atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#6758: It's bothered me all this time

...my first English class in high school was Creative Writing. First project was a short story. Everyone read theirs aloud, of course. And there was this one girl who wrote a horror story.

I didn't really listen to it; it wasn't my cup of tea and the class was a lot less interesting than I'd hoped it would be. But at the end of it, the main character got killed. Not really a problem, except for the fact that it was written in first person, past tense, and the key clause of the last sentence of the story was "...as I died...."

It's a bit clumsy and there was nothing in the story to support it ending that way. It wasn't really foreshadowed. The teacher said, "You can't do that!" The teacher said that you can't have a story in first person past tense in which the main character dies before the end of the narrative. "How is the protagonist telling the story if she's dead?" Age 15, lacking the ability to tell adults they were wrong, I didn't ask, "Why not?"

Maybe a ghost is relating the story. Maybe someone else is speaking for another person who died, kind of metaphorically or allegorically. Maybe the actual narrator is somehow experiencing what the decedent experienced. I don't know, but even at the time I thought it would not take much to fix the story as it was written; but the teacher's advice--in a creative writing class, a class that would be considered "advanced placement" today--was to rewrite it in third person because obviously you can't have the main character in a first person past tense story narrate his own death.

Of course she could have rewritten her story in present tense and kept the immediacy of first person. And like I said, there were probably an easy dozen ways to fix it and keep it first person past tense.

If you wanted to be really cheesy, "...and then I woke up!" would even do it. The teacher said not to do that and I don't blame her, but it was an out. The easiest one possible for a story like that.

I just don't like telling anyone trying to produce art, "You can't do that!" Why not? It's fricking fiction. It doesn't have to obey all the real-world rules. "Suspension of disbelief"--and since the story is over, you no longer need it.

I don't know. I accidentally took Midol instead of Tylenol for a headache, and the antihistamine in it has me feeling all woozy and loopy and spacy, but I just don't see why the ending had to be rewritten. The story needed maybe a paragraph or two, all told, added to it, to explain how it could be told this way. The ghost angle was the one that occurred to me at the time but as I said I lacked the guts to buck a teacher.

It reminds me of something Harlan Ellison wrote, about a workshop for writers that he held. Harlan Ellison seemed like a total douche to me. Knowing a bit about his personality it would not surprise me at all if it turned out to be because the writer had given a political opinion he didn't like--but he spent a session utterly shredding this guy's story and telling him that he'd never be a writer, so give up and don't waste your time. Ellison was proud of that.

Oh yes, Mr. Big Time SF writer says you'll never be good enough. Well, who the hell put him in charge?

There are people who cannot string sentences together to make a coherent story, yes, but there are plenty of professional writers out there who made it big despite that handicap. I don't think it's for Harlan Ellison to say who can and can't be a professional writer. (And as I said I cannot shake the impression that Ellison destroyed the guy solely because his story somehow gored one of Ellison's political opinions.)

It fits my impression of him that Mr. "Fuck you. Pay me," just wrecked one of his paying customers, and moreso that he did so in a way that publicly humiliated the poor guy.

* * *

Tonight's the full moon. It is sticky out there--low 70s with a dewpoint to match--and this afternoon I could see that the patio door had fogged up where the floor register blows on it.

* * *

Anime background music by Kenji Kawai--one of his OSTs was for Hime-chan's Ribbon. Now, Kawai has a real flair for doing the music for horror series, and for "cyberpunk" stuff like Ghost in the Shell. I think the ultimate expression of his talent is in the OST for the Vampire Princess Miyu (VPM) TV series; the track "Karma" is simply amazing to me.

A lot of the horror anime I've seen--the stuff that has affected me the most--does not rely on gore so much as a simple feeling of hopelessness. The stories in the VPM TV series go that way; the main character is a vampire and at the end of most episodes someone's life has been so utterly fucked up that the kindest thing that can be done is for her to bite the poor fool, drink his blood, and then let him live out the rest of his days, in a coma, in his dream world, his future otherwise gone. During those sequences, "Karma" is usually what plays in the background. It's a haunting tune, and the way he weaves the instrument sounds together just makes it.



"Ripples", from the same OST, is the same way.




The music he did for Patlabor has a different tone to it, futuristic without being heavy on electronic sounds. Patlabor is set in the early 21st century, when people are using mechs (called "Labors") for construction work and so forth. The second scene of the first Patlabor is built on the track "Heavy Armor".



This music underlies a scene where military Labors are being airdropped into a forest, and catching and then fighting another military Labor. It comes to a climax and then seques into an abbreviated title sequence, and it was hands down the absolute best opening sequence I'd seen in any movie for a long time.

Then, for Patlabor 2, this:



(Not sure where the video comes from. It's the music I'm talking about.)

"With Love" is the name of the track, and it's so chock-full of regret I just can't even. The antagonist in this movie is a man with whom one of the bosses of the Patlabor unit was in love, earlier in her career; and in fact it's made obvious that they still love each other even though they can't be together. Particularly since she has to arrest him for what he's done.

And Mermaid Forest--at the last, track 20 from the OST (I can't find it on-line), called "Now Only Herself". It plays when the antagonist of that story runs into an inferno, followed by the man who's loved her for decades.

But Hime-chan's Ribbon--go to 3:30 of this one:



The thing about Hime-chan's Ribbon is that unlike everything else I've mentioned here, this one is aimed at kids under the age of about 10. The main character, Hime-chan, is about 12, and she gets a magic ribbon that lets her transform into other people for a little while at a time. There's no real violence in the story, no sex; it's a harmless little story about a girl's adventures after some real magic enters her life. And the music for it captures that. It's innocent and light and cheerful, like the eponymous character herself.

Kenji Kawai's music is layered--textured--and I think that's why I like it; there's something going on everywhere in in.

* * *

Anyway, I got up originally to have a PBJ, to shut up my stomach. I'd better go back to bed.
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