neongrey

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About neongrey

  • Birthday 02/24/1984

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  1. 3/20-Wisps of Aether-A Foreign World

    P.1 I'm not sold on epigraphs on shorts-- you're working to length constraints, so you need to be elegant. This seems like it's stating outright things the fictional writer would take as given, and it clunks. It also seems like you're outright stating, at the start, the thesis of your story. Give your reader at least a little credit here. Reading down the page, this feels really clumsy to me. Your description's muddy (a blur is by definition silent, eg) and you're just explaining so much that the characters already know, both within the narration and in the dialogue. The entire first page of eight here is sunk into explaining things the POV character already knows, and when there's dialogue it's pure explanation for the reader, not natural dialogue. This doesn't parse as a conversation, and this doesn't parse as someone returning to a place once-familiar that's now foreign. The thing about this is sort of exposition is that it really shows a lot of disrespect to the reader; you're not giving them any credit for being able to pick up things that aren't stated outright and beaten into them. Especially when you're working with a short: you have better things you could and should be devoting the space to. P.2 Write numbers as words. We've now spent 25% of the page count of this story explaining the premise: time dilation. You are at this point actively wasting the reader's time. P.3 It is three and a half pages in to an eight page story before we actually hit story, to wit, that the world is different around the POV character, and they do not know what to do with themself, but they must do something. Description is absolutely wobbly and you've got some very clumsy attempts to break POV here. The same smile is relieved in one sentence and bittersweet two sentences later, without any reason to suspect a change. Your POV character is making laser-precise surmises as to other people's mental states. I have no reason to believe this person is capable of doing this. P.4 I would straight-up trash everything prior to the demarked line break on this page. There's nothing in it of value to the story: it's straight-up giving us the premise, over, and over, and over again. You don't need it. Here, your narration is still heavy-handed and over-explanatory (looking down at the watch is definitely going too far), but here, you've actually got something of interest. P.5 But you're really weak on dialogue. Lots and lots of point-blank explaining things to one another, and boy howdy does this POV character not parse as seventeen years old in the slightest. So the POV character's sister's words are touching their heart: you're not conveying this in any way other than just saying that's the case. You're gonna have to do more than that. P.6 Like above all else, you are just saying things outright way too much. Don't tell me something's moving or compelling because you certainly aren't doing the legwork narratively to make it seem that way, and you're not writing the character as being meaningfully moved or compelled either. The 'forgotten' thing is straight-up a cop-out. The stone hasn't meaningfully existed within the story prior to this point. You can't sell it as having any import now. And frankly, you're not even trying to sell it as having import; it didn't exist before now, and suddenly someone who's crying and profoundly unhappy suddenly is happy and relieved. I have to call BS on this. This isn't emotionally believable. P.7 Honestly, the way you're handling the self-harm feels really cheap, like you're primarily using it as a bid for the reader's sympathy. That's really not cool at all. If you must retain this aspect, you're going to need to do the legwork to make it feel like you're doing anything other than taking really tacky shortcuts. Personally, I would excise that aspect and just do the actual work of making the reader feel like the character's had a lousy life and hasn't handled it well. The same goes for the POV character too. P.8 And then... nothing. So, this is a piece with a lot of problems: among other things, the SFFnal concept doesn't actually interact with the plot or the characters in any meaningful way. You sink so much time and space into going on, and, on, and on about the time dilation aspect but when we get to the meat of the story, there's really nothing about it where the main character leaving for a month and returning eight years later means anything at all. There's nothing about this interaction between the POV character and their sister that wouldn't make exactly as much sense if they'd just literally been gone for eight years themself, and there's nothing about it that requires a secondary world setting. This could happen down the street from me right now. This is not to say your story needs to meaningfully be SF or anything to have value but you're devoting nearly half of your used space to explaining concepts that really have nothing to do with the story you're telling. Your dialogue pretty much never rings true and your narration only exists when necessary to explain something. You're not selling your uses of emotionality, and they come off basically random and they only exist for the moments of convenience within the story. You don't actually have a plot, and your story is thin on the ground because of this: the POV character was away for several years, and when they return, their sister has had a hard go of it. That's basically it. I would say it needs a redraft from scratch; the core relationship between the POV character and their sister has value, but right now, I just don't think this submission actually tells a story.
  2. Waning, Ch. 12 (S)

