Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Which I Further Ponder Coal-Raking


Earlier I worried about getting raked over the coals.

After a little more thinkery, I've come to this conclusion.

Screw it.

I'm writing escapist fiction. Popcorn Lit.

I'm not interested in making a statement about society.

No. Seriously.

I'll leave that job to my fellow writers who want to do that. I'll let them explore the human psyche and write allegories about social issues.

Me?

I'm gonna write about running gun battles. Sword fights. Explosions. Harrowing escapes.

General ass-kickery.

And if some folks out there decide to rake me over the coals?

Rake away, dude. Rake away.


(photo: andyh1988/stock.xchng)

Monday, March 21, 2011

In Which More (Possible) Coal-Raking Is Mentioned

Daniel Abraham mentioned a Blake Charlton post on writing strong women.

I thought: Hey! Awesome! Some good food for thought!

So I read Charlton's post and found the series it went with.

And started to feel uneasy.

Why?

Here are some quotes from the series...

Glenda Larke:
Forget the weaponry and the magic, ignore the leather and the karate; you don’t need any of it to write a strong woman protagonist.
Kim Falconer:
Finally we have the wo-man, which are male characters with breasts. Nicole Murphy mentions this in her post. The wo-man is written exactly as a man with all his interests, attributes, entanglements and characteristics except he/she has sex with male characters. Interesting. Starbuck, in BSG, the gods love her, is a good example. Wo-man to the soul. Is she a strong female character? Not really. The subtext here is, to be strong you have to be a man.

It seems our society lacks the language and conceptual insights, given the patriarchal inheritance, to write strong autonomous women without props.
Dammit.

"Potential coal-raking ahead!" cries the lookout from my mental crow's nest.

Both Kat and Mouse use weapons, wear leather, and, while they don't know karate, they were taught how to take out their opponent in unarmed combat.

Given that, they may be wo-men.

Back to the subtext that Kim Falconer mentions above: "to be strong you have to be a man."

As the Duo would say: "Crap and a half."

But two posts from the series set my mind at ease.

At least for the moment.

From Helen Lowe:
I believe that writing strong women is all about writing diverse and true-to-life characters. So long as an author is focused on that, and on observing the nuance of human behaviour and avoiding cliché and stereotype, then I believe she or he will write great characters, some of whom may be strong and inspirational women and men. Others again may be weak, fearful, dishonest, vindictive, petty or self-serving—because that, too, is part of the gamut of human experience.
And from Philipa Ballantine:
I do look forward to seeing more and different types of strong female characters. They should reflect the women we know in our real lives- their personalities should be as diverse as all of them. I think there is still plenty of room to develop. Though I confess, a woman with a sword is still one of my favourites!
Yes.

A woman with a sword (or a gun) is one my favorites, too.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Learning From The Wise Ones

While I've got a goodly number of books on writing, I always seem to come back to three particular ones.

Over and over.

Here they are, sage advice from three guys who've been at this for a long time.

1. Telling Lies for Fun & Profit Lawrence Block

2. On Writing Stephen King

3. Zen in the Art of Writing Ray Bradbury

Which writing books do you refer to again and again?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In Which Coal-Raking Is Mentioned

Over at Hal Duncan's SFWA post on minorities and gender equality in SF/F I came across this comment:
So, what do we do, when an overwhelming number of SF&F writers are straight white males? Trying to write outside your own race/sexuality, even if you’re genuinely inspired to do so, usually gets you raked over the coals by the genuine article.
Then I looked at KAT AND MOUSE and immediately thought: I'm a guy writing about two women, one of which is the narrator, 1st person POV. Shit--I'm screwed.

But then a moment later I thought: Wait--it passes the Bechdel Test so it can't be all bad, right?

Then I was reminded of a post by Jim Hines on this. Jim notes:
To me, the test is a way to illustrate how few stories actually have multiple female characters, and if so, they’re often present simply as “accessories” to our male heroes.
So then I thought: KAT AND MOUSE haz BechdelWin!

And then I thought: I need to stop getting all thinkery and get back to writing some SF/F kick-assery.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

WonderCon Just Around The Corner

It's that time of the year again. On April 1st, the fanboy masses will descend on San Francisco's Moscone Center to celebrate three days of comics and media.

LadyAce and I will be there to partake in the fun.

Still waiting on the programming schedule to get posted at the site. Hopefully in the next week or so.

So--who else is going?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Writer's Mindset: Small Victories

"Go as far as you can see. When you get there, you'll always be able to see further."
--Zig Ziglar


The most important tool in a writer's arsenal is mindset.

Beyond craft. Beyond technique.

Mindset.

Without it, a writer is dead in the water.

I don't care if you can write like Faulkner. Lack the proper mindset and you're toast.

Fellow writer Hillary Jacques recently posted aboutsomething I think every writer needs to keep in mind, things that should be part of that Writer's Mindset.

The idea of small victories.

Get them. Use them.

Now, you're probably wondering how that Zig Ziglar quote fits.

Simple. Small victories is the act of going as far as you can see.

What trips up most writers, especially those writing novels, is the scope of the project. They lock onto the idea of the novel as a whole. The big tamale. The whole shebang.

The top of Mt. Everest.

And when they do that, they will freak out. Freeze. Or start to see their efforts as futile.

Bad move.

What you've gotta do is line up your small victories until you get to the Final Victory.

One step at a time, and always moving forward.

So instead of looking at having to write 95,000 words, look at writing 1,000.

Or 500.

Then, write the next 500. Or 1,000. Or whatever.

Small victories, Dudes and Dudettes. Small victories.


(photo: NineTen/Amanda Salazar, Nine Ten Creative/stock.xchng)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quote For Today

"Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke."
--Joss Whedon

(Found in the sidebar at Larissa Ione's blog.)