Creating conflict within the reader

I love discontinuity between the readers and the character’s thoughts. Usually, it’s a benefit seen only in third-person, but here, Stross has created it within a first-person story – amazingly done – which only results because of his belief that memory can be altered through the use of back-up bodies/memories. This means that if something should happen to you, as in kill you, then at least there’s a copy of you somewhere (like a back up file). (Of course this also means there can be multiple copies of you running around, but that’s another part of the story.)

I’m not male. No, I’m female. I raise my other hand, explore my chest. Female and orthohuman. 

This in itself is no big deal. I’ve been a female orthohuman before; I’m not sure when or for how long, and it’s not my favorite body plan, but I can live with it for the time being. What makes me freak and stand up again, so suddenly I get black spots in my visual field and nearly fall over, is the corollary. Someone tampered with my backup! And then the doubletake: I am the backup. Somewhere a different version of me has died. (Stross 40-41)

This is great! I’m being lead along with the thoughts within the character: the turmoil of being female, the resulting recognition that she is the backup, and that somewhere – back in the other life that we, as the reader, can remember she died. It creates the thought of what did we miss? Who killed her? What about her old romantic relationship Kay, and will she remember her?? How much does she even remember??

By reverting to the backup body, backup memory, suddenly a multitude of thoughts are swimming out of control in the readers mind, creating possibilities within themselves. It creates the thought, what about Kay? How much does (s)he remember?

I blink. Then I reread the tablet, frantically searching for alternate meanings. I didn’t sign that! Did I? Looks like I did-either that or I’ve been hacked, but my having signed the release is more likely. (Stross 42)

Above we learn more specifics, detailing the situation even more, and I think what draws me in the most about this scene is not only do I read it, strategically interested, but I’m dying to know more information. I’m reading and re-reading bits, making sure I didn’t miss anything, and my brain is moving a mile a minute trying to guess what happened, what’s going to happen next.

My brain is engaged.

When you’re engaged with the text, you’re reading. And if you’re reading, you’re interested, making it a good book (most of the time.) I think what made this scene so amazing was the discrepancy of what we know and what the character knows. At the time of reboot, the character’s understanding was as far as that current lifeline while mine extended. Because I had greater understanding them than, there was this discrepancy, making it interesting to read. I was hoarding knowledge over the character.

I know quite a few authors, especially new ones, will try to do this in reverse. Hoard knowledge from the reader, not revealing until later, and a lot of English teachers will flinch over this. (I know this because when I did workshop with my creative writing classes, this happened…a lot.)

But, I don’t think everything has to be hidden. Actually, I’ve been going back in my current book and adding more subtle hints and obvious reflections of what my character, and readers, should be noticing. I think it’s important to bring them along for the realization because they’d be more excited on ‘figuring it out’ then for you, as the writer, to prove it to them, by later revealing the facts.

Maybe this is why I like this scene. We know more than the characters. Suddenly, I’m more in the know. For Stross, it took memory deletion. For third person, it requires scene reveals. Think about where you might use this.

Stross, C. Glasshouse. New York, NY: Ace, 2014.

Artificial complexity

Life is not simple. Humans are not simple. I can tell you I love to eat, and I do like to cook, but based on my situation, my thoughts on cooking sway all over the spectrum, where sometimes I like to cook if I’m not tired and I don’t have to clean the kitchen afterwards, but if a mess must be made, I rather avoid the aspect of cleaning because I really don’t like to clean up after myself.

Just by explaining my conditions of when I like to cook can I show you how difficult we as people can be, which is harder to convey in writing than you think.

As writers, we shouldn’t have to spend five hundred words to basically state the fact that for the most part, I like to cook. But I still want to show you that my characters are complex because otherwise they don’t seem real. Everything real has a good side and a bad side, just like my bed in the morning.

And as always, I want to show you by example:

I feel curiously unmoved by what I’ve just done, although I wish the afterimages would go away faster-you’re supposed to use a blaster with flash-suppression goggles, but I didn’t have time to grab them. The blaster is a simple weapon, just a small T-gate linked (via another pair of T-gates acting as a valve) to an endpoint orbiting in the photosphere of a supergiant star. (Stross 37)

Here, Stross invented a new type of gun, the typical scifi blaster with atypical working conditions. But what I loved best about this paragraph was that not only is this a powerful weapon, small and easy to conceal, it also has some negatives associated with it. In this instance, when the main character used it, he was blinded, with mild burns all over his skin – the effects of being in contact with a gate linked to the photosphere of a supergiant star.

