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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

This is a propagandist form of storytelling and she did it well. I can't find the quote right now, but in discussing propaganda, Ayn Rand once said she was trained by the best, meaning people in Communist Russia. If I remember correctly, she was also discussing this in the context of fiction writing. So it is no slur to say she included propaganda in her fiction (like propaganda for capitalism). She did that on purpose.

Letters of Ayn Rand:

pg. 157:

“A story is not written to accomplish any purpose beyond itself. (Not even a propaganda story-and I’m the chief living writer of propaganda fiction, I think-at least I think I’m the only one who knows how to do it properly-and I still say that: the propaganda is not the purpose of the story.)”

Pg: 231: “I think I have written to you once that the art of integrating propaganda, that is, an abstract theme, with a concrete story, is the hardest of all arts. I honestly don’t know anyone who can do it at the moment-except myself.”

Pg: 387:

“Believe me, I am a good propagandist as you know, and I know how propaganda works.”

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"Even as people cry for the subversive and revolutionary trope of woke ideas taking over Star Wars, they will realize that the seed of this was, in many respects, an aspect of the story all along."

This line from the video reminds me of Curtis Yarvin's hypotheses of the entropic nature of power in partial states. Most people don't notice the connection between leftism now and the leftism of the past, because that past leftism is so far to the right by today's standards.

 

Anyway, I just wanted to comment on storytelling as I'm trying to learn more about it myself. I had an interesting thought that the character/story relationship is very much like the substance vs form problem of ancient philosophy. The character is part of the story, but a story is also part of a person (you can't exist without doing something, and like the Rush song... even if you do nothing that's still what you did).

 

Form vs substance also relates to the whole bottom up vs top down vacillation in how we approach productive thought. If you were to build a house, would you think of the form first, or the material? Rand said something about function dictating the form of Roark's projects. However, if you have decided to make a house, you already have an extremely abstract form as your starting point. Maybe you decided to build a house after finding some cheap materials... that's a possibility. Either way, by the time you are finished you will have bounced back between form and substance many, many times. And you will, hopefully, approach perfection, but eventually you will have to settle so that you can have a finished project.

 

I was thinking to start a story, start with a character. They say characters should drive plot, and not the other way around. I don't know, if you are looking at it the right way, the two are kind of inseparable. Did you really start with a hero, or did you start with a world that needs saving?

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  • 8 months later...

I wrote this on another thread and it also belongs here.

2 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Last night I finished the last of the Dave Robicheaux novels by James Lee Burke (audiobooks--they are all on Scribd). There are 23 of them. I started the first about 6 months ago.

In the beginning, I didn't like the style or the main character. And Clete (Dave's sidekick) had not yet turned into the one-man random wrecking ball service against  the bad guys he later became. (Some of that stuff got hilarious, too. Including his innocent cluelessness about what he had just done. Burke in one of the books described Clete as a junkyard falling down a stairway. :) )

 

As I read into the series, I think my fiction writing matured, although I won't know for sure until I put my learning down on paper  in practice. But I'm not worried. This exposure pushed me way out of the realm of the beginner. It makes me feel competent whereas before, I felt anxiety when I worked on a story.

For a concrete example, I feel differently about first-person narrative writing than I did before. The entire series is in first person except when Burke moves the point-of-view to another character. Then it goes into third person. I saw from this series many examples how it's OK to shine the introspection light on the dark corners of the hero's mind as the story unfolds to show his (or her) inner struggles. When tied to the main themes, this made for real satisfaction at the end when Dave triumphs or finds peace (even if only temporary) where there was once unease.

Also, there are the long descriptions. In settings, long descriptions are a no-no these days. And in the early books, they actually were too long and too boring. But Burke's way of describing the Louisiana he is trying to hold on to, and by extension, the good side of the old South, is like small poems injected into the narrative. Very beautiful. Incidentally, I've seen him interviewed by Lee Child and other mainstream thriller writers. They all praise his narrative descriptions and they all praise his style.

And they are right. Burke is one hell of a writer. (As an aside, I did not find anything from Bidinotto on James Lee Burke. I mention this because Bidinotto offers extensive praise of many modern thriller writers. But he resists going to the wells of inspiration they go to, the wells from which they spring, so to speak. He praises them only in Rand-oriented terms. I think this is a mistake as it misidentifies what they set for themselves as their creative tasks.)

