Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I didn't quite make it through the novelettes for the Nebula Awards, but I did manage to read the short stories and novellas. It seems like having Socially Conscious Content is key to a nomination -- sort of the literary equivalent of the Afterschool Special -- but the stories I found most compelling and best written cleverly hid any agenda they might have had within the plot and characters. I like being left to draw my own conclusions about what -- if anything -- someone is saying with a story rather than feeling like it was a reading assignment for school and I was going to get a worksheet with questions like "What was the message of this story?"

I still want to read the nominated novelettes because that's a length I might be able to play with for some of my failed attempts at short stories, where they end up too long to be short but don't have enough material to be a full novel.

After I finish writing the current project (and maybe a few others).

I spent yesterday retconning my own book. For those unfamiliar with the term, it's something that comes up in TV discussion and is short for "retroactive continuity." It's what happens when writers come up with something new later in a story that changes the perception of things that came beforehand, and there's usually a lot of debate as to whether it was planned all along or something the writers came up with later and then retroactively applied to the story. A hypothetical example would be if a character in a TV series turned out to have been a villain all along who'd infiltrated the good guys to spy on them. Was it a retcon where they only now decided that the character was a villain all along, or was the character written as a villain from the start and they just didn't reveal it? A retcon isn't necessarily bad as long as it doesn't contradict things that happened before. In fact, it can be a brilliant bit of writing if a clever writer looks at past events and sees enough of a pattern to create an alternative explanation. Then it feels like it's more of a revelation than writer whim. It is bad if it contradicts things that came before or makes characters act wildly out of character. The audience reaction should be more "Ohhh, of course, that explains everything" than "Seriously?"

In my case, it's more to do with worldbuilding and coming up with a new explanation for why things have been the way they are, which then allows me to change the status quo because that reason changes. It doesn't at all contradict the books in this series that have already been published, so I just need to fix the parts where it applies in this book, and I think it's just going to be a tweak or two. Where it matters is going forward when they have to fix it.

And all of this came from one scene I wanted to write that then made me realize what was really happening, then digging into why it was happening revealed all that stuff.

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