Of these four ways to ruin your novel, I pick this one:
2) Stupid Gas! Let’s split up to explore this haunted house!
The other three hurl-the-book-aside sins according to Susan Morris at Omnivoracious are:
1) leaving in too much stuff you should have taken out
3) preaching to the reader, and
4) providing your hero with a cardboard cutout for a love interest.
Any of those strike you as worse than Stupid Gas?
Also! Here’s a nice post from Kate Elliot about woman characters in historical fantasy. Because the problem with saying: If you’re building a world with fantasy things like dragons in it, why does the role of women have to be authentic? is that a society that is supposed to feel historically accurate will in fact feel false if you try to equalize gender roles in that society. Though I love The Book Smugglers (really! My very favorite book site!), I don’t think they’re right about that one at all. About how even constrained woman characters can have agency, yes, but not about the equalize-gender-roles-what-the-heck-it’s-your-world-and-you-can-do-what-you-want thing.
Because, hello, there HAVE NEVER BEEN ANY HUMAN SOCIETIES EVER where gender was not important in determining social roles? So if you pretend that really gender is not important? Your fantasy world will feel all fake.
Though some authors manage surprisingly well, ie, THE DEED OF PAKSENNARION by Elizabeth Moon. Still not sure why it worked better in that one that it usually does. Have to think about it.
But! You should also keep in mind that building a realistic society that limits the “proper” roles of women gives you something extra for your female characters to struggle against, which as an author is a great and good thing, not a problem. And may also lead to your book making the Amelia Bloomer Project list for books with “significant feminist content”, because struggling against societal limitations is just the ticket as far as that goes, right? Which, just saying, THE FLOATING ISLANDS made that particular list, which is not something I aimed for — setting up problems for my characters to overcome did it automatically.
The INTERN has a hilarious post up — euphamisms for all! My fave: “This is my first book.” I think The INTERN is more or less right about what that phrase really means.
Plus, scroll down, because the INTERN has this to say about the ongoing agony that is picking a title:
The title INTERN had come up with for her novel had been, quote, “roundly” rejected by the Sales Team, who were requesting that a new one be dreamed up, stat.
Roundly rejected! huffed INTERN. They could have at least AGONIZED a little. They could have at least sent INTERN a letter explaining how this decision to veto her beloved pet title had ripped at their very SOULS.
Hah hah hah! Good luck with that whole “Come up with another title stat” thing. Sometimes it’s almost easier to write another book than a title!
4 thoughts on “My pick is number two! And other links —”
I don’t know how much TV you watch, but if you’re looking for a story that deals with the constraints of women’s roles in society–and how they can be absolutely AWESOME while still acting within those roles–you might try the Korean drama THE PRINCESS’S MAN, which is streaming free and subtitled on Hulu and on Dramafever.com. It’s one of the best stories in ANY medium I’ve run into recently, and it’s absolutely gorgeous (though heartwrenching) to boot.
Very little, but “one of the best stories in ANY medium”? Sounds like I might have to give this one a try. Thanks for the links!
Your mentioning of women’s roles reminds me of a recent push someone gave me to try Undsett’s KRISTIN LAVRANSDAUGHTER again. She kept talking about how seriously Undsett took the women’s positions, and also how well she understood the men. And that there isn’t an air of ‘how awful women had it.’ When I tried reading it years ago, I bogged down in the translator’s choice to use archaic and convoluted language. And I could see Kristin making some very bad decisions, and wasn’t in the mood to follow her story any more. But there’s a new much better translation which also puts back some scenes the original translator skipped/censored. I can’t think of many historical novels that follow an non-royal woman over the course of her whole life from teen to old age & death – in three volumes, yet!
On Stupid Gas. YES. May I add a variation? The main character who has an ability (usually inherited) that she is trying desperately to pretend doesn’t exist and that she’s absolutely normal. There may be books out there with men doing this, too, but those I’ve run into have all been female. It’s stupid, and a lame set up to get said character into trouble. Now when they are honestly ignorant of it, that’s different, as long the author makes that ignorance plausible.
Ugh, I agree, the whole Poor Me I Just Want To Be Like Everyone Else. I mean, why? Don’t normal girls want to be special, just as much as normal boys?
I think I’ll add KRISTIN LAVRANSDAUGHTER to my wishlist, because this sounds good.
You know, one of the things I really like about Bujold’s Sharing Knife series is how nearly all the characters are normal everyday common people. Boathands and farmers and so forth. Not a princess in sight.