Thursday, February 23, 2012

I say BIG words

When I entered a first sentence crit contest on a blog where the viewers are writers (some of them published), I assumed they would know words I commonly use. Here's my first line.

'Her voice has the timbre of someone chewing on a balloon.'

Apparently I've flummoxed a lot of people by using the word 'timbre.' 'Timbre' meaning the quality of the sound. Timbre is why a violin and a flute playing the same note and pitch sound different.

And by 'flummoxed,' I mean... wait, really? I have to explain that one too? *sigh*

People said I sounded 'like I was trying too hard to be clever.' 'That it sounded as though I'd taken the word out of a thesaurus.' 'Like I was using the word incorrectly.' 'Like it was old fashioned.'

Sorry, but you're talking to a girl who worked 'gallivanting' into a rock song. It was a deliberate word choice, and is completely accurate in both cases. It is not old fashioned - it is a musical definition. I work in music; I don't need to look up the definition of timbre. I don't write by looking up words in a thesaurus. I use the knowledge I already have and write what I know.

If my words are too 'confusing' for you, I suggest you start challenging yourself a bit more when choosing reading material. You will never improve as a reader if you read AT your level. You get better by reading slightly above your level - by challenging yourself!

It seems like in these critique contests, that readers are looking to be confused by other writers' content. One woman commented she 'doesn't know what chewing on a balloon sounds like, and she couldn't imagine it.'

What the flaming fuck? You can't even *imagine* what that would sound like? Sorry, but aren't you a writer? Aren't you used to creating worlds and people in your work? Don't you have to imagine things every day to create a novel? Is it just me who is able to take an imaginative leap when reading someone else's work? (It's not just my entry I'm speaking of. You should see the things that "confuse" some of the critiquers).

I'm not sure if this is because A) they are really that stunned, or B) they are trying to sabotage other writers by leaving negative comments on their entries.

I'm not sure which makes me sadder.

If they ARE that stunned that they can't connect simple dots, or even imagine something, then what does that say about their work? We've either got writers who can't imagine anything, or even infer anything from a sentence, or writers who are trying to sabotage other writers.

Both scenarios sadden me.

Writing seems to get watered down more and more as time goes by. People need things explained for them more and more, they need art to be spoon-fed to their under used palates.

I am not going to water down my vocabulary to appease the illiterati. I am writing what I know and what I love with the tools at my disposal.

We are WRITERS. We are supposed to figure out what we want to say, and then say it as succinctly as possible.

And by 'succinctly,' I mean...

See how ridiculous it gets? Where do we draw the line at dumbing things down for people who aren't familiar with our vocabulary? Do we treat the reader like they are a tiny child, incapable of looking up a word that they aren't familiar with? That said, even children learn to infer an unfamiliar word's meaning from the rest of the sentence.

And by 'infer,' I mean...

I can't assume that you know every word I do. But I can't write my book assuming that you don't know anything. I'm going to treat you like a reasonably intelligent adult. I'm going to write as though you are capable of inference, or at least capable of looking something up in a dictionary if you don't understand it.

I say big words not to show off, but because that word is the one that I need. Sure, I could say, 'Her voice sounds like someone chewing on a balloon,' but even then, there are some of you who can't imagine what I mean. If you can't imagine that, then you shouldn't be reading my work. Go back to board books where everything is spelled out for you, you unimaginative bastard.

I write big words. I say big words. And you should too.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wil Wheaton is an unscrupulous little cretin who lies about his MeeMaw by Dr. Sheldon Cooper, PH.D.

Some time ago there was a fan fic competition where we had to describe how events lead to THIS

picture. I chose to write it as Sheldon Cooper from the hit tv show, The Big Bang Theory. Sadly, I did not win:( Nevertheless, I think I got Sheldon's voice pretty well. I hope you enjoy it. :)

Wil Wheaton is an unscrupulous little cretin who lies about his MeeMaw
by Dr. Sheldon Cooper, PH.D.

The only thing uglier than the orc's face, was the sweater Wil Wheaton's grandmother gave him for Christmas. The only thing uglier than that sweater, was Wil Wheaton's cold, shriveled, black facsimile of a heart. One might dismiss his foul nature as being the result of fame going to his head. That, however, would be a fallacy, as he was diabolical long before he was Wesley Crusher; the sty on the otherwise unblemished face of the Enterprise.

“Yes Leonard?”
“I'm probably going to regret asking this, but what are you writing?”
Sheldon barely suppressed a sigh, and turned away from his laptop.
“I should think it's rather obvious.”
“Indulge me.”
“It's a short story employing my own version of roman a clef, wherein I name names so as to leave out the tiresome ambiguity.”
“It seems sort of harsh, don't you think?”
“Leonard, there is no level too low for Wil Wheaton to stoop to on the road to self gratification.”
“That hardly seems fair. So he's a little competitive.”
“A little competitive? He lied about his MeeMaw! The – and I hesitate to use this word, man is capable of depravities we can only imagine. People need to know about this. They need to know he isn't the precious little dark eyed ingenue he banks on everyone thinking he is.”
“Sheldon, that's libel.”
“It's not libel if it's true.”
“I was right. I knew I'd regret asking.”
Leonard moved to the couch, shaking his head with unsurprised bewilderment. Sheldon sat, clenching his jaw for a moment before he resumed typing.

