|Writing and a sense of place
||[Aug. 6th, 2005|09:50 am]
I tend to use Venice a lot when I'm writing. There's usually a town with a river running through it, or places where you can punt from one house to the next. I like crowded cities with places to vanish into the masses and grime and crime. Small towns do nothing for me.
I like pre steam medieval or shortly post steam era stories. Modern day stuff doesn't interest me usually, partially because there isn't as much of a place to explore. Even if the plot is bad, I could enjoy learning what a place is like. If I know the place, then everything falls back on the strength of the characters and the plot.
I don't care that much about evocations of canon. I love it when you get a good story that also has the feel of the canon (or the genre) but the story comes first, and the canon comes second. This means that I'm not really fixated on reading / watching the canon for fanfic before reading it. I care more about the story.
Steampunk, interestingly enough, interests me more than cyberpunk. I think some of that is that steampunk is an interesting dichotomy of the strictures of Victorian life (sometimes) and the fascinating kiboshed technology you get with cyberpunk. Cyberpunk at times can get overly utopian or overly dystopian. I don't want to read about the perfect society with happy people skipping through VR with the sound of sitars and mandalas or whatever. I don't want to see overly self aware angry people (who all sound like high school students) with a corrupt government and gratuitous violence. I think another problem is that I don't like how tech can become the deus ex machina for stories. Unless if I know exactly the limits of what technology can do in a story, I don't know if - for example, the terrible problems in the story could just be fixed via plugging in the Blovonitch limiter.
Sort of winging off of utopias, the main reason why I hate them is that they don't foster plot - or specifically the kinds of plots I like. I like angst and drama and changing things for the better. I like snippy arguements and banter and hate shifting into respect. I like terrifying realizations. Sort of like realizing that this spot isn't a wine stain or that shadow isn't the trees (and I'm reminded of that poem by Auden - that spot on your skin is a shocking disease.) I'm also sensative to stories that smack of - mm - racism isn't the right term, but it sort of fits. Having Joe Perfection skip down to the uncivilized lands is ripe for problems. If Joe decides they're right, and his home's wrong, you've got risks of romanticization of more "primative cultures." If Joe's right, and they're wrong, you've got basically a story that's preaching how great Joe is. Even if I like Joe, that gets old quick. If it turns out that there's good aspects of both cultures, I'm still getting a story about what a neat place the author has and not a story about the people.
Looking at this, it seems like my sense of place in a story is completely hooked into the plot. Since I write fiction, that's not too surprising. I've got complete control over where something is set, and the setting, used well, can be just as strong as the other elements. Hm. Still, interesting. I don't know why water and technology hooks into it so much.