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.
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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.Continue reading “Tell me, don’t show me your characters’ emotions.”
Via one of the blogs I follow (Amatopia), I found this interview with veteran author Paul Clayton. He talks a bit about his life and work and then he is asked about where he believes publishing is going and how his late works, most of them self-published, tie with that.
Clayton claims traditional self-publishing is too slow and that the selection process has become incestuous, compromised by what I guess could be described as either identity politics or just a very homogenous editorial class.
Continue reading “Thoughts on biases and manuscript reading from the other side of the Atlantic”
But I was never one of these dominant, mega-selling, white males. I was a “mid-list” author, as my first agent told me. But now, anybody that looks and sounds like me, is, in my opinion, wasting their time trying to get past the 20-year-old female, or feminized male, junior acquisition editors and interns. Especially if they write about what I would describe as “traditional America and Americans.”
But along came eBooks and they have given my writing career, such as it is, new life, although not as vibrant and visible as traditionally published books. You CAN publish without waiting five years, but so can everyone else.
You know you are reading fantasy because everybody is a suicidal lemming with no self-preservation instinct. In fact, you know you are reading modern fantasy because everybody (especially the bad guys) cares about his survival as much as the random pin-headed monsters that populate video games: “Oh, look, here’s that guy who has killed hundreds of [insert enemy] like me. Let’s attack him! I’m sure this time will be different!”
Knowing that the writer of a story is drawing most of his (probably unconscious) inspiration from movies or video games —worse, that he is not aware of that and believes he writes “realistically”— has been for a long time my #1 source of reading wrath and frustration. And there’s hardly a better place to see that in action than when characters are trying to murder each other, and since I’m talking about fantasy & adventure stories here, that seems to happen quite a lot.