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Welcome to my blog!

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This blog was my online wordsmith workshop, where you'll find notes on my writing experiences, excerpts from my fantasy and science fiction novels, and essays of a more homeworld flavor.  Some of the advice therein may still be of interest to new writers so I have left it here but due to technical difficulties, I no longer post here regularly.  You can look me up on Dreamwidth, although I do not post frequently. 

Feel free to share a link to this site. If you opt to download it or share content, please give due credit to this website and the author: Emmalyn N. Edwards. Thank you--Emmalyn

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Whooo, thought I had lost my computer for a couple of days there, but it is still among the living, and I resume my blog and web page updates (see Explorations and the Homeworld) after a short delay.

I've done quite a bit of writing the past week, all sorts of odd bits, not least of which is my retirement planning. Though long in the future, I am as apt to write of plans for then as current journal mussings and story notes (a character idea here, a scene idea there, a new approach to a problematical story line). I started writing lesson plans for my imagined second career as writer and part time guest lecturer/writing teacher (based on my yet-to-be-achieved credentials of publishing fame). It's a good mental excercise even if the teaching career never comes to pass, and includes a few lessons I can use in my current day job.

This week's lesson plan notions included a discussion exercise (with my own teacher's cheat sheet of ideas to get things going and make sure they hit the key points) on definitions of genre writing. What elements make a book fit into one genre or another (sometimes two, rarely three successfully except if the third is histical fiction)? The latter is a cross-cutting genre of sorts that fits into many genres, but of course every rule has its exceptions and deviants. The definitions of them all overlap to varying degree, but still, most people recognise the primary genre when they see it.

I think of genres as the not-so-mainstream, the stuff the stuffy don't consider literature (unless you remind them that certain "classics" fall into those genre's and helped define them): romance, science fiction, horror, fantasy, westerns are the ones that come first to mind. There are others, too, and sub genres and I tried to list some defining elements of each. I was alittle surprized then, later in the week, to realize that those are not the genres being refered to when some of the literary prizes allow submissions from "any genre". They mean only the big three: fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry, alas for us genre writers. It's as if genre writing didn't exist, which would be fine if they meant that all fiction genre's count as fiction, but a perusal of past winning entries in the fiction category reveals no such interpretation, not even a classic romantic comedy in the bunch. Still, we march on, and eventually someone will notice that the best writing of the genre is the best writing, too.
24 feb 09 @ 8:20 pm

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

writing history
I have written a lot over the years. Much of it will never be seen by anyone, both because it is so badly written and because one of the reasons I didn't revise it more was that the story and characters moved on and I decided that the real story came further along in their lives. Still, I've reused the old stuff as the basis of later stories or other characters, and I find myself going back to those earlier writings repeatedly, for flash backs, to explain the nature of a character and their reactions to present circumstances, to show how hard it is for them to face something because of the memories it stirs, and as material for dream sequences, historical to the character or just an enlightening dream.

With all of those uses, I never throw anything away, but that doesn't mean it is easy to find. The last several years I have been putting story matieral, drafts, notes and--believe-it-or-not--entire novels from their hand-written form into the computer for revision, but in order to make progress towards doing the much needed revisions, I have not been typing in the history of the characters and other background notes and story versions, except that which has already been incorporated into the draft books as flashbacks or whatever.

That means the history notes are in ever more deeply buried piles of notes, dusty files, and piles of papers with the drafts i did use as "not useful" (until I remember just enough to realize that it might be useful afterall). More recently, I have been typing in less finished stories, where I have something of a story line but lack many scenes, and certainly haven't fleshed them out with background and flashbacks and other important historical substance, as well as still needing ideas to flesh out the story with meaty scenes. I have started typing in the history more as a matter of course for these, when I can find the required notes, and when they actually exist.

