What triggered this post is the novel Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli. However, a popular example of this is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The Road is science fiction dressed up in literary snobbery (another pet peeve for later), but it eschews the traditional dialogue format.
Here’s an example:
Note at the end of the paragraph, there’s a “he said.” There’s a least a gender assigned to the speaker, though it isn’t unique. There’s a “he” and “the boy.” Given the paragraph, I would assume father and son, or at least adult male and young boy.
Then a paragraph break and (apparently?) more dialogue. But no indicators of the speaker. It is easy to assume this is a back-and-forth, and in this very short snapshot, it becomes obvious which person is speaking when.
However, for me (and remember this is a pet peeve, a personal vexation), I’ve already spent too much time trying to ensure I understand who is speaking that I’m bounced out of the story’s reality and into my own. Which is not where I want to be when I read; I want to be in the story’s world, not mine.
To me, this is lazy writing. It leaves the characters as stiff, cardboard cutouts, rather than real, living beings. I don’t understand what this brings to a story, other than tripe snobbery, an attempt to take what should be an excellent, post-apocalypse story and “dress it up” for the literary, “genre-writing isn’t real writing” snobs.
I’d like to talk about Netflix’s latest zombie show, Black Summer. Here’s a quick plot summary:
Black Summer stars Jaime King (Hart of Dixie) as a mother who is torn from her daughter and embarks upon a harrowing journey, stopping at nothing to find her. Thrust alongside a small group of American refugees, she must brave a hostile new world and make brutal decisions during the most-deadly summer of a zombie apocalypse.
About three weeks ago, I had another medication change. This is probably the latest in a dozen or more over the last two years. Up until now, my medical professionals have been trying to directly treat bipolar type two disorder.
Three weeks ago, we started trying to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, with a focus on the obsessive aspect. (I don’t really have compulsions in the Hollywood-style.)
This change has been incredible. Usually, we change a medication and I have, roughly, a two week period where I feel better. Then things go back to my “normal.” Normal for me is very, very depressed with no motivation.
The last three weeks or so have seen me without depression. When I say without, I mean near zero. I get a depression questionnaire whenever I go to the doctor (called a PHQ-9 questionnaire). This week is the first time in over three years that I’ve been able to say “Not At All” on most of the questions. Even the ones I can’t say “Not At All” on have been dramatically reduced.
The added bonus is my physical pain has also been reduced. My wife thinks this is tension-related, as in I’m holding myself in a more relaxed manner than usual. I agree with her, as I find I’ve had fewer tension headaches and less jaw pain.
This all leads to: I’m feeling better. More motivated. I’ve been writing more, planning more, thinking of new projects to do.
I’m planning on writing here more often. I’ve been inspired by this interview with Austin Kleon. In particular, the method he uses for a pocket notebook, logbook, diary, etc. I’m going to try to start doing something similar, both to minimize how much I carry on my person day-to-day, and to increase the amount of material I have to use here.