Sunday, April 29, 2012

Joe Abercrombie on Readers

Over on his blog, Joe Abercrombie has written up some thoughts on the importance and value of early readers; what some authors call Beta Readers:
When I first started writing I did it in extreme secrecy, scared to lay bare my sensitive innermost ramblings to the world.  But after maybe six months working on the loose collection of drivel that would later become sharpened into the modern masterpiece that is The Blade Itself, I felt the need to consult some kind of outside authority, to get some guidance as to whether what I was doing was utterly worthless or not quiteutterly worthless.  My mother worked as an English teacher, an educational publisher, is widely read and possessed of razor-edged critical faculties, particularly where her own children are concerned.  My father was an academic and university administrator, also widely read though in somewhat different areas, perhaps.  My brother is like an older, less handsome version of me, also widely read and with a more than passing familiarity with genre.  I knew they’d tell it to me straight.  And they have, ever since.  I can’t articulate how vital discussing my writing with them has been, especially in those early days before landing a deal.  They helped me work out where I was going right and wrong, both at the micro and macro levels, and in giving me the confidence to continue, as well as just convincing me that there was actually something there worth working on.  Hey, even if I never got published, it was a fun point of conversation within the family.  Mum tended to look at the detail of the way I was writing, Dad tended to look more at the plotting and development, Brother gave a less detailed summing up.  Usually I’d write blocks of four or five chapters, revise them carefully to my own satisfaction, present, discuss, revise.
Full Story: HERE

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Foz Meadows: The Problem of R. Scott Bakker

People were on at me for years to read the R. Scott Bakker trilogy The Darkness That Comes Before, and it looked very interesting to me so I picked it up and gave it a try.  I found the books mostly to be dry and plodding, ponderous and pretentious and in their portrayal and treatment of women, to be vile.  And now author Foz Meadows, prompted by some comments Bakker made about his work, has crafted an article breaking down exactly where Mr. Bakker's analysis falls apart:
The level of doublethink here is staggering, and yet I can just about parse his (incredibly twisted) logic. Seemingly, Bakker thinks that male violence, and particularly sexual violence, is both innate and inevitable. His aim, at least in part, is to convince his male readers likewise, showing them their own dark side in order to make them uncomfortably aware of its dangers. As entities, women who triumph over, alter or otherwise subvert this reality are completely unrealistic, because no amount of hope or belief will ever change man’s bestial nature, and therefore women will always be oppressed. Any story or statement to the contrary is damaging to feminism, because it gives women an unrealistic view of their prospects in life. Instead, it’s better to focus on making men aware of their innate capacity for evil, so that they can try and rein it in.
The full article is HERE and Mr. Bakker has arrived to address the article, so the comments are blowing up a bit.

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May Releases In Urban Fantasy

There are 22 urban fantasy novels arriving in May and Tor has the full rundown:


Full Story: HERE

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10 Books Every Fantasy Author Should Read

Over at iO9.com, Charlie Jane Anders has compiled a list of 10 books every fantasy author should read and there are some surprising entries.
" I think Farah Mendlesohn's Rhetorics of Fantasy should be required reading for anybody in this genre. It might seem like dense academic language for some, but I actually found it clear and accessible as it broke down all fantasy into four broad taxonomic categories, then examined the commonalities — and exceptions — for each. For those writers who really want to understand the literary footsteps they're walking, and who find our current marketing-driven genre structure restrictive and confusing (e.g., is it URBAN fantasy or is it urban FANTASY?), this is helpful." — Jemisin, who also wrote the Inheritance Trilogy, beginning with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
Naturally, it's all totally subjective, but lists should provoke a conversation, not end one.

Full Article: HERE

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Author Post: What I've Learned

Over at the Orbit website, author Ian Irvine has written up some thoughts on the lessons he's learned about storytelling:
1. The driving force behind any story is conflict – two dogs, one bone, as James Scott Bell puts it. Every interaction, between every character (even friends and allies) should contain conflict. But not meaningless or random conflict, or bickering. The conflict needs to be related to the character’s goal – either furthering it or blocking it.
Interesting stuff.

Full Article: HERE

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