Useful Websites For Speculative Fiction Writers!

Today, I’ve got a couple useful websites for you. The first…

SF Editors Wiki – it’s a wiki for keeping track of the works that science fiction editors have worked on. It includes editors with Ace Books, DAW Books, Baen Books, and Tor Books, just to name a few.

The Fantasy Novelist’s Exam. How cliched is your novel? Is it derivative crap or fresh and interesting? While answering the questions in this exam won’t necessarily give you an accurate answer to those questions, it can still be loads of fun. 🙂 And if you want to write a cliche-ridden derivative piece of crap, this would be a great checklist to make sure you got ’em all. 🙂 Or at least a lot of ’em. 😀

TV Tropes Wiki. Not for speculative fiction only, and not for television series only. It just started with television before expanding into other forms of fiction. For the uninitiated, tropes are story elements that help convey a purpose. Clear as mud? 😛 Go there and get started reading. It’s not just educational but also highly entertaining. 🙂

An interview with three speculative fiction editors and what they do – and don’t – want to see in their slush piles. Like no Isabelles nicknames Izzy. No exploding spacecraft in opening paragraphs. No unheard of virus that alters humanity completely except for one (un)lucky bastid who’s immune. Poor guy. 🙁 😉

The Query Project. With links to published authors who post the query letters that worked for them. Even Simon Haynes‘ query letter is included, as rambling as it is. 😉

Speculative Fiction Comics

I’m not much of a comics person – with the exception of Asterix & Obelix, thanks to my oldest brother, Tony – but I’ve recently been introduced to a few comics that are right up my alley. Speculative fiction comics. Can you say, “Cool!”?

We have Freefall, which starts with a wrecked spaceship, duct tape, and a robot. I think. Hey, cut me some slack – I’ve just started reading it! 😉 And I’m liking the humour. 😀

Then there’s Skin Horse, which starts here. Genetically augmented lions, a sniper, and some kind of talking dog. The lion talks as well, of course. I mean, where would we be without a genetically mutated talking lion?

Gunnerkrig Court reminds me, initially, of the Adams Family. Except Gunnerkrig Court is a school and Antimony, who somehow acquired a second shadow, is our main character. Complete with schoolgirl uniform. And the shadow wants Antimony’s help to escape. And it goes on from there with a minotaur named Basil…

And then there’s Dicebox. Starts here. With a spacesport and spaceships, Jaffa freighters (how did the Jaffa get in here?), and two down-in-their-luck people.

And of course, Girl Genius – Adventure, Romance, and Mad Science (starts here). “Now, this isn’t a Heterodyne story like your mama tells you…”

Do you read speculative fiction comics? Other kinds of comics? Which are your favourites and why?

Sentinel and Short Stories

Fahim had a dream that led to a story that we started developing.

You know, this is a fairly standard thing with us. I have ideas, I bounce them off him. He has ideas, he bounces them off me, then gives them to me. 😀 So, really, it should come as no surprise that he gave me another idea. An intriguing one, too.

Not that it’s entirely his, despite his illusions…

Without going into what the story is about – it’s still in development phase, plus I don’t want to reveal too much at this point other than it’s science fiction set in the current time- I will say that one point has me somewhat frustrated.

I was looking for short story ideas.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at short stories. I’d love to work on developing some of my story-telling skills, honing them, analyzing them, improving them, working on them, in short story mode. Character development, dialogue, description. Things that are universal to all stories, regardless of length.

But this is another one that’s turned into a novel. There’s too much stuff there to be a short story, and honestly, I don’t – any longer – see a way to make it a short story. It’s just no longer possible from the way I’m looking at it.

If you write short stories and novels both, how do you do it? How do you get just enough meat for a short story before it turns into something much longer?

More On Writing and Writers

And here’s what I pasted on the top of what I meant to bold:

Khara enlists the help of her best friend, Aliye, and Aliye’s boyfriend, Helki in attempting to contact the space ship anyway.

The pilot, Nichol, receives the signal and confers with Logor.

I was working on the plot outline for another novel, not Black Light, which I have been working on more or less the last couple of months. As in Black Light is the novel I’ve been working on for the last few months, not the other novel. No, this one is tentatively titled “Placidia” – at least until I come up with a better working title. I was working on the plot outline.

