On Writing

Wherein I ramble about technique, process, etc.

What is Epic Fantasy?

Shamelessly mooching an idea from one of the Amazon discussion forums, in which user J. E. Johnson defined epic fantasy with this list: I would say in order for a story to be considered ‘epic’ to me, it would have to have the following elements: 1. A multiple book series 2. A quest of some sort that must be fulfilled 3. A main character who must face dangers, overcome foes and somehow change throughout the series (either become a better person or become the villain) 4. A great evil, often times one that uses its several minions to challenge the …

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Describing Characters of Color 3, OPPoC

I was re-reading a favorite novel lately, because its sequel is coming out soon and I wanted to refresh in preparation. Anyway, I was struck by the fact that it contained really good descriptions of several characters of color. So I thought that book — Griffin’s, below — deserved a shout-out, as do some others I’ve read that stuck in my mind. Which means — you guessed it — time for another post on describing characters of color! Other People’s PoC (OPPoC) Edition. (Previous iterations here and here.) As with the previous articles, this isn’t a claim or judgment on …

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Pause for triangulation

Been working hard on Book 3 of “The Inheritance Trilogy” for the past 7 weeks now, ever since I restarted it with a new PoV character. It’s really flowing — I just hit 75,000 words — which tells me that I’ve found the right voice for it at last. But because a) my outline for this book was written from a different character’s perspective, and b) I’ve been writing so fast I haven’t stopped to re-outline, I’m starting to stumble. It’s the same overall story — but because the different characters of this story do different things and travel in …

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Cold-Blooded Necessity

I haven’t previously weighed in on the Great Pay Rate Debate triggered by this post by John Scalzi* because a) I’m busy, and b) I don’t care. Which is not to say that the pay issue is irrelevant — it’s definitely relevant, and important. I just don’t care about it. It’s not an emotional thing for me. It’s just business. OK, that was intentionally obtuse. Basically, I draw a very clear distinction between the art of writing, and the business of publication. Writing is something I’m very passionate about. I angst over nearly every aspect of it, constantly. Publication, though, …

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Apologies for the silence here lately — but there’s been a good reason for it. I haven’t talked a lot about Book 3 of the Inheritance Trilogy here much because it’s been oddly fragile in my head. See, in the days before book deals and deadlines and whatnot, I was like most writers in that I wrote when it felt right. Didn’t matter what I wrote as long as I wrote something, every day. If Project A wasn’t being cooperative, I’d just shift over to Projects B, C, or D. Project A wouldn’t be dead, oh no — just silent. …


Good and bad obsessions

A weird thing seems to hit me around this time every year — I develop a powerful, almost compulsive, urge to eat the same food over and over again. Last year it was good hot chocolate — not that Swiss Miss crap (is that even food?), but not too fancy either. I preferred Ghiradelli, double chocolate flavor, made with lactose-free skim milk. (OK, I didn’t care what milk it was made with. But I’m lactose intolerant and I drink skim milk, so…) Marshmallows not optional. The year before that it was sushi from this one particular place in Brooklyn. Thai …

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Janey on the Brink

Was browsing through old posts at one of my other blogs, and ran across this one from March 25, 2008… about a month before The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms sold to Orbit. Kind of funny to “look back in time” at myself, so to speak, and think, just wait!! You won’t be on the brink for much longer! Just hold on!! Anyway, also partly inspired by this at Justine Larbalestier’s blog, reposting it here, unsanitized and hopefully encouraging to others in the same state. A writer who’s sold a novel but is still a relative unknown is called a “Joe Blow …

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New Post at Magic District

…in which I get all warmfuzzy and contemplative in the wake of some very nice reader reviews. (Possibly more coming; I’ve heard people who’ve been reading the ARC making positive noises in brief comments, but not full-on reviews yet. Which is perfectly fine, ’cause, like, the book doesn’t come out for 6 more months, and I just started strategically giving ARCs out like 2 weeks ago. No, I can’t imagine this stuff ever getting old.)

Shoo!! Shoo!!

I’m plagued by short story ideas lately. Have written two of them, actually — a short one set in Brooklyn called “Non-Zero Probabilities”, in which the laws of probability go haywire; and a novelette currently called “Pirate Jessie”, though I’m not sure I want to keep that name. The latter one, a steampunk espionage historical lesbian romantic adventure, was for an anthology invitation. (No, really.) Have other ideas, though, circling ’round my head like gnats. It’s as if, after six months of doing only novel work, my shorts-producing brain cells have revolted, demanding quick hooks and triple pay for overtime. …

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Describing characters of color in writing

Some examples from my own writing, submitted for your consideration. Not a claim of correctness or The Best Way or anything of the sort. Just my way. And yeah, this is in part inspired by a certain very lengthy discussion of race, representation, and respect in the SF/F community that took place recently in the blogosphere. But I also just felt like sharing. ETA: And because this post continues to get hits months later, folks might be interested in Part 2, which was posted at the Magic District, and part 3, written a few months later. Some of this is …

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