August 18th, 2006

bear by san

Listiness

eleven things I will stop doing when you pry my keyboard from my cold hands

(of course, the whole point of the ten-things lists is to be pithy. But this one, I can see, will require explication.)


1. Writing about prickly, broken, difficult, hard-to-identify-with protagonists. The world is full of books about people the reader is supposed to identify with. Characters who are generally nice, and well-meaning, and a little misunderstood, and who need a hug and a good sit-down chat and for their parents to understand that they really are going to grow up to be [an artist/a wizard/a Master Harper/the owner of the local mill]. The characters are often a little naive and a little insipid, and they tend not to have strong disagreeable personality traits or make big mistakes that might interfere with the reader's identification.

I don't write those books.

I write books about middle-aged, crusty, heartbroken, angry people who have fucked up their lives in really profound ways, who have sick parents and stepkids and ache when they get up in the morning. I write books about functional autistics, borderline personalities and pathological liars, Faeries who eat people, blasphemous bisexual rakehell poets, Morgan le Fey, genius teenagers with borderline OCD, forty-year-old virgins, the wolf who ate the sun on the morning after.

And these are my protagonists. This is consistent across genres, and pretty much what you know you're getting with the brand name Elizabeth Bear.

2. Teh Gay. The queer characters are here to stay. As are the transgendered, polyamorous, kinky, intersexed, and asexual ones. And the ones who are completely vanilla. And the committed monogamous 40-year heterosexual relationships.

3. Sex. Also not going away. Some of it will be graphic, because I thought the story needed it. Some will be elided, because it is not there for wank fantasies. Much of it will not be particularly erotic. I will use words like "penis" and words like "cock," and words like "vagina" and words like "cunt."

I will not be using words like "manhood," "stem," or "molten core." "Prick," on the other hand, you can pretty much count on. Please have the decency not to look shocked. ;-)

There will also be books with no sex at all.

4. Blasphemy. Sorry about that. I'm an Erisian agnostic. I can't help myself. It's not that I don't respect other people's religious traditions and convictions. It's that my brain can't seem to leave them alone as logical constructs.

5. Mad genre shifting like a mad thing. I get bored. Next up: SPACE OPERA!

6. leitmotifs. You're stuck with them. (By leitmotifs, I mean series of linked images running through the text. In example, in Hammered, it's trash, salvage, broken-stained-dented-ruined things. In Blood & Iron, it's blades and horns and knives and swords and antlers and pointy things, and, er, blood. And iron. In Carnival it's lies. In Whiskey & Water, it's wings and feathers, especially swan wings. And Beauty & the Beast. And water.)

7. Weird POV choices. Sorry. Sorry.

8. Death-or-glory stands, pyrrhic victories, massive sacrifice, angst, grief, maiming, and facial scars.

9. True Love Not Ending Well. And sometimes, even not-so-true-love not ending well. Really, if I can train my readers to flinch whenever somebody starts kissing....

10. Ambiguity, moral or otherwise--and/or trusting the reader to be smart enough to figure out why a character did something, or creative enough to invent a reason he likes. Literary-style characterizations are here to stay.

11. Angel smut. (This one may go under blasphemy+sex+leitmotifs, really, but it seems to show up often enough that it deserves a category of its own.)




six things I am working on getting better at.

1. Transitions.

2. All that fucking blinking. And glancing at each other. And nodding. STOP IT JUST STOP IT STOP LOOKING AT ME STOP!!!

3. Confusing line of direction, as demonstrating the non-linear nature of my thought process.

4. Overuse of speech tags.

5. Accessibility. Although this may be a losing battle.

6. Beaming my worldbuilding directly into the brain of the alert reader, bypassing the need for exposition in any form.

But I do promise to keep blowing things up.


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bear by san

Friday afternoon generousity? or torture, you decide.

I just posted the first, oh, chapter and two-thirds of By the Mountain Bound over at elizabethbear, to give you an idea of how the revision is going. I think my from-scratch new stuff is still, you know, considerably better. But this is coming together all right, and I like the story enough to make the effort.

The funny thing is, of course, that none of you guys will see the stuff that I think is currently up to standard until November (Carnival) and next June (Whiskey & Water), and by then, I'll probably have moved on again.

One is always working in last year's shadow in this business.

Anyway, without more ado, By the Mountain Bound.

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