I'm an aspiring author looking to network and gain advice about fiction writing. Anybody have input on the value of attending a writing conference coming up in SF in February? Registration is upwards of $700 and would like to know from others if this is a worth-while investment.
By Cole Matthews
This is just a little feeler to see if anyone is interested in doing a shared project. "Thieves' World" was a collaborative project with several established, and not yet established, fantasy fiction writers creating characters to live and interact with each other in a town called Sanctuary. These writers could create stories and they would use other writers' characters within those stories.
They had a few rules about how to treat others main characters. They couldn't kill them off or substantially change them but other than that it was a free for all.
Here were the Thieves' World criteria I would start with:
1. Each writer would share a bio of their main character
2. Writers could include other writers characters within their stories
3. Use of the character must be fair, don't kill off or substantially change them, though different viewpoints are not only acceptable but encouraged.
We would also need help with artwork. We'd need a map of "Gaia-Town" along with some basic language and cultural agreements.
I'm just putting this out there. Let me know what you think. This is a non-GA approved project. I look forward to hearing what you think. So much great talent here. This could be great fun!!!
Yesterday was a fruitful day for me. It was a time of reflection (so reflective, I was soaked in my own thought and forgot to bring my tripod... to a night photography session).
Everyone has heard of the saying "pen is mightier than sword." And throughout the history we have witness that effect: how Jane Austen redefined marriage as a function of love (rather than a function of family duty), Charles Dickens showed the uglier side of Industrial Revolution (and none of the revolution fought with weapons redefined humanity more than IR), John Locke's words take the world into the Age of Revolution, and Karl Marx advised government to take active role in welfare for its own people. (I was going to add Adam Smith and his Wealth of the Nations, but ironically, we live in a capitalistic society but not many realized Smith also talked about government's role and it's very different from what people think of capitalism today, so I leave it out.... Maybe Smith's pen is less powerful...)
But moral has always been a tricky issue in contemporary literature. Ever since circa 1950's and 1960's, the literary movement derailed from the moralistic model and to the one that's more amoral and more experimental in structure. Whether that's an effect of WWII, Rock 'n Roll, or Beat Generation, or a combination of those, I don't know. All I could observe is, the society has already crossed the border from that of an amoral society to the one that's immoral.
If I have the endeavor to become an intellectual (which I do, to honor a legacy of an online friend), I have to exhibit not only knowledge, but also be a role model of the society, which includes, but not exclusive to, being a moral compass (and I am doing it with the secular/non-religious/intellectual method). How do I do that in a society which morality is an unpopular subject? (certainly less popular than money *tongue in cheek*)
To me..., back in the days, the consciousness of using fiction as the medium of delivering moral started when I was reflecting on my own reading of Albert Camus's The Plague. We live in a society where it is extremely unpopular to tell people what to think, because here in Western society we value freedom above everything else (i.e., give me freedom or give me death). Nobody likes preachers. In fact, as part of modern literary movement, we go as far as refrain using italicized text or any emphasis method which is offensive to reader's intelligence (though use it judiciously can be effective, though more often used in exposition/editorial rather than fiction). And using allegory/allusion/humor/satire as a way of delivery the pesky topic of moral (I refrain from doing it, but sometimes it is necessary) has been my choice since. (btw, if you have a better way that's more diplomatic, please let me know, because so far I have been failed miserably as an intellectual)
Camus also wrote many essays on top of his fiction career. Though this blog is also one of such that try to advocate certain view point; however, this form of advocacy is somewhat archaic and proven to be less effective in today's highly educated society. The essay form of advocacy has the pro of being direct, but also the con of backlash from opponents, and can easily be dismissed as being subjective (because it is subjective..., given its editorial nature). I, personally, advise against using essay form of advocacy except for political campaign, but that's just my opinion. I am risking myself sounding like a preacher for the sake of efficacy, and I have very little time to embed all these ideas gracefully into a story, so here they are..., very directly argued rather than being literary and diplomatically delivered.
Though I am not religious, but think about it, many founders of religions used allegories as way of delivering teaching of the way, rather than pedagogy. Native Americans also taught people the way through storytelling oral tradition.
And I encourage everyone to consider that, as writers, we have duty to our society, because we are given a weapon much more powerful than a sword. Remember it wasn't the existence of WMD that started the last Iraqi war.... It's a speculation of the existence of WMD that started it. Hitler waged a war against the world by manipulating patriotism of his own people. A sword only kills one at a time, but words can kill much more, effect much more enduring and detrimental. But words can also create positive effect and enlighten people. Choose words wisely.
And think about how popular media shape the society today.... I had a debate with the late online friend aforementioned, whether sit-com is based on real American way of life or not. His rebuttal was the sit-com was just BS (he was very American). But being a younger generation than he was, I saw the transformation of this society that mimics the sit-com way of life with my own eyes. And since many sit-coms are set in New York, written by mostly contemporary Jewish Americans (as oppose to traditional Jewish, as they have very different modes of life), how many of us non-New Yorkers are already assimilated with New Yorker's way through the work of invisible hands? Does life mimic fiction or does fiction mimic life? Don't you guys think media is greatly responsible for the acceptance of homosexuality through popular media?
Given I already talked about the power, it's only right that I also talk about the responsibility of the writer. The effect of second coming of yellow journalism is just as detrimental as the first time around, except this time we have the Internet.... I should also forewarn the the potential danger of cultural imperialism, which is a related to ethnocentrism, which is responsible for many wars throughout history. With the advocacy of anthropologists of its destructive nature to other cultures around the world, it is usually part of the American college curriculum to include cultural awareness. I was taught to consider point of views that encourage pluralistic way of thinking (as oppose to ethnocentric way). Given our society values freedom above all else (though at times I want to say money...), it is only democratic every culture can have its voice. One would expect cultural imperialism really should be bygone history with the formation of the Common Wealth... (though the Common Wealth was formed through practicality, but one should at least thank the Queen for at least considering from the humanistic point of view)
I do not expect a moral renaissance with this essay, but I'll end this tirade with a quote:
"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything."
By Thorn Wilde
I know I'm not the only one here who has roots in fan fiction. I didn't start out there (I started out at the age of 5 writing a story about a rabbit, as many authors before me), but in many ways it was through fan fiction that I learned to write properly, mimicking the works of others to find my own style. For me, this happened through the Harry Potter fandom (which may or may not be the reason why my stories are so very British despite the fact that I'm not).
I still dabble a bit, though not as much as I used to, and I read fan fiction still (though not so much based on literary works, most of it is for TV-series after they've been cancelled or I've run out of episodes and need a fix). I've always thought that the day people are writing fan fiction based on my work will be the day I'll know I've made it.
Some authors have always encouraged fan fiction writing, J.K. Rowling among them. Neil Gaiman also states that though he doesn't read fan fiction (and occasionally finds the things people come up with quite disturbing) he thinks it's a good way for people to get into writing and takes no issue with it. Other authors never address the topic and mostly just turn a blind eye, while others still strongly discourage the practice. Anne Rice, for instance, made herself very unpopular by sending lawyers to harass fans who posted fan fiction online.
Now, I'm curious to know how people here feel about this phenomenon.
As a reader, is it something that interests you? Do you read fan fiction for fun? Why or why not?
As a writer, have you ever written it? And perhaps more importantly, how would you feel about people writing fan fiction based on your work?