Image by arthus.erea via Flickr
I’m so sorry about my week of lists kinda falling apart the other day but life is life and all that.
One of the best pieces of advice that I ever received from a teacher was on the touchy subject of dialog. If you want to craft believable dialog then don’t write as people talk in the “real” world. When you copy down actual dialog it’s difficult to read, in fact it usually rings hallow and is just dull. The trick is to write dialog that deceives the reader into thinking it sounds real. Basically it’s just an optical illusion but for the eyes and ears.
I feel like this stands true for crafting fictional worlds. A good fictional world, a world that you can feel yourself getting lost in, needs to be real. But when you only have a few hundred pages, or episodes, to convey the world in you can’t show everything, you can only show what the plot requires. The optical illusion that’s required here is the illusion that bends the readers’ mind so that they can’t see the gaps that you haven’t filled in and convinces them that they could leave the plot of the novel and the world would still exist.
These are my favorite worlds that absolutely, completely have me totally convinced of their reality. It’s not uncommon for me to spend my school time imagining myself wandering throughout the Lancre Forests on the Discworld or eating at Redwall Abbey or working for the Starfleet JAG offices or fighting for Animal rights with Elaphaba in Oz. These worlds are as real to me as my own.
- Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
- JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth
- Gene Roddenberry’s Future
- George Lucas’ Galaxy Far, Far Away
- Brian Jacques’ World of Redwall
- Gregory Maguire’s Oz
- JK Rowling’s Earth
- C.S. Lewis’ Narnia
- Rien Poortuliet & Wil Hoygen’s Europe
- Oh gosh… Er… Look, I haven’t been sleeping well lately, can I get back to you on this one?
This is the fourth post in my week of lists. For Wednesday’s post click here.
Here, in order of my my favoritism, are my top ten favorite artists. These are the writers, painters, actors, poets, cooks and fashion designers whose work makes my heart beat a little faster.
- Virginia Woolf, writer
- Emily Dickenson, poet
- Bill Bryson, writer
- Christopher Kimball, writer & cook
- Julia Child, writer & cook
- Coco Chanel, fashion designer
- Terry Pratchett, writer
- John Cleese, actor
- Helen Mirren, actress
- Rien Poortuliet & Wil Hoygen, writers & painters (collaborators)
This is the fourth part of my week of lists. For last week’s list click here.
–You might notice that this was not the list I was supposed to write for Tuesday. It turns out that I have great difficulty picking non-fiction heroes. (The fact that humans are so complex and, well, human makes it rather hard for me to pick. While there are many qualities I admire in various “real” people I feel strange picking them just because I’ve read about one side of them, with characters in books and television shows I actually get to know the character and feel safer choosing them.)–
- Professor Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling): What’s not to love about McGonagall? She’s got her wits, courage, tartan nightwear, acidic wit and a love of ginger newts. From her pointy hat to her wand McGonagall is a picture of calm confidence.
- Rory Gilmore, Reporter (“Gilmore Girls” television series): Basically I think Rory and I need to be married (a love of food, reading, learning, old movies, witty banter, I could go on). While I do understand that she’s completely fictional Rory still manages to show me that you can get through high school without needing to sacrifice “geek” things such as reading and liking your family.
- Miss A. Minton, Governess & Naturalist (Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson): Very similar to McGonagall Miss Minton is a solid pillar of levelheadedness and an advocate of following your passions. She’s a reader, naturalist, teacher and is always learning. I admire her tact, solid front in the face of adversity and her kindness. The fact that she doesn’t infantilize children makes me love her all the more.
- Professor Albus Dumbledore, Scholar & Ex-Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling): Albus Dumbledore has a very important lesson for me, we can learn from our mistakes. An advocate of equality and tolerance and treating teenagers with respect. While I of course admire his brains it’s his commitment to education (and keeping the dark forces at bay) that really puts him on this list (his homosexuality helped put him here as well).
- Granny Weatherwax (Discworld series by Terry Pratchett): An elderly woman as tough as the tacks in her boots Granny Weatherwax is a witch you can’t help but love. Whether she’s helping deliver a baby or fighting with the Queen of Fairies or meddling in peoples’ lives (ehum, Magrat’s) she does it full force. I particularly appreciate her firm belief in rules (and her ability to know when and how to bend them) and order. If I’m half as bold as Granny when I’m her age I’ll be satisfied.
