The Designers progress

I have just about finished the planning for my novel. Not the plot planning, just the “rules of magic and stuff” planning. Which, uh… I might’ve gone a bit overboard. I mean, it’s not extremely complex, but there’s still quite a bit of info the reader will have to understand for the story to make much sense. On the one hand, all the rules give me quite a lot of possible scenarios to play around with, and it will be fun to create dangers and complex situations for the characters. On the other hand, it will be quite a lot to explain to the readers. One must be careful of infodumps or long expositional conversations.

I think the characters could have a book they refer to with all the rules in it, and then I can make that book an appendix or something. That way readers can read through all the rules if and when they want, and when characters refer to the rules, readers will know exactly where to look if they want clarification. Yeah, I think that’s the idea I like best. And, again, it’s not like there are really that many rules, but I like the book within a book idea. Do you think publishers would necessarily like it though? Might be a tough sell. Then again, I’ve seen it, or at least things like it, before, so maybe it’ll be fine. It’s not like I’m inventing a new language.

What do you think?

Is an appendix book a good idea?

  • Yes (50%, 1 Votes)
  • No (50%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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(poll ends on August 21, 2010 @ 23:59 PM EST)

Three Uses of the Knife

In other matters, I recently finished reading David Mamet’s Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama. Um… I definitely agreed with some of it, some I didn’t quite agree with, but through most of it I had no idea what he was talking about. His writing is kind of weird and clunky. My parody of his writing:

We take for granted the anomalies of consistent redundancy. Ever estranged from the drama of everyday life, we look for blessings mixed with enemies among the anachronistic alternatives. But it’s useless, and we cheat ourselves into fulfilling the gluttony of the temptations we seek.

A couple annoying things about his writing:

1) One of the most annoying things is that he doesn’t speak as an author to an audience. Instead, he always uses this all-encompassing first-person plural “we,” as if what he says is true for everybody whether we like it or not. But then when he says something (such as “we abhor introductions to the truths we don’t believe”*) you can’t really tell if that’s what he truly believes or if he’s being sarcastic, if he’s really including himself in the statement or if he thinks that readers and himself are above whatever he’s talking about. We don’t understand why he writes like that… we find it annoying and we want it to change!

*Not an actual quote.

2) Big words. I know, I should pretend to like big words to make myself look smart. I know, they weren’t big words to you because you is smarter than me! But I think it makes the writing clunky. If you’re going to use the confusing first-person plural, at least stop using three or four syllable words when a two syllable word will suffice. Sometimes using a bigger less well-known word is good because it’s more precise. Sometimes you’re just being annoying.

3) No organization. There are a few headers here and there, but overall it’s more of a long essay than a book. Which I guess I just find annoying because I’m not used to reading nonfiction books like that.

4) Politics. If he actually makes any political points, his clunky rhetoric hides it, but now and then it seems like he might be trying to say something political, but then he just sort of tiptoes around it instead of just saying something clearly.

Overall… I guess I’d have to reread the book to take anything away from it. There are some other Mamet books that look interesting, but this one didn’t really do much for me. It was quite short at least. It might be a great book, I just don’t know why Mamet writes as if he doesn’t care if people will understand him or not. He might blame me for this circumstance, but I blame him.

I’m sure I could understand the book better if I went through and made a bit more of an effort, though I’m not sure I’ll do that anytime soon… also, reading some of the 5-star reviews on Amazon, the reviewers tend to write more like he does (as opposed to how I write), so this is quite a subjective matter. I’m not sure the target audience for Mamet’s book is just any wannabe writer though. Not that it’s for more serious (i.e. snob) writers, just for writers with different rhetorical tastes.


3 Comments

Scott · August 20, 2010 at 11:21 AM

I voted no on your poll because I figure that if the rules aren’t clear from your writing of the actual story, you’ve already failed as an author.

Also, it changes the flow while reading the book… because each time a rule comes up, the reader will stop the plot story and look up the rule that was used (and probably think about it a while instead of applying it in context to your story). It makes for an awkward reading experience.

S P Hannifin · August 20, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Yeah, that’s what I was worried about. I would definitely want to make the rules clear from just the story, but some readers are easier to confuse than others… then again, if a reader is confused, having to flip to an appendix may or may not be their idea of a fun experience…

Anonymous · August 23, 2010 at 9:53 AM

make the rules short and imbed them in “forward” kind of thing that no one reads, but often refers back to….

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