I've encountered two phenomenon. One I expected: horribly written history that I originally thought would be THE story (with a rare great description or setting), and one I had forgotten about: one of the reason they seem so badly written was because, unrevised, they failed to capture the essence I had been aiming for. I have filled in the scenes in my own memory, but having never gone back to revise the written material, I find the written material missing elements I thought were there. They all I can do is use the old, incomplete notes to jog my memory as I write the backflash or dream sequence, wondering--possibly forever--if I will ever come across the scene I thought I had written or if it really was just my imagination filling in the past over time, as I'm sure we do to our own lives, too.
18 feb 09 @ 6:54 pm

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Romance in Fantasy and SF
Since it is the 14th, I figure I must say something of romance. It's easy to think about and talk about romance when it comes to fantasy. Like fairy tales, most fantasy has strong romantic elements, the lady for whom the hero fights, the true love that holds out against all the forces set to destroy it, the unreturned love of one character for another that may be tragic or sweet. The story ongoing on the Fantasy Explorations page has a couple of romance tales going on in the background: Tei and Marlatta, Mikkel and Onaline, though the latter is one-sided.

In science Fiction, except science fiction that borders on being fantasy, anyway, like Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books, romance is usually more minor if it can be found at all. Relationships between men and women, if they exist, tend to be more about sex or friendship than love and romance, although there are plenty of exceptions. Pip and Flinx, rarely had anyone that could be called a love interest, except the bond between each other, and even side characters rarely had a life-long love interest that played any role in the story. (There was a character that had married presumably for money, but he stayed faithful to her in all his wanderings, but I can't think of a single other love relationship in those stories. Many friendships of many sorts, but not the classical romantic love.)

I have wondered often and remain without an answer: Do the topics of SF, frequently of metal ships and technology, strange science and elusive math, make it more difficult to incorporate the soft words of love and romance? Do future and space writers see an advancing culture where love and romance, traditional partnerships and families are no longer a part of life? Or is it just a pattern of the genre, a habit born of perceived interests in the readers (true or false) that pushes writers and/or editors to leave love out?

I suspect that I have strong fantasy leanings, even when I write science fiction stories. Even my space fiction stories all have a minor romance thread, usually for the main chanracter but distant from the main action of the story. For Qiri, her love interest is merely a framework, the unrequited lover around for openning and ending scenes but only a subject of thoughts and dreams, as often painful as pleasant, and a cause of reactions and decisions in between. Mxyra has several romantic interludes with different potential lovers, as the object of affection and one willing to give it due consideration and only toward the end of her tales does she find and accept one who may mean more. Linnel and Kanter, paired central characters, go so far as to follow the fantasy ideal of a true love pairing that outside forces would destroy if they could. That story, though, is one of the SF stories that has more than romance to give it a srong fantasy flavor. All those stories make progress, but they are not yet nearly as done as Beyond the Wall and the Paths of magic tales and are not yet really ready for review, unless I post a scene or two here for ideas and feedback on a more narrow scale.
14 feb 09 @ 1:32 pm

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Motivational Speakers, success planners, many self-help sources suggest envisioning success, picturing yourself in the future, imagining yourself in the future, what it will be like when you achieve success: only then can you get there. It's a good idea, I'm sure, if only as a means of setting a more clear goal and providing yourself an incentive for achieving it. Many successful business people, sports players, artists seem to do it, from what I've seen on news clips and such. It isn't as easy, though as it sounds.

I do make efforts to imagine what it could be like, will be like, when i get the successful book sale Iím aiming for. My mind can go on wild flights of fancy about late night talk shows and midday talk shows (I presume they will have them) and speaker events at SF cons. (Iím not quick witted with verbal reparteeí but I have given speeches to varying degrees of success). I imagine movie opening nights and book signings, royalty checks and fan mail.

Often though, my visions of the future end more toward smaller events, less success, and more challenge. (The presence of a challenge would at least mean i got noticed...) and questions of the sort that make me feel obligated to defend and justify, explain and excuse. Why did you...? Why didnít you...? How could you think...?

