Writing Prequels Is HARD!

I have some good news and some bad news…

The good news is that my clone-sibling is writing a prequel to The Awakening (and other stories).

The bad news is that my clone-sibling is writing a prequel to The Awakening (and other stories).

It has turned out for the best that I was unable to edit the final book of The Awakening immediately after Paul finished writing it, because some minor details in that manuscript now need to be… adjusted. The author sometimes has trouble remembering things such as exactly how much time passed during a particular part of a character’s backstory, which characters had already met each other and when/how, etc.; I, on the other hand, have every version of all of it, including the original versions, in my head… somewhere. The author sometimes doesn’t tell me that he has decided to revert to an earlier version of a plot thread, character’s backstory, or whatever, but he expects me to know about that (un)change anyway. So the trouble isn’t with inventing a plot for the prequels — we’ve always had that — but rather with making sure we don’t contradict anything from the already-published novels.

Last week, the author was amusing/distracting himself with character interactions of a mildly humorous tone. Y’see, he knows how this sequence of novels will end… (*fake/not-fake ominous laughter*) And so do you, if you’ve read even the first two novels of The Awakening. (If you haven’t read them, you don’t care anyway, so no worries.) I don’t think it’s a major character dying that the author is worried about having to write; I think he’s worried about writing something that happens earlier, because that character’s earlier problem is, well, semi-autobiographical. Been there, done that, etc.

As of yesterday (Monday, January 17, 2022) afternoon, Paul had written more than 50K words on this manuscript. Not bad, considering he works on it only during his free time at his day job, and he started writing it less than a month ago.

Alas, all this does mean that the writing of “that novel” has been pushed back yet again. On the other hand, at least two of the same characters are in this book, and readers will have several books of “backstory” on them by the time we (finally) finish writing it.

 

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Take Someone Else’s Word for It

Since I’m still not up to writing more “Writing Glitch” posts (when last we saw my mind, it was eating tacos/enchiladas in Albuquerque), here’s a link to someone else’s advice on the topic of comma usage:

To Comma, or Not to Comma (Part 1)

To Comma, or Not to Comma (Part 2)

 

 

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…and interdimensional ninjas on the front lawn.

In case you wanted to see (again) a bit of What Goes on in Their Brains When They’re Writing:

Having reached around 80K words in one WIP and around 50K in another, my dear clone-sibling suddenly decided that he didn’t know quite enough about the backstory for some of the characters in the first of those WIPs, so he’s now working on… prequels.

Technically, those weren’t ninjas on the front lawn; we only say that because of an old Robin Williams joke. Assassins, though, certainly.

I like the opening line of this story, and I really hope my dear clone-sibling never decides to change it: Geoffrey Meeks was tired of dying.

(I swear I’ll throw a metaphorical chair at anyone who insists that sentence is “passive voice,” and I will not miss.)

I am also pleased to say that one character who’d been shoehorned into added to the story a while back (’cause the author needed an explanation for how he and another of the characters first met, and this was apparently a reasonable time for it to happen, or something) will not be appearing here after all. I like this character — he doesn’t get much screen time in any of Paul’s novels so far, compared to others, but he’s always been one of my favorites (much to his dismay at times, I’m sure) — but it never felt right for him to have been in this part of the overall story.

[Relevant tangent: Topics suggested by WordPress today: Batman, woodworking, and motivation.]

Sometime later…

Arrrgh! I’m the one who remembers stuff, so why won’t he listen to me when I tell him what I remember of all those “trivial” details that he suddenly needs for what he’s writing? (No guns, dammit! For one thing, that’s not what I remember from back when I was making this stuff up on my own, years before I even met my twin.)