 

Plot-wise, this is where I got enormous value. Burke makes reference to classical literature all the time, including many Biblical references. His form of plotting is to graft a murder mystery-thriller outline onto the main events of a classical tale like Beowolf, then let his characters take it from there.

What I mean by murder mystery-thriller outline is this: Innocent victim(s) is killed, then the good guy(s) tries to figure out who did it and chase them down to punish them. And the bad guys are resilient, powerful, resourceful, cunning as all hell, and so on.

The interwoven main events of classical plots provide the platform for unfolding his themes, symbolism, and mythic universality of the stories. This makes plotlines feel a bit meandering at times, but I've grown to like this form a lot. Burke himself talked about this in some YouTube video or other. And he mentioned that as the story grows while he's writing (he's mostly a pantser), he ends up screwing up the plot points of the classical plots. His characters just don't want to go there after a while. :) I think the issue is the specific narrative questions that arise. (A narrative question is what the reader wants answered, not necessarily what a character wants answered.)

 

For people with a Randian approach, Burke may not shine as a presenter of heroes until it becomes clear he gives his heroes a quirk most heroes don't have. This goes for both Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel. And just to be sure this is clear, Burke spells it out explicitly in his later books by having Dave tell Clete he doesn't see his own good and, in other situations, Clete telling Dave that he's like this.

These heroes are virtuous--virtuous to a fault at times--and see the same virtues they practice in others, but they just don't see such virtue in themselves enough to articulate it in words. They certainly see it when it's time to act. But when it gets time to put their own words to it, they are always trying to figure out how to improve and always beating themselves up when they succumb to different temptations, like Dave's alcoholism, Clete's need to get involved with women who damage him, or when the urge to lash out violently at the bad guys overpowers them so much, they fall outside good-guy lines.

Also, the people who serve as the innocent victims are often poor and from the underground culture. But not always. Burke's moral judgments are against bullying, rich or poor. 

I can't find fault with this form of hero character. Rand-wise, I think he's the poor cousin of a typical Randian hero, but he's still a hero. (I don't care what Rand said about the fly on a painting of a gorgeous woman being evil.) This goes for the different women heroes throughout the books, too.

 

On the negative side, Burke includes ghost stories, of all things. Robicheaux at times, sees the ghosts of long-dead Confederate soldiers in the mist of the bayou. He also sees people he's loved and they talk to him until he snaps out of it. In several of the books, he sees different versions of the devil, some of whom strive for redemption as they go about their killing, destruction and mayhem. (He went way overboard in the last book, A Private Cathedral, which had a friggin' phantom ship from ancient Greek times sailing in and out of the story with a grim reaper kind of character collecting souls to put on it. This one is my least favorite book of his.)

For Rand-people, going through this series is an excellent exercise in checking certain premises about creative writing, especially ones coming from Rand that I believe cause writer's block--at least they did for me. (I've written about this elsewhere.) This is not a swipe at Rand. It's merely an observation of how to step around a pitfall for novices or more advanced writers who are stuck. Of course, she provides a lot of great writing advice along with the pitfalls.

 

After this effort of reading the entire series, I can say the following with certainty. It took me a while to get to know Burke's characters and some of his literary techniques. But now that I do, I would never give them up. I can't imagine not knowing these characters nor how Burke presents them.

Michael

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Here is an extra comment on my post above.

Rand said all knowledge is contextual. I agree with this. And if the identification is contextual, what about the evaluation? It has to be contextual, too, right?

This goes for art, which in Rand's view deals with normative abstractions.

And, to me, this context rule even applies to Rand's blast of the portrait of a beautiful lady with a fly on it that I used for a side-comment. In the context Rand presented the painting, sure the fly is a purposeful demeaning of the lady, the painting, and even the aesthetic experience of looking at it in a museum.

But could there be a context where the meaning would be opposite? I can come up with several, but the following is all one needs.

Suppose this painting were the fifth or sixth in a series where the first painting showed the lady in awful decrepit surroundings with a large number of flies on it. And each ensuing painting showed improvements in the lady with a diminishing number of flies on the painting--until the last one, which has the lady presented as beautiful and has only one fly on it. Moreover, there is a spot marked out for a painting to the right of it, but no painting on it, as if to invite the viewer to fill it in with his or her imagination.

