Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Extraneous details

PZ Myers on James Garner's passing:
Another, completely irrelevant thing: watching 70s TV was really weird. Nowadays, in a drama, if somebody is going somewhere, there might be a brief shot of them going out the door, cut, they are at their destination. Travel is implied. On the Rockford Files, they go out the door, there is a long lingering scene of the car tooling down city streets or out through the California country side, finding a perfectly open parking space, guy gets out, walks up to destination. Watch it now and geez, you feel like they must really have loved their cars 40 years ago. Half the show feels like an advertisement for Pontiac, or a leisurely travelogue.
But Garner at least made it a pleasant hour.
I've now watched a few episodes of The Rockford Files, and although I didn't notice the driving to and fro scenes as elongated, the whole pace of the show is relaxed; my twenty-first century outlook can handle faster driving and plot (and more violence, in three episodes I saw no blood.  I also saw no attempts to kick guns out of people's hands or other currently accepted-but-impossible tropes).
Elmore Leonard on terse writing:
“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”
I cannot find the quote but I recall Zelazny once suggesting adding extraneous details.  Give a character in a short story a little extra background simply to make him more sympathetic.  It's been a while since I read the quote so there may some nuance I am missing.
Google search for Zelazny short story:
A blow to the can sometimes unmask hidden artistic talent. [Added weeks later: Dang it!  No one was kicked in the ass.  The link should read "A blow to the head can sometimes...."] (A preview only - the rest is behind a paywall)

A 10-year-old boy, Orlando Serrell, knocked unconscious one day by a baseball, discovered afterward that he could bring to mind the exact day of the week for any date after the accident and could remember the weather for each day since the trauma as well. He could also recall the most minute daily events.
"Ernest Hemingway at his standing writing desk on the balcony of Bill Davis' home near Malaga where he wrote Dangerous Summer" -Life Magazine, Jan 1, 1960

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