Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Various Matters of Writerly Account

For those of you who have been checking the issues out from the archives, the September Illuminata is out. My piece this time is "Endings: What's At Stake." This issue also notes the 6th anniversary of the newsletter, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment actually, and a tribute to the Editor/Publisher Bret Funk. Remember those of you who read SF/Fantasy/Horror that Bret is always looking for reviews.

As for what I'm working on. I agreed to do a review of a revised Learning in Psychology Text from Sage publishers and that has been taking up most of my past few evenings. Plus I've already started making out my first tests of the semester. I rather hate giving and grading tests. Another big project is pretty much done and I will report on that at a later date.

I watched the premier of K'Ville last night. This is a cop drama set in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. I thought it showed quite a bit of promise. I like the actors and the setting is interesting, of course. I thought they tried to do a bit too much in the first episode. They had too many plot lines and could have benefited from cutting one or two out for later. They also, I thought, prematurely revealed the answers to a couple of mysteries that could have been continued. Still, I thought it took the city and its people seriously and took a good hard look at some of the struggles folks in this area are still experiencing. I recommend it for viewing.

Later, my friends.


Travis Cody said...

Drat! I wanted to watch that show too. I better get organized or I'm going to lose track of other new shows I want to check.

Angie said...

I've been thinking about that story -- about the dead guy? -- since you wrote about it here in your blog and what if you rearranged it a bit so that the protag still had something to struggle against at the end? I really like the basic idea and think it could be the basis for a powerfully horrific story if you can get it under the readers' skin.

Maybe the protag doesn't stay dead, but just visits for a while? Suppose he's at a funeral or visiting a loved one's grave -- something to bring him to a place where there are a lot of bodies that've been dead for a while. He has a heart attack or a stroke or something and is clinically dead for a while. During that time, he can see what's going on and hear the other dead, and he finds out from them what it's like -- that they're just lying there decaying but they're still completely and helplessly aware as their bodies rot around them.

Then the paramedics show up and bring him back, yay. But he still knows. He knows exactly what's in store for everyone. He turns into an obsessive health freak, struggling to put off the inevitable as long as possible, but he knows he's going to fail one day. And so does the reader, who's also aware that his or her own struggle to keep on living is going to fail one day, and then they'll be there too.

The stretch between the application of the paddles and the end of the story would have to be as short as possible -- stretching it out would kill the tension. Just long enough to get the final idea across to the reader.

I think that linking of the protag's situation with the reader's could do it. At any rate, this is a cool idea and there's got to be some way to make it work, to keep the punch through to the end of the story. [ponder]


Bernita said...

Seems you lead a very balanced life, Charles, between objective analysis and flights of fantasy.
I imagine they complement beautifully.

Erik Donald France said...

Hey Charles, congrats on the latest publication and my condolences on the tests!

I'll check out K-Ville, sounds promising.

Michelle's Spell said...

I definitely hate the grading aspect of teaching -- it's probably the single reason to get out of teaching English. I'll check out the new stuff, definitely!

Charles Gramlich said...

travis, I don't know if I'll get hooked but it was worth watching.

Angie, that's quite a good idea, actually. That might not be so hard to do. Thanks for the concept.

Bernita, that's me, one foot in the mud, one in crazy land.

Erik, thanks. I need the condolences.

Michelle, yes, I especially hate grading term papers.

alex keto said...

Interesting piece in Illuminata.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Hi Charles!
Great article, although I would want to point out that some audiences might find more at stake in some of the tired cliches. I think there is a reason why alot of serial genre books out there work and have such a fan base. Everyone knows exactly what happens, especially in certain genres, but I think that's also what they want when they pick up a book like that. You know what I mean? But I really like your idea of the dead man trapped in his decaying body. Very freaky. I think you should keep working on it cause it sounds really great.

I just got my first batch of papers from my students (5 more papers to come!) I end up grading 150 papers per class! I think I'd rather give 2 multiple choice tests if I could. Too bad it's an academic research and writing class!

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, thanks, and thanks for dropping by.

ello, it's sometimes a fine line between giving the reader what they want in a particular genre without giving them exactly the same thing. The ending should still be unpredictable, even if just in the context of a particular genre. (I don't envy you grading all those papers).

Travis Erwin said...

I pretty much agree with your assessment of K'Ville. Good, but I still have a wait and see attitude overall.

Lana Gramlich said...

Some of the overacting in K-Ville made it definitely worth a laugh, if you ask me. Some pretty cliche/hokey lines were delivered with such seriousness & passion I thought I was going to bust a gut.

Angie said...

Charles -- you're welcome. :) Let us know how it works out?


the walking man said...

I thought we had your grading system down before the semester started:

so much simpler and less time consuming, Charles as a personal favor to you just bundle all of the papers up and send them to me I will return mail them to you the same day, no need to include red pen either.



I will be more than happy to act as your TA in the grading department as well. It might even make me feel useful.

Greg said...

I liked K*Ville, too. Still trying to decide if I'll watch it regularly, but I thought it was a good first episode. A little cliche and trying too hard the first few minutes, but I guess they need that to an extent to set the scene.