Wyrdwend

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

WHY WOULD HE?

WHY WOULD HE?

“I should think the answer would be self-evident, even to you. Why would I wish to have adventures only in my mind when I should have them with my body and soul as well? In his own mind a man is always but an unchallenged and untested king upon an imaginary golden throne of plenty. But to thrive in the world about him he must be something far greater, far more cunning, more dangerous, and far more wise – a Wizard of Many Things.”

Alternaeus the Wizard

(from The Wizard and the Wyrdpack)

CONTRIVORTIONIST

Contrived is a Four-Letter Word

Few things irritate fiction readers more than a story peopled by characters who act and react without any apparent reason for what they’re doing and saying. No reason, that is, except to illustrate the author’s message. Or prove the author’s point.

Well, you say, don’t we all have a message or point in what we write? Isn’t fiction about letting our characters take the readers on a journey of discovery and even realization? Yes…and no. Writers of powerful fiction keep in mind that the story trumps all. The story, and the characters who people it, should be crafted such that it all presents ideas, challenges understanding, and encourages discourse. It should feel authentic. If a character faces a struggle, we need to understand why he is struggling. If a character experiences joy, we need to know why that even brought her joy. When a fiction writer just has characters do and say what will prove their point or “teach” their message, without showing the why behind it all, without laying a sound foundation for the character to do and say what he is doing and saying, that writer is no longer writing fiction, but delivering a sermon. Or even worse, a story that’s…wait for it…contrived.

Dear ol’ Webster defined contrived as: “having an unnatural or false appearance or quality :  artificial, labored.”

When it comes to fiction, I define contrived as “weak writing.”

Think about it. The last thing you want your readers doing as they read your book is constantly stopping, frowning, and asking, “Why did he do that?” or “Why did she say that?” I’m not talking about the good kind of “why,” where readers want to keep reading to discover the answer to the mystery or the story question. No, this kind of why means the characters aren’t doing their jobs. They’re on the page, acting and speaking…but it doesn’t mean anything because you haven’t given reasons for what the characters are doing.

Suppose you have a hero who is constantly second guessing himself. He goes one way, and then another, and then another entirely. If we don’t understand what’s making said hero do such things, we end up thinking he’s weak, wishy-washy, and even irritating. “Make a choice, idiot, and stick with it!”) But if we know WHY he’s acting that way it changes everything. When we know that our hero was abused as a kid, that every time he took a stand he was punished, that every decision he’s ever made has been ridiculed…then we realize that he’s not operating out of being a twit, but out of a deep-rooted fear. When we understand the why, we are far more willing to go along with what, on the surface, is maddening behavior. Understanding the why gives readers a sense of empathy, and even encourages them to root for the character. (“Come on, dude, you can do it! Grow a spine!”)

Remember, though, the reason, the why, has to be sound. It can’t be just, “I’ll have him say this because it’s what I need him to say now.”

Yes, we novelists have created our characters. And yes, we have reasons for writing the stories we’re writing (and that applies to general market writers as much as Christian writers…we all have a message at the core of what we write), but folks, do your characters–and your readers–a favor and make sure your characters aren’t just puppets on the page. Flesh them out, let who they are and why they are, what drives them and what terrifies them, what delights them and what upsets them, unfold with the story. Let your characters come alive on the page, let them be authentic in what they say and do, and let them have solid reasons for it all.

When you lay a solid, credible foundation of why, story, your characters, and your readers all benefit.

 

AN END WILL COME ANON (I AM RESOLVED)

AN END WILL COME ANON

Unresolved I nothing did
Resolved at once I swiftly bid, but
Finding other ends so hid
Within the beam, and bound amid
I resolutely, God forbid,
Discovered not what cause undid
What cunning tactic
Could not Cure, what resolution
Did procure, does thinking thus
Make sure allure, or do our thoughts
Our acts abjure when Time
Is counted Friend or Foe,
Does it matter, do you know?

Or is this best solved in the Heart
Some never do, some flaming start
Yet those who finish, finish true
Brook no excuse, all pleas eschew
When they start they set off hot
Then burn until most have forgot
But in their souls no fire dims
They seek a crown, and seek it grim
They go on, and on, up to the rim
To end what ere they first begin
While others speak, they act
And act, and act again…
In habit so unlike most men.

You ask me what has most import
The time, the nature, or the sport?
I tell you that it matters not
It matters what you’ve yet begot
While others to their fallen lot
Pause to rest, and then do squat
For good – though good be ill
To carry on no more, still,
Stillness is their end:
So yes, the question solves itself
If any will but hear it well,
The start is vital, this is true
The middle hard to labor through
Yet if you but continue on
While others drop,
Their motives gone –

Your end will come, and come anon…
Resolved, your aim is true.

