Answers, the second!

UPDATE: Grammer fixed to make a sentence say what I meant!

Continuing the answering cavalcade! (And you can still ask stuff!)

Earl has a couple:

Which Do you find more offensive to pledge; one nation under God” or “with liberty and justice for all”?

That’s an interesting and challenging question. In truth, I don’t find either concept particularly offensive at all, although I am always struck by the way the Pledge was co-opted by conservative evangelicals in this country some years ago. I’m still astonished at the way George HW Bush managed to somehow hang the freaking Pledge of Allegiance around Michael Dukakis’s neck like a damned dead albatross. Wasn’t that weird?

I like the idea that we are one nation, and I like the idea of liberty and justice for all. Now, we can differ on what “liberty” means; one of the big reasons I reject libertarianism is because I think the notion of “liberty” that they hold dear is deeply suspect. But that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, innit? I also have trouble with “under God”, mainly because the days of Americans being able to go through life assuming that everybody around them was Christian are pretty much over. Arguing over whether the Founding Fathers intended America as a Christian nation or not strikes me as generically unproductive, since I’m increasingly of the view that what the Founding Fathers wanted really shouldn’t be terribly relevant to us today. Besides, there’s the fact that the original version of the Pledge didn’t even have “under God” in it; that was added later by Congresscritters who didn’t want to appear too Red.

Ultimately, though, I find the idea of a pledge a bit daft in the first place. What’s the point? Why do we bother making kids recite this thing each and every morning? My love of my country has nothing at all to do with the Pledge of Allegiance, and I generically find oaths of allegiance to be generally a waste of time.

Would you consider switching genres in your writing? Why or why not?

I fear that last night’s post may have dampened this question a little, but I hope not. The answer is, obviously, yes. Or no. Ha!

It all depends on how we draw the lines of genre. Science fiction seems quite different from fantasy, although where the dividing line between the two lies has been an eternal source of debate for fans of either and both genres for decades. One of my beta readers for Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title) indicated her belief that the book is actually a fantasy rather than SF, and I can see the argument; for me, it’s SF but it’s pretty solidly in the Star Wars end of the pool. So, did I write SF or fantasy?

Now, The Adventures of Lighthouse Boy (not the actual title), the book I started but set aside because I hadn’t thought through the backstory enough, is most certainly fantasy. Or is it? The world and history are completely imaginary, but there is no magic in that world at all. None. Zero. So is it still fantasy? Hmmm!

And then there’s GhostCop (not the actual title), which is, as I indicated, a supernatural thriller. Or, it’s horror. Thing is, many folks put horror in with SF and fantasy! I’ve read quite a few horror books that are definitely horror but which are also quite proper SF. (The Stand is one good example.) So, what genre is that? I don’t know.

Historical fiction is a genre that interests me, but I don’t know if I’ll ever have the patience to do the necessary research. There are topics that could work, though…the romance of Robert and Clara Schumann, for example, or the life of Hector Berlioz, which is a wildly cinematic life, indeed.

Last night on Facebook, a friend of mine named Mark said this:

After I saw your rewrites of movie dialogues, I thought that you might try writing a script or a play sometime.

Screenplays or plays? That’s interesting. My first creative writings that I took seriously were scripts, written in grade school. They were also fan fiction. I haven’t written in script format in years, though; I made the switch to prose in the late 1990s when I finally decided it was time to leave fanfic behind for good, and I’ve never looked back.

Well, almost.

I wrote a script a few years ago, which I often consider deleting entirely. I wrote it in an attempt to exorcise some personal demons, and…well, I’m not going to elaborate much on that. I think I could be a decent screenwriter, but my sense of things is that screenwriters have even less general chance of seeing their work produced correctly than novelists. I respect screenwriters and playwrights immensely and I like to read and study their work for storytelling insights, but I doubt I’ll ever count myself among them.

OK, that’s it for tonight! More answers to come!

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8 Responses to Answers, the second!

  1. Unknown says:

    I the hierarchy of insults, dickweed is the tamest, followed by asshat and, only for the most irritating, douchnozzle. What am I missing?

  2. jason says:

    "…my sense of things is that screenwriters have even less general chance of seeing their work produced correctly than novelists."

    For what it's worth, I co-wrote a screenplay a number of years ago and actually came pretty close to a sale with it (although "close" doesn't really count, I suppose…), so I have some insight into that.

    You're quite right in that the movie-making process compels you to start watering down your original story before you even make the sale. My writing partner and I managed to get our screenplay in front of several actual Hollywood producer types, guys with pages on IMDB and the whole bit, and each of them provided notes of what they thought the movie ought to be… so we'd rewrite to suit that guy's sensibilities, telling ourselves that there was still enough of the essence of what we originally wrote that we could live with the changes, only to see the deal fall through. We did that half a dozen times and (I felt) each time got further and further away from what was interesting and unique about our story to start with. And then the terms of the contracts we were seeing (and we did at least get to look at them, even though nothing ever came of it) usually gave us one shot at a rewrite once a sale was made, and then other writers could come in and redo it in their vision. And of course we were well aware that EVERYBODY was going to have a vision in this, from the producer to the director to the actors to the craft services guy. My partner was fine with that; he just wanted the paycheck. I had a more difficult time with the idea that whatever (might have) eventually wound up on the screen wouldn't be ours, not really, even if we had on-screen credits (which we wouldn't, necessarily, depending on how things evolved).

    I know, of course, that there are rewrites and editors involved in publishing a novel, too, but my sense is that what ultimately ends up on the shelf at Barnes and Noble is much more the true work of the novelist than a finish movie is of the screenwriter. While I enjoyed working in the form during the initial creation, I don't think I'd ever be really happy working in that industry…

  3. Earl says:

    How about the novel that becomes a screenplay? Is that the best of both worlds or does the author end up feeling like a prostitute?

  4. Kelly Sedinger says:

    Earl: Oh, believe me, if anyone ever wants to give me a check for the honor of turning a book of mine into a movie, I'm taking the money and running!

  5. Kelly Sedinger says:

    I'm reminded of something Michael Caine once said, regarding Jaws 4, which is widely held to be one of the worst movies ever, and for the filming of which he had to miss that year's Oscars, at which he won. He just shrugged and said, "That movie bought me a beautiful house!"

  6. Bonnie McDaniel says:

    Shouldn't your link read, "that what the Founding Fathers wanted really should NOT be terribly relevant to us today." Because that's what I got out of the post you linked to.

  7. Earl says:

    Yeah, I get the money thing. A guy I know from high school is working as an animator in Hollywood and his partner, al, is an exec at Sony. I visited with them and after talking I found out al loves the Jackass movies.

    I told him I thought they were stupid.

    His condescending response "do you KNOW how much money those guys make?"

    As if that is the ultimate justification for making a mockery of art. This guy is supposed to be a gatekeeper for the cinema (I mean he does listen to screen pitches) and he is entertained watching someone ride a baby carriage into a row of hedges.

    Money and art…

  8. Kelly Sedinger says:

    Well…I hope there's a line between selling my novel's movie rights and Jackass, which is…pretty icky! 🙂

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