Tagged: celebrity

Fools Rush In

r-avatarRune Skelley uses an extensive outlining process, predicated on the theory that well begun is mostly done. We devote a large amount of time up front and reap the benefits later. Kent finds this philosophy a natural fit for any kind of moderate- to large-scale project, because it’s a key tenet of best-practices software development: don’t rush into coding, because changes are much more expensive to do in code than on a whiteboard. And there will be changes.

So in fiction, don’t rush into prose. Writing is rewriting, and it’s wise to budget your heavy lifting for the places where it will pay off. Think of it this way: you’d rather spend money on an addition for your house than shoring up a sagging foundation. You expect the foundation to be solid, and if you need to work on it after the house is standing then something has gone terribly wrong.

It’s easy to imagine scrapping an entire chapter, say, once you discover where a story is going. That could happen no matter how detailed your outline was, but it’s more likely you’d be scrapping a line from your outline and never need to compose the chapter in the first place. There are more insidious traps that lack of preparation can create for you, though. Worse than a superfluous chapter is one that’s needed, and has much in it that you’re in love with, but suffers some systemic flaw. The main character’s voice finally coalesces in your head, and now there are passages that simply aren’t in that voice. The subject matter of a conversation needs to change, but you already worked so hard on that dialogue that you can’t hear it any other way.

There are people who extol writing with less structure, and there certainly are writers who have success via a totally unstructured process. Words like “fluid, creative, unhindered,” tend to get thrown around. Just bear in mind these three things:

  1. a sound plan is not the antithesis of creativity; you still need to make stuff up, and an outline doesn’t breathe life into your characters for you — you still have the opportunity to perform
  2. in the words of Dwight Eisenhower, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything,” a phrase which here means your outline will certainly undergo substantial changes once you get started writing, and that’s okay
  3. given a large enough sample of writers, you could find successful ones following any process imaginable; choose or invent a process that speaks to you, but don’t be swayed by anybody else’s results

We’re not asserting that the best writers never have to throw anything away, or he writes best who writes least. Far from it. In addition to an outline, we often generate many pages of apocrypha, prose that’s never intended as part of the manuscript. It helps us get our ear in for the voices, among other things. A lesson we’ve learned is that it’s better not to use our first chapters as the getting-acquainted phase of that relationship, for the reasons mentioned a few paragraphs ago. It’s a ton of work, no mistake, but it’s a smarter-not-harder scenario. Having a good process increases the rewards, although it won’t necessarily reduce the efforts.

How do you approach the initial stages of a new project? What level of structure works best for you?

The Host of My Favorite Music Podcast

  • by jenentirely the wrong kind of inflection
  • turned into wobbly rubber
  • delicately touched the sleeve
  • because of technical embargoes
  • liquor and the jellies
  • with ice in his voice
  • only to force cursing
  • Caesar, the Decembrists, Prince Charlie, Xerxes

The host of my favorite music podcast made the announcement with ice in his voice, and entirely the wrong kind of inflection. Big Jim Caesar, the Decembrists, Prince Charlie, Xerxes and Lolita, and KGI would all be playing Bonnaroo this year, but because of technical embargoes, Liquor and the Jellies (my favorite band), would not. The news seemed designed only to force cursing from me, and I complied, letting loose a stream of profanity that did not stop until my neighbor pounded on the wall. My stomach turned to wobbly rubber when I remembered how much I’d paid for my ticket on Craigslist. I delicately touched the sleeve of my kimono to my cheek to blot my tears of disappointment and fury while inwardly I vowed vengeance against the president’s new War on Synthesizers.

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“Good Evening”

  • by jenred micro-fleece pajamas
  • no one could touch me, not even myself!
  • Prime Minister’s Question Time
  • you want them to smell
  • competitive sort of interaction

“Good evening and welcome to Prime Minister’s Question Time. I’m your host, Margaret Thatcher. The first question tonight comes from Rune Skelley who tweets, “Prime Minister, I’m in the market for a quality pair of red micro-fleece pajamas. What should I look for when shopping?”

“Well, Rune Skelley, the most important thing is that you want them to smell new, and not as if they had been worn during any competitive sort of interaction with a member of the opposite sex. I’m sure you understand what I’m alluding to. I myself used to own a pair of Union Jack micro-fleece pajamas and eventually, after many long nights in Parliament, they smelled so badly that no one could touch me, not even myself!

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I was surely dead!

  • k-avatargathered worshippers in his turnups
  • giggled and tickled the boy next to her?
  • a cocoon of darkness
  • with the skirts of their nightshirts on fire
  • I was surely dead!

I was surely dead! My chances were about as good as a couple of sleepwalking jugglers at a gas station with the skirts of their nightshirts on fire.

