A mirror and a window both

In ‘S/Z’, his wonderful, word by word dissection of a Balzac short story, Barthes notes that ‘in the text, only the reader speaks.’ There’s a fascinating point about the process of reading to be drawn out of that. When we read a book, he’s saying, we read it in our voice, hearing the words inContinue reading “A mirror and a window both”

Big things exploding, forever

I was reading about the militarization of space, and ended up pondering the militarization of science fiction TV. Take the Star Trek franchise, for example – a set of shows whose heroes are almost without exception members of the military, working compliantly within military structures to achieve the goals it sets for them. Building onContinue reading “Big things exploding, forever”

The butcher’s apprentice

I’m at home, watching trailers for upcoming movies on Five. Guns, fisticuffs – combat as a fundamental dramatic component. It’s so all-pervasive, you don’t notice it any more. And I’m sick of it. Sick of the reduction of the subtle emotional conflicts inherent in drama to meatheaded literal battles; sick of the constant presentation ofContinue reading “The butcher’s apprentice”

A pirate’s life for me, Pt 2

Well, more on pirate narrative structures. Today, it’s Key Equipment and Supporting Characters, below. What interests me about this exercise is not so much the usefulness of better understanding pirate stories, but rather the way it reflects onto the construction of fiction in general. A story of any kind is an end product of aContinue reading “A pirate’s life for me, Pt 2”

A pirate’s life for me, Pt 1

Well, not much time to write today, so digging through the files I found my ‘how to build a pirate story’ document from a while back. Which set me thinking about how much narrative structure is pre-formed by subject matter in general… So, in honour of general piracy, here’s Part One, dealing with Subtext andContinue reading “A pirate’s life for me, Pt 1”

The weakness / achievement gap

Well, the Alan Wall Guide to Writing has arrived (you can also check out his music here), and skimming through it this morning over my breakfast toast I was already feeling sparked by it. For example, here’s Wall on one of fiction’s key obsessions: ‘Fiction is fascinated by darkness and misfortune, and ‘plot’ is usuallyContinue reading “The weakness / achievement gap”