Posted by: victanguera | July 24, 2012

Diving Back In

Somewhere along the line, I’ve developed a fear of writing. Or maybe more realistically, a fear of critique. A fear that when I let my slightly damaged, and a little convoluted writing out into the world, that I won’t be able to handle the comments received when people don’t get my writing. That as I try to fix that writing, that I’ll make it even less understandable. That I’ll lose the story I tried to tell beneath the story that others want me to tell.

But I finally opened a file and started to write. Not for anyone else, just for me. This is something I started a long time ago. It’s even on the blog buried in the archives. I loved it then. The piece was one of my favourite things I’d ever written. It has this broken, haunted voice–not that I have any idea why–and an air of deep mystery. And it received the most severe criticism of anything I’d ever shown my writing group.

But this story kept haunting me. I still like it when I read it. There are question I want answers for. And that’s how I read. So for once, I’m off to try to to write like I read, not how I think others would want to read what I write (yeah, that sounds complicated when you write it–should have been a hint that it wouldn’t work!).

Wish me luck. I think I’m going to need it. 

Posted by: victanguera | June 15, 2012

Setting as Character Description

Most books I’ve read use some type of personal description to show character (how they dress, body build/size, how they move within a space for example). I’ve come to expect it as a “norm”. I just started reading Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. At the end of chapter five, we are introduced to a new character. The narrator relates a few phrases about regarding what he knows of this person. Then at the beginning of chapter six fleshes it out like so:

Standing in the doorway and glancing round me, I had a general impression of extraordinary comfort and elegance combined with an atmosphere of masculine virility. Everywhere there were mingled the luxury of the wealthy man of taste and the careless untidiness of the bachelor. Rich furs and strange iridescent mats from some Oriental bazaar were scattered upon the floor. Pictures and prints which even my unpractised eyes could recognize as being of great price and rarity hung thick upon the walls. Sketches of boxers, of ballet-girls, and of racehorses alternated with a sensuous Fragonard, a martial Girardet, and a dreamy Turner. But amid these varied ornaments there were scattered the trophies which brought back strongly to my recollection the fact that Lord John Roxton was one of the great all-round sportsmen and athletes of his day. A dark-blue oar crossed with a cherry-pink one above his mantel-piece spoke of the old Oxonian and Leander man, while the foils and boxing-gloves above and below them were the tools of a man who had won supremacy with each.

And just like that, I know that this new person is a sportsman (rowing and boxing), that he has an appreciation for fine art (a dreamy Turner), that he likes boxers, and that he most likely enjoys the ballet. One paragraph, and I already have a presumption about this person–or at least the narrator has conveyed his presumption about this person. It will be interesting to see whether this character validates that presumption, or whether he turns out to be something else entirely.

Posted by: victanguera | June 14, 2012

Word Wednesday #8

For yesterday’s word (really need to do that auto-post thingy), I bring you the word levity. For some reason (maybe the weight of the word), it makes me think of a serious person. But it doesn’t.

From Merriam-Webster:

lev·i·ty noun \ˈle-və-tē\

Definition of LEVITY

1: excessive or unseemly frivolity

2: lack of steadiness : changeableness

Examples of LEVITY

They managed to find some levity in the situation.

<the teachers disapprove of any displays of levity during school assemblies>

Origin of LEVITY

Latin levitat-, levitas, from levis light in weight — more at light

First Known Use: 1564

 

From Dictionary.com:

lev·i·ty   [lev-i-tee]

noun, plural lev·i·ties.

1. lightness of mind, character, or behavior; lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness.

2. an instance or exhibition of this.

3. fickleness.

4. lightness in weight.

Origin: 1555–65; < Latin levitās lightness, frivolity, equivalent to levi ( s ) light + -tās -ty2

Synonyms: 1, 2. frivolity, flippancy, triviality, giddiness.

Posted by: victanguera | June 12, 2012

Write What You… Love?!?

An inspiring and motivational video by Ray Bradbury. It is very interesting that he feels if writing is work (and not fun), we are doing it wrong. And that writer’s block is our subconscious telling us we aren’t interested in what we are writing. Damn subconscious. But I do agree that writing stopped being fun. And guess who has writer’s block?

