Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Deine Geschichte IV: Tine

Dienstag, Januar 29th, 2008

Jetzt also mal auf Deutsch – wer nicht weiß worum es geht und auch kein Englisch kann, steht jetzt blöd dar. Im Prinzip ist es ganz simpel: Jemand schreibt einen Kommentar mit drei Eckdaten und ich mache eine Geschichte daraus. Hier kann man das im Detail nachlesen, aber eben nur auf Englisch. Aber auch wenn da jetzt gleich “Read the rest of this entry” steht, geht es danach auf Deutsch weiter. Allerdings ist mir diese Geschichte nicht sonderlich gelungen. Meine Kreativität wurde entführt und die Lösegeldforderungen sind zu hoch um darauf eingehen zu können. (weiterlesen …)

Your Story II: Martin

Freitag, Januar 25th, 2008

The second comment to this post about me turning your requirements into a story idea has come in. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read the other post first. If you do, be warned that Martin’s requirements were a little, let’s say strange. However, I managed to turn it into a story (idea) that is certainly fit for all ages. Please excuse the length of the post, I got a little carried away. (weiterlesen …)

Your Story I: Ryan

Dienstag, Januar 22nd, 2008

The first commenter on this post about me turning your requirements into a story idea was Ryan. If you don’t know what I am talking about, read the previous post. Otherwise, enjoy the story. (weiterlesen …)

Let me tell you your story

Dienstag, Januar 22nd, 2008

Earlier today, I argued with a friend about inventing stories. I said that I believe that inventing a story is really easy, that anybody can come up with a dozen great stories a day and that the hard part was taking those stories and turning them into a great book or screenplay or whatever. My friend disagreed and just now I realized that he was right. Inventing stories isn’t easy – it’s just my immeasurable genius that makes me come up with story ideas that could change the world (if they were ever, you know, written or something). To prove that I am at least right about that, I have come up with the following, interactive (that means you get to participate!) challenge:

Post a comment to this entry in which you state the following: The language you want the story to be in (German or English, all other languages are absolutely forbidden!), the genre/kind of story you are looking for (Comedy, Drama, bittersweet romantic zombie movie, whatever you want) and three items that I’ll have to include in the story. Items can be people (a young woman of 54 with flaming red hair), places (the public restroom at the Walmart in Dakota Springs) or things (a rubber duck), whatever you want. Just please don’t make the item descriptions too long. I will then take those instructions and turn them into an abstract for a story about 200 to 1,000 words long. I’ll try to make it about 500 words long, but while I claim that I can turn anything into a great story I never claimed that I could do it within a restrictive word limit.

Now, you can come up with some completely crazy or can try something classic to see whether I manage to give the story a twist. Everybody can turn the instruction for an English crime story with the items “adulterous husband”, “fragile wife” and “bloody knife” into a story – but would my story-inventing genius create something truly unique? Or do you want to go the crazy route and try to see whether I fail to make the example instructions into a compelling movie script? It’s your choice.

There are some limits to this thing of course: If more than ten people post instructions in the comments, I’ll think of something to select the best. I’ll start as soon as I get the first comment and post all finished story ideas here, but don’t expect more than one a day. Not because it takes time to come up with ideas, but because it takes time to write them down. Apart from that, I’m looking forward to all submissions. Have fun!

Thoughts on “Good Omens”

Samstag, November 17th, 2007

In the late 1980s, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett wrote a book called “Good Omens”. In 1990, it was first published. In 2006, a new edition was published with some information from the two authors about the book, how it came to exist and about each other. Yesterday, I read the book. Today, I write down my thoughts on it, or rather on how it came to be.

“Good Omens” is entertaining enough to warrant the million of copies it sold to some less millions of people. Reviews of it can be found almost anywhere, so if you simply want to know whether you might enjoy reading the book, look for them instead of looking here. Here I will talk more about the process of writing a book or rather how to write this book.

