thanate: (Default)
If you're not already at Capclave, but intending on going (or feeling voyeuristic about cons you can't make it to) here's where I'll be tomorrow:

Saturday 1:00 pm: Food In Fiction (Ends at: 1:55 pm) Bethesda
Panelists:Ann Chatham, Brenda W. Clough, Victoria Janssen (M)
Even heroes and dragons have to eat. The food in a work of fiction can be a crucial part of the setting. And sometimes the fictional food enters the real world as in A Feast of Ice and Fire. What authors do the best job with food and what do they do that's effective? How do you write about food?

Saturday 2:30 pm: Reading - Ann Chatham (Ends at: 2:55 pm) Frederic
(with magic snowstorms, Short-Faced Bear, and a little bit of kid and river monster, unless I change my mind again!)

Saturday 4:00 pm: Non-Western Influences In Fantasy (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Salon B/C
Panelists:Day Al-Mohamed, Ann Chatham, Alex Shvartsman, Michael Swanwick (M)
Traditionally, most fantasy has been based on Western folklore, usually with a medieval-inspired setting. However, alternative settings and concepts are becoming more common with writers mining Asian, African, Native American, and Middle Eastern sources. What writers do this most effectively? How do you decide what traditions/concepts to adopt and how do research/use them? Is it cultural appropriation when writers incorporate themes from other traditions, and how do you so appropriately?

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (Default)
If you're not already at Capclave, but intending on going (or feeling voyeuristic about cons you can't make it to) here's where I'll be tomorrow:

Saturday 1:00 pm: Food In Fiction (Ends at: 1:55 pm) Bethesda
Panelists:Ann Chatham, Brenda W. Clough, Victoria Janssen (M)
Even heroes and dragons have to eat. The food in a work of fiction can be a crucial part of the setting. And sometimes the fictional food enters the real world as in A Feast of Ice and Fire. What authors do the best job with food and what do they do that's effective? How do you write about food?

Saturday 2:30 pm: Reading - Ann Chatham (Ends at: 2:55 pm) Frederic
(with magic snowstorms, Short-Faced Bear, and a little bit of kid and river monster, unless I change my mind again!)

Saturday 4:00 pm: Non-Western Influences In Fantasy (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Salon B/C
Panelists:Day Al-Mohamed, Ann Chatham, Alex Shvartsman, Michael Swanwick (M)
Traditionally, most fantasy has been based on Western folklore, usually with a medieval-inspired setting. However, alternative settings and concepts are becoming more common with writers mining Asian, African, Native American, and Middle Eastern sources. What writers do this most effectively? How do you decide what traditions/concepts to adopt and how do research/use them? Is it cultural appropriation when writers incorporate themes from other traditions, and how do you so appropriately?
thanate: (whirlpool)
Or at least easier than that essay about toddler linguistics I keep failing to gather up all my thoughts about. (There's currently an entry on my grocery list for "pink iced cream" and we've begun to refer to all chocolate milk & hot chocolate options as "Oval milk" (from Ovaltine). Like you do.)

The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Six is out, and contains my story "Pilgrims."

There's also presently a sale on wherein if you buy it through Weightless Books, you can get 30% off any other BCS titles (back issues, subscriptions, other best of years) if you're so inclined.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
Or at least easier than that essay about toddler linguistics I keep failing to gather up all my thoughts about. (There's currently an entry on my grocery list for "pink iced cream" and we've begun to refer to all chocolate milk & hot chocolate options as "Oval milk" (from Ovaltine). Like you do.)

The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Six is out, and contains my story "Pilgrims."

There's also presently a sale on wherein if you buy it through Weightless Books, you can get 30% off any other BCS titles (back issues, subscriptions, other best of years) if you're so inclined.
thanate: (Default)
The Baltimore Book Festival is this weekend!

I will be at the SFWA tent on Sunday September 27! On panels with people you've maybe heard of! Madness!

1 pm- "Reading Group 5: Spotlight in Short Fiction" Short fiction is often said to be the heart and soul of the science fiction and fantasy genres. Discover short fiction and your new favorite author! Our award-winning readers have been published everywhere from Granta to Asimov's to the Year's Best anthologies.

