Entangled

Necessary home repairs are good at occupying your energies, but puppies don’t really care. She wants to see what’s going on, and play with the workers. Leashes are just in the way. If she twists and pulls and breaks it, she can plaaaay! Tree trunks and other heavy objects aren’t important. Her leash ends up wrapped around her, a small stump, the smaller dog, etc, until I wonder if she enjoys being tangled or she’s doing a doggie version called “Fifty Shades of Dane.”

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Dialogue Machine

Dialogue is usually one of my favorite parts of writing. Like many writers, I have to make a special effort to include enough exposition that my readers get my world, but resisting infodumps from world-building.  Dialogue is about showing character and moving things along.

I love changing hats for the characters in a story. I know when I have a good handle on a character when their words flow out of their point of view and goals. Sometimes that character’s hat gets so strong and solid, that they start commenting on things in real life. I’m never quite sure if that’s an encouraging sign to have that rich a characterization, or if that is a different kind of problem.

A fun thing is ‘writing’ dialogue for your dogs. You can see what they’re feeling, especially with the puppy who still hasn’t learned their limits:

  1. ‘But daddy, you’re done with that napkin. Why can’t I have it? I will just suck on it. I’ll shred it later.’
  2. ‘First you tell me to speak and you talk Scooby at me, and then want me to shut up?’
  3. (after licking older dog’s face) Hmm, those crumbs taste good. I will make sure you’re clean so you can get unimpeded smells… of my butt.’ (This is not unrelated to the older and smaller dog making the younger one yip when they won’t stop X behavior: stealing food, trying to steal napping dog’s chair, blocking access to a person)
  4. ‘Oooh, that bacon smells SO good! I don’t care that I can’t digest pork. I will be really good. please, please, PLEASE!’
  5. ‘Why is this bed so crowded? That’s fine, you can get off.’
  6. ‘Why can’t we wrestle and  charge around the house at 3am? You don’t want to play?’

Identity Crisis

I was reminded by Lois McMaster Bujold of that amusing site “I Write Like” that analyses your writing style. I run my writing through it every so often.  Usually, authors like Clarke and sometimes Asimov from my preferred genres come up, though I wish they had more variety and more recent masters within genres.

I’ve come to think my writing style is steadying. I’m a little wordier than I want and it’s sometimes hard to choose a more common word when there is an obscure word that fits much better. But I’m too close to be able to rate stylistic tendencies. I’m not totally convinced an automated tool can adapt the way a reader can. A SF zombie story could almost be an exact rewrite of Pride and the Prejudice, but the scanner would miss the English Regency style because of the horror nouns.

woman changing faces at a mirrir

Image “Faceless #3” by Benoit Champaign. no changes, under Creative Commons 2.0

So I fed some of my writings into the IWL analysis page, mostly recent writing, and got five different authors.Yesterday’s warning post about phone scammers rated like Chuck Palahnuik. I’ve gotten him before in this tool and have no idea why. A fun little flash fanfic rated as like Vladimir Nabokov. Now, I don’t think I’ve written anything Lolita-like as the characters are much older and more savvy. This does reveal a huge bias in the tool as it seems to prefer capital L literature as a result.** Why doesn’t a chapter of a light romance rate like some name from the romance market? There’s dozens if not hundreds of major romance authors with a bestselling body of work. Why Lolita instead of Jayne Ann Krentz or J R Ward? Or even Barbara Cartland with her virginal heroines and their ancient Greek names?

My next sample is from a SF/Mystery in progress, and that was judged like Arthur C Clark, just for mentions near-space travel and stations. I was going for a different mood, but that’s the challenge still. The tool lacks, as Clark is known more for ideas than characters among readers. I’d prefer to write like Bujold, Lee/Miller, or Weber but I doubt they were on the list for the IWL people. A flash story about  husband-hunter was written like L Frank Baum? My light horror and Wizard of Oz? All you can do with that is shake your head and move on.

The oldest one I checked was about a page’s worth from a longer fanfic of drama and derring-do.  Apparently that hit the flags for Stephenie Meyer. **She is the exception for who I write like, and the only author I’ve seen for mine that isn’t already Literature, or matured into academic respect after thirty or fifty years. I’m not especially happy with that rating as I don’t like her writing for various reasons.  I could pick a diferent POV section for the same novel, and I’m sure it will be a different author.

I’m not sure of this variety of styles is good or bad. Probably good, more variety in storytelling and characters and challenging my habits? Who do you write like?

What’s That On My Answering Machine?

We got a call last week from the IRS after scrambling to grab the phone. (After the call was picked up the machine stopped recording) The voice was saying there was a judgement against me and arrest was coming…

Antique rotary phone

Old Phone, by Doug. Creative Commons 2.0

Well, that’s enough to start a panic, even if I file returns as I should, the best I can. Then I worry of it’s one of my roomates, the caller wasn’t a real person and I couldn’t even find out who they were calling. Then I remember that the Feds don’t do nothing without reams of paperwork, and dismiss it.

The third day of calls, I’m starting to worry despite the warning bells. And the lack of identifying information for the supposed tax-crook is really suspicious. But.. this is the IRS, not known for being sunshine and happy bunnies. A friend’s father had a stressful problem and lawsuit once. So I look for the local IRS office to confirm they aren’t calling us. No, I would not call a random toll number that isn’t even plausible as a major IRS office. (Surprise, the local office does NO phone business, only walkup) So I find a major metro IRS help line and she confirms that they don’t do that kind of thing by phone. I didn’t have any information written from the calls to tell her, but she mentioned the wave of impersonation calls right now.

Two days later, and we’s still getting ‘last chance’ calls. The Better Business Bureau  and other news sources are warning people about this scam. This wave of scammers pressure their victims to pay now or a warrant will be issued. The calls include an agent number and case number to make the recording to sound real. The scammers will accept wire payments or plastic to prevent arrest.

If you did that, the money’s probably gone forever.

If you’ve received these calls, contact the Treasury Inspector General and report the details. I know I’d love to hear about the snots who are doing this, getting put away for enforced public service wearing neon pink or orange jumpsuits in the heat. That kind of fear-mongering would have sent Mr Sanford up to his Elizabeth, and I don’t want that to happen to my elders or friends.