Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I hope to get back to pet projects: writing, submitting, and reading more. My Better Writing Through Reading project has gone off the rails again, and I hope to get it back on track. This post is about some of the post Hugos fallout, and while the award proposoal by Jay Maynard leaves a sour taste in my mouth, this idea from Cat Valente seems slightly better. Not that I want to replace the Hugos in any way. I’m sure the non-existent problems of pre-puppy slating will be fixed eventually. Cat’s ideas may have some fun ideas tucked away.
As an aside, I haven’t watched MTV in ages, but I seem to remember the MTV movie awards had categories like Best Kiss and Best Action Sequence, not whole movies, but parts of the stories. Certainly the Best Kisses need buildup to be powerful, so the actual Kiss may not matter all that much, but it is a culmination, a moment, that makes the audience react together.
So I am thinking of doing the same thing. Not awards, really, but as I review stories and novels and try to figure out why they work, I need to start highlighting the bits that really worked for me.
The best example that comes to mind right now is a book I just finished by Ayize Jama-Everett. Even though the book is from 2009, I only read it this year, and it has an amazing passage of a character melting down after the mid-book tragedy. It’s a wonderful passage of processing anger with dreams of revenge, specific painful actions of cruelty, and the character is established well enough to make it possible. I loved it. It’s the kind of passage Raymond Chandler writes when Marlowe is on the brink of losing it, which is the point of hardboiled characters for me: they skim the edge of the dark side, it is so close they can touch it, but they don’t go there in the end. (A noir character is one that lives on the other side that edge.)
I hope to collect little things, best uses of various tropes, best minor characters that deserve their own story, best scene setting, most satisfactory ending, most “gotta read the next book NOW ending” (probably going to Devon Monk at this point). Little things that make stories work.
Mostly, I have to get back into writing and do less coding.