This seems real to me. Even when I think of a normal gun, I think of a deadly weapon, easy to deal damage, while a struggle to use because it kicks back on your shoulder, recoils enough that you lose sight of your accuracy. Take a look at any video game – I’m thinking of one in particular. Ever noticed how guns have all those attributes besides damage associated with them? They’re complex coding machines!

So in effect, I can take this rule and expand upon it. I can create complexity through opposites. By including positives and negatives about every want, every event, every item, I’m artificially making it complex, making it real.

And this works for just about everything in writing!

Stross, C. Glasshouse. New York, NY: Ace, 2006. Print.

Creating Conflict

Conflict is bourne out of humanity; at least, that’s what I usually think since everywhere I go, someone’s always upset. Whether it’s one person fighting to stop the bus; a student arguing with the teacher to sway their grade; two guys competing to win or lose, there’s always conflict – whenever there’s a discrepancy of ideas.

And it’s not that difficult to create. (Most of the time I think we bring it on ourselves.)

Take Robin for instance, the main character in Glasshouse, all he knows is that someone is out to kill him. And this is where the discrepancy comes to life: survival. And while a lot of authors tend to fight to kill their characters, Stross gives Robin what he wants: satisfaction.

“Think about it,” she says. “It’s a closed community running in a disconnected T-gate manifold. Nobody gets to go in or comes out after it starts running, not until the whole thing terminates. What’s more, it’s an experimental protocol. It’ll be anonymized and randomized, and the volunteers’ records will be protected by the Scholastium Experimental Ethics Service. So-“

Enlightenment dawns. “If anyone is after me ,they won’t be able to get at me unless they’re inside it from the start! And while I’m in it I’ll be invisible.” (Stross 29)

I thought this was a good change of pace. Instead of fighting to kill your characters, bring conflicts out of their choices, make them hidden behind the reflection of good ideas.

If you’re looking on how to create conflict, first come up the idea of what do they want in life. If you look at Robin’s character, you can see his history as a soldier, where now he wants peace, seclusion. He doesn’t want to keep fighting, especially when he can’t remember what he was fighting about – this just creates paranoia.

After that, create a situation where his worst fears come to life. In this case, Robin’s enemies find him, after he spends the whole novel evading them. I think this was the greatest strength: Showing the reader that Robin had failed. He was captured, mind-wiped, and there was no sense of escape. And yet your novel doesn’t have to stick to one conflict. At this point in the book, Robin’s conflict changed, and to create fluid transition with change, just reflect on it!

Hint: Usually this solves any problem with a book, whether it’s a whether it’s a questionable reaction or event, your character’s active reflection will solve it.

It’s time I stopped kidding myself that I can fight my way out of here, and time that I stopped kidding myself that they’re going to let me go in (I checked the calendar) another ninety-four megaseconds…I’ve for a stark choice. I can conform like everyone else…Or I can try to find out what’s really going on. (Stross 137)

Even though the point of the novel has one motif in mind: survival, it can have multiple streams of conflict starting and stopping. Because your book is a fluid transcription of Robin’s life, you’re allowed to start/stop multiple conflicts, ever increasing the amount of complications.

I think the main idea to take away from Glasshouse is that you don’t always have to force a conflict on your characters; most of the time, we do plenty good making the conflict for ourselves.

Stross, C. Glasshouse. New York, NY: Ace, 2006. Print.

Advancing the timeline

There was a movie a while back with Adam Sandler – really bad, really depressing – I think it was called Clicker. About a man who could pause, start, skip pieces of his life with a remote. I think summaries are a lot like that, quite similar to a remote.

They can pause or skip over action, either taking the time to delve into details or diving past a scene that would be too boring to write.

I think this is a good example of the second type of summary: Clicker on fast forward.

“I’m worried that I erased too much,” I say before I can stop myself. Then Frita, one of the two proprietor/cook/designers wanders over, and we’re lost for a while in praise of his latest creations, and of course we have to sample the fruits of the first production run and make an elaborate business of reviewing them while Erci stands by strumming his mandolin and looking proud.

“Erased too much,” Kay prods me.

“Yes.” I push my plate away. “I don’t know for sure…” (Stross 27)

Here, Kay and Robin (main character) are talking over lunch. And while this is the action within the chapter, the main purpose of this chapter is not to explore the scene, but to explore their reflections through conversation. They’re both in similar predicaments, with their memories having just been erased, and they want the verification of did they or did they not make the right decision. It’s hard to know without knowing what they erased.

