Archive for June, 2008


June 24th, 2008

Cross-posted with my LJ.  Mongol, the first installment of a Russian trilogy featuring Genghis Khan is currently playing in a single theater here in Manhattan.  Go here and here to see trailers, stills and more information.  The film is supposed to have a larger release here in the U.S.  It had terrific popular and critical reception in Europe.

The best parts:

–The locations, the vistas, the action, the people — none of them are digital.  This is all location and real people riding real horses.  It does look different, and so much better, I do say.

–The landscape, as one expects, has the leading role in Mongol.   You will not be disappointed.  Vistas of snow, of arid slopes, green rolling spring grass, doesn’t seem foreign to someone who grew up on the Great Plains, though, no we didn’t have mountains where I grew up.  But I did visit the Black Hills, which are really mountains, often on family summer vacations, and the Badlands, in both South Dakota and North Dakota.  The Missouri-Platt system meanders through parts of both these states on their way to the Mississippi, so I saw those too on summer vacations.  These are true vistas and landscapes, from my own life, and the lives of these characters in

Me, Myself, and I

June 19th, 2008

Question from Valtameren:

When writing a first person short story is it possible to over use the words, “I” and “myself” when actually referring to yourself. Is there anything else you can write in it’s place?

Yes, it is possible to overuse I when writing first person, just as it’s possible to overuse he or she in third person or any other word that gets stuck in the brainpan. Unfortunately I seems to glare in readers’ eyes like undimmed headlights, and ruin their appreciation of my own personal favorite storytelling “person.” It’s certainly something I have to watch. If you can’t see it for yourself, try reading your work aloud (always a good technique anyway) and listen.

You’ve said that you are conscious of the problem and work on varying your sentence structure, but here are a few other things to consider. Continue Reading »

“King’s Shield”

June 18th, 2008

Woo.  Here I am, running around like an ijit, doing laundry and other domestic chores, filling out forms, and writing biz letters, all at once.  Honestly, feeling rather put upon and pouty, because I’d rather be doing about a dozen other things, all equally important too.

Then the stupid door buzzer goes off.  Another delivery.

BUT!  It’s the arrival of Sherwood Smith’s new novel, the sequel to Inda and The FoxKing’s Shield!   So, something really good happened already today, because it wasn’t even 2:30 p.m. yet.

The official publication date is July 1, 2008.




The Obligatory Scene

June 3rd, 2008

Since I mentioned it down in “Reaching the End”, I thought I should discuss this concept a bit more. There are some scenes in a movie, play, or story that the readers want to see and will feel disappointed if they don’t see them. Sometimes these scenes are not strictly necessary to that elusive beast, The Plot, but that doesn’t matter. Readers will feel cheated if they’re not there.

Consider the end of THE RETURN OF THE KING. It would have been possible for Tolkien to leave out the bit where the ring goes into Mt. Doom. He could have kept the point of view on the battlefield with the other main characters, waiting and hoping — until suddenly, off in the distance, the volcano blows. Someone could cry “Frodo’s done it, he’s destroyed the ring!” I suspect a great many readers, myself included, would have muttered something most unflattering to the author at that point and perhaps even flung the book across the room.

Obligatory scenes can occur at other places in a book than the end, of course. Another example from a fantasy novel: two characters are riding toward an important destination. Alas, the only road runs through the mountains in a pass known to be infested by bandits. What’s more, the enemies of the two characters are probably waiting there to ambush them. They head into the pass. Chapter Break! They are riding out of the pass, quite beaten up, to be sure, and talking about what a stiff fight they had, there in the pass. Why the editor allowed this writer to get away with this lapse, I don’t know. I sure wasn’t impressed enough to read another book in that series.

Nor does the obligatory scene have to be a large or violent confrontation or action sequence. It can be a simple emotional moment or a conversation. For instance, in real life history, Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I never met. On stage (Sardou, I think) and in many movies, they have met, because hell, they really should have, and the audience wants to see it.

Why paperbooks still matter

June 2nd, 2008

Digital texts are not necessarily the way to go, nor will they utterly replace paper books — I’ve long found this statement true. Now here’s an essay by noted historian Robert Darnton, who explains why it’s true better than I can. :-)

Too many people think that everything digital is “the future” and thus somehow good. You know, the future could turn out kind of crummy. It has in the past.