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Showing posts from 2016

Meyers-Briggs and Your Characters

You've probably, at some point, encountered the Myers-Briggs inventory (MBTI), whether you've taken a Buzzfeed quiz or the formal inventory.  Debate exists over the scientific validity of the test, with many experts calling it "meaningless," though the Myers-Briggs foundation maintains that it is a reliable method with valid results.  Much of the argument seems to stem not from the descriptors themselves, but from the way that some, including businesses, use the results.

As a writer, I'm less interested in what Forbes says is the proper and improper use of the MBTI than I am in thinking about how the inventory asks us to think about describing people.  The claim--four traits, each existing in a spectrum, combine to explain how a person interacts with the world around them and perceives their engagement with it.  Does a person prefer spending time in their inner world or the outer one?  Does she focus on individual pieces of information as they come in, or on pat…

Romantic Tension--and Dance!

I like stretched comparisons. So when my husband and I were practicing our lindy in the kitchen the other night, and I was paying some extra attention to the tension in our arms and torsos, I started to think about how that related to writing, too. In particular--how tension, as it does in dancing, defines the movement between two partners in a written relationship.  

So, in honor of Valentine's Day weekend, a little post on romantic relationships and the dance they create.  

With examples from swing dancing.

First up--in partnered swing dancing, we use "tension" to mean the body position of both partners, the connection between the two partners, and how the lead's movements direct the follow and the follow responds. By the way, I use "lead and follow" not "guy and girl" because leads can be girls and follows can be guys! Plus, it's more descriptive of what the roles actually do, and it's not a gender thing--it's a dance thing.  Proof--t…

Resisting the Gross in Non-Contemporary Lit

I'm sure we've all seen the lists and click-bait articles, like Ten Revolting Facts About the 18th Century.  And we've definitely read it and viewed it in books, movies and TV.  Some time ago, Terry Dresbach, the costume designer for Outlander, posted an extensive blog about All That Is Icky in the Eighteenth Century.  She has since removed the post, but there's a response that discusses it in depth here.  All in all, the peasant's explanation in Monty Python and the Holy Grail that he could tell that the king was a king "because he doesn't have any shit on him" seems, in fact, quite adequate in light of what we "know" about historical hygiene and cleanliness norms.

Fact is, much of it is pure crap.

As writers, this becomes problematic.  We either accept the current concept on non-modern norms (whether writing historical, fantasy, or speculative fiction), or risk accusations of (or actual) "romanticizing" of these spaces.  Frankly,…

On Being a Grad Student and Pursuing Publication

A weird thing happens when you're both a writer and a student of literature.  You realize that your perspective is...skewed.

Now, plenty of people in academia also write.  Plenty of grad students have notebooks full of poetry or short stories or novels.  And plenty of professors--at least, the ones who keep their posts in publish-or-perish academic departments--have experienced the highs and lows of publication.  Yet there's still kind of an oddity actively pursuing both commercial publication and a degree in studying things that are published commercially.

An illustration.  In one class, a professor (for humorous effect) outlined the belief that many people have that books are written by writers and then proceed directly through the magic of "becoming published" with no further interference.  I burst out laughing, not the polite titters of my classmates, but solid "Yes, it's so completely the opposite! What you just said is beautifully absurd! I love it! HA…