Readers: Ann Chatham, Scott Edelman, Carmen Maria Machado, Sarah Pinsker, Bud Sparhawk

2 pm- "Short Stories: Why they Rock Science Fiction and Fantasy" They can be as short as a few words or almost as long as a novel, but short works have always been important to science fiction and fantasy. Hear why and how short fiction showcases the best of our genres. Learn where the hot stories are being published, and get answers to all your questions from our panel of acclaimed short fiction writers.

Panelists: Bill Campbell, Ann Chatham, Scott Edelman, Carmen Maria Machado, Sarah Pinsker, Cat Rambo, Bud Sparhawk, Fran Wilde

6 pm- "Book Discussion: Ann Leckie's Ancillary Sword" Ann Leckie's first novel, Ancillary Justice, won the Nebula, the Hugo, and every other award in sight last year. The sequel, Ancillary Sword, is hitting all of this year's award lists. If you like space opera, artificial intelligence, or space station mysteries, this is the book for you. We'll discuss this amazing series in conjunction with the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s monthly book group.

Panelists: Ann Chatham, Elektra Hammond, Sarah Pinsker, Karlo Yaeger


I'm also going to be at Capclave on Saturday, October 11, but I'm not sure if that schedule is fully finalized yet. Now I shall go dither about not having a good 10 minutes of short story, and what was I thinking when I said I'd read things, I haven't written anything remotely finished recently, anyway, argh! (I might have done that before WFC last year, too, & that turned out ok.)

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (Default)
The Baltimore Book Festival is this weekend!

I will be at the SFWA tent on Sunday September 27! On panels with people you've maybe heard of! Madness!

1 pm- "Reading Group 5: Spotlight in Short Fiction" Short fiction is often said to be the heart and soul of the science fiction and fantasy genres. Discover short fiction and your new favorite author! Our award-winning readers have been published everywhere from Granta to Asimov's to the Year's Best anthologies.

Readers: Ann Chatham, Scott Edelman, Carmen Maria Machado, Sarah Pinsker, Bud Sparhawk

2 pm- "Short Stories: Why they Rock Science Fiction and Fantasy" They can be as short as a few words or almost as long as a novel, but short works have always been important to science fiction and fantasy. Hear why and how short fiction showcases the best of our genres. Learn where the hot stories are being published, and get answers to all your questions from our panel of acclaimed short fiction writers.

Panelists: Bill Campbell, Ann Chatham, Scott Edelman, Carmen Maria Machado, Sarah Pinsker, Cat Rambo, Bud Sparhawk, Fran Wilde

6 pm- "Book Discussion: Ann Leckie's Ancillary Sword" Ann Leckie's first novel, Ancillary Justice, won the Nebula, the Hugo, and every other award in sight last year. The sequel, Ancillary Sword, is hitting all of this year's award lists. If you like space opera, artificial intelligence, or space station mysteries, this is the book for you. We'll discuss this amazing series in conjunction with the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s monthly book group.

Panelists: Ann Chatham, Elektra Hammond, Sarah Pinsker, Karlo Yaeger


I'm also going to be at Capclave on Saturday, October 11, but I'm not sure if that schedule is fully finalized yet. Now I shall go dither about not having a good 10 minutes of short story, and what was I thinking when I said I'd read things, I haven't written anything remotely finished recently, anyway, argh! (I might have done that before WFC last year, too, & that turned out ok.)

mythical me

Dec. 3rd, 2014 03:48 pm
thanate: (Default)
In the process of agonizing terribly (and probably needlessly) over what I was going to read at WFC* I dug up a bunch of old novel bits-- nano drafts, that thing I'm not sure what it is yet b/c I was writing along thinking it was a short story until I bounced of 10k and the characters trying to wrap up the action without ever figuring out what was going on-- and now my brain, which is still entirely unprepared to write much of anything for life reasons is having this mad love affair with the way it thinks it used to work. And it never *did* work that way; I used to be able to write novels, but even at my best I'm not a fast or efficient writer. The productive workings of my mind are still descended from the fifth grader who would spend hours doodling on her desk lamp rather than just adding up that sheet of fractions so she'd be done and could go do something else. (I was far too lawful good to get up and do the something else I desperately wanted to do when I'd been told I couldn't until I finished my homework, which I'm sure also says something deeply significant about the inner workings of my brain, and is going to lead to parenting culture shock at some point.)