Because this is its purpose, we as the reader and writer, don’t want to spend time over a pointless scene, where they’re talking about food, talking to a chef, and even though the writer could do a beautiful job of explaining what happens, without having a purpose behind it, there’s no reason to show it, which is why we can skip it with summary. Shown above.

This is a good learning lesson for many, including myself.

I like to write according to time, letting time direct most of my books – even though it should be as flexible as perspective – but having said that, I like to see all scenes, every scene, which can drag a book’s pace until it’s as slow as running through water.

And no one likes to read that.

When you read, you should be immersed. You should be pulled, dragged along the ground, until you’re running to try and keep up. You should be excited, engaged, and I read for entertainment, whether I’m engaged in the conflict or thought-experiment.

Either way, if I’m not engaged, I’m not entertained – same for learning, which is why summaries must be used in conjunction with scenes. You just have to decide as the writer, what is the purpose of this segment, and if it has none, cut it, skip it. Summarize it.

But please don’t bop it!

Stross, C. Glasshouse. New York, NY: Ace, 2006. Print.


It’s been a while since I’ve talked about this technique, and I found a great example for it within Stross’ Glasshouse, so I thought now would be a good time for a gentle reminder.

ARR: Action-Reaction-Reflection

A technique, or pattern, used to develop a scene, where an action (or event) occurs, the character then reacts, and reflects on either why, how, or what it means. 

“Another drink?” Kay asks. “I’m buying.”

“Yes, please.” A warning bell rings in my head as I sense Blondie heading toward our table. I pretend not to notice, but I can feel a familiar warmth in my stomach, a tension in my back. Ancient reflexes and not a few modern cheat-codes take over and I surreptitiously loosen my sword in its scabbard. I think I know what Blondie wants, and I’m perfectly happy to give it to her. She’s not the only one around here prone to frequent flashes of murderous rage that takes a while to cool. The counselor told me to embrace it and give in, among consenting fellows. It should burn itself out in time. (Stross 5)

Action: Consider the action happening in this scene, when Blondie heads toward their table. Here is a specific event, which is recognizable through motion-type verbs.

Reaction: These are feelings that the character is experiencing, which usually concerns part of the body or types of emotions. Here, the character feels reactions within their stomach and back, reminiscent of excitement and pre-game tension.

Reflection: This is what the character is thinking in terms to what just happened. Here, the character is reflecting on why Blondie is moving, what he’s going to do next, how he feels about it, how others feel. There’s a lot of questions answered here, and this is usually the meat of a scene.

While action is necessary for readers to develop an image of what’s happening, reflection is most important because it help readers identify the reasoning of the story helping them align with the main character’s thoughts, aiding in immersion. Reaction helps a little bit with this, but it’s the mid-way point action and reflection, and helps more with the reader sympathizing with the character.

Each of these is an important step for a scene, and if one is missing, it does create weaker writing. I would know – I’m still struggling to keep plenty of reflection in mine.

Stross, C. Glasshouse. New York, NY: Act, 2006. Print.


Day-to-day life does not have subtitles. If it did, I’m sure there would plenty of things I would have to reflect on. Did that student lie to me about having a doctor’s appointment? Was that really a hall pass or did they forge it between classes? There’s this spectrum of truth that I think we may over embellish within our daily lives, which is much easier to see in the contents of a book than the 3D nature of life.

Take for example this paragraph:

“Yes.” Emphatically yes. Shards of memory remain: a flash of swords in twilit alleyway in the remilitarized zone. Blood in the fountains. “I was an academic. A member of the professoriat.” An array of firewalled assembler gates, lined up behind the fearsome armor of a customs checkpoint between polities. Pushing screaming, imploring civilians toward a shadowy entrance-“I taught history.” That much is-was-true.” It all seems boring and distant now.” The brief flash of an energy weapon, then silence. “I was getting stuck in a rut, and I needed to refresh myself. I think.” (Stross 3)

While reading, you get this obvious conflict between dialogue and thoughts, how he tells his companion that he was a history professor when really he’s thinking about how he used to be a soldier, fighting in a war. I like the clear opposition. Professors are boring; soldiers are frightening. Through his adjectives, you can tell this is the idea that Stross is going for, and I really appreciate it.