(I didnít blog the the story line like I planned because I couldnít figure out how to run parallel blogs and decided separate pages were better than confusion besides all those pesky issues of copy right protection. I add the occasional mushy scene or almost sexually violent scene because it seems right for the story and all too acceptable in modern popular lit, but the worst such scenes never go out to my readers, at least not in their original graphic detail or as I imagine them, because no one needs to be told how its done. if they donít know, they donít need to know. Their imagination will fill in more than enough, Iím sure.)

These imagined dialogs (with disappointed would-be fans, frustrated agents, declining publishers...) serve their purpose. They are, i suppose, a way of dealing with issues i remain undecided on (I keep working on one story i will probably never offer to a reader much less publication because I really like the character and really cant put most of what i put her through in print, not as is. is it evil of me to think up such tortures? Is it purging inner demons or encouraging them?) I would prefer, though, to discuss the more borderline scenes with someone in the business, like an agent or editor, instead of only with myself.

Meanwhile, I must work through and fight past such concerns lest they keep me from continuing. I must persevere, like my willful, witty torture victim, in working toward that more desirable scene of unquestioned success until I reach that glowing end.
10 feb 09 @ 7:07 pm

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Being Community
Community doesn't quite mean what it used to. I've often recieved the advice, in various jobs, as a writer, from self-help books, to be part of the community, to engage, to exchange ideas with people who have similar interests. It is easily said but community seems to be increasingly difficult to find and harder to join, harder to be part of, so it seems to me.

Part of it, I'm sure, is that my main communities are communities of writers, and that goes hand-in-hand with introverts, but not with writing letters or communicating in direct dialog. Writers, at least fiction and report writers, tend to write to the world as their primary mode of communication. The writing can be "engaging", it can "communicate a message" effectively, but it is hard to be part of except in a collaborative writing project.

I have occasionally found groups of writers that I felt part of: several people back in college also wrote, an APA exchange for a few years with ten or so writers, and briefly a group of women writers who had taken a summer class together and several of whom stayed in touch for awhile after. All of those, though, were local to where I was living at the time. Now my target community is scattered; I have no one local. With technology and social software and all, locality isn't supposed to matter, but the online world has its own limitations, and engaging remains as challenging as forming a new group of people. It still requires finding others with similar interests, similar willingness to commit time, and some ability to navigate digital channels that continue to elude me. Still, with all communities, they can't form in a day, and I keep exploring the possibilities.
7 feb 09 @ 5:51 pm

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chilly Meanderings
I don't know if its's allergies (the brief thaw encouraged the leaf molds and mildew, though it's cold again), or yet another cold to make up for years without, but it's making my head a bit foggy, and my thoughts also.

I like to give advice and spend much time at work answering questions on many topics, a few of them writing. Those who mostly see my typing don't know I can spell but those who see my editing notes know I can and often ask for a quick check, but there are exceptions. I haven't yet sorted out those pesky words ending in ence and ance, endt and andt: independence, for instance, or correspondence as a happenstance. Is it independent of the word form, or a dependent circumstance? Perchance, do you know a way to racall?

I also find that while I always edit certain phrases out, I'm likely to put them in the next piece (until revision, then out it goes again. Doing a grammer check, I found that 'but" was one of the common oversuses in my collection. i like the sense of contrast and compare, the almost, but not quite. Now I look for it and find better ways. If the contrast is obvious, what need to point it out? And sometimes it isn't even a contrast so much as just an "and" in need of variety.

There are, there were, there was were also commmon in my drafts (and not only mine). Forcing myself to take them out has sometimes been a challenge but forced me to put yet more into active voice, action, and to encouraged more distinct phrases with better meat and clearer meaning. Identifying such things in my own work is well worth the hunt, but they have proven habbits hard to break and remain in the edit stage.
3 feb 09 @ 6:34 pm

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Be sure to get in touch so I know you're out there! See contacts page or e-mail wyverns(at)earthlink(dot)net.

Every word should be an experience