This is worth watching, if nothing else for his engaging us with a great story—his own.

An Evening with Ray Bradbury

Posted by: victanguera | May 23, 2012

Word Wednesday #7

Hum, gotten really bad at posting I have. (Can you tell I’ve been watching Star Wars lately?)

Today’s word “minatory” is from A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I had to look it up as I had no idea what it meant. Kind of guessed from the context, but wanted to be sure.

From Dictionary.com:

min·a·to·ry [min-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] adjective

menacing; threatening.

mi·na·to·ry adj \ˈmi-nə-ˌtȯr-ē, ˈmī-\

Definition of MINATORY
: having a menacing quality : threatening

Examples of MINATORY

  1. <the novel’s protagonist is haunted by a minatory black specter>

Origin of MINATORY

Late Latin minatorius, from Latin minari to threaten — more at mount

First Known Use: 1532

Related to MINATORY

Posted by: victanguera | May 9, 2012

Now I’m Worried

I entered a contest over on Miss Snark’s First Victim’s blog. One of those Secret Agent things. Now I’m worried. You can read it (and critique), here.

Posted by: victanguera | April 26, 2012

What’s in a Name: Writing Post #357

Stars on Ice is coming to Victoria next month. I found myself wondering if Elvis Stojko would be here.

So that led me to thinking about the names we give our children. Did Elvis Stojko’s mother give him that name on purpose? How could you grow up with the name Elvis and not aspire to some kind of fame?

And this scene popped in to my head:

He sat across from me, a thin kid, hunched into a sweater that probably came from and older brother. The brother who had broad shoulders and probably played on the football team. The boy couldn’t be much older than fifteen, and I might have been generous in my estimation. Red marked his face, and there was no way a razor had never touched that skin yet.

“What’s your name.” I leaned on my elbows, trying to put him at ease. It didn’t help. He scuttled away from me, eyes darting to my face, then his untouched cup of coffee.

“Elvis.” He hunched even deeper into his shirt, as if shying away from his name, hiding himself from the burden of such a great weight.

So, what do you name your characters? Any significance to their name? Is their name a burden? Do they aspire to greatness in an attempt to live up to their moniker?

Posted by: victanguera | April 12, 2012

Capture the Reader

Until recently, if you’d asked me about my reading habits, I would have termed myself a voracious reader. But in the last year, books haven’t captured my interest. I’ve been wading through my 100 books in five years list (and you can see I haven’t made much progress in that department). And it has felt very much like wading. Through the deep end. Without a snorkel.

At my last physical meeting with my writer’s group, we sat and discussed the reasons why we write. Or more accurately, what draws us to what we read. That thought has been in the back of my mind ever since, mostly because my deep love for books seems to have waned, and that worried me. Greatly. Was I depressed and unwilling to acknowledge it? Or just bored with my book choices?

I decided to “read” some books on audio while I knit, hoping to shift something. I listened to A Tale of Two Cities, quickly becoming mesmerized–in fact it is now in my to reread pile, but in a physical copy so I can savour the writing. The characters, the setting, the rich use of words so captivated me that I had to keep listening.

From there, I moved on to Northanger Abbey. Not Jane Austin’s best book. Again, some great visuals, but just not enough to make me want to know what those characters did while I went to work. Because I kind of knew already. I also didn’t feel very compelled to pick up another book after finishing it.

Restless and really starting to wonder about that whole “am I depressed” question, I picked up The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Not on my list of 100 books. But whoosh, off I went. I read the book quickly, unable to put it down. I thought about it during the day. Went to bed hours early so I could read it at night. Almost the instant I shut the cover after finishing, I browsed my bookshelves looking for the next book. That hasn’t happened for a long time! And that’s more my normal behaviour. Thankfully, I picked up another book that has me thinking about the character at random moments, causing a burning desire to read the book whenever I can.