Apparently, Pratchett and Gaiman have a vastly different approach to writing. It is said that Pratchett wrote 400 words every evening when he still had a “real” job. When he finished a novel and still had 100 words to go, he just start the next one. Gaiman is or at least was the more chaotic of the two. By the time they wrote “Good Omens”, they both were making a living with what they were writing, but instead of writing together, they would each write at home. Gaiman would write at night and wake up at midday to find his answering machine filled with messages from Pratchett to finally get up, because he had been writing all morning. Then, in the afternoon, they would share what each had written, talk about what they were doing and sketch out where the book was headed. They would send their drafts to each other through snail mail since this was a long time before e-mail was readily available. An attempt to use a modem to share the data was abandoned after they realized that the postal service was faster. At the end they got together to do the final edit and congratulate each other on their good work, only to realize that there were some things in the book they were both sure not to have written.

Apart from these anecdotes being rather amusing (more so when told by them then when amateurishly retold by me) they give some insight into the creative process that is writing. There are many writers who need the strict discipline that Pratchett enforced on himself, while others work best at night, possibly being slightly drunk and very chaotic. In general, the more chaotic the work of a writer seems, the more organized he is. Most writers are highly individual people, selfish, arrogant and always right. They are hard to tolerate at the best of times and nearly impossible to work with. Yet when they do, they create something that is somehow bigger than they themselves are. Of course this can be said for a lot of artistic work, but with collaborations these is even more true (just think of movies).

I guess what I am really trying to say here is: Does anybody want to be the Terry Pratchett to my Neil Gaiman?

Book Review – Atonement

Mittwoch, November 14th, 2007

In the wake of the release of the film adaptation of Atonement (Watch the trailer!), I felt it was about time to polish and hone my “British literature of the late 20th century” knowledge a bit. So for a couple of days, “Atonement” by Ian McEwan was collecting dust on my book shelf while I dreaded actually starting to read it, fearing it would be both dull and lengthy. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Even though it is not a short story, it has many qualities of one, but never gets boring. The novel is divided into three parts plus a sort of epilogue, with the first part easily the longest. But although it lasts for half the book, the first part only deals with the events of one day. The other parts are similar, taking still photographs in a story that lasts from 1935 to 1999.

This means that the writing is very attentive to detail as well as often showcasing the thoughts and memories of the protagonists. The novel starts on a hot summer day in 1935, when the 13-year old Briony witnesses a scene between her older sister Cecilia and the charlady’s son Robbie. As the events of the day slowly unfold, shown from the perspective of several characters, the vivid imagination of the writer-to-be Briony coupled with tragedy create a catastrophe that will change all their lives forever.

The second and third part deal with Robbie’s way in the war and Briony’s atonement respectively, before the epilogue, set in 1999, gives a new spin to the events that makes the story all the more real as well as terrible. The second part, set immediately before and through the British evacuation of continental Europe in 1940, is a haunting war story in its own right. Even though I have read many stories about war as well as seen countless movies dealing with the inhumanity and cruelty of war, McEwan manages to show effectively the horrors of that first year of World War II, both on an individual level and on the greater scale of the millions of people affected. This alone makes the book worthwhile, the backstory of the love between Cecilia and Robbie, of the betrayal of Briony and her atonement for it make this novel truly great. McEwan manages to tell their story with loving detail, yet keeps a certain distance to all characters to allow the reader to see events from several points of view. The only thing that the books suffers from is a certain tendency, especially in the first part, of McEwan to go off on to many tangents and use unnecessarily long sentences. But apart from that I would recommend the book to anyone who is not afraid to be absorbed into the sordid lives of its protagonists.

Das war

Sonntag, Oktober 28th, 2007

Die letzten Monate, um nicht zu sagen Jahre, hat nicht mehr als ein Gedicht auf dieser Website gestanden. Für diejenigen, die es jetzt vermissen, ist es hier noch einmal (bevor es für immer in Vergessenheit gerät):

Für Dich

Manche Menschen sind belesen,
andre überall gewesen,
und so mancher hat studiert,
prahlt damit ganz ungeniert.

Doch in allen diesen Leben,
hat es eines nicht gegeben,
deswegen sind sie wenig wert,
sie wurden nie von Dir beehrt.

Dies ist im Übrigen das einzige Gedicht, das ich auswendig aufsagen bzw. aufschreiben kann.