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Links to Chew On: Invisible People, Fairy Tales, Kings & Queens

July 25, 2012
  • Tobias Buckell revels in “All the Possibilities“: in which he links to a post that looks forward to a future in which not just one or another of the various publishing options has survived (and the others perished), but in which many options continue to thrive, affording authors with more choices, to the betterment of all writers.  This is the kind of positive message I keep hoping for.
  • Style is the Rocket” is a well-written essay that deconstructs the opposing views regarding the style and substance of a story.  The essay is a response in part to an article by Steve Wasserman in the Nation about the various evils of Amazon (which itself is a contentious topic) in which he takes time out to rip genre readers:

…In certain genres (romance, science fiction and fantasy) formerly relegated to the moribund mass-market paperback, readers care not a whit about cover design or even good writing, and have no attachment at all to the book as object. Like addicts, they just want their fix at the lowest possible price, and Amazon is happy to be their online dealer.

A number of other authors have disagreed with Wasserman’s poorly-executed schoolyard bully taunt on various merits, but the Superversive essay comes at it from a different angle.  Simon’s essay simultaneously pillories the modern American “literary” tradition of extolling the virtues of substance-less novels written in a  high style and those genre-writers who focus solely on the story and for whom prose style is a dead-weight.   Leaving aside Simon’s rather bizarre and non sequitur-like political attack on strawman “academic liberals” that really doesn’t add to the content of the essay in any substantive way… if you can get past that little quibble then this essay is a pretty strong argument in favor of both advanced literary style and the substance and story and plotting of the best genre fiction.

  • The Invisible People” is a nice post about worldbuilding the perspective of people who are outside the prime narrative – that is to say, including details in your story that attest to the reality not only of your protagonists, but of the people who make the world work.  I’ve tried taking a somewhat similar, or at least parallel, course in some aspects of the worldbuilding for my current WIP, “Book of M”, in that some characters are, in fact, those typically “invisible” people.  In point of fact, contemplating the questions posed in this post has forced me to rethink, again, the opening chapters and the life-and-times of my primary protagonist.
  • The Significance of Plot Without Conflict” contrasts different cultural concepts of “Plot”: on one-hand Plots with Conflict (which are de rigeur in our culture) versus a form of Plot without Conflict.  This essay focuses on a form of plot without conflict from a Japanese literary tradition called Kishotenketsu, and illustrates it beautifully by constrasting two different, simple four-panel comics.
  •  Mary Robinette Kowal talks about outlines; she advises that they (allegedly) do not have to be perfect.
  • And here’s Mary Robinette Kowal again, talking about something I don’t have to waste many brain cells on any time soon: whether or not to have a Book Launch Party, and if so what to think about to make it run smoothly.  Being firmly on the “aspiring” side of the great author divide, I can only pretend to understand how challenging this must be for an author launching a book for the first time.
  • Once Upon a Time: The Lure of the Fairy Tale” is an interesting article looking at the history of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, worth reading if such things interest you.
  • A recent SF Signal “Mind Meld” was on “Monarchies in Fantasy“.  As I’ve recently been discussing the tropes and archetypes of Epic Fantasy, I found this link very interesting.  It goes very in-depth on a specific trope of Epic Fantasy: namely the prevalence of Monarchical governing systems – Kings and Queens – in fantasy stories.  What emerges from this discussion, I think, is a reflection of my own thinking in “Epic Fantasy: Archetypes and Window Dressing“, in which I find that some tropes and archetypes can be used both well and poorly.  There are real and good reasons to want to utilize the Monarchy trope in your fantasy fiction – Yves Menard strikes closest to mirroring my own thinking that there are emotional resonances in the idea of a Monarchy that map very well to the headspace of most people regarding to our relationships with our parents and with authority more generally.  But it is often a choice made without any thinking at all: the use of a Monarchy simply because it’s a familiar trope of fantasy.  That’s my “window dressing”: a trope that evokes certain aesthetics of fantasy without expressing any deeper meaning or emotional resonance.  This one’s well worth the read for more depth and detail on this particular, classic fantasy trope.
  • More news on the evolving ebook market, for those that read everything on the subject, as I sometimes do
  • Scrivener’s Error comments on further developments in the DOJ Antitrust action against those publishers accused of colluding: 
  • Writers Beware comments on Penguin’s acquisition of notorious aspiring-author-leech “Author Solutions”, a company which has a reputation for screwing over authors with its questionable vanity press style “services”
  • Did the Bard Speak American” is a fascinating story about how British English pronounciation has changed over time, and about how Shakespearian English as pronounced in his day (i.e. “Original Pronounciation”) sounds more like American English than it does modern British English (called “Received Pronounciation”).  One fascinating tidbit: Shakespeare’s Original Pronounciation has shades and sounds reminiscent not only of American English, but also of typical Irish English pronounciations and Australian English pronounciations.  In other words, Shakespeare’s English is truly the mother-tongue of all variations of modern English.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2012 3:10 pm

    Holy linkspam batman! LOL well no, actually I appreciate it. I just resent that now I have a ton of windows open that I want to read when I have the time. Thanks for sharing ;)

    • July 25, 2012 3:14 pm

      Heh. Whereas on the flipside (that is, my side), this post has been accumulating these links over the past several weeks. (It started with just two links on the first day. The links are in roughly chronological order to when I encountered them.) And… when I had enough to make a post, and enough time to polish up the post… I posted it.

  2. July 25, 2012 7:37 pm

    Interesting. I didn’t read them all, but the one on stories without conflct caught my attention. Very provocative idea. I also appreciate the update on the DOJ ruling, since that case sort of vanished from the mainstream press and I didn’t realize there had been developments.

    When you get a chance, check out my current post. I link to a couple of things you might find intersting. One is an article about the literary/genre thing, and the other is about whether writers write better when they’re getting paid.

    • July 26, 2012 8:24 am

      Yeah, over the past few weeks I’ve gotten increasingly further behind in keeping up with various folks blogs… I’ll definitely get around to reading those as soon as I can. :)

  3. July 25, 2012 9:41 pm

    Such things as fairytales certainly interest me. Thanks for directing me to the Grimm article; most enjoyable.

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