FF: More Than Usually Varied

News Flash!  This week, SnackReads/SnackWrites is reprinting a piece I wrote about narrative hooks.  Don’t know what a narrative hook is?  Turns out, neither did Roger Zelazny – even though he wrote great ones.  Read more here.

A Tale for Sun and Shadow

For those of you just discovering this feature, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Edited by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond.   A children’s story.  This edition has notes and a long introduction.  My recommendation is to read the story first, the ancillary material later.

In Progress:

Knight of Shadows.  Audiobook.  Eighteen episodes of The Shadow radio drama.  I’ve now listened to the first four.  They don’t benefit from too many at once since, like many radio dramas of the time, they rely on set pieces and a lot of repetition.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.  Audio of the radio drama.

The Venetian’s Wife by Nick Bantock.  More text than his best-selling “Griffin and Sabine” trilogy, but still heavily and creatively illustrated.


Considering works on the Nebula Ballot.  Anyone have any strong feelings about the offerings this year?


6 Responses to “FF: More Than Usually Varied”

  1. James M. Six Says:

    Thank you for the link to the narrative hooks article. It took me a while to realize that while the first sentence can contain the narrative hook, it’s not actually required to be in the first sentence … as long as it’s on the first page or two. Any more than that and you lose the reader. It’s trickier, though, weaving the tale WITHOUT the hook right up front, rather like trying to crochet with a knitting needle. (I’m about to start writing a longer story – perhaps novel length – so this has been on my mind in a vague sort of way.)

    Completed this week:
    Re-read of “Stardust” (novel) by Neil Gaiman. It contains brilliance (the darker side of Faerie comes up a lot, as does the careful wording of things which no one ever realizes) as well as minor annoyances (all those adventures of Tristran and Yvaine, sketched out with a line or two, never to be explored, plus characters which come and go and never return because they served their story purpose). It’s also weird because the movie version now also occupies a place in my head so, as I read, I kept switching back and forth between the two versions. Yvaine is part Charles Vess drawing and part Claire Danes, for example.

    Begun this week:
    Nothing. My Kindle died and I didn’t want to start a paperback novel yet, knowing that I was going to write this weekend. (Oddly, I find it easier to stop/start with a Kindle. With a paper book, I want to keep going until I finish it and begrudge having to put it down.)

    • janelindskold Says:

      I’m glad the narrative hooks piece was useful. I believe I also included it in WANDERINGS ON WRITING.

      I always liked making myself put the thesis statement for an academic paper in the first sentence. I found this made me focus. I still feel an early narrative hook is a good thing — but sometimes later works just as well.

      • James M. Six Says:

        Funnily enough, I usually tried very hard NOT to put the thesis statement as the first sentence when I went back to college. I usually tried a narrative hook which LED to the statement later in that first paragraph. (Then again, I wasn’t a true academic once I decided to bail out and get a degree leading to a private sector job rather than a Ph.D.)

  2. Louis Robinson Says:

    My usual hopping about from book to screen – plus this week is the Brier, so I’m actually _watching_ TV for a change.

    Been alternating between lectures on Etruria, Byzantium and the Italian Renaissance, and finally finished the Etruscans, You always hear about the Romans, but it looks like the force shaping Italian culture for the last 3000 has actually come out of Etruria/Tuscany – always with a huge slug of good Greek retsina to fortify them.

    Also recently finished Shinn’s Royal Airs & Jeweled Fire. Now working on Unquiet Land. Plus, umm… I dunno how many other part-read books I’m cycling back to semi-regularly.

    • janelindskold Says:

      What’s your favorite book on the Etruscans? A friend and I were just discussing them the other day and I realized I wouldn’t know where to start, especially with more modern works.

      • Louis Robinson Says:

        I’ll have to poke around – my most recent books that cover them at all are a good 30 years old now. I know enough now that I should be able to scan some of what’s available and suggest a couple – in fact, now that I think about it, I need to get caught up on a lot of work on that period, although AFAIK there haven’t been any major discoveries so much recent work has been rethinking from a less Romanocentric perspective. And noticing things like the relatively high status of women that would have gone right over people’s heads as recently as 2-3 generations ago.

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