Kitchen Sink Links

Foz Meadows being brilliant. This is the best explanation of the difference between male and female narratives I’ve seen.

In het-male-oriented action stories where the hero gets the girl, his manly efforts at saving the day serve as the narrative justification for the romantic outcome: he has done X, therefore he wins the lady. But because the story is all about the hero’s wants and needs, we’re very rarely shown why the lady likes X beyond a sort of implied, innate correlation:obviously ladies like X – or at least, this particularlady does, because otherwise, she wouldn’t be in the story. Her emotional complicity is a given, because the story doesn’t care about how she arrives at (from the hero’s standpoint) the correct decision; only that he gets his reward for performing X. In het-female-oriented romance stories, the resolution of conflict between hero and heroine serves as the narrative justification for the romantic outcome: he has done Y and she has done Z, therefore they win each other. The story is aboutboth their wants and needs, and while there’s often a stronger emotional focus on the heroine, the why of the hero’s attraction is still deemed important.

Go read the rest. The brilliance continues. I wish I could be so smart. Seeing is Understanding. This post by Blair MacGregor creeped me out and I thought I knew a thing or two about creepy men after working with domestic violence victims (their word not mine) for the district attorney’s office.

“No, I don’t,” I blurted out, and described how that man knew precisely where the lines of “inappropriate” behavior were drawn, and had spent the last couple of years nudging those lines whenever he came across a woman he considered “available.”  I mentioned he’d been called out for failing to heed polite turn-downs, that he got offended when the turn-down became less polite.  I mentioned how women who weren’t even the focus of his attention breathed a sigh of relief when he left the room.

You probably already read Libba Bray’s post On Writing Despair. If not, bookmark it for when you need it. If my dentist projected these videos of Hypnotic Wind-powered Kinetic Sculptures by Anthony Howe on the ceiling I would be a much happier patient. via thisiscolossal.com

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I’m back!

And I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: post some of my fiction to the site, specifically the first 250 words of the novel I’m about to send out for it’s next (and hopefully final) beta read.

I spent a lot of the day over on WriteOn Con reading a bunch of beginnings. There is so much good stuff posted from really polished, to really close, to rough around the edges with a lot of promise, to really rough but with at least one unpolished gem of intriguing potential. There are a lot of creative people out there.

So of course I’ve been thinking about beginnings, which are the hardest for most of us, and thought I’d share the different versions stretching back through the several years of this project, latest to earliest.

Current opening:

THE DESERT WALL

Malenie was hiding. The sun burned hot and brilliant on the white plaster and dull adobe houses, banishing the shadows from even so narrow an alley. Sweat prickled along her hairline. She leaned against the wall, its grit rubbing off on her back, and tried to stop panting. Fear and humiliation made a hard fist of her stomach, urging her to run again. Only two streets over, the market hummed with activity, promising safety.

“I hate them,” she whispered soundlessly, though she wanted to shout. She had been careless after almost a moon without trouble, and now here she was, with at least one bully somewhere behind her. But a cactus never has just one spine, and bullies never travel alone. She tucked her black hair behind her ears, pressed herself closer to the house behind her and crept forward. She peeked around the corner, thinking, Please.

The boy was so close she smelled fennel and anise on his breath as they both recoiled. “Told you,” said the tall girl with him, stepping forward and forcing Malenie back into the alley. Malenie’s heartbeat seemed to shake her whole body, demanding that she fight or run. Run or fight. The boy followed half a breath later, straightening his shoulders, trying to look bigger, but the girl didn’t notice. Pursing her lips, she looked Malenie up and down. “Where you going, Red?”

The insult stung and Malenie said, “I don’t want to fight,” knowing it was the wrong thing to say even as she said it.

8/10/13. Almost right, but felt too aggressive.

Malenie was hiding. The sun burned hot and brilliant on the white plaster and dull adobe houses, banishing the shadows from even so narrow an alley. Sweat prickled along her hairline. She leaned against the wall, its grit rubbing off on her back, and tried to stop panting. Fear and humiliation made a hard fist of her stomach, urging her to run again, and two streets over, the market hummed with activity, promising safety.

The boy was so close she smelled fennel and anise on his breath as he recoiled. “Told you,” said the tall girl with him, stepping into the space he’d left. He straightened his shoulders, trying to look bigger, but the girl didn’t notice. She poked Malenie in the chest contemptuously, her fingers finding an old bruise that sung less than what she said next. “Red, where you going?” Pursing her lips, she looked Malenie up and down. “Thought we didn’t know where you were?”

Malenie took a deep breath, letting her humiliation build up into anger. She tucked her black hair behind her ears, pushed off the house and propelled her knee into the girl’s groin, envisioning it going through her target as her friend Nes had taught her. “Rot you!” she screamed in the girl’s face, using the noise as another weapon. Revulsion and bile burnt the back of her throat and her thigh ached from the impact.

The girl seemed to hand on Malenie’s knee and then she wailed, crumpled to the ground and curled into a ball.

Spring 2013: I never really liked this first sentence, but thematically it seemed like a good fit.

Malenie ran. She pelted down the alley and skidded to a stop in its scant shadows. The sun burned overhead, hot and brilliant on the white plaster and dull adobe walls, making it impossible to hide. Sweat prickled along her hairline. For a moment she leaned against the house to stop panting, but fear and humiliation made a hard fist of her stomach, urging her to move. Please, she thought. Cautiously, she stole a look around the corner and lost her breath again. At one end of the narrow street, a girl and a boy strolled into view, and at the other a girl picked at her fingernails, blocking the shortest route to the market, which hummed with activity just out of sight. No one else was around.

“Rot them,” she whispered, though she wanted to shout. “I hate them.” She cursed again, letting her humiliation build up into anger. Only two boys were following her, and that was better odds, even if she had to run away from the safety of the market. She tucked her black hair behind her ears, pushed off the house and raced back the way she’d come.

Malenie burst out of the alleyway, almost colliding with the skinny rooster of a boy who was the worst of the bullies. He flinched back and she dodged around him, rage flaming up at the sight of his three friends. Cowards. He shouted in wordless triumph and they closed in on her. Head down, she charged, as the camels did in the races, hoping they would scatter.

Original opening from 2009 (?)

Malenie leaned against the mud and plaster wall in the shadowed alleyway to catch her breath. The boys were chasing her again, and Malenie, not wanting to fight, had run straight into their trap. Just around the corner three boys loitered in the white-hot street, blocking the route to the main road and the market. They wouldn’t dare bother her there, surrounded by adults, if she could reach it. Rot them, she cursed. I hate them. They made her feel powerless and alone and never let her forget she was different. She cursed again, letting her humiliation build up into anger. Only two boys had been following her, and that was better odds than facing the three ahead of her, even if she had to run away from the safety of the market. She tucked her hair behind her ears, pushed off the house and raced back the way she’d come. She would barrel through them like the camels in the races, knocking aside anyone and anything that got in her way.

She swung around the corner, one hand anchored on the rough wall to make the sharp turn, and blinked in the brilliance of full sun on the sand-colored buildings. Squinting down the street, she spied not two but three backlit figures; the smallest profile that of a skinny little rooster of a boy: the worst of the bullies. Nothing for it. She lowered her head, pumped her arms and picked up more speed. Her heart pounded in her ears and blocked out all other sounds.

So there you have it. Good thing the blood, sweat and tears don’t show, right?