Friday, November 10, 2006

In From the Cold


It may be all those academic years, but I am always on the lookout for odd/neat/useful/ interesting bits of information.
Wheat from chaff sort of thing.
Reading some kinds of fiction is often like slogging through a woods, grimly following spoor, and having a squirrel bounce a nut off your head.
Have reached page 50 in this rather turgid spy thriller - the author seems determined not only to show but to tell in re-cap, just to make sure we get it - and have already found two.
The first ricochete was a character telling her bodyguards not to think between their legs, that she would carry her suitcase, so they would have their hands free to do defensive things - like pulling a pistol.
Damn good point.
Come to think of it, have never seen any security/intelligence types carry stuff on the job.
Made mental note to make sure any characters in that capacity do not lumber themselves with luggage.
The second was more general, like running into a spider's web hung between bushes.
The main character is aware of the subtle ways women convey sexuality or subliminally propose sex. In this instance, he notices how she precisely matched his stride, choregraphing her movements to his, like making love.
Further, when asked for updates on the situation she responds suggestively, telling him it would take all night...or a weekend.
Suggestive inferences. Trigger words, the potential of double entendres. Hell, I've seen that at work and men responding to it on blogs I've stumbled across, but not, unfortunately, in enough romance novels.
Made another mental note to review dialogue in WIP.
Seems that no matter how tedious, no book is a waste of time.

The painting abused for the purposes of this post is Midwinter by Willard Leroy Metcalf.

Gigglers:
Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

25 comments:

Cynthia Bronco said...

Sounds like the banter between my friends. They are relentless and never miss an opportunity!

jason evans said...

The main character is aware of the subtle ways women convey sexuality or subliminally propose sex. In this instance, he notices how she precisely matched his stride, choregraphing her movements to his, like making love.

That's a fascinating point. I love when people dig into the subtlies, not just the cliches.

Ric said...

good post this morning

however, the icy pic was an unwelcome reminder of what's coming.

Bernita said...

Some people are adept at it - all for the fun of language, Cynthia.

Yes, Jason, I thought it was a very interesting point. Body language can convey a lot.
From a writerly point of view, I suppose a character must notice and comment on it, otherwise, it might be missed - and therefore lost - by/on the reader.

Thank you, Ric.
I know! I know!
~shudders~

Robyn said...

Karmageddon...oh my GOD...you are so, like, deep and everything...

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, no one here would get that. First, it's polite if you walk side by side to match steps, and second it's the man who is supposed to match his to the woman's. No sexual inuendo involved.

Though it's one of the many dying little polite-icies. Hard core feminists feel threatened by polite men and have over the years taught them a woman can open a door herself, even when she's balancing a heavy food brick in both hands.

Bernita said...

Hee, Robyn!
However, I can't and don't claim them as mine. All from some contest in the Washington Post.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Suggestive inferences...I guess that fits well with the joke I did today....I love your new words...I especially like the one you used with the joke...LOL

Hey, Novel Journey did an interview with me *shameless plug* for the organization that I direct...go check it out at Novel Journey

anna said...

'Seems that no matter how tedious, no book is a waste of time.'

When I turned 40 I gave myself permission to throw those dogs in the recycle bin, unread and unapologetic even if they did cost 40 bucks. I have never looked back.

Bernita said...

Think he implied more than just politely walking in step, Gabriele.There's a certain focus.
Really gives well-mannered guys the edge, doesn't it?

They are fun, aren't they, Bonnie?
And that was a great interview and smart promotion.
BTW, Miss Snark mentioned you again this morning!

Bernita said...

Shocked, Anna, shocked!
I'll give away books - prefering the Pontius Pilate method - but cannot bring myself to destroy them. Ever.

Steve G said...

We all should be as observant as you. Good food for thought.

Erik Ivan James said...

Body language can be critical to good communications in life. Why not in writing too?

Bernita said...

Steve, I wish!
Like Atwood's jackdaws, I've just stolen some "shiny bits."

The knack, I suppose, Erik, is to make it unobtrusive and natural.

anna said...

ah Bernita, I could never destroy a book either, no matter how dreadful. recycle is the word.

Dave said...

J Michael Straczynski who created a wrote most of "Bablyon 5" TV show, once related a story about the subsequent series "Crusade" where the Studio Execs demanded that he write three scenes to his one scene.

The explanation goes like this:
Scene one - the Admiral meets the wayward and insubordinate character destined to be the new Captain of the spaceship and tells him that he is to meet with the aliens and learn of his mission to save the earth.
Scene two - The meeting complete wtih explanation of who is there and what their roles are.
Scene three - the characters in the meeting discuss the mission after the meeting, in essence providing a recap of the story.

JMS wanted three sentences in one scene for all this backstory. It would happen months later in the story's timeline and about halfway through the first episode. They eventually made the show with two different opening episodes.

One of those openings requires a brain, the other requires merely your presence as a couch potato.

Bernita said...

You're chopping logic, Anna.
Granted the words may not be worth the paper they are written on, but it is the paper you are recycling, not the book.

Guess I'm a couch potato or something, Dave,because I can't see the connection,or did you intend this post to go to Miss Snark and not here?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Thank you on both counts! I must go see!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Egads! Bernita you could have given a sister a clue...LOL...I snorted coffee all over my monitor and started praying in tongues!

Bernita said...

Heh, heh, Bonnie!
My turn to be evil twin.

Dave said...

Maybe I should have said it this way. I think I was a little obscure. ..

You were talking about a novel describing a situation first, and then recapping that description in later pages. In essence, taking the long road to tell a story. All of the secrets are told slowly and langourously.

Alternately, a story can be told in action and move swiftly through the backstory and events and never recap. All of its secrets revealed once and as part of the action.

I don't really know which I think is better.

Or maybe this will work as an explanation:

You can convey sexuality in subtle terms and make it burn slowly, building itself in details of movement, attitude and smart discussion. The final outcome will scorch the pages and linger over many words.
Or you can simply have the two characters get into mental and physical adversity, have lots of witty, sexy verbal battles and then, run into each other's arms at the appropriate point and have, hot, heavy, steamy sex.

I hope that clears up my thoughts.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Dave, it does.
Perhaps I wasn't entirely clear in mine.
I don't think in this book that after showing us, the writer had to hit us over the head with a 2x4 to make sure we "got it."

Dave said...

no, I feel bad. Sometimes I just write the thoughts and leave the connection in my mind. It's a touch of the absentminded scientist in me.

Bhaswati said...

You've got to love those subtle suggestive pointers in fiction. It's a mark of respecting the reader's intelligence in a way. Thanks for the reminder.

I love sarchasm! LOL

Bernita said...

Dave, I don't have your excuse...

I'm always torn beteen the two methods, Bhaswati!
Glad you like them.