“Red Spirit…” she cursed. “It’s a spirit!” Making sure that her family was not awake, she slipped both legs out of the window. She wouldn’t be able to lock the door downstairs from the outside, and she couldn’t leave her family vulnerable to Soikles — this was the only remaining way out. She maneuvered down the path her sister always took to sneak out at night during the Southern Season and swim in the river. She slipped clumsily and crashed to the ground, her elbone digging into the soft earth. She yanked it out. The Qhilla was now all the way in between the homes adjacent to hers; this was no ordinary creature. Patcha ran after it, and found herself hard pressed to keep up. Every now and then, she would blink, and it would be lost from sight.
She was some ways out of the village and uphill, toward the temple, when a nearby holler met her ears. She faltered for just a moment, and the Qhilla vanished. She cursed, knowing that she had to help instead of following the spirit. She shot off in the direction of the cries. It wasn’t long before her blood ran cold at the sight of Soikle tracks among the shrubbery.
A boy was cornered on the foundation of an abandoned store house. He had a sling, useless to him at such close proximity, slung over his right shoulder. He instead used his gloved left hand to wield a traveling stick coated in frost. The pack of tiny Soikles, each no larger than a Meesee, seemed to have just cornered the cloaked young man, who retreated as far back as he could on the foundation before reaching a wall. He leaped forwards again as some of the Soikles attempted to climb the base with their hairy black legs, swatting them with his icy staff to keep them away. … More The Flood Thieves Chapter 1: The First Record
Last week, I published a longer piece on the discovery vs outline writing debate. In that article, I mentioned that I “lean towards” discovery writing. That got me thinking: what does “lean towards” mean?
Plenty of writers and bloggers have covered the topic before: does “discovery writing” exist? If so, which is better, discovery writing or the traditionally taught “outline writing”?
This blog is not about those questions. It’s about the discourse that writers, readers, and English academics have been exchanging, how toxic it is, and why such a seemingly inconsequential debate is getting so heated.
For the Uninitiated:
For those of you who aren’t caught up on this fiasco, “discovery” and “outline” writing refer to differing ways of creating a plot. Outline writing is what you most likely learned in K – 12: to write a story, you first create an outline, and then you start slowly connecting those dots as you write. “Pure” outline writing would be outlining a story down to the last paragraph. You can make revisions, of course, but a true outline writer finds it difficult to get started without knowing where they’re headed. Even if the plan doesn’t survive contact, a plan is still necessary. Discovery writing is simply the absence of an outline. Pure discovery writing would be creating characters, picking a premise, and then just seeing what happens.
Some big names are on either side of this debate. Stephen King is adamant about the power of letting characters make their own decisions, and not shoehorning them into a particular plan (Source: “On Writing”). J.K. Rowling, on the other hand, says that outlining and planning is the most vital thing for a good story (Source). Brandon Sanderson — author of the Mistborn series, The Stormlight Archive, and the last parts of The Wheel of Time series — insists that both discovery and outline writing have their pros and cons (Source). … More Discovery vs Outline Writing
“Tony says that Velocity is bad because he never helps people.”
Jalek sighed. When he’d volunteered to be one of the chaperones for the school field trip to Velocity Hall, he’d anticipated getting pelted with accusations like this — though he hadn’t been expecting it from his own daughter. He’d told her a thousand times at home, and the tour guide had just told her a thousand times for the past hour, but her attention disorder made her a horse led to water.
Maybe now that she’s asking the question, she’ll listen, he reassured himself as he prepared to tell the whole story again. … More Velocity and The Sleeper (2018)
“We are gathered here to make history,” the woman announced, stepping forward. “I don’t need to remind you all what this graduation, and the graduates’ journey, entails, but it is our duty to keep you always mindful of the consequences.
“Being the first people to sail the sea in a thousand years was no small feat, nor was being the first civilization to make contact and establish relations with the endless others out there. But we paid a price for our openness with others, and now we aim to pay our debt and stave off the threat of the March. What will be truly impressive is finding the solution out at sea. Allies willing to defend, hosts willing to take settlers, scientists willing to share technology…” She let the words hang in the air. “The possibilities are limitless, but urgent.” … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima” Scene #2
Long ago, our ancestors used the stars of the night sky to voyage across the vast oceans. But when the stars disappeared, our islands were separated. The peoples of each island have drifted in different directions, each culture developing different technologies, each society using the power of the Sperk plant to grant them different abilities. Once the people of our island, Cambia, united under one queen, our sights turned beyond our shores. We learned how to follow the orcas in their travels across the depths of the vast ocean, and began exploring the innumerable islands of our world. We traded technologies with our strange but friendly neighbors. We shared the secrets of voyaging with everyone we met, hoping to create a better world. But then, we stumbled across the island of Mara, which was eternally locked in an arms race…until they met us. When we told the March of the vast world beyond their small island, their hungry eyes looked past the horizon. Using weapons capable of destroying entire civilizations, the March attacked us and began using our secrets of voyaging in their conquest of the seas. We send these voyagers to you to share our discoveries and establish an alliance for the coming war. We are the people of Cambia, and we come in peace. … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima” #1
They’re samples, they’ve been scraped or modified beyond recognition, they’ve been slightly edited so that they aren’t unbearably cringey, and they’re finally seeing the light of day. … More New Category: SampleScraps
This small topic has taken up a surprising amount of my mental energy over the past few months. It all started when I sat in on a history class called “Women in Sickness and in Health,” which focuses on gender perceptions throughout western history. The first day of class covered the topic of a “default sex.”
In humans, science suggests, it is default to be female. Add testosterone to a person and they begin to show male secondary sex characteristics (deeper voices, facial hair, extra muscles, etc.). Add a Y chromosome to an embryo and you get a male. Though the norm is two, females can have any number of X chromosomes (see “trisomy X”) without ever showing any sign of being male. But so long as someone has a Y chromosome, that person is transformed into something different.
As a biology major, I was well familiar with these facts. But I wasn’t aware that some people interpreted these results as being sexist. The history class asked, “Can’t we also say that being male is a lack of having two X chromosomes? Or a lack of estrogen? Why are women the ones who are ‘missing’ something? Missing a penis, missing testosterone, missing a Y chromosome, always ‘missing,’ always ‘lesser.'”
As I mention in the last section, this answer is complicated but mostly “no.” But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about “defaults.” Why does equating “female” with “default” mean that they are inferior? In fact, I’m used to the exact opposite: … More Which sex is the default?
In 1985, the popularity of the show He-Man and its toy line prompted the creation of a spin-off called She-Ra: Princess of Power, which was meant to appeal to a female audience. The show ran for two seasons, and then went on to become a meme.
This year, a reboot of the show, called She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (I know, the titles are confusingly similar), premiered on Netflix. I checked it out because everyone online was going crazy over the ship Catadora, and I of course had my New Year’s resolution to try new things whenever someone says “I recommend it.” Was it as good as everyone said it was?
Well, to put it simply, this was the first full show I’ve ever binged. … More She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
My friends and I play Dungeons and Dragons, and we all normally play characters of our own gender. I barely remember what the situation was, but a situation once arose during a D&D session where my character wanted to do something, and another player said that the NPC wouldn’t allow it because I was a woman and the middle ages were sexist.
I was completely taken aback. We weren’t including plague, infant mortality, or suicide in our campaign — in fact, there wasn’t even any gore, sex, or curse words unless the players specified it. The DM was PG at its finest. We were obviously including medieval elements that made things fun, like swords and tyrant kings, but omitting things that would make it less fun, like weight limits and bestiality. So why would sexism be built in to the world? … More Is sexism in high fantasy “just being realistic?”