Boom. Not evil at all.

Instead, it shows growth toward both beauty and purity.

Due to context, I believe the characters Burke came up with (Dave and Clete and others) are extremely heroic. If they were transposed out of Louisiana's Big Easy (or Whore of Babylon region), they might not come off as heroes, but instead, as clueless rubes trying to be virtuous and not quite pulling it off. Where could this be? How about in a Shakespearean theater environment? Or high tech? Or working in management at a bank? Or any number of places?

The ruling Randian aesthetic question is the following. Would I, the reader, want to be like Dave or Clete? When I add context, like if I were living in their environment, hell yes, I would want to be like them. Warts and all. 

For a Randian version, think about The Fountainhead and Roark's construction worker friend, Mike Donnigan, who was as ugly as sin and gruff.

:) 

Flaws do not equal evil.

Context, not dogma, gives meaning to flaws.

Michael

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I don't know of a fly, Michael. The passage I imagine you mean reads: "Now consider the painting described at the start of this discussion. The cold sore on the lips of a beautiful woman, which would be insignificant in real life, acquires a monstrous metaphysical significance by virtue of being included in a painting....[...] Art and Sense of Life.

In short, why deliberately defile beauty?

That recalls for me many artists' and screen writers' self-ironic mockery of anything good, heroic and beautiful in mankind. In a word, "naturalism", a denial of the volitional mind. I've read all those authors you mention and they are very good. Their characters are at least depicted as slightly flawed romantic figures, who know their opponents as vile people and get to defeat them. Not: as nothing particularly virtuous separating them, the moral relativism, like much of movie and fictional art (and contemporary culture, uncoincidentally) has it. 

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Tony,

You are right. It's a cold sore. 

I misremembered this because at the time I read that passage for the first time, I actually saw a painting of a beautiful woman with a fly glued onto the painting. This is not the first time I have fucked up that passage. :) 

My point still stands, though. If you saw Rand's imagined painting within a series of painting of a person who was horribly sick at first and getting better with each painting, the meaning changes.

Context. 

Besides, art is far more than depicting beauty (or the perfect man). When depicting beauty is the context, I agree with Rand. When it is not, I have to look at the nature of the context to see how to evaluate the thing correctly.

Identifying context is part of identifying an entity. And no one can evaluate something correctly unless they identify it correctly first.

Michael

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  • 1 year later...

I am getting close to the point where my write like Ayn Rand project is going to become a reality. (You would not believe the huge amount of study I have been engaged in for this.)

There is something new that came out recently that, I believe, complements Rand's book, The Romantic Manifesto, perfectly. John Truby, one of the top script doctors for Hollywood, and one of the mankind's major story theorists, just came out with a 700+ page book on genres and why they evolved in terms of human values and philosophical meaning.

In fact, after watching the video below, it is easier--at least for me--to understand Rand's own plot structures. She constantly mixed genres, which is one of the critical ingredients in why she produced fiction masterpieces.

 

I don't know what Truby thinks of Ayn Rand. I suspect he is not a fan. But now that he has written this 700+ page book explaining some of the elements that--in reality if you study it--has caused Rand's work to be so successful for so long, I believe he will have to come around to her as a fan some day. 

There is one point where Truby and Rand part, though. Truby is a firm believer in the flawed hero kind of story and Rand strives to present the hero as a perfect role model for how to live an ideology or live according to certain principles.

And, of course, they disagree on horror, which Rand says is rooted in a death worship mentality and Truby says is rooted in religion due to the inability of the human mind to accept death. Rand only sees death qua death in that genre, but not in moral arguments. And Truby sees the moral argument in horror stories, which is: The only reason the monster is here is because we people have been doing XX (evil). But when we people start doing YY(good), we get to escape and kill the monster.

So, as I think about it, they have more in common then is on the surface, even about horror.

 

If you want to write good stories in a Randian vein, I believe this video will do more for you as preparation work than studying The Romantic Manifesto or The Art of Fiction Writing 10 times each. Those two books should come later, not as instruction for beginners.

btw - I own Truby's new book, The Anatomy of Genres: How Story Forms Explain the Way the World Works (referral link). It just came out so I haven't read it, yet. But I want to devour it in close careful study before I move on with my write like Rand project.

