to say. And Adventuredesign, thanks for all the compliments, I''m in a good mood now. ^_^ I''m glad you feel validated, hopefully you will continue to do so. And I''m glad that this thread is alive again, I thought that it had a lot more potential for good discussion. ^_^ g''night





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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Well, I'm glad you think I have potential. Your post was certainly an eloquent plea in favor of creativity. The thing is, I don't have a fear of creativity, and I never have.


I wasn't referencing you, don't take it personally - reference was general.

quote:

Oh, I have plenty of other fears - a fear of producing something that isn't deeply meaningful and supremely competent, and a fear of wasting effort being the two most crippling ones. It is these two fears that motivate me to study liteary theory and criticism, not any instinct or desire to rely on formula or be validated by history. I don't possess that particular instinct; to illustrate, I thought it was interesting when I first heard the phrase 'think outside the box' because it had never occurred to me to think inside any box. My teachers and friends have always remarked on my creativity and ecclecticism. I was fortunate to be born into a family that encourages innovation and handicrafts (my aunts and uncles and parents are engineers, teachers, managers, and an architect, all professions that require creativity for success) and educated in a Montessori school that did the same.


Again, it wasn't about you.

quote:

In other words, while you suggest I already know all I need to know about how to write and should study creativity, I submit that I allready know all I need to know about creativity.



That's about the most silly thing I have ever heard. Even grand master artists with 50 or 60 years in their discipline cannot tell you a great deal about creativity, they can only tell you about their process and the way creativity works with them individually. I've been studying creativiy for about twenty years, and ten years past my masters in screenwriting. I know it is one of the more complex, undiscovered cognitive functions the human mind has, that it is rife with myth and misnomer the vast majority of people subscibe to as if were scripture.


quote:
Original post by adventuredesign

quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
IMO, great writing is not correlated with living an adventuresome life like Hemmingway did (or Bishop_Pass is always telling us to).



Nope. Not correlated, integral and foundational. It runs deeper. I didn't advocate taking up extremem nakes sky diving, I did advocate abandoning the comfort of formulaicism in foundating one's work. There are a zillion how to write books and rare and infrequent Pulizters. This is why.

quote:

I would say the best writers throughout history have been those driven by loneliness, boredom, or oppression to create an escape for themselves by imagining a world so vivid they could hide from the world in it, characters so cool they could pretend they were them, love objects so sexy they could forget their loneliness, a world with magic and the possibility to overcome any oppressive evil, etc.


So escape is the reason to write? No, it is the reason to read. Comparisons with writers historically fail when accounting for modern times, modern perceptual maturities and modern functionality. Hemingway invented the bloody mary, and was a hopeless alcholic and womanizer; his kids are wrecks, I've met some who didn't off themselves. Faust was manic depressive and schitzophrenic on a good day. Discovery of what one did not know before, and great discovery being something few or none new before, is the reason to write, or create for that matter.

The majority of historically great writers were mostly wallflowers who chose to live life vicariously through composition rather than experiencing it firsthand, and the repressive heirarchal civilization we have built synomized the empathy readers had because they were in the same civilization. Coffeemug has *zero* of these restrictions, and I could not advise him wisely were I to say, "repeat the past." Three years before the mast is a good example of a discoverer who wrote a book about his journey. It is timeless, whereas "The Journey to write a book" will put most people to sleep. The latter may be more technically well executed as a manuscript, but the former has a pulse, breaths drawn in excitement, fear and terror, and is required reading in high school. The latter makes the author a little royalty income and newsletter subscription income. What a wasted life, imo.



quote:

So let me see if I understand what you're saying. You agree with me that historically great writers have been wallflowers rather than adventurous types. And you think that readers empathized because they were in the same position.


No. Most, not all (I was not categoric by intent) great writers have been wallflowers by archetype, but great writing comes from great experience, not great practice and great rule following and writing exercises judiciously applied. You have to get out there and get dirty in the mud of humanity to relate that faithfully and realistically to readers who have never been there or done that. It's the fiction writer's version of objective journalism. This is of course, a contemporary fiction condition primarily. Even in science fiction, which I've been writing since the mid 80's, if you don't have a commonly percieved dilemma, you'll simply lose the reader. Star Wars may have been landmark, but the story was still one of a boy's search for his father's love. Practically Greek Tragidianism.

And I did not say empathize. Readers suspend disbelief and surrender to the escape they themselves cannot create in their lives. If a reader lives in a ordinate, heirarchal society, with most of their lifetime dedicated to the system (which for most of modern history it has been, remember the old adage "work hard and you'll get ahead? Well, we now know that if you work hard life will pass you by. But what does the system do to prevent alternatives? Nothing, so people, in fear, go back to working hard. Seeing the cycle classism sets up for the masses yet?) and the original author is from the same identical socity, then empathy does not occur, commiseration does.

Look around you, this is a depressed, hectic, competitive pre-packaged society we are living in by design. By design. The vast majority of people never escape it, and those who do, do so either by great effort or sacrifice, something that only fits our icons and our heroes, and is percieved by the masses as beyond their ability. Everybody else gets up and goes to work on Monday and buys gas once a week.

Or do you disagree most people lead uneventful, ordinary and meaningless lives for the most part? We can elimate the "manufactured events" like college graduation, prom night, christmas, institutional marriage, the gold watch retirement; these are placebos of toil. Of course you don't because it is true.

Even in the modern era, where individuality is practically sacrosanct, the choices laid out before any one individual (if the systems of institutionalized education, law and government are to be used as examples) are stultifyingly conservative, boring and feed the classist system, because that is what they were designed to do. Even individuality is pre-packaged, and people are trying to make money on it. Guess it's not bona fide individuality then.

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And you agree that people today read largely for reasons of escapism.


Not largely. They also read to remain informed of current events, expand their skillsets and to involve themselves in their communities.

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The place in which we differ is that you think modern society, having freed people from assorted restrictions and social hierarchy, leaves wallflowers handicapped because they are not in a position to write things that are truly alive?


I think that? I think we have made a mediocre attempt at it via counterculturalism, but greed has done a great job of turning it into a profit machine. I cite grunge and speed metal as examples of said exploitation. And you need to stop using the phrase "you think" because you're really just trying to put words in my mouth, and it isn't flying.

And modern society hasn't really freed people, we're still hugely dysfunctional, elitist and conservative, though oh, we still do have compassion as they say, which implies precisely zero accountability. So you understand, wallflowers of the past including both writers and readers, was the norm, not a handicap. As far as their ability to write that which is truly alive depends on the courage, vision and spirit of the individual involved, and can't logically be attached to a generalization.


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Okay, here's why I disagree: I think it is true that modern (postmodern, actually) western society (i.e. late 1960s to the present) is significantly less hierarchal and restrictive than historical cultures.



With the exception of classism by wealth, pretty much the same heirarchy it ever was, so nothing has really changed that much, the ruling elite are just permitting a longer leash. At the same time, somebody comes to this country, dyes their hair blonde, gets blue contacts and wears khaki and putty and soft blue workshirts. Come on, it's conformism, and conservative conformism on a wild day.


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Interestingly this leaves out Hemingway, as he died in 1961.



Just because that was when he died bears no relation to the fact he saw what it took to be free and did it before his time. Perhaps he was a man before his time in some respects, which is rational since he was genius in another respect; the literary one.

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I _don't_ agree that modern people aren't wallflowers - there will always be lots of wallflowers, both for economic reasons and because many people (e.g. me) naturally have that temperament.



Temperament, or conditioning? The meek shall inherit the earth is a great example of the conditioning to be less that fully human institutions with political and financial interest in exploitation want you to think. The Art of Psychological Warfare will be a real eye opener for you, when you realize it's used in media, politics, religion and culture. And the existance of the economic condition these souls were born into in the first place is de facto evidence your life was calculated as a value of income and sales revenue long before your daddy got a gleam in his eye.

Though it may be true you are a wallflower by temperament, you are not by nature. Humans are explorers, discoverers and seek to understand nature. That was the bulk of human activity and literature before money entered the picture. It is who and what we are. Powerful interests would rather channel your life to their ends, and they succeed every time you visit the grocery store.


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I would argue that by their very nature wallflowers looking to escape and live vicariously are the people who are most likely to become heavy readers.



Yes, escapism by vicarious indirection is always the safest thing to do, one won't be criticized, ostracized or condemned for acceptable mewing. It's how film studios make billions. Everyone is following that path to profitability with the heart of a zealot. When are people going to realize capitalism is not the be all end all of society? Even the energy cell, a source of power that is cheap, plentiful, utiltarian has the patents owned by one of the largest corporations in the world! We aren't going to see any benefit from it until we can buy it.

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And I would argue that it is almost impossible to be a good, much less a great, writer without having first or simultaneoushy been heavy readers.



I disagree. The ratio of books read to quality of writing is absurd. Great experience makes great writing. If you read about somebody else's great experience, you expand your horizons, but will you be writing about a great experience of your own, or will you be parroting or spinning. Parroting and spinning is not writing, it's a communication abberation.

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So I reach the opposite conclusion than you do - modern people who are wallflowers are still more in tune with their audience and at an advantage in creating great writers when compared with people who have spent their time adventuring rather than reading.



I can see where you would advocate this position based on the fact that is the engagement you have undertaken for several years of your life, and have seen many also so by example preceeding you, but if you count a great book or books having been read as among the top ten peak experiences of your life, you haven't really truly lived. Have you even listed the top ten experiences of your life? Were any of them even remotely related to literature reading or writing?


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I will concede that probably the best writers are those with wallflower temperaments who have had adventures anyway, and can draw on these as source material for their writing.



I suggest for your consideration, that next summer, you put down every book and pen and pad you own. Get a backpack and go where few have ever gone before and you have never been. Really explore, not just go on camping and hiking vacation. Hit the gym really hard this winter so you will be physically prepared, and learn outdoors skills in the spring so you will be safe. When you return from your pilgrimage to Sunandshadow, you will write like a different person, someone you will hardly believe is you in the same skin. This will be emphatically emphasized is potential dangers and risks are involved in this trip, and you have to become more than you thought you were to overcome them. You will be a different person, and all you have read will be reduced to reference status as it should be, and your oar will finally be in the current of the great river of life. Then you will postively write with thunder in your pen. Have you ever experienced that feeling before? I live for it.

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But I would also say that life is an adventure, especially the growing up part, and anyone who has survived it probably has enough material to write one great book.



Living life is an adventure, but so few people ever really live. This is why the mid life crisis exists, and people die weeping as realization visits them at last when their time dwindles to reveal that which they were in denial of so long; that they did everything they were 'supposed' to do, and experience and time showed them the things they did not do were what makes life so much more than the garbage which we are fed like so many sources of veal. Simple surviving is not the basis for great literature, everyone does it, and the story has been told so many times it is passe. Surviving great odds, in difficult situations, in unusual settings in crucial moments, well that is a story of a different color. And sales graph.


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And I don't see modern people as being fundamentally different from historical people - it's true that some historical writers can seem alien and locked into the mindset of their society, but then all you have to do is read someone like Chaucer and you can understand that 500 years ago there was somebody who was just as capable of freeing himself from hierarchy and rigid social expectations to be a sociologist and objective commentator on people as any modern writer.
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500 years ago, there were new places to migrate to, and a person could make their own rules to live by. Now, your condo association dictates what kinds of flowers you can plant and what color you can paint your garage door. We are awash in mediocrity masquarading as the norm. Resist.

You, as a writer, have on one hand an obligation to articulate what others cannot express but yet feel and need to understand, or, you can take the Ayn Rand approach, like I have, and live for your art and your right to create as you see fit. What Ms. Rand missed is that eventually the two intersect.


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It is passion that falters in the face of tedious editing and rewriting, and the scientist's quiet intellectual enthusiasm that will pull you through. (Although passion is of course vital for having the courage to take on such a big project in the first place and to write the key scenes of high drama, comedy, thrills, and tragedy.)


If passion falters and intellectual enthusiam sees you through, we are lost.


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I have to wonder why.



Because it's like the Dalai Llama said once. We desire. Passion is part of desire. We always get what we desire, or we die trying. What is important to distinguish is that what we desire is not what somebody wants us to (e.g., take the little purple pill, and the nasty animated plant mosters that make you so miserable from hayfever will go away, the sun will come out, the birds will begin to sing and your complexion will be better than ever as reflected in your perfect dental plan smile) desire, but to discover what our true desire is so we may courageously follow it and live our preciously short life well, not under a spell, like the vast majority out there do. Or, do you thing consuming is what we were evolved to do with our time. They already have the price tag calculated for a newborn in terms of what they will spend in their entire life.


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Imo it is the nature of passion to falter, to flare up and die down and flare up again. The human mind is not built to sustain any of the great emotions (creative passion, fury, grief, joy, wonder, etc.).



Fault is the source of faltering, passion is not. Passion, grief, love, discontent, these are the things we remember our entire lives, if we are in touch with ourselves. Because we may dwell in logic of solving the puzzle in the newspaper does not cause the death of thesse things, it just means we are not paying attention to them at that time and thus they are not the center of attention. Humans are emotionally cyclical, it is true, and we are not built to be those things all the time, for that would be rather one dimensional, but make no mistake, those motivations will drive you all your life consciously recognized or not.

I get this all the time with people who still believe the conscious, not the subconscious is in charge all the time. The reverse is true, and in getting to know yourself, you will find this an adventure all it's own.


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All of these are dependant on the novelty or freshness of whatever caused the person to feel them, and novelty is naturally eroded by the passage of time.



That is the magpie and the mirror argument, and it excludes deeper motivations such as commitment, love, survival, dominance (the species thing, not any other interpretation). If life were just a novelty, we would be dust by now. The passage of time can erode love, and commitment, but we are hardwired to survive, if it takes a commitment to roll stone uphill to survive, in one's deepest belief, they will do so. I personally think this is the source material for all those e-mail subscription newsletters that spread like virii when the internet made people believe because they had the power to self publish, their work was publication worthy. This has spun decentively to the blogger.


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In creating a work of art as large as a novel there will naturally be moments when your passion had ebbed - and here is where I say intellectual enthusiasm, less intense but more enduring than passion, can motivate the writer to soldier onwards until the passion flares again or the manuscript is sent off to the publisher.


I suggest that if your passion ebbed so much with the idea that your motivation to write wanes, there is flaw with the idea. You get through a thousand pages of typing in a summer because it burns in you like the flame of life itself. This is where your best work lies, all else is journalism, and we've plenty of mediocre reporters.


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Wait until your first masterpiece comes along, and the muse decides to amuse herself with your intellect enthusiastically. I have the greatest respect for your intellectual excellence and vast knowledge of literature, no one would harbinger that more that I publicly here, but it is eminently clear to me you have never been siezed with creativity to the point where you have to do it or feel like you will die.


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Why thank you. ^_^ I think I'm too intimidated by the brilliant and hopelessly well-read professors I had in college to claim that I have a 'vast knowledge', but I'm happy with it's breadth and it's depth in the genres I'm interested in. (Except graphic novels - I need to read a lot more of those but there's a limited supply of good ones in English.) I suppose I'm vain enough to claim 'intellectual excellence'.


That is exactly the difference between you and they. They teach. You will not. Because teaching is safe, living, true living involves risk, risks with your love, your outlook, your wealth, your health, your art, it's development. The only person that allows you to be intimidated is you. I had major movie stars and major producers who gravitate to me at the pathetic pitch your script festivals I used to help administrate in LA, not because I was the screenwriter to know, but because I didn't go to pieces in front of powerful or renouned people. Those people love to be a regular joe more than you know, and this is a great way to network. By standing there and not really giving a crud who they were, they were able to talk to me like somebody who wasn't looking to get something from them, and they loved that. Now, I don't need those seminars anymore.


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'Siezed with creativity' you say - Interestingly I was just discussing this with my roommate the other day. He is a heavy reader but not a writer; he actually does have a paralyzing fear of creativity and I have been unable to motivate him into even trying to overcome it. But anyway, he is observant and analyitical and likes to study writers and knows a little bit of literary theory, and since he's the main person I talk to he naturally has a front-row seat on my creative process.


This is not just the power of an idea we are talking here, though legend has it that in the hands of an individual it can be either very dangerous or change the world, what we are more precisely talking about is the power to engineer ideas. That is a skill that is native to creativity, something very few people actually have skillsets in. Instead, masquerading as a skillset, they set the stage for creative receptivity, such as the majority of artists sitting around waiting for creative thoughts to strike.

They put on certain music, disconnect the phone, arrange a special, warm and personal place with their favorite beverage in their fuzzy slippers and bunny wabbit jammies and wait for long periods. I outlined ten novel science fiction series on a 3 by 5 notepad on a C-130 inbound to a combat parachute drop because I wanted to believe I would die with something acomplished besides all the "normal expected" things I had done. See the difference? Creativity is not coddling, it is persuit.


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Recently we were speculating on what makes some writers (Tanith Lee, Mercedes Lackey, and Samuel R. Delany for example) finish their first novel at such a young age. He had read an author's note by Tainith Lee saying that as a teenager she was practically addicted to writing to the point where, like you suggest, she felt that she would die if she couldn't keep writing. It is true that I have never been compelled _quite_ that intensely to write, but I have a much more phlegmatic temperament than her anyway, and I never feel anything that intensely.



Well, I hope I know what you are going to do next summer.


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However, I have definitely felt compelled to write. As the coders here say, I have gotten into 'the zone', or 'deep hack', where the only thing that exists is the thing you're creating and it just flows and is alive right on the monitor in front of you. I do feel that some part of my spirit would die if I ever gave up on writing my novel.



*Sighs in relief*


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In point of fact I would guess that my masterpiece _has_ come along, at least in general concept, because when I look back over my writing progress I find that all of my major project ideas have just been versions of the same archetypal one: A character a lot like me (but not a Mary Sue, damnnit) is dropped into an alien culture, adapts to it, tries to keep secrets, has said secrets discovered, falls in love, and builds a family. A Bildungsroman if ever I've seen one. I know at a gut level that this is what I need to write, I just get hung up on the details, which is why I often turn to how-to books - they're designed to help you sort out technical problems of this sort.



At your age, not likely, given the nature of creativity in the individual. What it is more likely is that it is your first master concept, one of several you will work though to get to your first superconcept.

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I feel that the more I understand the pattern of what I need to write and why (socrates again) the easier it will be for me to see that certain implementation choices fit the pattern more naturally and functionally that others. In other words, if I can understand what I'm writing, how to write it should become clear to me.


This is exactly what I have beens saying all along. You aren't going to find any of that in a book. You need what is called in creativity "provocation."

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Or to analogize to dreams - I am a lucid dreamer. Lucid dreaming is to writing what normal dreaming is to reading. Or rather, lucid dreaming is to writing while being aware of the process of writing, as regular dreaming is to writing instinctively and without self-analysis. Each method has it's own strengths and weaknesses, but I can no more start writing non-introspectively than I could stop lucid dreaming. So what does this mean?



It means you should be dream journaling like crazy, but be aware it is part of the evolutionary process of being a creative writer, just as the poetry phase passes to your finding expression in other formats, such as short stories or article writing. Not every writer is the same creatively from a motivational standpoint, but every writer is the same from the understanding standpoint. The moment realization touches you, you change, no avoiding it. Further, you may lay down things that have been your favorite tools for expression, comfortable, familiar and expert as quickly as you can turn a page and never go back. This is growth.


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It means that the problems I have in writing are much like the problems that come from not having normal dreams - my subconscious doesn't get to finish chewing over a concept before my conscious gets ahold of it.




Actually, that is not the case. The dream wouldn't manifest if the subconscious hadn't figured it out to the point where the solution could be expressed symbologically. If the subconscious hadn't figured it out, it would never have advanced the symbolism of interpretatin to your in the dream, it would have continued to chew on it. What is actually going on, is the conscious mind simply can't interpret all the symbols, their juxtaposition and rate of presentation as the subconscious presents it, so it seems like you conscious mind grabs it away from the subconscious before it's done, but that is impossible, the conscious mind is one ninth at a minimum as powerful as the intelligence of the subconscious. That would be like hacking big blue with HTML.

