Opening grabber

How can I not read a story that begins this way?

“It was near the end of my late night shift when contestant number six managed to decapitate herself with the sonic toothbrush.”

This is the opening to Dining with Small Monsters, Sya’s 2010 effort for National Novel Writing Month, which in 30 days ran to 90,000 words. And it wasn’t quite done at that point; the finished product went over the 107,000 mark, or slightly longer than Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.

Dining, says Sya, consists “solely of dares.” And what are dares?

Dares are things you take on to make you think in ways you wouldn’t normally. Dares are a great way to kick-start your creative juices, or just up the fun level.

Most importantly, dares come from someone other than the author. And I suspect they don’t necessarily make matters any easier, because they somehow have to be fitted into the author’s own framework and still make sense. Two such dares, she says, were found at this very site, though I must point out that in both instances I was quoting someone else.

Professor Peter Schickele, he who discovered the vast (or half-vast) repertoire of P. D. Q. Bach (1807-1742?), once put together a three-movement classical piece called Quodlibet for Small Orchestra — note the similarity in titles — which, said Schickele, contained not one original theme: everything in it came from somewhere else. Dares?

I read the whole thing last night, though my reading facility was not so great: I downloaded the RTF version, which meant that OpenOffice.org wanted to open it, which meant that every word OOo didn’t understand — rather a lot of them, what with all those alien worlds with alien words — was set off with the red squigglies.

Speaking of alien words:

“Every noun in their language has an accompanying set of verbs. For instance, in Galactic Standard, we would use the word ‘sit’ for a chair or a couch or even a rock. That is, ‘sit’ would be used for sitting no matter what sort of furniture was being used. But in Anoxian, there are different verbs for ‘sit’ whether you’re using a chair, a couch, or a rock. As a result, their vocabulary is ten times as large as that of Galactic Standard. And students of Anoxian take twice as long to learn their own language than any other language.”

She doesn’t say how many words, if any, they have for “snow.”

1 comment

  1. sya »

    19 December 2010 · 12:35 pm

    I may put up a pdf version later, after I get my computer fixed.

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