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Aug. 23rd, 2004

the colour experiment thing below (or in the previous entry) looked better on a white background, i assure you.

i picked up a new livejournal tool a couple of days back, so i have a few extra things to play around with. colour, putting lines in thing, fonts, stuff i didn't have before. i'm sure the result will be fascinating for you all. well, the one two of you that read this.

it's the fiction taboo to play with colours and fonts, which is a bit short sighted i find. sometimes i think fiction writers can be some of the most unimaginative people. yes, i did just want to use the smaller font, but it's still true. page usage can make a difference in a series of different and visual ways, and it's been used well in a number of books--the house of leaves being the first that jumps to my mind, but it's by no means a unique and singular thing in the publishing world. still, it surprises me that more page space techniques are not used, especially with fonts. in a novel that is supposedly written in handwriting, why not use a handwriting font? i'm sure there are reasons for this, but it just strikes me as a shame that it's not done moreso.

my thesis slash novel a walking tour in the dreaming city is font happy. it contains nineteen different narratives, and fifteen of these are in first person, and each of them is presented in a different font. i think it aids in the creation of a first person narrative voice, though i am sure people will disagree, and say that they find it intrusive, which is also the point. i guess in the end i'll discover how successful it is, but right now, i think it works nicely, and the feedback i've gotten on the draft i have has been positive in that draft like fashion. read: nothing has been born deformed.

anyhow, with the post earlier, it looked much more acceptable on white in the preview section. live and learn, hey?

Comments

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drjon
Aug. 23rd, 2004 06:16 am (UTC)
Bester's Demolition Man
benpeek
Aug. 23rd, 2004 06:37 am (UTC)
yes, that's true. he worked it well.
ashamel
Aug. 23rd, 2004 06:20 am (UTC)
White Wolf often play with fonts in presenting their fiction (but not their non-fiction). Usually the result is just hard to read (thank God I got a legible font for my story in Damned and Deceived).

That sort of stuff isn't very interesting to me. But then, I'm a non-visual person, and that affects a lot of things. It's just a different take on the world. I do like the occasional hand-written note, use of type-writer font and such, in moderation (Stephen King does this semi-regularly).

Otherwise... well, I don't really have much to say for or against. Just not my thing.
benpeek
Aug. 23rd, 2004 06:39 am (UTC)
yeah, the font thing is one of those things that could go bad. (i've seen some of the white wolf stuff you'd shown round, too.) i think it would likely take a writer with a bit of an artistic eye, or at least who practiced with it.

it'll probably never take off anyhow :)
capnoblivious
Aug. 23rd, 2004 03:17 pm (UTC)
I think the font/colour/visual thing is another of those pieces of advice which has unfairly drifted from "be careful; it's easy to get wrong, and it's not going to carry a crap story" to "only idiots do this, it's BAD WRITING."

But I think it's something that would take a deft touch and artistic eye to pull off well. I'd find it annoying if done for the sake of being clever.
benpeek
Aug. 23rd, 2004 05:28 pm (UTC)
yeah, i suspect it has fallen prey to the 'you really should know what to do' part, and possibly the fact that there's very few places for such writing, and it's almost non-existent in mainstream writing. (by this i mean fiction with narrative, in any genre.)
ironed_orchid
Aug. 23rd, 2004 08:00 am (UTC)
The first experience I had with coloured text was reading the hardback edition of The Neverending Story when I was 12 or 13. It was something of a revelation. It also has illustrated capital letters for the beginning of each chapter.

I think such device can help the reader navigate through a text, especially one with multiple narrative threads.
call_me_robert
Aug. 23rd, 2004 10:30 am (UTC)
I'm having a devil of a time picking House of Leaves up; I keep putting it down, and not relishing picking it up again. The story seems interesting enough, but subconciously I hate how slow it is going. I'm being beaten to death with all the footnotes and extraneous detail. I suppose I should just start ignoring all the background noise, and try reading just the story. Who knows.

