Mid-October blogosphere reading round up

New-to-me blog posts, news articles, podcasts, and other items of interest that probably pertain in some way to writing or reading speculative fiction, or to geekery in general. Mid-October 2011 edition.

Neal Stephenson talks about Innovation Starvation on the World Policy Journal. “I worry that our inability to match the achievements of the 1960s space program might be symptomatic of a general failure of our society to get big things done.”

The wonders of science fiction are not the wonders of science, from Ian Sales. “There has been some discussion of late of the role science fiction might play in inspiring science – see Damien G Walter’s piece here, Cheryl Morgan’s here, and Mark Charan Newton’s here. The argument being that, allegedly, innovators read science fiction, or many scientists chose their careers because of science fiction, and so the genre is assumed to have a very real influence on the future of science, technology and engineering.”

Gretchen McNeil at Diversity in YA Fiction: Diversity is in the Eye of the Beholder. “One of the frequently asked questions I get about Possess is “Why did you choose to write a non-Caucasian main character?” And since this is the Diversity in YA blog, I thought this was the perfect forum to address the topic.”

Nine Words to Avoid in Your Writing – from The Writing Resource. “Suddenly the conversation isn’t about your writing but about your word choice. Online, comment areas are taken over by people vehemently opposed to the way you used one word out of a thousand. But you looked up the word and you know your use of it matches a dictionary definition.”

From Night Bazaar: Thomas Roche on Character Names And The Prevention of Brain Farts.  “No matter what genre I’m writing in, I often feel that I’m constitutionally incapable of coming up with appropriate names on demand. I choke on syllables and have to spit them out, and suddenly out come syllables I don’t remember even trying to swallow.”

Gender Roles-Black, White, and Gray at The Writing Excuses podcast. “Mary leads us into this discussion, starting with how gender roles and gender identity lie along a continuum, defying the convenient descriptors that people typically employ, and how this can inform our writing. Keffy offers valuable tips, talking about what gets done wrong, and how to write it correctly. We also talk about how this can apply to world-building, especially in fantasy where extended gender identity usually are not a consideration.”

The Alchemy of Writing: Why? Theme? Why Theme? “ The question is simple. Why are you doing what you do? People will respond to what you believe, and not just to what you have, however great that might be.”

To Plot or Not To Plot: Part 1: Terminology and the Difference Between Narrative and Story, from Ingrid’s Notes. “I often find the terms Narrative, Story, Plot, and Structure to be used interchangeably (on blogs, in articles, tweeted, and talked about), and personally, much confusion has ensued as a result.” This is a series: Part 2: Taking a Closer Look at Story, Part 3: Got Plot?, Part 4: Types of Plot, Part 5: Structure and Looking at the Whole
Nail Your Novel: Plot is linear, story doesn’t have to be.  “ Here, I’m using linear to mean, as Ingrid did, A, then B, then C… and so on – possibly (hopefully) with surprises, reversals etc. In other words, the timeline of the characters’ lives in chronological order. What they saw as the clock ticked through each day and night. That’s linear.”

Kirkus Reviews makes mention of the trend of literary and SF/F mashups. “A new trend has appeared relatively recently in the literature of the fantastic—the mashup. Rather than working within the confines of a single genre of fiction, authors are trying their hand at combiningdifferent forms of literature within the same story. The so-called “mashup” is the literary equivalent of putting peanut butter together with jelly. Given that the mashup practice has been happening for a couple of years now, it’s proving to be just as popular.”

About Jessica

Dork extraordinaire, that's me! An unhealthy knowledge of Star Trek, a love of books, a fondness for purring cats.
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