Worldcon notes – Unthinkable! Indescribable!

One of the best panels I attended.  Got to hear China Mieville, Terry Dowling, Shane Jiraya Cummings and Carrie Vaughn kick around some interesting discussion topics centered on language, the contract with the reader, and the skill of leaving out the wrong words.  Loved it.

back to Lovecraft, as always, thank god

china – fiction is a collaborative enterprise, so while he has not come across a a thing he can’t describe, he doesn’t feel it should always be described.

words are the enemy of the writer – know what to leave out, that is the skill storytellers NEED.

most endings are not the best thing, but give them something different and creep them out

horrific doesn’t equal blood and gore, but it is a visual, a necessary visual

evocative evasion – get good at alluding and evading, but give perfect details

brains think in word, so conceptualization needs words to function

success as a writer = reaction from reader. can you make the reader feel what the character feels, see what they see?

hint, hint, hint – cliche – subtlety revolves around the hint

words have a limit, so that which words are no longer suitable for is the goal

tension between the systemization of words and the awe in that which can be described – true horror

fail better, as true success, by definition, is not an option

words are constantly being destroyed, so choose the right word one

lovecraft fails to describe by vomit of adjective -terrified ajdectivialism

excess of strangeness, lovecraft strength is exact description that still feels it cannot contain the thing being described

unreliable narrator can backfire, description can never be trusted

narration itself is, however, unreliable

many writers create an unreliable narrator without knowing

perhaps the unreliable narrator exists in many works, lovecraft included, did not mean to create unreliable narrators

if you have adjectives you have the wrong noun, if you have adverbs you have the wrong verb. (sometimes)

now somebody doesn’t know what an unreliable narrator is, but that’s cool

a bit of darkness – uses other senses, taste of brass, feeling of cobwebs, smell of burnt linen

reader is collaborator, use them, trigger them, you will get better at knowing what people will bring to the table

witnesses do not remember things perfectly

human mind will create patterns where none exists, will make memories where there are none

when you see the monster, things fall apart, every time

blair witch, no monster shot, one of the few visual medium without monster shot

lovecraft = holding the reader at arm’s length

island of dr. moreau = chant language affects reader

heavily descriptive can work, minimalist not always best, rhythm of prose can hypnotise

lovecraft is a false antiquarian – extraordinarily failure, playing a role – extreme modernist

power in the ritual of words, hypnogogic


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