About David Stringer

Writer. Very occasional blogger; unpublished fiction, unfilmed scripts & more. Accidental political activist.

What’s In a Name?

Lately I’ve been putting a bit of thought into the role names serve in fiction, about how they give a first impression of a character, place or culture.

One of the Star Trek franchise’s major alien races are the Ferengi, who began as accidentally comical characters in The Next Generation, developing into overtly comic characters who played a major part in Deep Space Nine. I was surprised to encounter a variation of the word ‘feringhee’ several years after first hearing it in Star Trek, in George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman, set in 19th century India. The alien species’ name came from a derogatory word used by Indians for foreigners, apparently particularly directed at white foreigners.
Production staff on the show have confirmed that this was the genesis of the word, with producer Robert Hewitt Wolfe stating that “Ferengi is, after all, the Persian word for foreigner, particularly for European.”
It’s difficult to work out the reasoning behind making this choice (particularly as not many of the target audience, in 1980s America, probably would have been aware of the meaning of the word) but it was a conscious choice to reference this meaning.

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The Storytelling of Donald Trump

I’ve tried to keep this blog apolitical over the years I’ve been writing it, on and off. I think it can be obnoxious when writers and entertainers use their pulpit for a different purpose to what the reader wants, especially when those political arguments are not particularly unique, insightful or intelligent.

But the election of Donald Trump is an event which I feel should cause me to break that principle. Storytelling is important to politics, and Donald Trump won the election because he’s a better storyteller than Hillary Clinton. He has a stronger history of corruption than the Clintons, and his charity foundation is less transparent than theirs.

donald_trump_by_gage_skidmore_2011-02-10

No caption could make this funny.

During his campaign Donald Trump wove a web of lies which added up to a story which was, in its way, positive and inspirational, a story about a better future. Barrack Obama became president because of his appeal to idealism, his argument that ‘yes we can’ do the idealistic things we want to do. Donald Trump won because he made the case that he would ‘make America great again’. There was no such clear-cut story from Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump – a millionaire son of millionaires with a history of corruption and misusing libel laws to silence his opponents – has become the most powerful person in the world, because Hillary Clinton and her campaign team were poor storytellers.

Tell positive, inspirational stories. It really is important.

I’ve Gotten Through the Cracks

I’ve written a poem for the Teesside Literary Society’s collection of poetry and short fiction, ‘Through the Cracks’, which had its launch event last Friday at Teesside University in Middlesbrough,  as part of T-Junction, the Teesside International Poetry Festival.

Through the Cracks anthology

Through the Cracks anthology

The anthology has been published by Ek Zuban Press, a local publisher mainly of poetry collections, and should be available online soon. Although I’ve not had the chance to read the whole book yet, I particularly liked Cat Brown’s Undercurrent (a story of childhood loss), Chris Stewart’s Transporter Isometrics (drawing on the heritage of Teesside’s steel industry) and Caroline Harvey’s Teesside Princess (a defiant piece of local pride). (The ‘c’s are a total coincidence!)

My own entry – titled Kerrosin of Nevot – is slightly weirder, a science-fictiony, Jabberwocky type thing. I’ll probably put it up here at the blog at some point, and I’ll post an update when the collection’s available to buy online.

Looking back through the blog, I don’t think I’ve made any mention of my only other previously published fiction, in a collection named Home Tomorrow, so I’ll write a blog post about that soon as well.

IWSG: A Writer’s Insecurities

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, which cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month.

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge 2016I have a complicated relationship with the writing process. I love to write. I love the creative process of playing around with fictional characters and scenarios, drawing on both the real world and other stories to create something original. I love using descriptive prose that has a sense of beauty all of its own, regardless of the purpose it’s used for. I love writing clever, sharp dialogue that I’m not quick enough to think of in the moment, or that only work because I provided a setup that the real world wasn’t kind enough to give me. Moving into non-fiction, writing helps me to make sense of my complex, messy, seemingly contradictory thoughts, whether of a personal nature, or just thoughts on a book or film I sort of love and hate simultaneously. There is a lot about the writing process I absolutely love.

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IWSG: Back to Blogging

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, which cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month. It’s not quite the first Wednesday, but it’s close enough.

