Thursday, February 22, 2007

Boskone 44 - Part 3

Last post regarding Boskone 44. Some notes on the sessions I attended. Attributions, quotes, references, etc., are as best as I could manage or translate from my handwriting. All mistakes are mine.

Panel: Matthew Jarpe

Wanted to meet Matthew for a number of reasons, some rather obscure (e.g. he lives in Quincy, MA which is on the South Shore which is the area where I went to high school though in another town.) Nice guy. Go read his stories. Go buy his book this summer.

Making Writing More Vivid and Memorable
Panel: Judith Berman, Tobias Buckell, Greer Gilman, Glenn Grant, Sharon Lee

A lot of discussion about what it means to be a stylist, how the voice of the work/narrator/character/writer brings out the details for the reader.

Berman: How the words "snap", their rhythm, the way they work with sentences, is important, the sound symbol weight (e.g. flame, flicker, flare). Look at the way machine language is used for nature in Neuromancer.

Buckell: Style, words, story, characters all need to work together. Retype a paragraph of a master writer - slows you down to look at the words.

Gilman: Words have to work for the ear. Read out loud to see if the pulse and tempo are correct. Go to the original source - don't rely on a copy of a copy of a copy of a writer's style. In descriptions, use the right details, not all the details.

Grant: Diction is important. The right word and specific words. Thomas Pynchon has very vivid writing. "English has a poor vocabulary for smells and tastes."

Who/What They Mentioned:
Samuel R. Delaney [Book on Writing?]
Summerland by Michael Chabon
Joan Aiken
Catechism of Cliche by Myles na Gopaleen

Recent Campbell Award Winners Talk
Panel: Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, Wen Spencer

Basically a really big list of up and coming writers and publications. In no particular order. Ready?

Who/What They Mentioned:
Boing Boing

Cassandra Clare
Peter Watson [Can anyone supply a good link?]
Joe Hill
Cherie Priest
Heather Shaw
Tim Pratt
Kelly Link
Ted Chiang
Scott Lynch
Naomi Novik

John Scalzi mentioned something that lit a bulb in my head. He was describing many new SF/F writers as needing to be performers. That there was a dividing line around 1995, corresponding to when the web was taking off. Some writers are on and would essentially stay on the pre-1995 side. The implication to me (and this is just my thought) is that those writers are not going to see long term success.

Again, this is just me rambling. John Scalzi was not putting anyone down or making a pronouncement about who will or won't succeed in this business.

But, to me, this makes sense. Take a look at a handful of SFWA Members. Who has a blog and who doesn't? Who is relying on 'cool', static web pages versus 'hot', interactive web sites? Who is getting out and meeting people and who is home doing the writer thing?

Who is more capable of understanding and using the new media landscape to promote themselves and their books? Is it any wonder that several people at the convention spoke about a renaissance in science fiction right now?

Should I stop asking questions and get to the point of this very long blog post? Is it very late right now? Will you have to wait until the next post?

[I edited this later because it was 3am when I first posted it and I just wasn't happy with the words.]


Blogger Camille Alexa said...


Thanks so much for leading me to Mr. Jarpe last weekend. He's one to keep an eye on.

February 24, 2007 at 1:09 AM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

On the notes for "Making Writing More Vivid and Memorable." Very important lessons those are. Yes, very important. I'm still learning them and experimenting. I'm told I have dialog down. I like making my characters come alive through their words.

February 24, 2007 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

LBB: Yes indeed.

Steve: Same here. I know the rule is show don't tell. Hard to have the characters sitting there describing their surroundings though.

"I say, Jeeves, that is quite the retro-looking molecular disrupter you have there. A nice metallic-blue, like the dyed hair of an aging actor. I see your finger quivering on the trigger, in anticipation of revenge on your long-time nemesis, namely me. If I might make a -"

February 25, 2007 at 7:04 AM  
Blogger Camille Alexa said...


February 25, 2007 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

The old Acme disintegrating pistol trick. And when it disintegrates, brother, it disintegrates.

Yeah. Although that's slight better than, "As you know, Jeeves, the count had stolen my family jewels in the black years of my youth," kind of dialog.

Although you'll find that the way you describe something in the narative will be different than how someone else would describe it. And that's the voice of the author. You could even disect it further by word choice, positioning, tempo, etc. It's just easier to pull those trick in dialog.

February 25, 2007 at 10:22 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home