Monday, December 27, 2010

Look What I Found

I've been working on building a world for my latest story (one that, hopefully, I will soon shelve in favour of finishing some of my others) and having a bit of trouble focusing my thoughts. I decided to go in search of some help online and found this. It's a list of fantasy worldbuilding questions from Patricia C. Wrede and it includes thought-provoking questions to make you consider every corner of your imaginary world, including physical and historical features; magic and magicians; peoples and customs; social organization; commerce, trade and public life and daily life. You should ABSOLUTELY check it out, whether you write sci-fi, fantasy, speculative fiction, historical fiction or anything that takes place anywhere other than exactly right here, right now.

I've also added a link to the link list, with a helpful name like "Worldbuilding Questions" or something like that.

Happy creating, people.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

At Night

An albino Father Christmas stood on the end table and at night, it came to life. It jumped down, plastic censer swinging from a cardboard-present clutching hand, and moved around the lobby. It went on the computer and changed the reservations, it looked at Internet porn. It chased the mice.

In the morning, it went back, replaced its taffeta hat and waited for the guests. When they touched it, reaching for a dining guide or filling out a comment card, or because its beard looked so soft, it took a piece of their soul and at night, it ate it.

By the way, I wrote the soul-stealing bit before I read Rhiannon's story, which just proves that we're a) very alike and b) very crazy. I would have posted it earlier, but in keeping with the brand new DevCo tradition of posting terrifying holiday art, I wanted to find a picture to go with it.

Ecksmas Prompt: Man of Snow

This is proof positive that I'm bugnuts, by the way. Enjoy! And happy Solstice Rites Of Your Choosing!


When he woke, he was blind and cold and deaf and could not scream. He couldn’t move, either, but he could feel their hands.
Sensation returned first to his arms; his fingers felt cold and brittle.
Sight returned, then smell. The world was shades of grey, but he could see it and was thankful, even if it did smell of carrots.
They stuck a corncob pipe where his mouth was supposed to go, before they gave him the hat and scarf. It didn’t charm him; he was as cold as death.
They wanted holly-jolly laughter. Instead, he took their souls.

EDIT: I tried putting the damn picture at the end. It won't let me. I blame the shitty computer. And I'm totally adding this after the story's been up for a few moments. Hah! Also, there are waaaaay too many pics of creepy snowmen out there. They're coming for us.

I'm not sure if this counts as a prompt

I was thinking, as a kind of Christmas challenge, it would be cool if we each tried to write a 100 word Xmas story before midnight on Christmas. Neil Gaiman's Nicholas Was is proof that it can be done, but I know everyone is busy around the holidays, so no worries if you've got other things on the go. 'Twas just a thought.

If you wanted to make yours a horror story, I found some inspiration for you. Good lord, that guy is horrifying. Combined with the semi-scary classical Xmas music I'm obliged to listen to at work, I may just have nightmares tonight (or tomorrow, or whenever I sleep next).

Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Solstice and a Merry Christmas /Winter Holiday of Your Choosing and a Happy New Year. Joys of the season to you :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I set us up a library thing account, which is where the lovely rotating book thingy comes from. If you want to add a book, just email me and I'll send you the account name and the password. You can add reviews and stuff too!

Another Gem, Courtesy of Chuck Wendig

I was reading Terrible Minds and I found a link to this article by Edward Docx and Chuck Wendig's response. While the debate rages on on Terrible Minds, I thought I'd put my own opinions up here, since, well, I'm a DevCo writer first - and I've already posted two rather long comments on Mr. Wendig's blog.

*Warning: reading Docx's article may lead to fits of rage, swearing, smacking the desk and late night exclamations of "This is bullshit!"*

Usually, I feel that I shouldn't respond to these kinds of things, because any response legitimizes the arguments being put forth and all that. In this case, though, I feel like I have to stick up for myself and my fellow genre writers.

This debate is strange to me, in part because I'm not sure that anyone really has a clear definition of either genre fiction or literary fiction in their head. Wikipedia (ok, not the most reliable source, but the best I could find) says:
Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term for fictional works (novels, short stories) written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre in order
to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre.
Huh. Maybe I don't write genre. Ok, yeah, I do.

Literary fiction is a term that has come into common usage since around
1960, principally to distinguish "serious fiction" (that is, work with claims to literary merit) from the many types of genre fiction and popular fiction (i.e., paraliterature).

Which makes me wonder what constitutes literary merit.
Literary merit is a quality of written work, generally applied to the genre of literary fiction. A work is said to have literary merit (to be a work of art) if it is a work of quality, that is if it has some aesthetic value. The concept of "literary merit" is impossible to define, and it is hard to see how such an idea can be used with any precision or consistency by policy makers, magistrates or judges. A common response to this criticism is that, while the process of establishing literary merit is difficult, fraught with dangers, and often subjective, it is the only method currently available to separate work that has significant cultural value from work that is ephemeral.

I actually love this definition a little. In the first line, it points out that literary merit is a concept that's caught in some cyclical reference to literary fiction and hence is essentially meaningless, and in the last, says, "Well, yeah, it is kind of meaningless, but we don't have anything better".

Which I think sums up this argument nicely, actually. I mean, I write genre fiction, which is definitionally only genre fiction because it doesn't qualify as literary fiction, and nobody knows what literary fiction actually is, because it's defined in its own terms... but really, let's all sit down and try to figure out which one is better.

I hate all of this highbrow/lowbrow stuff. How about, good fiction/bad fiction? or better yet, how about, fiction that I, personally, like/fiction I don't? Why do some writers, like Docx, feel it necessary to write long articles championing their kind of fiction (I wonder if other literary authors would consider his work to posses literary merit), degrading others and cramming more pomp into one web page than has any business floating around the Internet in general? Did no one ever tell him, if you don't have something nice to say...

But who knows? Maybe that kind of posturing is necessary, if you're afraid your work won't stand on its own.

Now, that wasn't fair. See? This kind of bile-driven, mindless putting down of other writers is contagious.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back to the grindstone...

Now that NaNo's all done with, and I've had a whole seven days to recover, I find myself wanting to write again. I had thought, a few days ago, that even putting a pen to paper would cause my head to explode in nasty ways, but it seems I'm wrong. Maybe it's because I've got time to sit around at work, sometimes, and I need something to occupy myself with, but really, I think it's because I'm something of a masochist. Also, a pleasant side effect of the whole NaNo thing is that I'm actually inspired to write more. Not on The Hollow of White Hazel, which was my NaNo story, but on the one about the princess who goes in search of her abducted prince, which is going to be my attempt at turning an entire genre on its ear.

Now that I've said that, I hope it works.

Anyway, has anyone else noticed the urge to write, inspite of the painful wrenching of brains that happened last month? Or not so painful wrenching of brains - some people here finished early, but I shan't name names. E. >:D But yeah...did you find NaNo has brought you to a whole new level of inspiration, or would you rather there were someway to burn the whole process of writing down like a matchstick factory in a high wind*?

Oh, and this is a discussion question. I'm bringing them back, yo**. Discuss.

*If this made no sense, blame the fact that it's 5am and I still have two hours before I can go home
** See above.