What is called for is a systematic journal of dream analysis, something few ever do, which would explain why understanding, real understanding of self is so rare and attracts all manner of snake oil for the soul of your chicken soup of life salespeople. Dream journaling, when undertaken by intelligent and sensitive people like us, take about two to three years before you really being to understand from a comprehenseive/lexiconic standpoint, what it is you are trying to tell yourself, how and in what way. The why is the original reason the subconscious began working in the first place.

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So I'm strong on archetypes by weak on specific symbolism (like I said, implementation details).



What is the difference? A symbol is it's own archetyupe. It's method of presentation and interpretation is actually the thing to discover through meticulous study and interepretational analysis. Some archetypes are associated with symbols, hero with sword, virgin with fertility, mother with nurturing, etcetera, but each symbol stands on it's own just as easily, without the heirarchy. It would not be a symbolic if it couldn't. Symbols represent.

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I have to use my conscious to make the choices that some other people make subconsciously, and when there's no obvious good choice I get stuck.



What a powerful and fortunate faculty that is. When you get stuck, try not to think of it as being stuck, think of it as a pause. That is the difference between the subconscious and the conscious. The sub can keep working and eventually spit out a series of symbols essentially comprising the 'sentence' or 'expression' of a particular question you are aware or not you asked it. That's it's job, for the most part, is to use it's towering power over consciousness that baffles our daily minds to handle the important questions. The conscious mind simply does not have the processing power, which is why we have to work with things over time when working consciously to complete them. The subconscious has no such restriction, but it has been labeled so malignedly by the body of thought out there, that to rely on it for solutions in a trustworty manner would be foolish, for don't you know the rule is to fear what you don't understand. Piteous and pathetic for our species to interpret it this way, but that's the deal for most of us, but not me. Your sub will do what you ask it to do because it is you, just not something you can grasp in an infobyte. I use it everynight. I ask it to come up with something on a particular problem, and it does. It won't do it when I snap my fingers, because I don't pose it easy questions. Nor it the subconscious schedulable, it works things out in the time it takes to work things out. You just have to trust it and train yourself to work with it, and this is where just about everyone fails, if they ever even get a clue this amazing things is available and useful to them. It takes a few years, and, it may take a few years after you are done with the dream process. And, like understanding, the second you get it you might leave Mr. Old Comfort behind. Work with dreams the right way, long enough, and I'll wager before too long you are living the dream and dreaming them a lot less. That's the way it works. All it takes is a recognition of the method necessary to utilize this faculty, some training in the faculty interfacing process, and then you are off to the races sponsored by the department of discovery who officiates the award ceremony for the laurels of understanding, and understanding is the purpose of communication, not sales and marketing as has been perverted so effectively.

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Maybe eventually I'll figure out how not to do this - it seems to me that this is one of the abilities that distinguishes the experienced author from the first-time author.



Perhaps it is the distinction of the individual who has some skill and time in the process, but a cook can do it just as easily as a writer, because we all are born with a subconscious. So phenominally powerful is this process, that it scares most people away. Those that have gone out into this world and conquered or put in perspective fear(s) can get a handle on this process more easily. I personally have attempted bold and normally outrageous things with these techniques, like, "how do I revolutionize the computer entertainment industry without ever having to learn programming?"

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But I don't really know, because this is the limit of my knowledge and experience. Is this what you mean by working with 'less than I need'? Because it does feel that way. Like I've found the 'superconceptualized message', but I'm not sure how to 'realize it'. Any advice for this problem?



Next summer, ink it in, don't pencil. Superconcepts are things we work on for very long periods of time with maximal permissible faculties. I always advise highly intelligent people to 'double task' their lives, i.e., while you are raising a career, family and fortune, pose a problem to your lifelong subconscious process to cure cancer, or invent the first hyperdrive. Then, an hour a week, read datae native to the problem. Just dump it into the subconscious an hour a week, and forget about it the rest of the time. When you are fifty or sixty, what a pleasant surprise you will have, and history you will make, all because you trusted and nurtured something you cannot control. Hmmm. What does this portend for this tiny planet?


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While there may be a zillion places people have theorized about how to write, this documentation is not 'thorough' and is extremely disorganized, such that a writer must study the various theories and impose his/her own order on them ( i.e. 'write them down') in order to get anything useful out of them.


Well, we clearly don't go to the same library.





Lol. I did most of my research on literary theory in Penn State's infamous Stacks, with supplemental material from the Erie County (Pennsylvania), Fairfax County (Virginia), and State College (Pennsylvania) public library systems. The first two of these have been commended for the richness of their collections. And then of course I have shopped at Borders, Barnes and Noble, Little Professor, B Dalton, etc., and online I have used Amazon.com and bookfinder.com, google and usenet and messageboards like this one. Where did you do your research? j/k You don't have to flash your credentials. I was just finding it amusing to mentally count how many library cards were in my wallet.


Well, you got me there, most of my work was done as USC, the Goldwyn collection, the WGA stacks, and the Santa Barbara public library and used bookstores. But I have to use the internet and large retailers to buy most of my game design books. It it helps I haven't bought a newspaper in years cause I get all my news from the internet, but mostly, I have to say the bulk of my research lies in my five file cabinets.

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After beginning, middle and end, character design and scene/setting and dialogue skills, there really isn't that much more you need to learn *unless* you have a fear of creativity problem, which is not a writing and structure issue problem. This is why writer's block doesn't actually exist, it's just attributed to the literary process when the issue is psychological. What was it Socrates said?



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Socrates said 'know thyself', and that's important, but Socrates also said everyone was hopelessly ignorant and it was impossible to know anything, which I don't agree with.



I don't agree with that either, but I think we can agree that Socrates was just looking around him at the time that he lived and realized where humanity was at, and that was more the source of the latter hopeless ignorance and impossibility clause. Perhaps he was seeing the futility intelligent advance has in primitive, tribal doctrinal cultures.

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I'm a follower of Descarte and Machiaevelli, myself. And Aristotle - have you ever read his _Poetics_? You mention play as the essential human activity; Aristorle is the one who says people create poetry as a playful expression of the mimetic and musical instincts. Ah, mimesis - the thing you mean when you talk about the instinct to communicate in certain forms, e.g. folk tales, being encoded in people's brains. The storyytelling instinct and all that. Some damn cool stuff to read about. ^_^



Stop that this instant, young lady! You are giving me a creative cistine experience, and we don't know each other that well! ROFL!! Poetics was required reading drama school. And machiavelli is wiser except when it comes to fatal flaws and deals with the devil, and archetypal understanding grows in you. I'm tellin ya, it's in the genetic memory, it's the access interface that is the issue.

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The real difference between you and me here is that I have this vision of a 'grand unified theory' of literary theory. I originally wanted to write my thesis on this topic and I still feel compelled to keep studying, discussing, and anyalizing fiction and its creative process until I understand this grand unified theory. If you otoh see the body of literary theory as complete as-is, and somewhat outdated and rigid, then naturally to you it would seem a waste of energy to keep studying it.


The thing is, it's no longer The Razor's Edge scenario here, you don't have to go to the top of the Himalayas and burn books for warmth to keep alive to obtain understanding. What you do have to go to the top of the Himalayas for is perspective, perspective that never comes from comfort, plenty and structure. I toyed with the Grand Unified Theory of Literature off and on for ten years. Now, I just seek meaning in what I write.



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Great _discoveries_ are mostly by accident; great _implementations_ are mostly by design. Like in that Scott McCloud book _Understanding Comics_, the one is the sweet nutritious apple that's banged-up on the outside, the other the bright shiny apple that is hollow on the inside. Call me hopelessly optimistic, but I want my novel to be as polished outside as it is rich inside.


There is nothing hopeless about your optimism. Great implementations would not exist without discovery coming first. I am not saying don't plan you work, but don't take planning to such a degree the original passion that unearthed the discovery is turned into aborigines in lingerie.

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I am not saying do not plan your work and work your plan, I am saying that you will abandon it without hesitation once your creativity and imagination begin writing better than you can plan around page seventy or two hundred.


This is an interesting suggestion. What happened to me the first time I tried to write a novel, almost exactly on page seventy, was that I suddenly realized I had no idea how to get from there to the next part I had planned, which would have been the beginning of the second arc of the story. I didn't have a better inspiration, I had a lack of inspiration caused by my unhappiness with the structural problems in the part I had already written. Thus my attempt to design a solid structure first this time around. Maybe someday I will be able to just start a book and keep writing, but for the first one I feel that starting without a solid outline would just be repeating past mistakes and asking for failure. Thus, I currently have 30 little slips of paper grouped into the first 9 hypothetical chapters all over my living room floor. I'm going to continue trying this method for the time being, since it seems to be working. As you say, I can always abandon my outline later if a better idea comes along.

I'm going to type up the outline I currently have after I sleep a few more hours ( >.< The sun came up while I was typing this...) I guess I'll show that to you guys if you want to see it - shouldn't be a copyright problem at the current level of detail. My sister already requested to see it so we'll see what she has to say. And Adventuredesign, thanks for all the compliments, I'm in a good mood now. ^_^ I'm glad you feel validated, hopefully you will continue to do so. And I'm glad that this thread is alive again, I thought that it had a lot more potential for good discussion. ^_^ g'night



I suggest serious consideration of the value of the idea is warranted should the drivers of passion, clarity and knowing where you are going from the start (not worrying about how you get there) are not present from the start, and that like many writers, a subplot is actually present. I often take two stories and interstitch them however illogical to provoke the underlying value and cohesion of the idea. It's also a great way to entertain kids! Goodnight.







[edited by - adventuredesign on November 2, 2003 11:25:08 PM]

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Ernest Hemmingway moved to Cuba, and aspired to chase German U-boats off Cuba's coast. Dan Simmons, who travels and researches his works, wrote a great work called The Crook Factory , with Hemmingway as one of the main characters.

Thomas McGuane moved to Montana and bought a ranch because he thought it was fertile ground for writing. He has written some great memoirs.

That brings us to the subject of the memoir, which, in my opinion, are fascinating tales when the writer had something to say, which is to say, they lived life. Isn't Beryl Markham's West With the Night highly acclaimed? She certainly did some interesting things. And what of Antoine De Saint Exupery's Wind, Sand and Stars ?

Smoke Blanchard wrote one book, and one book only. I wouldn't call him a professional writer so much, but the book sang. It was a memoir, and a grand one: Walking Up and Down in the World .

Didn't Crichton write a book called Travels ?

Mark Spragg appears to be rising to the top with his writing. But his first book, which won an award, was a memoir: Where Rivers Change Direction . Again, it appears that living is the catalyst to catapult an author's career.

While I'm growing tired of Cornwell's latest works, her first six were tremendous. It's no coincidence that she worked on the police force prior to writing her novels.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have become a successful writing team, cranking out one adventure after another. Consider that Preston's non-fiction is about his own personal long journeys, often invloving hardship along the way.

John Sandford's bestsellers take place in Minnesota. It's no coincidence that he lives there, his heart and mind tapped into the pulse of the state.

[edited by - bishop_pass on November 2, 2003 11:53:25 PM]

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I am fairly unqualified in this matter but here are my 2 and 3/4 cents.
I like this process. If a tool works use it, if you find a better tool then use that instead.
However don''t stop steps 1 to 4 when you get to 5. A story is a evolution. You may know the shape of your beast when you start but end up with a very strange frankenstein.
This may not apply to your book but i find it helps me to understand the characters and develop the plot if i decide what a character would do if there was no interference. I call this my ''evil-mastermind'' plot development method, though it can be applied to many types of characters.
I fear i am one of those plot oriented types that sunandshadow mentioned, forcing my poor characters to explore my themes by living through them.
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Design and implement? Hmm, quite an analytical approach. Where''s the inspiration? Where''s the passion? Those are the things that are going to get you through the dark hours, the bland passage improvement areas.

Creating is creative, no matter what tools you use, it contains inspiration and passion by its very nature. Passion is present in all things to some degree.
We read, not to escape, but to live. We write because we live. Just because I merely read something, as long as i felt the experience even in part i have lived it. Humans are wonderous multi-faceted creatures. I am brave and steadfast Sparhawk, sad Corum trapped by his fate, I am Frodo who has outgrown his home and must sail away, and I am noble but self destructive Morpheus.
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Hemingway, Faulkner, anyone you can just about name went out and took a bite out of fear, adventure, insecurity and the uncomfortable to find the things that makes humans great and then they described what they saw and how their take was on it

Experience may make you a better person, may make you a better writter, but so will writing, so will living.
This post is no doubt flawed and repetitive but I beg pardon of my esteemed elders for I am simply a poor student.

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quote:
Original post by adventuredesign
I wasn''t referencing you, don''t take it personally - reference was general.


Oh, well never mind then. I had assumed that you had incorrectly assumed that I use literary theory as a crutch and excuse to not be creative, and that was why you were writing so persuasively about it. But since you didn''t, then never mind.


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In other words, while you suggest I already know all I need to know about how to write and should study creativity, I submit that I allready know all I need to know about creativity.



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That''s about the most silly thing I have ever heard. Even grand master artists with 50 or 60 years in their discipline cannot tell you a great deal about creativity, they can only tell you about their process and the way creativity works with them individually. I''ve been studying creativiy for about twenty years, and ten years past my masters in screenwriting. I know it is one of the more complex, undiscovered cognitive functions the human mind has, that it is rife with myth and misnomer the vast majority of people subscibe to as if were scripture.



If it''s silly for me to say I know plenty about creativity, it''s equally silly for you to say I know plenty about literary theory, isn''t it?


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I think that? I think we have made a mediocre attempt at it via counterculturalism, but greed has done a great job of turning it into a profit machine. I cite grunge and speed metal as examples of said exploitation. And you need to stop using the phrase "you think" because you''re really just trying to put words in my mouth, and it isn''t flying.



o.O Sorry, I wasn''t trying to put words in your mouth, I was trying to understand your worldview re writers and adventure/exploration and wallflowers and historical vs. modern stuff. Evidenly I guessed quite wrong, so I''m glad you explained more. This concept of ''great experience'' seems to be one that you and Bishop_Pass share but is quite alien to me. It''s not that I''ve never been hiking or camping or on a giant rollercoster or to a great museam or in a big blackout or icestorm... these are things you would classify as ''great experiences'' right? I''ll admit I''ve never been in a helicopter, much less going to jump out of one, but I''ve done scary things and I''ve flown in a small plane. I found it really interesting being caught at a hotel during the great blackout that happened this summer. I really enjoy the feeling of when the wind picks up and smells funny just before a big thunderstorm, and I really though it was cool the first time I had a big cockatoo sit on my forearm. But none of these experiences seemed extremely profound to me.

You want to know about the ten greatest experiences in my life and whether any of them had to do with reading. I would say the moments in my life when I have felt the most intense emotion (usually a mixture of awe and delight), have mostly been when I suddenly discovered or understood a big new idea. Sometimes this happened while I was reading, but it also happened in real life, for example the first time a guy got naked for me.


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I _don''t_ agree that modern people aren''t wallflowers - there will always be lots of wallflowers, both for economic reasons and because many people (e.g. me) naturally have that temperament.



Temperament, or conditioning? The meek shall inherit the earth is a great example of the conditioning to be less that fully human institutions with political and financial interest in exploitation want you to think. The Art of Psychological Warfare will be a real eye opener for you, when you realize it''s used in media, politics, religion and culture. And the existance of the economic condition these souls were born into in the first place is de facto evidence your life was calculated as a value of income and sales revenue long before your daddy got a gleam in his eye.

Though it may be true you are a wallflower by temperament, you are not by nature. Humans are explorers, discoverers and seek to understand nature. That was the bulk of human activity and literature before money entered the picture. It is who and what we are. Powerful interests would rather channel your life to their ends, and they succeed every time you visit the grocery store.



Actually I''ve read _The Art of Psychological Warfare_. It was interesting, but not really surprising.

You say humans are naturally explorers. I would argue that about 1/3 of humans are naturally explorers, and the other 2/3 are naturally not. If you read about life in an aboriginal tribe (before money entered the picture), you will note that most of it consists of people huddling together trying to make a nutritional and reproductive profit. For every one real explorer (almost always a male at one of the three crisis stages of life, these being puberty, adulthood, and mid-life) there were five who only played at exploring, and 10 who were never interested in it at all. I happen to be the sort who plays at exploring, but wouldn''t find real exploring to be an energizing or rewarding experience. If I had been born instead of Columbus the Native Americans would have had a few more hundred years of peace. If The army was made out of copies of me we would surrender. That''s just who I am, whether because of my gender, my brain chemistry, or what I was taught as a child, it''s who I am now.

I have absolutely no desire to be the sort of person who climbs mountains. If I could change who I am in only one way I would make myself more charming/attractive, because it is the social world that inspires me, not the physical world. I would love to become more than I think I am, but doing so in a physical way just doesn''t interest me. I detest the gym, I detest mosquitoes, I detest sore feet and burning lungs and sweat and grit... honestly, if I went on that kind of pilgrimage to Sunandshadow, by the time I got there the me I found would be utterly pissed-of, bored, contemptuous, and just generally not a person I would want to meet. On the other hand, sleep deprivation, social deprivation, and stress from others'' expectations and deadlines always seem to work well at making me discover things I previously didn''t know about myself. Like the summer I spent in a dorm room by myself, none of my previously-established friends on campus, 4 hours'' drive away from my family, 6 hours a day in Latin class starting at 8 am when I am a night person, failing the class and consequently not graduating. That one was a hell of a pilgrimage, and it took me a year to mostly heal. But I can absolutely say that I learned important stuff about myself from the experience.

I would be interested to hear, however, your theory of how a physical adventure might solve my problems.


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Or do you disagree most people lead uneventful, ordinary and meaningless lives for the most part? We can elimate the "manufactured events" like college graduation, prom night, christmas, institutional marriage, the gold watch retirement; these are placebos of toil. Of course you don''t because it is true.



Actually I really do disagree. I think that everyone''s life has moments that are supremely meaningful to them - I think that true greatness is subjective and relative to the individual experiencing it, and wouldn''t be great if it happened to someone else. One of the reasons I consider character the most important element of fiction - you can have the coolest plot in the world, but who cares if it doesn''t _feel_ important to your cardboard characters?

I don''t feel that my culture significantly limits my individuality, although it''s certainly true that mass marketing and capitalist economics make it much easier to follow some paths than others. I can wear pleasingly dramatic goth clothes because someone makes them in a factory and hot topic rents a store in a mall near me and pays employees to sell them to me, etc. I''m perfectly capable of designing a piece of gothic clothing myself, with a bit of work I could probably figure out how to sew it together, but the cost in materials, time, and effort is prohibitive, so I don''t. One of the great things about writing is it''s a pretty cheap artform to practice. But I am always aware of the possibility of creating truly original fashions, and it is my choice not to do so, I am not forced to be a conformist of any sort.

I believe that ritual, manufactured social events can be deeply meaningful if the people involved feel them to be so. I know it would be a huge moment in my life if I ever married or handfasted somebody. And good theater, the motivating force behing ritualizing and manufacturing events, is often essential to making an important moment strike an observer or participant as truly profound. Isn''t that what we are doing in trying to design games and fiction? Manufacturing experiences for others and trying to make these experiences feel profound?


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I would argue that by their very nature wallflowers looking to escape and live vicariously are the people who are most likely to become heavy readers.



Yes, escapism by vicarious indirection is always the safest thing to do, one won''t be criticized, ostracized or condemned for acceptable mewing. It''s how film studios make billions. Everyone is following that path to profitability with the heart of a zealot. When are people going to realize capitalism is not the be all end all of society? Even the energy cell, a source of power that is cheap, plentiful, utiltarian has the patents owned by one of the largest corporations in the world! We aren''t going to see any benefit from it until we can buy it.



I dislike capitalism (wage slavery), and actually happen to be a socialist, but I don''t think that capitalism and mass-marketing (or organized religion for that matter) create sheep people, they just cater to the 2/3s of the population that have the instincts to be conformists. But this is getting quite OT.

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And I would argue that it is almost impossible to be a good, much less a great, writer without having first or simultaneoushy been heavy readers.



I disagree. The ratio of books read to quality of writing is absurd. Great experience makes great writing. If you read about somebody else''s great experience, you expand your horizons, but will you be writing about a great experience of your own, or will you be parroting or spinning. Parroting and spinning is not writing, it''s a communication abberation.



