Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

By now, most of you have seen my big news of the week:  my brand new, sparkly website is up and running!  Feel free to send me a message just for fun.  Or not for fun; I'm not particularly picky.

Distilling my old site and updating the information was quite a process.  I was struck, going through my list of old publications, how many of the venues were defunct, whether the website was still active or had long ago disappeared ... and in a few cases, how many of the stories were still up, despite the passage of years.  It's an interesting illustration of how the internet can be both fleeting and forever.

... this is not a suggestion to go and read those old stories, either, though I'm sure there are gems.  I've always felt that I've lost a certain amount of guts and spontaneity as I've developed as a writer - the trade-offs being more sense, organization, and coherence.  Overall, I've gained more than I've lost, but oh, I miss the days when I thought it was a good idea to start a story with nothing more than a bizarre name ... but I think I come up with far deeper and more nuanced ideas now.

So I wonder if that boils down to this - new website for the new me, sleeker, prettier and less cluttered.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

I had good intentions of posting about anything but Valentine's Day and romance today, but it's been the kind of day where I realize that I haven't defrosted the chicken and thereby just give up and have cereal, so ... path of least resistance, here we come!

Recently, a conversation came up on a writer's forum about our favorite / least favorite romantic tropes in fiction, and I confessed a weakness for the best friends who become lovers.  As much as it's done or overdone, it's a personal favorite, and it resonates with me.  I think what draws me so much to the concept is the fact that the romance is the last step, built on a foundation of friendship, compatibility and trust.  The spark isn't unimportant, but it's the last step, the final piece of the puzzle.  An answer rather than a question.  In fact, there are times when I have to consciously avoid it ...

It's true that sometimes, friends developing into something more can seem lazy ... especially in Hollywood, which sometimes seems at a loss for how to build chemistry between two characters without making it romantic (or one of the pair gay).  In some cases, it can come off as obvious and ham-handed, with the reader seeing it well before the characters do.  But done correctly, with or without the hide-and-seek of other interests and obstacles, the result is very satisfying:  a deep, comfortable sigh.

What's interesting is that I had an inversion of this when writing Pens In Silver And Gold, where I had initially set up just such a relationship ... and it refused to happen.  Instead, I ended up with the quarreling, love-hate interaction that frankly, has always been my least favorite trope.

So I suppose what it comes down to is the characters dictate the direction of their hearts.  Suspiciously like real life, hmm?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

Today, the topic on my mind is online roleplaying games, what is popularly called a MU*.  A MU* is a text-based site on any of a number of code bases, related to MUSH - Multi-User Shared Hallucination (I think a MUSH is a MU*, but a MU* isn't always a MUSH?  This is computer guts stuff and I'm not going to get too worked up about it) and more distantly to MUD - Multi-User Dungeon, which is basically a glorified hack and slash game with minimal or no character interaction.

Because character interaction is what roleplaying boils down to:  writing out your character's actions (and sometimes a little bit of thought), firing them out into the void, and getting the response from another player and character who could be half a world away.  I started out in fandom - games that emulate an author's world, though I've always gravitated towards those that avoid / don't allow the use of his/her characters - and moved into original settings, where I had a lot more fun.

There are aspects of these roleplaying games that have helped my writing, I think.  For instance, you get immediate feedback on clarity, whether it be an out-of-character question / confusion or the other character misreading.  When trouble arises in the game world, it stretches your plot / problem-solving skills as other people come up with solutions you would never think of.  (Or conclusions ... I've had moments of sitting at the screen, staring, and wondering how in the world ... ?)

A good portion of what occurs on a game is day-to-day rather than strict pursuance of plot, so it's great for developing side aspects of character building.  And since this kind of writing means you're showing more of the "mundane" side of the character that might be glossed over in a novel and missed entirely in a short story, it encourages you not to immediately, blindly reach for your own preferences and foibles.  Also, let's face it:  at the most basic level, it's practice.

There are aspects to roleplaying games that can negatively affect writing if not watched, but I think it's overall positive, and it's a better downtime hobby than shooting aliens. ... I mean virtually.  Stop looking at me like that.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Sunday Snippet

Been a while since I've posted a snippet, since I've mainly been working on edits or so deep in a story that to post would either require a lot of context, spoiler or both.  Recently, however, I started a story that was intended to be an entry for the January writing challenge (yes ... look at the date ... guess how that went ...) on the concept of being two-faced.  I decided to take it from the approach that two faces wasn't enough:

"It's no reflection on the quality of your work," her boss said from the other side of the desk, "it's simply that we feel your personality is not a good fit."

Davenny held her temper for the five heartbeats it took her to review everything she had done as a message runner in the past five months.  She had worked herself to the bone, trying to fit around the schedules of the other runners as their phases progressed.  She had bent over backwards; she hadn't even succumbed to her desire to knock heads together.

Personality was a euphemism, and she knew exactly what it meant.  She lost the battle.

"Don't try to shove that down my throat," she said.  It took an effort to keep herself in the office chair; otherwise, she would tower over him as she did most people, regardless of phase.  "You're firing me because I don't have a liminal phase."

There should have been a law against it, but the condition was too rare for the government to care - and any business one could name had a finely honed process for handling workers.  It was rare for any person to work in the same place throughout cycles, which meant she had to try and please two masters … and while her other phase had a knack for it, it had never been hers.

"You don't adapt," her boss said.  "You're not in sync with the other workers.  That isn't a problem unique to those with your condition.  Do you expect special treatment?"

"I don't," she said, kept from snapping with an effort, "but that's what I got."

He scowled.  "Get out."