(I have also been doing the neuroscience of story, schema, modern psychology, the work of several Hollywood and Story badasses, and even the Poetics of Aristotle. This has been one hell of a ride. :) )

The appearance of Truby's book was a nice surprise for me at this time. I wasn't super-crazy about his former book, The Anatomy of Story, although there is much in it that is good, but this latest book, going from the video and my skims of the book, is one of the best I have seen from anyone on story. 

Michael

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Just to be clear, genre-wise, Atlas Shrugged is a mystery genre, a love genre with several suiters, an epic genre (which, according to Truby, means the events that affect the life of an individual and/or his family/friends also affect society at large), and the myth genre.

There are four genres by my count, at least so far. I have not studied or introspected on this yet. That's just off the top of my head.

I bet if we study the typical genre beats (Truby has given them most of his professional life), we will find that Rand hits all of them, or almost all.

And that doesn't even take into account subplots.

Michael

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2 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Just to be clear, genre-wise, Atlas Shrugged is a mystery genre, a love genre with several suiters, an epic genre (which, according to Truby, means the events that affect the life of an individual and/or his family/friends also affect society at large), and the myth genre.

There are four genres by my count, at least so far. I have not studied or introspected on this yet. That's just off the top of my head.

I bet if we study the typical genre beats (Truby has given them most of his professional life), we will find that Rand hits all of them, or almost all.

And that doesn't even take into account subplots.

Michael

Don't forget science-fiction!

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From the video, here are the 14 genres and what they signify, or their theme, according to Truby. But this is the list as presented by Alex Ferrari (and cleaned up and formatted by me).

Quote

1. Horror - Religion.
2. Action - Success.
3. Myth - The life process.
4. Memoir and 5. Coming of Age - Creating the self.
6. Science Fiction - Science, society and culture
7. Crime - Morality and justice.
8. Comedy - Manners and morals.
9. Western - The Rise and fall of civilization.
10. Gangster - Corruption of business and politics.
11. Fantasy - The art of living.
12. Detective and 13. Thriller - The mind and the truth
14. Love - The art of happiness. 

 

But I looked at the book. Here is a quote from the book.

Quote

The fourteen major genres are: Horror, Action, Myth, Memoir, Coming-of-Age, Science Fiction, Crime, Comedy, Western, Gangster, Fantasy, Thriller, Detective, and Love. Note: the order of presentation is critical.

Many of these genres cluster into families that share certain characteristics: Myth (Myth, Action, Western), Crime (Detective, Crime, Thriller, Gangster), and Speculative Fiction (Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy).

Each of the fourteen major genres can be broken down into subgenres, and we will discuss the most important. For example, the Caper (Heist) story is a popular form of Action and Crime. These subgenres diversify into hundreds of sub-subgenres, but the main beats are the same.

 

And here is another quote from the book that gives more explanation.

Quote

Expressing the genre’s philosophy is the key to any story you write. This unique Mind-Action story view is what really hooks the reader. In turn, drama infuses the genre’s lesson for how to live with tremendous emotional power. This is the story gold.

Each genre’s recipe for how to live well is based on its fundamental concern. For example:

      HORROR: Confront death and face your ghosts from the past.

      ACTION: 90 percent of success is taking action.

      MYTH: Seek immortality by finding your destiny in this life.

      MEMOIR AND COMING-OF-AGE: Examine your life to create your true self.

      SCIENCE FICTION: Make the right choices now to ensure a better future for all.

      CRIME: Protect the weak and bring the guilty to justice.

      COMEDY: Success comes when you strip away all facades and show others who you really are.

      WESTERN: When you help others make a home, you create a civilization where everyone is free to live their best life.

      GANGSTER: Don’t be enslaved by absolute power and money or you will pay the ultimate price.

      FANTASY: Discover the magic in yourself that makes life itself an art form.

      DETECTIVE AND THRILLER: Look for the truth and assign guilt in spite of the danger.

      LOVE: Learning how to love is the key to happiness.

One of the advantages of using genres is you can express powerful and complex themes through the form’s deep structure.

 

Truby also gives the list Farrari gave above. So I won't quote that.

But then he also gave some examples.