Absurd according to who? Say we take a survey and find that people judge the highest quality writing to be that which comes from the people who have read tha most books, with logarythmic progression such that mediocre writing requires reading, oh, 3,000 books, good writing requires reading 4,000 books, and great writing requires reading more than 4,500 books. So this ratio of quality of writing to books read is now a statistical fact. Is it possible for a fact, even one of the weak types like statistical ones, to be absurd? Similarly, I think the phrase ''communication aberration'' is a non-concept. Communication does not cease to be cammunication merely because it''s not original. Or do you think that proverbs are empty of communication?


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You, as a writer, have on one hand an obligation to articulate what others cannot express but yet feel and need to understand, or, you can take the Ayn Rand approach, like I have, and live for your art and your right to create as you see fit. What Ms. Rand missed is that eventually the two intersect.



Ah, now there''s something I an agree with. We could even put that in the writing forum faq.


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Because it''s like the Dalai Llama said once. We desire. Passion is part of desire. We always get what we desire, or we die trying. What is important to distinguish is that what we desire is not what somebody wants us to desire, but to discover what our true desire is so we may courageously follow it and live our preciously short life well, not under a spell, like the vast majority out there do.



What about contentment? There are large parts of my day when I desire nothing. Of the tings I do desire I rarely desire any of them passionately, and of the things I do desire passionately (e.g. to write a great novel, to fall passionately in love) there is usually no path by which to strive towards the satisfaction of these desires. This is one reason why I read books and play games in the first place, so that I can vicariously experience passionately desiring and then achieving something. Never happens in my real life.


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Imo it is the nature of passion to falter, to flare up and die down and flare up again. The human mind is not built to sustain any of the great emotions (creative passion, fury, grief, joy, wonder, etc.).



Fault is the source of faltering, passion is not. Passion, grief, love, discontent, these are the things we remember our entire lives, if we are in touch with ourselves. Because we may dwell in logic of solving the puzzle in the newspaper does not cause the death of thesse things, it just means we are not paying attention to them at that time and thus they are not the center of attention. Humans are emotionally cyclical, it is true, and we are not built to be those things all the time, for that would be rather one dimensional, but make no mistake, those motivations will drive you all your life consciously recognized or not.

I get this all the time with people who still believe the conscious, not the subconscious is in charge all the time. The reverse is true, and in getting to know yourself, you will find this an adventure all it''s own.


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All of these are dependant on the novelty or freshness of whatever caused the person to feel them, and novelty is naturally eroded by the passage of time.



That is the magpie and the mirror argument, and it excludes deeper motivations such as commitment, love, survival, dominance (the species thing, not any other interpretation). If life were just a novelty, we would be dust by now. The passage of time can erode love, and commitment, but we are hardwired to survive, if it takes a commitment to roll stone uphill to survive, in one''s deepest belief, they will do so. I personally think this is the source material for all those e-mail subscription newsletters that spread like virii when the internet made people believe because they had the power to self publish, their work was publication worthy. This has spun decentively to the blogger.


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I suggest that if your passion ebbed so much with the idea that your motivation to write wanes, there is flaw with the idea. You get through a thousand pages of typing in a summer because it burns in you like the flame of life itself. This is where your best work lies, all else is journalism, and we''ve plenty of mediocre reporters.



So how do you get an unflawed idea? How do you _know_ it''s an unflawed idea and your passion won''t flag?


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That is exactly the difference between you and they. They teach. You will not. Because teaching is safe, living, true living involves risk, risks with your love, your outlook, your wealth, your health, your art, it''s development.


Lol. Possibly I should mention that I enjoy teaching and if I had gotten my English degree I was seriously considering going on for a secondary education teaching certification. That''s why I ended up the moderator of this forum in the first place, because I tended to give little lectures in here on this or that aspect of writing, and the moderator of a forum is by one definition a teacher of the subject of that forum. Also, most of my favorite english professors were also writers, some of fiction and some of non-fiction. When you mention Ann Rand and the obligation of the writer to express things for others, doesn''t this mean that writing can be defined as teaching? And mem theory suggests that storytelling evolved to teach techniques for things like hunting, where the information must go in a certain pattern and the story format preserves the pattern.


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Recently we were speculating on what makes some writers (Tanith Lee, Mercedes Lackey, and Samuel R. Delany for example) finish their first novel at such a young age. He had read an author''s note by Tainith Lee saying that as a teenager she was practically addicted to writing to the point where, like you suggest, she felt that she would die if she couldn''t keep writing. It is true that I have never been compelled _quite_ that intensely to write, but I have a much more phlegmatic temperament than her anyway, and I never feel anything that intensely.



Well, I hope I know what you are going to do next summer.


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At your age, not likely, given the nature of creativity in the individual. What it is more likely is that it is your first master concept, one of several you will work though to get to your first superconcept.



So what''s the difference between a master concept and a superconcept again?


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Or to analogize to dreams - I am a lucid dreamer. Lucid dreaming is to writing what normal dreaming is to reading. Or rather, lucid dreaming is to writing while being aware of the process of writing, as regular dreaming is to writing instinctively and without self-analysis. Each method has it''s own strengths and weaknesses, but I can no more start writing non-introspectively than I could stop lucid dreaming. So what does this mean?



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It means you should be dream journaling like crazy, but be aware it is part of the evolutionary process of being a creative writer, just as the poetry phase passes to your finding expression in other formats, such as short stories or article writing. Not every writer is the same creatively from a motivational standpoint, but every writer is the same from the understanding standpoint. The moment realization touches you, you change, no avoiding it. Further, you may lay down things that have been your favorite tools for expression, comfortable, familiar and expert as quickly as you can turn a page and never go back. This is growth.


I do dream journal and have done so for about 5 1/2 years now. My dreams rarely seem to have anything new and important to say though. Recently I have had more success with asking my subconscious for dreams relevant to my current writing project, so I''m pleased with that, but it''s still so sloooow... that''s what I need, a subconscious accellerator card!


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It means that the problems I have in writing are much like the problems that come from not having normal dreams - my subconscious doesn''t get to finish chewing over a concept before my conscious gets ahold of it.



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Actually, that is not the case. The dream wouldn''t manifest if the subconscious hadn''t figured it out to the point where the solution could be expressed symbologically. If the subconscious hadn''t figured it out, it would never have advanced the symbolism of interpretation to you in the dream, it would have continued to chew on it. What is actually going on, is the conscious mind simply can''t interpret all the symbols, their juxtaposition and rate of presentation as the subconscious presents it, so it seems like you conscious mind grabs it away from the subconscious before it''s done, but that is impossible, the conscious mind is one ninth at a minimum as powerful as the intelligence of the subconscious. That would be like hacking big blue with HTML.



But I''m saying that lucid dreams often substitute realism for the meaningful symbols of regular dreams. There''s actually a lack of symbols to interpret when you do the dream analysis, and the same symbols tend to recur with the same interpretation, e.g. I often get malls, greyhound busses, and one particular block of downtown State College. If I do get something useful out of a dream it''s usually a piece of character dynamic, and the problem is that these ideas usually overlap or occupy the same story ''slot'' so they can''t be combined to form plot. The general unhelpfulness of my dreams annoys me.


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So I''m strong on archetypes by weak on specific symbolism (like I said, implementation details).



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What is the difference? A symbol is it''s own archetyupe. It''s method of presentation and interpretation is actually the thing to discover through meticulous study and interepretational analysis. Some archetypes are associated with symbols, hero with sword, virgin with fertility, mother with nurturing, etcetera, but each symbol stands on it''s own just as easily, without the heirarchy. It would not be a symbolic if it couldn''t. Symbols represent.



The difference is, a symbol is a specific object with definite appearance and characteristics that can be written about directly, while an archetype is an idea that I must find an object or arrangement of objects to clothe it in before I can write about it. The problem with clothing an archetype is that there is no good way to select the details of the symbolic version of it to put in your story. The details matter just enough that you can''t decide on a whim, but not enough that the answer is obvious or comes to you in a dream. I believe I mentioned this problem several posts up in this thread.


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But I don''t really know, because this is the limit of my knowledge and experience. Is this what you mean by working with ''less than I need''? Because it does feel that way. Like I''ve found the ''superconceptualized message'', but I''m not sure how to ''realize it''. Any advice for this problem?



Next summer, ink it in, don''t pencil. Superconcepts are things we work on for very long periods of time with maximal permissible faculties. I always advise highly intelligent people to ''double task'' their lives, i.e., while you are raising a career, family and fortune, pose a problem to your lifelong subconscious process to cure cancer, or invent the first hyperdrive. Then, an hour a week, read datae native to the problem. Just dump it into the subconscious an hour a week, and forget about it the rest of the time. When you are fifty or sixty, what a pleasant surprise you will have, and history you will make, all because you trusted and nurtured something you cannot control. Hmmm. What does this portend for this tiny planet?



I don''t think I have enough patience for that. The way I feel is more like you mentioned about wanting to have accomplished something before you die. I have been writing for 9 years, I want to have a novel to show for it, damn it. (Not swearing at you, just to express my frustration.) I feel that ''this has gone on long enough'' and ''if I don''t finish something I have to admit I''m a poser''.



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After beginning, middle and end, character design and scene/setting and dialogue skills, there really isn''t that much more you need to learn *unless* you have a fear of creativity problem, which is not a writing and structure issue problem. This is why writer''s block doesn''t actually exist, it''s just attributed to the literary process when the issue is psychological. What was it Socrates said?



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Socrates said ''know thyself'', and that''s important, but Socrates also said everyone was hopelessly ignorant and it was impossible to know anything, which I don''t agree with.



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I don''t agree with that either, but I think we can agree that Socrates was just looking around him at the time that he lived and realized where humanity was at, and that was more the source of the latter hopeless ignorance and impossibility clause. Perhaps he was seeing the futility intelligent advance has in primitive, tribal doctrinal cultures.



I don''t think so, I think Socrates thought it was l33t to call everybody ignorant and feel that the quality of his own ignorance was special because he was aware of his ignorance and no one else was. He had a big ego and liked to hear himself talk.


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Stop that this instant, young lady! You are giving me a creative cistine experience, and we don''t know each other that well! ROFL!!


lol. What''s a cistine experience? Does it have to do with painting the cisting chapel, or seeing it as a visitor? Same thing with aboriginies in lingerie, what is that a reference to?


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I suggest serious consideration of the value of the idea is warranted should the drivers of passion, clarity and knowing where you are going from the start (not worrying about how you get there) are not present from the start, and that like many writers, a subplot is actually present. I often take two stories and interstitch them however illogical to provoke the underlying value and cohesion of the idea. It''s also a great way to entertain kids! Goodnight.


Oh, I''m definitely suspicious of the flawlessness of my idea as I mentioned above. For one thing it strikes me as missing a situation that I dreamed (a while ago and not in direct relation to the current project) which seems to be very important. But I lack a method for considering its value. Do you have one to suggest?

BTW the 9 chapters turned into 12, and I''m still typing up the outline, so maybe tomorrow.

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quote:
Original post by ReaperX
I am fairly unqualified in this matter but here are my 2 and 3/4 cents.
I like this process. If a tool works use it, if you find a better tool then use that instead.
However don''t stop steps 1 to 4 when you get to 5. A story is a evolution. You may know the shape of your beast when you start but end up with a very strange frankenstein.
This may not apply to your book but i find it helps me to understand the characters and develop the plot if i decide what a character would do if there was no interference. I call this my ''evil-mastermind'' plot development method, though it can be applied to many types of characters.
I fear i am one of those plot oriented types that sunandshadow mentioned, forcing my poor characters to explore my themes by living through them.
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Design and implement? Hmm, quite an analytical approach. Where''s the inspiration? Where''s the passion? Those are the things that are going to get you through the dark hours, the bland passage improvement areas.

Creating is creative, no matter what tools you use, it contains inspiration and passion by its very nature. Passion is present in all things to some degree.
We read, not to escape, but to live. We write because we live. Just because I merely read something, as long as i felt the experience even in part i have lived it. Humans are wonderous multi-faceted creatures. I am brave and steadfast Sparhawk, sad Corum trapped by his fate, I am Frodo who has outgrown his home and must sail away, and I am noble but self destructive Morpheus.



Sounds emminently sensible to me. One of my english professors told us "literature is an idealogical dressing room", by which he meant that one of the functions of fiction was to play at/practice new identities or lifestyles.

The evil-mastermind plot development method is an interesting concept. I''m afraid my characters would make boring choices though. ''A'' would want to be respected, liked, a good soldier, and be awarded full nobility for his virtue. ''M'' goes with the flow - as long as he has time to play, nothing annoying to do, and someone to screw he''s happy. ''L'' is more the traditional evil mastermind because he is misanthropic and unhappy with his lot in life, but all he''d do is want to find his true love and live with them. I think it''s in the characters'' interference with and adaptation to each other that they are forced to evolve in interesting ways. In other words, character dynamic is the emergent, gestalt, whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts expression of the characters'' significance.

"We read, not to escape, but to live." I like that, I really like that a lot. That could go in the forum faq too, or possibly in a sig quote.

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One day I would like to write a novel...



"discovery, our highest human function"
- agree totally



living is dying, as every second goes by, you get closer to your death

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Original post by sunandshadow.

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If it's silly for me to say I know plenty about creativity, it's equally silly for you to say I know plenty about literary theory, isn't it?



No, no parity, alegory or paradox exists because the two are completely different subjects. Literary theory is well documented for very long, creativity is rife with myth, misnomer and paraded expertice that fails the validity theory test. There are thousands of literary experts, and perhaps a couple dozen experts in creativity on this planet, simply because everyone looks outward most of the time.


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o.O Sorry, I wasn't trying to put words in your mouth, I was trying to understand your worldview re writers and adventure/exploration and wallflowers and historical vs. modern stuff.



Cool. I hope I've explained it enough, because writing is rarely the driver of the issue when it comes to manuscript problems, most of which can be cured with just a few of the more famous references like strunk and white or elements of copyediting, creativiy or psychology issues overwhelminly are the real drivers, in case after case.

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Evidenly I guessed quite wrong, so I'm glad you explained more. This concept of 'great experience' seems to be one that you and Bishop_Pass share but is quite alien to me.



I wouldn't say it was quite guessing, you're a really rational, reasoning person, something I wish I was more of honestly, and I just think perhaps that time will come for you. It does to everyone, I suspect, but whether we are aware of it or not when it happens I think is the trigger. All I want to say is just be open to recognizing the chance at a different kind of experience, that's all.


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It's not that I've never been hiking or camping or on a giant rollercoster or to a great museam or in a big blackout or icestorm... these are things you would classify as 'great experiences' right?



Not really, cause they are kind've subjective and quantifiable. A part of it has to be unknown, part of it has to be complete surprise, part of it has to call upon your immediate action, your personal self-leadership, kind've like putting out a fire that surprisingly sprang up and was potentially quite deadly where you only had seconds to make critical, if not life determining, just minus the hazard.

Rather than try formulate what it is as a hypothesis and screw up trying to get the point across, let me just relate one of mine, and maybe that will make it clearer.

I am the owner of the All Time Navigation Record for the US Marines. I broke a record that was over 45 years old in half (considered physically impossible) and well, it pissed off a lot of seriously old hard marines. This is the burder of being the new breed.

Anyway, all I had to do was convince the platoon I was the right leader for this task and there was an intelligent way to stay true to the bearings and distances on the (theoretically) 50 mile course that was usually completed in over four hours. That time and distance should give you an idea of the physical condition we were all in after years of running up hills, obstacle courses, etc. Supersoldier stuff.

What I did was change the way the bearings were taken and adhered to, while using the human factors of my team to facilitate arriving at the coordinate point Hexadecimal postings validating the actual arrival at a bearing/distance point faster.

I used a successive series of the three fastest runners in the platoon running to the bearing at top speed until the could run no faster. They were followed by the next three fastest runners in the platoon. When the fastest people arrived at a point somewhat true to the correct bearing, but could run no farther due to exhaustion, their orders were to begin recuperating and stand in a file three men wide twenty five paces apart.

Five thousand paces behind them, the three third fastest runners formed the same formation. I was the compass bearer. The three third fastest runners, through a series of hand signals predevised, adjusted the bearing of the three fastest runners five thousand paces out the course, until the fastest runner in the platoon formed the center of a three man "sight" dead on the bearing. The second fastest group of runners and took the places of the fastest runners who were now somewhat rested, and they jackrabbited off again, now on a very accurate bearing.

Everyone else, whom had mediocre speeds, had already been jogging along in the general direction all this time, bearing in on the fastest runners without having to actually keep pace, just keep in sight. So using this leapfrogging bearing adjustment method, the entire pressure for keeping on course was left to me alone (whom I trusted entirely, being an expert at bearing and navigation) and the rest of the platoon had no pressure at all on them, and all they had to do was run, which, for recon marines (you don't even get a shot at this annual competition unless you are one of them) is second only to fighting and sneakiness in skillset prowess.

Every time we arrived at a checkpoint, and took a new bearing, my orders were simple, for no other reason than a killing drop off drop in elevation or a impossible rise in elevation were the fastest runners ever to deviate from keeping as straight line at any time, and in those instances, they were to wait until I arrived to decide which was the fastest way to get around the natural obstacle.

I knew that every other competing team was thinking in terms of getting through the live fire exercise (you had to do this thing while shells and automatic weapons fire were automatically and periodically and randomly strafing the exercise areas; this is, after all, the pre "oorah" USMC) safely and with reserve fighting capacity, the ability to have the strength to fight once you arrive at the place that you have been runnig to get to all day. Sort of a roman legion leftover, and in actual combat, a smart thing to do. You younger people who will face the draft in years to come listen well.

However, I knew this part of the rules of engagement could be abandoned, because I knew the objective really was to arrive first, not arrive first with strength left to fight, and the rules and regs adherence gave me a competitive advantage. It was my second case in my young life of thinking outside the box improvierially.

So, all my team had to do was get there, not get there and fight, so I could drive the pace. Well, there were, as you may expect in the San Onofre mountains of california, some straight lines that were practially and humanistically impossible to pass, and others that seemed that way, but by using branches and small bushes as little bits of rope up the mountain, once could manage a summit that ordinary traction would have found impossible.

Due to the fact I was born with an unusually uncanny sense of direction, my job essentially at that point became one of a cheerleader and bearing manager, running in big circles around my platoon, hollering out motivational phrases you might expect from a sergeant in the marines, each carefully crafted, literarily honed, personally endearing and delicately articulated, because, as you know, I would have been carrying around my writing rulebook along with my bible and Marine Corps handbook. ROFL --> Just slap me when I get this way...

It was not uncommon for me to carry men up the hill who had fallen exhausted, and my spirit and motivation to assist the weaker members of the team (weakness being sorta relative among the Con) motivated the slackers and stronger members of the team to not be outdone, so they dug in and did the job the best they could without complaints, all you can expect from any profesional, right? I would get behind the fat bodies and give them two handed professional derriere motivational erm, pressure.

I was of course, in peak physical condition to be able to do this thing (let's just say DNA has been very very good to me), but I was liberated in the mind, you see, unbound by the rules, and it was contagious, and the yelling of motivational phraseology spread like the plague, and ever to my delight not a single phrase that was uttered bore any style or usage errors. :D Did I say that?

Anyway, only twice did we have to deviate from a straight line, and it was only a few high ground telescopic observations did I need to make to confirm indeed the other competitors were playing strictly by the rules and wandering all sorts of cicuitous courses over the easier groung for the purposes of concealment and conserving strength, just like the book would tell you to do, whereas my reasoning was that a straight line was the shortest distance between two points, and, the faster you go, the harder you are to lead while aiming, and the less time you have to lead the aim until you have to adjust base position. This is not the case in today's technological world, so don't try this at home war, boys and girls.

Well, we did it, the last bearing brought us back to the same hill formation I knew the base camp was located in. Instead of hustling the team in all exhausted, I figured we had about five minutes to spare comfortably in our lead, so I called everyone into formation, had them square themselves away by dusting themselves off, getting their military alignment as it is called, shining their shoes with leaves, and then called the formation to order and marched them into the base camp where all the officers were waiting while I sang out our platoon number and name, the batallion name and number we belonged to, and generally made look as much as possible as if the whole thing had been a walk in the park, which, in my mind, I must say, it was once I stepped outside the rules and limiations the organization and I placed upon myself and got creative .

