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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Character Balance

So I’ve been having some trouble with scene balance in my most recent WiP. I have one character who is an expert in necromancy and the plot has been centered around necromancy thus far so it’s been a stretch to keep other characters pro-active rather than relegated to a “Certainly So, Socrates” role. This happens for me a lot when I’m working on procedurals, whether they are legal procedurals or police procedurals or, apparently, necromantic procedurals.

But problem solved! I did some old-fashioned background writing (by hand no less), and ended up not only with a better understanding of the motivations for some hitherto-problematic characters, but also with an awesome supporting character who will complicate the dynamic between the leading duo and peel back some darker aspects of the setting.

Does anyone else out there have the same problems with balancing out scenes and character time? I’d be very interested in hearing others’ responses to the problem, and what solutions have worked (or not worked, as the case may be).

Building Worlds

So, as I approach the 25kword mark on the new novel (which first readers have christened Necrolaw and is saved on my computer as Deicide, which might tell you something), I’ve often felt that the work’s proceeded more slowly than my previous two projects – in spite of the relative speed with which I’m ratcheting up the word count.

Rereading my work this morning, though, I realized that the sense of slowness had little to do with the actual story. My last book was a kidnapping mystery cum historical thriller, set in Mongolia and China during 1937 and 200x; the book before that, an attempt at a serious, contemplative slice-of-life novel that ended up having far more kung fu in it than Hemmingway usually does. It’s been three books since I wrote fantasy/sf, and even then the book was more of a picaresque.

This time around, my main character is a first year associate in the necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht and Ao. She’s accompanying her boss on a business trip one of the few cities still ruled by a god after fifty years of brutal war between the gods and the Deathless Kings, a group of human mages who unlocked the secrets of divine magic. And the story is at its heart an international thriller – which means I need to have my readers sufficiently immersed in the setting to know when something thrilling is happening.

So, in addition to knowing the details of the setting myself, I need to ensure I’m passing it along properly to my readers, and accomplish all this without having characters go on long exposition rants every few minutes. I’d forgotten how much fun this was — and how much precision it required.

Of course, all writers ordain their dark materials to make new worlds. It’s just that slightly different muscles are involved when writing coherent fantasy.  But more on this later.

The Book of Exodi

Earlier this month, my author bio went live on the website for Eposic Diversions’ Book of Exodi, an anthology coming out sometime in the next month containing works by Harry Turtledove, yours truly, and a plateful of other authors. The concept is great: twenty different authors’ takes on the theme of planetary exodus, of the “We used up Earth-That-Was, and had to leave” variety. My story is a bit more of a think piece than my usual, and I hope you all like it.

Mike and the rest of the team at Eposic have been great to work with — helpful and absolutely professional the whole way through. I hope to get a chance to work with them in the future! In the meantime, check out the summaries on the Exodi web site (www.eposic.org/exodi) and get ready to order your copy, and watch this space for more information about Book of Exodi-related promotions and advertising.

Writers of the Future finalist!

I’ve been sitting on this for a while, waiting for the web site to update, but as it’s taking a while, I wanted to throw this out to all of you: I’m a finalist in the Writers of the Future competition for 2008! Writers of the Future is the biggest competition out there for amateur speculative fiction writers; it’s judged by professionals writers (Neil Gaiman has been a judge, as have Tim Powers, Larry Niven, Orson Scott Card, Anne McCaffery, and Roger Zelazney (!)), and has a good track record of helping people launch careers in the genre. There are thousands of entries every quarter, and I’m in the top eight for this time around. Now my story gets passed, along with the other 7, to a panel of expert judges, who will finish with the judging in late December/early January. Three stories of the 8 get prizes, expense-paid tickets to an award ceremony in LA, and publication in the Writers of the Future anthology. So I’ve got my fingers crossed. Even if I don’t get any further, though, being a finalist is an amazing honor out of a pool so large and competitive – definitely something to throw on the old query letter! Watch this space for updates! For now, positive thoughts!

Writin’ Them Bones

A quick, sweet update on the writing life:

First, I just had a short story accepted for publication in The Book of Exodi, an anthology by scene newcomers Eposic Diversions. The theme was “mass exodus,” with a science-fictional bent; my story took that and twisted it on its head. With space vikings. To get to the marrow: come late spring 2009, you’ll all be able to purchase a book containing a Max Gladstone original!

More news on that as it arises. I’ve got a couple more submissions currently out, and I’ll keep you updated on the status of those. Also, the Genghis Khan novel is done, though not completely serialized yet, and I’m eating through the revisions on Raise My Head And Watch The Moon, my first novel-length foray into litfic.

While you’re waiting through the long cold months, check out some short fiction from last year:

The Mask on the Island – Criminal mastermind and devoted father Derek Gaspard faces his deadliest enemy yet: an assassin who could be anyone, even himself.
http://onthepremises.com/issue_03/story_03_1.html

Octopus Tanks – Love, Death, and Revenge on the Martian frontier
http://www.spacewesterns.com/articles/62/

If you like either of these, pass them on!