On Writing

Wherein I ramble about technique, process, etc.

Character Study: Sieh

Been holding off on this one for quite awhile, because I couldn’t think of a way to discuss it and avoid spoilers for The Kingdom of Gods. But now that KoG is finally out everywhere (!!!) I can tackle my favorite character in the whole Inheritance Trilogy. Spoilers, tho’. Seriously. If you haven’t read KoG, might want to skip this one ’til later.

Snippets 3: Kingdom of Gods outtakes

Previous Snippets posts can be found here. The Kingdom of Gods was hard to write! It was the first time I’ve ever started a book without a clearly-established plan in mind — I knew where I wanted to go, but not how to get there — and under deadline pressure. So I wrote several starter versions of the book before I found the right voice and direction for it. Some of these got quite long; I probably wrote an entire novel’s worth of material in order to find the right way of telling this story. But that’s OK, because I …

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Snippets 2: The Gods’ Realm

(Snippets 1 is here.) One of the things I had to spend a lot of time on, in creating the Inheritance Trilogy, was figuring out what went on in the gods’ lives when mortals weren’t around to see them. This was something that I knew might never actually show up in the story — the gods are the focus of the trilogy, but it’s their interactions with mortals that matter most — but I still needed to understand it. I’ve heard other writers compare worldbuilding to an iceberg, and I think that analogy fits perfectly: readers see only ten percent, …

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Snippets 1: The Broken Kingdoms

Going to try something new now, as I lead up to the publication of The Kingdom of Gods (remember, kids: October 27th!). I’ll try to post these once a week or so. Like many authors, I make lots of false starts in the process of writing a novel. Some had legs, but just didn’t go far enough toward my goal; some were badly-written crap; some would have been beautiful — in a different novel. I tend to keep most of my significant text cuts, just because I’m a textual packrat and I’m always worried I might change my mind about …

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Considering Colonialism

A few years back, I read a great anthology: So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Meehan. Having not really started studying historical analysis or the impact of colonialism back then, I wasn’t entirely clear on what “postcolonial” meant. “Colonial” I got, since as a longtime fan of SFF I’d read scenario after scenario of stories about people from one society establishing beachheads in another, whether as invaders or friendlier visitors. But what was the “post” part all about? Reading the definition didn’t really bring it home… but that anthology did. In …

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The Limitations of Womanhood in Fantasy (and everywhere else, but for now, fantasy)

One of my favorite manga is a shoujo (girls’) comedy serial called Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge (YNS), sold in the US as The Wallflower. Now, the Japanese title has a more complex meaning than a phrase like “the wallflower” can encompass, in part because it’s referencing a phrase that’s fairly esoteric to Japanese culture — the idea of quintessential Japanese womanhood, or the yamato nadeshiko spirit. But the story itself is fairly simple: four hot guys are offered the chance by an eccentric millionaire to live in a stunning mansion, rent-free — but in exchange, they have to transform her ugly-duckling …

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Locus Roundtable on, er, Me

Locus, that nice magazine that just gave me a big shiny award, also does other cool things. Who knew? Like, they have a series called Roundtables, in which they ask a bunch of writers, reviewers, and other literary folk to chat about a particular work or topic. And — starting before the award, actually — they decided to talk about me. Disclosure: I’m on the Roundtable list, but I obviously bowed out of this conversation. So a couple of the folks there have met me in real life, one (Rachel Swirsky) knows me quite well, and the rest I only …

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Never Judge a Book By Its… Title.

A friend sent me this link to an article at the Awl in which four literary writers talk about their reactions to editorial title changes. An example, from author Suzanne Morrison re her book Yoga Bitch: A lot of writers think their editors are crazy when they try and change their titles, but I didn’t. I knew exactly what she was talking about, because I had been worrying about the same thing. In writing the story as a book, deeper themes emerged that hadn’t been present in the play; fear of death, yearning for faith, the hunt for something real. …

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The obvious vs the oblique

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet lately. Sorry! It’s the whole two-fulltime-jobs thing; doesn’t leave a lot of time for extras. So in the spirit of maximizing efficiency, this is a two-birds-with-one-stone post: I’m going to talk about writing, which I haven’t done here for awhile, and I’m also going to plug a new novel that rocked my socks off. The novel is Genevieve Valentine’s Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, which has already gotten some nice press. It deserves more. When I first started out as a short story writer, I had a rough …

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So What’s Next?

This weekend I finished the Dreamblood books. Yes, both of them at once. Yes, it was hard as all get out and this is why I’ve been relatively quiet for the last few months. It’s been worse for my friends and family, if you’re wondering — I’ve been shutting off my phone on the weekends, skipping out on celebratory dinners and other events, and just generally being a hermit. But I got them done. So aside from resuming 8 hours of sleep, a social life, and regular exercise, what else am I doing to celebrate? Why, I’m starting my next …

So What’s Next? KEEP READING

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