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Re: [Apr 2015] - Plot Twist! Werewolf, Vampire, Goat - Discussion Thread Wow.  Great stories.  Great twists.

I read all the entries.  Went back and read the ones I liked again.  Picked two winners, then struggled to narrow down one more.  Had my three.  Went to vote.  Realized I could pick four.  :)

And, now I have to go edit my May submission one more time.  (First draft was 2400 words.)

May 26, 2015, 05:04:20 PM
Re: Personal spelling habits
The thing that has always thrown me about European languages is the three different words for 'the' depending on the gender of the object, male, female or neuter. How exactly did they arrive at the conclusion that a specific object is masculine, feminine or neutral?

Particularly in German.  "Girl" is neuter.  (Das Madchen)

May 30, 2015, 02:55:17 AM
Re: Personal spelling habits I wonder whether gendered nouns influence how shamanistic animists see or think about the spirits of the things around them.

"No, no, 'river' is a masculine noun.  So clearly, the river spirit can't have given birth to the smooth stones of the river bed."

"But that's not a river, it's a stream.  And 'stream' is a feminine noun."

"No, it's definitely a river the whole way up to the falls there, but wait 'waterfall' is feminine.  Perhaps the masculine 'cliff' and feminine 'waterfall' are together the parents of the smooth river stones?"

"Are you sure that's a 'cliff'?  I would have called it more of a 'bluff'(f)."

"Can't be.  Then who would be the father of the river stones?"

May 30, 2015, 12:03:29 PM
Re: How much did you write today? Wow.  6000, 9000?  I need to get cracking.  Or I else I need to figure out how to give myself credit for revising and editing.

But: Milestone

I hit 100k words in my current projects yesterday.  (59,729 words in works with at least a complete first draft, 42,834 in partials)

Now, just 900k more, and I'll be competent.   :-\

May 30, 2015, 12:45:26 PM
Re: The best female science fiction and fantasy writers you should read now
If you look at the stats on this forum it seems that it's ten males for every one female on here
Do you think female fantasy/sci-fi readers read various other genres and male fantasy readers don't branch out as much ?

Or possibly Women are less inclined to join and post on forums compared to men. I think ( in the first world) if you look at those who read for enjoyment there will be more women than men. Less women into SCFI and more into fantasy at a guess but ignoring genre more women read.

Possibly women prefer live writing groups over internet forums?  Or are less likely to notice the tiny little "forum" button on the main web site here?  I'd been reading the occasional article on this site for almost a year before I realized there was a forum -- and I only realized that because of the "Writing Contest" articles on the main site.

Glancing at Amazon's top-selling fantasy authors, six of the top ten are women at the moment.   The top woman is Diana Gabaldon, whose Outlander series is recently out as a TV series.  Two of the others look to be paranormal romance, from the covers.  And women come in at #12, #13, #16, and #18 with hunky shirtless werewolves, werebears, and vampires on the covers...  (And Brandon Sanderson as the only man in the #11-#20 range.)  So... 15 of the top 20 fantasy authors on Amazon right now are women.

Basically, my theory is men are still reading war stories and westerns, women are still reading romance, young adults are still reading coming-of-age and parents-just-don't-understand stories, and everyone still reads mysteries and crime.  Fantasy is largely just how some of the stories are dressed up.

See, for example, how easily the Shades of Grey author turned it from a paranormal romance into a non-magical romance novel when she realized how popular it was going to be.  The Twilight/vampire aspects weren't essential to the book, they were just how it was dressed up.

May 30, 2015, 02:19:58 PM
Re: How to Avoid Scaring Away Male Readers - Too Much Touchy Feely Stuff (literally) Interesting topic.

I'm a male reader, and I've been trying to think about how sex and romance are handled in some of my favorite SFF books.

Obviously, Brandon Sanderson is entirely off-screen.  Robert Jordan seems to do the imply-and-cut-away method.  Lots of "romance" in Wheel of Time though -- although the Lan-and-Nynaeve one seems to be the only one really popular with fans.

Jim Butcher.  In the Dresden Files, book 5: Death Masks, there's a pretty intense sex scene between Harry and Susan.  It's a long scene, very intense and as explicit as a romance novel until it gets below the waist.  Lots of focus on the emotions, with tiny vague details of the physical, leaving the reader to fill it in.  The scene is definitely earned after three books of their relationship and it's important to the plot on several different time scales.

I don't think *any* male reader has been turned off the series by that scene.

Patrick Rothfuss.  Name of the Wind doesn't have any (Kvothe's what, fourteen or fifteen in most of that?) but Wise Man's Fear has a good bit.  After the first scene with Felurian, it's not very explicit, though.  He does with sex what Jordan did with fighting -- it's all poetic names for different techniques.

Plenty of romance, though.  On top of the main Kvothe-Denna "romance" if that's what it is.
Spoiler for "quote":
Losi stepped close to me again, brushing her hair back. “Was she really as beautiful as they say?” Her chin went up proudly. “More beautiful than me?”

I hesitated, then spoke softly. “She was Felurian, most beautiful of all.” I reached out to brush the side of her neck where her red hair began its curling tumble downward, then leaned forward and whispered seven words into her ear. “For all that, she lacked your fire.” And she loved me for those seven words, and her pride was safe.

