Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Inward and Outward Focus

Recording a few observations and quotes as I stumble towards an organized conclusion...


Because writing is removed in time and space from the audience, the sense of the writer as a performer is lost. An actor or a musician must tailor their performance based on the audience’s reactions–or to get the precise reaction from the audience that they want. A magician must manipulate an audience’s attention so his tricks appear “out of nowhere.” Yet writing and the industry are more concerned with Platonic ideals of what art should be instead of going out and busking for a living and getting that all important practical experience in front of an audience.
Pulp is outward focused writing (from the author's standpoint). While much has been written of the aesthetic, lost in the shuffle is the pulp editor's insistence that pulp writing evoke strong emotions. To do this, a writer needed to observe the world around him, observe people, and use that in their storytelling

Today's writing is often characterized by a search for the Platonic ideal of story, with the beats in the right place and the proper mix of characters and attitudes. It worries more about matters of craft than matters of audience reaction. It is inward focused.

The tragedy of Save the Cat is that is was intended to train writers to better evoke emotions. Instead, it became yet another Platonic ideal.


"A good writer can watch a cat pad across the street and know what it is to be pounced upon by a Bengal tiger." - John le Carre


"If you don't spend time watching real people, you can't do this, because you've never seen it. Some people spend their lives interested only in themselves. Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people ... It's produced by humans who can't stand looking at other humans. And that's why the industry is full of otaku!"

Hayao Miyazaki, television interview, January 2014

(Benjamin Cheah's dissection of why Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash does not work is almost a perfect illustration of this Miyazaki quote. The show's understanding of the world is based entirely upon RPG tropes and not on the real world. While this is best exhibited in its fighting scenes, it also affects how its characters act.)


"Did you ever come up against a book of writing technique that came right out and said: “Look, Joe, for Hell’s sake, forget all this guff about plot structure and be downright, just plain, ordinary entertaining.”? Well, that’s the main rule of fiction writing, for my money. That is the idea."

Turner, Robert. Pulp Fiction (Kindle Locations 274-276). Originally published by Quality House, 1948. Kindle Edition. 


"The trouble with most of the rules of writing technique is that these very rules can be—and sometimes should be--broken, in order to make a story salable. To be salable, a story must first be readable. To be readable, it must be entertaining. It’s really quite simple.
"But how in hell can your story be entertaining, if every moment that you spent creating it, you were constantly sweating and straining to make it technically perfect inasmuch as “the man in the book” said it should be?"

Turner, Robert. Pulp Fiction (Kindle Locations 264-268). Originally published by Quality House, 1948. Kindle Edition.

No comments:

Post a Comment