Retrospective History of Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on September 30, 2014

The Grammarian teacher rhetoric historyFlorence 1437 WC pdOverall
The students this semester suggested that perhaps instead of starting at the farthest point from modern understanding, it might be more beneficial for the students to read the modern rhetoric chapters first. These are connected to literary theory via Foucault and Derrida and are, therefore, perhaps more accessible.

Next year the modern chapters will be their first readings. In order to ensure an understanding of the text, however, I will also introduce the early theorists who are mentioned in those chapters. Plato, the sophists, Aristotle, Cicero, and perhaps even Quintilian could be introduced with a “known for these things particularly” approach.

In my desire to make the class interesting and hands-on, I have drifted from the focus on history of rhetoric in the activities in class. So I am considering what things would be interesting and prospectively helpful that focus on the history of rhetoric and historical rhetoric.

Greek writing ancient pottery by TkoletsisKeep the introduction and the intro to the sophists. Maybe bring in a few pages from sophistic writing. Or we could look in class at the Paul and sophists article. It is 22 pages long, so maybe instead use it to understand how Galatians is sophistic and then have the class look through Galatians and discuss in terms of sophistic rhetoric.

That would be a really good idea. I think that would work very well and would be interesting and would tie into the Christian aspect and the sophists. –Why didn’t I think of doing that before?

Perhaps also use the Ewing Lecture notes to discuss Ezekiel and rhetoric. Mark Hamilton did folkloric, but it is also clearly connected with rhetorical. Make that rhetorical connection clear and then discuss Ezekiel in those terms. …That might be a different way to approach the rhetoric history. We’re looking at how biblical authors employed it before there was a history of rhetoric. Ezekiel was written before Plato wrote, before the sophists taught.

We can look at Plato’s presentation of the sophists and look at this work for built-in flaws that he created to show their work. We can do that in class if it isn’t too long a work or if we can take pieces of it.

For Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian… Beef up the discussion of how and where we see the appeals. Perhaps look at book covers specifically for the appeals. Maybe even discuss the “turning in a paper” ethos or other points. Why is it important to look like what has gone before? People recognize it and have a place to put it. This is partially ethos. Definitely want to talk about how Cicero applies to writing in the modern classroom. Both Aristotle and Cicero are used in AP courses, so the students need to know those, if they don’t.

typingFirst class
Looking at a way to introduce rhetoric and the history of rhetoric that doesn’t just involve me talking, I looked at multiple PowerPoints and videos. I wanted something that would approach the information from a common or lay perspective, but would focus on rhetoric very specifically.

I think I have found a few videos that would be useful, after the original PowerPoint introduction.

History of Rhetoric in Under 4 Minutes (or Over 3 Minutes) has a good introduction to the historical aspects of rhetoric AND ends with the idea that people think of rhetoric pejoratively.

Then talk about what you know about rhetoric. How do people talk about rhetoric? That will introduce the ideas here. “Oh, that’s a rhetorical question.” Not discussed, but still would work as an answer. (Rhetorical question originally meant that the question itself was intended to persuade you or lead you into a correct answer.)

ancient woman with bookThen use the UClemson video In Defense of Rhetoric.

I really like this. It is well done, interesting, and introduces a lot of modern rhetoricians. Also it’s epistemic rhetoric, which is how I view rhetoric.
It discusses what rhetoric is and how it has been perceived, focusing on epistemic rhetoric.

Set of criteria, rank order the criteria, systematic way = epistemic rhetoric
Epistemic = creates understanding/perception of reality
Rhetoric is a way of knowing.
Facts are monolithic, unchanging. But how you think of them… Rhetorical.
Knowledge is a process.

Josh’s introduction to rhetoric—very fast introduction, but could pause and discuss
Focuses 3.45 minutes on ancient rhetoric. Then 3 minutes on modern. Has questions that he puts on the screen and then writes “Think about it!” Could stop the video at those points and discuss.

How do perceptions of truth, authenticity, and reality affect communication?
How does your authorship, authority, and power affect your rhetoric?

Toulmin model + semiotics can be used to examine visual and digital rhetoric.

Would need to be sure that I mention that this is a history of rhetoric (even though we’ve already seen one) and we are going to use it to talk about some questions that are relevant to all of rhetoric.

Denelson83 WC CC

Denelson83 WC CC

Is introducing the history of rhetoric as an overview multiple times a problem? Or can I do this as they are coming at it from very different angles?

Perhaps when I start to use the videos say that these overlap what I’ve already said and what the videos say, but they offer different discussion points that I think are valid for the course….
Think about it.


Art of Steampunk

by Dr Davis on September 29, 2014

These are notes from a presentation at the FenCon in Addison, Texas this past weekend.

