An Exceptional Article On Comic Fiction

One that can be expanded to fiction in general: http://www.reaxxion.com/6512/erik-larsen-speaks-on-online-outrage-women-in-comics-and-sexist-costume-designs

One of the reasons I truly despise the discussions of ‘outfits’ in fiction is that they forget that speculative fiction is meant to be idealized. “Realism” is, quite frankly, what most of our audience is trying to get AWAY from. Now, in a movie setting, I understand more of it. Because they are real people having to look like they can do real things. The fantastic elements also end up toned down as a result. But even then, I’ve said before: It made sense in the Batman movies. Because he’s clearly a ‘normal’ person going against ‘normal’ enemies. His superpower is being all-prepared with Bruce Wayne’s almost infinite resources. This did not carry over well to Man of Steel, as Superman is quite clearly other than human.

But this has, in some sense, what has always been the problem with Superman in all his incarnations. The greatest threat Superman ever faces is himself. His rogues’ gallery is weak. And the only way to threaten him is to find unobtainium. I also laugh at the ‘realistic’ Wonder Woman suit. As Larsen’s counter makes clear, her attire clearly recalls her origin story. And it is not her outfit that makes her look ‘weak.’ I laugh at how the movie costume is running away from her iconic look as fast as it can, and the critics STILL body shame her.

With a certain segment of the population, there will *always* be body shaming, unless no one beautiful is seen in public. I would never Suggest Just Who that might be, however.

In Full Editing Mode

So after finishing book 3 of the Sword, Sandals, and Sorcery series, I decided I needed a little break before going into the next. Still not sure how long that break will be. It’s too long to stop until November and NaNo. But it did take me three months to the day to finish the 120,000 words of Chosen in Chains.

I can usually edit one work while I write another. But there was one book I couldn’t, because sometime in the past, it got horribly reformatted. As in almost every paragraph break was annihilated. Indents were too far, random returns, just ugly.

It was also Aurori’s Blood. My first novel, and the one that probably has gotten the best feedback of anything I’ve shown. So I decided to take the time to comb through it in dedicated fashion, fix it, put it in Scrivener, and then rework the plot of the rest of the series.

For those of you who know nothing about it, here’s my attempt at a logline: A Romany Sorceress, not wanting to become a vampire, flees into the arms of a minor courtier of Emperor Rudolf II in Prague who is preparing to kick off the Long War against the Ottoman Empire. She thus becomes embroiled in a plot of forces political and arcane, wherein a necromancer steals a tome from His Majesty that will allow him to control creatures such as her would-be masters.

Much Chaos Ensues. Where did this come from? Well, I’ve read two authors in my life about whom I’ve said, “There’s no way in the world I could do this.” One was Steven Erikson and his mammoth, sprawling dark epic, The Malazan Book of the Fallen. To me easily the superior sustained epic fantasy of this era. Yes over Wheel of Time (which had 6 books of total cash-cow dross), and A Song of Ice and Fire (which has now spent 2 book spinning its wheels and sees its author dissing its fans for daring to think that once every 6 years is a tad slow for production, ESPECIALLY in a series that is making no narrative progress). When I read Malazan, I was amazed by Erikson’s worldbuilding, characters, gallows humor, and sustained ruthless forward energy. I looked at that, love it, but was pretty sure I could never do anything ‘like’ that. And didn’t really convince myself I wanted to. (I’m now doing a fairly dark epic fantasy of my own, but still, I’d be shocked if anyone compared this to MBotF.)

Then there was Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files. When I saw this recommended on the old Malazan Forum time and again I hesitated. Urban Fantasy didn’t appeal to me. To me, if it’s present day, give me sci-fi. Of course, the fact that too much sci-fi has become political tripe instead of stories about exploration, new cultures, and old challenges encountered in new ways has made me very wary on it. But eventually I gave Dresden a try…oh my. Nope, couldn’t do that either. Fast, funny, brilliant action scenes, and superb genre-savvy characters. For my money, the Best Fiction on the Market.

But, there was a marked difference: Where I read Erikson, loved him, but was intimidated from trying to write anything because I could never measure. With Butcher, it was infectious FUN to think, “I couldn’t do this. But what could I do?”

So I took my love of history, dropped it in one of the most eccentric courts of all time (Rudolf II, Emperor of the Romans in Renaissance Prague), remembered Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, and all the myths he toyed at with that, and then went through Slavic and German Folklore for a few dozen more, and did my best to turn it all up to 11 and see where it went.

And that’s the source of the Aurori Saga. An All-the-Myths-Are-True (sorta) 16th century “Renaissance Urban Fantasy,” if you will. And I’ve had fun refurbishing the first, and playing with the plotline of the subsequent books to tighten the narrative a tad. It might just keep my occupied until I can prep for NaNo with Book 4. We’ll see. đŸ˜‰

A Hearty Endorsement

Of this list of questions: http://writerswrite.co.za/15-questions-authors-should-ask-characters

I’ve always been a fan of doing character interviews. I do them of my major characters in each book. Along with questions like, “What would cause you to abandon your plan?” for the antagonist (as in, “Does he do it because he wants to make the world better, as he sees it–and thus is a well-meaning extremist. Or is he just in it for Global Domination and the EVULZ). Even minor characters get a good helping of these questions. You never know when one might ‘step up’ on you.

For Yalissa, in my Hellenistic Fantasy, for instance. What would mentally destroy her has changed from Book 1 to now. In the 1st, the Destruction of her Temple and Faith would have undone her. She would have sacrificed everything for her fellow Chosen. However, the events of the second book tear away all of that from her. Now, her relationship to Sharit is more open to questioning. And what she truly cares for is the people she has freed from captivity.

How did she get from point A to Point C? Ahh. Not telling. lol. One day you’ll learn. I hope. đŸ˜‰