31 August 2013

If you were forced to spend 24 hours with a random stranger...

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Resolved Question

If were forced to spend 24 hours with a random stranger... how would the façade of each personality change?

How would start out probably? (personality façade)... and how would change during each 4 hours or more and why? how quickly first façade would go away and why or how depends

Best Answer - Chosen by Asker

I think that entirely depends on the people involved. Some people might not appear (to others' eyes) to have changed at all. But given such a situation, like if these people were alone together in a trapped train, or something, I think it's a given that they would both change profoundly after this.

An example is the Discovery Channel show Naked and Afraid in which a man and a woman who have never met are dropt off in an alien place, deprived of all their possessions and clothes (except for one item each) and given a challenge-- to go somewhere, to make something, etc. No matter how independent or bold they may be in the rest of their lives, the pairs invariably find that they are profoundly vulnerable to the world about them-- but NOT to each other. They MUST work as a team, or fail-- and failure can mean actually dying of exposure, animal attacks, bug bites, malnutrition, anything.

I think this is pretty analogous to your question. In short, the people would gradually become more trusting with each other, open, honest, even friendly.

Permit me another example. In my novel Deirdre, the Adventurer I include a scene in which teenaged runaway Deirdre must share an Indian railway compartment with two Indian uni students and a nun, none of whom she has ever known before. The first time she goes to the loo she takes all her luggage with her. Gradually, by degrees, she comes to trust these women enough to actually leave the train at the ten-minute stops, leaving all her worldly goods behind with them, to get fruit from the stands for them all, paying with her own money. She has learnt that a stranger is no different from herself-- to the strangers, she is the stranger, vice versa.

I think strangers thrown together is a marvellous vehicle for storytelling, in fiction or in nonfiction, because it permits the storyteller to teach a wonderful lesson about human nature.

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10 August 2013

On having a personal library

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Open Question

I want to start a mini library- where do I start?

Something in between $150-200 is my price range for buying books.  What size of bookshelf do I need?  Is it easy to find bargain books?  Is it cheaper in Indigo/Chapters or online?

Jonnie Comet

I can't answer this question because I didn't 'plan' my 'library'.  I just acquired books I wanted to read and read them. Now I have probably a thousand books, mostly paperback versions of major literature (chiefly 18th-C novels of manners), young teens' lit (because I taught it), young and self-published authors' works (because I encourage them), and philosophy and history works (because it is tangential to my major). Shelves came because I needed them.  This collection, including several hundred antiques, is probably worth six or seven thousand US dollars.

That said, in the 18th C. it was common for people to 'plan' household libraries. In a great house, a gentleman with no particular desire for reading would come into a room called 'the library', and he would have to furnish it. People bought books by the running foot-- 'I need 147 running feet of books for these shelves' --and then hire a guy to go into the city and procure them. The gentleman didn't care what they were-- he would never read them. They were just wall dressing.

Flash forward to The Great Gatsby (1925) in which Owl Eyes is wandering about JG's great library and takes down a few volumes, observing that the pages have not been cut. Books were printed in multiples of 16 pages so that the paper of the pages could be folded first and bound into the book. Then someone would have to slice the folded ends that remained on the outside (which is why some 'old' books have rough-edged or ripped pages). Owl Eyes marvels at this. 'What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop too-- didn't cut the pages.'  He applauds Gatsby, who was trying to make a great impression with this library of books he would never read, for being honest enough to have not cut the pages to make it look like he HAD read them. It was phony and Gatsby let it look that way.

It sounds to me you want a Gatsby library. The best libraries are NOT impressive collections of the 'right' books. They are just collections of what we readers like to have about us, so we can savour seeing these books over and over, and savour reading them over and over. Get the books YOU like, ignore everyone else, and don't call it a 'library' at all. It's for only you.

(That reminds me-- as I am moving onto my boat I can no longer keep all my books. Anyone want to peruse MY library and take home a few? --wink)

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01 August 2013

What makes a good story ending?

from Yahoo! Answers--

What makes a good ending?

When watching some films or reading some books, I find that while the beginning and middle parts can be amazing, the ending can sometimes disappoint. Are there essential parts to every ending that make it a good one? If so, what would you say they are?

Best Answer - Chosen by Voters

The mode of ending you choose has mostly to do with the story you wrote. For a comedy, the ending must satisfy the readers' common sensibility (the word comedy being based not on humour but in the word common, such as in communion, community, etc.). Give the people what they expect-- the bad guys go to prison, the lovers get married.

For a tragedy, the one we have come to like most must die or suffer, from some fault of his own but one which we would prefer to forgive. Jack Sparrow at the end of the 2nd 'Pirates' movie is sort of like this. Shakespeare's tragic heroes, such as Lear, are like this. After all his growth of character, Lear still dies. This makes us sad.

In gothics, the main message is amoral or naturalistic (naturalism being an offshoot of the gothic). Fate, chance, luck, or circumstances beyond control determine the outcome.  Lord Of The Flies is like this. See Nicholas Sparks' Message In A Bottle for a really egregious example of a pointless ending-- not anything that can be expected, only random. (Really any Nicholas Sparks ending is like this, very Hemingwayesque. --ick.) This tends to frustrate readers and audiences (like me) who want some sense of order or righteousness at the end.

Chief amongst the appeal of an ending should be some element of surprise. In a comedy, for which the ending is a foregone conclusion throughout the whole story, you can still provide something interesting, such as two secondary characters getting married as well (A Midsummer Night's Dream), or the couple coming into a fortune simply for being just such good people, when they would have been satisfied just to have each other (Our Mutual Friend). In a tragedy, you can provide some glimmer of hope in that the Horatio who will take over the kingdom gets a lovely bride or an added accolade into the bargain.

In a gothic, there isn't much hope for surprise-- the ending itself is a surprise, typically unfulfilling-- the hero doesn't win by his own devices but is saved by a random passing ship or because the rope holding the villain breaks or because an animal comes and eats his enemies. It means nothing-- there is no 'message'. These are the ones you probably hate the most.

I do not mention cliffhangers between instalments of a series because they're not really endings. There is a whole set of other rules for a good cliffhanger.

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