Kathleen O’Brien
(the bustle lady) QA for a living, been sewing since I was 4, seamstress techniques passed on from generations, in high school introduced to sf cons, great excuse to sew great costumes and run around in them (since 13), steampunk several years ago—take all the Victorian research I’ve done and re-use it. Been teaching about Victorian techniques.
Carrie Vaughn, wrote Harry and Marlowe steampunk series
Mel White, artist and scientist and writer, a couple of humorous pieces in art
Bev Hale, normally a writer, but got carried away into Steampunk, got in backwards; I was “just” going to make myself a hat. But then stuck in my house for 5 days… no plumbing. My husband calls and says “I had a hard day.” “Mount Gehenna and Lake Poo in my backyard.” Dogs inside and chasing cat. “Perhaps you should make a few things.” By the time he got home, I had a business. I don’t sew. But I am hell on wheels with accessories. Victorian hats, the more the better. If one tassel was good, 17 was better. Friend making hat… Showed her a Victorian hat… lace, feather, fruit, and 2 dead ferrets. Until you have the 3rd ferret, you haven’t gone too far.
Last year Julie Barrett made a 3-ferret hat. Now we have to change it to a 4-ferret hat.
Kathleen— Cleaning out my aunt’s house. They were stoles from the 1920s. Gave the stoles to Julie Barrett. Little beady eyes and looked at you.

Tea gown= don’t have to wear a corset under it because some of them are so covering, I wear a tee shirt and shorts under it.

9Worlds 2014 steampunk masks-6222Description … art and steampunk and themes that show up.
One of the things I like the most is it is such a mix. History, creativity, and art, and sometimes futuristic. Can have different levels of mix. Very little I see is obvious. What I love about the scene.

Sadly, there is occasionally the Steampunk Legal Society who says it has to have these elements and this kind of punk, etc. You have art for accuracy’s sake and then you have art because it is so much fun. I can put my lizard with a hammer in the middle of a gigantic clock…

Retro-futurism = steampunk
The idea of the future as conceived of by the past.

Seeing it as a literary concept came about in the 80s. Tim Powers, Jeeters, Blalock.
I knew about it. Remember friends’ having steampunk themed parties. Earnest but not complicated. Then about 7 or so years ago, something happened. Still trying to figure out what. Became a culture. As a costumer, not elaborate, but I can put different outfits together. Went to a party in steampunk. 100 people. There were 10 other people as steampunk. When we got together to take a picture, lightbulbs went on for the other 90 people. This is a movement.
Thing that swung me around is the music. Not an aspect I had heard of.

Steampunkers-2276Food, music, art, fashion, etiquette… It’s a culture.
Elegant manners of yesteryear. Away from some of the cultural monstrosities… Smack him on the nose with a glove and call him a cad. A method of dealing with society that won’t leave bodies behind.

What I like about steampunk…
When I saw outfits, everybody looked different. You could be anybody or anything. Gave you all this freedom.
Very egalitarian. Age can steampunk. Size can steampunk. Color can steampunk.

When I first saw different. Has grown.

Doing research in Petersen’s Magazine (like Goode’s) April 1857, editorial under fashion: “Fashion is the only thing more powerful than steam. Fashion rules the women. The women rule the men. The men rule the steam. Steam rules the world. Therefore …”
An entire article about the steam engine.

You can taste the flavor of it.

A couple of different years ago… played examples. Suzanne Vega, has a song with industrial baseline, video of people working on gears… all the sudden this song becomes steampunk, even though she is not a steampunk artist.
Dresden Dolls is steampunk.
Common through lines, taking older music and making it new or taking new music and making it sound old…
“Oops I did it again” in 1830s cabaret style song
xx Zippers, older style… put them together… should have been this way all along

steampunk is transforming.
Transforming one thing to create and transform.
Steampunk has gone mainstream.
Castle had a wonderful steampunk episode.
Cirque de Soliel traveling show is steampunk…

Anyone met someone who wants to define it so hard. “You are not steampunk. You are not period.” Authenticity Nazis. Just because you put gears on it, it’s not steampunk. Okay. But she said it because of elastic in waist. I explained that it was available, just not widely used till 1900s.
I have run into this in 3 or 4 different cons. Exclusive v inclusive

Apocalyptic punk
Nerf punk

ipad steampunk case 3a ShDI’ve never had anyone tell me I can’t. My steampunk stories are published in major magazines.

Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandemeer—about to come out with sequel, Steampunk User’s Guide

There are people who get uncomfortable without definitions. Steampunk is constantly redefining itself. But definitions not constant.

“Can’t have goggles on your outfit unless you would need it.” –Fashion occasionally has useless things.

At one convention, subgenres of steampunk discussed. Did it as inclusive. Explaining different layers… For me, it was more what flavor of tea do you like. Doesn’t mean it’s not a tea. 5-10-15 genres. Really cool.

Steampunk ain’t done growing and changing.
Conservative people… “Well, that’s dead. No one does steampunk anymore.”
“You want to work with gears and clockworks.”

