Saturday, March 26, 2011

An Intermission with one of the Masters

I'd finished the Ahni SkinGifter part of the Lodestar Saga but when I turned to the second part I wasn't happy with it. I figured I need to start much closer to the beginning of the action. Plus I don't like the flavour of who Srese, the main character in this section, has become. I've lost something of her that I had before. I've tried to make her older -- as in maybe 17 or 18 -- and maybe that was a mistake.

In short, I've put her aside and I'm having an intermission. I've started on a much shorter, completely different project, and I am re reading the Ender's Game series by one of 'my' masters.  I believe every writer has a bunch of them. These will be the authors who they are most influenced by, or whose stories they most admire, or from whose writings they've learned.

Of course each of us learns from every other writer we read. Even excessively bad writers have something to teach -- how not to do something is as useful as learning the 'right' way. I consider Orson Scott Card one of my masters though it is only through his books that I know him.

While I love the Ender's Game series, the first Scott Card novel I came across was The Memory of Earth of the Homecoming series. For a long time I was dependent on secondhand books picked up in op shops. I read mainly other people's cast offs but found some sharply cut gems among them. I believe The Memory of Earth series taught me more about the possibilities for me in writing science fiction than anything else I'd read up to that point.

Not that any of my work is anywhere nearly as intricately plotted as any of the above.

Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy is another, more recently acquired favourite. Just the explanation of his 'MICE quotient', knowing which of milieu, idea, character or event is the most important in a story and allowing it to be shaped accordingly has really clarified a lot for me.

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