29 July 2013

The Big F ...or, whatever it takes to get your attention

Dear Blog Readers and associates,

It's no secret that I like to write. People who know me think my name is Writer. The flies on the wall see me writing almost every minute of my waking hours. That is, when I am not engaged in my so-called day job. And what is that day job, you may well ask? I teach writing. Ironic? That brings us full circle, doesn't it?

However, lately I have begun to notice the curse of writing. I tend to write too much! Case in point: this past weekend I cranked out 15,000 words to finish the draft of the third book in my sci-fi trilogy, THE DREAM LAND. Yes, you've heard it all before "...greatest interdimensional epic ever!" That weekend word count might be an all-time record for me.

In speaking about blog entries, however, I do tend to write too much. It is said that most readers of web pages typically scan the page in the shape of the letter F. (I do not expect my readers to believe me because I know they are appropriately skeptical of anything an obsessed fictioneer says, so here's one of many links: F-Shaped Pattern.) Readers read more closely the first paragraph, to see if they want or need to read more. (I wonder how this correlates to how college students read the required texts.) Then readers tend to scan down the left edge, picking up bullet lists, etc. If there is something else of interest, a bullet list representing quick and easy information, then they will slow down to read more, hence the second horizontal line of the F.

Have I gotten you to the second horizontal line of your F yet?

Probably not. I don't write that way.
I write as I was taught years ago, pre-computer, pre-web page. I save the most impactful information for the end, when I summarize my argument and present a conclusion. The essay format. That's what I teach--because that's what Academia wants students to learn: well-thought out, well-organized, argumentative writing--taught in the English course but for use mostly in every other course of the curriculum. Not personal web pages or Facebook, or Tumblr, or the 140 character Tweet.

Are we there yet? To that second horizontal line? (Did the red catch your eye?)

In my last blog post I waxed poetic on the exigencies of exoskeletons in everyday life, and especially so in science-fiction literature, to which I am adding my epic trilogy. (Let me put that in red to draw your attention to it.) Because of my tendency to write too much, I easily outpaced many dear readers. I thus ran out of space for including an excerpt on exoskeleton use from THE DREAM LAND Book III "Diaspora". Fortunately, on my blog, I can do pretty much whatever the heck I want to do--even as I consider the limits of my readers' patience.

If you are ready for the second horizontal line of the F, here is that DREAM LAND III excerpt:

Chucker took the remote control and studied the buttons layout. He pressed the yellow circle at the top and the fuel cell taped in the small of the man’s back showed a yellow light and hummed. He pressed the other, smaller yellow buttons across the top and other parts of the exoskeleton came to life.
“It is aliiiiive,” said Chucker with a snort. “Let’s see if we can get you up on your feet.”
The joints moved smoothly with the power on and Chucker eased the man into a sitting position, the frame cradling his hips and supporting the back, firming automatically to hold him in that upright position. Chucker helped him turn his legs off the table, lowering them until one foot platform touched the concrete floor. The rest was done my remote control.
“Relax,” said Chucker, giddy with his success. “Let the machinery do the work. Trust it. It won’t drop you and you won’t stumble. I’ve seen it work. See, there’s a gyroscope in the unit that’s fixed to your back. But don’t resist the system or you could break some bones. Think of it as a robot that is walking you around and just enjoy the ride.”
A shadow fell on the floor.
“Excuse me,” said a voice not from the man in the exoskeleton.
Chucker froze. He was certain he had locked the door. He had. But a man had entered from the restroom side. He looked up.
“Sorry to bother you, but my boy....” The man was dressed as a tourist, and paused to wonder what was going on in the Education Center on a blustery October Saturday afternoon. “He really got to go and the restroom over at the African Market is out of order.”
Chucker saw a boy of six or seven hiding behind the man’s legs.
“Sure...aaa...go right ahead.”
Remain calm. They probably don’t have any concern for what you’re doing. They probably don’t know a serial killer has escaped his handlers and is hiding out with a madman from another world.
He heard the dad giving instructions to the boy, the words echoing back to him, and he thought of his own children, waiting so long for him to return, insistent as he was about completing this final mission.
“What’s that thing, mister?” asked the boy, proudly exiting the toilet, slow to hitch up his pants.
Chucker did not miss a beat as he stared at the man in the metal transport frame.
“It’s a robot. We’re getting ready for a carnival. Somebody is having a birthday party later and we are the entertainment.”
“That’s cool!” said the boy. “Does he do tricks?”
“Sure, he does.” Chucker pushed the right blue T-shaped button and the right arm swung from beside the body to a Heil Hitler salute and back down again. He pressed the left T-button and the left arm repeated the movement.

Too irreverent to the science? To a paralyzed man in a wheelchair being rescued/kidnapped via an exoskeleton? 

I'm sorry. No, I'm not.

I suppose I must simply accept my fate: Readers will rate this post an...

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

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