Stories coming soon

The last two years I’ve been writing mostly science fiction. I read a lot of SF through my teens and twenties and then lost interest for the most part, largely because what I was reading did not well accord with my own experience. I find some of the books I liked most to be largely unreadable now because of the atrocious female characters and wanky men.

Anyway.

I’m almost finished an SF novel, which is exciting, but I also have two stories coming out this year. The Moment of  is very short (300 words) flash fiction and appears  in Impact: Queer Sci Fi’s Fifth Annual Flash Fiction Anthology (available July 25 2018).

Leaving, which is longer, will be in Bikes Not Rockets: Intersectional Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories (pending publication, December 14 2018) and you can support the Kickstarter for it.

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Can-Con 2017, Day 1!

Another year, another Can-Con. And what a great weekend it was! I didn’t do every possible thing that I could have, but it was still a busy, fabulous three days.

Friday began with workshops. There were two time slots with a choice of two workshops in each one.

In the first time slot, I went to the one titled “Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seat” that was supposed to be taught by Matt Moore. Unfortunately (especially for him!), Matt was sick and unable to be there. However, Kate Heartfield stepped in to do the workshop in his stead.

Using Matt’s notes, Kate offered a great discussion of how to cultivate tension through character, conflict, and raising stakes. The whole thing was useful and clarified things that had been floating around in my mind without specific form, but I particularly appreciated the mention of Dan Harmon’s approach to talking about story structure and how characters progress through the story (all the characters, not just the protagonist). This makes so much sense to me, not as something new so much as explaining something in a really good, clear way that I can see the immediate application of. So that was good!

Then, in the second workshop time, I chose the one by James Alan Gardner called “Nailing Your Beginning.” Each of us brought in the first 800 words of something we were working. We each read our work and the rest of the group, including Jim, commented on it in the context of it being the beginning of a work, the introductory material that the reader is presented with. I find this sort of thing really helpful and, indeed, this workshop was great. Of course, you always learn a lot about your own writing from other people’s work and what you see as problematic in what they have written! And the comments on my piece (the beginning of my draft 2 novel, Onwards to Enceladus) were so helpful, as they focused on issues that I had been uncertain about and gave me clear ways to adjust things.

When I was younger, I loathed sharing my own work (especially something not ‘finished’) with others in such a setting, but I’m (mostly) over that now. (As an aside, I think that taking Writers Studio classes, where you have to share your assigned writing every week, week after week, was super helpful in getting me over sharing issues, as well as accepting criticism, because it was a very respectful approach to it — critiquing the writing, not the writer; including positive and negative comments; etc. Being online and not face-to-face probably also helped in getting used to it.)

That was my Friday. Saturday comments coming soon!

 

Where has this year gone / Outlines and course corrections

I have been even more negligent than usual this year with the blog. My last actually posted post was in January! (I have 4 or 5 drafts, one I have started every couple of months, with great good intentions of posting about what I was writing or reading or watching, that are just sitting there, looking at me skeptically.)

I began to write, a couple of months ago, about my outlining process and think it’s still useful, for myself if no one else, so I include it now.

In writing circles, nothing gets a discussion going like positing a tendency towards outlining or not (planning or pantsing, as it were). I fall somewhere in between.

Short stories — not much in the way of planning. Typically, I start with an idea or an event or a character and go from there. If it’s a longer story (say, over 3500 words), I will probably go back and think about the structure and make changes accordingly — perhaps changing the opening or closing scene, or re-arranging the story’s order.

But for novels or novellas, I outline. Vigourously. I’ve been doing Nanowrimo since 2008, along with a number of Camp Nanowrimos along the way. And if I have learned one thing in writing a lot of first drafts, it is that no matter how thoroughly I outline, I don’t get the plot right on the first go.

I am sure that there are writers who do (and that’s great for you, I don’t really want to hear about it). For me, the plot evolves as I write and re-write. My current WIP is a science fiction novel. The initial idea came to me last September and I did an outline of the main plot in late October and wrote 50 033 words of it. I had some sub-plot ideas swirling around, but they fell by the wayside as November progressed.

I spent December to March thinking through the plot and developing sub-plot ideas. April’s Camp Nanowrimo was the beginning of editing. I decided to count by hours (which didn’t really work with my approach to writing/editing). I got a good start on the editing, but just a start.

In May, I wrote a number of backstory pieces for the central characters in the novel. This was really helpful (and I probably should have done it earlier).

For July’s Camp Nanowrimo, I went through draft 1 and edited the scenes that already existed (on paper), while adding the ones that were only a line or two of description (on the computer).

It went well and then I spent August putting my edits on paper into the computer and working on further character and plot refinement in September.

But my ideas around the plot have evolved and not in a bad way.

This past weekend was Can-Con (I will write more about the later, really!) and I have so many more ideas and thoughts now!