And I think this should be a common technique for writers. Nobody always tells the truth. Almost no one, and if they did, I’m not sure they’d be human. To err is human, or however the quote goes. So I think characters should at least lie about something, and this is a good way how to do it: Create direct conflict between dialogue and reflection.

I would also create reflection on the lies afterward to create motive – why are you lying? How is it important? What’s the alternative?

These should be explained to the reader because after that, you have purpose. You have a story!

Stross, C. Glasshouse. New York, NY: Ace, 2006. Print.

Instant Gratification

One thing I love about writing: It instantly makes you happy, which can progressively increase with interest. (And that’s a purposeful pun!) And it doesn’t have to just make the writer happy; it can make the reader happy too.

Because the nice part about writing, whatever you want to happen, you can make it happen. And you don’t have have to wait for it. You can make it so that the event occurs immediately! Instant gratification!

Take for instance, this section of A Stranger in a Strange Land.

“Jubal, you go see what the score is. I can’t go back.”

“They’ll take you back with open arms and never ask why you left. One thousand on that prediction, too. Ben, you were there less than twenty-four hours. Did you give them the careful investigation that you give something smelly in public life before you blast it?” (Heinlein 369)

And not too much later – the next page even:

Twenty-four hours later Ben wired Jubal two thousand dollars. When, after a week, Jubal received no other message, he sent a state care of Ben’s office: “What the hell are you doing?” The answer was somewhat delayed:

Studying Martian-aquafraternally yours-Ben” (Heinlein 370)

I loved this! Mostly because there was this huge in-depth scene, showing this argument between Ben and Jubal, where Jubal was making fun of Ben for skipping out on this polygamous, everyone-shares-everything relationship, and then not two paragraphs later, I get the resolution to this miniature conflict: Ben was won over.

And I don’t know why! I don’t know how!

This is a beautiful driver. I get the resolution to the story, but I don’t figure out how it occurs because the writer skipped all the drama, fast-forwarding to the ending, which creates a reverse effect for me: Interest is upped. I have no idea how this happened, and I want to know how, so I’m going to keep reading to find out why.

What a beautiful trick that anybody can used. In this case, according to Freytag’s arc, I can skip the ‘falling action’ part and go straight to the resolution, in order to change the timing of the story and create more interest.

It’d be a nice trick to try at some point.

Heinlein, R. A Stranger in a Strange Land. New York, NY: Ace, 1961. Print.

Huxley’s 1984

I submitted to peer pressure.

A lot of my friends had talked about the book, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, including how much they liked it and how traumatic an ending it had. They pressured me to read it, telling me again and again, it’s a classic. You should know the story.

So, I read it. I submitted to peer pressure and committed the deed. And fortunately, I didn’t feel contaminated afterwards, which tends to happen after I read a book I didn’t like. But this book was so interesting, and there are so many things I want to talk about! This book had a weird style; it was similar to 1984; the ending was weird? Forced? Rushed?

I’ll divide up my thoughts and try to make them quicker than usual, since I did a no-no and left a whole book for a post.


Within the first chapter, you get the setting of the book: future time period, a society where humans are artificially grown in a lab, set to undergo the Bokanovsky’s Process (where fertilized eggs undergo duplication until there are ninety-six duplicates), which the Director calls “one of the major instruments of social stability” since, as Huxley says, it produces “standard men and women; in uniform batches” (Huxley 7). Because everyone is a twin of the other; humanity can be standardized and cast into formal castes, based on intelligence. As one of the characters mentioned, “If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely” (137). Meaning, the more standard they look, the more easily they can conform and socialize, equating popularity and happiness.

This is a big component on which the society is built, and even though their civilization has changed in more than one manner, I think this component, for being such a small deviation from the norm, still resulted with a largely different plot, in which is discussed the importance of the individual versus society. Hint: All it takes is one deviation from the norm to create a good framework for a novel.


“Ending is better than mending, ending is better than mending.”

Green corduroy shorts and white viscose-woolen stockings turned down below the knee.

“Then came the famous British Museum Massacre. Two thousand culture fans gassed with dichlorethyl sulphide.”

A green-and-white jockey cap shaded Lenina’s eyes; her shoes were bright green and highly polished.