Well, all my upper rank NCO's and officers were aghast and agog, naturally, as I marched the men into the area and called them into proper at ease formation and took positiont to report to my direct superior, as is the manner to do so.

They said nothing, but they were clearly getting looks of contempt and amusement from the other outfits, and I handed over my results tally with crisp military movements as you might visualize.

Well, as you may gather, everyone gathered around my superiors waiting to force crow down their throats, as dysfunctionals will, until they check the results. Twice. There was no mistake, and there was no explanation they could fathom as to why we had broken in half a record that had stood for 45 years and no group of recon marines had even come that close to breaking in hundreds of attempts. The funny thing is, nobody ever asked me how I did it. They just quiety informed the platoon which immediately broke into wild cheering, and yours truly took a bow until, ahem, discipline was immediately restored.

The point here is, this never would have happened had I not believed it could be done my way, by abandoning the rules, and not knowing how I would deal with a problem should it arise, just knowing that I had the intelligence, wit and flexibility to deal with it when it arose, ito, trusting your ability to improvise upon a plan outside the game rule params, and, I instilled a sense in my people of being more than they thought they were by exampling my own actions.

My actual most difficult issues in this whole thing were convincing the platoon to do it my way, and that I would never bullshit them about my special sense of direction over something as important as this. After the first three checkpoints, they were more than aware that something different and special was going on, because they all knew things were going a lot easier and faster than all the things they had heard. They were looking at me at that time like "where's the catch?" as if the unforseen unbeatable superboss had not come into view. After it was all over, they were looking at me like they would follow me anywhere, and I would, given the opportunity, lead them.

If I could only share with you what it is like to command the respect and trust of people such as these, people who could walk across a fire zone singing, people who would get the job done without care for their personal ife safety if it came to that, then, you would know what I mean when I say you can trust the unknown more than you think you can if you just realize that rules are meant to be broken. It's not foolish, it's heroic.

But, you've got to go to that mountain, you've got to look at the lay of the land in your eyes and say to it and yourself, I own you, you will do what I say to do today, even if today is the last day. This is what the rulebooks don't describe, this, is what everyone has the ability to do if they just do it, and forget about the fine risk calculation and take it to the edge at least once. If it teaches you nothing else, it will show you there is a lot less in life to be uptight about that you think.

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I'll admit I've never been in a helicopter, much less going to jump out of one, but I've done scary things and I've flown in a small plane. I found it really interesting being caught at a hotel during the great blackout that happened this summer. I really enjoy the feeling of when the wind picks up and smells funny just before a big thunderstorm, and I really though it was cool the first time I had a big cockatoo sit on my forearm. But none of these experiences seemed extremely profound to me.


Perhaps they lacked some primitive, survivalistic wit aspect. You know, our mind is three parts, intellectual, emotional and primitive. Few explore much beyond the intellectual and basically fail to get to know two third of even who they are. Why this is I can only conjecture that something is diverting our attention from it, and it's likely a manipulative exterior reason.

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You want to know about the ten greatest experiences in my life and whether any of them had to do with reading. I would say the moments in my life when I have felt the most intense emotion (usually a mixture of awe and delight), have mostly been when I suddenly discovered or understood a big new idea. Sometimes this happened while I was reading, but it also happened in real life, for example the first time a guy got naked for me.



I'm not really certain, given your information, whether you've actually experienced a peak experience. It's isn't emotionally intense, although intense emotion can be present, it is something that happens on all cognitive levels at once; peak understanding, peak awe, peak feeling, peak relief, and even more.

How can I say this, it's something that happens where you find out that you are more than you are and realize that there is a part of you that you didn't even know, and you thought you knew yourself pretty well. I kind've had that happen when this big, tough ex marine surrendered his whole self to love once, but that was only a emotional/primitive peak, and a huge matrimonial mistake LOL.

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Actually I've read _The Art of Psychological Warfare_. It was interesting, but not really surprising.


The suprise is not the point, it's depth of implementation in the masses by financial and political interests is what is scary.

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You say humans are naturally explorers. I would argue that about 1/3 of humans are naturally explorers, and the other 2/3 are naturally not. If you read about life in an aboriginal tribe (before money entered the picture), you will note that most of it consists of people huddling together trying to make a nutritional and reproductive profit.



That is true for aboriginals, but other branches of human and homind from whom we evolved were nomadic for tens of thousands of years before the aboriginals. Hunter wanderer is about ninety percent of our evolutionary track whereas settler/gatherer/agrarian/domesticant is about ten percent of our evolutionary time on this planet for the species and it's ancestors.

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For every one real explorer (almost always a male at one of the three crisis stages of life, these being puberty, adulthood, and mid-life) there were five who only played at exploring, and 10 who were never interested in it at all.



That is true for that specific narrow example.

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I happen to be the sort who plays at exploring, but wouldn't find real exploring to be an energizing or rewarding experience.



You don't know until you try. It's just like you don't really know it unless you can write it down, but in a living life kind of sense. Just the fact you are toying with adventure is awakening primitive genetic predispositions in you that were always there, and it may be wise in a wholeness and full awareness sense to do a little more of this toying until you are ready to play.


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If I had been born instead of Columbus the Native Americans would have had a few more hundred years of peace. If The army was made out of copies of me we would surrender. That's just who I am, whether because of my gender, my brain chemistry, or what I was taught as a child, it's who I am now.


Wait a minute, you aren't fooling me. You would bash the crap out of the big hairy ape that laid one finger on your child and you know you would. You would whack the back of the head of an intruder with the bottom of a lamp base with the swing of Willy Mays if he or she were about to extinguish the lifelight lamp of you mare. Pish tush. I took a rich socialite aerobics instructor out for a weekend in the high desert this past summer on a dare. For a avowed vegitarian, she couldn't have sunk her teeth any deeper into barbequed snake, and drank with relish like a great jungle cat at a watering hole cut from the base of cacti. Had she not hated me more for being right, we probably would have bred.


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I have absolutely no desire to be the sort of person who climbs mountains.



Have you seen the view from up there? Can you really know before the fact?

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If I could change who I am in only one way I would make myself more charming/attractive, because it is the social world that inspires me, not the physical world.



What more modern jungle is there? I love that too? Doors open everywhere when you can be observed as one who knows the lay of the land anywhere there's land. You could learn a lot about society in the wild, simply because of the distance and perspective it affords you. Don't you know that the most dangerous creature on earth is a beautiful woman? Sunandshadow, by your very gender, you are already beautiful. It's just a natural fact. One mountain waterfall, and you will know it where it counts. We aren't even talking yet about the beauty of your art or mind. That's later.

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I would love to become more than I think I am, but doing so in a physical way just doesn't interest me.



I only suggest it as a station on the way, not a destination.


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I detest the gym, I detest mosquitoes, I detest sore feet and burning lungs and sweat and grit... honestly, if I went on that kind of pilgrimage to Sunandshadow, by the time I got there the me I found would be utterly pissed-of, bored, contemptuous, and just generally not a person I would want to meet.



Wait until you see thousands of monarch butterflies making a carpet on the forest floor, basking in the sun. Don't say no until you've seen the pacific and the Sierras in one turn of your head from the great Northwest trail. Try before you decide not to buy, that's all I'm advocating.

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On the other hand, sleep deprivation, social deprivation, and stress from others' expectations and deadlines always seem to work well at making me discover things I previously didn't know about myself.



That's all I'm saying, is discover first via challenge. Then reflect and draw some conclusions. Just gather all data.

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Like the summer I spent in a dorm room by myself, none of my previously-established friends on campus, 4 hours' drive away from my family, 6 hours a day in Latin class starting at 8 am when I am a night person, failing the class and consequently not graduating. That one was a hell of a pilgrimage, and it took me a year to mostly heal. But I can absolutely say that I learned important stuff about myself from the experience.



Exactly what I am talking about, just in a different setting. If you are going to comfortable in any social setting wherever you go, you rule if you know yourself from as many angles as possible, for it is a jungle out there.

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I would be interested to hear, however, your theory of how a physical adventure might solve my problems.


It's about creating new reliabilities you never knew you had in you because old reliables are taken for granted as all there is, and self discovery is shortchanged. I do the exact opposite that I am encouraging you to do. I go into social situations I am not familiar or comfortable with and try to discover things there, and they always seem to come out in the conversation, verbal or non. It's amazing what people can teach you by not saying anyting, especially women, who are masters of non-verbal messaging.

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Actually I really do disagree. I think that everyone's life has moments that are supremely meaningful to them - I think that true greatness is subjective and relative to the individual experiencing it, and wouldn't be great if it happened to someone else. One of the reasons I consider character the most important element of fiction - you can have the coolest plot in the world, but who cares if it doesn't _feel_ important to your cardboard characters?


When something is truly great, everyone knows, it's an objective experience. Great in the subjective sense, uhm, sounds more like personal high points and not actually truly great experiences. I can do something 'great' for you that would thrill you to the moon and back, but if it was actually great, it would be painted on the moon in big letters everyone would understand. I do agree that characters should draw the reader into their own emotional construct to produce empathy and eventually a major driver for catharsis.

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I don't feel that my culture significantly limits my individuality, although it's certainly true that mass marketing and capitalist economics make it much easier to follow some paths than others.



Then why does political correctness and taboo influence ninety seven decisions a day for the vast majority of citizens?

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I can wear pleasingly dramatic goth clothes because someone makes them in a factory and hot topic rents a store in a mall near me and pays employees to sell them to me, etc. I'm perfectly capable of designing a piece of gothic clothing myself, with a bit of work I could probably figure out how to sew it together, but the cost in materials, time, and effort is prohibitive, so I don't.



True, but Goth went through the gauntlet before it became 'acceptable fashion'. There are so many unspoken rules, that when you get to the 'other' rules out there in nature, you all of a sudden realized just how repressed life can be.

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One of the great things about writing is it's a pretty cheap artform to practice. But I am always aware of the possibility of creating truly original fashions, and it is my choice not to do so, I am not forced to be a conformist of any sort.


Yeah, who can afford filmmaking? Aware of the possibility of creating truly original fashions tells me you have interest in it, but does cost prohibition have anything to do with the choice not to do so? It's expensive to set up fashion design, I know because I visit bridal shops who do fashion on the side for cast off material and throw away mannequins to create my game design fashions. Gosh help me if I could ever find a patternmaker and prototype stitcher. The best I can do is paper patterns cut to form laid down on graph paper to make the form, and it's so daunting. But, it's more revenue for the enterprise than just units shipped, so I snip on...

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I believe that ritual, manufactured social events can be deeply meaningful if the people involved feel them to be so.



Or they are conditioned and taught that they are to be so. Like the fairy tale wedding, where the father of the bride has to take out a second mortgage for one event? This is highway robbery by archetype, and is likely responsible for the dramatic rise in the price or khaki over the last twenty years.

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I know it would be a huge moment in my life if I ever married or handfasted somebody.



Sure, that is a huge meaningful mating ritual, and one of the biggest events a man and woman can have, but does the ten thousand dollar wedding dress, the three thousand dollar cake, the fifty dollar a plate catering, the hundred dollar an hour wedding coordinator, do any of these things really do anything to upgrade the experience in the abscense of the media and the several billion dollar a year June Bride industry telling you you've 'simply got to have it?'

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And good theater, the motivating force behing ritualizing and manufacturing events, is often essential to making an important moment strike an observer or participant as truly profound. Isn't that what we are doing in trying to design games and fiction? Manufacturing experiences for others and trying to make these experiences feel profound?


Good theatre motivates emotional and empathic response (pathos). It was done for centuries with simple masks and dramaturgy in scene, in action. The purpose for pathos was, like communication, to create understanding about us, our world around us, and the unseen forces (the gods in the old days) that influence and direct man.

It was a way of explaining and contextualizing to ease our confused minds about larger questions even way back in Greece when life was simple. It began to become manufactured events during the Rennaisance, when everyone who could afford it couldn't wear enough silk and wigs and powder, and acted so even if they didn't, and we were off to the mask races we carry on our unmade faces today. During the period of chekov and other great writers who rebelled and retrorevolutionized the theatre by making sets simple, questions clear yet lofty, that we got to places like tennessee williams and O'Niell and Arthur Miller.

The rest is just window dressing in proper golden means proportions, with lighting and sound arts added to round out the experience, but one performance experienced in theatre in the round will show you how little lighting, sound and set one needs to move an audience to thunderous applause at it's feet.


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I dislike capitalism (wage slavery), and actually happen to be a socialist, but I don't think that capitalism and mass-marketing (or organized religion for that matter) create sheep people, they just cater to the 2/3s of the population that have the instincts to be conformists.


Instincts or conditioning? We can't hide from the fact we are all manipulated into consumption fever because of greed. Obesity now outpacing smoking as the leading cause of disease and death is ample evidence. I think, over some greek brandy, we could really get OT. LOL Greek brandy at the mountaintop, now that would be some serious literary time.

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Absurd according to who?



Samuel Clemens? Benjamin Disraeli? Ben Franklin? Vaclav Havel? Ovid? Homer?

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Say we take a survey and find that people judge the highest quality writing to be that which comes from the people who have read tha most books, with logarythmic progression such that mediocre writing requires reading, oh, 3,000 books, good writing requires reading 4,000 books, and great writing requires reading more than 4,500 books.



Wait a minute, you're claiming the results of the survey before the survey is tabulated for summary analysis. Cart before the horse here.
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So this ratio of quality of writing to books read is now a statistical fact.


Looks like you are quoting assumption as fact here, can you clarify? Did I misunderstand?

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Is it possible for a fact, even one of the weak types like statistical ones, to be absurd?



It's hard to say in advance of the actual survey facts being established yet, wouldn't you say?

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Similarly, I think the phrase 'communication aberration' is a non-concept.



Maybe I should have used "spun out of context", because that is what I meant.

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Communication does not cease to be cammunication merely because it's not original.



I didn't say unoriginal, I said abberated, meaning abnormal and defective. We have unoriginality on TV all the time, but you gotta have cable to get something abnormal, if the censors let it broadcast.

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Or do you think that proverbs are empty of communication?


Proverbs in the Bible, or Proverbs as a literary device pre-monotheism? In either case, both are useful, poignant teaching devices comprised of word constructs. I'm not sure how that connects to to unoriginal or abberative.

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Ah, now there's something I an agree with. We could even put that in the writing forum faq.


You own.

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What about contentment?



Contentment is good for sheep and cattle. But the world belongs to the discontent. Not my words.

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There are large parts of my day when I desire nothing.



I think you are fortunate, probably likely to do with following your star. One does not need arrive at a destination to derive satisfaction from the realization one is getting there. I on the other hand, desire the world to be my oyster, and believe the path there lies through self mastery.


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Of the tings I do desire I rarely desire any of them passionately, and of the things I do desire passionately (e.g. to write a great novel, to fall passionately in love) there is usually no path by which to strive towards the satisfaction of these desires.



Except perhaps through exploration, discovery and going where you have not gone before? The novel you seek and the love you seek clearly do not lie where you have been or where you are. I don't have all the answers, but I do know I spring up out of bed each day realizing that carpe diem is more than half carpe selfum. If only I could get across that I have been places and have done things that no book, no record or fiction could ever show me with near the poignancy and import really doing it does, and that has made me a better writer than a three Phd's could do, why then you would know why people who have that level of knowledge seek my council. Sometimes, even for pay. LOL

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This is one reason why I read books and play games in the first place, so that I can vicariously experience passionately desiring and then achieving something. Never happens in my real life.


Perhaps if it did, would you fear change?

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So how do you get an unflawed idea?



By rewriting, of course, and reworking the idea over and over in your mind like a person who looks at all the angle before taking the shot. This is not the same as waiting for all the information before making the decision, because that was an initial implementation step.

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How do you _know_ it's an unflawed idea and your passion won't flag?


Well, I am honestly never sure it's perfectly unflawed, I just go over it (rewrite it) enough to eliminate the probability, then most of the possibilities that flaws exist. It's rather like engineering or bug hunting, I would imagine. Perfection is a process, not a destination as the old saying goes, and, if you comb out a manuscript enough times, you will get to a point where you realize you cannot make it any better, and you then have to run the professional writer's risk that they will buy it to somebody else who will take to it with a meat cleaver, because that next writer is getting paid to troubleshoot it, and at a cheap cost considering the risk of production greenlighting in the producer's eyes.

What I do know is that I can look a director or producer in the eye and say, "it's as good as I can make it" and they know that I have had things produced before where a, a word wasn't changed, b, very little had to be changed, and those were for production managment considerations (e.g.: I wrote something awfully expensive to show, meaning cut it out or represent it another way less expensively).

I believe that is where you want to get; where you need to get, to the place where you personally have done the best job you can and you couldn't make it any better if you tried. This does not mean you don't use professional methods and put the thing down for three weeks after you are done and then pick it up and read it again and make sure that is the case.

This is just the part of the deal with writing, and you, as the originator, are the great secret in show business, and you must never forget that, even if you only ever write novels and never try scriptwright's work. Joseph Waumbaugh takes ten years to write a book, but he's still a multimillionaire and immensely respected. Immensely. I think you just need to relax and see the context in which you create, and lay that template into how writers in general create, and you will be serving yourself, your legacy and our profession with absolutely honorable nobility. Really, besides the money and the fame, what possibly more could you ask for?

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Lol. Possibly I should mention that I enjoy teaching and if I had gotten my English degree I was seriously considering going on for a secondary education teaching certification.



Get it as a backup, but I beseech you never let go of the dream. When you are old and wise, it will make you so greatful and giggly you did not falter where others are strewn like rubble. You will congratulate yourself on how well you lived life, and feel a little sadness and sympathy for those whom you have known who chose a road more travelled.

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That's why I ended up the moderator of this forum in the first place, because I tended to give little lectures in here on this or that aspect of writing, and the moderator of a forum is by one definition a teacher of the subject of that forum. Also, most of my favorite english professors were also writers, some of fiction and some of non-fiction. When you mention Ann Rand and the obligation of the writer to express things for others, doesn't this mean that writing can be defined as teaching?



I suppose it can be, but it will alway primarily be a vehicle of self expression more than anything. Martin Luther King was considered a phenomenally technically capable writer outside of his inspriational side, but Coretta Scott King tells the story of how he told her he would be back by the end of the day and then he went hiking out the back door towards the hills. He came home that night sweatier than she'd ever seen him, tireder than she'd ever seen him, yet at midnight, he sat down and wrote the "I have seen the mountain" speech. I think it goes by another name, but that's not important to the point. In the strict Ayn Rand sense, rules matter not one whit if the telling of the tale pleases the writer. In the end, even if we are eventually writing for all people of all times (if the axiom is true that when one writes about oneself and ones times one writer about all people of all times) we are writing for ourselves.

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And mem theory suggests that storytelling evolved to teach techniques for things like hunting, where the information must go in a certain pattern and the story format preserves the pattern.


Oh I completely agree that storytelling was created for tremendously important purposes civilizationally. "Red next to yellow will kill a fellow. Red next to black is a friend of Jack." So goes the old snake identification poem.

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So what's the difference between a master concept and a superconcept again?


Master concepts are complete concepts that stand whole and self machinating. Feeding cattle makes beef grow well marbled. Watering plants grown in the sun makes flavorful vegetables.

Superconcept: beef and vegetables and a wok will feed the world, and could end hunger forever if wisely applied.

Rougn examples, but the point is, if you write ten separate stories, each complete with every arc intact and vitally communicating. Somewhere down the road, the sum of what these complete ten concepts taught you is going to form the foundation for a superconcept that makes you realize those master concepts were just weighstations on the road that got to a destination so marvelous, complex and vivid, you will need everything you've honed as skills that you've got just to capture it in a way which the articulation faithfully transcribed so that anybody for the rest of time could read your book and stop hunger for as far as their influence could personally reach.


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I do dream journal and have done so for about 5 1/2 years now. My dreams rarely seem to have anything new and important to say though. Recently I have had more success with asking my subconscious for dreams relevant to my current writing project, so I'm pleased with that, but it's still so sloooow... that's what I need, a subconscious accellerator card!


This is precisely what mountaintops do.