My mind writhed in a cocoon of darkness. Was it Marie Curie who giggled and tickled the boy next to her? Did she tickle me?

A farmer, barefoot, gathered worshippers in his turnups. Is he a god to crickets?

 

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The Large, Leather-Bound Collection

  • by jenPoe was teetering
  • old man made an alarming sound
  • sought after by alchemists
  • the thief who stole your necklace!
  • the snowbound ruins
  • frivolity of the poets

The large, leather-bound collection of works by Poe was teetering atop the tall stack of books. The old man made an alarming sound as he lunged to catch it, but the tome was too quick and instead the old man’s hands caught a grimoire sought after by alchemists the world over.

His granddaughter picked Poe up from the ground and straightened the remaining books while the old man looked through the window at the frivolity of the poets and gypsies making merry in the snowbound ruins below his tower.

“Miranda!” he cried, “I spy the thief who stole your necklace!

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“In Any Case, Mr Roosevelt”

  • by jenIn any case, Mr Roosevelt
  • well, that’s one thing
  • relief evident in his expression
  • huge and hairy man clad in
  • a considerable extra expense
  • stroked his luxuriant moustache

In any case, Mr Roosevelt,” Tammy said as she stroked his luxuriant moustache, “it would be a considerable extra expense.”

The president knew that there was relief evident in his expression. It was so difficult to find an escort willing to engage in a menage a trios with himself and a huge and hairy man clad in lederhosen and glitter.

Well, that’s one thing I’m prepared to pay extra for, honey.”

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“Rude Drivers. They Kill People.”

  • k-avatara man in a white spacesuit
  • the greedy bastards
  • workers washing their boots
  • the pilots had been drinking
  • They kill people
  • code word to alert the bodyguard

“Rude drivers. They kill people.”

Steve returned to his magazine, hoping to read in peace until take-off. A man in a white spacesuit had the seat beside him, and seemed determined to pry into Steve’s reasons for everything, up to and including his choice of air travel over the highway.

As he read an article about workers washing their boots as part of a work stoppage, the greedy bastards striking for more pay and more days off, Steve heard a commotion in first class. Some celebrity and his whole entourage were trying to leave the cabin, the spoiled celeb calling out “guacamole!” over and over.

It must have been a code word to alert the bodyguard that the pilots had been drinking.

 

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The Latest Album From My Favorite Band

  • by jenthe Danish East Asia Company
  • emitted a ghostly hiss
  • suicides and bankruptcies
  • the rain poured down
  • with Mussolini making speeches

The latest album from my favorite band, The Danish East Asia Company, emitted a ghostly hiss as it started to play through my headphones. The hiss built into a lush, haunting melody and the lyrics told a story of suicides and bankruptcies as the rain poured down in my ears. The next track was angrier, with Mussolini making speeches in Italian in the samples they had chosen to construct the complex beat.

 

bonus points for using them in order!

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Andrew Lloyd Webber Read the Theater Reviews

  • by jenthey’ve ruined my show
  • sang the last line of the song
  • that fateful morning
  • no one mocked his old lady voice
  • you are so flamboyantly much
  • hung from hooks

Andrew Lloyd Webber read the theater reviews with a sinking heart that fateful morning.

They’ve ruined my show!” he cried.

You are so flamboyantly much more important in your own mind than you are in the real world,” goaded his daughter Catherine.

Andrew looked at her and noticed for the first time that tiny wooden fish hung from hooks in her ears.

Catherine grabbed the paper and read the most scathing lines of the review out loud. “Gary Sinise was not the best choice for the role of Grandma Kittywhiskers. I’d like to say no one mocked his old lady voice, but I can’t. The crowd erupted in giggles repeatedly, most notably at the end of ‘Crazy Cat Lady Blues’ when he sang the last line of the song a cappella.”

Andrew hung his head in shame.

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Hieronymus Warhol Wandered the Arid Australian Outback

  • by jenonly this wasn’t a dolphin or a lion
  • a certain rock
  • It’s the fever
  • the sparkling synapses
  • tiny bubbles from his angelic lips

Hieronymus Warhol wandered the arid Australian outback in search of his spirit guide for three days before discovering a certain rock that spoke to him. By that time Hieronymus was naked, hungry, sunburnt, and severely dehydrated. The sparkling synapses in his overtaxed mind misfired repeatedly as the rock, the beautiful gray rock, told him where to find his spirit guide.

Hieronymus had been expecting a grand and noble creature to guide him on his quest, only this wasn’t a dolphin or a lion. It was Donald Trump.

It’s the fever, Hieronymus thought as he gazed upon Donald Trump spewing tiny bubbles from his angelic lips.

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