Saturday, May 20, 2017

Show love to unsympathetic characters!

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

 

10) No “unsympathetic” characters



It’s certainly true that if you’re going to have a main character who’s a total bastard, you’re going to have work harder to win over the reader — a likable character is just obviously easier for readers to get on board with. But at the same time, feeling constrained to make your protagonist — or all your major characters — as sympathetic as possible can put a straitjacket on your writing. You’re stuck trying to create characters who will seem sympathetic to all your readers, no matter what cultural context or attitudes they bring to the story. And you’re putting severe limits on what sort of actions your characters can take. The bottom line is that “sympathetic” isn’t the same thing as “compelling” — a character can be unsympathetic but utterly fascinating and spellbinding. Like a lot of the things on this list, this is all in the execution — if you’re going to go with a protagonist who’s fundamentally unsympathetic or unrelatable, you’re going to have to do an amazing job of making the reader care about him or her in spite of everything. Steel Remains art by Vincent Chong, via Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.
(I kept Charlie Jane Anders' link for reference)

Great,  so who is going to pay for therapeutic session for my not-so lovable, grumpy, depressed or offish characters, mmh?! Just imagine Snowwhite without the seven odd personality dwarfs?
Utterly boring! We - well I am surrounded by leagues of different people and varying personalities (God, I live in Vienna, grumpy, suffering behavior is a TRAIT here!). They make live colorful, they make life challenging, they make life fun! The disputes between the characters gain depths by their differences and as annoying as some traits may be - these are problems that can help another character grow. As Charlie Jane Anders said, as long as you make me care about that sucker, as long as I come to understand his motives and feel sorry for him, he can be as grumpy and bad-ass and annoying as he wants! To be honest as a reader, goody-goody characters are the ones I have a tendency to drown at the next river crossing if the writer hasn't killed them already. It's the "unsympathetic" who have me thinking and wondering and involve me way more (It's why I always cry for the antagonist. My heart to this day hurts for Mordred even though I want to give him a good beating before hugging him lol)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Breaking news: Happening NOW!

And on this day we look at Charlie Jane Anders' (author of All The Birds in the Sky)  #9 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...

 

9) No present tense

 

At least, I’ve heard some people say this is a big no-no. It can be a bit disconcerting when the narrator is telling you about stuff as though it’s happening now. But present tense can also really work to make the story feel more immediate. And it can feel more arty, since a lot of vaguely literary writing is in the present tense. But also, if you want to see present tense working to create a dark, intense mood, check out Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim novels. Image by The Green Giant.
 (I kept Charlie Jane Anders' link for reference)

Mmh, a hard one for me to advice on. You are welcome to write in any tense you want, but if it is anything other than past tense you probably won't win me as a reader. As with First, I simply can't get into the story. Alas there are fans of First, so present tense might have some as well. The question is: How many and how many readers do you want and which tense tells your story best? Up to you!


Saturday, May 6, 2017

The danger of beautiful spring walks...

PREPARE!
But do go out and collect those inspirations.
For some reason they spawn in the most unusual places.
😁😎😁

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A little dose of magic?!

Welcome back! Let's return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #8 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...

 

8) Magic has to be just a minor part of a fantasy world

 


This is one I’ve heard a lot lately — probably because of the success of George R.R. Martin’s novels, in which magic starts out as a quiet rumor at the fringes of Westeros, something most people don’t really believe in. It’s only once you get to the later books that magic really starts to become something that most of the characters are aware of. And this is an absolutely brilliant approach to fantasy writing, and a breath of fresh air — but it’s not the way all fantasy novels should be written from here on out. There shouldn’t be a law saying that magic should be kept to the margins of a fantasy world, any more than you’d say a space opera shouldn’t have too many spaceships. Magic should be limited, sure — but it can have limits and still be central to the characters’ worlds.

Squish magic in a little box?! Sure, a different world (and how did we get there?!) can survive without magic... but what is life without magic? Use as little or as much as you want! All I ask is that you use it consistently and that I can make sense of it without losing the story! There is so much magic and types we haven't really uncovered yet - so search for it, the world needs more... #teammagic


 

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.

Add caption
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)







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 πŸ™„) 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 πŸ˜‰

(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...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My manuscript returned!!!!

Excuse me while I read the notes...
Meanwhile if you need proof-reading help, 
I recommend today the sweetest BETA-READER


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Thoughts on Writing (46 - 50)




46. Not everything you write is going to be easy, and not everything you write is going to be fun, and if you think 'easy' and 'fun' are your rights as a writer, please go find something else to do. Every book has a chapter you don't want to finish. Every story has a connective segment you just want to be done with already. It's going to happen. Acknowledge it now, and when it hits, you won't be so surprised. But you'll still be a little surprised. The painful parts of a project are like ninjas, and they sneak up on you.

 ✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎


47. It's okay to be silly. It's okay to be serious, too. If a serious writer sniffs at you for writing comedy, or a comic writer tries to call you a stick in the mud, laugh. You're the one who's doing the writing.

 ✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎


48. If you find yourself critiquing the comma placement in published novels, it is maybe time to step away from the editing process for a little while.

 ✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎


49. Try not to argue with reviewers in public places. It makes you look petty and it makes them feel attacked, and that's going to start a vicious spiral leading all the way down into the deepest, darkest depths of Hell. Feel free to whine at your friends if that makes you feel better, but don't make public scenes, and don't make huffy comments where other people are going to find them. Also, if everyone who's known to be a friend of yours starts attacking the reviewer? People are maybe gonna catch on. Play nice.

 ✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎


50. Write.
 ✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎✎

Friday, January 6, 2017

Royal visitors...

Just been visited by the three holy kings (aka wise men)! 
Ok, four Queens and a little long haired prince πŸ’›



And this year I got lucky too.
Normally I'm one of the last on their route back to church (I live next to it), 
which usually means they are out of 
1. chalk 
2. stickers 
3. bored 
4. exhausted 
5. hoarse
 But his year I had them on day one 
and besides that 
the girls were EXCELLENT singers!
And I really loved my little prince πŸ’›
 He reminded me of "a child named Jesus"! 
(Alas he WAS already tired lol)
#happyepiphany !