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But I'm saying that lucid dreams often substitute realism for the meaningful symbols of regular dreams. There's actually a lack of symbols to interpret when you do the dream analysis, and the same symbols tend to recur with the same interpretation, e.g. I often get malls, greyhound busses, and one particular block of downtown State College.



Then you could be hunting the second animal behind the tiger as they say in Africa. This is usually the buzzard or hyena. Perhaps it is not the symbol you should be analyzing, but the impression or reaction you have to it immediately after presentation in the theatre of the mind. Trust for certain that one way or another, something is being communicated, and that it is there for you to find, using one method or another, most of which are recognizeable and not infinite in array.

A good example might be to go to a museum and find a painting you like and look at it a long time. Then, move all the way up to the canvas if you can and start to back up slowly. At a certain point, you are going to stop and suddenly realize you are standing exactly where the original painter stood when he or she took a step back from the work and looked at where the composition was going as a whole.

You might find that you have been to that painting a dozen times, and was always standing where you thought interpretation was, and then all of a sudden find that what the original artist intended was in a different places altogether, and the meaning of the picture changes for you instantly and entirely, even though you have looked and enjoyed that painting many times before, but from your point of view and your method of interpretation.

Detectives will tell you sometimes it's about standing not in other people's shoes, but in other people places and trying to see with their eyes that gives them the profile they seek to determine behaviors that are as of yet undiscovered.

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If I do get something useful out of a dream it's usually a piece of character dynamic, and the problem is that these ideas usually overlap or occupy the same story 'slot' so they can't be combined to form plot. The general unhelpfulness of my dreams annoys me.


Hmm. One night, when you are tired, try to go to sleep someplace noisy or busy, and see what some creative provocation does for your dream interpretation. I know screenwriters who make a hundred thousand dollars a week half to a dozen times a year. They go the wierdest places and do peculiar things simply to try not to see things as they always do, so originality and freshness are not lost upon their highly honed interpretive and expressive faculties.

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The difference is, a symbol is a specific object with definite appearance and characteristics that can be written about directly, while an archetype is an idea that I must find an object or arrangement of objects to clothe it in before I can write about it.


I am not sure I see the difference still, but let me try. That may be my limitation here. What I think you are saying is that when you are "finding an object or arrangement of objects to clothe it in before you can write about it" (and correct me if I am wrong or do not understand) is the method by which you construct archetypes. This implies you are creating new archetypes beyond the classic archetypes, am I correct here?

If that is the case, then when you are searching for the object or array or arrangement of objects to clothe the archetype in, why don't you simply construct a grid, and place all possible relative objects in the grid, with the center of the grid reserved for the archetype to yet be born left blank, in the grid around the center of the matrix and begin to test for strengths and weakness of the relationships and relevancies of the array symbologies, prioritize and weight them, and then fill in the center and test the new archetypal construct.

Writing is a lot like engineering, I think. Sooner or later, a complete archetype will emerge, and then you have to test it against the plot. Sometimes it will mesh, othertimes you going to have to cut or paste or hem. That's what rewriting is. This is really just conceptual components tikertoy with a relevancy matrix overlayed.

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The problem with clothing an archetype is that there is no good way to select the details of the symbolic version of it to put in your story.



That is why you have to exhaustively list all possible details and test for relevance, pertinence, viability, dynamic capability (is it action or setting dressing), plausibility -- trust me, it may sound lenthy, but like a long book, it's still finite.

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The details matter just enough that you can't decide on a whim, but not enough that the answer is obvious or comes to you in a dream. I believe I mentioned this problem several posts up in this thread.


Yeah, try it as a graphical representation where you can move the symbols and details around like one of those kits with the furniture you can move around the floorspace. Simply by approaching it from a different POV often does the trick. Be aware this is a very powerful concept proofing tool I have never shared with any other writer for competitive reasons, and the real thing to remember is that when you start working with information in this way, better have a legal pad handy, because it is flowsvilleomatica when it starts working.

The main thing to remember is that the details are finite, can be represented spatially rather than linearly, made to work rationally or representatively (more properly) and then simply converted back into linear form and boom, problems solved. Do I get a promotion for this or something? Wait, let's see if it works for you first.

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I don't think I have enough patience for that.



But, you've the patience to write, what's a few details a week thrown into the pot really in terms of work. You aren't even really doing any work, the subconscious is. It loves this kind of stuff. It's one of those things where one day you are happy, but don't know exactly why. It does.

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The way I feel is more like you mentioned about wanting to have accomplished something before you die. I have been writing for 9 years, I want to have a novel to show for it, damn it. (Not swearing at you, just to express my frustration.) I feel that 'this has gone on long enough' and 'if I don't finish something I have to admit I'm a poser'.


Well, first of all, let me say I have faith in you. You can do this. The thing you gotta give yourself a break on is time. Remember Joseph Wambaugh example above. Time is not the deciding factor here, completion is. If that story moves you deeply enough to write it, you will by definition complete it sooner or later. It just have to move you. It has to give you feelings you can resonate with. Often more than not, it is an emotional process more than a technical impediment, there are tools for impediments, the primary one being in your ability to change flexibility in your POV and methods/techniques. Remember, when in doubt, play with it. It's not a snake. I've stories about that, but not for now. Pick that story and those archetypes up, give them a good shake, and show them who's boss.

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I don't think so, I think Socrates thought it was l33t to call everybody ignorant and feel that the quality of his own ignorance was special because he was aware of his ignorance and no one else was. He had a big ego and liked to hear himself talk.


Did you ever know anyone who was extremely intelligent who did not recognize it and have a hard time dealing with remaining humilitous? Maybe it comes with the territory. If I were not totally stupid is some areas, I'd be better able to tell. Otherwise, this would be a I know what he means scenario :D



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lol. What's a cistine experience?



It's an old story about how when the pope visited michaelangelo quite a way into the chapel cieling painting process, and complained about how much money he was spending on this cieling while he had to pay for a war at the same time, and that while both were quite long endeavors, one could easily become more expensive than the other. Michaelangelo spoke to him about how masterpieces were quite indifferent to matters of time and money (my producer howls at this part, and I'm not even to the punchline), and that the pope couldn't possibly understand that aspect of art, when the pope shot right back with a interpretive statement about the project from an artistic standpoint that totally nailed michaelangelos artistic intent better than michaelangelo could have expressed it himself. Michaelangelo looked at the pope in utter amazment as if he'd never seen this side of a man he'd known for years, and possibly had misjudged him all along, and the pope read this like a book and said, "What did you expect, I am the pope." He walked away and told Michaelangelo to finish.

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Same thing with aboriginies in lingerie, what is that a reference to?


That was sort of a rewrite of the old, "that's as useful as tits on a boar." I was trying to keep it light and positive.

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Oh, I'm definitely suspicious of the flawlessness of my idea as I mentioned above. For one thing it strikes me as missing a situation that I dreamed (a while ago and not in direct relation to the current project) which seems to be very important. But I lack a method for considering its value. Do you have one to suggest?


I hope the one above helps, let me know and I will dream you up another one if it doesn't, the old wizard doesn't let all his tricks out to play all at once,

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BTW the 9 chapters turned into 12, and I'm still typing up the outline, so maybe tomorrow.


By gosh, pinch me if I'm not being a little inspirational. :D

Arthur

[edited by - adventuredesign on November 4, 2003 2:24:35 AM]

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O_o is it just me, or are these posts approaching novel-length all by themselves?


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Original post by adventuredesign
Literary theory is well documented for very long, creativity is rife with myth, misnomer and paraded expertice that fails the validity theory test. There are thousands of literary experts, and perhaps a couple dozen experts in creativity on this planet, simply because everyone looks outward most of the time.



Hmm, I was thinking that literary theory included the part of creativity theory that studies how and why people write, which would naturally make both rife with myth and misnomer, etc.


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It''s not that I''ve never been hiking or camping or on a giant rollercoster or to a great museam or in a big blackout or icestorm... these are things you would classify as ''great experiences'' right?



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Not really, cause they are kind''ve subjective and quantifiable. A part of it has to be unknown, part of it has to be complete surprise, part of it has to call upon your immediate action, your personal self-leadership, kind''ve like putting out a fire that surprisingly sprang up and was potentially quite deadly where you only had seconds to make critical, if not life determining, just minus the hazard.
(snip navigation record story)



Hmm. Had you given me a bunch of anecdotes and asked me to pick the one that was the grestest experience, I would not have picked that one. I''m going to continue to argue that great moments in life are relative. Had I been participating in something like that I am almost certain I would not have found it great. Of course, since I have mild asthma I find it difficult to imagine enjoying anything involving lots of running. ^_~ But seriously, I think that you and I have different sorts of brain chemistry. Take adrenaline, for example, and it''s relationship with the fight or flight instinct, which you mention somewhere. (I''ve lost track...) Now, I find adrenaline rushes physically unpleasant. It would be hard for me to describe exactly how it feels - kind of like having an upset stomach I suppose. But the point is that I''m pavlovianly conditioned, as it were, to avoid things that give me advenaline rushes. This is why I, normally a very calm sweet-tempered person, will go instantly bitchy if somebody sneaks up behind me and yells ''boo!''. My roommate, being slightly a sadist, loves to find various ways to harass me, but even he know not to scare me because I''ll be pissed off at him for the rest of the day. Note that I don''t watch horror movies, and I prefer psychological thrillers to action movies.

Also, I hate being in a hurry. That''s kind of a continuous low-level adrenaline surge, and it puts me in a bad mood just as effectively.

Continuing on to the fight or flight instinct - I studied this in an intro to psych course, and one of the interesting things that came out in the discussion is that ''fight or flight'' is a misnomer - it should actually be ''fight, flight, or freeze''. I am the type who freezes. Which is why when I think of a physically exhilirating contest thing similar to your example, the closest I come up with is when I played hide-and-go-seek with a bunch of teenagers in a huge building. I hid behind a cabinet for more than an hour, yet I wasn''t bored, I was excited and I enjoyed it, even in spite of the sweat and the spiderwebs. I''ve always loved hide-and-go-seek and assassins and those sort of games. And similarly, being a sniper in hiding, guarding the goal, when I played paintball. I don''t think I would count either of those as being as profound of experiences as the great blackout, or this one time when I went to the lake in the middle of winter and everything looked completely alien, with the waves being frozen and the sand mixed with snow, no colors anywhere and the wind moaning.


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I''m not really certain, given your information, whether you''ve actually experienced a peak experience. It''s isn''t emotionally intense, although intense emotion can be present, it is something that happens on all cognitive levels at once; peak understanding, peak awe, peak feeling, peak relief, and even more.



How about alienation? Looking over my experiences it seems that several of them have been based on alienation or it''s converse, being the center of some social activity. Plus of course the epiphany/eureka pattern-discovery I mentioned before.

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How can I say this, it''s something that happens where you find out that you are more than you are and realize that there is a part of you that you didn''t even know, and you thought you knew yourself pretty well. I kind''ve had that happen when this big, tough ex marine surrendered his whole self to love once, but that was only a emotional/primitive peak, and a huge matrimonial mistake LOL.


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You say humans are naturally explorers. I would argue that about 1/3 of humans are naturally explorers, and the other 2/3 are naturally not. If you read about life in an aboriginal tribe (before money entered the picture), you will note that most of it consists of people huddling together trying to make a nutritional and reproductive profit.



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That is true for aboriginals, but other branches of human and homind from whom we evolved were nomadic for tens of thousands of years before the aboriginals. Hunter wanderer is about ninety percent of our evolutionary track whereas settler/gatherer/agrarian/domesticant is about ten percent of our evolutionary time on this planet for the species and it''s ancestors.



The same applies to nomads - there are people who have the instinct to always stay close to home, whether home is a physical place or a group of people on the move. Perhaps you know about xenophilia and xenophobia? Xenophilia is the motivating force behind physical exploration and exploration-play, all sorts of sexual preferances e.g. furries and fetishes for a race other than one''s own, much writing of science fiction and fantasy, real and armchair anthropologists, people who wear clothes from or decorate their houses in the style of another culture, and the aesthetic movements of romanticism and gothicism. Xenophobia on the other hand is why people who live in little villages are suspicious of foreigners, why people long for the way things used to be, revere tradition and cultural heroes, and the political/aesthetic movements of isolationism, nationalism, and ''county fair'' or ''country'' art. My theory is that about 2/3s of people are more xenophobic while 1/3 are more xenophilic, and that this evolved as the best way to keep most primitive humans doing things the traditional, efficient way that worked and living in communities where they understood the geography and local food chain, while some wandered around discovering new techniques and places, and stirring up the gene pool by breeding with people who weren''t their cousins (if they didn''t get killed off first). Life would be a big mess if everybody wanted to be an explorer - who would farm and take care of babies and sick people and etc.?


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You don''t know until you try. It''s just like you don''t really know it unless you can write it down, but in a living life kind of sense. Just the fact you are toying with adventure is awakening primitive genetic predispositions in you that were always there, and it may be wise in a wholeness and full awareness sense to do a little more of this toying until you are ready to play.



No awakening - I have always played at exploring since I was a child, and I recall even when I was only 8 or so, being specifically aware that I was ''playing'' at it, and that trying to do it for real would be unpleasant and impractical.


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If I had been born instead of Columbus the Native Americans would have had a few more hundred years of peace. If The army was made out of copies of me we would surrender. That''s just who I am, whether because of my gender, my brain chemistry, or what I was taught as a child, it''s who I am now.


Wait a minute, you aren''t fooling me. You would bash the crap out of the big hairy ape that laid one finger on your child and you know you would. You would whack the back of the head of an intruder with the bottom of a lamp base with the swing of Willy Mays if he or she were about to extinguish the lifelight lamp of you mare. Pish tush. I took a rich socialite aerobics instructor out for a weekend in the high desert this past summer on a dare. For a avowed vegitarian, she couldn''t have sunk her teeth any deeper into barbequed snake, and drank with relish like a great jungle cat at a watering hole cut from the base of cacti. Had she not hated me more for being right, we probably would have bred.

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Lol. It''s true that if someone threatened a child under my care (I''m thinking of my little brother) I would be furious. I probably wouldn''t physically try to attack them though - my first instinct would be to get the child physically out of harm''s way, and my second would be to either call for help or try to guilt trip or bribe the attacker into leaving, whichever seemed more likely to work. If that didn''t work, I would try to retreat, and if I couldn''t do that _then_ I would consider trying to kill the attacker.




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I have absolutely no desire to be the sort of person who climbs mountains.



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Have you seen the view from up there? Can you really know before the fact?



I have been to the top of a mountain, yes. Not a particularly tall mountain, but we did hike and climb to the top and look at the view. I liked looking at Niagra falls as part of a tour better.


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If I could change who I am in only one way I would make myself more charming/attractive, because it is the social world that inspires me, not the physical world.





What more modern jungle is there? I love that too? Doors open everywhere when you can be observed as one who knows the lay of the land anywhere there''s land. You could learn a lot about society in the wild, simply because of the distance and perspective it affords you. Don''t you know that the most dangerous creature on earth is a beautiful woman? Sunandshadow, by your very gender, you are already beautiful. It''s just a natural fact. One mountain waterfall, and you will know it where it counts. We aren''t even talking yet about the beauty of your art or mind. That''s later.



Okay now _you''re_ being silly. Women are not inherently beautiful, unless you want to say that human beings are inherently beautiful, which is possibly true for a more metaphorical sense of the word beauty, but then you said you aren''t talking about the beauty of art or mind.

Now, don''t get me wrong. I would be the first to say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; or rather, in the genes of the beholder, and everybody know genes have no sense of ethics or justice. I would be the first to say that my own opinion of what makes a beautiful person is both atypical (e.g. I tend to prefer feminine males, this is almost certainly related somehow to the hormone imbalance that makes me bisexual) and overly-picky (I''m particularly picky about all visual aesthetic things for some reason). But as someone with a trained artist''s eye, the concept of physical beauty is rather inescapable. I''ve never been able to decide whether it is actively unethical that people are nicer to pretty people; but what I did decide is that there''s nothing I can do to be more ethical about it, so there''s no point in worrying about it. Mostly it just ticks me off that I don''t get hit on more often. ^_~ But there''s no point about angsting about there being no justice in the universe, so the rest of the time I try to think about something more useful.


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Actually I really do disagree. I think that everyone''s life has moments that are supremely meaningful to them - I think that true greatness is subjective and relative to the individual experiencing it, and wouldn''t be great if it happened to someone else. One of the reasons I consider character the most important element of fiction - you can have the coolest plot in the world, but who cares if it doesn''t _feel_ important to your cardboard characters?


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When something is truly great, everyone knows, it''s an objective experience. Great in the subjective sense, uhm, sounds more like personal high points and not actually truly great experiences. I can do something ''great'' for you that would thrill you to the moon and back, but if it was actually great, it would be painted on the moon in big letters everyone would understand. I do agree that characters should draw the reader into their own emotional construct to produce empathy and eventually a major driver for catharsis.



Nice illustration ^_~ but I still disagree. If something was painted on the moon with big letters so everyone could see it, that wouldn''t make it great, just universally surprising until the novelty wore off, and after that it would be normal and taken for granted. I would argue that to be great, something cannot be commonplace. I would argue that any experience that had an obvious significance to all people would already written about or somehow commercially available, thus commonplace, at least to a degree. Therefore something with an obvious significance that isn''t commonplace must have a personal significance rather than a universal one.


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I don''t feel that my culture significantly limits my individuality, although it''s certainly true that mass marketing and capitalist economics make it much easier to follow some paths than others.



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Then why does political correctness and taboo influence ninety seven decisions a day for the vast majority of citizens?



Because people have the instinct that they want to be approved of and praised by the other members of their community. This would be the opposite of thanatos, that suicidal instinct usually inspired by a person feeling that nobody likes them or that their existince harms their community. Also why criminals sometimes feel guilty and turn themselves in even if they would have gotten away scott-free.

Anyway I''m not the vast majority of citizens anyway, I don''t worry about taboos except as objects for psychological or sociological study, (try dying your hair bright green and see how people suddenly react differently to you), or possible political/legal repurcussions of my actions, which is really more a strategic concern than a personal one. And speaking of taboos and fashion, have you seen the preview of the new John Galliano spring/summer 04 ready-to-wear? This year he went for the theme of ''whore'' and found or invented this translucent yellow fabric that is supposed to look like a condom... I have a url here somewhere if you want. I love John Galliano''s designs. ^_^ If only someone would hire me to do that.


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I can wear pleasingly dramatic goth clothes because someone makes them in a factory and hot topic rents a store in a mall near me and pays employees to sell them to me, etc. I''m perfectly capable of designing a piece of gothic clothing myself, with a bit of work I could probably figure out how to sew it together, but the cost in materials, time, and effort is prohibitive, so I don''t.



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True, but Goth went through the gauntlet before it became ''acceptable fashion''. There are so many unspoken rules, that when you get to the ''other'' rules out there in nature, you all of a sudden realized just how repressed life can be.



Oh, I certainly realize how repressed life can be. I''m just also very aware of how even in the most regimented system creativity finds a way. I was studying Japanese school girl uniforms for an anime project and I was astonished to read about all the tiny little ways the girls modify their uniforms, trying to look a little better and be individual without getting caught.


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One of the great things about writing is it''s a pretty cheap artform to practice. But I am always aware of the possibility of creating truly original fashions, and it is my choice not to do so, I am not forced to be a conformist of any sort.


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Yeah, who can afford filmmaking? Aware of the possibility of creating truly original fashions tells me you have interest in it, but does cost prohibition have anything to do with the choice not to do so? It''s expensive to set up fashion design, I know because I visit bridal shops who do fashion on the side for cast off material and throw away mannequins to create my game design fashions. Gosh help me if I could ever find a patternmaker and prototype stitcher. The best I can do is paper patterns cut to form laid down on graph paper to make the form, and it''s so daunting. But, it''s more revenue for the enterprise than just units shipped, so I snip on...



That''s interesting - I don''t bother with fabric prototypes anymore, but when I did I always had more success getting fabric by buying remnants at a fabric store or pieces of clothing at the salvation army store or garage sales. I wouldn''t think a bridal place would have very interesting fabrics. I tried getting upholstery sample books from furniture places, but the samples were''nt big enough to be useful for much. This was all back when I still played with plastic horses - my mom taught my sister and I to sew and embroider by getting us to make clothes and rugs and pillows for the horses. It''s nice working that small because you don''t need to bother with patterns or even a sewing machine, but on the other hand details can be a problem.

