Monthly Archives: January 2014

How to Critique: Best Practices for Workshopping

Both my Writing F&SF Stories and Advanced workshops offer students a chance to critique and be critiqued. To my mind, the latter is actually more useful, because being forced to articulate one’s position on an aspect of writing can be enlightening and instructive. With that in mind, here’s some best practices for such workshops.
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You Should Read This: Woman and Nature by Susan Griffin

I found this book in grad school when I was first learning to look into metaphors to find out what they contained.

Who: Read this if you’re a woman, whether or not you call yourself a feminist. Read it if you’re a man trying to write realistic women, because the structures Griffin talks about are ones that affect all of this, but particularly women. Read it if you don’t mind some poetry mixed in with your thinking.
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Teaser From Cathay of Chaos

Lately a couple of stories have arrived in the form of characters. One is Laurel Finch, the little girl in this steampunk snippet, which is tentatively titled “Laurel Finch, Laurel Finch, Where Do You Wander?”. The other is this one, Cathay the Chaos Mage, who is wandering through a city that’s been in my head for a while now, Serendib.
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You Should Read This: The Essential Rumi (Coleman Barks translation)

I first discovered Rumi’s work when I was in graduate school. It spoke to me in a way that few other poems had, seeming to pluck out the questions I had and showing me that the answer was already there.
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Teaser From Another Unfinished Steampunk Story

I’ve been writing a lot in a steampunk world lately; this is the fourth story set in this world. The passengers are headed to Seattle, but a version much grimier and war-ridden than our own. The Civil War is three years over; another war, over a substance called phlogiston, has arisen.
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You Should Read This: A Biography of the English Language by C.M. Millward

In A Biography of the English Language, Millward presents some of the complicated history of the English language, first talking about what a language is, along with basics of phonology and writing before moving into Indo-European, Old English (the sage of the arrival of the English, the Christianization of England, and various Viking invasions), Middle English, Early Modern English, and then the array of recent forces shaping our language: the printing press, the industrial revolution, colonization, the codification of grammar, and more.
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You Should Read This: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down was the first of a wave of animal books that included Duncton Wood, The Book of the Dun Cow, and Tailchaser’s Song. It’s inspired an animated movie that is not terrible (bear in mind that I dislike most movies) and which has weathered the years well.
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On Writing: Have an Impact on the Reader

“The whole point of a short story is to assassinate the reader. You don’t have the time or the space to go to war or do large maneuvers, you can’t do chapters of elaborate setup, there’s much less room for character development—a good writer can get more character development in, but that isn’t my particular strength. Anyway, everything in the short story has to drive toward a short sharp point, whatever it is you’re trying to leave the reader with at the end of the story.” -Yoon Ha Lee
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You Should Read This: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie is a fabulous space opera with an unusual protagonist whose struggle will pull the reader in. It is, alas, not a particularly long book, and I could have read at least twice more the length happily.
I must admit to an extra hint of pride in this book’s appearance here, because Ann was a member of my Clarion West class back in 2005, when she was first wowing all of us with her Radchi universe. Ann and I also know each other through SFWA and our shared agent, Seth Fishman.
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Speculative Reminiscences: Weekly Recap for 1/26/2014

Here is some of the stuff that appeared on my blog and social media in the week ending 1/26/2014.
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