Tag Archives: fiction

Guest Post up at Warpworld

Author Kristene Perron is one of the most genuine individuals I’ve ever met. As part of the launch of the fourth book in the Warpworld series, Perron and a number of other authors will dive deep into the concept of loss. How we cope, how we process, and what part loss plays in a story. She writes:

In a world that at times feels obsessed with having more, more, more, it is intriguing to see how much we gain when something is taken away, pulled from us against our will. The characters in the Warpworld series lose their freedom, their beliefs, their privilege, their homes, their families, and yet somehow, as Lois McMaster Bujold so beautifully expresses in her novel Memory, they “go on”. In the weeks to come, we’ll introduce you to some amazing real life people who have found their own way through loss, their own way to “go on”.

I had the honor of writing the first guest post on the subject. Here’s an excerpt:

For all my unpublished short fiction, I can pinpoint where I was when I wrote the story and who I wrote it for. The names and places change. They’re overlaid with magic and technology, separated by eons of time and light-years of space; but the feelings never change. Lost love still hurts. Lost family cannot be replaced. Choices cannot be unmade and death cannot be undone. When someone or something I love disappears, and there are thousands of words left unsaid, I have to put them somewhere.
Read the full article here.

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The Best Stories Give Us Questions, Not Answers

I just watched Stephen Fry’s “Wagner & Me.” Over the course of the story, Fry tries to reconcile his love of Wagner’s music with the fact that Hitler felt much the same way. Fry mentioned that one of the things that made Hitler’s rallies so spectacular was that they incorporated staging on an operatic scale; as well as the massive emotional resonance of ultimate good fighting ultimate evil. In short, Hitler attempted to bring a story to life. It brought to mind other examples of how human beings try to take stories in their literal form and bring them into reality — and what happens when we’re handed the answers.

Stories  come to life most successfully as allegories and metaphors for reality. They capture a small slice of our world, neatly arranged and displayed for our pleasure.

Longer stories, such as biographies or historical fiction, still lose a good chunk of their details and accuracy when translated into books and movies. The infinite complexity and interconnectivity of life never resolves in an emotionally satisfying way.

When we accomplish a lifelong dream, we expect the curtains to roll when it’s over. They don’t. We go on. That makes for a crappy ‘ending.’

To achieve that emotional catharsis at the end of a story, the writer has to be reductionist. The idea of evil is reductionist. Life would be much easier if all that stood between us and Happily Ever After were one evil person or persons to be destroyed.

What makes stories resonant and compelling, what makes them linger in our hearts long after the telling’s done — are big uncomplicated seemingly universal ideas. Evil, love, goodness, honor, and joy are all things we want to share in and experience; but translating those ideas to reality in that form demands a high price. It’s romantic to hear someone would die or kill for you… but less so when you suddenly have a corpse on your hands.

Stories that can change the world are the ones that make us think about what we’ve just read/seen/heard. They make us consider what it would be like to be in that situation. They ask what life would be like with access to certain technologies. They ask what life would be like under different types of governments. They ask us how we can be braver, or more honest. They ask us not to kill dragons, but what does it mean to be a hero. The best stories don’t give us answers. They give us questions.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
― Plutarch

If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.
— George S. Patton Jr.

milky-way

Planning for the Writer’s Conference – Pick your panels! #sfwc

I just received the schedule of panels for the conference; and I found it a bit overwhelming. It was like being a rock in a stream — drowning in the frigid rush of snowmelt. For years we writers have been bombarded with information about how to write, how to be creative, and how to market ourselves. The water — the information — is constantly changing. As soon as you think you know who to follow, the water changes. It seems impossible to know where to begin.

Well, little rock, take note of your position in the stream.

The good part about having so many options is that you can design your own weekend. Think about what you already know, how far you’ve gotten, and what you need in order to get to the next level. Since I write fiction, I’ve identified four stages (categories) which might be applicable for folks on my track. (Sorry, poetry and non-fiction folks!)

  • I want to be a writer! – Look for panels and mixers designed for the very beginning: how to write, how to silence your inner editor, how to build good habits, and the basics plotting and character creation.
  • I just finished my MS! – This is when you’d start looking for more advanced panels like editing your own work, how to refine your manuscript, how to incorporate the setting into the story and how to make your words stronger and more alive.
  • I’ve edited a bunch and am ready to submit! – You’ve written, you’ve edited, you’ve polished. Now’s the time to learn about getting published. Learn how to get an agent’s attention, build a platform, find out what it takes to self-publish and do all the prep work toward your debut.
  • I’m already a pro! – There are a number panels that discuss writing across different genres, how to give readings, how to self-publish and even how to make the most of your tax return.

In addition to this, there are specific panels dedicated to genre like sci-fi/fantasy or memoir. Whether you’re a master revisiting fundamentals, or a new writer trying to figure out the next steps there’s a ton of beneficial info here.

The best way to get the most out of an experience like this is to pause, take a look at where you are in the process, and decide what you need right now. No two conferences or conventions will be alike. There’s always more to know, and more people to meet.

 

I’ll be sure to report back other details as they arise.

No man ever steps in the same river twice.
— Heraclitus

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.”
— Paulo Coelho