- Atticus Fitch (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee): Atticus represents what I consider to be America’s better nature. A believer in equal rights he fights his battles not with clubs or guns but in the court of law and he never seems to loose his head. He’s a great father, fantastic lawyer and an apparently perfect human (perhaps too perfect, one of the only issues I have with Mockingbird).
- Hermione Granger, Member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling): Oh Hermione, what can I say about you? That you were one of my first crushes? That for most of my writing life I’ve been basing characters off of you? That you inspire me to do my best? I feel like if you were to combine my comments on Rory and Atticus you would basically get what I want to say about Hermione.
- Admiral Kathryn Janeway, Ex-Captain of the USS Voyager (“Star Trek: Voyager” television series): When stranded in the Delta Quadrant Captain Janeway did exactly what I hope I would do in her place. She didn’t give up, she didn’t abandon her principles and she never really lost faith. A brilliant scientist, excellent captain and all around lovely, lovely woman.
- Doctor Temperance “Bones” Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist (“Bones” television series): Tempe is a woman who shares a core value of mine. This is of course the importance of scientific thought. Though she’s frequently put down in the series for being emotionally stupid I think of her as being sensible and simply different than those that she works with. I love her practicality and seemingly complete lack of fear as well as her dedication to uncovering the truth and bringing murderers (whether they be sociopaths, committers of genocide or simply angry spouses) to justice.
- Bilbo Baggins, Adventurer (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien): When adventure came knocking Bilbo Baggins didn’t go out to greet it but found himself being dragged along all the same. Despite his initial reluctance Bilbo rose to the occasion showing immense stores resilience and courage. His love of food and his wanderlust and love of the woods in his backyard make me feel like we’re kindred spirits.
For yesterday’s list click here.
Do you know how hard this was to make? The pain, agony, suffering. Actually, it was really fun and I plan on doing this for my own personal enjoyment every few months just to see how my list shifts around.
And without any more bits of nonsense from me here are my top ten books (in order of favorite-ness).
- Mary Poppins P.L. Travers
- Journey to the River Sea Eva Ibbotson
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone J.K. Rowling
- Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Gregory Maguire
- The Hobbit, or There and Back Again J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Waves Virginia Woolf
- The Art of Eating M.F.K. Fisher
- The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne Brian Moore
- To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
- The Uncommon Reader Alan Bennett
This list is part of my week long series where I post a list a day, mostly because I don’t really have very much time this week and I like lists. Yesterday’s list.
You know how I really like lists? Well I’ve decided that this week I’m going to post seven posts, one a day, of lists.
Why? Because it’s my damn blog.
To kick things off I’ve got a list of the lists I’ll be posting this week:
Sunday: List of Lists
Monday: My Top Ten Books
Tuesday: My Top Ten Non-fiction Heroes
Wednesday: My Top Ten Artists
Thursday: My Top Ten Fictional Worlds
Friday: My Top Ten Fiction Characters
Saturday: My Top Ten Meals
My favorite read this year. --Image via Wikipedia
I’m jumping on the bandwagon and am publishing a list of my favorite books I read this year. (Hyperlinks are to blog posts that I wrote about the book.)
- To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
- The Art of Eating MFK Fisher
- I’m a Stranger Here Myself Bill Bryson
- Mrs. Bridge Evan S. Connell
- The World From Beginnings to 4000 BCE Ian Tattersall
- The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne Brian Moore
- Tess of the D’Ubervilles Thomas Hardy
- Beowulf Seamus Hinley’s translation (bonus points for beautiful printing)
- S. John Updike
- The Serpent and the Rainbow Wade Davis
I was originally just going to publish the list but the compiling of it was such a bizarre experience that I feel compelled to write about it.
As I watched books that I loved getting bumped off the list (particularly The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart) I realized that the books that were remaining were not the books that I had most loved reading. While most of them were such fun to read the books that remained were the ones that had the greatest emotional response from me as I looked across my Shelfari account. Some of them reminded me of the burst of excited intellectual energy that I got as I read them (The World from Beginning…, The Serpent and…) while others brought back the painful stories that carried a sorrow that was still as fresh (The Lonely Passion…, Mrs. Bridge, Tess…). Of course there were the stories that I still think of daily (To the Lighthouse, The Art of…, I’m a Stranger, Mrs. Bridge.)
As I was compiling this years list I was struck by one thought: Damn, this was one good year for books.