I''ve made clothes for myself a few times and that was a totally different experience. My general verdict is that it''s too much work, largely because it''s impossible to fit clothes to yourself unless you know a lot more about patternmaking than I do. I had fun making clothes for my brother though, because I could just tell him to stand there while I pinned and chalked. I''m holding out for a computer driven sewing machine that can make whole articles of clothing, and a design program to run it with. Meanwhile I''ll just draw my fashion ideas on anime characters.

BTW do you have any fashion design sketches hanging around the net somewhere? I would be curious to see them - I haven''t seen them before in the art forum, have I? I remember I put some of my own there a long time ago, and I saw some of Sage13''s there recently, but I don''t recall seeing yours.


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I believe that ritual, manufactured social events can be deeply meaningful if the people involved feel them to be so.



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Or they are conditioned and taught that they are to be so. Like the fairy tale wedding, where the father of the bride has to take out a second mortgage for one event? This is highway robbery by archetype, and is likely responsible for the dramatic rise in the price or khaki over the last twenty years.



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I know it would be a huge moment in my life if I ever married or handfasted somebody.



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Sure, that is a huge meaningful mating ritual, and one of the biggest events a man and woman can have, but does the ten thousand dollar wedding dress, the three thousand dollar cake, the fifty dollar a plate catering, the hundred dollar an hour wedding coordinator, do any of these things really do anything to upgrade the experience in the absence of the media and the several billion dollar a year June Bride industry telling you you''ve ''simply got to have it?''



Just because people are conditioned to find something emotionally moving does not mean that the emotion they feel is fake. Certainly weddings are absurdly expensive. I personally hate diamonds because they''re a boring color, and would never want a ring with one, but then again I would probably pick an opal which is almost as expensive. ^_~ Since weddings are supposed to be imprinted on the minds of the participants and audience as a socially unifying ritual and notice of status change, and also as a reward/celebration for parents seeing their children reach full adulthood, it makes sense that weddings should be theatrical. I''ve seen some photos of medieval-themed weddings that were absolutely gorgeous. Absurdly expensive? Absolutely. But wort it for the memory? Maybe, if you don''t need the money for something more pressing. Personally I live on room, board, and $200 a month, so I can''t imagine what I''d do if I was one of these people with an income of $60,000 a year, but spending it on a wedding wouldn''t be any sillier than any other idea.


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And good theater, the motivating force behing ritualizing and manufacturing events, is often essential to making an important moment strike an observer or participant as truly profound. Isn''t that what we are doing in trying to design games and fiction? Manufacturing experiences for others and trying to make these experiences feel profound?


Good theatre motivates emotional and empathic response (pathos). It was done for centuries with simple masks and dramaturgy in scene, in action. The purpose for pathos was, like communication, to create understanding about us, our world around us, and the unseen forces (the gods in the old days) that influence and direct man.

It was a way of explaining and contextualizing to ease our confused minds about larger questions even way back in Greece when life was simple. It began to become manufactured events during the Rennaisance, when everyone who could afford it couldn''t wear enough silk and wigs and powder, and acted so even if they didn''t, and we were off to the mask races we carry on our unmade faces today. During the period of chekov and other great writers who rebelled and retrorevolutionized the theatre by making sets simple, questions clear yet lofty, that we got to places like tennessee williams and O''Niell and Arthur Miller.

The rest is just window dressing in proper golden means proportions, with lighting and sound arts added to round out the experience, but one performance experienced in theatre in the round will show you how little lighting, sound and set one needs to move an audience to thunderous applause at it''s feet.



Certainly you don''t think that''s the only purpose of theater, to motivate pathos. Theater, like fiction, had so many purposes that if I tried to list them offhand I would inevitably forget some. Religious ritual is all about behavioral programming - the original point of having a big dramatic wedding was to convince participants and audience alike that "what god has brought together let no man put asunder", in other words to discourage adultery.


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I dislike capitalism (wage slavery), and actually happen to be a socialist, but I don''t think that capitalism and mass-marketing (or organized religion for that matter) create sheep people, they just cater to the 2/3s of the population that have the instincts to be conformists.


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Instincts or conditioning? We can''t hide from the fact we are all manipulated into consumption fever because of greed. Obesity now outpacing smoking as the leading cause of disease and death is ample evidence. I think, over some greek brandy, we could really get OT. LOL Greek brandy at the mountaintop, now that would be some serious literary time.



lol, yes, very very off topic. For example I am tempted to argue that obesity is not primarily caused by greed, but instead by laziness/desire for efficiency...


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Absurd according to who?



Samuel Clemens? Benjamin Disraeli? Ben Franklin? Vaclav Havel? Ovid? Homer?

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Say we take a survey and find that people judge the highest quality writing to be that which comes from the people who have read tha most books, with logarythmic progression such that mediocre writing requires reading, oh, 3,000 books, good writing requires reading 4,000 books, and great writing requires reading more than 4,500 books.



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Wait a minute, you''re claiming the results of the survey before the survey is tabulated for summary analysis. Cart before the horse here.



I''m saying that the survey results are what I wanted you to assume, and based upon that consider whether it is possible for something that is a fact to truly be absurd. But nevermind, it doesn''t really matter.


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Or do you think that proverbs are empty of communication?


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Proverbs in the Bible, or Proverbs as a literary device pre-monotheism? In either case, both are useful, poignant teaching devices comprised of word constructs. I''m not sure how that connects to to unoriginal or abberative.



Proverbs as literary device, and my point was that you''ve heard a proverb lots of times before, you''re not learning anything new when someone says it to you, but they''re still communicating in reciting the provarb. They''re communicating that they thing your situation fits the pattern refrenced by the problem, and presumably the moral of the proverb applies to your situation too.

This was getting absurdly long, so I''ll reply to the rest in another post.

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quote:

What about contentment?



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Contentment is good for sheep and cattle. But the world belongs to the discontent. Not my words.



You don''t think contentment is natural to philosophers? And that some writers and other artists are philosophers?

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There are large parts of my day when I desire nothing.



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I think you are fortunate, probably likely to do with following your star. One does not need arrive at a destination to derive satisfaction from the realization one is getting there. I on the other hand, desire the world to be my oyster, and believe the path there lies through self mastery.



Interesting. I would never make self-mastery one of my own life goals. Self-understanding yes, which is good because it allows you to wield yourself in a masterful way, but I always favor adaptability over self-discipline, and I really do think the two are opposing approaches to life that can''t be mixed well. Since my goal is not to get the most out of the world, but instead to be the most pleased and comfortable and entertained within the world, flexibility is the better choice for me.


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Of the things I do desire I rarely desire any of them passionately, and of the things I do desire passionately (e.g. to write a great novel, to fall passionately in love) there is usually no path by which to strive towards the satisfaction of these desires.



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Except perhaps through exploration, discovery and going where you have not gone before? The novel you seek and the love you seek clearly do not lie where you have been or where you are. I don''t have all the answers, but I do know I spring up out of bed each day realizing that carpe diem is more than half carpe selfum. If only I could get across that I have been places and have done things that no book, no record or fiction could ever show me with near the poignancy and import really doing it does, and that has made me a better writer than a three Phd''s could do, why then you would know why people who have that level of knowledge seek my council. Sometimes, even for pay. LOL



What does seizing the self mean to you in terms of writing?


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This is one reason why I read books and play games in the first place, so that I can vicariously experience passionately desiring and then achieving something. Never happens in my real life.


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Perhaps if it did, would you fear change?



Nonono, I crave change. That''s actually one of the originating ideas of my novel - if I were dropped into an alien world, how would I go about adapting to it and learning all the new things?


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So how do you get an unflawed idea?



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By rewriting, of course, and reworking the idea over and over in your mind like a person who looks at all the angle before taking the shot. This is not the same as waiting for all the information before making the decision, because that was an initial implementation step.



Well that''s what I''ve been trying to do. Outlining is my way of putting the idea on paper in some sort of organized form so I can rework it. Doesn''t seem to be working terribly well (but then, I''m having one of my pessimistic days).


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How do you _know_ it''s an unflawed idea and your passion won''t flag?


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Well, I am honestly never sure it''s perfectly unflawed, I just go over it (rewrite it) enough to eliminate the probability, then most of the possibilities that flaws exist. It''s rather like engineering or bug hunting, I would imagine. Perfection is a process, not a destination as the old saying goes, and, if you comb out a manuscript enough times, you will get to a point where you realize you cannot make it any better, and you then have to run the professional writer''s risk that they will buy it to somebody else who will take to it with a meat cleaver, because that next writer is getting paid to troubleshoot it, and at a cheap cost considering the risk of production greenlighting in the producer''s eyes.

(snip)

I believe that is where you want to get; where you need to get, to the place where you personally have done the best job you can and you couldn''t make it any better if you tried. This does not mean you don''t use professional methods and put the thing down for three weeks after you are done and then pick it up and read it again and make sure that is the case.



Yeah, forgetting about it and then looking at it again is an essential editing technique. Works for paintings too, actually. So the question is, how much reworking is enough to make flaws sufficiently improbable? Is it proportional to the length of what you''re trying to write? Probably this is a silly question since I imagine I''ll be able to feel it when the idea is good - one of those ''you just know it'' things.

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This is just the part of the deal with writing, and you, as the originator, are the great secret in show business, and you must never forget that, even if you only ever write novels and never try scriptwright''s work. Joseph Waumbaugh takes ten years to write a book, but he''s still a multimillionaire and immensely respected. Immensely. I think you just need to relax and see the context in which you create, and lay that template into how writers in general create, and you will be serving yourself, your legacy and our profession with absolutely honorable nobility. Really, besides the money and the fame, what possibly more could you ask for?



And then again there''s Donald Kingsbury (author of _Courtship Rite_) who takes 8 years to write a book and they''re the same level of quality as other authors produce in a year or 2. But I''m just quibbling. I think that phrase ''the contex in which I create'' is interesting. What might that be? Or maybe only I can answer that since I know which writers I mentally compare myself with and what books I keep on my shelf as models of what I want to write. But what did you have in mind?


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So what''s the difference between a master concept and a superconcept again?


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Master concepts are complete concepts that stand whole and self machinating. Feeding cattle makes beef grow well marbled. Watering plants grown in the sun makes flavorful vegetables.

Superconcept: beef and vegetables and a wok will feed the world, and could end hunger forever if wisely applied.

Rough examples, but the point is, if you write ten separate stories, each complete with every arc intact and vitally communicating. Somewhere down the road, the sum of what these complete ten concepts taught you is going to form the foundation for a superconcept that makes you realize those master concepts were just weighstations on the road that got to a destination so marvelous, complex and vivid, you will need everything you''ve honed as skills that you''ve got just to capture it in a way which the articulation faithfully transcribed so that anybody for the rest of time could read your book and stop hunger for as far as their influence could personally reach.



Well, here are some concepts I want to put in my novel. You tall me if you think any of them are master or super.

- There is no such thing as an inappropriate love, or an indecent one. Love, by connecting us deeply to another person (or people) is what makes life meaningful.

- Happiness is working with the ones you love to accomplish something great together that you couldn''t have done separately. This may be raising a well-loved child, creating a work of art, or founding a university.

- If you aren''t loyal to your loved ones with all your heart, you aren''t loyal to yourself; and any system that won''t let you be loyal to yourself doesn''t deserve to have you be loyal to it.

- Caring is about being nice. Passion is _not_ about being nice. Love must be made out of both, like salad dressing made out of oil and water.

- You are only a slave if you think you are a slave; but you are an animal until you can communicate that you aren''t. Being a free, human adult is about living an examined, introspective life while also being careful and caring of those around you.

- Someone must lead and someone must follow and each needs the other and neither is better, you must be whichever one suits your nature (hmm, sounds like a poem idea...)

o_O you can see why it has to be a romance novel - have you ever seen the word love so many times in so few sentences? lol


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But I''m saying that lucid dreams often substitute realism for the meaningful symbols of regular dreams. There''s actually a lack of symbols to interpret when you do the dream analysis, and the same symbols tend to recur with the same interpretation, e.g. I often get malls, greyhound busses, and one particular block of downtown State College.



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Then you could be hunting the second animal behind the tiger as they say in Africa. This is usually the buzzard or hyena. Perhaps it is not the symbol you should be analyzing, but the impression or reaction you have to it immediately after presentation in the theatre of the mind. Trust for certain that one way or another, something is being communicated, and that it is there for you to find, using one method or another, most of which are recognizeable and not infinite in array.

A good example might be to go to a museum and find a painting you like and look at it a long time. Then, move all the way up to the canvas if you can and start to back up slowly. At a certain point, you are going to stop and suddenly realize you are standing exactly where the original painter stood when he or she took a step back from the work and looked at where the composition was going as a whole.

You might find that you have been to that painting a dozen times, and was always standing where you thought interpretation was, and then all of a sudden find that what the original artist intended was in a different places altogether, and the meaning of the picture changes for you instantly and entirely, even though you have looked and enjoyed that painting many times before, but from your point of view and your method of interpretation.

Detectives will tell you sometimes it''s about standing not in other people''s shoes, but in other people places and trying to see with their eyes that gives them the profile they seek to determine behaviors that are as of yet undiscovered.



Hmm maybe. I was very puzzled by my (non-lucid) dream this morning - ''ask and you shall receive'', I suppose. The dream started off with a library in which I was being treated like a second class citizen, then there was a juvenile delinquent qirl. She had three objects (I think one was a nerf football, but I don''t really remember, except that they didn''ty seem to go together) with which she was doing something, but she lost interest and carelessly left them on the ground. I picked them up and put them in the library mailbox where they were supposed to go, but I had to cram them to get them in there. Then, because I had stayed to take care of things while the girl had gone, her butch female parole officer came by and was asking me accusingly if I had done whatever crime the girl had. A storm was starting, and I knew it was going to be an electrical storm, so I warned her and we went to take shelter in the building behind us (which had in the mean time changed from a library to a resturant, a Hoss''s specifically). We got zapped by ball lightning on the way in. Members of my family were in there with a big buffet with lots of desert, and when I came in I was the last in line for the buffet, but everyone was waiting for something, not eating. I got the feeling that it had something to do with a church event; once I knew that I wanted to leave, but I couldn''t because of the lightning. I both didn''t want to eat the food because I didn''t want to even pretend to be going along with the religious stuff (I''m an athiest), yet wanted to eat the food to spite them by having it go to someone it wasn''t supposed to. But mostly I was frustrated and disgusted to be stuck in there. Then I woke up.

My interpretation: The librarian is treating me like a second class citizen because I''m not getting my novel written. The three objects are the three main characters (the football would be Attranath I suppose ), and putting them in the library mailbox is like using them properly, or maybe like sending them to the publisher. The bad girl was (I think) a writer of crappy pornographic romance novels. The parole officer was public opinion. I''m really not sure about the lightning, except that it really felt like it did when I got electrically shocked once, and scared me. The Hoss''s probably symbolized ''living a normal life'' (Hoss''s is the resturant my parents always took us to.) This is probably related to the fact that I was unenthusiastically considering applying for a job at the Outback resturant near me because I''m sick of being broke. The deserts on the buffet = the niceness of having money. They''re waiting because no one I know who has a job seems to get any enjoyment out of the money they make, they always need more.

So the only thing I''m not sure about is what the lightning was, why it suddenly appeared, and why it was keeping me trapped. Usually in my dreams I''m immune to that sort of restricting phenomenon or can find a way around it, but this time I was just stuck. Possibly the being trapped had something to do with the reading public not wanting to read what I want to write, but that doesn''t make a lot of sense since none of the relatives I saw there are big readers. Or maybe it had to do with my religious relatives not being proud of me when they considered my art to be pornography, but I didn''t feel like I was being judged - actually I felt like I was being deliberately charitably misjudged, as a ''strayed-sheep'' just because I was one of the family. I had the impression that they didn''t (yet) have any idea what I had created. That was what was so stifling, that they didn''t see me as an artist of hear what I had to say. But still, why lightning?


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If I do get something useful out of a dream it''s usually a piece of character dynamic, and the problem is that these ideas usually overlap or occupy the same story ''slot'' so they can''t be combined to form plot. The general unhelpfulness of my dreams annoys me.


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Hmm. One night, when you are tired, try to go to sleep someplace noisy or busy, and see what some creative provocation does for your dream interpretation. I know screenwriters who make a hundred thousand dollars a week half to a dozen times a year. They go the wierdest places and do peculiar things simply to try not to see things as they always do, so originality and freshness are not lost upon their highly honed interpretive and expressive faculties.



That''s one of the good things about living in an apartment or a dorm - the background noise is good for dreaming. Where I live now I can even choose whether to sleep on the futon and hear the neighbors, or on the bed and hear the front parking lot. Plus we have an airport and a firestation right next to us...


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The difference is, a symbol is a specific object with definite appearance and characteristics that can be written about directly, while an archetype is an idea that I must find an object or arrangement of objects to clothe it in before I can write about it.


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I am not sure I see the difference still, but let me try. That may be my limitation here. What I think you are saying is that when you are "finding an object or arrangement of objects to clothe it in before you can write about it" (and correct me if I am wrong or do not understand) is the method by which you construct archetypes. This implies you are creating new archetypes beyond the classic archetypes, am I correct here?

If that is the case, then when you are searching for the object or array or arrangement of objects to clothe the archetype in, why don''t you simply construct a grid, and place all possible relative objects in the grid, with the center of the grid reserved for the archetype to yet be born left blank, in the grid around the center of the matrix and begin to test for strengths and weakness of the relationships and relevancies of the array symbologies, prioritize and weight them, and then fill in the center and test the new archetypal construct.



Um. My instinct is to say that wouldn''t work, but I''m not sure exactly why. I mean the grid is a problem because the space in which symbols exist is more than 2D, but I''ve dealt with that problem before in other areas. Let me give an example of a symbol and an archetype. The archetype is the powerful object keyed to the hero by blood or other identifier, which the hero uses in his adventures to get closer to his goal. The symbol is a sword with a ruby in the hilt and runes carved into the blade passed from father to son for generations; or it is a harp with three stars inset in the wood which can only be used by the boy with three stars on his forehead; or it is the dragon which can only be mind-spoken too by the owner who has the right kind of soul to Impresses it on the day of its birth. Anyway I''ll play with this grid thing and tell you how it goes.


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Writing is a lot like engineering, I think. Sooner or later, a complete archetype will emerge, and then you have to test it against the plot. Sometimes it will mesh, othertimes you going to have to cut or paste or hem. That''s what rewriting is. This is really just conceptual components tikertoy with a relevancy matrix overlayed.



Generally the problem comes in finding a thorough array of components to play tinkertoy with.


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The problem with clothing an archetype is that there is no good way to select the details of the symbolic version of it to put in your story.



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That is why you have to exhaustively list all possible details and test for relevance, pertinence, viability, dynamic capability (is it action or setting dressing), plausibility -- trust me, it may sound lenthy, but like a long book, it''s still finite.



Like I said, I''ll give it a try.


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The details matter just enough that you can''t decide on a whim, but not enough that the answer is obvious or comes to you in a dream. I believe I mentioned this problem several posts up in this thread.


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Yeah, try it as a graphical representation where you can move the symbols and details around like one of those kits with the furniture you can move around the floorspace. Simply by approaching it from a different POV often does the trick. Be aware this is a very powerful concept proofing tool I have never shared with any other writer for competitive reasons, and the real thing to remember is that when you start working with information in this way, better have a legal pad handy, because it is flowsvilleomatica when it starts working.

The main thing to remember is that the details are finite, can be represented spatially rather than linearly, made to work rationally or representatively (more properly) and then simply converted back into linear form and boom, problems solved. Do I get a promotion for this or something? Wait, let''s see if it works for you first.



