Here are a few commentaries and observations designed to fill this space with words. These are especially directed toward those of my readers who are writers.
Which of the two constructions do you prefer? 1) I’m ten years older than him. Or: 2) I’m ten years older than he is.
The quote, “A [fill in your work] is never finished, only abandoned,” has been attributed to several writers. The poet Paul Valery is credited with, “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” Graham Green said, “It,”—referring to a novel—”is never finished, only abandoned.” The novelist E. M. Forster said, “A work of art is never finished. It is merely abandoned.” I’ve even quoted it myself without giving proper attribution, usually referring to novels, rather than poems. And I’ve come to believe the truth in that quotation (whoever you feel is the real author). I’ve just completed a serious revision of the third installment of my sci-fi novels (it’s called “Warrior,” but hasn’t been published yet). The revisions filled in quite a number of plot holes, and smoothed out some awkward phrasing here and there. Now all that is left is to print out the novel (the first time that novel has been printed) and read it in the “paper” stage (see last week’s blog) and read it out loud. And then make whatever changes I feel are necessary. All of that won’t be a simple matter by any means, but it will insure that the novel will be in a reasonably good state, ready for beta readers or critique groups. Yet, based on my experiences with the first two novels, both of which have gone through that “print/read/out loud” phase, small touch-ups will always be possible at any time. It’s true, the novels are never finished; you can always make changes. I just have to be willing to drop them and let them go. And not obsess over small things.
If you have a character in your writing who is angry, and you need to show intense outrage/passion/displeasure/hatred, and you are writing in the 3rd person point-of-view, which way do you like to express it? By having the angry person be the POV character and present to the reader directly his/her feelings ? Or by having the character be not the POV character and letting him/her—and by extension, the reader—view it from a distance? It can be done either way, of course, but does it seem to fit your style of writing better one way or the other? Generally I stick with the indirect way: presenting the anger of someone directly in their head seems too much like telling, not showing.
In this day and age of climate change when storms are getting more and more powerful, and forest fires burn more and more square miles, I’ve noticed that people caught up in these events tend to use a curious method of comparison to try and describe how they sound or feel. Frequently that comparison is to a “freight train.” Most frequently, this is the object of comparison for tornadoes, but it has also been applied to land/mudslides, and even hurricanes. But I’m curious, do most people really know what a freight train sounds like? I’d almost be willing to bet that most don’t. I’ve heard a few freight trains in my life, and though I’ve never heard a tornado, I really wonder if the two sound alike. Anybody know? In this day of long trains pulled by large-horsepower diesel engines, the sound is more of a growl of low pitch and high. I suppose that back in the 1940’s and 1950’s when large steam engines pulled long trains of coal out of the Appalachian coal fields of Kentucky and West Virginia, and they had to literally pound the rails to get it over the mountains, it could have had a terrible rumbling feel, especially considering the power in the exhaust of the mighty engines and the shaking of the ground if you stood too close. But diesels don’t do that much any more. They seem to glide along; there’s no pounding and no heavy exhaust. I wonder if a tornado or mudslide really sounds like that. Anyone have any idea?