Door stoppers, or how you can probably cut off half of any sff novel.

Despite this blog’s interest in fantasy, there’s actually a lot of “beginners” books in this genre that I never read when I was a kid. The kind you either read young or you never will because as an adult they seem… kinda bad. I ignored almost all the D&D novels aside from a few Drizzt books, and I never touched a single Dragonlance book (more than a hundred already written as of today.) That changed yesterday when, in a whim, I began reading the first Dragonlance book. And, well… it was somewhat better than I had expected. Better than a lot of the stuff being written today, anyway.

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Reading the Hugos (2019) The Court Magician

It’s that time of the year once more: time to read the Hugo Award finalists and be shocked, amused, horrified, and (occasionally) entertained. As usual, I’ll stick to the short stories because they are free to and it’s where hungry, ambitious authors try to show off, so there’s hardly a better category to get a graphography (is that a word?) of the current zeitgeist, but I may throw in a novelette if I feel like it.

Of course, for the same reason there is such a thing as Oscar bait, there’s also Hugo bait, so expect to see certain patterns with these stories—or just with their authors. Like in previous years, gender is one main theme, and of the four big categories (novel, novella, novelette, and short story,) with 24 stories and 22 authors, 18 of the finalists are women, 2 identify as trans, and 2 weirdos are men. There are also many names you might recognize from previous years. Make of those things what you will.

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Deep POV shallowness Part 2 : no similes, no metaphors, no style.

Latching a narrator onto a single POV has many unintended consequences, and these are unfortunately invisible until they explode in your face, so one can read (or write) texts that should be, in theory, bristling with excitement but, in reality, are dull and shallow. I mentioned a few ways I believe this happens in the linked post above, but one that I think deserves its own post is this: hardly anybody writes similes, analogies, or metaphors anymore, and these are one of the fundamental tools in any writer’s craft.

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Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense Out Now!

The Spring issue of the All-New Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense is out now!

The big star of the spring issue, of course, is the brand-new Tarzan story Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Tierney. Based on a fragment […]

via Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense Out Now! — Cirsova

There’s a piece of forgotten literary history there (the Tarzan story) and just the cover of the magazine is probably worth the price, but I also have a story there, “The Elephant Idol,” so you might want to check it out. And by might I mean should. How many times have you read a story with a blind protagonist and not a single visual reference or visual descriptions in the entire text?

For those interested in background, creative work, the initial inspiration for the story was a not-so-subtle scene situation from the video game Thief (Gold,) the map The Song of the Caverns, to be precise, which is about the thieving protagonist getting into an opera house through a cavern (and I was aware that Cirsova’s editor is a great Thief fan, so this was a great way to subconsciously manipulate him into buying it something I guessed he might enjoy.)

I know not exactly from where, although I believe it came as I was thinking about what makes a first-person narration truly tick or not and about the descriptive excesses of some modern writing, but I got the fancy idea of writing a story with a blind protagonist, almost as a challenge. It was a risky and experimental move because I chose to write it in third-person, with a free yet at the same time limited narrator tied to the character’s senses, but I believe it worked well in the end. That’s something for the readers to decide, though.

I honestly had no idea of where the story would lead from there, and at first my idea was to make it somewhat humorous, but as usually happens in my writing, it evolved into horror as everything is thrown into The Warp, which is probably for the better and it also gave me the option to play around with the peculiar situation of a character whose handicap, at least at first, actually helps him because it shields him from what is going on around him.

You can buy the issue on Amazon (and other places as stated in the link above)

Boring people write boring stories

How is it possible to be given the most incredible premises, the most heart-pounding situations, and then end up writing unreadable slog? This is not a rhetorical question without a clear target. I’m thinking about fantasy fiction here—or, at least, what is usually known as heroic fantasy. What sometimes is also known as adventure fiction or epic fantasy. It mostly involves people pretending to be awesome.

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Writing experiment

I’ve been running a little writing experiment these past months. What I found may be especially useful for those with little to no free time.

I don’t know about other people, but I have noticed that one of the most effective ways to stifle one’s creative flow is, quite simply, to go to sleep. I may have spent a couple hours before bedtime all absorbed as I worked on something and then said to myself that I’d continue the next day. Then I wake up the next day and… I forget all about it, as if the person who woke up that morning was a different one or sleeping triggered some sort of memory wipe. I guess the deep-rooted rituals and habits of daily life overwrite whatever thing your excited self from 8 hours ago thought was critical. More than once it took me days to remember that I still had something half-done lingering there in the computer. But by then the excitement had pretty much vanished and I had little to no interest in going back to it.

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Tell me, don’t show me your characters’ emotions.

I have written other posts criticizing common bits of advice given to writers, and I have in fact hinted that I believe the emperor to all of them is naked, so here it is: Show, don’t tell. What is it good for? Not much really.

There are also some elephant-in-the-room-sized clues hinting that all this Show, Don’t Tell thing may be, at best, platitudes, and at worst, nonsense. First of all, the entire history of human literature. Pretty much everything written before the last 100 years was 90% Telling, with Showing sparkled here and there to enhance or highlight certain key passages.

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