Because I’m Super-Avoider, Author Who Won’t Write! today…

I read the latest post over at Michelle and Reesa’s blog, then re-read Reesa’s post about the people out there who don’t like your (whoever you may be) story.

I second most of what she said, but I just want to add that I’ve recently encountered two readers whose reactions were… Well, startling. The first one complained because she got the plot outlined in the blurb. Yeah, that was my reaction, too: since when is it a problem to get the story the blurb promises? Maybe on Bizarro Earth, but in this reality?

The second one is a bit more problematic, because the guy makes valid (rudely stated, but valid) points about the story. Only thing is, he’s whining because I wrote the story that was asked for, and it wasn’t what he wanted — however, he wasn’t the one who requested the story.

You can’t really argue with that kind of thing. Well, you can, but you’ll end up a depressed monotreme. I’ve written a couple different responses to the second guy, and am about to draft a third. I have another post to write, first, however.

Apparently, I think you’re stupid.

From the post ‘4 Writing Crutches That Insult A Reader’s Intelligence‘, on Kristen Lamb’s blog, after the usual “NEVER USE ADVERBS OR YOU SUCK” advice*:

In fiction, bold font and italics are almost never acceptable. Again, if the prose is well written, the reader will stress the word(s) in his head. Trust me. We don’t need to hold our reader’s hand, or brain, or whatever.

Bold font I’ll give her, because in fiction, bold font is the exclusive domain of things like chapter headings and the like. Italics, on the other hand… I don’t agree that “well-written prose” automatically equals the reader “stress[ing] the word(s) in his head”. Let’s try an experiment!

Here I have a passage from First Flight, italics removed. Can you tell what’s supposed to be emphasized?

The top came open easily, and he stared. Eggs. LOTS of eggs. More eggs than he’d ever seen in his whole life, as far as he knew. Chris picked one out and held it up, suddenly realizing that he didn’t know how to get them open. He needed help. He needed a tool. He needed… a spoon.

And here’s the same one, with the intelligence-insulting italics in place:

The top came open easily, and he stared. Eggs. LOTS of eggs. More eggs than he’d ever seen in his whole life, as far as he knew. Chris picked one out and held it up, suddenly realizing that he didn’t know how to get them open. He needed help. He needed a tool. He needed… a spoon.

I don’t use italics because I think my readers are stupid. I use italics because I want my readers to have the story the way I see and hear it in my own head. That’s what they’re looking for, after all–the story that I am telling. Don’t I owe it to them to tell it the way it and the characters demand it be told?

As usual, the post ignores dialogue entirely. Here’s another little experiment with italics, this time with Benny and Phil. (This scene is in first-person, from Phil’s agrammatical POV.)

“Will was drunk and he was being silly. Was that it?” I was gonna say no, but he kept talkin’. “Or are you planning to kill me?”

“Kill–Sweet Jesus! What the hell?” I stared at him, my mouth flappin’ ’cause I din’t know what to say about that. Din’t he know me? “What the hell? Why the hell would y’think that? I ain’t gonna kill you, Benny; I ain’t even thought about it. Kill you? You lose your mind or somethin’?”

Benny shrugged. “You’ve heard the other guys talking about that kind of thing. It’s happened before.”

Where does Phil’s emphasis fall? How do those words sound, what cadence do they follow?

Here’s the original version:

“Will was drunk and he was being silly. Was that it?” I was gonna say no, but he kept talkin’. “Or are you planning to kill me?”

“Kill–Sweet Jesus! What the hell?” I stared at him, my mouth flappin’ ’cause I din’t know what to say about that. Din’t he know me? “What the hell? Why the hell would y’think that? I ain’t gonna kill you, Benny; I ain’t even thought about it. Kill you? You lose your mind or somethin’?”

Benny shrugged. “You’ve heard the other guys talking about that kind of thing. It’s happened before.”

So did that make you feel stupid? I hope not, because all that was supposed to happen was that you were supposed to hear Phil’s voice, loud and clear.

I’m the sort of person who, if they were going to insult someone, would make it a bit more obvious than through the use of formatting in my writing.

* Which, to be absolutely fair, she did** temper with the note that one can use adverbs as long as you weren’t pedestrian about it.

** This is non-fiction, so it’s okay to use italics.

I don't get it, at all.