*Blink* a graphical representation? Hmmmmm. Actually I''ve been having a bit of trouble visualizing things in this story - the characters, who are supposed to be aliens resembling bird dinosaurs, keep turning into humans when I''m not paying attention. ^_~ But lets see, how the heck could I visually represent the various ideas that have to go into this novel? I already tried tarot cards, but I suppose I could try it again now that I have a slightly more concrete idea of the plot. I tried visualizing the plot as a timeline, taming the fourth dimension by rotating it to be a lower dimension, but that didn''t work. I made notecards and arranged them on the floor. I''m still working on that outline of the first 12 chapters. I could take another stab at trying to sketch the characters. I dunno, have any other methods in your bag of tricks? ^_~


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The way I feel is more like you mentioned about wanting to have accomplished something before you die. I have been writing for 9 years, I want to have a novel to show for it, damn it. (Not swearing at you, just to express my frustration.) I feel that ''this has gone on long enough'' and ''if I don''t finish something I have to admit I''m a poser''.


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Well, first of all, let me say I have faith in you. You can do this. The thing you gotta give yourself a break on is time. Remember Joseph Wambaugh example above. Time is not the deciding factor here, completion is. If that story moves you deeply enough to write it, you will by definition complete it sooner or later. It just have to move you. It has to give you feelings you can resonate with. Often more than not, it is an emotional process more than a technical impediment, there are tools for impediments, the primary one being in your ability to change flexibility in your POV and methods/techniques. Remember, when in doubt, play with it. It''s not a snake. I''ve stories about that, but not for now. Pick that story and those archetypes up, give them a good shake, and show them who''s boss.



Thanks. Lol, "give them a good shake and show them who''s boss" huh? If I knew how, I would. I''m definitely looking for that emotional resonance, I suppose I just have to work on it more. I encountered an interesting advice in a book on how to write romance novels the other day. The writer recommended: Imagine throwing your novel away, into a trash can. Now, if you could save only one piece of it, what would it be? The answer might surprise you. Use that piece as the seed for your next revision, rework everything around it.


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lol. What''s a cistine experience?



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It''s an old story about how when the pope visited michaelangelo quite a way into the chapel ceiling painting process, and complained about how much money he was spending on this cieling while he had to pay for a war at the same time, and that while both were quite long endeavors, one could easily become more expensive than the other. Michaelangelo spoke to him about how masterpieces were quite indifferent to matters of time and money (my producer howls at this part, and I''m not even to the punchline), and that the pope couldn''t possibly understand that aspect of art, when the pope shot right back with a interpretive statement about the project from an artistic standpoint that totally nailed michaelangelos artistic intent better than michaelangelo could have expressed it himself. Michaelangelo looked at the pope in utter amazment as if he''d never seen this side of a man he''d known for years, and possibly had misjudged him all along, and the pope read this like a book and said, "What did you expect, I am the pope." He walked away and told Michaelangelo to finish.



Lol, that''s cool. ^_^ That would be a perfect thing for one of those cool egotistic anime villains to say.


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BTW the 9 chapters turned into 12, and I''m still typing up the outline, so maybe tomorrow.


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By gosh, pinch me if I''m not being a little inspirational. :D



Heh, actually in that particular instance I just realized I had forgotten two chapters, and that things had sorted themselves out enough in my head that I knew what had to go in the next chapter. But yes, you''re definitely being inspirational. :D And so I will go work on the outline and archetypes some more until I fall over asleep.

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Original post by sunandshadow
O_o is it just me, or are these posts approaching novel-length all by themselves?


Yes, they are, and I have to get back to my novel soon.

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Hmm, I was thinking that literary theory included the part of creativity theory that studies how and why people write, which would naturally make both rife with myth and misnomer, etc.[/quote

Nah, one is involved with the study of tangible, relevant existing literary works, and the other is an area of psychology. There''s not a lot of myth in literary theory except in criticism and editorial opinion. Linking the two does not make them subject to the same criteria or interpretive derivation, it simply links them by their causal relations.


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I''m going to continue to argue that great moments in life are relative.



To one''s experience, agreed. Whether that experience is personal by way of external conditioning, or personal by way of self cogniscence, well the difference is of entire orders of perception. You assume all subjects in the test all share the same background, when I see people of advanced age who have never really lived at all, but just acted out experiences they had been conditioned into by institutional academics and media, one is created, the latter is synthesized.

They are completely different, and the real difference meets the test when you remove the conditioning from the human subject and expose for experience and reaction and the conditioned subject cannot originate, merely react with embedded perception. You really ought to consider the distinction between people who are "made" and people who are evolved.

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But seriously, I think that you and I have different sorts of brain chemistry.


Yes, I am a male, and yes, I lived through the sixties and seventies.

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Now, I find adrenaline rushes physically unpleasant.



As you would the cognitive decision to fight or flee, for which the adrenaline is present for in the first place.

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But the point is that I''m pavlovianly conditioned, as it were, to avoid things that give me advenaline rushes. This is why I, normally a very calm sweet-tempered person, will go instantly bitchy if somebody sneaks up behind me and yells ''boo!''. My roommate, being slightly a sadist, loves to find various ways to harass me, but even he know not to scare me because I''ll be pissed off at him for the rest of the day. Note that I don''t watch horror movies, and I prefer psychological thrillers to action movies.
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Cautiously aware of conscientiously avoiding things that give you adrenaline rushes ok, but if you were pavlovian conditioned against them, you''d be behaviorally modified, not self moderating of behavior. One is scarier than a horror story, however, exposure to stimuli can achieve this subliminally, and marketers and advertisers know this better than anyone, save for the real wierdos and the clinical psychaitric professional.

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Continuing on to the fight or flight instinct - I studied this in an intro to psych course, and one of the interesting things that came out in the discussion is that ''fight or flight'' is a misnomer - it should actually be ''fight, flight, or freeze''. I am the type who freezes. Which is why when I think of a physically exhilirating contest thing similar to your example, the closest I come up with is when I played hide-and-go-seek with a bunch of teenagers in a huge building. I hid behind a cabinet for more than an hour, yet I wasn''t bored, I was excited and I enjoyed it, even in spite of the sweat and the spiderwebs. I''ve always loved hide-and-go-seek and assassins and those sort of games. And similarly, being a sniper in hiding, guarding the goal, when I played paintball. I don''t think I would count either of those as being as profound of experiences as the great blackout, or this one time when I went to the lake in the middle of winter and everything looked completely alien, with the waves being frozen and the sand mixed with snow, no colors anywhere and the wind moaning.


It''s clear you have underlying reasons why those particular things are exciting to you, and I am beginning to see a pattern of experience here that indicates to me I was wrong in my statement you have not had peak experiences, you''ve had them, but not marquis style or blockbuster style of peak experience.

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How about alienation? Looking over my experiences it seems that several of them have been based on alienation or it''s converse, being the center of some social activity. Plus of course the epiphany/eureka pattern-discovery I mentioned before.


Aleination would be more of a socialization type of experience, but everyone gets over that as part of normal sociological development, sooner or later. Now, the epiphany, that can clearly be a peak experience, without doubt.

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The same applies to nomads - there are people who have the instinct to always stay close to home, whether home is a physical place or a group of people on the move.


My point precisely. We are all descended from nomadics. This is how life spread, and geneological preferences rose. Despite civilizations best attempts to condition us into settler gatherer behaviors, and they have done a great job of it, no doubt, we were genetically and culturally nomads for dozens of times longer in our history that since civilization arose. That powerful a genetic predisposition simply does not lie around dormant, unless it''s recessive in your generation, then, you are going to have a child named Roald Ahmanhson, or Christopher Columbus.

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Perhaps you know about xenophilia and xenophobia? Xenophilia is the motivating force behind physical exploration and exploration-play, all sorts of sexual preferances e.g. furries and fetishes for a race other than one''s own, much writing of science fiction and fantasy, real and armchair anthropologists, people who wear clothes from or decorate their houses in the style of another culture, and the aesthetic movements of romanticism and gothicism. Xenophobia on the other hand is why people who live in little villages are suspicious of foreigners, why people long for the way things used to be, revere tradition and cultural heroes, and the political/aesthetic movements of isolationism, nationalism, and ''county fair'' or ''country'' art. My theory is that about 2/3s of people are more xenophobic while 1/3 are more xenophilic, and that this evolved as the best way to keep most primitive humans doing things the traditional, efficient way that worked and living in communities where they understood the geography and local food chain, while some wandered around discovering new techniques and places, and stirring up the gene pool by breeding with people who weren''t their cousins (if they didn''t get killed off first). Life would be a big mess if everybody wanted to be an explorer - who would farm and take care of babies and sick people and etc.?


It''s not about wanting to be an explorer, it''s about we already are genetically predispositioned, and historically reliant to be. Machines can do a great job of farming and medicine. Childrearing would most likely stay a naturalistic, humanistic function. And I would add, it''s not an either/or proposition, and your two phobias might suggest, but rather, that things are incredibly disproportionate, and the explorer that is real and part of us all is nicely getting hacked away at, and stripped away at, mostly for the sake of profit, some for the sake of ease, as if that is a cure for dis-ease. Human organisms live longer and healthier starving themselves slightly. That is not just a physical sense I am trying to convey.

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No awakening - I have always played at exploring since I was a child, and I recall even when I was only 8 or so, being specifically aware that I was ''playing'' at it, and that trying to do it for real would be unpleasant and impractical.


I suspect you feel that from an intellectual and lifestyle predisposition, however, it is still true it is part of you, and if all things pleasant and practical were yanked out from underneath you against your will, you would marvel at, and be greatful for, the instincts and abilities you would have to summon to survive such a challenge, and would completely have a new perspective on who and what you were if you had to do it. I''m saying baby steps can''t reproduce the sense of the experience to result in the cognitive gain.


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Lol. It''s true that if someone threatened a child under my care (I''m thinking of my little brother) I would be furious. I probably wouldn''t physically try to attack them though - my first instinct would be to get the child physically out of harm''s way, and my second would be to either call for help or try to guilt trip or bribe the attacker into leaving, whichever seemed more likely to work. If that didn''t work, I would try to retreat, and if I couldn''t do that _then_ I would consider trying to kill the attacker.



/me hums the ad jingle for chevrolet trucks, "The Hearbeat of America."



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I liked looking at Niagra falls as part of a tour better./quote]

/me throws himself down a steep ravine, screaming his last words, "She''s aaaahhh bourgiousiEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! in socialist Roooooooooobbbbbbbbbbbbessssssssssss!!!!"

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Okay now _you''re_ being silly. Women are not inherently beautiful, unless you want to say that human beings are inherently beautiful, which is possibly true for a more metaphorical sense of the word beauty, but then you said you aren''t talking about the beauty of art or mind.


Thank you. Like I said, you are beautiful. Life, dear is beautiful. Females have the power to create life. They have a corner of the market of beauty. You''re telling me you don''t know this. Are you shy or something?


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Mostly it just ticks me off that I don''t get hit on more often. ^_~


Well, there''s a lot of ways to fix that. I date women your age all the time. It''s mental most of the time, attraction. The unknown draws us inexorably. You''re just one of those people who is probably really, really clear. That can often be misdiagnosed (and sadly so) as uninteresting. What kinds of things have you done to alleviate this? Besides the obvious that a bisexual''s dilemma naturally is to never have the choice of loving just one person.

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Nice illustration ^_~ but I still disagree. If something was painted on the moon with big letters so everyone could see it, that wouldn''t make it great, just universally surprising until the novelty wore off, and after that it would be normal and taken for granted.



You''re missing my point, when something is truly and legitimately great, everyone knows it, gets it and marvels at it. The fact it''s painted on the moon is merely the result of the recognition of the former fact. Great to you would be rather subjective. Great to all is completely objective.

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I would argue that to be great, something cannot be commonplace. I would argue that any experience that had an obvious significance to all people would already written about or somehow commercially available, thus commonplace, at least to a degree. Therefore something with an obvious significance that isn''t commonplace must have a personal significance rather than a universal one.


The invention of the telephone was great, as was the airplane. The wheel is up there too. Rock and roll is extremely great. I have guitar picks from Eddie Van Halen and Black Sabbath. Oops, that last one does not qualify. It''s great to me, everyone else just thinks it''s cool.


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I don''t feel that my culture significantly limits my individuality, although it''s certainly true that mass marketing and capitalist economics make it much easier to follow some paths than others.



And ease is the bait with which they manipulate you your entire perceptual media exposed overwhemling sell it now life.

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Then why does political correctness and taboo influence ninety seven decisions a day for the vast majority of citizens?



Because people have the instinct that they want to be approved of and praised by the other members of their community.


No, it is not an instinct, it is a sociological behavior, two entirely different things. Approval and praise are behavioral desires in a tribal and social setting.

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This would be the opposite of thanatos, that suicidal instinct usually inspired by a person feeling that nobody likes them or that their existince harms their community. Also why criminals sometimes feel guilty and turn themselves in even if they would have gotten away scott-free.


Again, this is a sociological or in the latter case, a psychological behavior, not an instinctive one.

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Anyway I''m not the vast majority of citizens anyway, I don''t worry about taboos except as objects for psychological or sociological study, (try dying your hair bright green and see how people suddenly react differently to you), or possible political/legal repurcussions of my actions, which is really more a strategic concern than a personal one. And speaking of taboos and fashion, have you seen the preview of the new John Galliano spring/summer 04 ready-to-wear? This year he went for the theme of ''whore'' and found or invented this translucent yellow fabric that is supposed to look like a condom... I have a url here somewhere if you want. I love John Galliano''s designs. ^_^ If only someone would hire me to do that.


I haven''t seen it. But it sounds fascinating. Wasn''t it Kurt Cobain who said, "Nature is a whore?"


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I can wear pleasingly dramatic goth clothes because someone makes them in a factory and hot topic rents a store in a mall near me and pays employees to sell them to me, etc. I''m perfectly capable of designing a piece of gothic clothing myself, with a bit of work I could probably figure out how to sew it together, but the cost in materials, time, and effort is prohibitive, so I don''t.



Ok, that''s a choice of convenience. Where did you get that? Convenience is such a driver that I think it was behind finding weapons of such massive power in hidden places in the game that a horrifically powerful boss could be melted in a single blast. Player payoff by convenience might also be design flaw, but that is another topic.

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I was studying Japanese school girl uniforms for an anime project and I was astonished to read about all the tiny little ways the girls modify their uniforms, trying to look a little better and be individual without getting caught.


Really? Fight Feudalism through fashion, I always say.

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I wouldn''t think a bridal place would have very interesting fabrics.



It depends on the kind you go to. It''s easier to prototype in silk, satin and lace simply because models will wear it more readily, and, there''s always a bunch of free leftovers they will happily give a man interested in his own designs. They''re all a bunch of dash down the aisle types for pay dirt, but, that''s the tolerance I will exercise to get it for nothing.

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I tried getting upholstery sample books from furniture places, but the samples were''nt big enough to be useful for much. This was all back when I still played with plastic horses - my mom taught my sister and I to sew and embroider by getting us to make clothes and rugs and pillows for the horses. It''s nice working that small because you don''t need to bother with patterns or even a sewing machine, but on the other hand details can be a problem.


Imagine a collection called "IKEA" where everything was vinyl, upholstered and taupe, mauve and beige. What a great protest.


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My general verdict is that it''s too much work



I agree, but my game fashion is important as a revenue center for the entire enterprise, so consistency with the game virtual motif as well as my needs for creative control. There, I said it, I''m a closet director.

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largely because it''s impossible to fit clothes to yourself unless you know a lot more about patternmaking than I do.



I''ve learned some, but I found out there is software that can do this for you, and I am trying the different design and fashion institutes here in SF to see if I can get a look at the software.

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I''m holding out for a computer driven sewing machine that can make whole articles of clothing, and a design program to run it with. Meanwhile I''ll just draw my fashion ideas on anime characters.


I feel you.

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BTW do you have any fashion design sketches hanging around the net somewhere? I would be curious to see them - I haven''t seen them before in the art forum, have I? I remember I put some of my own there a long time ago, and I saw some of Sage13''s there recently, but I don''t recall seeing yours.


No, I''m fanatical about IP, and rarely divulge details about what I am currently working on. It comes from my architecture days, when competing in the high end estate markets, spying was commonplace. Since we did things drawn by hand to spec and detail instead of relying on CAD (something you can do mostly only in the high end custom estate market; it''s not cost effective otherwise in mass manufacture cookie cutter development), we were able to have a more artistic set of design documents which seemed to be effective in impression boards of architectural review, whom looked at drawing all day perfectly printed out, but sterile of pochey and other lighting, dimensioning and artistic details one can do by hand to bring a design to life on 2-D graph paper.

Plus, I have actually had to bring suit once over a copyright violation, and I never want to have that experience again, so I am pretty much self restricting in that department. Besides, my designs are integrated, if you saw my game fashion, you''d know something about my gameworld and gameplay by inductive logic. I trust you, of course, but, not the rest of the internet.

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Just because people are conditioned to find something emotionally moving does not mean that the emotion they feel is fake.


Emotional response can be conditioned, and the experiencer will never realize they are being sold a bill of goods, but, emotions are sales, and that is well known.

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I would probably pick an opal which is almost as expensive. ^_~



The Kemper black opal, which I saw upon the finger of a Kemper themselves (disgustingly old money on the super wealthy scale) is in my new script. I trundled her and her Swiss Banker "friend" around Malibu driving a limo while in Screenwriting school. Pick one of those, please. Please.

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Since weddings are supposed to be imprinted on the minds of the participants and audience as a socially unifying ritual and notice of status change, and also as a reward/celebration for parents seeing their children reach full adulthood, it makes sense that weddings should be theatrical.



I agree, in the ceremonial sense, but spectacle is only one of the five elements of dramatic presentation. You can have a zillion dollar set, a zillion dollar ceremony, and somebody will still come away bored. Why? Because a wedding is not entertainment. Making a wedding entertaining takes away from the ceremonial and spiritual aspects, and is as useful as lingerie on aboriginies. There, I used it in a sentence! Woot!

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I''ve seen some photos of medieval-themed weddings that were absolutely gorgeous. Absurdly expensive? Absolutely. But wort it for the memory? Maybe, if you don''t need the money for something more pressing. Personally I live on room, board, and $200 a month, so I can''t imagine what I''d do if I was one of these people with an income of $60,000 a year, but spending it on a wedding wouldn''t be any sillier than any other idea.



What about giving that to the bride and groom so they could spend the first six months to a year of their lives together without having to go back to work in three weeks like the majority of them do, and they end up saying "it wasn''t long enough" like people say about vacations. Were I to dedicate and spend the rest of my life to the love of my life, I would want to start that thing out in terms of human bonding time, not in terms of we have to get back to work and get our lives started socially engineered lives. All of a sudden, you look back on your wedding as a packaged experience, and realize that you are going to work the next twenty years of your life just to get the time you wanted with the significant other back. People see divorce as a less disappointing option.

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Certainly you don''t think that''s the only purpose of theater, to motivate pathos. Theater, like fiction, had so many purposes that if I tried to list them offhand I would inevitably forget some. Religious ritual is all about behavioral programming - the original point of having a big dramatic wedding was to convince participants and audience alike that "what god has brought together let no man put asunder", in other words to discourage adultery.


Every other thing in life is motivated by pathos, whether you recognize it or not. This is why we drown in drama and drama queens. Because our personal papal procession of an existance demands maximum attention to me, me, meeeeee! Or have you be ascetically avoidant, and just not noticed. We are, and have been since the passing of the rennaissance, in a perpetual state of narcissus narcosis on broad socioligical terms.

The purpose of entertainment is to educate, entertain and enlighten. Edwardian gnosis has reduced that to saying on Sundays, "Good sermon, father" followed by, "Who wants Ice Cream!" Guilt and consumption. The profitable circle of sociological control.

Living life is *not* entertainment, nor theatrical, unless you are a, in show business and earn a living perpetuating that on the masses because they will tune in for momentary transferance, b, not enlightening unless you are disciplinistically applying it in your life everyday, but most of us have to get the spreadsheets done, not reflect in contemplation the day away. The fortunate few do this, and they like to keep it that way, and the way to do that is to preserve the status quo at all costs, even at the cost of truth, justice and human tragedy, which is fine as long as power and institution are unassailed. Remember the old sixties counterculture saying, "Tragedy is the meeting of right and the right?" It''s true. At least I will believe it all the days I live and breath.


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I dislike capitalism (wage slavery), and actually happen to be a socialist, but I don''t think that capitalism and mass-marketing (or organized religion for that matter) create sheep people, they just cater to the 2/3s of the population that have the instincts to be conformists.


