Monthly Archives: September 2020

Start of the Term

I like going down the rabbit hole of etymology of writing terms. Some terms are hard to pin down. Here are three of my favourites, and if you can enlighten me further I would be most grateful.

The Easter Egg

song of the lark

An Easter egg in a game or video is a hidden or secret feature, often for the amusement of the creators rather than the users/audience. Wikipedia states that “The use of the term “Easter egg” to describe secret features in video games originates from the 1980 video game Adventure for the Atari 2600 game console, programmed by employee Warren Robinett.” HOWEVER! In the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the crew and cast had an Easter Egg hunt on the sets, and eggs turned up during filming. I would suggest that – since the movie was released in 1975 – that Robinett may have been a fan of the musical and this inspired the name.

Jumping the shark: when Fonzie defined a TV show's decline on Happy Days

Jumping the Shark

The origin of this term is straight from an episode of Happy Days, the television series, when Fonzi feels the need to prove his courage by jumping a shark. ‘Jumping the shark’ is when a show starts doing ridiculous storylines in an attempt to stop haemorrhaging viewers; it usually means the show is about to be cancelled. Often, it is these bizarre storylines that deliver the death blow.

DIY lamp rewire | Pearson Blakesley

Lampshading

Lampshading is a way of dealing with any element of the story that threatens the verisimilitude of a narrative or television show or movie, and interferes with the audience’s suspension of belief. Lampshading is calling attention to the very implausible plot development, or overused stereotype or tired cliché, by highlighting it. By pointing out the issue, the writer hopes to turn it into a in-joke with the audience, rather than an example of lazy writing. So where did the term come from? My research couldn’t turn up a straightforward answer. It seems to have its murky origins in vaudeville, where it was a common comedic ruse for a character to hide by sticking a lampshade on their head.

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Filed under Etymology, Language, Linguistics, Love of words, Verisimilitude, Word Play

A new publication credit

This week I was pleasantly surprised to have a story published by the Every Day Fiction magazine/website. What makes it interesting is that I can read the comments of readers that are rating the story. The first critique was a bit of a slap in the face, but the comments after have been both encouraging and helpful. (As always, setting is my weakness. Sigh.)

I’ve supplied the link above if your interested … it’s a five minute read. Not Steampunk, but still Speculative Fiction.

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Filed under Australian Author, Flash Fiction, Short Story, The Writing Life

Stuckity-stuckity-stuck

Will be slowly sink into a bottomless pit in quicksand?

I am trying to come up with a better ending for the first farm book. Something that foreshadows the arc of the four books, while at the same time making the first book a satisfactory read.

Everything I write either sinks like lead boulders into quicksand or is trite or is slightly ill-fitting like damp underwear just one size too small for comfort.

I don’t normally suffer from this sort of writer’s block. Business as usual for me is a traffic jam of ideas. I guess i will just have to push through until I find the firm ground again.

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Filed under The Farm Books, The Writing Life, Writer's Block

What you learn by being a Judge for Writing Awards

Having been an Aurealis Awards judge … there isn’t any conscious decision towards what sort of stories win awards. A lot of things are going on with judging any award.

There is a panel of judges, but it just takes one nay-sayer in a panel to knock down the front runners in a close run race. Or, a person on the panel drops out halfway through the judging period and the rest of the panel is scrabbling to make sense of the mess left behind. The smaller the number of people left, the more likely it is that personal taste will affect the end result.

Lately, what I see happening is that the darker, more literary stories are being accepted by the magazines and anthologies – thanks to the popularity of GoT and its darker themes. Fashions in writing happen just like in any sort of human-based activity- just more slowly. Ten years from now, we might be looking at a retro-revival of sword and sorcery or space opera. So, it is these darker stories that are winning the awards.

A good story is still a good story. Do your best to write amazing stories. You might not win awards, but you will get nominated for the short lists over and over again. That is more of an indication of the quality of your work than anything else.

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Filed under Australian Author, Awards, Short Story, The Aurealis, The Writing Life

I’m Still Steampunking…

Just got a quick question about whether or not I still consider myself a Steampunk Enthusiast.

Well, I bought all of Professor Elemental’s comics earlier this year. I consider that a hint as to where my heart lies. I might not get out much, but I’m still a Steampunk enthusiast at heart.

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Filed under Steampunk, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Writer

Writing for an Audience of Ten Year Olds

I am currently writing books aimed at middle-grade readers around ten years of age. Ten is an interesting age. Before a child is eight, they are still in the ‘dreamtime’ of their youth where fantasy concepts can seem as true as reality. Many younger children are either completely fearless or very fearful, depending on their nature, because everything is still ‘unknown’. A ten year old is still much smaller than an adult, but the world is no longer unknown territory. A ten year old has a pretty good grasp of the rules of the world.

Then puberty hits and messes up the world view again. But that’s another issue.

This makes writing for this audience tricky. They can tell if you’re talking down to them. They can certain sense insincerity. And they can most definitely tell if the writing and story telling is bad. So, it means you have to write with your heart as well as your mind; which is how we should write all the time, really.

I’m lucky. I still like many of the same things I liked as a ten year old: animals, comics, cartoons, fairy tales. It makes writing for this age group easier, because I can remember how it felt to be ten.

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Filed under Farm Book, Story, Structure, The Summer Brook Farm Books, The Writing Life, Writing Career, Writing Style