With this book, something clicked in my head. It is that piece that is missing, both for the reason I read and for what I should write. Most of my adult life, I’ve read a large amount of contemporary (leaning to literary) fiction. And most of those books contain a compelling character, but not necessarily a compelling plot. They contain lush, descriptive language of both people and places, setting time and location solidly in my mind. They have situations or characters that come to life in my mind. Think about The Lord of the Rings. This is a book with place set so vividly, it could exist. With people, like hobbits and wizards, that I believe are real. The contain characters and situations that make me think about those people when I put the book down. Wonder where they’ve gotten to in their story and whether I missed something when I wasn’t reading. That is what will keep me reading. Not a race along a convenient plot with nice little dots all neatly joined to form a wonderful little picture.

And what about you? What compels you to read?

Posted by: victanguera | April 11, 2012

Word Wednesday #6

Anyone that knows me knows I’m a bit of a grammar nerd. Incorrect grammar drives me nuts, so when I run across a sentence like “there has to be guidelines”, the muscles in the back of my neck knot up. Involuntarily, you know.

So for today, I bring you the ultimate grammar word. Syntax. Mostly because when I read that, my first though was: “man, don’t you know anything about syntax?” Nerd. Total nerd.

So, from Dictionary.com:

syn·tax [sin-taks] noun

1. Linguistics.

a. the study of the rules for the formation of grammatical sentences in a language.
b. the study of the patterns of formation of sentences and phrases from words.
c. the rules or patterns so studied: English syntax.
d. a presentation of these: a syntax of English.
e. an instance of these: the syntax of a sentence.
2. Logic.

a. that branch of modern logic that studies the various kinds of signs that occur in a system and the possible arrangements of those signs, complete abstraction being made of the meaning of the signs.
b. the outcome of such a study when directed upon a specified language.
3. a system or orderly arrangement.
4. Computers . the grammatical rules and structural patterns governing the ordered use of appropriate words and symbols for issuing commands, writing code, etc., in a particular software application or programming language.

Origin: 1565–75;  short for earlier syntaxis  < Late Latin  < Greek sýntaxis  an arranging in order, equivalent to syntag-  ( see syntactic) + -sis -sis

From Merriam Webster:

syn·tax noun \ˈsin-ˌtaks\

Definition of SYNTAX

1a : the way in which linguistic elements (as words) are put together to form constituents (as phrases or clauses)
b : the part of grammar dealing with this
2: a connected or orderly system : harmonious arrangement of parts or elements <the syntax of classical architecture>
3: syntactics especially as dealing with the formal properties of languages or calculi

Examples of SYNTAX

  1. “I saw that she a cookie ate” is an example of incorrect syntax.
  2. Everyone has good days and bad days. Her syntax is sometimes a world unto itself. But George H.W. Bush occasionally sounded as though English were more foe than friend, and he was an astute president who managed complexity with skill and balance. —Jon Meacham, Newsweek, 13 Oct. 2008
  3. [+]more

Origin of SYNTAX

Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French sintaxe, from Late Latin syntaxis, from Greek, from syntassein to arrange together, from syn- + tasseinto arrange

First Known Use: 1574
Posted by: victanguera | April 5, 2012

Word Wednesday #5

Late again. I wasn’t on the computer at all yesterday as my level of klutz has gone to new heights. Note to self: don’t poke your eye with a dull stick (finger). It’s nasty.

For today’s word, I bring you ruched, a word that Word insists isn’t a word. Yes, this is once again a sewing related word, but if you are anything like me, often our hobbies infuse our writing. Infuse, there’s another great word for you.

From Dictionary.com:

ruche [roosh]

noun

a strip of pleated lace, net, muslin, or other material for trimming or finishing a dress, as at the collar or sleeves.

Origin:
1820–30;  < French:  literally, beehive < Gallo-Romance *rūsca  bark, apparently < Gaulish;  compare Welsh rhisg ( l ) bark, rind

Related forms

ruched, adjective
ruch·ing, noun
From Merriam-Webster:

ruche noun \ˈrüsh\

Definition of RUCHE

: a pleated, fluted, or gathered strip of fabric used for trimming
ruched adjective

Variants of RUCHE

ruche or ruch·ing

Origin of RUCHE

French ruche literally, beehive, from Medieval Latin ruscabark

First Known Use: 1827

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