three things i like

1. I'm already liking Brave on the Page. I went right away to the "flash essays" and found a bunch of things that seemed like they should be the beginnings of conversations.

Robert Hill wrote a good essay callled, "Why I Write Out Loud'" which reminds me that there's nothing like hearing words out loud. Of course, when I hear my words out loud these days it's my Kindle reading to me, but I've learned things from that.

Steve Denniston wrote this great paragraph:

My church has been an endless source of material. Recently at coffee hour I overheard someone say, "That gun I bought last month? That thing shoots better than i do." I wrote that down because I instantly knew which of my characters would say it and even the chapter it belonged in

My two comments would be:

"So, I'm guessing you're not a Quaker. I don't remember ever hearing anything like that at coffee hour when I was growing up."


"I do know the feeling, despite my complete lack of knowledge of guns. I had to borrow a guitar once, when mine was in the shop and we suddenly got a gig we hadn't expected. I borrowed a Strat, from the best guitarist I've ever met face to face. That thing played better than I did, that's for sure. After the gig, he said to me, 'I liked how you played my guitar.' Nicest thing anybody ever said about my guitar playing."

A piece called "Fish Lake, Yo" by Bart Kind is funny all through. I won't quote it. If you buy a copy of the book, check it out.

Emma Burcart has a piece callled "Wherever I Am." That's where I write, too.

Brian M. Biggs writes "It's All Right to Write and Not Publish." Very true. If you write, you're a writer. People have been telling stories for millennia. The idea of being published is comparatively recent. In a century or two, people may not even remember what "being published" means. But they'll still be telling stories, in some form or other.

Stevan Allred loves Lamy pens. So do I. Pretty much every word I've written for the last ten years (or more) has been written with a Lamy pen.

2. I really liked reading this article: "Dial M for 3-D: Hitchcock’s primer for depicting the third dimension."

This was my argument when Avatar came out and people said 3D was a gimmick. It can be a gimmick, of course, as anything can be, but it doesn't have to be, and Hitchcock demonstrated that in 1954. Seen in 2D, the movie is rather small and stage-bound (I'm trying not to say "flat"). Good and entertaining, yes, but definitely second-level Hitchcock.

In 3D, though, as it was made to be shown (and in a theater, as I was lucky enough to see it a couple of decades ago), everything works and everything makes sense. It is probably still a smidge below Hitchcock's best (what isn't?), but it is a major work of art.

The other pleasant surprise at the end of the article linked to above was this: "There are a tiny handful of modern movies that use 3-D effectively, often those that linger in or return to a fixed set of environments: Henry Selick’s Coraline, Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, James Cameron’s Avatar, even a few sequences in Resident Evil: Retribution."

I thought I was the only person noticing how Paul W. S. Anderson (the director of the last two Resident Evil films, in 3D, and not the same Paul Anderson who directed The Master) has taken to 3D and how well he's using it.

Of course, nobody devotes any critical attention to the Resident Evil films, but there have been really strong sequences in both of the last two, utilizing both 3D and slow motion very effectively.

This movie (Retribution, #5) has some very effective sequences. The beginning gives you pretty much what you expect – a resolution of the cliffhanger that ended the previous movie – but it delivers this in reverse and in slow motion (and in 3D), which could be a gimmick but it's not. And there is also an excellent chase scene (in which Alice rescues the crew of guys who had been sent to rescue her). If you've ever looked at an escalator and wondered what it would be like to drive down one in a car – this is the chase scene for you.

Also, as I talked about before, the RE series has always had a wide variety of female characters, and this movie extends that to include a villain (two, really), a liberal suburban housewife, and a mother. And a daughter. But the problem is the men, who are really not a very interesting lot at all. So, that's a weakness.

But it is a worthy addition to the series, which is (from what I read) going to have one more installment, which is probably about right. It's clearly building to a climax, and you can't sustain these things forever (a series like Star Trek or james Bond is one thing – where each movie is basically a self-contained story – but five or six movies is a long series for movies which basically tell one long story).

3. I read all the time about writers who love writing first drafts and hate editing (or who bravely assert that they love editing, but you can tell they don't).

So, it has come as somewhat of a surprise to me that what I really want to do now is edit. I have an idea for a new story, I have some scenes, I even have an idea of the shape, but I'm not really ready to start. There are two things you need to start a serial story. One is a title, the other is a point of view. I could come up with the former, but I'm still working on the latter.

And, as I think about the new story, what I find myself really thinking about is editing the Jan Sleet mystery stories. I have a lot of great beta feedback, and I know (finally!) what order the stories should be in. So, I'm going to start polishing them up a little ahead of schedule. I know I said I'd wait a year, but the first one ("The Hospital Mystery") was written in 2008, so that's way more than a year.

So, coming soon, "The Hospital Mystery."

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7 Responses to three things i like

  1. Maggie says:

    I’m getting to the point where all I want to do is edit (micro-edit), but I have to finish getting the draft down first, and I’m not sure how long that’s going to take. And quite often, I find myself putting editing off in favor of writing an entirely new story. (So maybe I don’t want to edit quite as badly as I think I do…)

  2. Well, writing is more fun. I imagine this is why NaNoWriMo came first, and is a really big deal, and National Novel Editing Month came much later (and appears to be less popular, at least so far).

    Plus, writing is quantifiable, in ways that editing really isn’t. So, there’s the feeling of word-count achievement. I just went over the Hospital Mystery again and marked the file Final. Then I found a missing comma (admitedly in something I’d just inserted). Editing sometimes feels like it never ends.

  3. I love your take on the essays, Anthony, and so do my writers. I forwarded the link to the ones you mentioned, and they’ve all responded with joy that a reader connected to their work. You’re the perfect example that although I featured Oregon writers this time around, the book is actually about craft and–in that way–not specific to Oregon at all.

    Thanks so much for putting this together!

  4. It was fun. I should also make clear that my selections should not be taken as any sort of slight on the other writers — I’m hopping around the book on impulse, and most of the ones I cited were just the ones which caught my attention first.

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  6. That makes total sense, Anthony! The people you did pick out really enjoyed what you had to say about their work.

    You’re my model of how books should work. Someone (or in this case many someones) writes and publishes that writing, then a reader somewhere else responds to the work from his or her perspective. It’s thrilling, really, to see that happen and that you took the time to respond publicly.

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