Five + 1 Stories

(this is more of a post for me… it’s late and I can’t sleep)

I wonder what makes some fics so memorable. Five stories initialed for reasons & then I talk about a Naomi Novik novel (below line)

- no sugarcoating about recent loss that’s introduced right in the beginning
- narrator conveys regaining consciousness well through narrative voice even though it is not 1st person POV
- also no sugarcoating about the caretaker-patient relationship, especially when each feels self-blame for the loss of the mutually loved one.
- the realistic miscommunications and unconditional support, due to fundamentally different approaches, and how that can be a burden instead of a boon (“Wouldn’t you wish to be unconditionally loved by your caretaker?”).
>>in the story that keeps on asking me when I’m gonna finish it, this is something I’m finding very difficult to depict: how do you establish a loss so quickly and have the recovery seep through the character’s actions, without the reader tiring and thinking, “I get it, this was a big loss?” Because coping mechanisms vary along with their outlets.
> this story had it all; denial, grief, anger, pushing away the caretaker (which is risky, and you feel frustrated for doing b/c your livelihood depends on the caretaker) and others you know, being unable to distinguish reality from dreams/ nightmares from memories, eventual acceptance. The sheer unwillingness of the grieving character to keep on living was so masterfully depicted.
> deaths don’t occur in a vacuum.
>> Heard that L.M.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle also tackles caretaker fatigue?

WH 8?
- banter contributes to characterization
- levity of narration underlies change in perception about surrounding characters. It is very much a character-centric fic.
>> accomplishes the difficult task to have characters sound different. Varying level of vocabulary, erudite/layperson, phrasing, dialect, and character-isms that sound natural. In my writing, characters all kind of sound snarky and it’s hard to dial down some of that staircase wit. 
>> also this author in general just nails characterizations really well.

- worldbuilding. Heck yeah.
- the idea that something you cared for turns out to be this awesome, terrifying thing, and it wasn’t foisted upon you — you had a choice. (I hate, HATE “Chosen One” stories that have little to no agency in them).
- having a new friendship alters your status and worldview (as in HTTYD) and self-identity.
- Mad Max: Fury Road kind of ending; we go back to where we began b/c the grassy land was a myth gone. The journey was required to go back and shake up the homeland
- the idea of sacrifices
>> again, the sacrifice is made early, but it reverberates throughout the rest of the story. How do authors plot it like that, instead of saying A → B →C?
>> as a storyteller and science student, I can tell you that stories are intricately weaved and how authors layer events so that one event can simultaneously a) start a new plot b) change an establish character-character interaction and c) add to an established plot while d) supporting multiple themes is just mind-boggling. But maybe I just appreciate novels more than science papers.

- the whole time travel thing
- also addresses the complete BS advice to “take bullying” to students, which transforms them into punching bags.
- acts as social commentary
>> resonates with the struggle of trying to write a character with so many regrets. As the character travels back in time, their level of increased knowledge is only matched by the opposing interest’s foreknowledge, and it becomes this complicated game of chess with people’s lives. Maybe that’s why I’m having so much trouble writing this story cos I’ve never really played chess!

- author brings in bg in avian research. it sort of takes a life of its own and takes flight. (Reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver’s enthusiasm in bringing in her own research)
- well-researched in setting
- a narrative push the reader can trust to bring them somewhere
>> however, I would complain that the antagonists are overly simplistic. Which brings me to…

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. [SPOILERS ABOUND]
- one thing that terrified the crap out of me when reading this book was the antagonist. Oh goodness, the antagonist.
- the way it seeps through the narration and draws you in, as the reader, is exactly like its presence in the book. 
- As I read the story, I kept on thinking, surely Agnieszka will not face the Darkness. Surely she will not have to go into such terrifying proximity; it’s more of a local legend, and it will be debunked.
- Novik sure knows how to amp up the antagonist
>> every memorable story needs its well thought-out antagonist. Who is Sherlock Holmes without Moriarty?
>> takeaways:
> inch the character towards confronting the antagonist to increase the sense of dread
> have the minor antagonists dread/be rendered helpless before the major antagonist
> drop the protagonist’s allies like flies before confronting the antagonizing force
> ground the antagonizing force. Make it human, affect the interactions of people close to the character, so that seemingly everyone is affected. That’s the fear zombie movies tap into, right? — that even those close to you might be affected, change into unrecognizable forces and infect you. (Ugh, great, now I’m going to think about it as a zombie book).

tl:dr; I blame Naomi Novik for all the nightmares of running away from slime floods.

This didn’t help my sleep problem AT ALL.