Uncover Your Tracks: A Preliminary Critique of James Wood’s How Fiction Works

Who knows what all is down there?

Shya posted something two days ago about James Wood’s How Fiction Works, in which Wood advocates the use of “free indirect style”:

The entire book is built around a concept he calls “free indirect style,” which essentially refers to a prose style for which Gustave Flaubert is largely responsible. One of the hallmarks of this style is that the language is most often experienced by the reader to be that of the book’s narrator or protagonist. Cases, therefore, where a description or word choice does not suit the narrator, and therefor invokes the author, are seen by James Wood as essentially a flaw. Well, at least an inferior style.

A bunch of people posted responses, and I posted a couple of responses, and Shya posted a couple of responses. And then this morning I was going to post yet another response. But then it got long-winded (a weakness of mine), and went off on a few tangents, and then I realized I wanted to embed some pictures and YouTube videos (another weakness). So I made it a post. I made it this post!

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This Will Probably Incite a Riot

Since Sunday night I’ve planned to write a scathing post about the Golden Globes, a once “renegade” award platform, that gets a little closer to being Oscar Jr. every year.

But now it’s Wednesday, and Sunday seems like forever ago, and people probably don’t care. Instead of going into depth I’m going to complain about one small aspect of the Globes, and that was their readiness to suck off James Cameron just like everyone else in the world currently.

Let’s get this right: Avatar has one thing going for it and that’s the look, the beauty of it (if you’re so inclined). Not once in all the raves I’ve heard about the movie has anyone mentioned how well written, or acted it was. And that’s because it wasn’t. In fact, most people I’ve talked to have said “It’s not a great story, but it’s so beautiful.”

No I haven’t seen it, no I won’t see it. There’s no need. I’m quite willing to believe that it’s deserving of immense kudos when it comes to technology, special effects, makeup, and what have you. But there is no way, in my opinion, that a movie without great writing or great acting is anywhere close to be deserving of a title such as “Best Film.”

Brevity, Part 3: Long Takes Continued (well, they’re long)

While writing my previous post, I grew aware that I wasn’t mentioning any women filmmakers. So I’d like to add something addressing that (because of course one can find numerous examples). And along the way, I’ll also try to say more in general about the power—and limitations—of the long take.

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