ozarque (ozarque) wrote,

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Wednesday; the new novel...

Everything has been going very well with the new novel [Alien Tongues] -- until now. But now I've hit an absolutely implacable Writer's Block. What's happened is that Briar, my linguist protagonist, has fallen in love with one of the Brethandis, and for some reason that's made me totally stuck. I can't figure out why, frankly. I'm used to writing about linguists and linguistics; I'm used to writing about nonhumanoid ETs. I can't figure out what the problem is. But I'm really stuck. I can't even manage to write the first sentence.
Tags: writing science fiction
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This happens to me sometimes.

What triggers it (in my case) is my muse yanking on the handbrake and shouting "don't go down that dirt track! We will drive off a cliff and die horribly!"

My solution is to give it a couple of days to a couple of weeks to settle, then go back and review the previous couple of chapters and find out where I took the wrong turn.

Does this ring any bells ...?
Maybe you can take a few stabs at just how does one write romantic poetry in a language one is still learning, for a member of a culture which may or may not think the same sorts of things are romantic?
Or write the last sentence of the scene and write it backwards. I am stuck right now too, but with me it is fear.
Or perhaps the Plot Fairy has handed you the main theme?
Try writing the second sentence. The first one will come eventually.
There's a game you can play in the software development world that I live in, it's called "Remember the future." This is where you talk about something that has yet to happen as if you were on the other side of it. For example you might talk about how successful your new software product was because you did x,y,z. The purpose of the game, of course, is that it helps you to think about how to get to that desired outcome from another angle.

I suppose this is really the same as writing the last sentence :).


March 23 2011, 22:05:40 UTC 9 years ago

(Michael Farris)

"Briar, my linguist protagonist, has fallen in love with one of the Brethandis, and for some reason that's made me totally stuck"

Considering the particular differences between human/oids and the Brethandi, I can imagine that your reaction is mirroring hers.

I'm not sure of the manners and mores of this fictional universe, would her love be understood by humans in a universe filled with sentient species? Or would it be considered strange or immoral (in the same ballpark as zoophilia)?

Even if it's the former case, the prospect is going to be intimidating and hard to integrate with the rest of her life. Would it give away a plot point to ask if her feelings are reciprocated? Octavia Butler of course wrote about inter-species emotional attachments as well as or better than anyone else, maybe revisit Bloodchild and/or Exogenesis trilogy.

If it's the latter case, my advice (if that's what you're looking for) is not liable to edify you. Since we're lucky enough to have the internet there are lots of sites for virtually any kind of atypical romantic/emotional attachment out there and lots of people have written about their particular emotional quirks and reading through some of it might help you unravel the knot.

IF you're not up to that yourself I'm sure there are people here (including me) who'll be willing to sift through the piles of stuff to find things that might help you while editing out the more ... sensationalistic parts that not only wouldn't help but might be distressing (as some of it very surely is....).
What can it mean in this context, especially where can it lead? I think that may be the block, I've no idea what the solution would be.

Though I'm glad to see you posting again.
If I understand correctly, you used to view romantic love (which is what I understand "falling in love" to be) as a form of sickness. Could that make you conflicted about having your protagonist go through that?
Read _Midsummer Night's Dream_?


March 26 2011, 15:55:32 UTC 9 years ago

Or listened to "I Don't Know How To Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar? Mary Magdalene is singing - doesn't know how to go about loving someone so alien, so evocative.

Meg Umans
What would you suggest to another person who had a similar writer's block?
If you're stuck writing THIS, then you can always try putting THIS on the back burner, and try writing some other part of the novel. For example, bureaucrats having meetings or writing memos to each other about the really annoying problem that Briar is blowing up into, for them. The fun part is that the bureaucrats only THINK they've got problems -- they have no idea about THIS new development, or the consequences it'll have. They're just blithering on and on about stuff that is already trivial and beside the point, where "the point" is this latest startling development that they have no inkling of.


March 24 2011, 16:40:22 UTC 9 years ago

She has the same problem you do. This is something she's never imagined herself involved in. (I've been there... I *am* there... a (retired) therapist who adores someone autistic. I'm a hobby linguist too, with a tendency to fall for native speakers of languages I'm acquiring.) I bet Briar's problems are: justifying to herself what she finds lovable in this inappropriate-to-her-mindset being, and giving this Brethandi the joy she's found - without violating its comfort or losing her pre-existing purpose.

What does a linguist love, beyond the individual quirks that do it for her? You know already that the Brethandi she's in love with has curly teeth and trilling hiccups, because her crushes always do. Specifically... my linguist self looks for patterns, precision, comprehension, clarity and simplicity of expression.... Once you and she have recognized and admitted how and why she loves this unsuitable and alien creature, she gets to love it in her linguist way. She accepts how much more learning she's going to have to do, and sets about it. Once you've recognized that and observed it, you get to show us.

Meg Umans
This is off topic, but I wanted to alert you to a problem with your email. I sent a message to ocls@madisoncounty.net and it was rejected with the error "<ocls@madisoncounty.net>: Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local recipient table (state 14)." Then I sent a message to ozarque@livejournal.com and got the same error. What is happening?