General · Writing

What is a writing beat?

I mean, in writing a short story or a novel. What is a beat? I first heard the phrase on Writing Excuses, and I have since heard it in a few other places.  untitled-1

Even though Writing Excuses was where I first heard this term, I don’t think they actually define it in any podcast. Anyway, I haven’t found a podcast dedicated to the concept of writing beats. (I would like to hear one, if you are reading, Writing Excuses.)

According to dictionary.com, it can be:

36. Music.
a. the audible, visual, or mental marking of the metrical divisions of music.
b. a stroke of the hand, baton, etc., marking the time division or an accent for music during performance.

37. Theater. a momentary time unit imagined by an actor in timing actions: Wait four beats and then pick up the phone.

And other Katherine Cowley on her site (http://www.katherinecowley.com/blog/10-keys-to-writing-story-beats-in-novels-with-exercises/) defines it as:

The definition: A beat is the smallest story unit in fiction. Individual words are like atoms. Story beats are the molecules, the real building blocks of the story world. There are different categories or types of story beats including a line of dialogue, a moment of action, a moment of reaction, a moment of inaction, a visual image, an emotion, a setting, a theme, or an instance of meta-storytelling.

So having googled writing beat, I still don’t really understand it. How do I identify the beats in a book?

I am pretty sure there are different types of beats. Story, character, plot, emotional, action and so on and so forth. But I don’t think I can tell one beat from another or even identify a single one in a scene. It is quite confusing.

In this first chapter – which is mostly dialog, just one setting, one scene – from Pride & Prejudice, what are the beats?

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1342/1342-h/1342-h.htm

I suppose they must include the last line? Which is the aim of her life? But . . . is that a story beat, a character beat, a plot beat, an emotional beat? One or more of the above? Story, yes; plot, probably; character, probably; emotional; maybe; action; no?

And what is the difference between story and plot beat? I don’t know. I am confused.

A part of me wants to forget this whole notion of writing beats.

General

On Genre and Shelving

This week I went to a library that did not have a separate science fiction shelf. (Or a 657ipiseparate mystery shelf.)  Instead the library put science fiction sticker on the spine and shelved the books in alphabetical order by last name.

I was displeased by this arrangement. I wanted all the science fiction books in one place so I could look at them all at once. I didn’t want to wander through half the library looking for science fiction/fantasy books.

I suppose if I had time to look through all the shelves and was willing to be distracted by interesting covers, it would have been excellent arrangement. But I didn’t have much time, I just wanted a quick look at their science fiction/fantasy selection and see if something looked good.

I may go back if I have a few hours to spare. And can I say how odd it was to see literary classics and science fiction books on the same shelf. Which may have been the point.

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Sustenance

My next read!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat.

teaser

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers:

51jdkq422bzl-_sx331_bo1204203200_More bad news from the States: the Committee continues to wreak its havoc, pursuing their policy of forcing those who disagree with their political positions to lose their jobs, their positions in their communities, and any chance of following their established professions in the United States of America, all in the name of freedom. The press has supported their hysteria, increasing the air of crisis that continues to grow, joining the repressive elements in the government in continuing to denounce citizens of Communistic inclinations, without any proof of wrongdoing beyond rumor and innuendo.

– Sustenance by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

General · reading

Unique words in Left Hand of Darkness

I am still reading The Left Hand of Darkness.  90u7bm

This book has used three words: phlegmatic, obdurate, pertincious.

I am a bit awed.

I hardly see these words used even once in novels, and this book not only uses them, it uses them all in one sentence. In one sentence.

It is awesome.

I have barely started. And this whole thing with the king putting red cement on a new building – uh, red like blood, yeah? – is also awesome, but I don’t really understand that yet.

That’s okay. It’s early days yet.

General · reading · science fiction · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: The Left Hand of Darkness

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat.

teaser

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

90u7bm

Yes, indeed the people in it are androgynous, but that doesn’t mean that I’m predicting that in a millennium or so well all be androgynous, or announcing that I think we damned well ought to be androgynous. I’m merely observing, in the peculiar, devious, and thought-experimental manner proper to science fiction, that if you look at us at certain odd times of day in certain weathers, we already are.. I am not predicting, or prescribing. I am describing. I am describing certain aspects of psychological reality in the novelist’s way, which is by inviting elaborately circumstantial lies. 

– from the Introduction in the Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General · science fiction

Real Water in the Holodeck?

I was watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the first episode there is a boy (the Dr’s son) who goes into the holodeck, falls into a pool of water, and when he exits the room, he is still wet.

How does that work?

He should be dry, I think. It’s a bit odd for the halodeck to have real water.

 

flash friday · General · Short Story · Writing

Friday Flash: First Day

This is my first Friday flash in months! Months and months and months! It is exactly 304 words, which is alright.

The baby grinned toothlessly into the camera. Its little fingers gripped the bare mattress.

Than it plopped its butt onto the bed and the blue blanket balanced atop its head slid down until the baby was completely covered, from the top of its bald skull to its bite-size toes.

The baby shrieked, whether in joy or distress, I couldn’t tell. I didn’t know enough about babies. But I knew what I was going to do next. It sure was loud. Nice, healthy lungs on this child. Maybe it knew this was the first day of its new life and it was celebrating with noise.

I turned off the camera and looked across the room at its mother. She looked like she was trying to scream louder than her baby. The bright pink ball gag kept her silent, though. Mostly silent. Tiny sounds still came made it through.

So annoying. Maybe I needed to cut off her tongue. But then she wouldn’t be able to scream when I wanted to hear her. Hmm.

The sweet sounds she would make later were worth a little irritation now, I decided.

“Come to Aunt Rosie,” I told the baby. “You know you love me.”

I reached forward and yanked the blanket off the baby. The baby was startled into silence, looked at me with big blue eyes and scrambled forward on hands and knees.

My sister said the baby was a boy, but how could anyone know? The baby wasn’t old enough to decide on a gender. And I would keep it alive until it did.

For now, its mother would do. She would last until this little one grew up enough for me to decide what to do with it.

Tomorrow was soon enough to take another picture. I would keep a collection as it grew up.