NaNoWriMo Captain’s Log: Day 14

Captain’s Log, November 14th, 2009.

It occurs to me that many of you are used to reading books. This is perhaps a bad thing.

Books are written by people who want to tell stories. Stories can break rules, and explore boundaries, and live.

Books are written by those people, but they’re edited by editors. Editors care about stories, but sometimes they care more about how stories are told. A story can break rules and explore boundaries and live, but a story, they say, must not break certain rules and must not stray too far from certain boundaries and can only live within the lines.

Editors, by the nature of what they are, want rules to be obeyed.

This is often not such a bad thing, as some people need these things to tell something in such a way that is better than they had first envisioned it. Some people need to be told that sentences should not be choppy, should not run on and on, and should have clear and present (thought not always ‘present’) tense.

There is something we should get out of the way.

I am not an editor. I am not a traditional writer.

I write choppy sentences. I write run on sentences, that string together words and things that by some people’s judgment probably should be other sentences, but I think they’re a bit related and that period might ruin the flow (menstruation joke?)  and so the sentence has free rain so long as it doesn’t need a breather in between. Because if it does, there’s a period for that. Also, I start sentences with the words ‘but’ and ‘and’ and ‘also’, even though I’m pretty sure somewhere I’ve heard that can be frowned upon.

I also start new paragraphs when I feel like it. Are there even any rules for that?

I can’t stand semi-colons because they are something I never really learned about, like dangling participles and other advanced grammar jargon.

I did not learn to write through rule books or even by example. I write what feels good, and how it sounds best to me.

And with that, I should add that I also write poetic. And I’m not talking about free verse poetry. I mean I rhyme and I rhythm, with strings of words that are better said than read, so much so that grammar and prim and proper punctuation are so far secondary the only thing keeping editors from strangling me is the fluid beauty of the thing itself.

And it is beauty. Even if I’m describing the slow agony of a man being ate to death by a chainsaw, it’ll taste good on your tongue.

And true to my poet’s heart, the beauty of it’s the thing, romancing the devil in the details with alliterismic affluence to the point where, like my editors, hopefully you’ll forgive the forgo’ance of the victorian rules of wrote and fall happy for the ride.

I like wordplay. Alliterismic, some of you might scoff, ain’t exactly proper english, let alone a real word. But the english language is alive! With every ‘yo!’ and ‘yall!’ it breathes in and out. And it grows, it writhes, it hurtles down to ebonic depths and spreads rainboscopic mirrored wings to fucking glorious flights. It leaps tall Twilights in a single bound, and it can show you The Colour of Magic.

So, I like wordplay. If I write a word, it’s real. Especially if it makes sense! If Tolkien can write volumes on the mating lives of Entwives and people never bat an eye, I can say alliteristic. It’s quick and easy, and you can figure it out with context or a little basic wordage. Alliteristic means having the quality of alliteration.

I also like wordplay in that I turn nouns into verbs, and verbs into nouns, and each of them to adjectives and again the other way around. In The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year I took ‘phoenix’, a noun about a bird that dies and is reborn from it’s own ashes, and wrote phoenix as a verb that describes a sense of life from death. The death referenced there was the almost unliving state of being barely awake and very grumpy.

I write what I think sounds good, and use the rules as things to taunt and tease, but only sort of kind of follow.

When you read my books, expect all that. If you’re okay with that, you will enjoy it.

If you’re expecting something traditional… The story’s about aliens, heroes, chainsaws, eldritch horrors, pandas, wonderland, and cows- among other things. If you can accept that, the non traditional style shouldn’t be a problem either. :)

Over 800 words in this post, and they don’t’ count towards NaNoWriMo…

Well, I’m off to write some more. Till next Captain’s Log, dear readers!

~Matt Booker

12 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Captain’s Log: Day 14

  1. I’m not one for traditional structure of anything, but at the same time I have a morbid fascination for grammatical structure. I never properly learned the latter, but that’s not why I keep the two distinctly different.

    I’ve always read novels such that the story hits me first. It’s only ten hours later that I realize J.K Rowling wrote “Hermione ejaculated” instead of said. So in re-reading my own work, I rarely go “WAIT A MINUTE: that sentence is awkward” but I’ll often stop and re-evaluate a plot-point.