9Worlds 2014 steampunk short skirt-6233What are some things you could steampunk up with?
I have a friend who is always asking me about that. Khaki pants, slacks. White shirt, button up. Vest that goes with suit jacket. Scarf might wear in a Model T, tie it around your neck. Got boots. Hat that you would wear out fishing? Like a safari hat.
All these pieces and parts, by themselves aren’t anything.
As much jewelry as you can manage. You’ll do great.

“steampunk separates”

great thing about steampunk is that it’s a young enough genre… as long as it’s not lasers/phasers… But can do this.

Jeans, boots, and a shirt. Like the hat.
Dark skirt and fluffy blouse.

We need kilt punk.

All look different and they all look steampunk.

Steampunk ballerina. Copper and rivets. (think it was a doll)

How did you make that? Where did you get that?
Black outfit borrowed from first woman physician in the Civil War who wore trousers. Very wonderful look. Completely transitions to steampunk.

9Worlds 2014 steampunk who-6235I like having people have fun. The more the better.
Most fun since Star Trek. Didn’t look good in the lycra spandex. But doesn’t matter what color, shape, … looks good.
Rewriting history to get rid of the bad stuff and make people equal.
Everything changed.

Everything is possible with steampunk.
Anything is possible with steampunk.

Steampunk isn’t just Victorian England. Steampunk your sari.
Rajah steampunk. At AnimeAcon

Multiculturalism and steampunk.
Chinese and Victorian.
India and Victorian.

Towards end of 19C, cultural contact and trade were huge.
Did an outfit because wanted a really cool Victorian outfit. “Do brown” outfit. Perfect fabric for it, but then I bought a blouse from 1890s—was same fabric except silk, not polyester.
You can do what you like.

Is the costuming effecting the writing?
I was already doing costuming. I costume when I am stuck, frustrated.
Music got me to write steampunk. I started listening to the music.

Music is so evocative. Transforming.
Costuming I go more fantastical.
My corsets are not authentic. I have more fun throwing things together.
Thing about going to steampunk convention, everyone is wearing something.
Like SCA, as long as you make effort, people will appreciate you being there.
My own quirky, fantastical thing.
Tend to be more influenced by Victorian literature. Writing an alternate timeline. Trying to draw on the feeling of the era. Replicating the feeling and the milieu.
Find in the steampunk I’ve read, rigorous in the alternate history tend to be better—as far as I’m concerned.
Sherry Priest is a great example. Clockwork Century. Picking a turning point. Civil War didn’t end…
Bruce Stirling and William Gibson—if computer age started in 1850s
Those that are anchored, tend, for me, to have more depth.

Airship pilots in hang gliders?

ShD head steampunk blueSteampunk: pure fantastical or anchored in alternate history

Working on gaslight history. Wearing a corset changed how I felt about it. Wearing the costuming informed the world for me.
People wanted me to wear wool. I live in Texas. No one here wore wool. They wore cotton. (I said that the historical name for cotton was “tree wool.”)

Petticoats and hoops, etc, felt like a battleship.
Recommendations to make them handicapped accessible… Hallway wide enough for two steampunkers to walk together, then they are handicapped accessible.
Steampunk-friendly con socially engineers for handicapped and artists lugging stuff through the hallways.

Wear a lot of Chinese and Indian/Pakistani. First learned to wear a sari. Wear a petticoat. Wear a blouse. How to wrap. Then they put a safety pin on their shoulder and pinning the petticoat to the sari at the front inside waist.
Wearing the different things and how they fit and how they connect.

Shomar chamise, could tie the men’s stuff up for a tent.
For women, the pleats are down below. Don’t have bulk at the waist.
Learning how to wear and how fits and what people use.

Can tell how current it is by length of skit and which way they wear the scarf.

iphone case steampunk ShD 1aI like that it can be unisex. I can steampunk in pants and shirts.
You go to places like ACon and you see young people dressing up, but you aren’t dead. You want to dress up. You can costume your spirit in steampunk and be accepted.
It can be a little intimidating when you show up at an Anime con without a con. Steampunk it.

Going back to what you said about different genres, on the Steampunk Empire. 10,000 members. We talk about different genres: cyber, steam, rock and roll punk (Flintstones—or cave punk). You can do anything. Be accurate to what you believe.

Was wondering if you haven’t heard steampunk music.
Steam, Powered Giraffe, Abney Park, Aether Shanties, Professor Elemental (chap hop), Mister B Gentleman Rhymer…
YouTube chap off of Prof Ele and MrB Gentleman

Tumblr picture… heavily tattooed church of lds, etc…
Podcast Clockwork Cabaret really great. 2 hour radio show that lots of different bands.

One other thing… Phineas and Ferb did a steampunk with Professional Elemental in it, Steampunx. “A Brave New World” in
He’s nice.
Tea = cup of brown joy

??Hoping to find a local group that work on costumes??
One off 35 in Carrollton. Meet 1x a month.

