No, I’m still working hard, but I’ve been collecting links over the past couple days and decided to post them.
Also, congrats to Joy and Rainefenix for winning signed copies of my books! I’ll be giving away cover flats on Friday, so if you’d like to be in the mix for that, send me an email at: email@example.com
1. A cool podcast chat between Joe Quesada and Neil Gaiman.
3. Archer of LawyerWorldLand has words to say about character, via Dickens:
How often does some writer give his character a sense of foreboding? How often do you think “From what? From the aliens that are going to land later?” Dickens gives us the sense of foreboding itself, catching the emotion–as Peter Schaffer has Salieri say of Mozart in Amadeus–in a net of pure artifice.
4. Minisinoo tackles, with her usual eloquence, the hornet’s nest of Stereotypes, Race, and “Ethnic Ownership” in writing:
Yet speaking as someone who writes fiction that not infrequently deals with ethnic issues and has ethnic characters as protags, I think the ethnic issues must come out of the story—be organic to it. Those things matter to the story because they matter to the characters IN the story. Ethnic issues may make white readers uncomfortable, but they’re a valid part of ethnic experience and it’s dishonest not to address them … if the story merits it. But it’s quite different to write about these issues because they’re part of the writer’s experience (write what you know) versus letting them dictate what one can or can’t write for fear of getting kicked out of the (ethnic) ‘club.’ I write stories that tend to feature Indians because I am one, not because I ‘have’ to. I also write stories about white characters (because I have those ancestors, too), and sometimes I write black characters and Jewish characters and Italian characters and Greek characters, even though I have no ancestors from those ethnicities at all. I know plenty of people who belong to those ethnicities, and as I’ve said before, I’d be very poor writer if all I could write was myself.
5. Jane Espenson on references that call attention to the fictional nature of your enterprise, or as she puts it, “When Puppets Shouldn’t Point Out the Hands up Their Bottoms.”
A tempting example of breaking a fourth wall in a spec would be to have Lily on How I Met Your Mother make some joke about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, relying on the reader to know that Alyson Hannigan was one of our stars on Buffy. Tempting, but not worth it.
The problem with doing this in a spec, is that you’re working as hard as you can to convince people that they’re reading “the real show, “ or, even better, that the Lily whom you are writing is a real person. You can’t afford to raise the issue of artificiality. I don’t even like it when actual shows break the fourth wall, actually. We’re all trying to seem “real,” so let’s not mess with it.
I think a similar analogy can be made to writing novels. If the reader forgets she is reading a book—or the reader is so caught up that she doesn’t care—that’s fantastic. There, you’ve done it. But if the reader is outside the story, if it’s just words on a page and there’s no fire and light and mystery, then maybe you’ve breached the artificial. Maybe. Or maybe your reader is having an off-day and there’s no jive, no love, and that’s just the way it is. I don’t know. It’s hard enough writing a book without worrying about all that other stuff. But on some level you have to think about it. You should try.
6. Here’s another interesting Jane Espenson article on humor. Ha!