    I love run on sentences. I love using ‘and’ about fourteen times in a single sentence. I love separating a sentence from the rest of the text and isolating it between two larger paragraphs. I don’t know if I subscribe to any pre-established conventions of novel writing and, frankly, I don’t particularly care. Where’s the fun in playing in the language game if you can’t play *with* the language?

    I think that so much more important than lapses in grammar and syntactical errors is consistency within the narrative. That includes a sound plot, solid and consistent characterization and a consistent writer’s voice. A failure in any of those areas is *so* much more jarring than a fault in the language structure.

  2. I agree with most of what you said. A few points however, since I, as you and I have covered, DO have quite a bit of rule-book training. ;)

    1. Learn about semi-colons; they’re really fun once you figure them out.

    2. Most English professors that I know would heartily agree with you about the language being alive, and the rules made to be broken. Don’t feel that you’re alone, or that “proper training” is intended to beat it out of a person.

    3. The “don’t begin a sentence with And, But, Also, etc” thing is actually somewhat archaic, like admonishments against split infinitives and the word “ain’t”. Again, those teaching the language recognize its right to live. the old conservatives that think it should be static and unchanging are slowly dying off, leaving behind those who not only accept things like “text” being a verb (and all the baggage it entails), but are overjoyed to see that the language can evolve and adapt so quickly. You wouldn’t have seen that even 20 years ago, but the times, they are a-changin’.

    And here’s the pedant making himself known…
    4. Unless you intended it as a pun (which doesn’t appear to be the case) it would seem you meant “reign” where you have “rain”. Also, “a period” or “periods”, as what you have is decidedly not poetic. Lastly, is the word you’re trying to coin “alliterismic” or “alliteristic”? You change it up about halfway through.

  3. 1, ;)

    2, Huzzah to that. :)

    3, But I like the rebel image. And it makes me feel cool. Also- etcetera!

    4, That’s why you’re one of my editors. :D

    ~Matt Booker

  4. Also, Luke, I meant ‘that period’ and not ‘a period’ or ‘periods’.

    Sorry, it took me a bit to get what you meant on that part.

    ~Matt Booker

  5. “but I think they’re a bit related and that period might ruin the flow”

    Sorry, but the lack of singular/plural definition kills the flow here. Rather ironic, since you don’t seem to have intended it. Since “period” comes from “sentences”, it needs a signifier: either an “s” to show that it’s plural like “sentences”, or an “a” to redefine the amount. You may have intended “that” to do the trick, but that’s not it’s function, so it just ends up highlighting the undefined numeration.

    I see what you’re going for… I just don’t think it works the way you want it to. It’s like saying “Luke says I made errors, but he can suck nut”. We need to know “A nut” or “nutS”. I mean, how much work are you asking for here?

  6. lol

    It’s funny, cause I try to pay attention to that paragraph and what you’re saying, but it’s like my eyes gloss over and it blurs a bit until I get to the third paragraph.

    But still, I don’t know how this stuff nuts and bolts sometimes, so even if I stick to my guns about something I want to know when there’s concerns.

    I REALLY DO WANT TO KNOW.

    Even if I don’t want to know the inner workings of the why about the wrong, I still want to know the wrong is there. I might still say I think it’s right, even if only to me, but I want to tell a good story when I’m writing.

    So if, say, it looks like something that’s really going to bother a bunch of people, I’ll be open to changing it for the better. I’m particular, and will defend things, but I’m flexible and not a jerk or anything.

    I like constructive criticism. I like to hear what people like and don’t like. Okay so I’m kind of talking about editing books in general now, and it’s gone beyond the scope of ‘that period,’ but still.

    And I think we’re potentially missing the bigger issue here. I made a menstruation joke.

    ~Matt Booker

  7. I also spell things incorrectly. You’ll have to watch out for that. And improper use of it’s and its is something I tend to have happen. I understand the difference, but I often type it’s without noticing.

    ~Matt Booker

  8. I was in my senior year of earning a BA in English before I actually grasped “its/it’s”, and I still use it incorrectly on occasion.

    The rule is basically that “it’s” is ONLY used for a contraction of “it is”. The common mistake is to use it as a possessive, which it is not. The word “its” is automatically possessive simply because it doesn’t define a plural form of “it” (although I’m sure some creative writer out there has played with it).

    Your eyes are crossing… um, pineapple? Guavacado?

  9. Christ, I leave for a while, and what happens?

    Seriously though, these are some pretty interesting entries Matt. I’m gonna go read all the others while you and Luke are busy talking about English and mixed fruits.

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