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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Starting Smaller

Yeah, missed last weekend's post again. But, it's hard to get motivated to post when you don't really have much to post about. But this time I do, and I thought I would do it before the holiday weekend officially kicks in.

Still haven't made too much progress on TSS. However, I've decided to go forward with trying to get my recent short story "Exequies" published. I don't know where yet. I've got some minor edits to do on it, but so far, all the reviews of it have been really good. Hopefully that means I did a good job on it, and the rigorous editing I put it through before sharing it might have done some good.

One of the things I've noticed while researching science fiction markets is just how weird many science fiction short stories are. Some of them I just have a hard time understand what's going on, who the main character is, or what they're trying to accomplish. Not because the "science" part of the science fiction is difficult to grasp, but because the writing is just... well... different. I don't want to say "bad," because in this day and age, quality is in the eye of the beholder. But seriously, when you can't even figure out if the main character - who is narrating the story - is male or female, or even human, until halfway through the story, isn't that a bad thing usually?

The only reason I can think of for there to be so many "weird" science fiction stories out there is that experimentation is a really big trend in the short story market right now. In their quest for originality, authors are pushing the boundaries of what was once considered an acceptable style or format for a story, and they're coming up with some very strange things indeed. Some of them work, and quite spectacularly. But in my opinion, most of them fall flat on their faces and there's nothing remarkable about the story except that it's impossible to figure out what's going on.

Now granted, that's just my opinion. And before you think me overly critical, let me try to explain why I think the way I do. When I write a story, whether it's a novel or a short story, I'm trying to communicate something. I'm trying to actually tell a story. Whether the plot revolves around a war or just a single person's inner struggles, the plot goes somewhere and conveys some sort of message. Sometimes the message is just the plot: "Here's what happened." Sometimes I try to share some sort of moral or communicate my personal values. But the point is, writing - even fictional writing - is communication. In my humble opinion, if a reader finishes a piece of writing and goes, "Huh?" the writer has utterly failed in his or her job. If by the end of the work, the writer can't communicate something the reader can understand, then the work needs to be rewritten. Otherwise all it accomplishes is making the writer feel good about him or herself.

Writing should have purpose, and if the reader doesn't at least have an idea of what the writer's purpose was (even if it was just for entertainment), it was all for naught.

So anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now. Hopefully, "Exequies" accomplished my purpose - which is both entertainment and perhaps a hint of personal belief. If I get the manuscript back from magazine publishers with "Huh?" written on it, well, it's time to go back to the manuscript and get it figured out!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


If you're like me, you probably have no idea what the title of this post means. It's Latin for "funeral rites" or "burial of the dead." Why the heck would I name a blog post "Exequies?" Well, even though I missed last week's blog post and I haven't been doing too much writing, I haven't been completely inactive. I've written and polished a 4,200 word short story entitled "Exequies." As for why I named it that, you'll have to read it, if I can ever get it published. It was one of those rare projects that sort of fell together perfectly after about half an hour of brainstorming and planning, and it only took me two nights to write it and a couple more to polish it up. So anyway, now it's done and I'm looking for a market for it.

In other news, last week was a crazy week for me, which is one reason why I missed my blog post. I fully intended to make it, but then I discovered that a 10-page paper I thought was due on November 30th was actually due November 11th, which at that point was only 4 days away. And I hadn't even started research on it. Plus, I had a presentation to give also on the 11th, which was as yet barely started at that point. So, any inclination I had to make posts was gone at that point. However, I made it through the week.

The worst of the semester is over for me, I think. I still have one serious paper left to write, as well as a presentation which should be given this week. Then it's just finals. Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to working on The Serenity Solution before I head home for the Christmas holiday. I'd hoped to have the rewrite at least halfway done by then, but I hadn't anticipated how hard these last few weeks were going to be. But now that those are out of the way, I'm looking forward to doing some writing again.