Steampunk Emporium
Maker movement overlaps (though not so much)
Steampunk Illumination Society


Oldest, Largest SFF Collection

by Dr Davis on September 27, 2014

Jeremy Brett: SFF archivist
Lauren Schiller: cataloger

Cushing Library at Texas A&M Library, now special collactions
Cushing Library built in 1930, 2nd oldest building on campus
in the 60s and 70s built Evans, regular library

22,000 linear feet of archival manuscripts
200,000+ books
250,000+ photographs
100s of art

military collection is also a large collection at Cushing
literature is another collection emphasis, so WWI and literature

Cushing M-F 8 am to 6 pm, can make arrangements to be open on weekends, have occasionally made arrangements to show in evenings
For grad students, you can arrange.
For a single person, you can arrange to look at stacks. If you make arrangements early and show reason.
NOTE: Arrangements need to be made a few weeks in advance.

Reading room has been restored.

Brought books that were picked up at street fairs and old antique shops in Europe for the purpose of being shown and handled. This is a teaching collection. You are allowed to touch and pick them up.

Cool Stuff
Starting with non sff

Playing cards from 1577—German set: leaves, hearts, acorns, XXX—didn’t have numbers on there
Interesting thing about cards, rare to have complete sets—This is only library with complete set.
1561 copy of Gallic and the cards were in the binding.
Way books were sometimes bound, piece of wood, then attached/sewn in to pages, book fo that era would have had bound in vellum, pages sewn into cords on back edge
Cards found between end paper and cover
Things definitely get reused.
They may have been put in to hide the cards… contraband?
Plenty of mystery in the collection.

What shield? Family crest. Looks like a D or a moon. On card with unicorn and acorn tree. Leipzig municipal seal.

Antoine Despeisses
1685, beautiful law book
one of more beautiful

preservation projects, gloves if want them, but will break the pages and tear, so they don’t usually make wear gloves
Only exception is photographs.
Can’t use hand cream in the building.

Book, lined with marble paper, Partie L de L’Achept Section III
Cut out and replaced. Something proscribed inside it?
We don’t know why was it made.
Often done like this when books were being censored. So a big book would be used.
Or bring in the “slightly” illegal books in and bribe, with the very illegal

1808 by Sir Walter Scott, gilded on edges
but if pull on slope of edge, watercolor painting
Done the other way there’s a different image.

Ancient Mesopotamia, 2144-2124 BC ruler
Inscription to local deity asking him to bless building
Looks like a pointy thimble about 5 inches, the normal thimble area has hieroglyphic/runes
Finger print of the sculpture on the top edge

Collection of antiquarian books
mid-15C Flemish book of Hours
whole history of printing show (had scarab for seal)

brought vellum page, very thin, can feel the side with fur (That would be a GREAT teaching tool.)
from 1500 in great condition
in better condition than a book from 1940s, despite people are touching it all the time
can feel the fur (mostly in the writing section)

Wood pulp paper started around 1842, the bleaching process made it fragile

SFF Collection books
Thomas Moore
Utopian novel (set in 2040)… French story: no slavery, no poverty, no religion, no coffee or tea
Voltaire 1826 edition (written in 1722)
Oldest item in SFF Cyrano de Bergerac (real person) Comical History of the State Empires of the World of the Moon and the Sun written 1656-1662, first English edition, Copernican astonomy

Dracula1st american cover 1897Dracula first edition, 1838, and first American edition (boring cover–This is an image of the American edition.)
Frankenstein, first illustrated edition, 3rd printing, 1831
Mummy from 1838 written by woman, mummy wakes up in future, one of earliest SF books by woman, titled The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century

First edition of War of Worlds
First American addition of xxx to the Moon—characters talk about literature of folks going to the moon, don’t realize they are characters

HG Wells Invisible Man 1st ed
English 20,000 Leagues Under Sea 1st edition
1st addition of Jules Verne’s Le Superbe…

H Rider Haggard, most famous character was Allan Quartermaine (from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)
Haggard collection was from a single person’s stuff—collected everything Haggard was ever involved in, including journals with reviews of his books, books about Africa at the time, book in mystery series where one character is book seller and mystery hinges on rare edition of Haggard book
Schiller worked on half of the Haggard collection for cataloging

Robert Howard, Howard collection—not a single collection
Lot of overlap with sff collection… and Haggard and SFF
Collections, intellectually overlaps
Letter Howard wrote, 1932?, from Worth Hotel, have you read my latest yarn in Strange Tales?
Strange Tales, two stories at least, “People of the Dark,” another a Conan story

Mishmash in good way, lots of Michael Moorcock’s material
Legends from the End of Time
Record The Great Rock and Roll Swindle

Building 111 or 112 different collections donated on authors

Amazing_Stories_June_1927 coverPulps
90% of all genre pulps published in US are in this article
continuity of themes:
slide as on “tubes”
Amazing Stories with people in tubes
one cover is puppy in tube and child in space suit
Have to be very careful. The pulps are getting bad. Flakes come off.

