Saturday, March 11, 2017

May I dump some info on you, pretty please?


Here comes #3 of Charlie Jane Anders'  "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...

3) Avoid infodumps

 






Like its cousin,
show don’t tell,”
this injunction can be a
great idea but can also
get you into trouble.

Sometimes an infodump
can be a horrendous load
of backstory or technical
schematics, rammed down
your poor reader’s throat.



But at other times, authors can go to huge, insane lengths to avoid
having to come out and explain something. Like having contrived
conversations, or weird “teachable moments” to convey a basic bit
of worldbuilding to the reader, with the effect that the story grinds
to a halt.
We posted a collection of 20 well-done infodumps a while back,
just to prove it can be done well.
(I kept Charlie Jane Anders' links for reference)







Saturday, March 4, 2017

Give me my Prologue back!!!

Welcome back! Let's return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #2 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...

2) No prologues

This is one I’ve been hearing for years — some agents and editors say they stop reading immediately if they see that a book has a prologue. But prologues have their uses, especially if you want to set a mood or establish some crucial backstory before you start introducing your main characters. Like most of the other things on this list, prologues can be done well, or they can be done horrendously. Luckily, we don’t have to reach far to think of an example of prologues done well — George R.R. Martin starts every one of the Song of Ice and Fire books with one, and it’s clear why these prologues are there. They help set up the conflicts of each book, via the experiences of a throw-away character. (Literally, in fact.)

And you may have noticed that whenever literary writers tackle science fiction or fantasy, they include tons of infodumps? Maybe this is one of those instances where they’re not as familiar with the genre conventions, and thus fall into habits that many “real” SF and fantasy authors would avoid — but in this instance, they may just be right. Sometimes you just have to explain something, as painlessly as you can.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Are you allowed to break the No-Nos every writer is told?

I have a list next to my computer about all the things I'm not allowed to do as I write.
Now don't get me wrong: All the writerly advice regarding grammar and such I'm fine with - even though some make my favorite reads hard to digest (I hate myself for flinching and counting Robbin Hobbs adverbs). But other things I have more problems with and have a tough time being goody girl.
For example why the heck can't I write a Prologue?? 
Ok, I haven't. No I did, I just named it differently.
Then I moved it back and invented another.
Just so THAT OTHER character wouldn't be thrown in and disappear again.
He would have returned, but ok...
(growling)
I dang don't want to fit in the nice writer drawer!!! 
😤
Well, I found an older article by Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) who handed me the fairydust and told me to fight drawers - and I shall! Because I am sure there are more readers with whom her words and wishes resonate. Maybe you are one of them? Or a writer who gets distracted by glancing at "What not to do lists"?
Let's look at what she said - one by one - over the next few days and I'll give you my thoughts in red. (I kept Charlie Jane Anders' links for reference)

"Science fiction and fantasy are genres where almost anything can happen — as long as the author can make it seem plausible, and as long as it’s part of a good story. But that doesn’t mean there are no rules. If anything, the fact that these genres are so wide open mean that there are tons of rules (tell me about it 🙄) out there, some unspoken and some written in black and white.
And sometimes, breaking the rules is the only way to tell a really fascinating story. Here are 10 rules of SF and fantasy that more authors should consider breaking from time to time.
Note: We’re not saying you must break any of the rules below. (>raises hand<😜)You can craft a brilliant work of fiction while still following all of the rules below. And most of these rules exist for a reason — because if you break them without knowing what you’re doing, you can screw up horrendously. Some of the rules below represent things that may have been done to death in the past, so it’s best to make sure you have a fresh spin. But at the same time, too many rules can be a creativity-killer, and sometimes it’s good to bust out some illegal moves. (Just think Pokemon. Great moveset and you win!)

1) No third-person omniscient.

Third-person omniscient used to be the default mode for a lot of novelists — a lot of the classics of literary fiction as well as science fiction are written in third person omniscient. This means, in a nutshell, that the narrator can see what’s going through any character’s head, and can flit around as the story requires. But in recent years, fiction writers have opted for first person or limited third — in which only one person at a time gets to be a viewpoint character. The thing is, though, when you have tight third person with multiple viewpoint characters, it often feels like an omniscient narrator who’s choosing to play games.

