Saturday, April 22, 2017

Woman can't ...? Suck it up!

And in the writerly boxing ring we welcome  Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #7 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...

7) Women can’t write “hard” science fiction.

This is one “rule” that most people are at least sensible enough never to say out loud — but it often seems as though “hard SF” refers to novels and stories written by mostly white dudes. And women often seem to be shunted more into soft science fiction or fantasy. And then you get these discussions where people debate whether a particular woman author really counts as “hard science fiction.” To some extent, this comes from preconceptions about the types of people who read hard SF, and that indirectly influences expectations about who’s going to be writing in that genre. But especially once you broaden your sciences to include biology or computer science, you start finding lots and lots of hard SF written by woman authors.
(I kept Charlie Jane Anders' link for reference)

I don't read SyFy so I'm not really a factor, but whenever someone says "girls can't" do this or that, I have to pipe in at least: Girls and woman can do anything they want to - and you might be surprised at what they come up with - even more so because it may be a new approach. What better could happen to a story than a reader "jaw by foot"?!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Beam me up!

And in a flash of light we return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #6 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...


6) No FTL


Yes, our current understanding of physics tends to frown upon faster-than-light space travel — no matter what a few weird neutrinos may or may not have done. And there’s definitely a place for totally rigid, scientifically plausible fiction in which the very real difficulties of exploring our own solar system are explored. But then again, there’s something undeniably awesome about being able to jump to hyperspace, or warp speed, or whatever. And maybe a little bit less realism is needed sometimes, to amp up the excitement of space travel. Most of us grew up on big, bold space operas in which interstellar travel was unrealistically, thrillingly fast — and that’s still the portrayal of space that resonates with many people. Plus, FTL makes all sorts of other stuff possible, including space warfare and lots more first contact.

Honestly, I don't care if your protagonist travels faster than light or not. For me it's not so much about physics and plausibility. Sure, it may be convenient at times, but just think of all the things missed out on if he would travel a conventional way? Sure for all those who want it fast paced, ftl may be perfect, but for me, the one who likes to paint pictures and where characters drive the story, I hold it with Confucius: "The journey is the destination" - or at least a good part of the plot!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Let me open a door for you...

... and guide you to Charlie Jane Anders' (author of All The Birds in the Sky)  #5 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...


5) No portal fantasy


The “portal fantasy” is a mainstay in both science fiction and fantasy, even though it’s mostly used in the latter. (You could argue that Hitchhiker’s Guide is a “portal fantasy.”) In this type of book, someone from our world discovers a pathway to another world, where he or she is our relatable everyhuman explorer, and we discover this new world through his or her eyes. It’s a tried and true notion, and Lev Grossman gets a lot of mileage out of it in The Magicians — both Brakebills and Fillory, in different ways, are strange worlds that Quentin visits from the “real” world, and there’s a lot of portaling. But we’ve heard many people say that “portal fantasy” is over, and so is the neophyte who learns about the magical world over the course of a book. Now, everybody wants stories where the main character is already steeped in the magical (or science-fictional) world as the story begins.
But as we argued a while back, there’s still a lot of awesomeness lurking in the concept of an ordinary person traveling to a strange world. There are so many ways to tell that story, and so many metaphors buried in the notion of someone being thrust into a weird new world. Isn’t that what we all do when we start exploring genre fiction? I think to some extent, this is something that die-hard genre fans have seen too much of, but these sorts of stories could still have a lot of appeal to mainstream and newbie readers.
(I kept Charlie Jane Anders' link for reference)

I totally support breaking this "rule". Please open new doors, portals or whatever else you can open to help me enter new worlds! I want them ALL. I'm actually convinced that's where I went as a child when I got totally unresponsive as has been documented by a score of caretakers and family members. Isn't this what books are about? Escaping into worlds of magic that remove us from daily live, responsibility and ... news? I go from one room to another through a door (usually), why not let me continue entering another world through a portal of whatever kind? The only "portal fantasy" I find somewhat annoying if the only thing the protagonist does is try to get back. Like, really? You enter a new world (probably because he was depressed, lonely, or got something wrong) and all he wants is to go back? But if we get to explore and make the most out of it:

                                        GET ME THERE!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Series vs Standalone

And now let's return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #4 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...


4) Fantasy novels have to be series instead of standalones

We love a good epic trilogy (or decalogy) as much as the next fantasy addict. But sometimes a nice done-in-one story is also exceedingly welcome. And this is one area where science fiction seems to have a slight advantage over fantasy — both genres have tons of sprawling series, but science fiction at least sometimes spawns one-off novels. And there’s something to be said for getting a satisfying story in one volume, without a cliffhanger or any loose ends afterwards. And sometimes, characters can actually be developed more fully if the author doesn’t have to hold anything back for future books. A character who gets a full arc in one book can be a richer character.

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Ok, didn't want to cheat by leaving this one out, but I'm sure I'll stay a follower of this "rule". Why? Too much stuff in my head and too many ideas from the babbling bunch of characters lounging on my sofa to ever fit into one book lol Besides: I'm an avid reader of series as I get to stick with familiar characters - guess I simply have a problem with saying "Good Bye" and letting go...

My inner teenager agrees!

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)