Sam B Miller II
Literary

The Imagination of the Reader by Sam B Miller II (Guest Post)

Examining the Odd are pleased to share this guest post from Sam B Miller II.


The Imagination of the Reader


How much should an author leave to the imagination of the reader?

Some readers want detail such as ‘The rectangular dining room was lit by a small chandelier centered in a high ceiling over a long table covered with a stained tablecloth. The four high-backed, cushioned chairs were mismatched and more suitable for a casual kitchen. Sunlight from eastern facing windows was muted by faded gold-colored drapes.’ Other readers like little detail. They fill in the missing descriptions with their mind such as ‘The dining room was crowded with a table and four chairs.’

Of course there is an in-between but which approach is favored?

My stories have tried both ways of writing scene details. In the 3-book science fiction series, ‘The Origin of F.O.R.C.E.’, I provided detail of the characters. Height, weight, hair color, eyes, type of glasses, clean- shaven, clothing and disposition were all described. I controlled how the reader visualized my characters and even had characters drawn by professional artists based upon those descriptions. Many people said the descriptions brought the characters to life. Others said the detail bogged down the story.

Book 1

Book 1

Book 2

Book 2

Book 3

Book 3

My fourth story, ‘Smith’, is a paranormal/supernatural tale written in a completely different way. The reader knows who is male, female or inhuman, but the character’s appearance is completely up to the reader. Ethnicity, hair-color, height and other identifiers are left to the reader’s imagination. Descriptions of buildings, rooms, army bases, hospital rooms, and hidden bunkers are minimal as well, leaving the readers to picture scenes as they wish to interpret them. I suppose I would name the technique ‘World-building in the reader’s mind’.

To my surprise, readers have discussed certain scenes in my book in ways I never thought possible.

Smith by Sam B Miller II

Smith by Sam B Miller II

The new writing style resulted in a crisp read while at the same time reducing the word count to the point the story became a Novella rather than a Novel. I would appreciate your opinion. Which writing style do you prefer? I am in the process of writing my next novel and am anxious to know which writing style is preferred.

Sam B Miller II

Sam B Miller II

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If there’s one artist whose work lends itself best to animated gifs, it has to be Jan Svankmajer. Enjoy these hilarious and beautiful mini pieces of art!

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Film, Visual art

10 Surreal Svankmajer Animated Gifs

If there’s one artist whose work lends itself best to animated gifs, it has to be Jan Svankmajer. Enjoy these hilarious and beautiful mini pieces of art!

Gallery
Literary

Mike Russell and his Surreal Stories

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Mike Russell is the author of two short story collections; Nothing Is Strange and Strange Medicine. His work is surreal and often humorous, with some stories even being described as erotic, absurd or disturbing. Mike has performed his stories in the South of England for over a decade, wearing his famous top hat with its all-seeing eye.

A review for Mike’s first collection, Nothing Is Strange: “Reader Beware: If you enjoy reading stories that are written with structure, stories that are comprised of a beginning, middle, and end, or stories that do not transcend the boundaries of reality, then this book is not for you. If, on the other hand, you want to read stories that will free you from the chains that are attached to the anchor of reality, then this is your must-read collection.

Nothing is Strange is a collection of twenty short stories in which everything is strange, but strange in a good way.

The twenty stories are miniature narratives. The collection is well written and highly imaginative. Each story takes you on a journey where the imaginary becomes reality. Instead of reason we have imagination. In place of the banal we have passion for liberation. Instead of the ordinary, we have magic.

By their very nature, the stories are freeing. They will take you to places within your mind you never knew existed. For those unaccustomed to reading surreal stories these stories may be hard to swallow. One might compare it to looking at modern art for the first time. I can only imagine how people felt the first time Duchamp exhibited his Readymades, or Picasso his art. A typical first reaction might raise the question of whether or not the artist is authentic, or is he simply trying to put one over on us.

The concept of these stories first appears to be too simple to be called art. Yet, as one delves into the collection, and crosses back and forth between the boundaries of real and unreal, one comes away with the feeling that there is more to them than at first appears – and you would be correct in this assumption.

Reading these stories feels as if you’re following footprints in the snow, footprints that take you somewhere and nowhere. Sometimes the footprints are deep and easy to follow, but sometimes they are obliterated and nearly imperceptible. The reader may, for a time, get lost. For some, tripping through these stories may be a harrowing experience. But for others, the journey on the wind of imagination will be a mind-blowing and rewarding experience.

But the magic doesn’t end there, for once discovered and devoured, the effects of a surreal adventure multiplies the further out one travels.

My advice then, dear reader, is for you to read this collection. Take a chance you may be hooked on the reality of non reality, which, in turn, will inspire you to explore other artists of the genre, some who are long gone, and others, like Mike Russell, who are our modern guides on the surreal journey.

So go ahead: Jump into the swimming pool with your clothes on. You may very well find you won’t want to get out of the water.” – Gerard Bianco

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Mike Russell’s website is StrangeBooks.com and both books are available in paperback or for Kindle. You can also read Dunce, a story from Nothing Is Strange for free here, and Flock, a story from Strange Medicine for free here!

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Visual art

Illustrator: Sidney H. Sime (1867-1941)

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I posted a load of images by Manchester (England)-born Sidney H. Sime a while back, but I thought it would be nice to have a new entry for this wonderful illustrator! Sime studied at the Liverpool School of Art and his work was featured in Pick-Me-Up, The Idler and the Pall Mall Gazette, in fact he owned The Idler for two years.

Many artists have said they were influenced by Sime’s work, including fantasy illustrator Roger Dean. H.P. Lovecraft also claimed to be a fan, but it was Sime’s work for Lord Dunsany that secured his place in fantasy history.

Read the whole of Dunsany’s The Book Of Wonder, A Chronicle Of Little Adventures At The Edge Of The World (1912) and The Sword Of Welleran, And Other Stories (1908), including Sime’s illustrations for free.

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Above: ‘Hish’ from The Gods of Pegana

 

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Literary

10 Short Stories challenge – day 6

Today I read Aqua-birds by Mike Russell. Aqua-birds is a brilliant little piece of flash fiction. It’s sad and thought-provoking, conjuring up rich images in the reader’s imagination.

“The aqua-birds’ thirst induces hallucinations of extraordinarily beautiful and ornate birdbaths.”

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I read Aqua-birds over on Scriggler.com – go and have a read and then come back to tell me what you think in the comments!

Mike Russell’s stories have been described as “high minded weirdness” and I haven’t come across any authors writing in quite the same style. There’s another one of his short stories available free here. Mike is based in Brighton in the UK.

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