Conformance *is* a fear based compulsion. What instituted the fear and the compulsive conditioning that results in the conforming behavior. One simple phrase. ''Fear of Wrathful Vengeance.'' Can you really afford to be a socialist in these times, in the USA? Sound like a luxury only afforded the rich.

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For example I am tempted to argue that obesity is not primarily caused by greed, but instead by laziness/desire for efficiency



I think it caused by institutional consumer food and beverage manufacturers who understand the more they can get you to eat, and the less actual cost they can get you to do so with, something chemicals and economies of scale do quite nicely, the more money they make to make commercials showing happy, well behaved children doing homework quietly in front of a TV set that is off with a perfectly suburban neighborhood of happy action in the BG with a giant bowl of blown hydrogen fried flour and food coloring, salt and sugar in front of them. The perfect accompanyment to any setting, the reassuring, slightly authoritative Martha Stewartesque voice over narrator says matter of factly. Can you say, "N-N-N-N-NAAAAAAAAHHH" little billy?

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I''m saying that the survey results are what I wanted you to assume, and based upon that consider whether it is possible for something that is a fact to truly be absurd. But nevermind, it doesn''t really matter.
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Wait, it does. I suspect the methods used in gathering the data of that survey. I want a full congressional fashion committee investigation, and if we even find *one* spec of Vinyl, you will be Donna Karan''d to the fullest extent of your credit limit.

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Proverbs as literary device, and my point was that you''ve heard a proverb lots of times before, you''re not learning anything new when someone says it to you, but they''re still communicating in reciting the provarb.



Right, they are not learning anything new except one thing; the message is reinforced every time it is heard, subsequently, your belief in the message of the proverb. I cite, "put your tooth under the pillow, and the tooth fairy will come in the night and leave you a coin where the tooth used to be when you wake up."

"Santa brings only coal for the stockings of bad boys and girls, but for the good girls and boys who clean their rooms, do their homework, play nicely and brush their teeth twice a day, well, Santa will bring them toys they will love."

"Work hard and rewards will come to you in time." "He whom believeth in me shall never go astray" - oft quoted in confessionals by child rapists, btw.

The point is, there used to be a saying that we actually need so little, that creating demand for what we want is the only way to get rich. Now, the river we are being sold down is wide, placid, in the best cities in the best neighborhoods, perfectly clean water, played in by the cutest of children in perfect little outfits, watched over by mean median income parents. Man, you can''t even avoid this brainwashing by living in a cave for ten years in a national forest. If you do, you''ll get a ticket.

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They''re communicating that they thing your situation fits the pattern refrenced by the problem, and presumably the moral of the proverb applies to your situation too.


But that doesn''t mean it actually does, it just means that it''s the best associate reference they could recall from all the crap they''ve been conditioned into accepting. "Time heals all wounds." Except cancer. "Love conquers all." But greed "Wish for what you want and it will come true." Except for anything worthwhile.

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This was getting absurdly long, so I''ll reply to the rest in another post.


Well, we''re clearly co authoring some sort of novel it would seems, but we are engaged in a societally induced circling around the common theme dance.

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Sunandshadow wrote:
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You don''t think contentment is natural to philosophers? And that some writers and other artists are philosophers?



Perhaps in a simpler time, when existentialism was an idea and not a force, but the failures of theosophical advance preclude it now. Philosophy questions. Any answer by any method of reason or logic of a contemporaneous question will yield only recognition of necessary change from an unpalatable imbalanced society. There are no easy answers, and if you are asking the right questions, you may be content with the process of discovering answers, but how could one be contented with what one finds if you simply look around?

Philosophical engagement by the artist or writer I think is meant to bring some sense and salve to the chaos around us. But in an utlimately philosophical context, the chaos is still the problem to be solved, and no salve or sense is the solution to the chaos, it is merely something to keep the individual philosopher who is engaged in the questioning and answering process from losing context and experiencing too much discontent.


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Interesting. I would never make self-mastery one of my own life goals. Self-understanding yes, which is good because it allows you to wield yourself in a masterful way, but I always favor adaptability over self-discipline, and I really do think the two are opposing approaches to life that can''t be mixed well.



Dead wrong. Self discipline and adaptablity are the two essential ingredients in self mastery. Self understanding, if you were truly to effectively engage in it, would compet you to be more disciplined by the nature of the process. A real master is both spontaneously creative, but with the tools that are forged by discipline. One cannot be done without the other. So they may not mix well, even though I feel they do for me, but you cannot have one without the other.

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Since my goal is not to get the most out of the world, but instead to be the most pleased and comfortable and entertained within the world, flexibility is the better choice for me.


How can you know without the experience of the aforementioned. How can you really truly know? You cannot be flexible *without* discipline.
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What does seizing the self mean to you in terms of writing?


Writing down what my inner voice of my higher self has to say, without screwing the translation through filtering or unspontaneous reflection, and resultantly knowing pure self, not reflective self.


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Nonono, I crave change. That''s actually one of the originating ideas of my novel - if I were dropped into an alien world, how would I go about adapting to it and learning all the new things?


By relying on your human instincts that would tell you what is basic for all life, and letting that guide your behavior. There was some old sci fi book where a man was stranded or went to the moon, and only amazonian women of a terrible personage ruled. He treated somebody there like a human being, with care, respect, support and their best attempt at understanding, and planted the seeds of destruction for the impirical, domineering queen of the amazons, whom found in herself resultantly the ability to love and surrender, and eventually grew together, life life does.

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Well that''s what I''ve been trying to do. Outlining is my way of putting the idea on paper in some sort of organized form so I can rework it. Doesn''t seem to be working terribly well (but then, I''m having one of my pessimistic days). [/quote}

From what I have been reading, this is receding.

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How do you _know_ it''s an unflawed idea and your passion won''t flag?



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Yeah, forgetting about it and then looking at it again is an essential editing technique. Works for paintings too, actually. So the question is, how much reworking is enough to make flaws sufficiently improbable?



When consistent homogenous results from your best attempts to destabilize, deconstruct, critique and meat cleave your own work compel you to accept the reality that you''ve done the best you can do, and it is up to another set of eyes and another mind to try.

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Is it proportional to the length of what you''re trying to write?



I believe the reason most people go unpublished or unproduced is because they underwrite. A great idea needs to meet more tests than one would readily see to remain truly great, and, while applying those tests, the refinements that come about create the "don''t change a word" value because the objective evaluator can see the desconstruction and critiquing process has already been done, mostly because they cannot find flaw on the first pass, and, on the second read, they smell the strength of the basis of your assumptions (fictional or non), and on the third pass, are reading to really be sure they didn''t make a mistake with the first two impressions they formed about the idea. By the third pass, they can look at somebody up the editorial chaing and say legitimately they gave it three good scrutinies and they couldn''t find fundamental structural errors in plot, char design or narrative flow, and even then, the pros will move it up the chain of command with a caveat such as "there might be a few little things you might be able to pick out, but basically it''s a good story."

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Probably this is a silly question since I imagine I''ll be able to feel it when the idea is good - one of those ''you just know it'' things.


I like the you just know it and the "I tested it for all possible reasons for failure" as well. Just to be sure. It''s your career, after all. Grill it before somebody else will. Catch yourself before somebody else does. After all, you can look at someone and honestly say, "I did the best I could." If the person you are saying that too is a professional editor or producer, you want them to know your calibre for future reliance, because, nobody buys a mystery *before* publication.

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I think that phrase ''the contex in which I create'' is interesting. What might that be?



Your time frame for production. How you develop tools that help you through a manuscript, all the things which contextually constitute an activity you engage in to support and advance your writing. List the things you do, and there''s your context for creation. Tighten it up and you have a faster or more efficient method of producing. All aspects should be analyzed, imo. I generally write nine documents to support a lengthy manuscript. Shorter ones I can do by combing through over and over.

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Well, here are some concepts I want to put in my novel. You tall me if you think any of them are master or super.


I''m at the end of my shift, so I am going to place a marker in the text here to take it up tommorrow. Night.

TO HERE 110803

- There is no such thing as an inappropriate love, or an indecent one. Love, by connecting us deeply to another person (or people) is what makes life meaningful.

- Happiness is working with the ones you love to accomplish something great together that you couldn''t have done separately. This may be raising a well-loved child, creating a work of art, or founding a university.

- If you aren''t loyal to your loved ones with all your heart, you aren''t loyal to yourself; and any system that won''t let you be loyal to yourself doesn''t deserve to have you be loyal to it.

- Caring is about being nice. Passion is _not_ about being nice. Love must be made out of both, like salad dressing made out of oil and water.

- You are only a slave if you think you are a slave; but you are an animal until you can communicate that you aren''t. Being a free, human adult is about living an examined, introspective life while also being careful and caring of those around you.

- Someone must lead and someone must follow and each needs the other and neither is better, you must be whichever one suits your nature (hmm, sounds like a poem idea...)

o_O you can see why it has to be a romance novel - have you ever seen the word love so many times in so few sentences? lol


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But I''m saying that lucid dreams often substitute realism for the meaningful symbols of regular dreams. There''s actually a lack of symbols to interpret when you do the dream analysis, and the same symbols tend to recur with the same interpretation, e.g. I often get malls, greyhound busses, and one particular block of downtown State College.



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Then you could be hunting the second animal behind the tiger as they say in Africa. This is usually the buzzard or hyena. Perhaps it is not the symbol you should be analyzing, but the impression or reaction you have to it immediately after presentation in the theatre of the mind. Trust for certain that one way or another, something is being communicated, and that it is there for you to find, using one method or another, most of which are recognizeable and not infinite in array.

A good example might be to go to a museum and find a painting you like and look at it a long time. Then, move all the way up to the canvas if you can and start to back up slowly. At a certain point, you are going to stop and suddenly realize you are standing exactly where the original painter stood when he or she took a step back from the work and looked at where the composition was going as a whole.

You might find that you have been to that painting a dozen times, and was always standing where you thought interpretation was, and then all of a sudden find that what the original artist intended was in a different places altogether, and the meaning of the picture changes for you instantly and entirely, even though you have looked and enjoyed that painting many times before, but from your point of view and your method of interpretation.

Detectives will tell you sometimes it''s about standing not in other people''s shoes, but in other people places and trying to see with their eyes that gives them the profile they seek to determine behaviors that are as of yet undiscovered.



Hmm maybe. I was very puzzled by my (non-lucid) dream this morning - ''ask and you shall receive'', I suppose. The dream started off with a library in which I was being treated like a second class citizen, then there was a juvenile delinquent qirl. She had three objects (I think one was a nerf football, but I don''t really remember, except that they didn''ty seem to go together) with which she was doing something, but she lost interest and carelessly left them on the ground. I picked them up and put them in the library mailbox where they were supposed to go, but I had to cram them to get them in there. Then, because I had stayed to take care of things while the girl had gone, her butch female parole officer came by and was asking me accusingly if I had done whatever crime the girl had. A storm was starting, and I knew it was going to be an electrical storm, so I warned her and we went to take shelter in the building behind us (which had in the mean time changed from a library to a resturant, a Hoss''s specifically). We got zapped by ball lightning on the way in. Members of my family were in there with a big buffet with lots of desert, and when I came in I was the last in line for the buffet, but everyone was waiting for something, not eating. I got the feeling that it had something to do with a church event; once I knew that I wanted to leave, but I couldn''t because of the lightning. I both didn''t want to eat the food because I didn''t want to even pretend to be going along with the religious stuff (I''m an athiest), yet wanted to eat the food to spite them by having it go to someone it wasn''t supposed to. But mostly I was frustrated and disgusted to be stuck in there. Then I woke up.

My interpretation: The librarian is treating me like a second class citizen because I''m not getting my novel written. The three objects are the three main characters (the football would be Attranath I suppose ), and putting them in the library mailbox is like using them properly, or maybe like sending them to the publisher. The bad girl was (I think) a writer of crappy pornographic romance novels. The parole officer was public opinion. I''m really not sure about the lightning, except that it really felt like it did when I got electrically shocked once, and scared me. The Hoss''s probably symbolized ''living a normal life'' (Hoss''s is the resturant my parents always took us to.) This is probably related to the fact that I was unenthusiastically considering applying for a job at the Outback resturant near me because I''m sick of being broke. The deserts on the buffet = the niceness of having money. They''re waiting because no one I know who has a job seems to get any enjoyment out of the money they make, they always need more.

So the only thing I''m not sure about is what the lightning was, why it suddenly appeared, and why it was keeping me trapped. Usually in my dreams I''m immune to that sort of restricting phenomenon or can find a way around it, but this time I was just stuck. Possibly the being trapped had something to do with the reading public not wanting to read what I want to write, but that doesn''t make a lot of sense since none of the relatives I saw there are big readers. Or maybe it had to do with my religious relatives not being proud of me when they considered my art to be pornography, but I didn''t feel like I was being judged - actually I felt like I was being deliberately charitably misjudged, as a ''strayed-sheep'' just because I was one of the family. I had the impression that they didn''t (yet) have any idea what I had created. That was what was so stifling, that they didn''t see me as an artist of hear what I had to say. But still, why lightning?


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If I do get something useful out of a dream it''s usually a piece of character dynamic, and the problem is that these ideas usually overlap or occupy the same story ''slot'' so they can''t be combined to form plot. The general unhelpfulness of my dreams annoys me.


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Hmm. One night, when you are tired, try to go to sleep someplace noisy or busy, and see what some creative provocation does for your dream interpretation. I know screenwriters who make a hundred thousand dollars a week half to a dozen times a year. They go the wierdest places and do peculiar things simply to try not to see things as they always do, so originality and freshness are not lost upon their highly honed interpretive and expressive faculties.



That''s one of the good things about living in an apartment or a dorm - the background noise is good for dreaming. Where I live now I can even choose whether to sleep on the futon and hear the neighbors, or on the bed and hear the front parking lot. Plus we have an airport and a firestation right next to us...


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The difference is, a symbol is a specific object with definite appearance and characteristics that can be written about directly, while an archetype is an idea that I must find an object or arrangement of objects to clothe it in before I can write about it.


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I am not sure I see the difference still, but let me try. That may be my limitation here. What I think you are saying is that when you are "finding an object or arrangement of objects to clothe it in before you can write about it" (and correct me if I am wrong or do not understand) is the method by which you construct archetypes. This implies you are creating new archetypes beyond the classic archetypes, am I correct here?

If that is the case, then when you are searching for the object or array or arrangement of objects to clothe the archetype in, why don''t you simply construct a grid, and place all possible relative objects in the grid, with the center of the grid reserved for the archetype to yet be born left blank, in the grid around the center of the matrix and begin to test for strengths and weakness of the relationships and relevancies of the array symbologies, prioritize and weight them, and then fill in the center and test the new archetypal construct.



Um. My instinct is to say that wouldn''t work, but I''m not sure exactly why. I mean the grid is a problem because the space in which symbols exist is more than 2D, but I''ve dealt with that problem before in other areas. Let me give an example of a symbol and an archetype. The archetype is the powerful object keyed to the hero by blood or other identifier, which the hero uses in his adventures to get closer to his goal. The symbol is a sword with a ruby in the hilt and runes carved into the blade passed from father to son for generations; or it is a harp with three stars inset in the wood which can only be used by the boy with three stars on his forehead; or it is the dragon which can only be mind-spoken too by the owner who has the right kind of soul to Impresses it on the day of its birth. Anyway I''ll play with this grid thing and tell you how it goes.


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Writing is a lot like engineering, I think. Sooner or later, a complete archetype will emerge, and then you have to test it against the plot. Sometimes it will mesh, othertimes you going to have to cut or paste or hem. That''s what rewriting is. This is really just conceptual components tikertoy with a relevancy matrix overlayed.



Generally the problem comes in finding a thorough array of components to play tinkertoy with.


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The problem with clothing an archetype is that there is no good way to select the details of the symbolic version of it to put in your story.



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That is why you have to exhaustively list all possible details and test for relevance, pertinence, viability, dynamic capability (is it action or setting dressing), plausibility -- trust me, it may sound lenthy, but like a long book, it''s still finite.



Like I said, I''ll give it a try.


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The details matter just enough that you can''t decide on a whim, but not enough that the answer is obvious or comes to you in a dream. I believe I mentioned this problem several posts up in this thread.


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Yeah, try it as a graphical representation where you can move the symbols and details around like one of those kits with the furniture you can move around the floorspace. Simply by approaching it from a different POV often does the trick. Be aware this is a very powerful concept proofing tool I have never shared with any other writer for competitive reasons, and the real thing to remember is that when you start working with information in this way, better have a legal pad handy, because it is flowsvilleomatica when it starts working.

The main thing to remember is that the details are finite, can be represented spatially rather than linearly, made to work rationally or representatively (more properly) and then simply converted back into linear form and boom, problems solved. Do I get a promotion for this or something? Wait, let''s see if it works for you first.



*Blink* a graphical representation? Hmmmmm. Actually I''ve been having a bit of trouble visualizing things in this story - the characters, who are supposed to be aliens resembling bird dinosaurs, keep turning into humans when I''m not paying attention. ^_~ But lets see, how the heck could I visually represent the various ideas that have to go into this novel? I already tried tarot cards, but I suppose I could try it again now that I have a slightly more concrete idea of the plot. I tried visualizing the plot as a timeline, taming the fourth dimension by rotating it to be a lower dimension, but that didn''t work. I made notecards and arranged them on the floor. I''m still working on that outline of the first 12 chapters. I could take another stab at trying to sketch the characters. I dunno, have any other methods in your bag of tricks? ^_~


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The way I feel is more like you mentioned about wanting to have accomplished something before you die. I have been writing for 9 years, I want to have a novel to show for it, damn it. (Not swearing at you, just to express my frustration.) I feel that ''this has gone on long enough'' and ''if I don''t finish something I have to admit I''m a poser''.


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Well, first of all, let me say I have faith in you. You can do this. The thing you gotta give yourself a break on is time. Remember Joseph Wambaugh example above. Time is not the deciding factor here, completion is. If that story moves you deeply enough to write it, you will by definition complete it sooner or later. It just have to move you. It has to give you feelings you can resonate with. Often more than not, it is an emotional process more than a technical impediment, there are tools for impediments, the primary one being in your ability to change flexibility in your POV and methods/techniques. Remember, when in doubt, play with it. It''s not a snake. I''ve stories about that, but not for now. Pick that story and those archetypes up, give them a good shake, and show them who''s boss.



Thanks. Lol, "give them a good shake and show them who''s boss" huh? If I knew how, I would. I''m definitely looking for that emotional resonance, I suppose I just have to work on it more. I encountered an interesting advice in a book on how to write romance novels the other day. The writer recommended: Imagine throwing your novel away, into a trash can. Now, if you could save only one piece of it, what would it be? The answer might surprise you. Use that piece as the seed for your next revision, rework everything around it.


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lol. What''s a cistine experience?



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It''s an old story about how when the pope visited michaelangelo quite a way into the chapel ceiling painting process, and complained about how much money he was spending on this cieling while he had to pay for a war at the same time, and that while both were quite long endeavors, one could easily become more expensive than the other. Michaelangelo spoke to him about how masterpieces were quite indifferent to matters of time and money (my producer howls at this part, and I''m not even to the punchline), and that the pope couldn''t possibly understand that aspect of art, when the pope shot right back with a interpretive statement about the project from an artistic standpoint that totally nailed michaelangelos artistic intent better than michaelangelo could have expressed it himself. Michaelangelo looked at the pope in utter amazment as if he''d never seen this side of a man he''d known for years, and possibly had misjudged him all along, and the pope read this like a book and said, "What did you expect, I am the pope." He walked away and told Michaelangelo to finish.



Lol, that''s cool. ^_^ That would be a perfect thing for one of those cool egotistic anime villains to say.


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BTW the 9 chapters turned into 12, and I''m still typing up the outline, so maybe tomorrow.


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By gosh, pinch me if I''m not being a little inspirational. :D



Heh, actually in that particular instance I just realized I had forgotten two chapters, and that things had sorted themselves out enough in my head that I knew what had to go in the next chapter. But yes, you''re definitely being inspirational. :D And so I will go work on the outline and archetypes some more until I fall over asleep.




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