Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ah - the Internet - a Wonderful Thing!

One of the things I do for Todd is search the Internet periodically to see what's being said about his books - both fiction and non-fiction. I stumbled on a link to an entry back in 2003 by Piers Anthony about a workshop of Todd's that Piers attended. We were all attending the 2003 EPIC and Piers was the guest author/speaker and he was incredible. The fact that he included favorable comments about Todd in his blog still makes me smile. Piers Anthony was a best seller in the 70's and beyond, and I remember while studying at UCLA during that time how wildly popular he was as an author with all the students. It seemed like everyone was reading his books.

Well, here's what he said about Todd's workshop back in 2003:

"Next I attended Todd Stone's "Talk Like a Man" program, because I do a fair amount of female viewpoint narrative and want to be sharp on the distinctions between male and female expression. Todd used slides with printed paragraphs. He said that dialogue is a challenge, and said it is not recorded speech but forged speech; counterfeit rather than real. Had he lost his marbles? No, he was right on. Translation: he agreed with my observation over the decades. Real speech is fraught with "uh" and similar interjections, it backtracks, it sidetracks, it fouls up with wrong words and awkwardnesses. It would be boring as hell in narrative writing. So we clean it up for fiction, make it sharp, on-target in a way natural speech seldom is. And what do you know, that makes it seem realistic. Art imitates life, becomes more real than life. So if you want your character to talk like a man, you fake it. And before you females expire of the giggles, remember that female dialogue is similarly faked.

It was a good presentation, and I have more notes on it, but I'll skim on. I think I summarized the essence of the difference between male and female writing, which is akin to the distinctions in their dialogue, years ago: a woman takes the reader by the hand and leads him to view her wonders. A man picks the reader up by collar and crotch and hurls him into the action. Both techniques have their points. At the end Todd gave the audience a spot assignment: write a piece about two lovers who quarrel and make up, showing their different approaches. Then exchange it with your neighbor for comparison. I was sitting next to Katharine, a long-time correspondent and novelist in her own right, so we exchanged. And you know, we both found it hellish to write that on short notice. When we did, we discovered it was essentially the same thing, except that I was still foundering for a suitable lead-in to my text, while she had figured one out that would do for either of our pieces. "Andrea said, pirouetting: 'Do I look all right?' Andy, not looking up: 'You look fine.'" That of course precipitated mischief, which was the point of the exercise; she wanted to be noticed and appreciated; he wasn't doing it. Just like a man."

Here's the link for the complete entry about the conference:


And here's the link for more info on the EPIC


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