Quote

The following best express the techniques needed to write a great story in each genre:

      HORROR/Religion: Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, Alien, Get Out, Psycho, Ex Machina, Westworld 

      ACTION/Success: Mad Max: Fury Road, Die Hard, Seven Samurai, the Iliad, The Thomas Crown Affair, Rocky, The Hustler 

      MYTH/The Life Process: Star Wars: A New Hope, The Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz, Black Panther, Avatar, the Odyssey 

      MEMOIR AND COMING-OF-AGE STORY/Creating the Self: The Liars’ Club, Into Thin Air, Moonlight, Cinema Paradiso, CODA, To Kill a Mockingbird 

      SCIENCE FICTION/Science, Society, and Culture: Arrival, The Matrix, Inception, Interstellar, 2001: A Space Odyssey 

      CRIME/Morality and Justice: Breaking Bad, The Dark Knight, The Usual Suspects, Crime and Punishment, In Bruges 

      COMEDY/Manners and Morals: Seinfeld, Little Miss Sunshine, Groundhog Day, Wedding Crashers 

      WESTERN/The Rise and Fall of Civilization: Shane, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Once Upon a Time in the West 

      GANGSTER/The Corruption of Business and Politics: The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Sopranos, The Great Gatsby, Mad Men, Network 

      FANTASY/The Art of Living: Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Big, Pleasantville, Mary Poppins, It’s a Wonderful Life, Alice in Wonderland 

      DETECTIVE AND THRILLER/The Mind and the Truth: - Detective: L.A. Confidential, The Collected Sherlock Holmes Short Stories, Vertigo, Knives Out, Murder on the Orient Express, Chinatown, Rashomon - Thriller: The Silence of the Lambs, Michael Clayton, The Sixth Sense, The Conversation, Shadow of a Doubt 

      LOVE/The Art of Happiness: Silver Linings Playbook, 500 Days of Summer, When Harry Met Sally, The Philadelphia Story, Sideway

 

As you can see, the words change a bit. So this approach needs conceptual thinking, not paint-by-the-numbers thinking (and certainly not gotcha thinking. :) )

 

Also, there was something that bothered me. I mentioned that AS was an epic. From what I can tell right now, Truby does not consider epic to be a genre, but he does consider it to be a story form that is widely used. On skimming through the book, I saw that he uses epic as a form of qualifying a genre. So there is a Horror Epic, an Action Epic and so on.

Here is a quote from his book about what epic means by itself:

Quote

Epic is one of the oldest story forms, found in Gilgamesh and much of Greek mythology, as well as the Iliad. The classic definition of an epic is that the fate of the nation is determined by, or represented in, the actions of a single individual or family.

 

I don't want to quote more right now since I got those from keyword searches and skimming and not from knowing the material cold, like I aspire to do.

But that alone should be helpful and get aspiring authors in O-Land to develop a fire under their asses to stop bullshitting and get writing...

:) 

Michael

 

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I want to do some free-flow musing right now because a few points have come up from the bottom of my mind.

 

1. Writing methods about writing methods.

Most people who write how-to-write-fiction books repackage information they get from how-to-write-fiction books. I speak from studying a hell of a lot of them.

This approach makes the jargon a mess. I have literally seen some people claim that narrative is merely a sequence of events, but story is when meaning is added, and other people say that story is the sequence of events and narrative is when meaning is added.

Now imagine doing that with all the terms involved, including plot, theme, character, description, emotion, and so on. The mess is what modern story study materials look like.

The people who use this approach often latch onto a pet theory and try to force all of story into it. They will give great nuggets of information here and there, but their scope problem is all over the place.

For quick example, look at the Hero's Journey. Soon after Star Wars came out and George Lukas credited Joseph Campbell with the plot template he used, everybody and their entire families jumped on this bandwagon. Many people claimed that this is the only story template worth using for popular works. Others have done this with Save the Cat, Robert McKee's work, the three act structure, and on and on.

At root, all these people do is repeat what they read and learned from instruction books abut writing and lump the information together with their own spin on it. 

 

Rand herself is guilty of this approach if you consider that she used lessons she had learned in Hollywood and amplified her own spin part with a high degree of introspection about what works for her. Since she rejected much of what she learned in Hollywood, too (like horror films), this makes her approach to teaching writing difficult to absorb by beginning writers.

