I don't particularly care if my SF is hard, soft, or mushy; I care whether or not I give a darn about who's in it and what happens.
You've probably seen this one floating around:
I’m seeing a lot of discourse on the difference between science fiction and fantasy today and as a professional sff book editor I want to clear this up: science fictions grow down from the ceiling and fantasies grow up from the floor. Easy. Next!
There's a reason I use the term "SF&F" now. As a lot of the old-school gatekeeping around these things recedes or flat-out dies off, newer generations of creators and consumers have come to the fore with far, far fewer pretensions about what all these labels amount to. I don't particularly care if my SF is hard, soft, or mushy; I care whether or not I give a darn about who's in it and am curious about what happens to them.
With amorality in art, we tend to single out the wrong things to get upset about.
After my post the other day, I wondered some more about the validity of additional taboos against escapes that themselves feel amoral, e.g., violent action movies. And again, I think this is misplaced, if only because we tend to single out the wrong things to get upset about.
In dire times, some people (me included) feel uneasy about seeking escape from the moment they're in.
Sarah Ruhl, in an interview: "During the pandemic, I was drawn to nonfiction because fictional universes seemed almost an amoral escape." I empathized with that statement, while at the same time feeling compelled to disagree with it.
People see your results, not your efforts. By design.
This post is about game design, but it could apply to plenty of things:
Just because you put a lot of time and effort into something...
- doesn't mean it's good
- doesn't mean you will be praised
- doesn't mean it's the end of the world when it flops
Your game is not you. When people say it sucks, they're talking about your game - not about you or your efforts. Don't get defensive when people don't like your game. Don't get angry that people play this stupid mobile microgame made in 6 hours, instead of your creative magnum opus you've put 6 years into. If you can get more people to play your game with less work being done - that's smart. "Start small" is a good advice not only because you have a higher chance of actually finishing the project, but also when it turns out to not be successful, you didn't lose half of your life on it.
People play your results, not your efforts.
Barely. (More on writing draft 2 of "Shunga-Satori")
In his delightful film Day For Night, François Truffaut's character (a film director himself) utters a line I think about often: "Making a film is like a stagecoach ride in the old west. When you start, you are hoping for a pleasant trip. By the halfway point, you just hope to survive." Isn't that how it is for any creative project of scale? Especially a novel where you're forcing yourself to play over your head? Case in point: Shunga-Satori.
No, I have absolutely no idea what's going on with Patreon either.
No, I have absolutely no idea what's going on with Patreon either. I will say at this point any hopes I had of setting up some kind of funding stream through them for my book projects are, and have been for some time, well and truly dashed.
"The 'three-act structure' and the 'hero’s journey', are editing tools, not writing tools."
From the comments on an article:
As a writer, and teacher of writing, I always tell students and colleagues that story patterns, such as the “three-act structure” and the “hero’s journey”, are editing tools, not writing tools. Write your story/script without reference to them, then if it’s not working refer back to them to see if they can throw light on how you can make your story work better. This, as I understand it, is what happened with George Lucas and “Star Wars”: the first draft wasn’t working, then he remembered reading “The Hero’s Journey” as a student, and he used it to rewrite the script and he hit the jackpot. But using such structures as templates or formulas, which people like Chris Vogler seem to be advocating, is disastrous, as Lucas himself discovered with “Willow”. But a number of great film makers have acknowledged that they do keep such basic story patterns in mind when making their films, including George Miller and Baz Luhrmann. The trick is to know when they can be helpful.
Paraphrasing Neil Gaiman: "Make cheap art."
Something has been itching at the back of my mind lately, a dissatisfaction with most media. It wasn’t hatred, just a sense of being unfulfilling. I’m not saying the media were even bad, but I felt something was missing. Instead of trying to scratch this itch, I leaned into it to learn it’s nature.
This sense of unease was tied to a recent interest in old alternative music radio shows, strange zines, audio ephemera, sound collages, etc. Those things were unique, with passion for once-obscure (and still obscure) bands, remixing techniques, personal interests, and so on. Each one was a little ball of itself.
Compared to that, many movies, television, etc. seemed so sterile. Oh, it might be good, but the market is filled with works that look alike, everything is overhyped, and it’s impersonal. There was a lack of connection there. I could enjoy some crappy B-movies more than the big thing I had to see, with a few exceptions (Everything Everywhere All At Once, for instance).
Goodness me, so much to unpack.
First note: if you have not seen Everything Everywhere All At Once, RUN do not walk to the Redbox near you and snap it up.
Second note: The single biggest reason anything not produced for one's own personal fulfillment tends to feel sterile is because there's almost always a ton of money involved. But that also explains why there's all this amazing fertility happening in corners and niches, where people can experiment at low cost, with little risk, and share things with minimal friction. The downside is that publicity remains difficult and expensive, and word-of-mouth is fickle and does not always scale reliably. But you can get the stuff out the door, and that's what matters most.
"What makes dog biscuit packaging an unworthy object of a designer's attention as opposed to a museum catalog?"
I have been reading Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut, and there are a few points in it where he notes how high-minded reformism in the world of design rarely has the desired (read: world-changing) effect. "What makes dog biscuit packaging an unworthy object of our attention," he writes, "as opposed to, say, a museum catalog or some other cultural project? Don’t dachshund owners deserve the same measure of beauty, wit, or intelligence in their lives?"
Bierut is also unconvinced that withholding one's talents as a designer from commercial work will lead to any kind of moral reformation. "What will happen when the best designers withdraw from that space, as First Things First [a manifesto for moral reformation of the graphic design industry] demands? If they decline to fill it with passion, intelligence, and talent, who will fill the vacuum? Who benefits? And what exactly are we supposed to do instead?"
Comparing and contrasting two critics, Roger Ebert and Serge Daney.
I chanced across two discussions of Apocalypse Now, one by Roger Ebert and the other by Serge Daney. Here's an excerpt from what Roger had to say:
"Apocalypse Now" is the best Vietnam film, one of the greatest of all films, because it pushes beyond the others, into the dark places of the soul. It is not about war so much as about how war reveals truths we would be happy never to discover. In a way I cannot quite explain, my thoughts since Calcutta prepared me to understand the horror that Kurtz found. If we are lucky, we spend our lives in a fool's paradise, never knowing how close we skirt the abyss. What drives Kurtz mad is his discovery of this.
Here's a graf from Daney's review:
The sequence most often cited as the best in the ﬁlm (correctly, in my opinion, and I will return to it) in this respect is the helicopter battle. Why? Quite simply because, like Fabrice at Waterloo, we understand that we have never really seen a helicopter. We ﬁnd ourselves below signiﬁcation: a helicopter is a helicopter, nothing more; an explosion an explosion, a death a death. Too quickly, we meet objects that mean nothing to anyone, but that kill. War is primarily that concrete, too concrete place.
The first excerpt is a great example of why Rog was such a good critic. The second is word soup. I've read that graf four times now and I can't begin to make head or tail of what it's about. The preceding and following grafs are no help either, as they go off into equally incoherent spaces.