Rothfuss, Patrick (2011-03-01). The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two (p. 700). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

The moment when Fela first notices Simmon is amazing, and a fan favorite. 
Spoiler for "quote":
I saw Fela turn her head to look at Simmon, almost as if she were surprised to see him sitting there.

No, it was almost as if up until that point, he’d just been occupying space around her, like a piece of furniture. But this time when she looked at him, she took all of him in. His sandy hair, the line of his jaw, the span of his shoulders beneath his shirt. This time when she looked, she actually saw him.

Let me say this. It was worth the whole awful, irritating time spent searching the Archives just to watch that moment happen. It was worth blood and the fear of death to see her fall in love with him. Just a little. Just the first faint breath of love, so light she probably didn’t notice it herself. It wasn’t dramatic, like some bolt of lightning with a crack of thunder following.  It was more like when flint strikes steel and the spark fades almost too fast for you to see. But still, you know it’s there, down where you can’t see, kindling.

Rothfuss, Patrick (2011-03-01). The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two (p. 225). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn.  Considering the length of the thing, there's not that much sex -- I can only remember two sex scenes.  The first one is explicit enough that it talks about the ways in which humanity has genetically modified itself for increased sexual performance.  The other one was as explicit as any romance novel with a bare-chested cover model, but the sex is also crucial to the plot, kicking off a major subplot.  So it's not *just* titillation.

Again, I don't think any male readers were turned off by the amount of sex in a sweeping epic space war-and-adventure story.

Re: What's "warranted" mean?

People have already mentioned that the scene should be important to plot and character, not just tacked on.

I'd add that it should usually come as the "payoff" to an arc, rather than as something that just happens.  That is, there should be a buildup of tension, or flirting, or courting, or fighting, or *something* between the two characters over several scenes before they hop into bed.  It should be something the reader wants to happen when it does -- just like an infodump.

But I'd agree with everyone else: Write for yourself first, adapt it to others (if at all) in later edits.  If you don't like what you've written, it's hard to ask someone else to.

May 31, 2015, 03:31:04 PM
Re: How much did you write today? Poetry is much, much harder than prose.  And not nearly as good for your lifetime word count.

Really looking forward to how the rhyming fairy tale comes out.

May 31, 2015, 03:32:14 PM
Re: What makes a steep learning curve in "setting proficiency" The advice I've heard is to start with a scene the readers can (mostly) understand without the background -- some kind of universal conflict -- and only start to "dump info" when the reader cares about the character and wants to understand the bits they didn't catch.

Example: Start with Luke as a moisture farmer on Tatooine longing for the bigger world and something that matters.  All his friends have run off to join the "Rebellion" (what Rebellion? against who?).   Aunt Beru says "You can't keep him here forever. He's too much like his father." and Owen replies, "That's what I'm afraid of."

We have no trouble understanding the emotion Luke is expressing, so the scene still works.  And it's planted questions about the Rebellion (and indirectly the Empire) and Luke's father's history.

By the time Ben's infodumping about Jedi and whatnot he's answering questions we already care about.  So we pay attention.  The infodump is a payoff itself, not the broccoli we're force to eat before we can have dessert.

May 31, 2015, 03:40:00 PM
Re: Merits of "Suddenly" Suddenly I see clearly that rarely has "rarely" been so utterly overused as apparently it suddenly has been, oddly in a "suddenly" thread.

Yea verily I dimly recall that rarely are adverbs truly needed and embarrassingly can't really seem to actually make myself fully stop excessively using the infernally useless things.

June 01, 2015, 12:59:46 AM
Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread @Raptori -- I enjoyed this story a lot, but now I'm worried that I may have misread it. 

I thought the twist was that the "dragons" are actually whales, and "dragon" is just how they think of themselves,  and the "flame" that lets him see clearly is his sonar.  There's so much I like about this twist that I hope it's what you meant.  But I just finished Moby Dick for the first time this year, so that may have influenced my perception here.  There's a big section there on how all the dragon myths are inspired by whales.  And the flying out of the water and then coming down to smash the ship read like a breaching whale to me.  Unleashing his sonar against the ship at the top of his arc and not getting the reaction he would have from fish underwater was great.

If I was reading it right, my problems with the twist fell into two categories: 1) I'm still not sure that's what the twist was (which means it wasn't solidly revealed).  and 2) A great twist is surprising but inevitable, and the twist wasn't telegraphed/clued/foreshadowed enough to make it an "oh, of course!" moment instead of a "wait, what?" moment. 

Reading back, there were lots of things that should have been clues.  There are just a few things that didn't read as whale.  "He clenched his jaw, aware that every turn brought the others closer to his tail." was brilliant -- he's a jaw and a tail.  But "His opponent kept pace... clawing back in the turns," made me see dragon claws against the sides of a narrow canyon.  And "Their wings clashed... clipping Aya's wing again to keep him off balance..." is enough to make me wonder again if I've misread the whole story -- although "clipping" the tiny little flippers of a whale would affect his balance and steering.

Lots of good things here.  The story was very readable and entertaining right through for me.  It caught my interest immediately.  The first paragraph of description used action to paint the picture rather than being static, which was great, and helped to keep the "adrenaline" from dissipating while we got our bearings.  And the creatures with silver and gold backs are a great clue that pays off when we realize they're fish.  The tension ramps up well through the whole story, well paced. 

The only problem was that the "twist" moment didn't land as solidly as it might have, in a month where the twist is the point.

June 02, 2015, 06:28:23 PM