Tag Archives: fantasy

Pulp with Purpose

Now that I’m back to writing fiction regularly, I’ve had the opportunity to think over what I’m actually trying to achieve with it, and I’ve come up with a nice succinct little phrase that I think sums it up perfectly:

Pulp with purpose.

Now let me ruin the brevity of that by verbosely explaining what precisely that means.

It means that I must never lose sight of the fact that I am an entertainer first and foremost. My books and stories are meant to be fun, and if the reader isn’t enjoying themselves, I haven’t done my job.

It means that I embrace colourful settings, full of magic and power, wonder and terror; larger than life, inspiring heroes; and intense, unabashedly unrealistic action.

Because reality is boring, and the world doesn’t need anymore stories where everything is brown and everyone is a jerk.

But it also means that I understand the best stories are those that not only entertain, but also uplift, educate, and enlighten. It means that what I write must be a reflection of my values, and that I must always re-examine those values to ensure that they’re right ones. It means my stories have to say something.

It means, also, that I understand that representation matters, and that as many as people as possible should feel welcome and see themselves reflected in the worlds I have created.

Above all, it means that I seek the balance between those two forces. The stories that I tell have to be both escapism and carry some deeper value. If I neglect either angle, I will fail. If my stories have no message, then I’ve betrayed my values. If they’re not fun to read, no one will bother with them.

That’s the ideal, anyway, but of course I can’t claim that I have always or will always perfectly live up to it. I definitely haven’t done a great job walking the walk when it comes to representation, for example, though I am working to improve that.

If nothing else, it gives me a clear vision of what the goal is.

And a good slogan.

I like slogans.

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Returning to Writing: A Manifesto

I originally posted this at Superior Realities, but it seemed worth sharing here too:

For the last couple years, I’ve been having an extended period of unproductivity in my fiction writing. I’ve managed a few short stories, but they’ve been very sporadic, and work on my books has ground to a screeching halt. This is due to some personal issues that are not really appropriate for discussion on a public blog, but the point is not much is getting done.

When I stopped writing, I was a little less than halfway through a new series, which I consider to be my life’s work, having been developing it for the last twenty years. I’m tentatively calling it The Soulcleaver Saga, and it’s set in the universe of The Wounding and Lady of the Dawn, both of which tie into the books.

The issues in my life that derailed my work on it have not abated — if anything they’ve worsened — but I think the time has come to stop making excuses and get back to work regardless. Therefore, I am developing a new schedule to that end.

For the record, I’m not posting this to boast or show off that I’m “hashtag am writing” or whatever. I’m posting this because if I put all this out in a public form, I’ll lose face if I don’t follow through. I’m deliberating shaming myself into working.

My plan is thus:

  • I will do seven hours of writing work per week. In theory, one hour per day, but with the flexibility to maybe skip one day and catch up later or something. This idea shamelessly stolen from Ashley at Robo‚ô•beat.
  • “Writing work” is defined as actually writing, revising, proofreading, or doing major plotting or world-building (IE coming up with new stuff, not just writing down things I’ve already defined in my mind).
  • During this hour, I will not use the Internet except for research or Internet radio. No distractions.
  • I may skip days due to illness or other extreme/unusual circumstances, but I will try to keep such instances to a minimum.
  • I will prioritize fiction over working on Superior Realities. I don’t think there will be much conflict or that my posting schedule will be much affected, but I’ll mention it just in case.

My goals are:

  • To rewrite the first two Soulcleaver books with more depth and detail, among other changes.
  • To complete the remaining three Soulcleaver books.
  • To rewrite and republish Rage of the Old Gods. It was the first book I wrote, and I believe I can now do better in some ways, especially regarding the beginning, which I’ve never been happy with. I may also revisit the later books in the series, but right now I’m pretty content with them, and I’m not sure they need to change.
  • To write any good short story concepts that occur to me along the way, especially if they are part of the Soulcleaver universe.

I do not promise to complete those goals in that order, or any order. Only that they will eventually all get done. Once they are completed, I will give myself permission to resume giving up, if desired.

I have several reasons for doing this, but one utterly outclasses all others: My father. While it is likely he will be around for many years to come, and I certainly hope he will be, the fact is he’s not going to live forever, and I don’t think I could live with myself if he didn’t see the completion of my life’s work. I want to get it done while there’s still time.

My writing was never meant to be about me anyway. I lost sight of that over the years. True creativity must be unselfish, I think.

For the two of you who are still reading this, I leave you with one of the main characters of the Soulcleaver series, as recreated in Black Desert Online.

Seesha Avallen, Elven RunnerI’m coming home, Seesha.

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