Tag Archives: JK Rowling

Search Term Bingo: Round 3(ish)

I was feelin’ kinda down about what I wanted to post about today, so I’ve decided to change it up a bit. Instead of a depressing and introspective look at how the world has changed for writers spun off of the story about Steph Swainston deciding to quite the high pressure job of being a writer and turning to teaching of all things (not that I’m against teaching, but I don’t think you’re going to find it to be a low stress alternative to anything) I’m gonna dip into the search term stack and do another fun and exciting round of Search Term Bingo!

the lexicographer’s dilemma jack lynch,is it any book?

You caught me. It turns out that The Lexicographer’s Dilemma is, much like the NASA moon landing, the death of Elvis Presley and the so-called “Civil War” was nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by the internet itself. Pay no attention to my review of said book. Ignore the Amazon page that lists it. And if you should happen to see it on the shelves of your book store…then you will know that you have finally and truly gone insane. Please consult you psychiatrist.

baby book reviews

I can see where you’re coming from with this. Frankly parents today just can’t know what they’re getting into when they pick up a cardboard book with pictures in it. They don’t have the time to leaf through fifteen whole pages of The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar or Where the Wild Things Are to determine if their offspring is being presented with wholesome and compelling fiction. That is why I’m introducing a new segment of this blog where I will review baby books based on the deep questions of story, character, and how well the pages of the book hold up against saliva and tiny teeth.

free download a prairie home apocalypse or: what the dog … by albert berg

Really? I mean really? I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about people  trying to steal my work until I got to the big time. I guess I thought wrong. And if the book pirates come for me? Ladies and gentlemen, I do not want to sound melodramatic here, but I could stand to loss tens of dollars per quarter. The threat of book piracy is very real my friends. Very real indeed.

the name of the professor of bleach?

Dang, man, I didn’t even know they had classes. I’ve just been mixing it with water and adding it to my whites loads. Are you saying you can actually get a degree in that stuff? Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so skeptical. “Albert Berg, Professor of Bleach” does have a nice ring to it.

normalcy harry potter fanfiction

Yeah, man, yeah. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s like, Harry Potter is this guy, but…get this, he’s not a wizard. And he doesn’t have any powers. And like…he works at a grocery story where nothing ever happens. And then…oh you’re gonna love this, one day he gets into an argument with a customer and he gets called into the office and, okay we’re getting into extreme territory here, but bear with me, what if he gets reprimanded? And then he has to be nice to people because he’s afraid of losing his job. Man, what was J. K. Rowling thinking? This is where it’s at. That’s some serious narrative tension right there.

what does the song the song “the sow took the measles” mean

To really understand The Sow Took the Measles, you must first grasp the early deconstructionist elements present in the mind of the American pioneer. This is not simple a song about the loss of a pig and the ways in which the remnants of the pig are remade into various and sundry useful items, but rather it is a deep metaphor for the loss of the sense of safety the pioneers embraced and the new sense of self they were able to forge from the ashes of their own past.

And that’s about all I think we can stand of that. Incidentally if you were looking for a depressing post about how the world of writing and publishing has changed, check out Chuck Wendig’s blog for today. Because, man, he really know how to get you down.

Stories that Stick

When I was a kid, my dad read me this poem out of a book.  You’ve probably heard it before.  The opening line goes, “One bright day in the middle of the night, two dead men got up to fight.” Ringing any bells? I thought so.

The thing that really stuck with me about that poem, was the fact that everything stuck with me about that poem.  I’m not kidding.  After hearing it one time I was able to recite it back verbatim.  Now, I’m no memory wizz.  Far from it.  In fact it took me nearly two months to learn my new address after the last time I moved.  But that one little ditty has stuck in my mind like glue to this day.

Why?  Well, you can probably give some of the credit to the rhyming scheme.  It’s always easier to remember poetry than prose.  But I’ve tried and I still can’t get past memorizing the first few lines of “She walks in beauty like the night,” so there must be something deeper at work here.

I think the answer is in the nature of the poem itself.  It’s all about opposites.  Night and day, dead and alive, etc.  It’s the contrast between the concepts that makes the poem memorable.  Or to put it another way, opposites stick.

Why should you care? Because as a writer, you’re going to need to make something stick in your readers’ minds; you’re going to want to create characters and situations that will linger long after they’ve finished the book.

Great fiction from all eras of literature makes use of this principle.  Take a look at some examples off the top of my head.

Harry Potter: a boy goes to a school (boooring) to learn to become a wizard (awesome!).  If you’ve read the books you know how well J. K. Rowling combines the boring and familiar elements of school with the fantastical elements of the wizarding world.  And it sticks.

Dexter: A serial killer (evil) works to bring other killers to gruesome justice (goodish). Of course there are other great things about the show, but all the best parts focus on Dexter trying to find the balance between the evil inside him and the mission for good he has taken for himself.  And it sticks.

Robin Hood: A thief (bad) works to bring about social justice (good).  And that one has stuck for hundreds of years.

Wildclown: A private detective (serious) has to dress like a clown (funny).

Zombies: Do I really need to spell this one out for you guys?

There are all kinds of ways you can apply this principle.  Malcolm Gladwell’s non-fiction books are a complete joy to read because he sets up something everyone takes for granted and then carefully shows why it was wrong.  He gives you the perfect contrast between assumption and reality.  And it sticks.

It can even help you in your blog writing.  For instance you might create a blog that starts off talking about a children’s poem and transitions into talking about creating memorable characters and situations.  And, hopefully, it sticks.

Don’t go overboard with it.  You really don’t want to end up with zombie-pirate-ninja-robots in your story.  No, no, you don’t.  I see that gleam in your eye, and it isn’t going to work.  It would be completely ridiculous story, don’t be a fool. Don’t….no don’t you open that word processor.  Come baaaack!

Okay, well for those that are left, I was trying to say that what you need to do is create one memorable thing for your story, one kernel you’re going to wrap this concept of contrast around.  It can be a character, it can be the story world, it can even be an integral part of the way the book is plotted.

It doesn’t have to be complex.  In fact I would argue that when it comes to contrast, simpler is better.  And if you do your job right you’ll create something that will stay with your readers long after they’ve finished the last chapter.

Create that kernel of contrast, and your work will stick for years to come.