On Writing

Wherein I ramble about technique, process, etc.

Is there a Rule of Three in SFF?

Somebody in my Twitter feed linked this today, which I’d never seen before. Some insightful commentary from the late Dwayne McDuffie, a kickass comic book writer and trailblazer within that genre, talking about the Rule of Three. No, not this one; something else: Which got me thinking, of course. I’ve said before that most of the criticism I get as a writer is perfectly thoughtful, interesting stuff, which is doubtless helpful to those who are trying to decide whether to buy my books or read my stories. But I’ve seen a very few reader responses that, IMO, crossed the line …

Is there a Rule of Three in SFF? KEEP READING

Why is Oree Shoth blind?

A friend asked me this, so I’ve decided to answer here because I think it’s something others might like to know. The question was, why did I decide to make Oree Shoth, protagonist of The Broken Kingdoms, blind? Bear with me; this is gonna be another long one.

Comforting Futures, and Whether (or Why) We Should Avoid Them

Meant to post this yesterday, but was traveling for the weekend and got home exhausted. So this continues my one-year-long “tradition” of writing anti-oppression-related posts on MLK Day; it’s just late, sorry. I’m working on a dystopian short story right now. It’s tough going; those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably seen me whining about it, until fellow SFF writer Nnedi Okorafor told me to stop whining and write! So I’m writing. But one of the problems I’m having with this story is the fact that I keep pulling my punches. It’s set in the future, after …

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Even if I tell you, you won’t know.

That raspy, too-sweet voice. Lil was in my home, making me breakfast, after eating some Orderkeepers that Shiny had murdered. “What in the Maelstrom are you doing here?” I demanded. “And show yourself, damn it. Don’t hide from me in my own home.” She sounded amused. “I didn’t think you liked my looks.” “I don’t, but I’d rather know you’re not standing there slavering at me.” “You won’t know that even if you see me.” But she appeared, facing me in her deceptively-normal form. (A bit from The Broken Kingdoms, chapter 4.) As I mentioned in the FAQ post a …

Even if I tell you, you won’t know. KEEP READING

Postmodern Epic Fantasy?

Spotted an intriguing line in io9’s Power List of 20 people who rocked SF/F in 2010. I’m not one of them, alas, though I noted a great blurb there about Orbit’s publishing director Tim Holman. Tim rightly deserves the spotlight in that article, but, well, I’m just gonna own my narcissism here. What caught my eye was this: Looking at Orbit’s 2010 titles, too, you’re struck by their range, from hard science fiction icon Greg Bear to space opera master Iain M. Banks, and from postmodern epic fantasy author N.K. Jemisin to steampunk innovator Gail Carriger. So now I’m thinking, …

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The Inheritance Trilogy That Could’ve Been*

Trilogy: A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. Per Wikipedia, page last modified 23 October 2010 at 11:14. I note this because I’ve gotten some questions lately about my choice to make the Inheritance Trilogy three individual stories as opposed to the usual epic fantasy trilogy structure of a single story stretched over three books. First, a clarification: the Inheritance Trilogy is a single story. It’s just not the single story of any human character. Spoilers love you very …

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A Few Points of Clarification

…on some things I’ve been asked about, privately and in interviews, re the Inheritance Trilogy lately. I’m a big believer in the idea that a book’s text is fundamentally interactive. It means both what the author intended it to mean and what the reader interprets it to mean, with the actual value falling somewhere in between. The two cannot be separated, and a good author tries to anticipate what her readers will bring to the table. She can’t always succeed, of course; different readers bring different things. But she can try, so here’s what I was trying to do. Huge …

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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Cliff’s Notes version

Hey, readers! Has it been too long (a whole six months!) since you read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms? Have you forgotten all its little plotty bits and pieces, but don’t have time to go back and re-read before you tackle The Broken Kingdoms? Well have no fear! I’m here to help. Here you may download the original outline for the novel (under its original title), which I wrote back in 2008 when my agent was getting ready to submit that novel to publishers. It’s long — 19 pages — but still shorter than the whole book. Note that it contains …

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I can write two books a year, but I can’t do NaNoWriMo.

It’s that time again — no, I don’t mean Launch Week for The Broken Kingdoms; I mean NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The idea behind NaNoWriMo is simple — write. Write as fast as you can. Write for thirty days, and try to finish a novel within that time. Write even if you write a lot of crap — which you will, guaranteed, if you’re trying to finish a novel in 30 days. But write. An admirable goal — though I’m aware that some people don’t think so. (I disagree with Miller, for many of the same reasons noted …

I can write two books a year, but I can’t do NaNoWriMo. KEEP READING

Bridges and Centers

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “bridges” since reading this analysis of a prominent New York Times reporter’s writing on Africa, and his admitted tendency to center his stories on the non-African foreigners (usually Americans) present, rather than the people whom the stories are ostensibly about. Texas in Africa — correctly, IMO — notes that In the end, this answer is just another variant of the “good intentions are enough” mindset. It excuses stereotyping in the name of awareness, while assuming that Americans are too parochial to be able to recognize, relate to, and applaud the work …

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