Anyway, there are three different things that need endings and I'd really like to see where they go and what they are, and then smooth out the awkward bits (why does Flinders always refer to everything as "stuff"?) so that other people can love Jameson and Willow and Mara as much as I do. And my back brain is rhapsodizing about how I used to have so much time and clarity to write rather than working on anything useful and word or plot related. And then going off and contemplating the side projects I could be doing (enchanted forest text-based game! a website for the mice, with some kind of comic/release-by-the-chapter hybrid!) if I weren't reading picture books and trying to keep the Megatherium from standing on the dining room chairs. (She's not quite tall enough to use the table effectively without standing up; we do appreciate this, but she's also extra wiggly & we don't want her to fall off. Um, any more than she does already; there was a moment last night where she was sitting perfectly well on the chair and then with absolutely no warning slipped off the edge.)

And my actual writing brain is still popping up the occasional fragment of probably-another-short-story-beginning and trying to convince me there should be more nursery rhymes with chickadees in. Which I agree with, but none have actually come to mind.



*The reading went pretty well, by the way; maybe as many as a dozen people including some I'd met at the con and two I'd never seen before, and several people said they liked bits, so now I feel vaguely bad that none of it is anything that's going to see the light of day anytime soon.

Xposty from dreamwidth.

mythical me

Dec. 3rd, 2014 03:48 pm
thanate: (Default)
In the process of agonizing terribly (and probably needlessly) over what I was going to read at WFC* I dug up a bunch of old novel bits-- nano drafts, that thing I'm not sure what it is yet b/c I was writing along thinking it was a short story until I bounced of 10k and the characters trying to wrap up the action without ever figuring out what was going on-- and now my brain, which is still entirely unprepared to write much of anything for life reasons is having this mad love affair with the way it thinks it used to work. And it never *did* work that way; I used to be able to write novels, but even at my best I'm not a fast or efficient writer. The productive workings of my mind are still descended from the fifth grader who would spend hours doodling on her desk lamp rather than just adding up that sheet of fractions so she'd be done and could go do something else. (I was far too lawful good to get up and do the something else I desperately wanted to do when I'd been told I couldn't until I finished my homework, which I'm sure also says something deeply significant about the inner workings of my brain, and is going to lead to parenting culture shock at some point.)

Anyway, there are three different things that need endings and I'd really like to see where they go and what they are, and then smooth out the awkward bits (why does Flinders always refer to everything as "stuff"?) so that other people can love Jameson and Willow and Mara as much as I do. And my back brain is rhapsodizing about how I used to have so much time and clarity to write rather than working on anything useful and word or plot related. And then going off and contemplating the side projects I could be doing (enchanted forest text-based game! a website for the mice, with some kind of comic/release-by-the-chapter hybrid!) if I weren't reading picture books and trying to keep the Megatherium from standing on the dining room chairs. (She's not quite tall enough to use the table effectively without standing up; we do appreciate this, but she's also extra wiggly & we don't want her to fall off. Um, any more than she does already; there was a moment last night where she was sitting perfectly well on the chair and then with absolutely no warning slipped off the edge.)

And my actual writing brain is still popping up the occasional fragment of probably-another-short-story-beginning and trying to convince me there should be more nursery rhymes with chickadees in. Which I agree with, but none have actually come to mind.



*The reading went pretty well, by the way; maybe as many as a dozen people including some I'd met at the con and two I'd never seen before, and several people said they liked bits, so now I feel vaguely bad that none of it is anything that's going to see the light of day anytime soon.
thanate: (whirlpool)
All the writing groups people talk about are critique-focused, which is all very well, but I don't actually like in-person critique that much, and I'm mostly not writing at the moment anyway, and most of my options are probably online which means definitely working with e-format documents, which I'm also not wild about. So I sat down the other day and made a wishlist of what *I* actually want, and it sounds a lot more like an informal con panel than a critique group.

Practicalities:

*Once a week or so, to begin not before 8:30 PM EST and probably ending by 10:30 because her Megatheriocity isn't going to sleep in to suit my follies.