“In the end,” said Mustapha Mond, “the Controllers realized that force was no good. The slower but infinitely surer methods of ectogenesis, neo-Pavlovian conditioning and hypnopaedia…” (50)

Most of the chapter was this way, and it was crazy to read, because it was constantly changing scenes, switching back and forth between the repetitious nurses (who used hypnopaedia to sleep condition citizen’s ethics and morals), to the reflecting Controllers (who explained how society became this way), to the average Lenina, acting as the typical citizen in this society. Because it switched so often, my brain struggled to keep up. But one thing I liked was that it showed all that was going on at the moment, drawing direct comparisons between each of these situations.

While the Controller, Mustapha, explained why society acted this way, the nurses showed how we conditioned society to act in this manner, using Lenina to demonstrate the typical behavior. For example, the nurses repeated, “Ending is better than mending,” encouraging citizens to always buy new clothes while Huxley described all of Lenina’s clothes, showing how she conforms to these conditioning’s (50). Hint: These quick transitions draw direct comparisons between scenes or characters, making them relate to each other.


Remember how 1984 was a direct contemplation of the politics and social criteria to make a totalitarian society? One of the criteria it required was a sex-less society, where sex became a chore, and the standard woman behavior (of the middle and high class) was abstinence. As a direct opposite, Brave New World is sex heavy. And although the two books share opposing views to create a submissive society, both of them encourage society members to never be alone, to always be in public, and to never ruminate in their thoughts. For example, while 1984 encourages doublethink to disable individual thinking, BNW encourages the use of soma, a drug that Lenina says to take “when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You’d forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you’d be jolly. So jolly” (92).

It’s interesting to compare the books side-by-side since they both study social behavior of their own fictional society, constantly examining what-if’s. Where 1984 took a ‘hate everything, be at war approach,’ Brave New World took a peaceful ‘everyone’s happy’ approach, which you can see is drilled into the mind of every citizen on page 75: “‘Yes, everybody’s happy now,’ echoed Lenina. They had heard the words repeated a hundred and fifty times every night for twelve years.” Overall, it’s funny how similar and different they are, considering they both had the purpose to have a stable society for forever. Note: Notice again how this book doesn’t have to be sneaky with its purpose, again having the characters reflect on the same theme throughout their thoughts and dialogue, just as obvious as 1984. This gives a good method on how to reveal your theme: Make the characters examine and reflect on your purpose.


I really like the use of drugs in this book, the one named soma. In the case of this book, as previously mentioned, characters take these drugs whenever they’re feeling something other than happiness, using soma as an avoidance method for any strong negative emotions, in effect, never learning how to deal with them (examples seen on 171 and 176). This is a cool similarity with our society, even though drugs aren’t as heavily used as in BNW, where they’re used as currency. But I think the reason this drug made the book stronger is that it shows the degree of happiness that characters feel. They depend on this sort of artificial happiness, which is by no means a true substitute for real happiness. As the Controller says, “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand” (221). What the Controller means, is the kind of happiness their society achieves is tiny compared to the kind you earn in the face of sadness. You cannot achieve true happiness without its opposite, and by eliminating the negatives, they’ve diminished the positives, but it’s okay! It’s all in the name of stability, and wouldn’t everyone rather safety? Leading us back to 1984’s statement. Would you be willing to give up your freedom for safety? How much are you willing to give up for survival? Hint: Running symbolism, as is the case of soma and the society’s dependence on artificial happiness, is a great way to exaggerate the theme of your book.


This one I won’t include any references, but I will include plenty of SPOILERS. With the end of the book, came a general conclusion, where a few of the characters were banished from society, being too creative and intelligent for the general society. And then one character decides to banish himself, not being able to accept this artificial happiness that they have created, through the avoidance of all negative emotion.

After a sort, society tracks him down and continues to make fun of his culture’s tradition, where he learned to welcome pain and suffering as a sort of cleansing process, making him feel better. But the society warped this, making him go crazy until he rebels against the crowds, whipping people and eventually killing – what I believe to be – his ‘love’. In the face of this, his hangs himself.

This felt overall, too quick, rushed. This happened in the last 10 pages, and the pacing seemed quite strange. It slowed down quite a bit after the argument between the main characters, delving into a sort of epilogue before it re-entered the action, with the unhappy character moving away from society, flashing through quick moments of his life until we arrived at the moment of him going crazy, and killing himself in the face of murder. And because this felt forced for me, I don’t think it had the same sort of impact as it did on other readers. What about you?

Edit: I still want to say I’m not a huge fan of the ending, but I want to change part of my answer. While I was discussing the book with a friend, someone said, I know you didn’t like it, but was it effective? Causing me to consider it for the first time. Was it an effective ending? And in short, I want to say yes. It was effective.

