All posts for March 2022

Ring Around The Story, Pt. 2

More Marvel discussion: On entertainments vs. objects of study vs. role models.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-30 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

With Shang-Chi and the other Marvel films, I keep trying to distinguish between how they function as entertainments (quite good, really), as objects of study (they have useful things in them), and as role models for other projects (terrible). Each of these things needs to be kept distinct from the other, especially if you're trying to make things yourself. It's not always easy.

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Tags: Marvel Comics creativity storytelling

Ring Around The Story

A few thoughts on "Shang-Chi" and the benefits of efficient story construction.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-29 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

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I took a break from writing Shunga-Satori (it's going well) and got caught up with Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings. I don't have much to say about the movie itself — it's fun, go see it — but I think as a creator one can glean some useful lessons from all the higher-end Marvel movies, including this one.

The hard part is avoiding learning the wrong lessons. For one, one should not make everything into an ever-elongating, self-perpetuating megafranchise. I sometimes wonder if the reason so many fledgling creators feel intimidated is because they look at what conglomerates of people do with billions of marketing and production dollars, and wonder how the heck anything their feeble little selves do can ever measure up. That's a mistake. The aim is not to emulate Marvel in terms of what they make or how they make it, because no one person ever does that anyway.

The one great lesson to be learned from the higher end of Marvel's movie productions, as I see it, is that tight, efficient story construction is a treasure beyond price.

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Tags: Marvel Comics movies storytelling

In The Right Spirit

More notes on writing SF&F, as a Buddhist- and Zen-influenced author.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-23 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

Some time back a reader of my work asked me if they felt my interest in Zen Buddhism meant that I was writing, consciously or un-, what amounted to Buddhist SF/fantasy. My reply at the time was something like: I can't deny the intellectual and spiritual debt I owe to those practice paths, but the last thing I want to do is slap a label on this stuff, because that's the fastest way to get people to lose interest in it.

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Tags: Buddhism Zen fantasy religion science fiction spirituality

A Different 70%

"Odds are you know 70% of what there is to know, but everyone knows a different 70%."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-21 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

My friend Steven Savage mentioned a book called DIY MFA, whose advice on writing he summed to me as, "Odds are you know 70% of what there is to know, but everyone knows a different 70%." To that end, the goal is to have everyone pool their 70% so they can each fill in their respective missing 30%. That includes the 70% the teacher knows (or whoever passes for the teacher) getting complemented by the 30% that any of the students have to bring.

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Tags: education writers writing

On The Job Training

I always go back and forth about the value of "formal" education in creative endeavors -- e.g., creative writing classes or MFAs or film school or whatnot.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-20 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

In an article about Francis Ford Coppola's new 4K restoration of The Godfather, there's this line from the director: "I was always making films that I actually did not know how to make and [so I was] learning from the film itself. That’s why my career is so weird." On the job training!

I always go back and forth about the value of "formal" education in creative endeavors — e.g., creative writing classes or MFAs or film school or whatnot. From all I've seen, one genuine benefit of those things is to provide technical knowledge about both the craft and the trade. Japanese actor and director Yoichiro Sai once talked about this, noting that the ones who want most to make films will have all of the existing world of films as their school, and that such folks need maybe six months of the technical basics, not four years. With writing, I think similar rules apply.

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Tags: creativity education writing

A Hundred Films, A Hundred Years

In my humble opinion, here's a great way to spend a few hundred hours.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-18 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

A long while back I bumped into a collection of 100 favorite movies as listed by various folks. I've been mulling my own collection of same for some time, and finally got around to assembling it.

This list is admittedly lopsided. Less than a fourth of it is from before when I was born, and Japanese films are given more representation here than many European or American ones. It's a reflection of my viewing habits, my curiosities, and my prejudices. It also, not coincidentally, provides some insight into what my inspirations as a creator are like.

I could easily list another hundred more runners-up, but these are the top of the heap.