InsecureWritersSupportGroupIt’s been a while since I last posted on this blog. Although I’ve had gaps in my blogging before, the 11 month gap between the last time I posted here and today is by far the biggest. I began the blog back in November 2011, with the intention being that it would be a place for me to write about writing, and to whet my readers’ appetite for the fiction I actually manage to get finished.
I seem to have a remarkable talent for losing faith in the projects I begin, and I tend to be indecisive about what to do with the rare short stories I actually finish, which pretty much cancels out any use this blog would have as an advertisement for my writing. I have, however, written various reviews, analyses and thoughts on various types of fiction, as well as links to my writing on other websites and publications. The things I’ve written aren’t totally without merit, and writing them has helped focus my mind when I’ve been lost in big, ambitious projects.

One of the main things distracting me this last year has been political activity, but with the election now over, this should take up a little less of my time. My political activity has included a little bit of writing – on a separate blog and on one other site.
I tend to think it’s fairly obnoxious to push your political opinions on an audience who haven’t signed up for that reason, so I’ll try and keep this blog politically neutral. My moral beliefs will probably bleed through and become slightly apparent in some of what I write, but I won’t make any overt arguments expressing my very strong and genuine belief in Northumbrian independence, or my support for the settlers betrayed by the Demilitarized Zone being handed to the Cardassians. Or any of the other things I absolutely, genuinely believe in.

Now that I’ve got a few of my distractions out of the way, I should be able to return to more regular blogging, and fiction writing, in the next few days. I’ve been looking over some old, half-finished or unsatisfactory stories, in order to collaborate with my past self. It’s actually quite exciting to look back on what I’ve written before, and see that it’s not entirely awful. So I’ll be working on something soon, plus a few half-formed ideas I’ve got locked away in my brain which should be worth writing.

The Leaky Wiki: Developing World Objects to The Label ‘Developing World’, Finds it Patronising

Continuing my effort to repost all my material from The Leaky Wiki, the latest post is from January 2012. It’s not particularly topical, and if I’m honest, it’s not one of my best, but as it’s not topical at all, it’s aged well. I think that’s lowered expectations sufficently.

You can see this in it’s original context here, or carry on reading.

Developing World Objects to The Label ‘Developing World’, Finds it Patronising

UN_General_Assembly_hall by Patrick Gruban       Taken from Wikimedia CommonsIn a staggeringly short five hour speech at the UN yesterday, the ambassador from the recently re-named Developmentistan criticised the terminology used in defining the wealth of nations.
“It is about time you know how we feel about you in the west,” he announced from the podium, speaking in that unusual manner where individual syllables were pronounced slowly and slightly oddly, as people of his nation do. “You are so full of yourselves! Oh, we have reached a good point, you aren’t as good as us, and must be arbitrarily judged by our standards at any given moment. I mean, give me a break!” He paused dramatically, and wiped the sweat away from his brow. “You still have children dying in poverty, despite having the medication right there in your own country. How about you get down off your high horses, and realise that we are people too, just like you? Wouldn’t that be a nice thing to do?”

The country was renamed Developmentistan last month, in what has been widely construed as some sort of sarcastic jibe taken too far. Many media commentators have pointed out that roadsigns, hospitals and airports will have to be renamed and relabelled, at massive expense.

Sarcasm analysts believe this is the most expensive sarcasm related incident since a producer on the set of Waterworld angrily joked ‘why don’t we put Costner in charge? After all he’s a BRILLIANT director! He did SUCH a good job on The Postman!’

“At least when you called us the ‘Third World’ you were honest about how you saw us,” continued the ambassador, as he drew towards the end of his five hour speech, remarkably short by UN standards. “At least that was good, honest condesencion. We knew where we stood with that kind of attitude! We knew that you saw our society as inferior not only to your own, but to the communists who sent millions of their citizens to death camps! But now… Now….” He paused, looking very slowly around the hall, as if he was perhaps trying to make eye contact with each of his fellow ambassadors, perhaps to induce feelings of guilt in them. “Exactly what makes a country developed? Hmm?’ He paused, once more. “I bet you don’t even know where my country is, do you?”

The Leaky Wiki: Rick Perry speaks out against women, friendship in the military

America can be a scary place. In America, corporations are considered to be people, people who speak via the medium of money, and are allowed to refuse to pay for their employees’ healthcare for religious reasons.

It’s also a country where, in 2012, a major Republican politician, while running for President, could say that gays are weird, on camera, on purpose, and expect it to help rather than hinder his challenge for president.

Scarier still, he was probably right.

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