Things that we would like to digitize for preservation, but if did, would be utterly destroyed. More important to have scans or to keep the original thing? We are wondering. Some would have to have spine cut off. Pages are brittle. If you bend it flatter, then it cracks. Turning the page makes it crack.

Local and Texas authors. Have collector editions of books… Of Lansdale, Moon, etc.
Texas-Israeli War: 1999

Author-inscribed books
How interested in books as autographed items?
Makes them rare. Makes the better.
One was autographed for Anne MacCaffrey.

Own McCaffrey’s personal SFF library. Donated to library.
Everyone has her personal symbol on a little square that you put in your book as xxx libris. Says “Dragonhold” and her name. Center is a flying dragon.
(her romance one went to Trinity Library)

small personal library of Andrea Norton, but not all of her library (was broken up b/c nothing in her will about what to do)
friend of hers collected her copies of her books (which was from her library)—these donated

archive boxes of personal correspondence,
George R Martin—including his drafts, his own copies, and other things publishers’ made that are related
Other folks… can’t remember
Secure, can only see them through library staff
Accessible to researches

Library has finding aids and see what we have.
Can show original mss of Games of Thrones.

The electronic moving crank doesn’t always work.

How much of authors provide financial support? Little
Give us the collection and we take care of it.
A couple of collections where people gave money, can’t think of one in sff

Portion of letter from Arthur C. Clarke to his publisher.
5-6 boxes of his material
most of his stuff is held by his brother, closed till 30 years after he dies
small collection of his letters to his publisher in England

small snippet of material

like to stress, available for anyone to look at
usually the students come, researchers come
last year had a George R Martin exhibit and he came to the exhibit, so they have his picture looking at his stuff (We also have his caps.)

What things archivists want? Everything.
Anything would be significant.
Financial documents, no, but that’s the main exception. We do weed out those usually.

Husband and I collected… right now 70,000 books. Mostly paperbacks. Lot of these are first editions. Some signed.
We’re trying to figure out what to do with these…
Mostly paperbacks, is this a place that would be interested in this? Have duplicates of a number of books. Have b/c different covers.
Edgar Rice Burroughs and XXX got destroyed in a flood. We’re not hoarders…

Collection encompasses hardback and paperbacks.
We do collect multiple copies for covers.
Can’t think of anyone who would turn away books, even if paperback. But we would love to have them.

We do welcome donations, but sometimes we don’t take. Mold or mildew bad.
If ruined, won’t take usually.
Or if we have multiple duplicates of something.
First thing we do is offer them back to the donor.
Rarely happen to say we can’t use collection. We offer to send it back or suggest an institution.
We will keep multiple copies if: signed, unique feature, different covers.

U of Mississippi will sell it if they can’t use it.

Address that United Parcel could deliver?

Cushing Library
5000 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843

Put the address on the ppt

Are there 501Cs? No, but can do as endowments…
What we need is a new building. We are very full and alternative storage options are getting full.


Amazon’s Names

by Dr Davis on September 25, 2014

“Worthy of Armor” was the name of an Amazon detailed in a Greek drinking cup. “Princess Don’t Fail” was another name rendered there.

Amazon Warriors’ Names Revealed says:

Essentially, the ancient Greeks seem to have been trying to re-create the sounds of Scythian names and words on the Amazon vases by writing them out phonetically, the study authors suggest. In doing so, the Greeks may have preserved the roots of ancient languages, showing scholars how these people sounded on the steppes long ago.

Amazons were thought to be solely mythological until archaeologists unearthed Scythian burials of real women warriors, says Mayor, a visiting scholar at Stanford University and author of the just-released The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World.

The names were probably nicknames or heroic appellations given to Amazons, rather than real family names. Even today, Colarusso says, speakers of modern-day languages in the Caucasus region often use public, descriptive nicknames rather than reveal their real names.

For linguistics.


Ilona Andrews: End

by Dr Davis on September 24, 2014

Ilona Andrews Magic BleedsThis is the end. The end of my notes from the Writer’s Workshop with Ilona Andrews and about writing the end.

Why do you read a comfort book again?
It makes you feel a certain way.

Screw up the end, you ruin the feeling.

Compelling ending. (50% of impact of novel is how you end it)

End of the novel…
Protagonist and antagonist into direct conflict…
No more maneuvering. They must fight in some way.
Emotional confrontation.

If you’ve done the beginning and the middle, the resolution will be wonderful.
You are the reader at that moment.

Cinderella is good historical romance, but Fairy Godmother is God in the Machine. Resolution comes unexpectedly.

Don’t resolve unexpectedly.