    And here we have the conclusion of this party, as far as we see it, anyway, and the closing of the first third of the story. From here, I'm going to be going back to redo a pair of chapters (Ka/Thalan/ia's first POV is getting moved back until later on, among other things) before moving forward. This is going to be our last multipov chapter for a while, too. For those of you who've been following the whole thing: let's talk about Lasila. What are your thoughts on her overall in this iteration? There were severe issues, last time we hit this point in the story. She's no action hero and this story isn't in the epic genre, but I'm hoping she's better now at commanding the reader's attention. To recap the last little bit: Escorted by Eshrin, Lasila attends the celebration of the goddess' resurrection; she meets the man Iluya's going to marry (Eshrin's brother), has some off-camera sex with Iluya, meets up with Maranthe, who says she needs contracts written in order to rework shudkathra magic for aelin use; she then meets up with a young man, the son of the senator whom her brother is protecting. They head off somewhere quiet. *He* isn't suffering from incredibly-carefully-managed social anxiety, unlike Iluya, so what can and can't occur on the page is somewhat different... Meanwhile, Savae notes Senator Riruna's presence, with the poison earrings they made; they seem satisfied that this is going to kill him... eventually. They meet up with Aserahin, Varael Ashana's right-hand and Senate candidate, and they pass him a decoy token to satisfy Varael's demands. They speak with Maranthe briefly about a minor role they're to have in the upcoming ritual, and wisely spend a decidedly large amount of time antagonizing her instead. This will have no repercussions. This time: Lasila begins a process best described as 'getting religion'. An Always Sunny title card reading "Savae sees some repercussions" Next time: Chapter four.
  3. Email List and Submission Dates

    yeah, I don't mind going over multiple flash pieces.
  4. On the Ethics of Writing Outside What You Know in Fiction

    And here's something that's come out recently about one of Nnedi Okorafor's books-- publisher tried to whitewash her cover.
  5. Email List and Submission Dates

    Well, things are seeming to crowd up fast right now, lol, so I'll take the 20th now. History is still in the shop but 12 is ready to go, and it's pretty much the point at which I need to now double back to patch up the shambling early Savae plot, but I need to take inventory here. It's not nearly so long as before, lol.
  6. Merch / giveaway question

    tbh I so rarely see free stuff at any cons I go to that anything free at all would stick out to me.
  7. On the Ethics of Writing Outside What You Know in Fiction

    Here's an article and thread on a similar subject. Most of us don't write outright kids' books but nothing's in a vacuum and all.
  8. On the Ethics of Writing Outside What You Know in Fiction

