Hey I Do Stuff

And sometimes it's cool

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This is an excellent writing advice from Chuck Palahniuk. This was first seen on tumblr. Unfortunately, when I clicked on the link, it no longer existed.

But, I still think it’s worth sharing.

writingadvice: by Chuck Palahniuk

In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.

From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not
use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands,
Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred
others you love to use.

The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.

Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d
had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking
sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d
only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present
the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character
wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader
wants it.

Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have
to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d
go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot,
leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the
smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her
butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.

Typically,
writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In
this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against
those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And
what follows, illustrates them.

For example:
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. Traffic
was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her
cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or
there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the
plants for her neighbor…”

Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.

If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.

Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your
story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions
and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking
and knowing. And loving and hating.

Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”

Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.

Present each piece of evidence. For example:
“During roll call,
in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before
he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just
as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”

One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing,
you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your
character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary
character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.

For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”

A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come
by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see
all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No
doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the
line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was
going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up
drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic
accident…”

A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then
you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.

Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.

No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”

Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”

Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.

Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and
words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.

And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”

For example:
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”

“Ann has blue eyes.”

Versus:

“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”

Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details
of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most
basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.

And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters,
you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the
telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”

Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.

(…)

For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.

Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.

“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”

“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”

“Larry knew he was a dead man…”

Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.

Thanks Hiraku! (via wingedbeastie)

(via beginningofourend)

17,927 notes

What about our fans? Are they privileged? Let me tell you about Anders. He was one of two male love interests in Dragon Age II, and the only one of the two that would actually make his intentions known to the player without the player expressing interest first. If you were nice to him, he would make a pass at you, and you could turn him down, and that would be the end of it. And some fans REALLY did not like that.

Some of them asked for a gay toggle; because in a game where there’s mature themes, slavery, death, and none of which we offer toggles for, encountering a gay character? OOH, beyond the pale. They didn’t want to be exposed to homosexuality.

And this one fan on our forums posted that he felt too much attention had been spent on women and gays and not enough on straight male gamers. For all of whom he personally spoke, of course. ‘It’s ridiculous that I even have to use a term like Straight Male Gamers, when in the past I would only have to say fans.’ The purpose of the romances in Dragon Age II was to give each type of fan an equal content. Two romances whether you’re male or female, straight or gay.

How upsetting for this particular Straight Male Gamer to realize he wasn’t being catered to. This was not equality to him, but an imbalance; an imbalance of the natural order. He did not want equality, he’s not interested in equality. To him, from his perspective, equality means he’s getting less. Less options? Actually, no, the number of options we had in that game was actually the same number of options that he would have received earlier. What was his issue was the idea that there was attention being spent on other groups, which SHOULD have rightly gone to him.

Do ALL straight male gamers feel exactly the same as he does? Absolutely not. In the thread where this came up in fact, there was quite a few guys who came in and identified themselves as straight male gamers and said ‘I actually don’t have an issue with that, as long as I receive an experience I enjoy, I think other people should be able to enjoy that too.’ But if you think that Straight Male Gamer Dude is an outlier among our fanbase, you were not paying attention.

This is Anita Sarkeesian, she’s the author of the Feminist Frequency, a blog which examines tropes in the depiction of women in popular culture. You’ve probably all heard about this, it’s a matter of public record, she announced a Kickstarter to start a web series to look at the tropes in video games and she was subjected to a campaign of vicious abuse and harassment by male gamers. Why? Well, because she represents to these guys the loss of their coveted place in the gaming audience. Never mind that we all know Goddamn well that they’re still at the top of the totem pole. What they see themselves losing is sole proprietorship over their domain. That’s what it is.

Everything that is changing about the gaming industry to accommodate these players, to them, is diluting the purity of gaming which has belonged solely to them. That’s what this is all about. And here’s the thing, I’m pretty certain that our industry fears the scrutiny of those guys way more than the scrutiny of everyone else. Because those are the guys that scream at the top of their lungs, they spend their time on every internet forum, they spend their time making Metacritic reviews. Infuriate them, and you become a target. It’s so much easier to say “Well, that’s what our fans are like. There’s nothing we can do.” And that’s bullshit.

They didn’t set the tone, did they? We set the tone. What we put out there, what we permit, whether it’s on our forums, whether it’s on Xbox Live, the things that we permit we are in effect condoning. What happened to Anita, we the industry, are partly responsible for. We’re in part to blame. And if the idea of moral responsibility doesn’t phase you, consider the idea that the time will probably soon come that this will also amount to legal responsibility.

BioWare EA Writer David Gaider speaking on sexism and sexuality in video games (via cleversimon)

(Source: lolitsgabe, via shuffstuff)

193 notes

writeworld:

Writer’s Block
A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

Just some context for below.

writeworld:

Writer’s Block

A picture says a thousand words. Write them.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

Just some context for below.

3 notes

The Gilded Room

The piano looked like it was cut out of the golden room by a scalpel. It sat there, a precise black hole that drew the eye away from the light from the chandeliers, the carefully crafted opulence of the hall and mocked it with its simplicity. It was pure and demanding, and the most human thing in the mansion.

The room was otherwise empty. Alex sat down. This felt illicit, running her hand over the polished fall and lifting it to expose the pale, sallow keys underneath. Pushing down on one, on three was soundless, and she pushed her way to a slow, silent melody using her breaths as a metronome, and then stopped. Her frustrated fingers released a low D that hung in the air for too long, and there was a terrifying satisfaction found there. She began to play.

It was hesitant at first. Her brain and her tremulous thoughts had governance. But her hands soon took control, severed their strings and were set free. She played a popular tune first, and then a modern song, and then, confidence and curiosity rising, her hands danced across the keys to a song she had only heard as a child. The tune was folksy and naïve, and was small in its ambitions, but it rang from wall to wall of the gilded room, touching the light to lay it bare. The cornices, the filigree, the plaster, paint and shabby wooden floor. It was all base. It didn’t respond to her like this instrument, the piano that didn’t quite fit.

There was no imbalance of power here anymore. The piano was giving her back things she thought she’d lost, a different quality of light than what streamed through these windows.  She freely gave it her memories, and a rare touch beyond the tuning up and the vain ditties that were the only things it knew. They were beyond the golden room now, and in a place that could have been, with a muddy heart but a welcoming hearth.  

“Alex? Is that you?”

And now a hurried rise, the closing fall, and a cloth appearing in her hand. She started to polish again. The song was over.

Filed under writeworld prompt

4,432 notes

pixalry:

The Dragons of Video Games Art Series - Created by AJ Hateley and Pythos

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These prints are available for sale exclusively on Gametee, and Pixalry followers get a special discount. Just use the code PIXALRYDRAGONGT5 at checkout to get 5% off your dragon order!

(via beginningofourend)

78 notes

"Don’t wander outside in the middle of a war, you’ll get stabbed."

"Don’t join that weird religion, it’s an apocalyptic cult."

"You need to kill your creepy murderous day-old baby otherwise the world will end."

"Don’t revive me, I’m keeping the souls of 40,000 people free because of convoluted reasons."

God Xena you’re such a fucking know-it-all.

Filed under xena