I believe this is one of the reasons so much fiction written by Rand-influenced people is so awful. They never learned how to tell a compelling story to begin with.

The people who were strongly Rand-influenced and became successful knew how to tell a story--and did that in their writing--BEFORE they added in the Randian ideas. A great example is Terry Goodkind. The public loves him. The official O-Land people not so much. The reason is that protecting Rand's reputation is top value for them, but the public doesn't give a crap about that. The public wants a good story. And Terry laughed all the way to the bank when he was alive. He didn't need to feel superior to anyone. At telling a good story, he WAS superior.

Just to be clear, Rand learned--to the point of greatness--how to tell a good story. She just sucked as a teacher of writing. And, to be fair, after one learns how to tell a story well, her books on art and writing have much to recommend them.

But they provide insights here and there, not universal principles that explain, for example, the constant popularity through centuries and across different cultures of the Iliad or Gilgamesh or Jane Austin or Shakespeare and on and on and on.

She vested the cloak of being the Brand New True Way and all of mankind's works up to that point are flawed (with a few exceptions). If that is your starting point and you don't know how to tell a story, you will probably suck when you try. After you can do story, getting tips and ideas from her way can produce some great results. But you have to use your own brain to make that work. And you have to be able to tell a story well.

 

2. The telephone game.

In this approach, people look at the past up to the present, see what stories have been handed down over the centuries, and try to extract what parts have been kept the most.

The metaphor for this is the telephone game. This is when a person telephones one person and tells a story. That person hangs up, telephones the next person and tells the same story. And so on down the line. As the story gets retold, it gets changed in minor (or major, but usually minor) ways by each teller. By the end of the line, the story is not recognizable as the first story that was told.

The theory behind this method of study is that there are common elements between the first and the last (or last few studied--but essentially all versions) that have common elements to them. And these common elements are universal truths about human nature. The nonessential elements got chipped off with each retelling.

 

Freud was one of the first modern people who picked up on this method and used it as one of his foundations for psychology. People who study fairy tales and folktales across different cultures (say Vladimir Propp, but there are many) do this, too.

Joseph Campbell did this with the Hero's Journey.

Blake Snyder did this with Save the Cat (except the group of samples he studied was more modern--basically countless hours of talk among practicing screenwriters as his starting point).

And this leads me to Truby. He used the telephone method. That is why he can seem inconsistent at times. But if you know this, you can harvest a crapload of great story ideas from him that have withstood the test of time. You can use the things you like and dismiss the things you don't like and you will always be the richer for it. You will learn how to tell stories people have wanted to hear for centuries on up to now.

This is why I implied earlier that people with a gotcha mentality are not able to use this system well. Truby is not making predictions about absolute truths. He is showing what has worked over time from his own observations and study. 

 

3. The science way.

Another way of studying story is neuroscience and modern psychology. DARPA invested a lot of money into this and there are university faculties all over the world that are now devoted to the study of story. For example, Paul Zak popularized the release of oxytocin in audiences from hearing, watching or reading a story based on his DARPA work. Another example. Ohio State University has Project Narrative and I am studying the crap out of the work of Angus Fletcher who is one of the leaders. This study the world over is backed up by science experiments, brain science things like fMRI scans, blood samples to measure neurochemicals and things like that. 

Neither Rand nor Truby fall into this category.

But I believe these findings are used in a lot of propaganda in today's world. That's one of the reasons people are at each other's throats all the time. Propagandists use this stuff to gain covert advantages for their agenda, not to develop individual capacities for all humans based on their own volition. The propagandists are looking for tools of mass control, not tools for teaching skills and capacities to individuals (I want to say empowerment, but I can't stand that word in the way it has been abused these days).

I am going to have a lot to say about this as I go along. In fact, I already have said a lot over the years. :) But I just scratched the tip of the iceberg.

 

4. Drama, Western and stuff.

Truby left out drama in his list of genres this go around. But he has given classes on drama as a genre with beats and all. I found this curious because Soap Operas are enormously popular. So are films like Ordinary People.

The gist of a drama is people trying to convince others close to them of something while dealing with their own dark secrets of things that happened to them in the past. Atlas Shrugged has drama genre running right through it in the stories of Hank Rearden's family or Cheryl Taggart's tragedy (that last is not a love story, it is a drama).