    When it comes to publishing and marketing though, there is a measure of responsibility that needs to be noted, in that while this isn't a zero-sum game, at times it can be closer to that than it should be. First, recall that it has been tested fairly thoroughly that names that sound both white and/or male are typically taken as being more authoritative regardless of field, regardless of qualification (resume tests are common for this but there's a lot of work going on in this field). Second, with trad publishers, part of why they're selective in the ways that they are is because they're only intending to publish so many books... ... which means that what can and does happen is that you will have publishers declining books on the grounds that they're already publishing these books on these subjects and they're by white/male/straight/cis/etc authors... They will get selected first for publication, demonstrably so. And then there's marketing: again, it's pretty well documented that on average, white male authors get marketed better than other authors; this puts them in people's eyes and minds a lot more above others. Word of mouth spreads them faster. They get recognized more, and this is by no means universal to publication (consider #oscarssowhite). And this is not a, you know, a don't/never/etc, but it is one of those things to be cognizant of as one acts. We don't live or work in a vacuum and this is the sort of thing that very much impacts the people around us.
  9. Why didn't you at any point decide to learn anything about the subject before making pronouncements about it? e: though in retrospect, someone entering into a conversation about something without actually knowing anything about the subject of the conversation, making a sweeping pronouncement about the subject of the conversation regardless, and expecting this pronouncement to be taken seriously frankly precisely describes the phenomenon that ownvoices partially exists to address. You have consistently and repeatedly spoken in favour of oppressive systems and the preservation of oppressive systems. Whether you want to or not, whether you like that fact or not, you are supporting oppression. When you're trying to redefine the terms of the conversation based on a claim that someone else who has not weighed in would feel a certain way, that's taking agency away from them. If you don't want to discuss this here, that's fine, but do that on your own terms, and don't make decisions on Kaisa's behalf.
  10. Then to be absolutely clear: you do not actually know what ownvoices is or what it is for, because it specifically addresses disparities in publishing and representation in fiction. What you are describing is memoir. That is something else. You do not get to redefine what ownvoices is to better suit your own privilege. Also, so-called meritocratic systems have been shown time and time again to not actually be reflective of merit-- they reinforce existing power structures, they don't level them. (I am at work and a little busy so I can't make my citations quite as thorough as I would prefer). What they do is disregard the systemic power imbalances and ways in which people have been systematically disadvantaged. As, frankly, you're arguing in favour of. Frankly, that's up to her and not you.
  11. I mean honestly, there's a word for people writing about their own experiences as nonfiction, and that's memoir. Ownvoices is a thing specifically incepted to highlight those sorts of disparities in publishing fiction, and someone trying to say that this has no value outside of memoir is absolutely emblematic of the reason why it needs to exist. Saying ownvoices should only apply to memoir is saying that the very concept shouldn't belong to the people who incepted it, in favour of a so-called colourblind ideology-- Which, let me be absolutely clear, is a form of racism-- -- is contemptible. It is-- because I note that ownvoices was in large part incepted as a response to YA and children's books-- saying that marginalized children have no business seeing themselves in the fiction they consume. This is coming from someone whose perspective is consistently catered to in fiction, who has vast, vast swaths of literature being written from and marketed to cisgendered heterosexual abled white males. That's contemptible. It is a form of clutching all the toys to one's chest and saying no one else should have them. So I'm going to put that forward as an example of racism being alive and well even within this group because, well, it's present. It's alive and well in this group. And if someone happens to feel personally called out over publicly and repeatedly espousing a fundamentally racist viewpoint-- honestly, I don't care. I really could not possibly care the slightest bit less. It needs to be called out. These things need to be dragged out into the light and exposed for what they are.
  12. I mean it's not just with genders-- we have people in this very group who've demonstrated that they value physicists talking physics over, say, black people talking about lived experience as black people. Or people taking more seriously when they hear their physics are wrong than their linguistics are wrong. Social sciences are perceived less scientifically valid-- this extends to the real world too but it's very common to see people who know nothing about, say, sociology writing stories based on incredibly wrong sociological premises who would never dare to get their physics or their chemistry wrong. And this is in large part a problem of sociology, so... Western SFF loves to reinforce existing power structures though too-- look back at the fifties and sixties and look at the handling of women in so many of the popular works from the time. Going back further-- Lovecraft's horror is a horror of privilege: the realization that you are not the most important thing in the universe. So much of the genre is founded on examining everything but deeply-held assumptions or treating such examination as an inherent ill. It doesn't make someone a better person to have been culturally indoctrinated into a way of thinking if they're going to defend that indoctrination. Ignorance is one thing, though there comes a point where people really should take some initiative to educate themselves rather than wait to put their foot in it, but I'm mostly talking about causes, not further action right now.
  13. Most of this seems to be coming in large part from a very firmly-held inherent assumption that there are exactly two genders and attempts to forcibly cast everything that occurs in that sense. This is lousy real-world practice, but it's downright ludicrous when it comes to SFF.
  14. all of that said, you know, let's take a moment to talk about apologies. This sort of apology is of a family best described at "I'm sorry that you have a problem with the thing that I did". This isn't quite down to "sorry you were offended" which is a well-known format for a non-apology, but it's not that far removed. This follows the form of "I'm sorry (for thing I did)" which, okay. The problem is, y'know, what is this actually apologizing for? It's apologizing for "giving offense". There's a lot to unpack there. Let's start with that what the apology for is actually for hurting my feelings. The problem here of course is not that my feelings were hurt-- the problem here was twofold: One, that this was a crit that somehow hinged on reading something that is laboriously instilled in the text and coming away with the literal opposite of what the text says. Somehow you managed to read a text where the first-person narrator repeatedly narrates great distress at the very concept of being considered a woman and read that as 'this is a girl pretending to be a boy'. Okay. Sure. Whatever. This is not to say the text leads the reader to a specific conclusion about the character's gender, but 'not a girl' is a key character trait hammered in throughout. So, you know, the fact that your crit is about 50% "you should make it more clear they're a girl" peppered in with some really gross misogyny (which I let pass as being tangential to the issue, but I really should not have) really throws into question the viability of the crit. Two, that you couched your crit in language that, I stress, is used in the real world to drive real violence. A fact which you don't acknowledge and simply attempt to justify your usage of in this case. But the fact is this attitude causes real harm and perpetuating it does real harm. Even when it's not being used to drive violence, it's used to invalidate people. It was used in this very crit to invalidate the given text. So, I mean, the problem is not that I was offended, the problem was that the crit was dubious and couched in misogynistic and transphobic language. But let's talk more about invalidation and the way the 'offense' form is used to do that. Like one, obviously, it recasts the issue away from any actual thing being done wrong to a perceptual issue of feelings. It carries with it the assumption that there was nothing wrong with the act that caused it, only its result. Two is that specifically 'offense' is itself used to invalidate harm done by actions. 'Being offended' is far more often than not used as a rhetorical shield by the privileged against the marginalized-- in part because of the above recasting, and in part because it's treated as a thing people choose to do or be. This is not really true but this connotation is also part of why it's got no business being in an apology. Basically, any time "offense" comes up in an apology there's the inescapable connotation that the person doing the apologizing does not feel there is a valid reason to apologize. I'm not big into huge self-flagellating apologies, those are gross, but I think an aplogy should actually correctly show awareness of what's being apologized for. So, that being said, no, I don't accept that apology, because either you don't know what the problem actually was, or you don't care, and both are a lousy foundation for apology.