And the thing is, he doesn’t need all those details. How Klaus Gerhardt got involved in this mess? Sure, that’s relevant. It’s probably relevant for what Paul is typing at this very moment. Whether or not anyone besides the “ninjas” also ended up at Pemberton? *sigh* Other than the basic yes-or-no of it, we don’t need to know that right now, do we? (I hope not. I’m descaling the coffee machine today, so I can’t even drink a lot of coffee and pretend no one can see me, which is my preferred way of dealing with this sort of stress. And this is a really bad time of year for some of this to be discussed anyway. *half expects the neighbor’s dog to start barking*) How often the Andover Gate has reopened? Um… It hasn’t. (No, really, there’s no way anyone could have kept JG from trying to get across if there had been any way to do so. And if the gate reopened periodically, he wouldn’t ever have ventured so far away from it; he’d never have gone as far away as Boston, much less Tennessee. Or somewhere on the other side of the Mississippi, as Paul has suggested.) What happened the last time someone got through the Andover Gate? Well, since none of the viewpoint characters in this story even know that happened, we don’t need to look at the details too closely yet. Save it for Changing Magic, please, and even then, only as something that happened a long time ago. (I suppose Paul could use this information in Stormriders instead — all it would take is something to get Raven actually talking about his past — but since Paul has set the Stormriders manuscript aside to work on this new/old thing instead… *shrug*)

*grumbles* Paul wanted to know how Gerhardt got involved. He thinks it has to do with people; I think it has to do with tech. ‘But there wasn’t any tech,’ says Paul. ‘Yes, there was,’ I say. ‘Jon didn’t get his replaced until he met Hephaestus.’ (Is it weird that I kinda miss the original version of that? Both what happened when Jon met Hephaestus, and the tech that was replaced. I mean, I understand why my dear clone-sibling wanted to “fix” it, but dammit, sometimes a story needs the situation to be inconvenient for the characters.) I suppose this particular detail doesn’t matter much… except in how readers will possibly perceive Gerhardt as a result. (Paul’s interpretation may streamline explanations later in the timeline of this story sequence.)

In case this ever becomes relevant: I’m not the one who suggested that the people Xia was staying with out West have been working with the local government to track down “travelers” and such. (…And just like that, I had a worse opinion of those people.  *shakes head*) I’m not the one who suggested that the setting for this story may have its own version of Project Brimstone. (Obviously they never got it to work, beyond perhaps being able to detect incursions, or they’d have evacuated some people during the war, right?) I’m not the one who’s trying to find ways to tie everything from other stories into this one. (*suddenly realizes why Pinterest was showing SiL pictures of borage flowers earlier today*) I’m hoping I can talk my dear clone-sibling out of most if not all of that. Don’t we have enough problems without finding new ones?

Don’t worry, this is just the usual panicked run-in-circles (ha!) that I go through at the beginning of a new(ish) writing project, especially one that’s important to me. I’m sure we’ll be fine. Maybe I should focus on how much fun it’ll be for readers who don’t know anything about this part of the overall story yet. (Speaking of certain characters dying… 🙂 Yeah, this is before all that. Trust me, you’ll love it.)

The novel my twin is working on now is about how Jon and Geoffrey and Drake first met, and what happened as a result. “Interdimensional ninjas on the front lawn” is how I recall the opening scene, as much as “wings and lightning” has always been how I recall the original opening scene for Hrothgar Tebrey’s story. (That scene ended up halfway through the second book of the series. So much for ‘Literally every author always starts the story too early and has to cut the first three chapters,’ right? Maybe that only applies to humans… 🙂 Not that I’m admitting to anything.) 

And hey, I’ve now managed to talk write my way back into being excited about this project again, instead of frustrated and mildly scared out of my mind. So there’s that.

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‘Only humans are people’ and other BS

[typed 9:30-ish in morning of Dec. 13, 2021]

The topics WordPress thought I would be interested in today: inspiration, dogs, Red Sox. *shakes head* It would be just one more small collection of nonsense, such as when WordPress thinks I want to read blogs about craft beer, except for the inclusion of dogs this time. (Fact: Weaver’s intermittent cynophobia is somewhat relevant to the topic of this blog post.)

