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Would You Like a Reading?


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#1 Rufus Tullius

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 10:20 PM

Expanding the definition of fun.
 
Writing is a medium of language. Artful reading enlarges our sense of language and understanding.
 
Most of todays reading is done to extract information and discard it once it's used. Artful reading takes the time to appreciate a thoughtful phrase or a nifty turn of words. 
 
Here are some questions to consider:
 
What do you bring to your reading?
Is there an anticipation?
Ever re-read a paragraph because you thought it was beautifully put together; just for the simple pleasure of it?
How about Laughing out loud at some unexpected word play? 
How many times do you return to a book you've read before and found new nuggets of understanding?
Are the words casual?
Refined?
Shifty?
Any disquises in fallacy?
What is the mood?
Is it formal or informal in language?
 
Literary fiction is alive and well. Classic literature gives us the examples for the many tools used by the past masters. Modern masters have taken this classic approach and added many more mediums of language to communicate our current modes of story telling. Humans have come a long way since the old fireside stories of the past.
 
Techno friction is a huge and growing epidemic. How many juxtapositions are artificially driven?
 
Confusion is a common approach to story telling. Juxtaposition is a common device used to portray a decent set of twisted images. A good writer will show the viewer all the twists and turns. Sometimes they're multi layered and offer new directions to explore when re-reading a particularly favorite book or story.
 
This thread will play in tandem with this one:
 
 
 
PortlyCleanBoaconstrictor-max-1mb.gif
 
:chuckle:

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#2 Rufus Tullius

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 09:18 PM

Would you like a reading?
 
Reading is always full of questions.
 
YGT-tarot-lol.jpg
 
:chicken:
 
There are many things to consider in the art of reading. Authors, narrators, and characters just to name a few. This post will focus on Authors and why readers discern their own favorites. It'll ask many questions for the critical reader to consider. First, we'll start with these:
 
How to we get to know an author?
What do we really need to know about the real life of the author to enjoy the work? 
What is the relationship between what we think we know about an author reading their books to the real life person?
What bias' form in your mind?
How does the figure of the author begin to make his presense known in the story?
How does he materialize on the page?
What kind of person writes particular kinds of stories?
Is the aim to instruct? Entertain? Both?
What does an author leave unsaid?
Will the author be a good influence or a bad one?
Does it help your reading experience or is it a hindrance?
 
Authors are like characters in their books. They are not all seeing masterminds creating stories to fool a reader. The authors character will show over the course of the book. A good author asks questions, explores their possibilities, and is willing to lose control. He materializes on the page in the language, form, and structure inside the work itself. The 'implied' author is implicit in the story. He becomes a person we like. 
 
Consider a few more questions:
 
Do we have too much expectations from an author?
How does this influence our approach in getting to know an author? 
What are the striking qualities throughout the piece that distingquish the authors presense? 
Does the voice of the story teller stand out?
Is he judgemental, humorous, gentle, hard, etc.? 
Do any of the characters portray these different qualities?
Are all the characters treated fairly?
Which ones are treated badly?
 
There is more to reading than just extracting information from and about an author. Think about the man who suffers and the man who creates. A mind that frames, develops, and polishes a story provides a rendering or translation of the man who suffers.  
 
A good author does not nesessarily begin a story with a theme or message. A message or moral does not need to come first. It is better to inform rather than confuse readers with undefined symbols and metaphors. Some authors start with ideas that transform information into questions without answers. Making it a process of discovery. Characters often rise up in the process and finish the story. 
 
An author constantly learns and uses all the fancy tricks available in the toolbox of communication. The hard part is learning how to use the tools. Reading helps us to do this. Practice makes perfect.
 
Right?
 
After all, it's the reader who is the final critic of the work. Learning the many tools for an artful reading is crucial to a successful experience.
 
:Flying:

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#3 Feathers

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 01:46 PM

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#4 Rufus Tullius

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 01:47 PM

 

:GoldenSmile1:

 

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I've always enjoyed the narrative style from a good author. It brings the story teller in as a character. A narrator oversees a story's moral value or not. Knowing a bit about the narrative style helps to entice the reader into a more thoughtful discourse. 
 
Refining our reading of the narrator helps to capture our senses within the story. Usually, there are two types of person a narrator can be: 
 
The first and third. Yes, I know, grammar school English. Big deal. Right? Not so. Each has its own flavor in telling a story. So what are their differences?
 