Write your big finale and then write the end in a way to make yourself happy as a reader.

girlwithabook via art inconnuGirl is hero, rewarded at the end.
Don’t cheat the reader.
Don’t cheat the reader out of the emotion.

Originally ending of Cinderella was very different. She had her sisters dancing in red hot shoes at the wedding. Revenge.
Old fairy tales “they went there.” We don’t go there any more.

Stephen King doesn’t want a happy ending and that works for him.

Avoid where your ending doesn’t match the readers’ emotional state.
Make sure your protagonist and antagonist make reasonable choices throughout.

If readers are not committed to your character, they won’t keep reading.


Ilona Andrews: Middle

by Dr Davis on September 23, 2014

Ilona Andrews Magic Burns coverThis past Saturday I went to a Writer’s Workshop, featuring Ilona Andrews, hosted by the San Angelo Writer’s Club.

Beginning—character with problem. Commits to a certain course of action. Beginning is over.
Try not to start too much in the middle of action.
A little bit of set up is not a bad thing.
Don’t confuse the reader.

Middle is a part we never know when we start.

Middle character is firmly committed.
Rubber band
Need to artificially make the reader uncomfortable, create tension.

Example: Woman who has been fired. Needs to find job. Not hired. Not hired at second interview. You feel for this woman. She’s a good person. She works at a soup kitchen. Her husband left her. You sympathize with her. As she is going through trials and tribulations you feel emotional discomfort.

When they let go of rubber band and climax explodes and reward. All tension disappears. Exhale.

girlwithabook via art inconnuReader starts even.
Then story depresses reader.
Then sends her even higher up.

Think of bad things that happened in book. Villain doing bad things. You want someone to kill him. Why do you hate the villain? Because the protagonist hates the villain.

Mechanics of a chase scene…
Action, reaction

EX: You open front door. You hear a growl. Can’t shut the door. Have to go outside.
Tense up.
Furry creature moves in the corner
Oh crap! Freeze. Look really hard at thing.
Bares teeth.
Fight or flight. Mace or fire extinguisher.
Creature charges.
Use weapon. Run inside and slam door.

Action, reaction
On you, on the dog
On you, on the dog

Write out now. Opened door. Garage was dark. I heard a growl. I tensed. My heart sped up. Something moved—something in garage. Froze; pair of golden eyes ignited and saw flash of big white fangs size of my fingers. Grabbed a fire extinguisher. Charged. I ran inside.

Ratchet up the tension.
Works for a chase scene.
Works for a conversation.

Man and woman fighting
He says, she worse
He says worser, she says more worser

Simple model.

Build up tension. IN YOUR HEAD.
As a reader you are holding your breath. Then explosive motion at the end. Exhale.

This is what you do in the middle of your novel. You just do it on a larger scale.

by Floydiapsych Public Domain

by Floydiapsych Public Domain

A Good Bad Guy
People paint themselves into corner with bad guy not acting. Antagonist needs to be smart and dangerous. Needs to be actively causing problems.

Sleeping Beauty… starts out with baby girl, fairies, Maleficent shows up, curses.

Your antagonist should antagonize your hero.

Interplay between antagonist and protagonist OR external circumstances (ice berg and tears the ship and ship sinking and then sharks and…)

Progressively make things worse and worse.

More hurdles for them to overcome.
Think of Forrest Gump. Someone died.

Think of genre that you want to write in.
Find book. Take story apart.
You will be pulling the curtain back.

Things to concentrate on in the future:
Note problems in books that you read.
What did they do right?
Sympathetic or emotional protagonist.
Compelling beginning.
Compelling ending. (50% of impact of novel is how you end it)
You don’t remember the novels particulars, you remember how you felt at the end.


Writer’s Workshop: Beginnings

by Dr Davis on September 22, 2014

Ilona Andrews Magic SlaysThis past Saturday I went to a Writer’s Workshop with two of my favorite authors, who together are Ilona Andrews. This was held in San Angelo, TX. I received an invitation because for my Writer’s Guild began asking us to tell what books we are reading (and would recommend) each month. In preparation for a new book by Ilona Andrews, I re-read all of the old books one month and then read the new one the second month. The editor of the newsletter got a flyer on the Workshop and sent it to me.

The workshop was very helpful. Sometimes I think if I go to enough of these I will magically become a better writer. That hasn’t happened yet, but each one gives me new ways to think about things. I learn something every time.

What I learned at this workshop helped me figure out the problem with the ending of a novel I wrote and really like and how to resolve it. (The workshop didn’t tell me the answer or even relate to the problem, but doing the other things opened a creative stream that had been dammed up.)

Here are some of my notes from the workshop:

Plot = what story is about
Plot = what motivates character

Plot and setting define genre

Basic: Book opens with girl, opens garage door and there is a monster—that is the plot set up
What happens next –

spaceship cartoonHorror = monster is eating her parents
Sci fi = alien monster
Thriller = injured monster
Historical romance = monster = highwaymen and stable door
YA romance = boy and bully
Mystery = dead body with the monster

When writing, you are writing to readers’ expectations.
Meet the readers’ expectations.