I didn't look through the book to get quotes on drama, though. I am now reading the book and I will just see what Truby says when it comes up.

Also, Truby included Western as a genre. Obviously, this is a minor form today if we limit it to cowboys and Indians. But if it is a template for settling new lands like planets in outer space or underwater colonies and so on, that is valid in today's popular culture. Avatar anyone? Which shows it weds well with the Science Fiction genre.

At any rate, I want to see what Truby says as I read the book. If you are an aspiring writer and are going to go this route, and I highly suggest you do, I also suggest you take Truby's genre categories as a result of his own work distilling the telephone game for making blockbuster movies, TV shows and series, and novels. If you do his kind of study, you might find results that differ here or there. But the core will hold.

I believe this book of his on genre, from what I have seen and based on everything I have studied up to now, will be about as solid a foundation for how to create feature fiction stories for pop culture as you are going to get anywhere. Rather than go about trying to disprove this or that, I believe it is far better to add to it according to your own experiences and thinking and values. In other words, use it as a tool, not as a thesis to bicker over.

 

I gotta say that last part for any aspiring writers out there, but I am fully aware that telling O-Land people not to bicker is a losing proposition.

:) 

Michael

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On 1/2/2023 at 10:27 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Ohio State University has Project Narrative and I am studying the crap out of the work of Angus Fletcher who is one of the leaders.

I am in doubt about posting the video below because it does not deal with writing like Rand per se. However, when I first came across Angus, I watched a bunch of his videos and got his book, then at one point, I panicked because there was a shining idea among all that, and idea that put everything I knew about story in check, but I could not remember where I came across the idea. After all, each video was one or two hours long and I saw a bunch of them. And I had my life to deal with, too. So the prospect of going back to seek for one idea among all that meant I kept putting it off until now.

As you can guess, I found the video and it is the one below.

 

So what was the idea that kept me awake at night?

There are neurons in the brain for processing sensory input and neurons for motor control of muscles. The neurons for sensory input need data to work well. The muscle neurons need little to no data and they work just fine. These muscle neurons establish the tiny plot-lines of our existence through motion, not abstraction. In fact, our awareness of causality comes from them, not from the sensory input neurons. That means story arises mostly from these neurons, not from the sensory input processing neurons.

This ties in to Rand due to her blank slate computer model of the human mind.

I don't want to go into a discussion of all this right here. But since I finally found the video where Angus talked about it (thank God! :) ), you can let him explain it.

 

btw - I just watched it for a second time, all two hours.

This is one I intend to watch at least two more times before Angus's book, Storythinking, comes out later this year.

I am posting this video here as a bookmark. But if you are following my thinking in this thread, I highly recommend you watch it for the theoretical base. I am going to reference Angus's work in mine when I finish my work on how to write like Ayn Rand, and the one I have outlined as a primer before that, Story Hacking.

For those who have the patience and the neurons, enjoy.

Just think, this kind of shit is what I do for fun...

:)

Michael

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On 1/3/2023 at 4:52 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I am in doubt about posting the video below because it does not deal with writing like Rand per se. However, when I first came across Angus, I watched a bunch of his videos and got his book, then at one point, I panicked because there was a shining idea among all that, and idea that put everything I knew about story in check, but I could not remember where I came across the idea. After all, each video was one or two hours long and I saw a bunch of them. And I had my life to deal with, too. So the prospect of going back to seek for one idea among all that meant I kept putting it off until now.

As you can guess, I found the video and it is the one below.

 

So what was the idea that kept me awake at night?

There are neurons in the brain for processing sensory input and neurons for motor control of muscles. The neurons for sensory input need data to work well. The muscle neurons need little to no data and they work just fine. These muscle neurons establish the tiny plot-lines of our existence through motion, not abstraction. In fact, our awareness of causality comes from them, not from the sensory input neurons. That means story arises mostly from these neurons, not from the sensory input processing neurons.

This ties in to Rand due to her blank slate computer model of the human mind.

I don't want to go into a discussion of all this right here. But since I finally found the video where Angus talked about it (thank God! :) ), you can let him explain it.

 

btw - I just watched it for a second time, all two hours.

This is one I intend to watch at least two more times before Angus's book, Storythinking, comes out later this year.

