Read This: Disability and Poverty

This Washington Post article about disability and life in a rural, poor community.


The Washington Post has been doing a ton of articles recently about rural America, or “Trump country,” as we now think of it.

This is one I found particularly interesting and eye-opening. This series of articles by the Post hasn’t been preachy or even all that political. This one mostly just follows one guy through his daily routine. And, man, what a day.

I think things like this are important to read. It’s important to develop empathy. Even as a lot of us sit here thinking, “Part of this country absolutely fucking screwed me,” (which, in fairness, is totally true) I still think it’s worthwhile to understand those people’s lives.

More empathy will never be a bad thing, even if it still results in us being irreconcilably different. I’m not about to go move my queer, blue-haired, atheist self to the deep south, but I still appreciate getting this window into lives that are utterly different from my own.

Wednesday Practice: 45 Words

It’s 4/5 so I’m writing exactly 45 words.


The man holding the strings did not need to think. It requires no imagination to see everyone else as outside. Or as not-at-all. He tugged and the world danced into place below him. The puppet’s stomping feet destroyed and oily blood burst from the wounds.

 

WAW: Read Everything

Writing About Writing: A once-a-week post about some aspect of writing. I’m not an expert; I’m just some guy. Take it with a grain of salt.


I am almost never reading only one book. My current reading list includes a novel, a daily newspaper, a few comic books and a novel in a different language.

I used to get a little down on myself about reading too many things all at once, but I’ve come to realize that’s just what I like to do. It doesn’t confuse or demotivate me and the things I read tend to compliment each other (in my mind). I can’t sit still and watch a movie or TV show while doing nothing else, so why should I expect to do nothing but read a single book?

This will be a short post, but I was thinking about this today, while switching between fiction and journalism during my lunch break. Maybe I’m just a product of my generation, a stereotypical millennial with the attention span of a goldfish. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s fine to read however you happen to read.

Resources:

Some weird and interesting research on this topic:

Read This: Comic Books

I’ve been reading a ton of comic books lately and I have to say, it’s not a bad thing. So my recommendation this week is to go to a source of writing that might be uncommon for some.

At worst, comic books can show you how NOT to write dialogue. But at their best the storytelling is clever and the dialogue is worth learning a thing or two from. Writers of comic books work under constraints most of us don’t have to deal with, so it’s valuable to see what they do within the “rules” of their genre.

Some comics I would recommend:

  • March: This is a story of the American Civil Rights movement told from the perspective of now-Senator John Lewis, who was deeply involved in the movement. A lot of the writing is narrative, but the weaving of narrative and dialogue is really good.
  • Thor: Goddess of Thunder: I absolutely love how they deal with Thor going from a traditionally male role to a female role. They tackle it head on with no apologies.
  • Ms Marvel: The mix of playful high school kid lingo and humor and serious cultural issues makes this worth reading. But the book also happens to be a brilliant story written well and accompanied by great art.

There are about a gajillion more examples out there. Instead of following the links I provided above, find your local book or comic book store and buy physical copies in person! There’s nothing like browsing aisles and aisles of books mmm 🙂

WAW: Keep Your Promises

Writing About Writing: A once-a-week post about some aspect of writing. I’m not an expert; I’m just some guy. Take it with a grain of salt.


One of the things I find the most disappointing and unforgivable when I’m reading is broken promises.

If you watched the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica” show from 2004-2009 you experienced a prime example of broken promises. (Mild spoilers will follow.)

For several seasons, viewers were taunted and lured with mysteries and secrets. We glimpsed snatches of the truth in dream sequences, flashbacks and inexplicable bursts of insight gleaned during routine missions. We learned tidbits and it only made us hungrier for the full picture.

But when that full picture was delivered, it was full of holes. The series finale left many disappointed. And it’s because we trusted the writers and they broke their promises. All the mysteries and hints built up to nothing.

Deliver

We felt disappointed because we believed we were seeing pieces of a large, beautiful tapestry. It turned out to be a crappy blanket full of moth holes.

What we should learn from that is how important it is to keep our promises to readers. It’s like the old advice about the gun on the mantle – “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there” (source).

Promising mysteries and secrets and big reveals only works if you keep your promises and deliver.

Resources:

A more detailed explanation of Chekov’s gun.