*Either hyper-local, or online. (Ok, realistically, that means online.) Would be willing to look into giving in on the G+ battle (ugh, google's annoying proprietary login crap) if their chat feature is the cross-platform option on what's going. Something chat-based seems more useful to me, but I gather there are a lot of talk/text hybrid things out there, which might also be worthy?

*Not too big, maybe 5 to 7 people maximum with space for an occasional drop-in or variance as people's schedules allow. Probably 4 would be a comfortable minimum. People with similar levels of writing/analytical abilities (whatever that means) will probably work best together.

Content:

*Mostly, I want to discuss the craft of writing; I finally *have* the sort of writing brain that's occasionally capable of analyzing metatextual elements instead of staring blankly at people who mention them, and I'm presently stuck in a sea of the same stack of picture books seven or eight times a day which has thus far been antithetical to my writing process. So, build-you-own writing salon/book group for writers, something like that.

*I'd be up for the occasional writing exercises (a la Steering the Craft) if other people want to try that, but that's not really my thing either.

*I'm thinking a structure of deciding on a topic the meeting beforehand so there's time to think about it/track down loose ends. Topics could range from large (let's talk about characterization!), to small, to process-based (how do *you* revise?), & maybe even a round exchanging favorite books of writing advice.

*Spoilers ok, to draw examples from things not everyone has read/seen.

*Questions and/or examples from your own work also fair game. (Either "I did this, which worked/didn't..." or "I'm working on X, and want to discus [problem/aspect of it]")

Ground Rules include:

*Opinions are just that, and everybody gets one; this isn't the place for big emotional arguments. (Within basic standards of not-being-a-horrible-person-whatever-that-means, of course; if your opinion involves planning on murdering people then that's probably an issue.)

*That counts double if you're bringing up your own work.

--------

Does this sound interesting to anybody? Or like a can of worms I ought to be leaving at the fishbait store? Thoughts welcomed.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
All the writing groups people talk about are critique-focused, which is all very well, but I don't actually like in-person critique that much, and I'm mostly not writing at the moment anyway, and most of my options are probably online which means definitely working with e-format documents, which I'm also not wild about. So I sat down the other day and made a wishlist of what *I* actually want, and it sounds a lot more like an informal con panel than a critique group.

Practicalities:

*Once a week or so, to begin not before 8:30 PM EST and probably ending by 10:30 because her Megatheriocity isn't going to sleep in to suit my follies.

*Either hyper-local, or online. (Ok, realistically, that means online.) Would be willing to look into giving in on the G+ battle (ugh, google's annoying proprietary login crap) if their chat feature is the cross-platform option on what's going. Something chat-based seems more useful to me, but I gather there are a lot of talk/text hybrid things out there, which might also be worthy?

*Not too big, maybe 5 to 7 people maximum with space for an occasional drop-in or variance as people's schedules allow. Probably 4 would be a comfortable minimum. People with similar levels of writing/analytical abilities (whatever that means) will probably work best together.

Content:

*Mostly, I want to discuss the craft of writing; I finally *have* the sort of writing brain that's occasionally capable of analyzing metatextual elements instead of staring blankly at people who mention them, and I'm presently stuck in a sea of the same stack of picture books seven or eight times a day which has thus far been antithetical to my writing process. So, build-you-own writing salon/book group for writers, something like that.

*I'd be up for the occasional writing exercises (a la Steering the Craft) if other people want to try that, but that's not really my thing either.

*I'm thinking a structure of deciding on a topic the meeting beforehand so there's time to think about it/track down loose ends. Topics could range from large (let's talk about characterization!), to small, to process-based (how do *you* revise?), & maybe even a round exchanging favorite books of writing advice.

*Spoilers ok, to draw examples from things not everyone has read/seen.

*Questions and/or examples from your own work also fair game. (Either "I did this, which worked/didn't..." or "I'm working on X, and want to discus [problem/aspect of it]")

Ground Rules include:

*Opinions are just that, and everybody gets one; this isn't the place for big emotional arguments. (Within basic standards of not-being-a-horrible-person-whatever-that-means, of course; if your opinion involves planning on murdering people then that's probably an issue.)

*That counts double if you're bringing up your own work.

