Allow me to park my brain out on the doorstep while I gush and savor my fangirl mode.
Item # 1: Here's an interview with ChuckP over at bookslut. He talks about writers and research, viz:
Some writers research in order to write. I write in order to research topics that interest me. Especially if I can meet with other people, in forums from illness support groups to phone-sex hotlines, and learn what other people know best. Every character (really, person) sees the world through a framework of education and experience that they're proud experts about. To write a character, find out what they know best, and THEN you'll know how they'll describe a "hot day." Or a "pretty girl." Plus, when you're talking to someone about their field of expertise (really, just listening) whether it's physics or mythology or finding risky sex, you'll notice how people really SHINE when they talk about what they know well. Being around that shine is reward enough.If you did your research, you might as well determine what sort of language your character will use, i.e., building his/her vocabulary:
It's not so much about "playing dumb" as about creating a wardrobe of phrases and words specific to each character. Me, myself, I almost always start a new topic by saying: "It's funny..." that's my private "bumper music" to seize the listener's attention. It's a throw-away phrase to enroll the listener before you say the important part of your sentence. Most people have a small collection of relative clauses they use to get attention or to manipulate a conversation. For each character, you must find those and stay true to them. Beyond using simple, accurate language, you can use fancy-pants words -- but only to demonstrate what the character knows BEST. The overall language of a story should never swamp the story. Also, with bland words, you get more the "timing" effect of a pause, not sub-vocalized by the reader, a quiet pause that makes what follows more powerful.Also, an accompanying author picture right here: I say not bad, not bad at all. If you want more ChuckP, join his cult and his online workshop here.
Item # 2: Meanwhile, Alex Garland comes out with a novella which uses sleep and dream, with woodcuts by his dad, who insists on calling him "Alexander."
We've been told in writing class that it's very bad form to end a story with "..and then I woke up and it was all a dream," but Alex Garland starts The Coma with this same ruse. I wonder how this one turns out. It's taken him a while to come up with a follow up book, not that he was idle. He wrote the screenplay to the lean mean zombie movie 28 Days Later, which I liked and which is not related at all to the Sandra Bullock movie. I was in Booksale this afternoon and saw a hardbound copy of The Tesseract, his sophomore effort which was set in the Philippines, btw. But it was so damn expensive, I didn't pick it up anymore. To be consistent with the gushing, here's a very broody "Alexander," who doesn't like to have his picture taken:
Item # 3: Lastly, J.K. Rowling quits and abruptly ends the Harry Potter series because she's discovered boys. I. Am. Not. Kidding.