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Showing posts from March, 2012

On semi-hiatus

Just a note to explain why I'll be absent for the next few months. I'm sitting my assessments and eventually, my HSC, and shall be trying to shove seven textbooks down my throat while also creating Major Works, etc.

Have a smashing day, ladies and gents!

A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes (Or, Wish Fulfilment: Is it OK?)

There is the infamous tar and feathering of SMeyer for her dream guy by the online community, and the condemnation of Mary Sue's and a fair amount of Crucible witch hunting for author insertion. But it begs the question: what exactly is the spectrum of wish fulfilment, and is it ever okay?

In many ways, writing itself is a form of wish fulfilment, beside the cathartic relief, in which you as a writer experience pretty urgent desires for adventure, love and triumph that you share with your readers. That is the secret to the runaway bestseller, to the eleven-year-old at heart wanting to belong in a magical school for wizards, or a misfit thirteen-year-old girl who's beginning to believe boys think she's ugly and repellent.

But it's when wish fulfilment detracts or damages the novel that I have to stand against it. It's almost inevitable in new and/or young writers, and is something that you grow out of with experience and practice. It is important to keep in mind, t…

Three's a Crowd, Dozens are a Statistic (Or, Bigger Casts, Secondary Characters and How to Avoid a Backdrop of Cardboard)

Teams and larger casts are set to boom, methinks, especially if these team-based casts (a la Hourglass) and YA sci-fi, what with the starship crews and armies and expeditions to desolate planets, etc., continue to increase. But the problem with this is that YA is so used to focusing on a trio, with a couple memorable secondaries whose appearances are based purely on comic relief or plot, that some of these larger casts are having trouble growing from this trio.
A book I recently read had this problem. Fluid, fast-paced writing, enjoyable. I hadn't felt any criticism itch until we got to introducing the "team" and what it is they could do/why they were there in the first place. Admittedly, introducing people with a focus on their abilities has the potential to be clunky, and a lot of writers take the easy way out with a dollop of didacticism. 
This is Jack. Jack is sheepolopath. That means that he can read the minds of sheep, and it also means that he can control them and…

Independent vs. Collective Thought in Our Protagonists (Or, The Elizabeth Bennet Archetype vs. the Universally-Acknowledged)

As writers we know there is an explicit relationship between the stories we craft and the perspectives of our audience. And we can manipulate this relationship to convey a delicious subtext or to hint at (and when I say hint, I don't mean preach) a social comment to an open-minded audience who are looking to learn, to enjoy an intellectual pursuit, and have their growing perspectives challenged and further developed.

Take Austen. In Pride and Prejudice, she endorses the value of independent thought in a society which enforces collective thought, of a "truth universally acknowledged".

Think about it. Transformation stories, novels and films reminiscent of Pygmalion, or My Fair Lady, or Pretty Woman, are about the movement from independence and ostracism into collective thought, a common role. Pride and Prejudice, however, documents a fantasy in a classist society - 19th century England. Elizabeth and Darcy would never have happened. Never.

I'm not saying that Bella a…