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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Change: The Only Constant

Change is the only constant in our life.

Most folks attribute the above quote to Benjamin Franklin; incorrectly I might add. The real quote comes to us from the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus - and it actually goes something like this:

Everything changes and nothing stands still.

Old Farts in Large Cars

The thought of change came to me the other day when I witnessed something I'd like to have changed. Driving to work - yes, sadly I have a real job besides writing - I saw several teeny tiny cars cruise by driven by younger people. In the back of each of these cars, I noticed cars seats - infant carriers.

I then noticed an old fart, perhaps 80 or more (note - many think of me as an old fart; I perceive them older than I), drive past in a luxury vehicle the size of a small battleship. And he was alone in said vehicle.

That's  something that doesn't quite make sense to me, something that needs changing. Young people with screaming kids need room. Yet they cart their precious beasts around in cars the size of a small office desk. Meanwhile, old people (like myself) drive around in luxury - and quiet - trying to ignore the plight of younger people. And it never seems to change (until the advent of the mini-van, I suppose).

Be Aware Of Change

It reminds me in many ways of when I write. In dystopian and post-apocalyptic settings, you need to be aware of what has changed in your surroundings. You can't have a nuclear war, and then have people running around using credit cards. It doesn't make sense. Another example: In my WWIV series I've killed all power, most running vehicles, source of convenience - no computers at all.

Now if I write about people researching something, say how to dry meats in the open air, I need to be cognizant of the fact that their research will be limited. Perhaps they'll find something in an old hunting magazine; maybe they found a source in an old encyclopedia (anyone under 30 just asked - what's that?). Whatever their source, they didn't look it up on the internet. Because the internet is gone. All the computers that used to connect to the internet are useless hunks of metal and circuit boards.

Water & Food

Without the delivery of fresh food, someone is going to have to kill it or grow it to eat. Fresh water will be a unique issue for most people. And I need to be aware of this when writing in my current genre. There may be days where my protagonist searches for food or water. Heck, wars will be fought over the stuff.

Noun, Subject, Verb

Dick ran fast. Jill trotted slower. Spot slept lazily. BORING!

Writers in every genre need to be aware of change as well. I see too many young writers construct the bulk of their narration in the NSV form. At first it's tedious for the reader. Then, they become agitated. When they throw the book out the window, all hope of being read - ever again - is lost.

Mix things up: Short sentences followed by longer, perhaps even complex, sentences. Don't use the same word over and over again in a paragraph. Find new, powerful verbs. Run, sprint, race, scurry, hasten all say the same basic action, but some of them say it with much more vigor.

Challenge Yourself To Change

Create better sentences. Use more powerful language. Never use the word very. Discover a new word and give it a new meaning. Lend your poor young-adult children your massive car every once in a while.

Until next week, adopt a new mantra: Break the mold, Change!


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