Jan. 6th, 2016

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So! This Yuletide I got some lessons on writing design. (Actual Yuletide reveals post here, very abbreviated because of life; here I mostly just like to talk about what I read/watched.)

First: I read a whole lot of Damon Runyon and also watched a couple of Youtube high school productions of Guys and Dolls. (I also watched some of the movie — Marlon Brando is amazing, but it turns out that the raw musical is actually rather more charming than the movie.) Damon Runyon is basically the master of voice and also the master of the humor-laden plot-heavy short story. Reading a lot of stories at once can get a little, hmm, repetitive? But he has a way with plot twists and last-line zingers that I can only dream of properly replicating!

Second: I reread The Fountainhead, which is of course completely the other way around. It's not completely devoid of humor (…Atlas Shrugged might be? It's been a long time since I've been able to get through much of AS), but it's not a humorous work as a whole, and what humor there is, is very dry. And it's definitely… a long-form work as opposed to the short sweet Runyon stories. I do think that Fountainhead was very informative and educational for me in how to manage and write a (very) long-form work, which Rand is good at. It's hard, at this point, to separate my current reading from my original very indulgent high-school reading, and there are plenty of times I think the book might have been stronger if she'd cut some obviously-authorially-beloved scenes, and obviously there's a lot of philosophical padding that could have been cut, but even so I do think she sustains interest through an extremely long novel which is mostly about guys designing buildings.

Of course, one major way she does this is by piling the tropes on top of tropes; I don't think she did it consciously, but, I mean, she couldn't have piled more in if she had tried: hurt/comfort, angst, the essential woobie (hi darling Peter!), smarm/slashy slashy Roark/Wynand, competence kink, dubcon/noncon (let's face it, that's what that initial Dominique/Howard encounter was all about) -- which is super amusing.


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