Friday, March 28, 2008


I'm always curious to see how other people write books. Mainly because mine are always such a damn mess.

When I hit the 3/4 mark, I have to go back and hack apart all the pacing. It's all about timing action scenes and shuffling POV scenes into the right order. Putting in additional POV scenes where necessary, adding foreshadowing elements. I like to do this right before the last quarter because if I'm prepared for it properly, the last quarter flows like a dream. But you have to get the pacing right first, and everybody's plot threads, before you can tie them all up at the end.

Yeah, yeah: details.

And then there's chapter length, varying sentence length (there's a lot of rambling in this one. Cutting commas is going to be one of my biggest projects when I do the first pass of rewrites).

Books are like any other type of writing, on a grander scale. It's putting everything in the right order, in just the right way, to produce just the right emotional effect in your readers. Marketing writing is like like. Technical writing is drier, but you're still trying to take complex concepts and make them comprehensible to the greatest number of people possible.

And you do it in fiction, too. You organize it in a way that gets you the emotional reaction you desire. You want people to connect with your characters. You want them to care. You want to show them a complex but (mostly) comprehensible world.

And you do it all with letters and punctuation.

And pacing.

Fucking pacing.

Sex Change

The fact that the two primary folks who put Nyx back together again are men really bothers me.

So one of them will be getting a sex change. I mean, not within the book (though that certainly would be something interesting to explore in this weird body-swapping world... hm...), but an authorial one.

Sometimes I think what the difference is between feminist science fiction and everything else is just being aware of what you're doing. I've got a lot of heavy cultural biases. I work hard at being aware of them when I'm building worlds, and seeing where they drive me off track. Not every world is like this one. I love reading about places where things are really different. Not just the gadgets, but *everything.* There's so much we just automatically assume, stuff that doesn't fit into the worlds we build. It's the Martian husband reading the paper and the Martian wife serving him tea.

Come on. Really?

Stupid things, like the assumption of a nuclear family (yes, I defaulted to a couple of these, too), the assumption of a supporting cast and background characters that are 95% male (it was a struggle to reverse this for GW, but writing anything else would have been portraying a totally different world than the one I built), het love as the penultimate in intimacy (reeeeeeaally trying to break out of this one, but it's hard), boys who move and shake the world while the girls hold their hands, one-way racism, and governments in total control (we like to think ours knows what it's doing; most governments, though, are pretty incompetent).

Things are a lot more messy (and a lot more interesting) than all that in the worlds I'm building (and, in fact, in real world; the world as assumed is much duller than the real thing). And yes, it's a pain in the ass to go back and fix it when you screw something up.

But the world is better for it.