--------

Does this sound interesting to anybody? Or like a can of worms I ought to be leaving at the fishbait store? Thoughts welcomed.
thanate: (Default)
One for the files of writing topics that don't get talked about as usefully as one might like.

whiny me-context )

There was a conversation on twitter the other day about revising one's fiction, and how one actually *does* that, anyway. I am not particularly good at revising things, but anyone can start a discussion. Here are some things that seem to work for me, and some things that don't yet, and anybody who has thoughts or different angles/sets of questions is encouraged to chime in.

some things that work )

things I have not got yet )

**There are many more things, but darned if I can think what they are right now and I started this post almost a week ago. Talk to me about your revision process, people! I am with the curious or maybe that's nosy!

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (Default)
One for the files of writing topics that don't get talked about as usefully as one might like.

whiny me-context )

There was a conversation on twitter the other day about revising one's fiction, and how one actually *does* that, anyway. I am not particularly good at revising things, but anyone can start a discussion. Here are some things that seem to work for me, and some things that don't yet, and anybody who has thoughts or different angles/sets of questions is encouraged to chime in.

some things that work )

things I have not got yet )

**There are many more things, but darned if I can think what they are right now and I started this post almost a week ago. Talk to me about your revision process, people! I am with the curious or maybe that's nosy!
thanate: (whirlpool)
(There are likely to be more of these, and in light of that this premise seemed a bit too silly to bother cleaning up to submit, so have a silly thing. Technically, the North American ground sloths were Eremotherium or Nothrotheriops, so I think that any official versions are liable to refer to her as Ground Sloth, but you'll all know better.)

Long ago, when the world was a little bit younger than it is now (though only a very little bit, for the world is much older than your great grandmother, and a long time to you doesn’t seem like very much to it) Megatherium decided to have a birthday party. Now, nobody had thought to have a birthday party before, so she didn’t have a cake, or candles, or presents, or any of the things that you would expect. Instead she prepared a huge feast with a whole oak tree, and osage orange branches with the fruit still on, and some tasty young pine needles for dessert. Then she invited everybody she knew: Mastadon, and Short-Faced Bear, and Dire Wolf, and Stag Moose, and Shrub Ox, and Condor, and Lion. And then she invited everybody you know: Bison, and White Tail, and Elk, and Black Bear, and Coyote, and Timber Wolf, and Human, and Raccoon, and Opossum, and lots of others. She invited the frogs and snakes and salamanders too, but they didn’t come because it was a long way, and they were afraid they might get stepped on.

A great many animals came to the party, but when it came time to eat, half the guests got all cross because their food was sitting around the dinner tables rather than on it, and Mastodon snuck into the kitchen and ate all the dessert. Human, who had brought some new sharp thing that everyone was getting very tired of hearing about, offered to make a fire and cook someone, but nobody listened to him. Raccoon wandered about on the table eating bugs out of other people’s branches, and on the whole nobody had any table manners whatsoever.

So Megatherium sent them all home, knocking together heads when necessary, and that is why to this day animals don’t bother to have birthday parties. Well, except for Human, but nobody listens to him.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
(There are likely to be more of these, and in light of that this premise seemed a bit too silly to bother cleaning up to submit, so have a silly thing. Technically, the North American ground sloths were Eremotherium or Nothrotheriops, so I think that any official versions are liable to refer to her as Ground Sloth, but you'll all know better.)

Long ago, when the world was a little bit younger than it is now (though only a very little bit, for the world is much older than your great grandmother, and a long time to you doesn’t seem like very much to it) Megatherium decided to have a birthday party. Now, nobody had thought to have a birthday party before, so she didn’t have a cake, or candles, or presents, or any of the things that you would expect. Instead she prepared a huge feast with a whole oak tree, and osage orange branches with the fruit still on, and some tasty young pine needles for dessert. Then she invited everybody she knew: Mastadon, and Short-Faced Bear, and Dire Wolf, and Stag Moose, and Shrub Ox, and Condor, and Lion. And then she invited everybody you know: Bison, and White Tail, and Elk, and Black Bear, and Coyote, and Timber Wolf, and Human, and Raccoon, and Opossum, and lots of others. She invited the frogs and snakes and salamanders too, but they didn’t come because it was a long way, and they were afraid they might get stepped on.