My dear clone-sibling has been doing serious revisions/expansions of “that novel” lately. When last we left our heroes, the person found aboard the Amundsen was in the Betula‘s medbay…

Sometimes, when I’m reading a work of fiction I’m particularly invested in, and I stop reading for a little while, I feel as if I’m stuck in whatever scene I last read, until I can go back and continue reading past that. And I am very invested in this story, and this viewpoint character. 

…And all of that was backstory, if you will, to explain or at least hint at why I’m rather upset by a couple of blog posts I happened to see this morning. Both of them are about writing fantasy fiction. In the first one, the blogger talks about how elves are supposed to be evil/malevolent characters, or at least dangerous and not to be trusted. (Warp-quote of beginning of old Steve Martin joke: “How many of you have friends who are elves?” *audience cheers* “Yes, but do you trust them?”) The other blog post is about, basically, the “fact” that only humans are people, so it jus’ ain’t right for a human to have a romantic relationship with an elf or other non-human.

I’ve tried several times to type more for this post, to explain why I’m so bothered by that ‘Only humans are people’ concept, and… Nope, not happening today. Too many angry words, too many half-panicked bloggish blathers and redirections and Hey, look over there! Isn’t that the lawyer from chapter eight of that other novel? So I should just back away for now.

 

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An observation…

Have you noticed that many online “writing experts” who don’t use correct/standard grammar and punctuation in their own articles/blog posts/”advice to writers that want to write good” also insist that real people don’t use correct/standard grammar in speech? That’s why, those “experts” say, writers should avoid writing characters who use correct/standard grammar in speech, and just to be safe, it’s best to avoid using correct/standard punctuation in their speech, too.

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Writing/Editing Advice for the Day

Don’t consult an editor who uses the word literally to mean not literally.

I just read a blog post in which the blogger, someone who feels he has ‘found his niche’ as a giver of ‘expert’ advice on writing/publishing, tells a writer that if they’re to be ready to publish their novel, “You literally have to have all your ducks in a row.”

*rolls eyes* Unless the book is nonfiction and has a title such as How to Train Ducks to Stand in Rows, you do not literally need to have all your ducks in a row before publishing it.

 

 

 

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(forget)

[I couldn’t come up with an actual title for this post, so you’ll have to be content with the working title/label I used originally.]

…So there was a blog post a while back, and although it contained some stuff certainly useful and worth considering if one is a writer of fiction, it also contained some nonsense: something along the lines of, ‘No fiction author has ever written a story about a main character who has amnesia, and certainly not in first person.’

*Weaver laughs out loud*

Anyway, this was the comment I typed and then deleted (because it’s apparently Very Bad Behavior to disagree with anything someone says on their own blog… unless they’re blogging about the mechanics of writing, of course, and then it’s not only acceptable but necessary, lest that pretentious bastard think using standard/correct grammar and punctuation is okay or something).

Weaver’s typed-and-then-deleted comment:

“This might be why amnesia happens so often to supporting characters.  They aren’t in the spotlight, so the audience won’t pay attention to them as much.  Disbelief is there because their amnesia and second life are nothing more than tools for the main characters.  It could even be that they get to keep their second life because their importance to the plot is over as soon as the one piece of information or an object is gained.”

Maybe I’ve just been reading the wrong books all my life, but for me, the first two stories that come to mind involving a character with amnesia both feature a main character having amnesia, and one of these is even written in first person. (So much for, ‘It’s basically impossible to write about amnesia from the perspective of the amnesiac,’ eh? Or maybe it’s just more difficult for any author whose initials aren’t RJZ. *shrug*) Neither of those characters returns to their original life/identity unchanged by the experience, either. It’s not a mere plot device, not just an obstacle for the “real” protagonist to overcome by randomly triggering a return of memory in the character who can’t recall what they witnessed the bad guys doing…

 

 

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Copyright “Trivia” and Stupid People

Apparently it’s a little-known fact that no one does or can own commonplace words that have been in common use for centuries…

My sister-in-law has been doing artistic stuff with branch heraldry for the Society for Creative Anachronism, and then selling various items with those heraldic designs on Zazzle, Society 6, etc.