The character who killed himself thought he couldn’t deal with the guilt at killing his love, so he ended up committing suicide. I thought this was funny – yes, funny – because he was in opposition of this consistently happy society because it was artificial through the constant use of soma. And yet, when he was faced with the situation of unhappiness, he couldn’t handle it and killed himself, showing, maybe the fake-happy society has it the right way. Because the only thing this ending showed us was that, no, people can’t handle the truth, so continue to feed them soma.

I liked that. Continuing the trek of the story by reinforcing the incorrect notion.

Huxley, A. Brave New World. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1932. Print.

What makes a classic

Finished 1984!

And I think it’s simple to see what the story is about, showing that every good story does not have to have some hidden meaning, that it can be obvious and still have an impact.

1984 is primarily about politics. Actually, strike that. George Orwell is mainly about politics. 1984 explores the idea, consequences, and necessary criteria to enforce a totalitarian government. You know this because:

  1. The main character you identify with questions the government: why it exists, how it exists, why everyone plays along like ignorant sheep.
  2. Orwell spends time writing a book in a book – book inception! – about the history of their politics and why a totalitarian government is inevitable and preferred.
  3. The secondary character who forces the main character to conform, thereby explains and reiterates the ideas of what’s necessary of the people in order to fit into society.

Even though I do not enjoy learning about politics, never quite understanding why it exists, I still enjoyed this read. I have to admit, it did get slow within the portion of the book, mainly because it almost started to read like a textbook with the book inception. But this was still an interesting book, and I think it would be great if teachers pulled this into history classes during their discussion of politics.

My favorite part  – besides the creation of Newspeak – was the reversal, or hidden nature, of all the buildings, concealed behind the creation of doublethink, where you know something to exist as a fact one way but its contradiction is also true through belief.

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture, and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. (Orwell 222)

This whole society only exists because of ignorance, deliberate and forced ignorance. While society moves forward, history creates itself, but in order for Big Brother to always be right, history must be changed to reflect Big Brother’s perfection. This means that while the citizens experience the history, they must deliberately put it out of their minds and accept this new truth. Citizens are not allowed to live unless they do this.

It’s the job of the thought police to monitor all the citizens and keep them in line, making sure they always participate in this skill of doublethink. I think this is what bothered me about the book. For most of the time, I was lead to believe there are thought police, and the character was constantly under the fear of do they or don’t they exist? I think at some point, me and the character were convinced they don’t and then BOOM! He gets kidnapped, and we find out they do exist. But, it’s never explained how they exist. I don’t know if it’s because I’m scientific or what not, but it really bothers me not knowing how. Are they psychic? Is this some technology?

I don’t know, maybe I’ll never know.

TLDR: I think this book is a good example of how to incorporate theme and analysis, through the use of your character’s own examination of the thing in question, while also using them as a tool or victim within the theme as well.

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Centennial ed. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2003. Print.

Write by example

You want the good news or bad news first?



Bad News: 

I don’t like parts of this story, particularly…

As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not a man’s brain that was speaking; it was his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck. (Orwell 56)

This is not the part I don’t like. It’s what follows immediately after this:

“There is a word in Newspeak,” said Syme. “I don’t know whether you know it: duckspeak, to quack like a duck.” (Orwell 56)

I think it’s not the topic of discussion that bothers me so much, it’s the fact it repeats itself. It also hits me as a bit strange for the character to think that, and then the other to voice his exact thoughts – too much of a coincidence or stretch for it to go un-notice.

I don’t think it would’ve taken much to fix this, only a simple call out with the character recognizing that this was a strange coincidence as well – a neat fix-it-all technique for when something out of the ordinary or strange happens in your book.



Good News: 

Page 52 to 54.

All about Newspeak – the revolutionary language of the totalitarian society in this novel – this part of the characters’ discussion talks about how language is being destroyed and minimized to the bear roots, meaning “every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller” (Orwell 54).

I loved how Orwell didn’t only invent a language, he invented a language with the sole purpose to limit the range of thought, to limit their expression, therefore destroying the people’s creativity and individuality, adding to the novel’s successful portrayal of his totalitarian society.

It just shows the amount of effort and thought he’s put into creating this world, showing he’s not only successful with realistic social behaviors but world building as well.

This book would be a good example of how to build your world: create a routine for your characters, a language, a setting and time period, a history, a future…etc.

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Centennial ed. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2003. Print.