I wandered over to I Write Like…, just to see what it would make of my latest stuff. The first thing I fed it–my 89-page epic featuring extra-dimensional beings and rather a lot of fairly-graphic sex–netted me Margret Mitchell. I'm not sure if it's the sheer length, the fact that one of the character tends to give other characters nicknames which are then treated as their given names, or just why I got that.

However, I can understand getting compared to Ms. Mitchell. What I do not get, on the other hand, is how my air-pirate not-quite-adventure story got me James Joyce. No real sex, some kissing, plenty of proper grammar and punctuation, no run-on sentences (as far as I know)… *Shrug* It's weird, but hey. It also said I write like Dan Brown, so I'm thinking maybe it doesn't know what to do with my stories.

Firefox Vs. Tumblr

Does anyone else have this issue? I go to save an image file from Tumblr in Firefox, and instead of saving it as whatever the extension in the URL is (.gif, .png, .jpg), it wants me to save it as an HTML document. It doesn’t seem to happen anywhere else (LiveJournal, for example), and it drives me crazy.

Also not keen on the whole Tumblrize-plugin-not-working thing, either. *Pokes things*

I write like…

(Shamelessly nicked from Shea Meiers, who writes lovely stuff.)

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Which is just strange. I fed it Nick and Brick, and this is what it comes up with? I’d absolutely love to see the comparison text, just to see how it is that my weird little faerys-and-technology story is at all like King. Other than a few mentions of blood (in a non-horror/injury context) and a couple of mentions of people being executed (in passing, you’ve read the entirety of the gory details), there’s nothing horrible or horrific in it. Granted, it needs to be polished up, but as far as I know it doesn’t have any sentence fragments masquerading as actual sentences…

So then I gave it my hockey players, which got me this:

I write like
Raymond Chandler

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Which is even more Whaaaaaaa?-inducing than Stephen King. I’ve read more Chandler than I have King, but… *Blink* Huh. In the course of looking up Phillip Marlowe‘s name, I discovered this: Underneath the wisecracking, hard drinking, tough private eye, Marlowe is quietly contemplative and philosophical and enjoys chess and poetry. While he is not afraid to risk physical harm, he does not dish out violence merely to settle scores. Which makes the comparison make a LOT more sense, to me.

So after that, I had to know what IWL would make of Benny and Phil. This is what it had to say:

I write like
Mark Twain

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Which makes perfect sense to me — I used the 1st-person POV of someone for whom grammar is one of those things they only deal with when they have to, as Twain did in Tom Sawyer. I don’t remember if Tom ever kissed Becky, but there was definitely some awkward moments of ‘um i think you’re cute’, which fits, too.

And then, just to see what would happen, I gave it Max and Trev to chew on.

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Dan Brown. Dan Brown? How on God’s green-and-oily Earth do they get DAN BROWN out of 126 pages of angsty wittering, a boy in knickers and eyeliner, agrammatical Welsh, and BDSM? Unless it’s not the Dan Brown of the DaVinci Code (or he’s written some stories I’ve missed out on), which is I suppose entirely possible… Hm. Oh well; on the bright side of this result is the fact that someone somewhere said yes to Brown’s work, so there’s that.

I’m not being “difficult”, I truly want to know.

Why is it that all of my stories, whether they contain explicit sex or not, automatically receive the highest (or second-highest) ‘heat’ ratings from certain publishers? How is GLBTAQ? content automatically on equal footing with BDSM/three-/more-some stories?

For example, my bizarre little thing that’s been eating my brain, lately, has a total of four described kisses, all of which are basically pecks on the mouth. That’s it. There’s some passing mention of other kisses, but you’ve essentially read how they’re described, in all of their glorious lack of detail.

Yet, because the kisser and the kissee are both male, according to at least TWO publishers’ guidelines, that story? Has to be rated at least the same as Awydd — which is chock-full of D/s, bondage, spanking, graphic language, and anal sex.

Nick and Brick (who are not twins) haven’t even had more than their pecks; the only “bad” word that’s been used in the story is ‘whore’ (and ‘strumpet’, now that I think of it), but they’re the same as Max and Trev’s Fantasy-Fulfillment Story.

I’m sorry, I really, really don’t fucking get it. I mean, maybe I’m stupid or something — that’s always a possibility — but I can’t see it. I just can’t figure out why I’m supposed to essentially put an R rating on something that’s PG at best, at the moment, just because it’s got a couple of guys kissing in. They claim it applies unilaterally to lesbian, bi, and trans content, too; wonder if that’s really true — after all, everyone knows two girls kissing is hawt, not nasty. [/sarcasm]