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February 7th, 2007

11:10 pm: Ten ways of managing angst
I didn’t intend to write another rant this soon, but this one just kind of tumbled out.

It’s got to be there )

...My, that one got bitchy.

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December 26th, 2006

11:37 pm: Ten things you can do in the middles of novels
This, of course, depends on the techniques you use—outlining as opposed to not outlining, structuring by chapters or scenes, whether the story’s episodic or not, how many viewpoints you’re using and what kind they are—but I’m hoping that the sheer variety of suggestions here can offer at least one that crosses boundaries.

Ten things that may help in the middle of a novel )

So there you are. Full of my own prejudices, but I’ve tried to admit them—you may have noticed the propensity to think of stories as animals—and I hope that it didn’t drag in the middle.

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December 20th, 2005

06:37 pm: Subtle foreshadowing rant
Hot damn! Subtle foreshadowing!

…Hm. Perhaps, in keeping with the theme of the rant, that should be Hot damn! Subtle foreshadowing!

Which mostly involves being sneaky )

“Ten things to do when you have an image and nothing else” is next.

*hides under bed*

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July 3rd, 2005

04:35 pm: Rant on deathbed scenes/last moments
Okay, the rant on deathbed scenes and last moments. If you notice a seemingly invisible subtitle floating about, which is “How to make them something other than disgustingly sappy”…yes, well, that’s deliberate.

Onwards! )

Perhaps parts of that were excessively bitchy, but considering how much of a big fat purple pustule on the ass of fantasy most deathbed scenes are, I don’t think so.

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June 8th, 2005

04:56 pm: Deciding on your viewpoint character
This is just a list of questions, really. The answers will be different for each author, and it’ll all depend on the kind of characters you’ve created and the story you want to tell. I will give examples of considerations you might want to take into account and things I’ve seen that don’t’ work, but they’re examples rather than prescriptions; you may be able to make them work, and work very well.

Here’s hoping it will still be useful )

Cities next, yay! (Probably a two-part rant).

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June 3rd, 2005

04:09 pm: Rant on surprise endings/in-story revelations
This is a rambly rant, in which I write about points as they occur to me, and not all on surprise endings.

There’s some in-story revelations stuff, too )

And, yes! The brutal fantasy rant is next.

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May 17th, 2005

06:56 pm: Smooth endings rant
This rant won by several votes, so here it is. (One nice thing is that I’ve read several examples of how to end and how not to end, recently, so I am all prepared).

Not crashing and burning, or at any rate not crashing )

*checks poll* It appears that ten alternatives to writing a ‘character learns a lesson’ story are next. That one ought to be fun.

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April 22nd, 2005

11:09 pm: Being in-character during the difficult moments
Just a note: rants will be more erratic than usual for the next couple of weeks, as I have final papers to help my freshman students edit (and then I get to grade them—joy), and two twenty-page papers of my own to write, one on Yeats, one on Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The end of the semester, what fun.

For once I don’t need to qualify the title )

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March 1st, 2005

09:29 pm: Making a story a true stand-alone
This is the rant on making a stand-alone novel. And this one has a lot of Guy Gavriel Kay in it, since, unusually for a fantasy author, nearly half his books are stand-alones.

Standing in a single book )

Because Kay is my favorite fantasy author and I am shocked and appalled that he’s not better known, here’s the main URL of his site. And the reading passage that serves as a sample of Tigana (no major spoilers). And the reading passage from The Lions of Al-Rassan (brief spoiler about a minor character).

/end plug moment.

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February 26th, 2005

05:09 pm: Non-linear narrative rant
This has a lot of Steven Brust in it, because a) I’m currently going through a Brust re-reading phase and b) he’s one of the few fantasy authors I know who’s done more than one non-linear fantasy. He’s certainly the only one I know of who’s done more than five of them.

Not that there aren’t other ways to do them )

And that’s the end of that set of rants. The next poll should be up in a little while.

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February 21st, 2005

09:34 pm: Ways of maintaining a really, really long novel
I want to make it clear what, approximately, I’m dealing with here. I keep reading that 90,000 to 120,000 words is the prime salable length for a fantasy novel (marketed for adults, at least). There are certainly books published that are longer, but a lot of novels do fall in that arena. Past 150,000 words or so, though, I think quality can and will fall off significantly unless the author is committed to keeping the novel alive in ways that differ from the writing techniques of a shorter story. (And I say this both as a writer who’s written several of them, and a reader who likes really long books).

So here we go… )

This is one of those rants where I break my own rules quite a lot of the time, ‘cause I don’t outline; I just fling a bunch of plot elements into the air and let them take me where they will. But then, I’m always twisting in the wind about halfway through, and relying on some sudden clicking epiphany from the story to bring everything together. This is probably Bad, and has resulted in whole novels not turning out the way I want them to. Then I go off and do it again.

So, no. Probably not the way to go. Unless you want to, of course.

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February 19th, 2005

10:55 am: Beginnings rant
And so, to begin the beginnings rant.

There are a lot of stupid things that people believe about this )

This is one of my favorite things to bitch about, given the amount of people I’ve met who insist that the beginning isn’t important. Yes, it so fucking is. How can the first thing your reader sees not be important?

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February 15th, 2005

02:58 pm: Transition rant
This is transitions everywhere I can think of them: between scenes, chapters, books, and so on.

You always have to come back to the story sooner or later )

I’ll answer comments later, as it’s off to class with me now.

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January 21st, 2005

12:03 pm: Quiet moments rant
The quiet moments rant. I have to admit I was looking forward to this one, because the majority of the stories I’ve read lately (with the exception of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) seem to rely on battles and big fights between the characters exclusively.

Let’s go subtle for a few moments )

Music next, it looks like.

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November 27th, 2004

04:11 pm: Rant on balancing dialogue, description, and action
Exactly what it says. However, if anyone is interested in it, I should mention that I’m definitely writing about the balance in novel-length fantasy works here, rather than in short stories.

Balancing dialogue, description, and action )

Rant on non-journey fantasies next.

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November 20th, 2004

12:12 am: Advice on writing short stories
A couple people asked for advice on writing fantasy short stories. So here it is.

A lot of fantasy short stories would be improved by authors remembering that they are writing actual short stories )

Again, not sure which one to do next.

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November 18th, 2004

09:36 am: Introduction rant
A few people asked for advice on introducing characters/revelations/new situations/themes. For some reason, this one appealed to me the most, so here we go.

Many fantasy authors have a problem with the beginning—anywhere in the book )

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June 16th, 2004

10:26 pm: Keeping those dragons alive
This time, a rant for no one in particular: just something I wanted to do.

How I can adore long fantasy series and dread reading them at the same time )

Damn it, I want A Feast For Crows (Martin's long-delayed fourth book) now. /whine

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April 5th, 2004

10:51 pm: Avoiding infodumps
I’ve been reading too many fantasy beginnings lately.

Avoiding infodumps )

Odd how part of me as I read fantasy books can always be snapped right out of the story the moment the exposition begins, and turns into a sharp-clawed analysis beast asking how much of this is necessary.

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March 4th, 2004

10:47 am: Dream rant.
An odd subject to be ranting about, maybe. Then again, I think I’ve read too many italicized dream-sequences lately.

If you’re going to give your character meaningful dreams… )

Too many italicized dream-sequences has to be the cause of it, I think.

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