I am posting this video here as a bookmark. But if you are following my thinking in this thread, I highly recommend you watch it for the theoretical base. I am going to reference Angus's work in mine when I finish my work on how to write like Ayn Rand, and the one I have outlined as a primer before that, Story Hacking.

For those who have the patience and the neurons, enjoy.

Just think, this kind of shit is what I do for fun...

:)

Michael

Just saw the following elsewhere, seems relevant (if presented a bit simplisticly in the article itself, which doesn't really go in-depth into the research it mentions)....

"Telling Your Story May Be Good for Your Health"
 

Mental and physical health benefits

In a study on expressive writing, researchers asked 1 group of participants to select a personally traumatic experience and write about it for 15 minutes for 4 days in a row. The researchers then compared this group's responses with a group that wrote about neutral topics. Those in the first group reported an improved mood after writing, as well as long-term health benefits including improved memory, fewer intrusive negative thoughts or memories, and reduced blood pressure.1

 

The study found that participants with serious health diagnoses showed more improvement than those in the control group. They reported improved sleep, reduced pain intensity, and even improvements to their immune system.1

How does writing about traumatic experiences have a positive physiological effect? One theory is that bottling up thoughts and emotions related to a painful event requires work that can stress the body and mind. Bringing those feelings out through writing may reduce that stress and provide relief.2

HS-1174-facebook-custom.png
HSDISEASE.COM

Research suggests that telling your story may be good for your health. This article summarizes one study's results and offers tips for getting...

 

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TG,

I discovered that early on.

The thing I didn't have was a system to do it with regularity. It's one thing to say you are going to keep a journal. It's quite another to do it. Every journal or diary I tried always ended up getting boring after a while and I quit.

 

But I found a system, hell, the best system in the world. It is taught by Jack Grapes (Method Writing). You write, not to talk about yourself although you do. You write to improve your writing with practice, much in the same way a basketball player shoots hoops at night. But you do it with focused intention. You have to. Otherwise, you will automate mediocrity in your subconscious. And you want to automate excellence and focus.

 

Here is just one exercise Grapes gives.

You only write about yourself. You do not write about anyone else. Not at first. Later you can talk about others, but only in the sense that they relate to the two questions below. However at first, it is better to ban all others and just talk about your favorite subject, you. No moralizing about others. Just words about you.

And no adverbs. None. Zero. Also, use 10% maximum of the adjectives you use as your norm. None is better.

You would not believe how tight your writing gets this way.

Then write free flow for a bit. Anything. Jack says, in a pinch, to write that you have to pick up a chicken for dinner if that crosses your mind. Write anything no matter how stupid or great.

As you write in free flow, and you don't need to do much for this exercise, a paragraph or two works, go back and look at the first sentences you wrote. Then choose a sentence and remove everything except the subject and verb. No direct object. No qualifier. Nothing.

 

For example in this post I would take the sentence, "I discovered that early on."

Then I would keep "I discovered."

Using just those two words, I ask two questions.

How does this relate to the truth of who I am? If you do this, once you get started, you will find yourself writing up a storm without thinking about it.

But there's more. The second question.

"I discovered." How does this relate to the story of my life? My past? Once you start writing about that, it just all comes out. And since I am a blabber-mouth, this exercise was tailor-made for me.

:) 

 

I also set a minimum limit of 500 words per journal entry. I can go over, but never under. I have done this since last May. I have not missed a day, but I did have to do make-up a few times when life got in the way. I only remember once or twice when I had to make up for more than one day. Nowadays, I never miss more than one day if I have to miss. And I always do the make-up the next day.

That means I have written the equivalent of about two novel since May just in word count.

This does not include forum posting or my fiction writing. That's just my Journal.

And, yes, I believe this has made me happier and more at peace with problems from my past than anything else I have tried. I am not writing for this, but this is a nice byproduct.

Don't forget, journal writing is not writing a product or a project. This is practice. I do keep things I write at times in notes elsewhere (since I come up with some awesome shit at times :)  ), but this practice is not meant to become anything more than that. Pages in a practice journal. If nobody ever reads it, that's OK. I wrote it for me and for the moment.

Try it sometime. You might discover some things about your capacity that will knock your socks off.

:) 

Michael

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