What are you reading? You should be writing what you read.

Mindful of plot but don’t just rely on genre conventions.

Forrest Gump—plot hinges on conflict
What is Forrest’s goal? Jenny
Meets Jenny, all following years is trying to become man good enough for Jenny…
Movie is not a romance. It is a narrative of life. BUT if you strictly go by genre conventions, it is a romance. So don’t rely too much on the genre labels.

Plot as function of character
Start with character
Know who your character is. Shapes, defines, what kind of person
Character = compass to navigate through narrative

Who do you sympathize with? That’s NOT the villain.

Simple exercise:
Picture parked police car by character’s home. The character is walking home and sees car.
What is the character going to do?

Criminal = assumes he’ll be arrested and runs away
Soccer mom = she runs towards the house, thinking something is wrong; she is terrified
Cop = friend coming
other cop at his house when he’s not there—suspicious,
IA, is he a dirty cop?
Werewolf = assumes the police need help or a buddy is in trouble

All with same situation, but as character changes the plot changes.

Writer has two enemies = indifference or confusion
Reader will walk away if feel stupid or are bored.
Average reader is an emotion junky.

Opposite of hate = indifference

Put emotion in.

Dirty cop = sees car, expecting IA investigation
Cop car at this point is the antagonist. Is causing our character to have problem.
May not be there because of IA. –maybe they saw the neighbor burning trash—if dirty cop has drugs in his house, he may draw his gun and shoot the other police

Dirty cop shoots police. He runs away. Would you keep reading?
Well, what did he do that was so bad that he would kill two police? You are intrigued. What would cause him to do this?
If he’s shooting 2 cops, he’s at the end of his rope.

Dirty cop the police are there because a drug dealer killed his wife and kids. Now he’s a dirty cop who is out for revenge.

Think of the character undergoing a test.
Your plot is a test of your character. Character either passes the test or fails the test.

If character is a scumbag and he gets worse and worse. Reader hates him. At the end he gets punishment.

No guarantee of good ending in our lives. Life is not fair.
We want Karma to work. We want there to be reward for good guys and punishment for bad guys.

Forrest Gump = good guy, always good guy = gets Jenny, gets son
Jenny = consistently fails, drugs and abusers = cancer and dies

External plot and internal plot
Internal is emotional, decision-making, thinking. Character response.
External is things happening to character, what the universe is doing, the environment.

Ideally, to make the most of narrative, the internal and external have to start apart and come together by the end.

woman_awardA-1Woman triangle
Clean house = professional success = happy family
Can only have 2 of these.

If you choose to do this in the narrative, where you have a plot point where a woman must choose career or love, if you do both at the same time—2 rewards and doesn’t have to choose, cheats the reader.

Fast, cheap, or good. Can’t have all 3. Only 2.

Where do we start?
We start with change.

Has to be a change in the status quo. (So dream has to begin the book?)
Obvious or subtle, but must be change.

Subtle = laying in bed, tree outside window, nightingale on tree, bird stops singing…
What do you assume when the bird stops singing?

girl_happy_aObvious = girl opens garage door and there’s a monster
Comes home from work and goes through garage. Monster is the change.
Obvious is hard to do.

Typical historical romance = ARegency, pressure on daughter. Daughter needs to marry. Father died and they need money. She will have to marry. She doesn’t love him.

Mysteries = Someone is dead.
Detective sitting in office and dame comes in.

Moses kills an Egyptian. He loses prince-ness.

Noah tells God to build an ark. Noah has no choice. Never rained before. What’s he going to do? Internal conflict = is God talking to me or have I gone off rocker?

Your beginning should force your character to some kind of question.
He/she sitting pretty. Then CHANGE. Change must have consequences.
Change something for the character.

Change and commitment.
Girl in the garage. She opens door. Lo, a monster.

Shuts door and thinks, “There’s a monster in my garage AGAIN.” Intergalactic trouble shooter, but I’ve retired.

Girl opens door and sees monster. No action.
Either get inside house OR she needs to dispatch monster.
What are we asking her to do?
Monster between her and the minivan and can’t get kids.
Or brother will be dropped off and monster will eat brother.

school_research computer martinEasier to write
Girl has monster in garage. Sympathetic.

How many of you can picture garage?
Write first chapter.

write chapter about anything else.

It is easier to write the garage/monster story because it has been plotted.

Don’t have to outline. Need to know character, bad guy, start of story and end of story. Those are things you need to know. Otherwise you don’t know where you are going.
If you want to drastically improve your word count, girl, open door, monster… Scene. We know what happens.

Make short plan every day before you write.

String the scenes together.

