For some time I have been playing with the idea of writing my own futuristic fantasy stories. This grew from my disappointment in how the stories from a popular sci-fi franchise are written and, in fact, how space operas in general are written. I’d like them to be a bit harder. Not necessarily in the sense of rocket science hard, which is what you may be thinking, but with other plot elements, from warfare, exploration, pacing, economy, the spatial and time span of these stories, the fact that in most you don’t even feel like the vastness of space matters, etc.
I mentioned in the previous post that writing is a very peculiar behavior, with a great chasm between its execution and hypothetical reward. That makes it hard to reinforce, to keep it consistent, comparable to similar activities with equally deferred rewards, like strength sports.
I thought I was being original when I wrote that but reading the papers I had ready for today’s post I noticed I was probably just paraphrasing one of them. It’s from a 1977 paper , which includes an introduction and discussion by a psychologist, but the core of the paper is the novelist Irving Wallace explaining his charts and timekeeping methods he used to become a professional writer.
“The treatment of writing problems offers a special challenge for clinical psychologists. In few other domains do patients pressure themselves to be so spontaneous, original and perfect.”
Those are the first two sentences from a psychology paper on writer’s block and the generation of creative ideas, by Robert Boice, published in 1983  If I were to write a paper on those subjects, I’d probably start like Harry Frankfurt in his book On Bullshit, with something like:
One of the most salient features of the writer’s subculture is that there is so much bullshit.
This is uniquely relevant to the problem of writer’s block too, of course.
I was sure I had already published this post, but I had not. I “remembered” this post when I read The Pulp Archivist linking to my previous posts on writing. He says:
Given that writing has such a separation between the speaker and the audience, it is no surprise that many writers forget about the audience altogether. Many literary novelties are written for the speaker’s sake–such as three codas to a story written in the three persons of point of view–and not for the effect on the audience. The faults tackled in these blogs all boil down to writers forgetting about the audience and focusing on the flash of writing
My answer was “ah, yes, that’s like that thing about the writer vs. reader-based post I had… uh, did I actually wrote that or just thought a lot about it?” Well, apparently, the later. So let’s redress that…
Following on yesterday’s post on POV and expanding on some comments I have read and made here and in other sites, I’d like to write a bit about first-person narrators. I used to dislike them, but this last year I have been reading a lot of books that are technically first-person narrations but most people wouldn’t consider them as such because they are not fiction: memoirs. I actually started reading them because I was quite bored with most fiction and quickly found that these people, many with no formal literally talent, were nonetheless able to explain quite awesome stories. Then it dawned on me that perhaps the reason I had disliked first-person narrators was, quite simply, that they had been misused, badly written, unnecessary.
I don’t feel like writing a story today so I’ll make a post on writing. This post will pull together different issues I have hinted or referenced in other posts, focusing on what I believe has become a serious problem in fiction literature, especially what is known as ‘genre writing’: the death of the narrator. I blame what is known as Deep Point of View, although perhaps a new term would be needed for what I will talk about, perhaps Character-Only Narrative, but Deep POV will have to do because nobody would know what I’m talking about if I start talking about CON.
“Let’s go back to your military… insights,” Corin said. “You are known for your unique tactics. Is there something you believe the standard troops could learn from your experience against the green horde?”
The man with the nose bone scratched his chin and then grinned malevolently with his black teeth. “Fire,” he said. “You need a lot of fire.”
“Firepower?” Corin asked
“No, I mean fire, literal fire. Even the orks are not stupid enough to walk through a blaze.”