First Person Narration captures the readers imagination by creating a sense of intimacy. It can force a reader into a more active roll by feeling the characters story. It is a direct telling and leaves the reader to figure out what the motives in the story are. First Person likes to ask 'why do we tell stories?" He is the I - the one closely observing the action.
 
Third Person Narration can be laid back and more relaxed. A free and indirect style. The reader knows the narrator is objective. Sort of like an omniscient know it all. Third Person keeps a certain distance from the reader. With third person an author can provide insight that is unknown to other characters in the story. Sorting through all the twisted images and putting sense to it all.
 
Third person can also capture language from one or more characters to give it a first person type of feel. Combining both at the same time allowing the reader to be inside and outside of the character at the same time. Sometimes it's possible to shift between these two narrative characters.
 
Then there are more unusual narrative possibilities to ponder. The use of the 'we' narrator is practical sometimes as an alternative choice. It's a first person plural narrator.
 
So the next time you pick up a book. Read a ways in and ask yourself if this is first or third person. How would the feel of the story change if it were told the other way around. 
 
How narrative moved beyond literary analysis
 
John Lanchester offers a brief take on this phenomenon in the London Review of Books:
 
"Back when I was at university, the only people who ever used the word ‘narrative’ were literature students with an interest in critical theory. Everyone else made do with ‘story’ and ‘plot’.  Since then, the n-word has been on a long journey towards the spotlight – especially the political spotlight. Everybody in politics now seems to talk about narratives all the time; even political spin-doctors describe their job as being ‘to craft narratives.’ We no longer have debates, we have conflicting narratives. It’s hard to know whether this represents an increase in PR sophistication and self-awareness, or a decrease in the general level of discourse."
 
In 1947 it was another Brit, George Orwell, who posited a direct relationship between political corruption and the misuse of language. But Orwell’s attention was fixed on language at the level of words and phrases: the use of euphemism to veil unspeakable horrors; empty slogans meant as a substitute for critical thinking; pretentious jargon designed to lend authority to special interests. While Orwell wrote many powerful narratives – fiction and nonfiction – he showed little interest in theories of political narratives in the way Lanchester describes.
 
The use of narrative for political purposes was not invented in this century or even the last. It is a standard lesson of Shakespeare scholarship that the Bard’s history plays, such as the Richard and Henry plays, tilted the historical record in favor of the Tudor dynasty (the family that gave England Queen Elizabeth I), an act of political dramaturgy that provided the playwright cover and, no doubt, financial rewards.
 
The long journey of narrative described by Lanchester took many professional stops before it arrived so conspicuously in the barrio of spin-doctors, speech writers, and other political handlers. For decades now, narrative theory has wended its way through the worlds of medicine, law, and business management, just to name the most obvious arenas.
 

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#5 Rufus Tullius

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 02:02 PM

Time for a few notes and questions about characters. Without them the reading process would be for naught.
 
What makes them interesting, why are they fascinating, and what makes them stick in our minds and hearts?
What embodiments do they possess which make them smart, full of feeling, what motivates them, their memories and desires, their fantasies and their foibles.
 
In short, what makes them tick. Both their good and bad attributes are important to these decisions.
 
E.M. Forster gave us some dintinctions to look for in his book 'Aspects of the Novel' to help define the process of character development.
 
These are the forms for lead and secondary characters:
 
Difference-Between-Flat-and-Round-Charac
 
Ever notice that niceness almost always prevails at the end of a book? 
Do characters have to be perfect? 
What sort of characters stand out? 
Does an aspect of a flat character bring out the roundness of of the lead character? 
Is the character interesting enough for you to be interested in what happens to him in the story? 
What would you like to see happen to a particular character? Why?
Do the internal struggles and conflicts resolve themselves? 
Does the crisis a character faces reckon itself with the past? 
How do the good attributes change to bad and visa-versa? 
Why are some characters round and others flat? 
Does the character surprise you? 
Does he convince?
 
Look for any juxtaposition to monitor your impressions over the course of a characters development. 
 
Is the image of the self what you want verses what you want to want? Example being: The Ginger vs. Marianne dilemna
 
These are just a few things to look for in your reading of characters. When you start asking these questions it'll open the door to a greater understanding of where your own character development can go through the course of your own life story. Understanding how characters develop as a reader may help tell the tale. Characters and how they interact are what drives any story or narrative. Without them there would be no life worth living...
 