I sometimes write very confused, rabidly confused sentences. I wonder if that’s a sign of how confused my brian is?

Placidia is the first novel I wrote. It’s not done. It needs a fair bit of work. I knew that at the time, but at the time, I didn’t know what to do with it.

Well, let me rephrase. I finished the first draft, and I called it finished because I wrote everything I could think of at the time, but I knew that there were problems with it. I knew it needed serious editing. I knew I’d need to add a bunch more stuff, but at the time? No, I didn’t know what, and I’d had enough of it, and whatever. So I called it done.

Well, I did, after all, write all the major plot points at the time and write it all the way to the end.

The end, as it’s written now, will be scrapped. It’s gonna die a bloody little death. It’s gonna be destroyed. Erased. Deleted. As if it never existed. Battle cry, ho! Existentialists, unite and take over!!!!

Ahem.

Ah, but now we have Fahim and his handy dandy little program he’s writing for me, aka Amanuensis. And that’s making it a lot easier for me to sort out bits and pieces of a novel, sort out plot outline, figure out the order things should happen in, you know. That sort of thing. I’m using Amanuensis for Black Light as well and it’s helped alot – despite the crashes. It’s buggy and Fahim’s taken a break from it so he could let his unconscious figure out what to do to fix it, and he’s got part of it figured out as a result. But not enough that I can work with a bugless program. So I suffer. At the moment.

Meanwhile, and Back at the Ranch, and other meaningless cliches later, I figured that, since I’m nearing completion of Black Light, I figured I needed to work on plotting another novel, and I just decided that it’s time to work on this one again.

I knew way back when that it had plot holes the size of a semi truck and lacked certain other, uh, elements. But you know what? That’s what a first draft of a first novel is for. To learn on. To do everything crappy so you can figure out how to do it better.

Anyway, I plugged Placidia into Amanuensis and I started working on plotting, and this novel is my next one. I’m gonna fix the sucker and fill in all the holes so it reads real nice and everything.

I still don’t know exactly what to fill the holes with. But I guess that’s what brainstorming is all about. Well, and organizing, and sorting, and . . . You got it, baby.

Ack. I’ll figure it out.

The other thing is this. When I get bored of writing one novel, I can switch to writing the other. Fahim? Fahim? Put that down. Fahim. Put that down now. No, no, stop! STOP!!!! DON’T

Placidia the novel – First Draft is DONE!!!!!

I have a novel I’ve been working on and off for the last three or three and a half years, and this morning, I finished my first draft. (Laurie does the snoopy dance.) It was hard work. It was frustrating. I gave up on it three times for six months to a year or so at a time. I was blocked and felt like my story was going no where. Well, I finally became unblocked again last week and finished the damn thing.

For me, this first novel (there will be others following it) was a learning process – the time for me to learn what works for me in writing a novel and what doesn’t. I learned that I was blocked because where I thought the novel was going next didn’t make sense for the characters and culture in my novel. Once I figured out a plot line that was logical for these people, it started to flow again. So that’s a lesson for me. When I’m blocked, I need to rethink the plot. Other times that I’ve been blocked, it’s been because I needed to do more research, or get my characters settled in my head, or . . . Well, you get the idea.

I could also tell you that my novel at present only has about 1/3 to 1/2 the content it will have when it’s done because it’s missing sub plots and a lot of detail & description. That’s okay, too. That can go in on second draft. First draft for me is about getting the damn story down. Fill in the blanks later. My sister insisted on reading my first draft, what I had, last week, and didn’t much like it – missing too many holes, didn’t make sense, she said. Well, of course not. It’s only first draft. It doesn’t matter right now. It has inconsistencies until I figure out exactly where it’s going in the end. Which I’ve just done. So, you see, it doesn’t matter that it sorta sucks now. Of course it does. Who cares? I can fix it later.

And maybe the story really isn’t salvageable. Well, I can always take out a couple of chapters or whatever and fill them in with something better later. Or rethink the direction I want it to go in, or rethink the characters. The important thing right now is to keep writing and learn about my writing process and what works for me and what doesn’t. Don’t worry about the polished piece until much later.

Laurie (who has also never finished anything ever before in her life and is so stinkin’ proud of herself)