Shiny

August 25, 2010 at 5:24 am (Plot, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Shiny, glittering, distractions.

It is how magicians get away with their tricks and it is frequently how movies manage to make even the weakest of stories seem somewhat plausible.

It would seem that in writing, distractions can’t save a poorly written story because you don’t have all the shine and glitter – you certainly don’t have an amazing soundtrack and special effects.

Still, many writers seem to use a bit of shine.

Colourful humour and language to throw the reader off the scent of poorly executed scene.

Flowery language and description to gloss over the massive plot hole.

Throw another dead body into a scene that was feeling like it was going nowhere.

Introduce a new character to hide the fact that one of your other characters has suddenly had a personality transplant.

And the thing is, as an audience member, you frequently allow yourself to be distracted by the shiny because it is fun. Because even though you know that you are being had, that something is missing, what you are being given is still enjoyable and there isn’t really any fun in pulling it to pieces. You know what is going on and you let it happen. At least when it is still enjoyable.

You start to really question the shiny when that is all you are being given. There is nothing else underneath and it isn’t really going anywhere. All you’ve been given is the glossy overcoat and there is no substance. As a reader, a lack of overall substance just can’t be tolerated.

So what shiny distractions do you enjoy reading? Which ones have you used? When won’t you accept a shiny distraction?

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Nouns as Verbs

July 8, 2010 at 5:30 am (Replay) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’m on holidays at the moment but I’m reposting some of the more popular posts from my old blog, Darkened Jade. If you leave a comment I’ll be sure to catch up with you when I get back.

This is a post for the language nut hiding deep inside all of us.

Recently (and not so recently) it seems that every noun is up for grabs. You no longer hit people with a glass, you “glass” them. You don’t search on the Internet using Google, you “Google” something. On and on the list goes of nouns that have been shoved (somewhat forcefully at times) into the position of a verb. You could wonder where this will end up. Will we be telling our kids to “tie their laces” in the future, or will we say “hurry up and lace”. This might sound ridiculous but let’s explore the idea of telling someone to “shoe” themselves. We already “shoe” horses, so why not.

This argument highlights the dynamic nature of the English language and its marvellous ability to be reinterpreted and re-imagined. The only problem is, it is being re-imagined inconsistently, and frequently by people who didn’t understand the original rules to begin with.

I find my biggest problem with this, is that people insist on using ‘hybrid’ forms of ‘new’ English in formal documents and it doesn’t belong. A formal report or essay has to be written in whatever the current standard is in order for it to meet the requirements for that genre, and to be understood by whomever the intended reader may be. Admittedly, many of these terms have already become a standard, in many ways, but the speed at which new language is introduced is at times overwhelming.

I opened the discussion on Twitter for those who had an opinion and admittedly responses were few and far between. The one’s I did receive were as follows:

I guess, as with all language choices, writers need to consider the following:

  1. Who is your intended audience and what will the accept?
  2. What is your intended purpose and what language will help you achieve it?

And here’s the link if you haven’t yet checked out the blurb or excerpt for Death’s Daughter.

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