 And actual third-person omniscient can be fantastic — you need look no further than Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which freely lets you know what Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and assorted other characters are thinking at any given moment. Or countless classic SF writers, for that matter. But I also want to put in a plea: anyone who’s serious about writing genre fiction should read Henry Fielding, who makes third-person omniscient into an art form. In novels like Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones, Fielding draws these brilliant tableaux where he pauses to show what everyone’s thinking, and how much at cross-purposes everyone is. It helps him be a keen observer of people, and also creates these beautifully funny set pieces.

I have to confess "first point" and I already fall in the good girl category. I LOVE close third and wont break that rule. I can't deal with first - it's TOTALLY awkward writing for me -  while close third means I have to BECOME ONE character at the time. 

Characters take individual shapes in my head as I become them...
I often stop to ask myself: What do I - he/she - see, hear, smell, what moves me, what pisses me off, how will I react... I don't feel limited, I feel intimately involved and asking the questions helps me not to head-hop. Truth be told I don't miss being able to to impart what others characters think, how they feel about what is happening at that moment because I have multiple POVs and therefor they can always get mad or jump six feet high when it's their turn in their chapter 😉

(tbc)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Writerly recharge - DONE!!!


(And before I snuggle up with my MS, you shall get some
writerly Blog-Updates - promise!)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Beware of danger!



... as the chaos continues...
my manuscript waits accusingly in my box.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Life vs writer

So there it was. Or better IS. Shiny in the corner of my mailbox.
The returned manuscript and with it all my beloved characters
AND
the comments from my last Beta Reader.
In the other corner:
LIFE

Truth be told I used the excitement first to get a few things done.
Stuff that had been laying around, projects to be finished.
Cleaning up. Yuk.
But that seriously works MUCH better when a treat is awaiting you.
So, I behaved and steadily worked towards my goal.
Picked up and stored, finished, cleaned.
Even put all traces of Christmas down and away.
Well, not quite.
As I carried my stack (why is there always 
MORE Christmas decoration after Christmas than I carried up?!) 
down to the basement I was greeted by an 
avalanche.


 Shelves from a cabinet in my already overstuffed cellar compartment
had collapsed and spilled everything into the narrow footpath formerly left in the middle.
What followed the shock can't be added here.
I dropped my stuff and shoveled (well it had snowed, it was the closest thing at hand)
outside and in a corner, returned to my living room to check fleamarket apps and something like craigslist for a free little cabinet to fill the void. (No way of reattaching the shelves as the famous IKEA screws had burst out of their home and shattered the wood)
Found, wrote to givers and got a reply plus acceptance (from the 16th or so)
Pick up day/time arranged, I traveled to my treasure.
Only to be told upon arrival "Oh bad luck, has just been taken by somebody else!"
WT(insert choice)?!
HAPPENED TWO MORE TIMES.
On an app where they actually tell you if both hit "agree" it's a "legal and binding transaction":
SAME THING.
The blond King of the world Rumpelstilzchen was nothing against my (private and internal monologue) reaction.
Finally found another and was actually surprised to discover it was waiting for me at designated location. Measurements had assured me it would - although bigger than planned as I wanted little to carry and simply stack boxes on top - it would fit perfectly in the corpus aka empty shell cabinet.
Unscrewed on street (at -5C), stuffed in my little car and eventually got back home where I reassembled the thing.
Of course it didn't fit through the narrow footpath.
Enlarged the path by stacking more boxes outside and wrangled the new cabinet in. Arrived at shell and could get the thing around the corner to fit inside.
More Rumpelstilzchen.
Dragged it back out (where it collapsed as the precast-holes spit the screws out again.) and sawed at it like a craze to narrow it before I attached the side again.
Got it back inside AND around the corner - tested if the suitcases (which I now remembered had to go back there as there was no space anywhere else fit on top.
Guess what.
Back outside - more swearing, sawing and tears - all to make it now SMALLER.
 Screwed it back together - it nowhere resembled the former. Pushed the wobbly thing in once more
where it audibly sighed and leaned relieved at the carcass of the old cabinet...

No I had no energy to sift through the stuff, but I sorted and boxed everything 
and put it on the new shelves underneath the suitcases before I dragged myself back upstairs.
"I" collapsed on the sofa. Screws had been lose before.

That was two days ago. My manuscript was within reach.
The night before restarting the writerly engine I woke up to Armageddon.
I fell out of bed, stubbed my toe on an incomprehensible object in my dark path as I tried to locate the light switch.
Turn on. Turn off.
I went back to bed counting tiny blond Rumpelstilzchens.

Today I searched for a replacement for the living-room cabinet...