Linkdump for a Crappy Thursday

I had an awful day at school today, including an altercation with a grumpy cleaning lady whom the whole school (students and teachers alike) hates and a kid trying to nick my watch. And had the gall to tell me that it was ugly anyway, when I made him give it back. What a 14-year-old boy wants with a lady’s watch is beyond me.

Besides, I’m tired, so here is a linkdump:

Amanda Downum offers this rant about how speculative fiction by female authors about female protagonists is often dismissed as romance, particularly if someone has sex somewhere in the book. I presume she’s referring to this recent genre controversy.

What she said. This is yet another example of what Joanna Russ called “false categorization” in How To Suppress Women’s Writing, namely that books written by women and featuring women protagonists are shoved into a category that is considered lesser. Hence, many women writing speculative fiction are dismissed as paranormal romance, so the male-dominated SFF community can safely ignore them. Never mind that the hybrid romance genres – paranormal romance, time travel romance, futuristic romance, fantasy romance, SF romance and the romantic edge of urban fantasy – belong to the SFF genre, whether the (overwhelmingly male) genre establishment likes it or not.

And no, the solution is not to stop writing about female protagonists or relationships or sex or to use a gender neutral pseudonym. The solution is to stand up and say, “No, actually this book isn’t a romance, even if the author is female. Not that there would be anything wrong if it were.” or “Yes, it is a romance. It’s also a fantastic book and you should really read it.”

Loren L. Coleman explains why watching TV can be beneficial for writers.

I completely agree, because this whole attitude of “Oh, I never watch TV, cause it’s a waste of time. And if you were serious about writing, you wouldn’t either” has been pissing me off for a long time. There is something so awfully superior about this whole “TV is just junk” attitude. First of all, because TV is not just junk – there’s actually a lot of good stuff to be found, if you know where to look. Never mind that the “TV is junk” brigade does watch TV anyway, but they only watch a) football, b) arte, 3sat or other cultural programming or c) “quality TV shows” on DVD. Hint: If it was originally made for TV, it is TV, even if you’re watching it in DVD boxset version.

Besides, there is a lot good TV or even middling to bad TV can teach you about writing. Loren L. Coleman mentions dialogue, characterization, plotting and pacing. I’d also add an ear for accents, dialects and slang (particularly if the language in which you write is not the language of the country where you live). You can also learn a lot by watching how really good actors convey emotion. One should never just rely on watching actors to learn about emotion, because acting is not reality and there are certain conventions. But particularly with highly emotionally charged moments, watching how a good actor conveys the emotion can be extremely helpful, because it gives you the chance to observe intimately without getting involved and also rewatch the scene as often as you like. But when faced with an upset or crying person in real life, one is usually too occupied with comforting the upset person to observe how the emotions play out on his or her face. And you can’t tell an upset person, “Uhm, would you mind crying again, because I didn’t quite get the way your forehead bunches the first time?”

Now for some more writing links:

Lynn Viehl has a nice post on the use of props in fiction at Paperback Writer.

Chuck Wendig, who just sold two books to Angry Robot has a great post on twenty-five things you should know about plot. My favourite bit: “Plot is like Soylent Green: it’s made of people.”

Chuck Wendig also has this neat guide to blogging for writers.

Nancy Fulda has a nice overview post on indie-publishing.

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3 Responses to Linkdump for a Crappy Thursday

  1. Estara says:

    I hope you have a lovely weekend at least! (Also, the kid would probably have gifted it to someone or sold it). Bavaria is blessed to have a holiday at this time, and so am I – I can really use it this year.

    • Cora says:

      Ah yes, Bavaria gets the whole week off for Pentecost/Whitsun, while Bremen and Niedersachsen only get Tuesday off. But then, our summer holidays starts in two and a half weeks, so I can’t complain.

      The kid in question is a typical troublemaker constantly hankering for attention. You always have to keep an eye on him, because he’s constantly trying to nick stuff. I’ve taken several pens, a pair of scissors, a pack of ballpoint pen refill cartridges and the sponge for the blackboard (Why, for goodness sake? It’s a dirty sponge) off him in the past. The parents don’t give a damn.

  2. Thanks for the link. and good to know I’m not the only one who gets annoyed at sneering attitudes. I like my TV! Also my DVD player, the local movie theater, and my very large library out of which I am always reading.

    Best wishes!

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