Earlier today, Society 6 informed her that she is not allowed to use the word shire in the title of any art she uploads, because that word ‘belongs to another rights holder.’ (Example: the Shire of Blackwater Keep, the local SCA group.)

It doesn’t. It has never belonged to anyone. Common words cannot be trademarked/copyrighted, nor can they be the property of any ‘rights holder.’

 

UPDATE:

This is what my sister-in-law said in a message to Society 6 a couple days ago:

I keep getting a notice that some of the words in titles/tags I want to use ‘belong to another rights holder.’ One such word is “Shire” — as in, “Shire of Coeur du Val”, a chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism. (No one has EVER owned the word “shire” — it’s as much a “copyrightable” word as “city” or “borough” would be.) Apparently the word “anachronism” is also not allowed because it ‘may belong to another rights holder’; this is also nonsense.

Generic, common-use words CAN NOT be copyrighted, nor can they belong to any single “rights holder.” I want to be allowed to use the necessary tags/titles to label my work without being told, ‘You can’t do that — that commonplace word is, like, totally copyrighted by someone, somewhere.’

…And here’s their reply, received today (Oct. 29):

We do have some words that are copyright, the system detects them and are not available to use for wording content.

Facts:

No individual word can be copyrighted.

Society 6 was founded in Miami (says so right on their website); they’re not ‘in some foreign country with different copyright laws’ (and, to the best of my knowledge, there are no English-speaking countries that allow individual words to be copyrighted anyway).

Remember when, earlier in this century, some movie-making idjits attempted to trademark the word shire because it’s used as a place name in a movie they’d made, and they didn’t want anyone else to be able to use that word in a place name without paying them for permission? The tl;dr version: They weren’t allowed to trademark that word. No one can trademark a word that’s been in common use for a very, very long time. (This is why The Science Fiction Channel became Syfy; no one can own a word/phrase such as science fiction, either, even though it hasn’t been around for much more than a century, compared to the more than a millennium that shire has been in use.)

I’m sharing this photo now, before someone decides that one of the words printed on that mug is “copyrighted” and “belongs to another rights holder.” Or decides that, because everything about that image on the mug is a reference to a written work of fiction, I’m not allowed to own something with that image unless the “rights holder” is compensated monetarily. (The author of the work of fiction in question is also the person who created that image, and the image was created for me, because I wanted a “mission patch” for the Amundsen, but whatever.)

 

 

 

 

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Reblog: “Should You Write Every Day?”

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Gregory S. Close’s science fantasy novel Greyspace is now on KindleVella

He’s not actually doing this to bribe us (my clone-sibling and I), but there was at one time a deal struck that we’d finish “that novel” if he finished Greyspace… No wonder he asked me just a couple days ago how the work on that and other stories was going.

Here’s the blurb:

Once Upon a Future…

Sorcery powers the FTL Eldritch Cores of interstellar ships and modern science is just along for the ride. Second Ships Apprentice Bronwyn Mare is a somewhat average mage on the HMS Morrigan, but a mysterious message from her grandfather reveals that she’s got approximately ten hours to join forces with a mostly dead scientist, unleash a demon king, free a dreaded assassin, and save the universe. No pressure.

Cover Art: Paul B. Spence

(Yeah, that last bit is part of why, according to rumor, somewhere in the story is a shipbuilding company owned by “the Spence Clones.” 🙂 My twin has some skill in CGI, and years ago he made Greg a model of the HMS Morrigan.)

Now I’m gonna sign up for KindleVella so I can read the rest of this novel…

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