A great many animals came to the party, but when it came time to eat, half the guests got all cross because their food was sitting around the dinner tables rather than on it, and Mastodon snuck into the kitchen and ate all the dessert. Human, who had brought some new sharp thing that everyone was getting very tired of hearing about, offered to make a fire and cook someone, but nobody listened to him. Raccoon wandered about on the table eating bugs out of other people’s branches, and on the whole nobody had any table manners whatsoever.

So Megatherium sent them all home, knocking together heads when necessary, and that is why to this day animals don’t bother to have birthday parties. Well, except for Human, but nobody listens to him.
thanate: (whirlpool)
Beneath Ceaseless Skies is having their best-of reader poll for last year's stories! My "A Marble for the Drowning River" is among the options, so if you thought that was awesome, you're encouraged to go vote for it. There are also a whole bunch of other potentially awesome stories, all linked conveniently from the poll, and you can vote for up to five of them, so I encourage anyone with the spare time between now and friday to go forth and develop some favorites. Yay stories! :)

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
Beneath Ceaseless Skies is having their best-of reader poll for last year's stories! My "A Marble for the Drowning River" is among the options, so if you thought that was awesome, you're encouraged to go vote for it. There are also a whole bunch of other potentially awesome stories, all linked conveniently from the poll, and you can vote for up to five of them, so I encourage anyone with the spare time between now and friday to go forth and develop some favorites. Yay stories! :)
thanate: (whirlpool)
*My baby is an awesome baby. She impressed everyone at the doctors' office yesterday with her muscle strength and head control, and again spent about two minutes of post-vaccination screaming before calming down (with help from food) and then going back to sleep. About four hours later the pain kicked back in, but her "ow, everything hurts" cry is much less ear-splitting than her "help, someone's trying to kill me!" cry, and after the usual things failed to work I gave her a dose of baby tylenol (ok, generic brand, and probably a slightly lower dose than she's now rated for as I used last time's calculation) and she's been her happy if somewhat sleepier than usual self since it kicked in.

*We have a shiny new mortgage with a lender who isn't awful, though of course I just tried to log into the old lender's stupid website to double-check that the other side has gone through and after taking the password they admit that "this service is currently unavailable." (Yes, I did double check the site addresses & all that; they're just like this.) How do I not hate my chosen bank, let me count the ways...

*I keep all the short story beginnings I'm maybe-sort-of working on in one scrivener document so I can wander amongst them easily; this week I had a (multi-day) moment of aproductivity frustration in which I made a "time out" folder for the things I'd gone off wanting to finish, and then wrote little notes about the bits I knew of where each document was going. Or in some cases questions about what the heck the characters thought they were doing (& whether I ought to change some details...) And then I stared at the four sentences of something I'd jotted down in a new file because I wanted to play with the idea and had one of those stupidly obvious revelations: I do not actually need to tell this story in chronological or linear narrative fashion. I see other people not doing this in paid venues all the time. It could practically be considered trendy. And since tangentially-related dribblets that maybe even all add up to something are about how my brain is working right now, perhaps I'll actually finish something. Interesting theory.

*My new favorite things include marscapone and moss agates. I have also finally figured out what I can plant in a strawberry pot (whorled stonecrop! which I "rescued" a bunch of snapped-off fragments of from the native plant sale, and now need somewhere to put them...) that would work, but have yet to determine where I can actually find a strawberry pot to buy.

*In my alternate non-Megatherium life, I am at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention RIGHT NOW. (and going to Readercon in three weeks.)

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
*My baby is an awesome baby. She impressed everyone at the doctors' office yesterday with her muscle strength and head control, and again spent about two minutes of post-vaccination screaming before calming down (with help from food) and then going back to sleep. About four hours later the pain kicked back in, but her "ow, everything hurts" cry is much less ear-splitting than her "help, someone's trying to kill me!" cry, and after the usual things failed to work I gave her a dose of baby tylenol (ok, generic brand, and probably a slightly lower dose than she's now rated for as I used last time's calculation) and she's been her happy if somewhat sleepier than usual self since it kicked in.

*We have a shiny new mortgage with a lender who isn't awful, though of course I just tried to log into the old lender's stupid website to double-check that the other side has gone through and after taking the password they admit that "this service is currently unavailable." (Yes, I did double check the site addresses & all that; they're just like this.) How do I not hate my chosen bank, let me count the ways...

