23 August, 2011

Hi-yo Silver! Away!

Or: Curse you Netflix!

So, we get instant Netflix on our PS3.  If you have any sort of impulsive issues or instant gratification problems, do not get instant Netflix.  It's bad news.

But also awesome.  I've been watching old Lone Ranger episodes.  I am in a cowboy kick.  I've been reading/writing about cowboys.  I have been watching cowboys movies.  Cowboys and Aliens was AWESOMEWho cares what 'critics' say; it was great.  My two favorite things, cowboys and sci-fi/action.  What could go wrong?  Ignore gaping plot holes, if you please.

Anyway, moral of the story, I've been watching Lone Ranger.  It's laughably terrible.  It makes me wonder if Clayton Moore realized how bad he was and enjoyed it, a la old school Batman/Adam West?  Or if he was serious about being "The Lone Ranger."  He did only go out in public in a mask...

In any case, I love it.  It's horrible, especially the racism of it and poor Tonto.  The plots are weak at best, though there is a lot of shooting and maiming for a 'kids' show.  They'd probably not be able to show it today with a "Viewer Discretion Advised" warning.  And interestingly enough, what I've gleaned most from the ten or so episodes I've been able to sit and watch so far is...brevity.

Lone Ranger was a radio show.  The set up of the television series is the same.  The conflict is explained at the beginning of each episode in about two minutes.  No extraneous details, no real depth.  Just plot and action.

Brevity is something I struggle with...as you may have guessed, since it took me like ten paragraphs to get around to my point.  My 'short' stories are usually 20,000 words.  I stink at brevity.  I mean really stink.

I set myself to write a little thing with no more than 1,500 words, the usual short story word count.  I used all 1,500 words and wished for more.  I've been trying to figure out how to be more concise.  Better adjectives?  Less character description?

I think the key is in finding words with impact.  Words that carry weight and a whole lot of silent description with them.  I've been experimenting.

Take the word blue, in the sense of the color.  Blue is...blue.  Vague and open to interpretation.

But how about sapphire?  What does that say?  Richer, I think, more depth.  A sense of luxury, like deep blue silk.  I really like cobalt.  That to me is blue with power, a sense of energy, something shining.  Indigo carries with it a sense of mystery.  The color of the orient, a dye highly prized for its rarity.  Periwinkle; just the name implies whimsy.  I don't call things periwinkle unless there is a softness to them, maybe an organic feel.  Men rarely wear periwinkle dress shirts.  Maybe ties, but not shirts.  My man doesn't, at least.

I could just load my prose with powerful, punchy adjectives.  But then I feel it gets overwhelmed.  I don't need to give every article of clothing, everything in the room, a description.  If I say: faded sundress, do you care what color it is, really?  Or do you have a specific dress in mind, maybe something your grandma wore in August while she sat on the porch and sipped overly sweetened iced tea?

I'm lazy.  Supply your own details.

That way when I say it was a faded sundress, too short in the knees and sleeves, the flowered print stained from years of preserving strawberries and missing the top button, you'll know I mean that sundress.  Not your grandma's sundress or some other mu-mu.  My dress, important to me and my characters for a reason I may divulge in the next few paragraphs.  Why?  You'll just have to keep reading to find out.  Eh, keemo-sabe?

E. T.


elissa said... Reply to comment

You definitely have a way with words! I enjoyed flipping through the last several posts.
keep up the good words!

Elisabeth Treble said... Reply to comment

Thanks! :)