Back at the Fresh Pot, once again had lunch over at the Cup and Saucer… this time, a lucky scramble, which reminded me SO MUCH of Andy‘s scrambles that he used to make in Montpelier (only this had bacon instead of veggie sausage, though I’m sure you could have swapped). It had cheese and eggs and mushrooms and green onions and bacon and potatoes… damned tasty, though I did hit my egg limit and couldn’t finish it all. Ended up striking up a conversation with the folks at the next table over, who are (ironically) originally from the east coast (like, Boston, and went to St Mic’s), who are now in Portland. One is working on getting an assistantship in photography, and the other works for a trip planning organization for high school students to Thailand. I inserted myself when I heard them talking about cameras, and I ended up giving them both my card (may be helping one out with their portfolio site, even). It’s always nice to be able to strike up conversations with folks, though I’m always a little self-conscious about it.
I swung through the Hawthorne Street Tea shop while waiting for a table at Cup and Saucer (that place gets hopping on weekends), and picked up some white chocolate covered espresso beans… arguably, I think I prefer them to the milk chocolate covered beans… the white chocolate augments the coffee flavor really nicely. I also heard that Gomez is playing in town tonight, and I’m SORELY tempted to go check it out, but I can’t really justify spending the money on a show right now. There will be a time and place for such.
I’ve taken to writing in my notebook while I wait for food. I usually stop at a full page, though today I did end up doing a second page of just ideas for stories. It felt good to brainstorm, and hopefully I’ll actually go back and revisit them, and use them for writing projects. I’ve been doing a fair bit of introspection about my writing, and I’m noticing certain trends, and where I need to improve. I’m fairly comfortable with my informal prose, and my essay work, but as far as fiction goes, I’m a macro-writer with nearly no “micro” game. By which I mean that I’m good at outlining and summarizing an idea or a story arc, but when it comes time to actually do the details, the subtle dialogue and nuanced description, forget it. I think I would probably really benefit from sitting down and writing a bunch of “nothing” stories, just work on slowing down and appreciating the details and subtleties of, say, a conversation over a cup of coffee, or over breakfast in a diner. I mean, think about Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Yes, there’s a lot that happens, but the action scenes are actually relatively short compared to the dialogue. Early on in the book, sitting around in a hotel room, there are pages and pages of dialogue and detail about planning the revolution, but no action takes place, yet you’re still engaged. That’s the sign of good dialogue: it should stand alone as a conversation, not as a lecture, nor as filler within an event. The same goes for adding details to a scene… they shouldn’t be arbitrary or tacked on, they should be part of the tapestry of the scene… if you can’t think of a way to work an element into a scene without breaking the flow, then maybe that element isn’t necessary or the scene should be rethought.
This goes for all forms of storytelling, I think, not just writing. Visual storytelling has some other elements that it has to consider. Comics immediately come to mind, where each panel tends to contain an action or other method to signify the progression of time… though simply changing viewpoint can do wonders… I immediately think of the Grant Morrison run of Animal Man, the final issue, where Animal Man meets Grant (a brilliant story arc for those who haven’t read it… they’ve released it as a trilogy of graphic novels if you want). They spend a fair bit of time just walking and talking, and that slowdown from the standard pacing of comics did a lot to encourage the surrealist feel of the story.
An emerging medium that I think could really benefit from implementing a more nuanced dialogue and story would be video games. While it has been slowly improving, the dialogue in most games is a bit of a joke. Approached appropriately, the sense of ownership of action from an interactive medium could potentially make for a more poignant and directly felt reaction from the viewer. (I should really expand on this and put it up over here…)