Oh Noes!

So, I just taught a class with laryngitis. One of the more severe cases I’ve ever had, in fact. I can’t whisper. I can’t even croak. I move my mouth and nothing comes out. 50 minutes on the TRIAC, Toulmin, and GASCAP reading models, without being able to say a word. How’d I do it? I plugged my computer into the projector and typed everything I wanted to say.

When it matters, you find a way to muddle through. Continue reading

The Conversation

So, I was stressing about what to blog today. The semester is proving busy already, and my in-laws are in town (where “in town” is defined in California terms as 3 hours away), and I didn’t really have an idea fleshed out. And then, Ann Leckie posted a blog taking exception to something I said in my “Hiding in Plain Sight” post. VoilĂ ! Instant blog topic! Continue reading

Hiding in Plain Sight

My last “free fiction” post, as most of you have noticed, is a great example of a joke, but not such a good example of a story. Jokes depend on surprise. If a reader or listener isn’t surprised, it’s nigh unto impossible to get a laugh out of them. Surprise is also the basis of suspense, which is arguably even more important to the storyteller than humor is. Surprise depends on the reader or listener not having all the information until the moment that you want it revealed. But readers really resent it when the author deliberately withholds information from them, especially when that information is known to the point-of-view character (a common cheat used by mystery writers) or when that information would be painfully obvious to anyone present in the scene (as is the case with that “Eternal Love” story I subjected y’all to). So how can you surprise a reader without making them feel cheated? In other words, how much information can you hide in plain sight? Continue reading