Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Busy elsewhere

For a stiff week I'll be rather busy with the EC.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Neat Potter sales

US sales at 8.3 million copies the first 24 hours according to this article in DN. I also read in an old fashioned paper newspaper that British sales were almost 3 million copies sold during the first 24 hours. Back here in Sweden the book has sold out.

Minor madness

Just added an RSS feed for this blog. http://feeds.feedburner.com/twl

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More Potter madness

Reading an article in DN I saw how the Potter fever has struck Sweden as well.

The book will e released at 1 am, which corresponds to midnight UK time, and there are book stores which will be open at that time.

Several stores plan to lose money on their initial sales of the last book in the series. Prices have been cut to below half of the recommended one.

All this for a YA book in a foreign language. That says something about how widely spread basic mastery of English is in Sweden.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Characters and words

I just noticed a minor, yet interesting, difference between Sweden and the English world. Places asking for short stories here in Sweden give the maximum length in characters whereas the English speaking counterparts give them in words.

I wonder about the reason for this peculiar difference, not that it matters much for practical purposes.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Plotting the good lie

Your hero triumphs over his his/her antagonist, or fails horribly. No matter what, in a story the conflict should be resolved within scope of the conflict itself. That is good story telling. An example of not so good story telling would be a deus ex machinae resolution.

You probably recognize this and acknowledge it as well, as do I. Still, this is only a matter the good lie. Herein lies an interesting conflict. Where character focus has shown a tendency to go as far as making realistic characters more important than interesting characters the same can not be said for plot. Realistically the unexpected, the god in the machine, happens all too often. Still, you know that the reader will be aghast if the last chapter ends with the hero or villain getting killed accidentally in a car crash.

Episodes should lead to episodes which lead to a resolution, and the as sudden as late introduction of an event, outside the scope of the story, which takes it into a totally different direction is not popular.

So we force the plot to stay within the boundaries of the good story, telling the reader the good lie. Obviously the same should be done with characters. Plotting the good lie has to be followed by telling the good lie in order to give the reader a good read. In fantasy character and plot need to be lied well; setting to a certain extent less so.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The truth

The truth, the realistic truth or the experienced truth? That is the question -- for a writer at least.

The truth is absolute. It is the kind of objective truth we seldom encounter, and in as much as it is there at all to begin with it is also rather uninteresting.

The realistic truth is the objective sounding version we agree to accept, either by embracing it or by being dragged screaming and fighting until we face it. It is, however, not the truth. The realistic truth can be truthful or an outright lie, but it has the ring of truth to it, and we tend to accept it as such for that reason. It is also one of the tools of the trade for a writer needing to suspend disbelief.

The experienced truth is the one each one of you take for granted and makes each one of you roar in frustration when you are faced with it in another. At least that frustration comes in full strength when that other person doesn't share your experience of truth. The experienced truth is also the only one that matters. It is what the realistic truth becomes if ruefully accepted or the one it already is when embraced. It is the version you believe in, for whatever reason, valid or not.

The experienced truth is also the most interesting one for authors willing to face their own darker sides in order to write a better story.
It is the kind of truth that makes us assume that dictatorships spew out propaganda and democracies provide objective information.
It is the version of the truth that has been manipulated whenever a great book comes with a great message, because great messages are always manipulations of the truth, and no one is interested in the truth.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Realistic characters

I've been following, and participating, in an on-line discussion on books. A specified series of books in this case, but I'll abstain from identifying it.

People have exchanged opinions about the contents; mostly about characters and their corresponding characterisation. Whereas one set of opinions complain about characters so boring to read about that the plot dies the other side states that characters must be realistically depicted, and if the plot suffers as a result, then so be it.

Now I'm admittedly subjective, advocating plot before character as I do, but it would seem that non-writing readers tend to prefer the fun story over fantastic characters.

It should be noted, however, that readers of speculative fiction are to a great extent writers themselves. By writers I include anyone writing stories no matter whether they have a publishing history or not. The group of people who talk about writing but seldom put words to paper is even larger.

Again I see how the modern mantra of character above all gets in the way of an enjoyable story to read. Flat world with a generic plot is all fine as long as the author concentrates on creating a very small number of fantastic characters. You see, the current vogue is that there be only one main character. At least according to tips on writing from professionals and semi professionals.

Strangely enough the titles with a multitude of characters, where it is debatable if a main character can be identified at all, continue to book the slots for best sellers. It would seem that readers aren't as easily educated as writers and continue to shop for the fun story where action and pace require several viewpoints from which to see the story unfolding -- and with them the need for several characters. With several characters come, to a certain extent, the need for economy, which in turn translates into thinner depictions and more unrealistic portraits. There is little room for navel gazing when the plot needs to move forward.

So there is a thing as too much character after all. At least in my opinion.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More critting

I'm doing a few crits, slowly admittedly, and jumping between languages is starting to have me see why some things work in English but not at all in Swedish. Scope and bombastic seems to be two easily identifiable themes.

I assume I'll learn more as I go along, but as of now I have only managed to see these two stylistic details that work better in English.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Slow Monday

A mere three of us meeting up for the weekly pubgame. Exactly one too few. Well, it is part of summer and has been every year. Pity that it's been raining more or less constantly the last two weeks. That is not part of a usual summer here.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Ships from the age of sails are a not too uncommon feature of today's fantasy.

Götheborg, a replica of an East India sail ship, was a fantasy of her own. Here she's back home in Göteborg after a return trip to China.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Deadline met

So I did deliver the short story with a few hours to go.

A more down to earth approach took the language and sound of the story in a more preferred direction. Swedish doesn't lend itself well to the bombastic, much less so than English. I don't know exactly why, but I believe it has something to do with our language being developed with lots and lots of nature and very few people around.