Only Your Characters

I got into a conversation on a private writers’ forum recently on the subject of character. A fellow writer commented that his characters were feeling two-dimensional and disinteresting, and he wondered what he might do to make the people in his stories more than just vehicles for moving the plot along. Whole books could be and have been written on this topic, but I still thought it might be useful to throw up what I’ve found to be useful on my end, and I hope other writers will do the same. Continue reading

On the Cover

Duotrope┬áhas a feature on its homepage that randomly spits out a market that you might be interested in, complete with cover image. Today, it spat out the Stupefying Stories with my name on the cover. So now I’m sitting here wondering if I’m impressed that it knows my style that well or disappointed that it doesn’t check to see if I’ve already had a story accepted there before recommending it.

Either way, I still think it’s neat to see my name on a cover.

‘But You Write Science Fiction…’

Just for the record, it’s dangerous to be friends with your professors on facebook. One of my classmates posted that she was having trouble with her writeup on this week’s book. I commented that I was, too, because the book was published in 1979 and presupposes cultural knowledge that I don’t have. (I may not have worded it quite that way. My actual wording may have involved me yanking a paper out of my posterior.) And my professor asked me about the facebook conversation in the seminar last night. This led to a fascinating discussion which pitted me, alone, on the side of feeling that clarity is important (and wishing the book we were reading had been footnoted so I could have contextualized it) with most of the rest of the class feeling that if the piece is well written, the writing will carry the reader along even if it’s unclear. At one point in the conversation, as I was arguing that readers need to be able to make sense of the text in order to engage with it, my professor said, “But you write science fiction…”

This is probably the most common misconception I encounter about science fiction. Yes, science fiction readers love to be dumped into an unfamiliar world and learn about it on the fly. Like lit fic readers, they love to engage their brains and dig deeper to learn more about the world. But — apparently unlike lit fic readers if last night was any indication — science fiction readers really do demand clarity. Continue reading

Cat Update

Because a couple of people have asked, the cat is home from the vet and doing much better. He’s not out of the woods yet, but his appetite has returned and he’s engaging with us nicely.

To answer the question of what’s wrong with him, the short answer is that he’s dying. He’s just taking his own sweet time about doing so.

The long answer is, well, long. Continue reading