*I keep all the short story beginnings I'm maybe-sort-of working on in one scrivener document so I can wander amongst them easily; this week I had a (multi-day) moment of aproductivity frustration in which I made a "time out" folder for the things I'd gone off wanting to finish, and then wrote little notes about the bits I knew of where each document was going. Or in some cases questions about what the heck the characters thought they were doing (& whether I ought to change some details...) And then I stared at the four sentences of something I'd jotted down in a new file because I wanted to play with the idea and had one of those stupidly obvious revelations: I do not actually need to tell this story in chronological or linear narrative fashion. I see other people not doing this in paid venues all the time. It could practically be considered trendy. And since tangentially-related dribblets that maybe even all add up to something are about how my brain is working right now, perhaps I'll actually finish something. Interesting theory.

*My new favorite things include marscapone and moss agates. I have also finally figured out what I can plant in a strawberry pot (whorled stonecrop! which I "rescued" a bunch of snapped-off fragments of from the native plant sale, and now need somewhere to put them...) that would work, but have yet to determine where I can actually find a strawberry pot to buy.

*In my alternate non-Megatherium life, I am at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention RIGHT NOW. (and going to Readercon in three weeks.)
thanate: (whirlpool)
Through a chain of recommendation coincidences that aren't particularly important to my point, I just topped up on the library's collection of Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels series, one of which was a novella in Hexed, which is a sampler collection of novellas out of four different urban fantasy universes. And having finished the Ilona Andrews story, I tried reading the others, and didn't get more than a few chapters in to any of them. The last one was all written in present tense narration, and the other two were variants on just too much series backstory/worldbuilding crammed into a quarter of a paperback. (The Ilona Andrews story had some of that too, but a) it wasn't as much, possibly by virtue of being light on minor characters with lots of series backstory, and b) I could skim all that, since I've already read the series.)

[livejournal.com profile] swan_tower had a post a while back about failure modes of many-book epic fantasy which included a bit on character bloat: in that context, it's mostly the two-fold problem of slotting in hordes of minor characters for POV bit parts, and then getting attached to some of them enough that you then need to expand to follow up on what happens to them, diverting the narrative from where it was otherwise supposed to be going.

The intersection between these things has got me contemplating character bloat as a function of the urban fantasy-style series.* What I see is this: you begin with your loner narrator. S/he has a few ongoing relationships and some worldbuilding knowledge, all of which get summed up as they become relevant, which is the normal course of things. But by several books into the series, the important characters have accumulated a great deal of complicated back-story which gets info-dumped in far too little space, even when their changing status isn't in any way relevant to the story being told. And then various minor characters get a line or two of back-story intro to remind the continuing reader of their previous adventures or alert the new reader that there were such.

There's some justification for continuing reader cues and a little orientation for someone starting in the middle. And there's a certain amount of realism to the idea that as you spend time in a certain context you accumulate history with the other people associated with that context, be it social circle or work contacts or just geographic closeness. But there's the proverbial fine line between (say) explaining that you're bringing your competent young werewolf employee along vs recounting the backstory of his previous relationships with you and how he used to be gorgeous and why he isn't anymore when none of these things are in any way related to the story you're currently trying to tell. Multiply that by seven or eight characters, plus a few places or organizations and your worldbuilding recap, and that's a sizeable chunk of not-story taking up space. Worse yet, an impatient reader will find it either redundant or extraneous, depending on whether they're familiar with the information already.

I'm also wondering about this in audio-visual media (and I'm going even more out of my depth here, as I've really never watched TV and rarely do movies either.) No unifying thoughts, but two points:

a) Does the character re-intro info dump happen in long-running TV series? Or are we assumed to get it from context & remember based on visual cues. The visual aspect does remove a little of the burden of name-recognition from the viewer; in a world where you've build up a lot of minor characters there's always the difficulty of ensuring the reader remembers which one you're talking about.

b) There's a franchise version of character bloat-- working cameos of episode 4-6 characters into the earlier Star Wars movies, for instance-- that seems like sort of a mid-way point between this and the epic fantasy version. Still extraneous, but by virtue of being a movie it doesn't take up as much room as the roaming POV problems.