:Flying:
 
 
 
 
 

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#6 Feathers

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 12:56 PM

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#7 Rufus Tullius

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 07:31 PM

Descriptions!
 
They can fun and tedious if long winded. Especially when a lot of tautology is involved. Sometimes a narrator will stop for a moment and fill the reader in on all the people, places, and things around the character. There is a tendency in older literature to provide a more detailed description in the imagery presented. I think it's because describing imagery has changed over time with the introduction of photography and moving pictures. This gives people of today greater choices in imagery to use in describing their own stories. Script writers and play writes use lots of descriptors in their work. Visual props in the mind give it pop and clarity.
 
When does a description become too tiresome for the reader? 
 
(twitter! short descriptors gone viral) 
 
I recall a massive and drawn out description in Victor Hugo's epic Les Miserbales. Toward the end when Paris is blazing with revolution. The hero, Jean Valjean, goes into the Paris sewer system to escape the conflagrations above. Hugo's description of the Paris sewers is immense. A whole chapter explaining the centuries of mazes built under the city give it a vivid appeal. After reading it you gain an understanding of the history of the city involved. 
 
What other kinds of questions can be asked about this kind of treatment in description? Especially in a place as dark and dank as a sewer. Does it reflect what it takes to sacrifice so much to escape all of Jean's perils? I think the scene in the movie The Shawshank Redemption is an excellent parallel to this...
 
The scene where the hero crawls out of the shithole? No? Don't remember? How about this one..?
 
giphy.gif
 
 
Good descriptions create vivid impressions, always raising up new questions and possiblities. Descriptions are what define the characters and sharpens the story. They show how the world looks and feels to the characters.
 
What about sparce, invisible, and in between the line descriptions. You know. Tricky ones that make you think. What is not said or implied has a descriptive voice too. Can you see it on the page? Descriptive points of view don't just add to a story they tell it. Instead of the narrator telling the reader straight about a character he adds description to make it fun for the audience. Sometimes a good description or image is all you need to get a good feel in. It gives it more definition to reasons and realities and how a character deals with them. Controlling and selecting details are essential to create movement. Piling them up just for effect gets a bit boring after a while. 
 
Observations and descriptions are not only literary functions. They also provide a means for people to express individual point of view. Learning how to use Descriptors for ourselves and others helps for a greater understanding of what is really important, common, and downright trivial in our lives. Be careful how you judge superficial details in others. Lest they reveal your own inner descriptions. 
 
 
:Flying:

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#8 Rufus Tullius

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 12:01 PM

A bit on Style...
 
Does it really oppose substance? Why should it? Just because one style may be superficial doesn't make it any less useful than another. Different styles are chosen by choice depending on the character or story. The paradox between what a gifted word player vs a pretentious and fussy word rouser depends on knowing about the use of syntax and diction.
 
These are the main elements in style. Diction is your choice of words and Syntax gives us the order of words. No one style is better than another. Take the minimalist approach: this uses sparce word structures and terse short sentences. A maximal approach gives the word magicians something to play with. They can seem pretentious and long winded but sometimes it's fun to describe something that has a long rhythm to it. Try tweeting one long sentence without any periods. Can you make one longer than a tweet?
 
What is the aim or purpose in using particular styles? 
 
Here's some techniques associated with the lyrical style that may be of interest:
 
 
This one is great for a lyrical turn of phrase. 
 
So is Sibilance
 
The fickle pitter patter of short, sharp shocks within a phrase can really kick up an impact. Consonance and dissonance allows for greater impact in lyrical writing. 
 
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#9 Rufus Tullius

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 12:32 PM

Going through my glossary of fallacies I noticed that Irony needed a bit of attention. I think a bit about it here is appropriate:
 
Does the title of this thread indicate a bit of irony?
Were you intrigued because it portended an occultish feel about it?
Or were you interested simply because your bullshit detector was running and you'd thought you'd have some fun.
 
Warning alert: 
 
What is being hinted at in between the lines? 
Is it slippery and wet with ambiguouus narrative? 
Do you detect any vanities, pretentiousness, or self righteous presumptions?
 
Does your own reading reflect any inner ironies still undetected?  
 
