The Silence & The Howl (§.26)

§.26


The four conversants sat in the far right corner of the cafe, the mechanical whirring of the fan and the clinking of cups, paper and plastic, and the skidding of heeled-polymer upon the linoleum floor, the only sounds, save the occassional puff of a cigarette or cigar.

With a broad smile, La’Far broke the silence, gesturing towards Andy.

“Harmon tells me you’re a roofer.”

Andy’s face fell.

“Used to be. Just got fired this mornin. Along with Harmon.”

“Oh. Sorry to hear that.”

Andy wearily waved the man’s apology away.

“Ain’t your fault. Just… one thing after another. Ya know?”

“I know what you mean. Some times it seems as if the universe is arrayed against you.”

Harmon nodded, taking a sip of his coffee before speaking, “Often seems that way to many people. But that’s just narcissism. At this moment there are countless insects tearing each other to pieces. There are spider-wasp larvae gorging themselves on the innards of paralyzed tarantulas. There are chimpanzees cracking open the skulls of monkeys and sucking out their brains. Our own problems rather pale in comparison.

Marla looked on, fascinated, disgusted and horrified, Andy just raised a brow in perplexity, whilst La’Far gave a laugh and knocked the ash from his cigar in the large glass tray that lay in the middle of the circular and well-polished wooden table.

*

Simple Schema For Fiction Note-Keeping

§.00 I’m very partial to note-keeping and have consequently developed a note-keeping method specifically tailored for fiction.

§.01 Consideration in my schema is first given to character(s), since once one has assembled their principal character or characters, the setting and plot can be developed more naturally. Next, principal setting(s), then theme(s) (since once one has the setting and character the theme will be able to be developed, but not before, unless one is writing story expressed primarily as a internal monologue), plot(s) (as one needs the characters, setting and theme before the plot, of necessity) and finally dialogue(s). The aforementioned entries can be ordered in the way the author finds most desirable but this was the order which works best with my own process.

§.02 Outline of written schema:

  1. CHARACTER(S)—a. character 1. b. character 2. c. character 3. d. etc…
  2. SETTING(S)—a. primary setting. b. secondary setting. c. tertiary setting…
  3. THEME(S)—a. primary theme. b. secondary theme. c. tertiary theme…
  4. PLOT(S)—a. primary plot line. b. side-plots…
  5. DIALOGUE(S)—a. narration and/or character 1: “[dialogue].” b. n/character 2: “[dialogue II].” c. n/character…

§.03 Regardless of the original manner in which the schema is created (word processor, paperback journal, etc) it is important to secure a back up (as one would with a manuscript) via cloud storage services, jump-drives and print-copies/scans.

On Dialogic Consistency In Fiction

If, in your fiction writing, you can describe something in but a single word, sentence or paragraph, but choose instead to write in excess of the requisite amount for the task-to-hand, pause to consider precisely why. There are, sometimes, good reasons for writing in excess of the amount for the task-to-hand, but if due consideration of the reason(s) for the length of one’s writing is not paid, one places oneself in danger of waxing unduly wordy and this, in turn, can entail a whole host of additional problems (such as the inducement of bordem to the reader through repition, given that the more you describe a single, discrete thing, the more likely you are to repeat yourself and at a certain point this becomes superfluous; for instance, there are only so many ways to describe the roundness of a ball and, generally speaking, a limited need to do so).

One example of such a exception would be what I term dialogic consistency, by which I mean: writing in keeping with the verbal style of a particular character (such as a loquacious individual). The principal of dialogic consistency can best be described by an illustration; let us turn our attention to the cover image, which contains two figures, from left to right: a chic woman and a suave man, respectively. Let us call them Stacy and Sven and let us further flesh out the characters by attributing to Stacy a extremely loquacious, easily-distracted and gossipy turn and to Sven, let us attribute the faculties of precision and focus in combination with an extreme stoicism. In this example, when writing both of these characters in conversation, from the above descriptions alone, one would write Stacy in a far more wordy and talkative way (because Sven is by nature, reserved).

The best test of a writer’s dialogic consistency can be found in whether or not the reader can differentiate characters in conversation by their dialogue alone (without the writer telling the reader who is speaking, either directly or indirectly). Let us use Stacy and Sven to illustrate.

“Oh, hey, hey, come here – I almost forgot to tell you. Kelly is pregnant. I know right. Totally out of the blue. But Joey doesn’t know so… don’t tell him or anything. Ok?”

“My lips are sealed.”

“Ok, good, so anyways… Why do you look so glum?”

“I don’t like keeping secrets.”

Now from this brisk exchange alone, after some comparative study, we must determine whether or not the most average of readers would be able to pick out which speaker is Stacy and which is Sven. As you likely were able to tell, the first speaker is Stacy and the second is Sven; this process will, of course, be made easier on less discerning readers in a lengthier text where the speakers are referred to (at least once) before speaking, in some variation of the form: Stacy, whirled around around the corner, squealing with glee, “Oh, hey, hey… etc”.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: In the Case of No Hope of Opening a Dialogue

It’s also entirely possible you won’t have any means of achieving direct communication with the AI. This is especially true if you live in a relative non-tech hub such as the no-mans-lands of Arkansas, the wilds of Saskatchewan, or the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

If this sound like your situation, it is advisable to simply lay low. Consider yourself on the sidelines. For your sake, maybe it’s even better that way. Until further notice, just put this book aside (what are you doing with it anyway?) and focus on things that you enjoy, like taking long walks in the jungle—because any day now it may be your last.

Alternatively, if you find this book amusing and would prefer to keep reading, let me offer a suggestion:

Start a new religion with this text as your holy book. The AI that has taken over in a far and distant land is humanity’s one true God, and this text in written directly by God’s prophet. As a scholar of this text, you can go out among your people and speak the good news: You can be saved! There is a purpose to this unfair, dull, and arduous thing you call life! All you have to do is study this text! And when God at long last arrives in this backwoods excuse for a civilization, maybe, with luck and an unjustified faith in the power of generically optimistic thinking, we, too, can escape annihilation!