I cannot bear the Magic Baby. You know the Magic Baby, right? It’s when a character in a book (or a movie, or a television show) suddenly becomes pregnant, often without benefit of any sort of bow-chicka-wow-wow beforehand. The resulting baby usually grows up within a few hours or days, displaying extraordinary mental or physical powers, and occasionally both. Sometimes the Baby turns evil, and sometimes good, but no matter which way her mind swings, she still annoys me. Yet she shows up time and time again, because whether I like her or not, the Magic Baby fulfills certain narrative needs and pleases many readers.
The Magic Baby is a fiction trope, a commonly used (sometimes overused) theme or device. A trope is not quite the same as a cliché, which seems to imply a lack of original thought. Most of the time we talk about tropes that have [...]
Continue reading The Tropes I Like
Have you seen those t-shirts that say Don’t Make Me Kill You In My Novel! or something similar? I can’t help smiling every time I see one of those, because for a writer, it’s the ultimate threat. Well, a threat with one’s tongue firmly in cheek, so not really very scary. If you know anything about writers at all, you know that our characters generally walk into our heads with their own identities that have very little to do with real people in our lives. Every now and then, though, I do wish I could write a character just for killing him off, because someone in real life has behaved very badly.
This past week, for instance. A reader in Germany got his hands on a copy of Charlaine Harris’ newest book, Dead Ever After. It’s the latest and last in the Sookie Stackhouse series, with a street date of [...]
Continue reading Don’t Make Me Kill You In My Novel!
Once upon a time, I read a book about an ordinary woman in everyday contemporary society who wakes up to find an elf in her kitchen. She says, “Hey, what are you?” and he says, “Me? I’m an elf.” They proceed to have coffee and chit-chat, as if nothing at all is out of the ordinary.
Now, there’s a fantasy novel where that could happen — where people regularly confront the supernatural, where they have no understanding of boundaries in their natural history, where the extraordinary is absolutely ordinary.
But there was nothing about this book that made me believe that the kitchen-owner lived in such a world. Every aspect of her world was presented as identical to the one that I live in. And I can tell you that if an elf showed up in my kitchen — be he a tall, glamorous, Tolkien-ish elf, or a small, green-and-red [...]
Continue reading The Elf in the Kitchen
I had an amusing thing happen this week. A reader posted a review on Amazon, stating that my book was a three-star read. It’s not the number of stars that makes it funny – as far as I’m concerned, three stars is great, and I’m perfectly grateful. No, the funny part was that she would have given it more stars if only I had more books in the series available, because she wanted to know more about what happened. Now, please don’t misunderstand. As I said, three stars is wonderful and I’m absolutely not complaining. I’m also tickled that I told a good enough story that she wanted more – every writer hopes her readers will feel that way. But her disappointment with my only having the one novel available has made me wonder how readers these days are looking at stand-alone novels, the kind that tell the whole story [...]
Continue reading Standing Alone
Let me start by wishing all of you a happy 2013 filled with challenges, successes, and new creative endeavors. I also want to comment on something Misty said last week — the whole “whatever you do on New Year’s Day is what you’ll do throughout the year” thing. I spent New Year’s Day dealing with a mild case of food poisoning, so I’m really hoping that Misty’s got that one wrong. Nothing personal, Darlin’; I just have other plans for 2013.
I usually use my first post of the year to write about goals for the coming months — things I want to accomplish, improve upon, etc. But it seems to me that my last several of these New Year’s posts have been pretty much the same. So let me just say for the record that I plan to work hard this year; that I plan to promote the second [...]
Continue reading Creative Intersections: Point of View and Worldbuilding
I have a proposal in at Tor for two more Thieftaker books, and I am quite hopeful that I will have good news to share on that front before long. But I also have other projects in mind, because the reality of today’s writing business is that a full-time author probably can’t make enough with one series to sustain a career. (Unless, of course, that writer happens to be named something like Martin or Rowling, in which case all bets are off.)
I’m pursuing a couple of urban fantasy projects right now, and I’m hopeful that at least one of them will pan out in the next several months. Recently, though, I have also been thinking about a new epic fantasy idea. And that means that, for the first time in several years, I am neck-deep in worldbuilding.
I have covered worldbuilding in previous posts, but I thought it might [...]
Continue reading On Writing and Creativity: Worldbuilding Revisited, part I