how to write good

1) I used to read quite a few blogs by aspiring writers* (back before that blog world was swallowed up by social media), and there were always “helpful” bits of “wisdom” being thrown around, like “adverbs = bad” and “kill your darlings” (in other words, whatever you most love in your story, take it out**) and “never have a preface — always start in medias res” and “if there’s a gun, it has to go off at some point” and so on.

All of these are interesting, more or less, and all of them are easily refuted by great novels by great writers.

Another one was that the key to any story is conflict (the more the better), so I was glad to read this:

Without quite knowing why, I’ve always disliked the truism that conflict is drama’s fundamental ingredient. Yes, we fight and cajole and coax and settle scores: that’s our species, and it’s frequently how we show ourselves onstage. But this bit of craft wisdom—conflict is king—is the handmaiden of a paranoid anthropology, and a limited way of thinking about action and speech. We humans do much more than struggle, will against will. And our talk isn’t strictly coefficient with our need to act upon or influence others for our own ends. Often, to the contrary, it springs from a mysterious overflow of unbidden feeling, more a free gift of sound and syntax—of humor, of love—than a blunt instrument of acquisition. [From this review]

* I frequently had to clarify that I myself am not an “aspiring” writer. I am exactly the type of writer I want to be, and my only aspiration is to get a bit better at it.
** “Be willing to kill your darlings, if necessary,” is actually tolerable advice.

2) Legends of Tomorrow was canceled — there will be no Season 8. Some people are really upset about this (particular because, with Batwoman being canceled at the same time, that’s a whole lot of diversity gone from the world of TV superheroes in one day), but I’m okay with it. With long-running TV shows, some people apparently want a final episode to wrap everything up, but I don’t. I prefer to think they whole story is still going on. Do you want Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to have a retirement party?

Besides, there was a “the Legends all retire” episode, it just wasn’t the last episode of the last season, which was a cliffhanger. It was the episode right before that. So, you can pick whichever ending you want.

3) Moon Knight is done, and I was really glad I subscribed to Disney+ to see it. Pleasantly, it did not depend on my having seen all the other Marvel movies and TV shows. I saw an article that said people are tweeting jokes about how much homework and research you have to do to really understand the new Dr. Strange movie.

The best part of the series was the fifth episode (of six) where the plot stopped completely to delve really deeply into the main character’s DID (dissociative identity disorder) and what caused it. Oscar Isaac (who plays Moon Knight) did an amazing job at showing the different alters and their history. I’ve seen videos by DID systems saying that this was, overall, a good representation of DID (compared to the usual, where there’s often one alter who’s a serial killer or something like that). Since I write (very obliquely) about DID, I’ve learned a lot from this myself.

Moon Knight may or may not get a second season or a movie, but the season we have ended well, and now I can cancel my Disney+ subscription and go back to focusing on The Witcher.

(And I’m thinking it may be time to watch the third season of Twin Peaks…)

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