Beginning—character with problem. Commits to a certain course of action. Beginning is over.
Try not to start too much in the middle of action.
A little bit of set up is not a bad thing.
Don’t confuse the reader.

This was an aside and relates to endings (which are not covered here):
Cinderella is good historical romance, but Fairy Godmother is God in the Machine. Resolution comes unexpectedly.

Don’t resolve unexpectedly.


CFP: Star Trek at 50

by Dr Davis on September 19, 2014

SFFTV Special Issue: “Star Trek at 50″
full name / name of organization:
Science Fiction Film and Television
contact email:
[email protected]
Science Fiction Film and Television seeks submissions for a special issue on “Star Trek at 50.”

Since its premiere on September 8, 1966, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek has become shorthand for liberal optimism about the future, even as the franchise’s later entries have moved towards increasingly dark depictions of aging (ST II-VII), war (DS9), lifeboat ethics (VOY), and post-9/11 securitization (ENT). This internal tension has now culminated in the rebooted “Abramsverse” depiction that — while nominally directed towards reinvigorating the franchise by returning it to its youthful origins— has seen the Spock’s home planet of Vulcan destroyed by terrorists (ST) and the Federation itself corrupted by a coup from its black-ops intelligence wing (STID).

SFFTV invites fresh approaches to Star Trek media in the context of its amazing longevity and continued popularity, with possible emphases on:

* revivals, retcons, and reboots

* canon and canonicity

* Star Trek and/as “franchise”

* fan cultures, fan productions, and fan sequels

* Star Trek ephemera and paratexts

* lost episodes and unproduced scripts

* parody and pastiche (Galaxy Quest, Star Trek XXX, “The Wrath of Farrakhan,” etc.)

* spinoff media like video games and comics

* Star Trek and politics

* Star Trek and science/technology/invention

* Star Trek and race

* Star Trek, sex, gender, and orientation

* Star Trek and disability

* Star Trek and aesthetics

* Star Trek and aging

* Star Trek’s influence on other works or on the culture at large

* Star Trek and other Roddenberry productions (The Questor Tapes, Earth: Final Conflict, Andromeda)

Articles of 6,000-9,000 words should be formatted using MLA style and according to the submission guidelines available on our website. Submissions should be made via our online system at Articles not selected for the special issue will be considered for future issues of SFFTV.

Any questions should be directed to the editors, Mark Bould ([email protected]), Sherryl Vint ([email protected]), and Gerry Canavan ([email protected]).

The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2015, with anticipated publication in Star Trek’s 50th anniversary year.

Science Fiction Film and Television is a biannual, peer-reviewed journal published by Liverpool University Press. Edited by Mark Bould (UWE), Sherryl Vint (Brock University), and Gerry Canavan (Marquette University), with an international board of advisory editors, it encourages dialogue among the scholarly and intellectual communities of film studies, sf studies and television studies. We invite submissions on all areas of sf film and television, from Hollywood productions to Korean or Turkish sf film, from Sci-Fi Channel productions to the origins of SF TV in Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers or The Quatermass Experiment. We encourage papers which consider neglected texts, propose innovative ways of looking at canonical texts, or explore the tensions and synergies that emerge from the interaction of genre and medium. We publish articles (6000-8000 words), book and DVD reviews (1000-2000 words) and review essays (up to 5000 words), as well as archive entries (up to 5000 words) on theorists (which introduce the work of key and emergent figures in sf studies, television studies or film studies) and texts (which describe and analyse little-known or unduly neglected films or television series). Science Fiction Film and Television is hosted online by Metapress and is accessible at Online access is free to existing subscribers.

from UPenn


Native Huddersfield Dialect (Yorkshire)

by Dr Davis on September 18, 2014

Actor Patrick Stewart speaks for half a minute in his native dialect. If you don’t understand one word out of every two, you are not alone!


Original Pronunciation

by Dr Davis on September 17, 2014

britain_william_shakespeare martinShakespeare’s Globe did a Shakespearean play with original pronunciation. This is a 10-minute video about it–with examples:

“It’s an interesting accent to tune your ear into.”

Very useful for linguistics and British literature.

“three kind of evidence that you look for…
observations made by people who are writing on the language at the time… Ben Jonson the dramatist tells us, ‘We actually pronounce the r…’
spellings people used at the time … at one point in Romeo and Juliet the word film is spelt p-h-i-l-o-m-e…That’s a very important indication.
rhymes and puns which don’t work in Modern English that do work in OP… ”

2/3s of Shakespeare’s sonnets have rhymes that don’t work in Modern English but do in OP.

“Actors all said that the OP altered their performance…It changed the way they perceived their characters…”

“The OP Romeo and Juliet was 10 minutes faster.”

“It’s an earthier accent.”

“can make the original meaning clearer”

“sound shift… from pronunciation of whore to o’er/ore… perfect pun”

“working our way back to Shakespeare”