Reboot, Remake or Revival?

Spocks

Spock explains to Fake Spock why the universe sucks, now.

Recently, my sister told me that J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films are reboots, not revivals. You know the ones: where Christopher Pine replaces William Shatner, the planet Vulcan blows up and Spock logically responds by making out with Uhura? Right. Those films. My sister, who was a Trek fan even before I was, says that she can enjoy them as completely separate stories from the originals. That would make them a reboot: a story with the same origins and premise, but without being tied to existing continuity.

But those films aren’t reboots. They’re the worst kind of continuation; the kind that erases the original continuity. Continue reading

What the heck is ‘Voice’?

bram_stoker

He was a great author, but Bram Stoker didn’t have the voice we want to read now.

Every writer who’s submitted anything has had so sit through a stern lecture about Voice. “The Voice isn’t quite right.” “Publishers are super-attuned to voice.” Or, my personal favorite: “Your narrative has no voice.”

No voice? None? With thousands of words filling hundreds of pages it would have to at least sound like me. When I speak, people hear my voice, so surely it’s the same when I write.

Agents may have been sparing my feelings when they gave me these actual points of feedback. They couldn’t have meant the narrative was silent, so maybe they just didn’t like the writing. I think there’s more, though. I think part of it might be that they want something in #ownvoices. Continue reading

Feckless Fate

Authors have a choice between Fate and Suspense

Yawn

Into his or her arms she or he runs. Their love has overcome every obstacle—every racist or homophobe or job offer in Houston—to bring them back to each other, where we all know they should be. Fate is victorious again.

And that’s exactly the problem.

sundays-at-tiffanys

Alyssa Milano stops her wedding to be with her perfect love—her imaginary friend—in James Patterson’s Sundays at Tiffany’s

There are so many familiar tropes in romance fiction: the race to the airport, or the interrupted wedding. The last-minute defiance of a controlling parent to be with a lover who means so much more. All of these are fun, but even variations of them are predictable, because the characters acting them out are running their race over a generic green-screen called Fate.

And relying on Fate is a sure way to remove a key element of a story’s conflict: suspense. Continue reading

Time for some Shopping

Christmas is over, so I’m off to do some shopping. I’ll never leave my chair, of course—the idea of going out to shop has become almost laughable—but there are a few books waiting for me to buy, a few more almost certain to be discovered, and an Android e-reader that supports enough apps to overcome even Amazon’s false Kindle barrier.

In other words, while I struggle to do any writing, I might as well do some reading.

NeverTooLateMy first stop is to pick up B. Lynn Goodwin’s newly released memoir, Never Too Late. If you’ve read any of Lynn’s articles, coaching or other missives over at Writer Advice, you’ll already know that her style will grip you, but that’s not what appeals to me most about the samples of this book. What appeals to me most is that it’s written by someone who remembers when meeting people had to be done without the help of billion-dollar apps, and when the photos that strangers saw of you were too expensive to be reposed or retouched. It’s written by someone who understands that the person in our mirror may not be the person we remember being, and that Craig’s List may be as brave a foray as some are willing to make into social media. It’s written by someone who’s learned that humanity is a fleeting treasure.

Continue reading

“Fire in the Sea” targets ages 12-15: the “Right Age” for Mythology.

If you have not already, please visit my award-winning Flash Fiction here, here and here. While you are there, take a moment to browse around the community at WOW; enter a contest, take a course and read their informative blog. Without hyperbole, they are as supportive and encouraging a group as any that a new writer will ever find.

minotaur

A Minotaur is fresh to some readers, but still recognizable.

When I first wrote Olivia of Olympus, I thought I was being original. After years of experiencing Dystopian YA fiction through the eyes of my students, I had begun to question why those familiar tropes should not instead be applied to existing legends. After all, it was the Norse and the Romans who first told tales of young heroes being pitted against impossible trials. It was the Greeks who proposed a society where women were freed, but at the cost of their lovers being killed and their sons enslaved. And when Zeus defied his wife, Hera, to express his overwhelming love for the human girl, Alcmene… well, a story like that has to give even Bella Swan a run for her mournful money.

Continue reading

Past Prejudices: 3 biases that our writing could still improve.

ophelia

Get thee to a library…

Reading the classics can be as shocking as it is enlightening. Words that seemed perfectly innocent to the pantalooned authors of centuries past can, to our contemporary jeans, be insulting to us or to those whom we respect. Of course, this could—and often does—dissuade the average reader from these works. Take it from me: a teenager who doesn’t want to read Hamlet feels perfectly justified in citing Shakespeare’s choices to send girlfriends to nunneries and even Queens to the beds of their in-laws. Ew.

Of course, that average reader is being denied the joys of these stories, and that teenager… well, he’s just avoiding his homework. Continue reading