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Tags: movies

Solving The Ego Problem(s)

"Solving the problem is more important than being right." A quick guide for writers.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-16 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

Among the most useful pieces of advice I've ever come across is one repeated often in many forms, but it took Milton Glaser, the artist and graphic designer, to give it to me in the most succinct form: Solving the problem is more important than being right.

Solving creative problems can be even more difficult than solving worldly problems, because the very act of creating something is an ego-bound action. There's really no such thing as egoless creation. The most any of us can do, I guess, is train ourselves not to let our ego get the final word or the upper hand.

It's hard to figure out what's best for the work, to do what's right for the work instead of what makes you feel right. I am no expert at this myself, but I have picked up a few hints along the way about how to take a more egoless approach to one's work.

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Tags: creativity creators psychology writers writing

Science Fiction Repair Shop: Knots Within Knots

The job of a storyteller should not be to make things complex, but to find common threads in complex things. Doubly so in SF&F.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-14 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

It's not complexity I have a problem with in fiction (I said to my friend in a conversation about same), but convolution. I don't hate it when a story has many threads or multiple layers; I hate it when they're there to serve no real purpose except to show off the author's ingenuity.

I don't need the author to demonstrate their ingenuity by making a story convoluted. I need them to do it by making the convoluted things of life coherent, by giving me a lens through which I can understand the messiness and damage of our world.

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Tags: Science Fiction Repair Shop fantasy science fiction writers writing

Shunga-Satori: The First Week Later

The first seven days of writing "Shunga-Satori" convinced me I shouldn't use the word "weird" to talk about this book. Even if it's deserved.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-12 16:00:00-05:00 No comments

This week marked the formal beginning of work on my next novel, Shunga-Satori, about which I don't have a whole lot to say yet other than that it will be ... well, unlike anything else I've done before with the possible exception of Summerworld, and even that's not a fair comparison. But maybe talking about it in those terms is misleading.

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Tags: Infinimata Press Shunga-Satori

Let Me Slide Into Your Inbox

As some of you noticed, I now have a newsletter. Its mission is simple: to bring you the best and newest of All Things Infinimata straight to your inbox, once a week on Monday mornings.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-11 07:00:00-05:00 No comments

As some of you noticed, I now have a newsletter. Its mission is simple: to bring you the best and newest of All Things Infinimata straight to your inbox, once a week on Monday mornings.

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Tags: Infinimata Press newsletter

The Storyteller Is Asleep

On attempting (and largely failing) to stitch together dreams into a narrative.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-08 07:00:00-05:00 No comments

Last night I experienced a long and complex dream which, after awakening from, I spent an hour or more writing down details about. Nothing about what happened in it would make a lick of sense to anyone except me, and maybe that's why I spent so much time assiduously documenting what happened — so that it would make the most sense to me, at the very least. But without some sense of how such things could be made universal, I need to resist the temptation to try and develop this into something other people could partake of.

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Tags: dreams storytelling

The Big Kick

On Brandon Sanderson's big kick(start).

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-03 16:00:00-05:00 No comments

Most of you reading this know by now that Brandon Sanderson spent the last two years secretly writing four new books, and launched a Kickstarter to raise money for their production. Something like eighteen million bucks poured in over the first couple of days. Good for him, and I mean that sincerely, even if I don't care for his work. But all this says far less about the future of publishing than people like to believe.

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Tags: Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter do-it-yourself fandom publishing self-publishing

Short Attention Span Theater

Distraction or recreation? On the meaning of fun.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-03-03 07:00:00-05:00 No comments

I know we're all on edge right now, so I thought I'd help take your mind off Current Events with one of the subjects I turn to whenever things get hairy.

Buddhism, and especially Zen, are about reality as it actually is, about turning down the volume on the soap opera that our senses and emotions lay over it all. When I first learned about this worldview, I was intrigued by it, but worried that it was anti-escapist, that it was in line with so many other belief systems and practice paths that waggled their fingers against having fun. Fun was a distraction. This I did not belief for a moment. Fun was a vital way to engage with life. There's a reason they call it recreation.

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Tags: Buddhism Zen psychology sociology

See previous posts from February 2022

See future posts from April 2022