Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Italics and formatting on the blog

I have a thing on italics and formatting blog, and I both agree and disagree.

I like italics. I like the formatting of stories. Given the choice, I'll read html rather than text -- but clean html, just the bare formatting, black on white, no backgrounds that kill my eyes or violent colors that distract me.

Italics. I use them abundantly to denote thoughts, dreams, non-linearity or intonation in dialogues. Some characters have very specific speech patterns and I find italics useful in conveying them. It's my dialogue after all. Why shouldn't I decide where to put the emphasis? Ben does it for me on the screen, doesn't he?

My characters dream in italics the way John dreams in a different light. I can't play with photography, but I can play with other things. I'm attached to the form of the text itself. Length of paragraphs to convey rhythm, short sentences to convey action, a staccato of single words to convey confusion -- visually as well as meaningfully. Italics are just another trick in the bag.

I dislike bold because it's often used when italics would do. Because visually, it's violent and can drag you out of the story. It should be used sparely if at all.

Ultimately, italics are a tool the way punctuation is a tool. The tool exists and I use it. Like any tool, the wrongness, the badness, the evil isn't in the tool itself, it's in its use. If you know what you're doing, if you follow the safety protocols, the rules, you're safe. No harm done. You can enhance the pleasure, like special effects on film. You don't always need the effects to tell the story, but they can serve the tale. Sometimes they can be an integral part of it. The secret is to not be jarring or gratuitous or ignorant. If you do it well, you have served the story.

I do not subscribe to the orthodoxy of words. A word in italics is still a word.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Something I wrote to her

Something I wrote to her who asked about John peacefully dying in his module in TEH and PI when so much was unresolved; also, thinking about the Other at the end.

Because he pushed, because he didn't 'give her time' and forced her not to leave him hanging in-between, John thinks of the other. Both of them have hurt her -- and so the other one will empathize, will understand. And what do you wish for at the end, if not absolution? A little bit of understanding? Harvey can't do that for him, because he doesn't speak the language. The other him can. He's the only one who speaks the language. He'll understand that pushing was an act of self-preservation.

At the very end, the acceptance -- that's John being tired of running.

For John, running is anything that isn't home, however you define it. He's been running since the wormhole -- even before that -- and I'm not talking about running from her. John is always running, because he always wants to be somewhere he isn't. That's the tragedy of John, I think. He wants to settle, he wants the quiet life, and at the same time he can't stand in place. That's how I took the 'I'm so tired of running' in the context of an episode about home and the ways in which home is more an idea than a place -- and that's why John can never go home. Home is just an idea now.

So I wrote it peaceful, rather than angry -- despite the senselessness of his death. I like the idea of that almost-weakness. Falling slowly asleep, not struggling, because suddenly he doesn't have to worry about how things will turn out with Mary or with the child, he doesn't have to worry about the next evil, or living up to Craig's sacrifice, or anything at all.

He's literally forced to stop running, and he doesn't even have to confess that weakness to himself, that almost-cowardice, that gratefulness that maybe, just maybe, he is so much better dead. That it doesn't hurt.

He just has to fall asleep.