 

(Written as my answer to being resolved for 2017)

BOB DYLAN’S TREASURES

A very unusual choice, but well deserved from my point of view. As a musical lyricist and poet Dylan is superb. Almost unmatched. A throwback, and a modern Bard really.

October 13 at 7:56 AM
Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday for work that the Swedish Academy described as “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

He is the first American to win the prize since Toni Morrison in 1993, and a groundbreaking choice by the Nobel committee to select the first literature laureate whose career has primarily been as a musician.

Although long rumored as a contender for the prize, Dylan was far down the list of predicted winners, which included such renown writers as Haruki Murakami and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o.

This is the second year in a row that the academy has turned away from fiction writers for the literature prize. And it’s possibly the first year that the prize has gone to someone who is primarily a musician, not a writer.

‘Greatest living poet’ Bob Dylan wins Nobel literature prize

Play Video0:24
Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onwards, won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature Oct. 13. (Reuters)

The permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, made the announcement in Stockholm. In a televised interview afterward, Danius said that Dylan “embodies the tradition. And for 54 years, he’s been at it, reinventing himself, creating a new identity.” She suggested that people unfamiliar with his work start with “Blonde on Blonde,” his album from 1966.

“Bob Dylan writes poetry for the ear,” she said. “But it’s perfectly fine to read his works as poetry.”

She drew parallels between Dylan’s work and poets as far back as Greek antiquity.

“It’s an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming and his pictorial thinking,” Danius said. “If you look back, far back, you discover Homer and Sappho, and they wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to. They were meant to be performed. It’s the same way with Bob Dylan. But we still read Homer and Sappho. He can be read and should be read. He is a great poet in the grand English tradition. I know the music, and I’ve started to appreciate him much more now. Today, I’m a lover of Bob Dylan.

Dylan will receive an 18-karat gold medal and a check for about $$925,000.

Dylan, the son of a Minnesota appliance-store owner, began as a folk singer but soon established himself as one of the voices of political protest and cultural reshaping in the 1960s.

Dylan’s songs — driven by his distinctive nasal-twang vocals — are often seen as dense prose poems packed with flamboyant, surreal images. Rolling Stone magazine once called him “the most influential American musician rock and roll has ever produced.”

He first gained notice with ringing protest songs that served as anthems for the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements with such songs as “Masters of War,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” and “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.”

Then he moved on to feverish rock-and-roll drenched in stream-of-consciousness lyrics that evoked the hallucinatory visions of William Blake, the romanticism of Mary Shelley and John Keats and the postmodern pessimism of Allen Ginsberg and other beat poets.

Dylan recalled listening to country music each evening from distant Midwestern stations and taking up the guitar himself at age 10.

He briefly attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where folk music, rather than rock-and-roll, was the abiding musical idiom.

“Picasso had fractured the art world and cracked it wide open,” Dylan once wrote. “He was revolutionary. I wanted to be like that.”

Dylan sang at the 1963 March on Washington, the massive civil rights procession presided over by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Later, at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, he stunned many fans — and began a new musical direction — by putting aside his acoustic guitar and playing a Fender sunburst Stratocaster electric guitar.

His next albums — “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde on Blonde” — ventured further into the surreal long-form songs and dizzying array of characters that were now his trademark. They are considered by many critics to be his creative peak.

In the late 1970s, he stunned admirers again by declaring himself a Christian and releasing three albums of religiously inspired songs. The singing and musicianship were passionate and professional — Dylan earned his first Grammy Award, for best rock male vocal performance — but the harsh, born-again lyrics puzzled and alienated many of his longtime fans.

In 2005, he released a long-awaited memoir, “Chronicles Vol. 1,” which won him more accolades for its candor and originality. He also appeared in director Martin Scorsese’s “No Direction Home,” a documentary that summed up the triumphs and turmoil of his early years as a performer. In 2008, he was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for his profound effect on popular music and American culture, “marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”

YEAH, SO EXACTLY HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

YEAH, SO EXACTLY HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

“It’s a question of precisely what is the most ethical possible practice,” Termkin said, apparently annoyed by Steinthal’s relentless and unswerving line of inquiry.

Steinthal stared at him intently, but unreadably.

“Is it?” asked Steinthal.

Termkin seemed puzzled by the question.

“What do you mean?” Termkin said.

“See,” said Steinthal twirling the brim of his hat in his hand, “that’s where I think we both know you’re wrong.”

Termkin furrowed his brow, his expression a mixture of ongoing annoyance and a genuine struggle to understand.

“I still don’t perceive your exact meaning?”

“No, I don’t think you do,” said Steinthal. “And I really didn’t expect that you could. But let me simplify the matter for you. You see I have this theory that everything is always really about morality. And that ethics is just something that lawyers and other no count types like you employ as a cheap legal substitute.”

Termkin seemed to follow Steinthal’s explanation at a slightly slower pace than it had been enunciated. But when he finally caught up he suddenly flushed red and showed his ire.