But yeah, I've read a few books where the font gets switched up, and the aforementioned Stephen King comes to mind. I imagine you'd have to be a fairly established writer to convince the printers that your book was worth it, though.
benpeek
Aug. 23rd, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC)
yeah, i imagine there is a bit of a cost thing involved.

shame about house of leaves. i found that it moved pretty quickly--but taste is taste, and there's no arguing with it after a while.
shadowsandice
Aug. 23rd, 2004 08:55 pm (UTC)
Pratchett has used different fonts a few times from memory, to indicate different languages being spoken. Feet of Clay and Jingo I'm sure of, and Maskerade had some funny scattered around the page stuff in the opera...

Dammit, there's a memory of red printing taunting me. Can't nail it down.

Your thesis sounds fascinating, though. Care to share a smidgeon?
benpeek
Aug. 24th, 2004 03:52 am (UTC)
nah, no public sharing of the novel, i'm afraid. just how it is--most of it is in that slippery stage and i just don't show things around while that happens. however, that said, a fourteen thousand section will be published in leviathan four: cities, at the end of october, so you can check it then. it's complete--the novel is a mosaic, and while each section is part of the whole, it is also seperate to each other.
shadowsandice
Aug. 24th, 2004 05:51 am (UTC)
Understood. Let's just hope that come October I have something resembling spare cash.
benpeek
Aug. 24th, 2004 06:00 am (UTC)
yeah, the book might be a bit expensive since it's a hardcover. (first hardcover i'll be in. despite the monetary expense for readers, i'm pretty pleased.)

anyhow, send me an email at benpeek at livejournal dot com (hopefully that'll work) and i'll email you the rtf of it, if you want. you'll have to deal with the pre-edited stage of the manuscript, though, but if you're curious, feel free.
bodhichitta0
Aug. 24th, 2004 09:03 am (UTC)
I think the font/font color thing comes under the heading "know the rules first and then break them." Like everything else, it it's done well, it can add to the story. If it's done poorly... but there is no doubt in my mind you are doing it well and your narrative thread sounds like it would actually be benefit from the differentiation as you have a lot going on.

And I would be pleased as punch to buy the first hardback you are in. Let me know when it's on sale.
benpeek
Aug. 25th, 2004 05:00 pm (UTC)
coolness. ta. i think it'll be out sometime at the end of october.looks to be a real nice looking anthology--the cover looks fantastic--which you can't complain with.
future_conduit
Aug. 25th, 2004 03:19 am (UTC)
it is true that a turd can not be polished. so i assume that you have a decent story line and that the colour/font experiment is more of an icing than the cake itself.

i've seen clever font manipulation work for pieces of poetry and illustrated stories. colour-coding dialogue makes sense to me(instead of "Said JAne" after every second line). it's standard practice in almost every magazine on the shelf, especialy where interviews are concerned - why not in "serious" literature?

the handwriting font makes sense for a handwritten section of text i agree. i've seen italics used in place of script. but i think the main reason for this is that there is a miniscule and subtle perfection behind the size and shape of certain type-faces that make them easier to read than others i would imagine several thousand words in mock-hand-writing would get the better of me after a while, especially if the font was modelled on say my doctors hand. i'm pretty sure Leonardo Davinci designed a couple of fonts based on the Golden Section or Divine Proprtion. there is a mathematical balance with the spacing between each letter etc... ok you asked for it... there are 3 differnt species of type face 1) decorative (handscript,wingdings, plump, etc) 2) serif - a latin word meaning "with teeth" 3)san-serif (without teeth). up untill not so long ago the fanged variety of font didn't exist - that is untill this one guy was havung trouble reading the News paper on the train. he discovered that the train wobbled side-to-side and if there were little "teeth" at the top and bottom of each letter, it gives your eye something to follow. his font was called Times New Roman and hasn't changed since then.

sorry, got a bit carried away there (my brain is so full of useless information like this).

benpeek
Aug. 25th, 2004 05:03 pm (UTC)
i dunno what it is, but as soon as you mentioned mathematical part, my eyes went all slippery and it took me four or five times to make sense of that. heh. math. it's the evil of my life.
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