----
*Disclaimer: this is not my genre. I've read half a book of the boy-type Dresden files, Laurel K Hamilton's Anita Blake up to the book about Edward's past (after which I gave up in disgust b/c the woman couldn't make up her mind what she wanted from life; also that was over a decade ago), the first of Seanan McGuire's Toby Daye books (which didn't irritate me, but I haven't gotten back to them, either) and the Kate Daniels books up to Gunmetal Magic. Oh, and most of Raymond Chandler, which is a bit of a godfather to Dresden at least, and which I seem to remember doing better by this particular complaint. I've also read a bunch of things other people had to say about UF, but if I'm wildly overgeneralizing, do please say.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
Through a chain of recommendation coincidences that aren't particularly important to my point, I just topped up on the library's collection of Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels series, one of which was a novella in Hexed, which is a sampler collection of novellas out of four different urban fantasy universes. And having finished the Ilona Andrews story, I tried reading the others, and didn't get more than a few chapters in to any of them. The last one was all written in present tense narration, and the other two were variants on just too much series backstory/worldbuilding crammed into a quarter of a paperback. (The Ilona Andrews story had some of that too, but a) it wasn't as much, possibly by virtue of being light on minor characters with lots of series backstory, and b) I could skim all that, since I've already read the series.)

[livejournal.com profile] swan_tower had a post a while back about failure modes of many-book epic fantasy which included a bit on character bloat: in that context, it's mostly the two-fold problem of slotting in hordes of minor characters for POV bit parts, and then getting attached to some of them enough that you then need to expand to follow up on what happens to them, diverting the narrative from where it was otherwise supposed to be going.

The intersection between these things has got me contemplating character bloat as a function of the urban fantasy-style series.* What I see is this: you begin with your loner narrator. S/he has a few ongoing relationships and some worldbuilding knowledge, all of which get summed up as they become relevant, which is the normal course of things. But by several books into the series, the important characters have accumulated a great deal of complicated back-story which gets info-dumped in far too little space, even when their changing status isn't in any way relevant to the story being told. And then various minor characters get a line or two of back-story intro to remind the continuing reader of their previous adventures or alert the new reader that there were such.

There's some justification for continuing reader cues and a little orientation for someone starting in the middle. And there's a certain amount of realism to the idea that as you spend time in a certain context you accumulate history with the other people associated with that context, be it social circle or work contacts or just geographic closeness. But there's the proverbial fine line between (say) explaining that you're bringing your competent young werewolf employee along vs recounting the backstory of his previous relationships with you and how he used to be gorgeous and why he isn't anymore when none of these things are in any way related to the story you're currently trying to tell. Multiply that by seven or eight characters, plus a few places or organizations and your worldbuilding recap, and that's a sizeable chunk of not-story taking up space. Worse yet, an impatient reader will find it either redundant or extraneous, depending on whether they're familiar with the information already.

I'm also wondering about this in audio-visual media (and I'm going even more out of my depth here, as I've really never watched TV and rarely do movies either.) No unifying thoughts, but two points:

a) Does the character re-intro info dump happen in long-running TV series? Or are we assumed to get it from context & remember based on visual cues. The visual aspect does remove a little of the burden of name-recognition from the viewer; in a world where you've build up a lot of minor characters there's always the difficulty of ensuring the reader remembers which one you're talking about.

b) There's a franchise version of character bloat-- working cameos of episode 4-6 characters into the earlier Star Wars movies, for instance-- that seems like sort of a mid-way point between this and the epic fantasy version. Still extraneous, but by virtue of being a movie it doesn't take up as much room as the roaming POV problems.

----
*Disclaimer: this is not my genre. I've read half a book of the boy-type Dresden files, Laurel K Hamilton's Anita Blake up to the book about Edward's past (after which I gave up in disgust b/c the woman couldn't make up her mind what she wanted from life; also that was over a decade ago), the first of Seanan McGuire's Toby Daye books (which didn't irritate me, but I haven't gotten back to them, either) and the Kate Daniels books up to Gunmetal Magic. Oh, and most of Raymond Chandler, which is a bit of a godfather to Dresden at least, and which I seem to remember doing better by this particular complaint. I've also read a bunch of things other people had to say about UF, but if I'm wildly overgeneralizing, do please say.

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