John Scalzi hadn't always been an orc. He'd once been a successful writer with an enthusiastic, if somewhat niche fan base. All of that had recently changed dramatically. He hadn't made many mistakes in his life, but there was one he had come to bitterly regret more than any other; the day he showed his Pi pie to Wil Wheaton.
Like most epic follies, it had started innocently enough. Two days earlier, John had found a rather cheery pink and white striped box on his front step when he went to get the newspaper after his morning ablutions. It had a note, a standard fan letter, but it was from someone he had met a few times, and trusted. One does not, after all go opening strange boxes left on one's front steps as a rule. Opening it up, he discovered it contained a scrumptious looking pie, with the Pi symbol on the top, made of strips of pastry. 'How delightfully ingenious,' he thought. 'I shall save this gift for my morning coffee date with my good friend Wil.' And so he did...
He should have seen the fiendish, covetous gleam in Wil's eyes when he showed him his prize. The eyes of a zealot held less reverence, as he looked upon his new grail. Too late he heard the words spoken in hushed, fevered tones. An incantation older than greed, aimed at him, him! who had done nothing but try to share a small wonder with a friend. The air suddenly smelled like scorched liver, and the kitchen disappeared. The last John saw of the world as he knew it, was the look of gleeful triumph on Wil Wheaton's face, as he took a picture of the Pi pie with his blackberry.
'My son's girlfriend made me a pi pie! I WIN!' he tweeted malevolently. With his beard crackling with evil, he

“His beard crackling with evil? Come on Sheldon. Really? You don't think that's a little extreme?”
“Need I remind you of the roommate agreement, Section nine; Miscellany; Unsolicited opinions on creative endeavours?”
“Not to mention the fact you are in direct violation of Section seven; Personal space, Sub section C: Reading over Sheldon's shoulder.”
“Fine I'm leaving anyways. I'll be back in twenty minutes with dinner. I assume you want your usual tangerine chicken?”
“Oh, that it truly were tangerine chicken.”
Leonard's eyes rolling are nearly audible as he walks out the door.

With his beard crackling with evil, he lovingly stroked his sweater, for it was truly the source of his power. His pleasure was slightly marred. He knew he couldn't just let John Scalzi live; for he was a wily man. He would let John suffer for a couple days in the barren, volcano filled land he had sent him to, and then pay him a visit to finish the job. Two days ought to be enough to weaken him sufficiently; after all, he was a writer, not a warrior.
John had come to in a land so unforgiving he thought he'd died and been sent to hell. Upon reflection, he realized it couldn't be hell, for Wil wasn't there with him. The betrayal rankled. All because he'd happened to have something that Crusher had wanted. His skin felt too tight, and one glance at his hands, told him the situation was worse than he thought. Banishment wasn't enough, he had also been turned into an orc. If he did happen upon anyone, they would look upon him with terror, and fear, electing to attack him rather than come to his aid. He stripped a dead orc of his armour, and clothes, but saw no sign of what had killed it. He needed water so badly. John had looked everywhere for water, in vain. His tongue cleaved to the top of his mouth, and his throat ached from cursing Wil's name, as much as from the dry heat. There were nothing but volcanoes. After the second day of wandering around, searching for anything, he gave up, and had been laying on the ground, waiting to die.
'Please,' he thought, 'if it's the last thing I do, let me take Wil Wheaton with me to hell!'

He thought it was a hallucination brought on by dehydration, when he saw Wil Wheaton come soaring down the valley on a Unicorn Pegasus Kitten, wielding the largest spear he'd ever seen. The thought of revenge alone was what gave him the strength to stagger to his feet, and pick up the axe, to face his enemy. 'It's going to happen,' he thought. 'Revenge is at hand!'
Alas, it wasn't so. Wil Wheaton wasn't looking for a fair fight. He never had been, for he was above such trivial things. The Unicatasus swiped Scalzi into the side of a mountain like a rag doll. Before he could get up, Wil was upon him, stabbing him violently with the spear. John tried to speak, but only a gurgle came out; his vocal cords had been severed by Wil's spear. Wil stood over John, glaring at him for a moment before speaking in a husky, petulant voice.
“I suppose you want to know why I did it. They always want to know why. Well Johnny, it goes back to when I was eleven years old. I -

“What have you got against John Scalzi?!” Leonard asked.
“I have nothing against the man, in fact I read one of his novels one evening while you and Penny were engaged in coitus. It was rather engaging, and enjoyable. I am of course, referring to the book, not your coitus. No, I find his earlier writings to be much like your work – entertaining if somewhat derivative. What makes you believe I have anything against John Scalzi?”
“You turned him into an orc, and killed him!”
“Correction – Wil Wheaten turned him into an orc and killed him. Really Leonard, if you insist upon mouth breathing over my shoulder, at least pay attention to the plot.”
“I was. Frankly, I don't think much of your plot.”
“Is this another of those social situations where I'm supposed to pretend to care about your opinion?”
“It doesn't matter. Here, eat your chicken. What's your story called?”
“Wil Wheaton is an unscrupulous little cretin who lies about his MeeMaw, by Doctor Sheldon Cooper, PH.D. I think it has a nice ring to it.”
“It certainly has something.”
“Thank you Leonard. That means a lot coming from you.”
“I was being disingenuous.”
“So was I. Bazinga.”

The End