Irony helps us to find the reality as a reader. It's a free and indirect discourse using a a third person character to take over the narration. It makes it hard to know what the narrator really thinks. Detecting irony takes time and re-readings to find the discrepancies in language to catch on to any hidden truths. Irony looks beyond conventional wisdom and is used to sharpen a readers vision. 
 
Verbal irony is simple enough - it's when words don't match their meaning. They provide verbal wittisms to interest the readers attention. Sarcasm is one such device. Here are some others...
 
 
Stable and unstable irony helps to distinguish verbal ironies. Stable ironies are simply just the reverse of a statement. Usually used in a facetious manner. An un-stable irony never reaches a correct meaning and will remain that way. Making way for further confusion. It's used on purpose by some story writers. 
 
Dramatic Irony is found between the characters and the audience. A good example being the Greek tragedy Oedipus. The audience knows what's going to happen but the character doesn't.
 
Not all ironies come into focus at the same time. Sometimes they are ambiguous and multiple interpretations are required. Irony reminds us how difficult it is to make sense of the world and with the discrepencies between appearance and reality. 
 
If someone was looking down at you from above and narrating your story how ironic would it be in the telling? Remember, a narrator is not a god. How well do you understand your own life irony?
 
Here's a bit of cosmic irony: Never mind what we do or don't know up there in the Universe. What about the things we do or don't know about down here on the ground?
 
:Flying:
 
:chuckle:

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#10 Rufus Tullius

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 12:19 PM

When plots become stories...
 
What is the difference between a plot and a story?
 
Everyone likes a good story. Stories are basically a chronological order of a group of events to give readers information about the characters and their events. A plot twists the order to give it an angle. A narrator can then put a tale into an order by cherry picking events to show cause, effects, and resolutions all to make the story more interesting. The very word 'plot' itself is a tricky one, isn't it? It could be defined as a conspiracy to distort a story. 
 
Try this next time you read a book for a second or third time. Take all the story elements and list them into chronological order. Are there elements in the plot not in the story? Is there a sub-plot that is not necessary? What about important story elements not included in the plot? Do you think the story could have been told without the careful plotting created by the author? Or was he sloppy in delivery? Did each part fit together to form a coherent whole? 
 
All stories begin with a beginning, middle and an end. Aristotle taught us that with his little book 'Poetics'. That dude has certainly left his mark in history in so many ways. Anyways, let's go into what he has to say about what makes a good plot stand out.
 
Here's an overview of Aristotles Poetics for reference:
 
 
Basically, Aristotle explains that we all learn through imitation. Listening to stories, looking at pictures, imitating gestures and words, etc. He believed it was a natural process and the result was to learn how to take apart stories and see how they were constructed.
 
The wheels always turn in a good story so we need A beginning. It introduces the characters, a setting, and a bit on their situation. The protagonist is introduced and we're given some details on his character. Everything is cool in the beginning. All is well and the reader is basically shown scenes that are stable in relation to the scenes surrounding the players. The beginning is a place where we get to know the people, places, and things and their characteristics. After a while an event will occur to throw all this into something interesting. Something to fling the characters off balance, launching them into opposite directions, and preventing or instilling in them a need for action.
 
This brings us to the middle. A place where everything goes awry. The characters are forced into new situations and face challenges so the reader can get a better sense of what the characters are up against. The antagonist is seen in a better light. Slowly being revealed to the reader. Things may get worse before they get better. What can happen next?
 
The ending is where all the conflicts seen at the beginning and how they're worked out in the middle resolve themselves. Most endings settle themselves either comically or tragically. Although, an open ending leaving some questions unanswered seems to be a trend. Leaving it open for sequels and spinoffs of all kinds. 
 
Keeping track of all the twists and turns in a plot can be difficult on your first time through a book. Learning the basics from 'Poetics' helps to keep it in mind though. Plus, it'll begin to make re-reading more rewarding, it'll add more discovery, and it'll ask more questions in the mind of the reader.
 
I'll close this post with a few questions for readers to consider:
 
What makes a great beginning?
Are there any stories, novels, or movies that grab your attention right at the start? Is there anything common?
What makes a great ending? Is it really the hardest part of the story to get right? 
What stories have powerful beginnings, a meaty middle, and a really shitty ending?
 
:Flying:

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