“Why you smart mouthed son of a bitch!”

Steinthal laughed good humoredly.

“Probably,” he said. “But I noticed you didn’t bother to refute me.”

Termkin mulled on that for a moment before his snappy comeback finally came to him.

“Oh yeah, well exactly how is one supposed to refute you smartass types?” Termkin demanded. “You think you’re always right.”

Steinthal stood up and put his hat on his head. He smiled to himself as if Termkin wasn’t even in the room though he was still staring right at him.

“See, that’s the part about this whole thing that’s easiest to resolve,” said Steinthal. “We are always right. Even when no one else knows it yet. Like you. As for the thinking part, well now, if you ever really bothered with that then I presume you could figure it out for yourself.”

Steinthal tipped his hat at Termkin in a peculiar gesture. “But I’m not gonna lay real money on it.”

Steinthal walked across the room, opened the door and then looked back at Termkin.

“I’d like to say it was nice to meet you Termkin. But, we met anyway. So at least we’ll always have that.”

The he left.

Still full of questions, but certain he finally crossed the right man.

______________________________________________

A bit of dialogue involving my Detective Character Steinthal. I didn’t really get a chance to do a Tuesday’s Tale this week. Too busy. So I’m posting this today instead.

My youngest daughter read it and I asked her what she thought of it and she said, “Dad, Steinthal talks pretty much just like you.”

Which made me laugh.

“Yeah, funny how that works, ain’t it?” I told her…

I FORGOT TO REMEMBER – FIRST VERSE

I started these two things, the first the beginning of a poem, the second part of a set of song lyrics, over the weekend. Don’t know what I’m gonna do with either in the end but since it is Monday this is my post for First Verse.

 

I FORGOT TO REMEMBER

I forgot to remember when nothing was right
How all that we tendered was twisted and trite
I begot a dismembered, ephemeral sight
When divided in terror, Theatron of Rites

The devices, the chorus, the Odeion of Scene
A tyrant all bloodied his thralldom most keen
Our vices within us a kingdom of dreams
Grown pregnant and studied, still starving and lean

A Opera of Staging, performed and preformed
Dispelled in the aging distempered and worn
Our union engaging our spectacle torn
Redundant, abundant, of meaning all shorn…

JUST A MAN

Gonna ditch my damned phone, then ditch my car
I’m gonna hitch my wagon to the brightest star
I’m gonna find the person that I’m looking for
Just gonna keep on walking til I reach the shore
Of somewhere I’ve never been before,
To see what lies beyond this land
To see what happens when a man
Is just a man…

If You Leave – I’m going to try again and link to the daily post. I have no idea if it will actually work.

HIGH AND LOW FORTUNE – HAMMER, TONG, AND TOOLS

HIGH AND LOW FORTUNE

“You ask me how I know this and I can only tell you what I’ve seen.

High Fortune came upon me like a silent serpent, slithering from behind in such a stealthy manner as to conceal his true intent and to scarcely warrant my attention.

Low Fortune approached me like a titled lord, resplendent all in showy pomp and decorative circumstance, attired in the lofty regalia of finely whispered shadows spun from venomous spider silks.

Low Fortune is, you see my friend, the King of Seeming and the Prince of Cunning Craft yet I advise you eschew his long seducing and ever seductive company. For his court is all fantastic façade and fraudulent fashion and his manner and his manor are both estates of ruin.

High Fortune, on the other hand, wears no glittered crown of kingship nor rankish robes of high office nor encrusted jewels of state, he is as plain of face, as rough-built by effort, and as quiet in nature as if stable bred. Yet if on turning round by chance or calculation you find him standing nearby then reach out your hand quickly and grasp him in so firm a hold that he cannot escape, and never let him go until he promises to bless you as his friend.

Leave Low Fortune, brother, where he dwells, even if he home in temple renown or palace grand, for he is the sure slum-lord of soon-to-be sad misdeeds and the master of all unenviable fools.

Instead set your watch and wait patiently for High Fortune, for one day he will approach you in sly disguise, silent and unannounced, to see what can be made of you if you will ever dare. For he is your steadfast, stalwart, and subtle Friend and the Maker of that Fortune you truly seek.

Low Fortune churns like stormy waves, he ebbs and flows and never settles ought. High Fortune stands alone and trembles not, he shelters and secures all Men of Enterprise.”

from the Kithariune  (link)

________________________________________________

Since the beginning of this year I have been in one of the most productive periods/phases of my entire life as far as the creation of poems, songs, short stories, novels, scripts, and other literary works are concerned. I have recently produced hundreds of pages of new works.
 
Above is a section of my novel series the Kithariune. In this passage the Welsh Bard Larmaegeon is trying to explain the difference(s) between High and Low Fortune to his friend and companion, the Spanish Paladin Edimios. And why he should wait upon the one and avoid the other.
 
Anyone is welcome to comment upon it, of course.
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