Novella vs. Novelette

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

(Or, novelet.  The spelling varies.)

John Barnes explains the real difference, over here.   The explanation comes with a link to the first episode of an actual serialized novelet, also by John Barnes.  He’s a good writer and a clever guy – go read and enjoy.

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Today’s Mail

jamesdmacdonald:

What Doyle didn’t mention is that ours is the lead story: “Silver Passing in Sunlight.”

(BTW, if anyone can’t figure out what’s in the box … just ask me and I’ll tell you.)

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

DecoPunk CoverIn addition to the usual unsolicited credit card  offers at rates that make “usurious” sound like a good deal, the postalperson today brought us our authors’ copies of the anthology Decopunk: The Spirit of the Age, which contains our short story, “Silver Passing in Sunlight.”

I really like that cover, by the way . . . if they made a poster out of it, I’d  put it on my wall.

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Questions That Nobody Asked Me, Take One

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Q.  I really loved To Kill a Mockingbird, and Atticus Finch was my hero.  Do I have to change all that in view of the publication of Go Set a Watchman?

A.  Only if you want to.

If you don’t want to, there are several good reasons why you shouldn’t have to.

Reason One:  Go Set a Watchman is not a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird just because it takes place in a later decade.  It was written before To Kill a Mockingbird, but wasn’t published until just now.  If either version of Atticus Finch is to be regarded as the “real” one, the title should go to To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus (“Atticus Prime”, as the Star Trek fans would put it) rather than Go Set a Watchman Atticus (or “Reboot!Atticus”, to continue the Trek analogy), by right of prior publication.

Reason…

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Peeve of the Day

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Today’s peeve:  breech and breach are two different words. 

Breech refers to the rear end of something, as in a breech-loading rifle, which is one where you don’t have to shove the powder and ball down the muzzle with a ramrod.  Likewise, a breech birth is one where the arriving infant shows up rear-end first.

Breach, the noun, refers to a gap or a broken place, as in breach of contract, where some part of the contract has been broken, or a breach in the defenses, where some part of the literal or metaphorical wall has been taken down. A breaching charge is an explosive charge designed to take down a door or make a gap in a wall.

Breach, the verb, means to make a gap or a hole in something, usually by force.  Don’t use breech when you mean this one, either.  (There is

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Link of the Day

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

When it comes to the most frustrating aspect of the freelance life – to wit, actually getting paid for the work – this piece in The Toast nails it.  (The comment section is full of additional spot-on commentary.)

The single most reliable and prompt payer I have ever personally dealt with was a comic-book company; they paid their freelancers every other Friday on the dot.  They also got swallowed up in the Great Doom that befell the American comics industry in the mid-nineties, so go figure.

The worst? Universities, hands down.

(These are the honest companies and institutions we’re talking about here.  Of the dishonest ones, we shall not speak, mostly because to do so would require the use of very bad words.)

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Link of the Day

jamesdmacdonald:

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess used Russian words, unfamiliar to most English speakers, even those who could do Latin/Greek.

As far as making up words, we did that. In that in our short story “Remailer.” How well or poorly, I leave the reader to decide. http://www.sff.net/people/DoyleMacdonald/notwoman.htm

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

xkcd on the use of made-up words in fiction.

He’s basically right, too.  Unless you’re J. R. R Tolkien, and marinated so thoroughly in philology, literature, and Indo-European linguistics that you might as well be writing your novel in Elvish or Anglo-Saxon and translating it into standard English as you go along . . . think twice before adding neologisms to your story’s vocabulary.

But if you have to do it —

Make certain that your invented words can be read and pronounced by an English speaker (if you’re writing in English for an English-speaking audience) with no more than a typical grade-school acquaintance with phonics.  If you’re unsure about any of your words, get somebody else to tackle them cold and listen for what works and what doesn’t.

Compounding your new terms from Greek and Latin roots can provide your story with an erudite or technical flavor.  If you…

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Weekend Comma Upcoming

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

We’ll be at the Burlington, MA, Marriott for Readercon, which we’ll be doing on a relaxacon basis again this year (also on an extremely attenuated shoestring, thanks to the necessity of paying off this past winter’s even-higher-than-usual electric bill.)

One of the things we usually do at Readercon is finish up on Sunday with a summer movie.  I’ve heard some good word-of-mouth about Spy, of the “Don’t let the posters mislead you” variety.  And there’s always Jurassic World, or the latest Terminator outing, either of which would at least provide the requisite summer-move quota of violence and explosions.

In any case, if you’re in or around Burlington this coming weekend, Readercon is a nice place to be.

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Thought for the Day

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

A piece of fiction is a carefully-crafted series of lies told to the reader, which the reader agrees to believe for the duration of the story.  Anything that threatens the fragile nature of this agreement is bad.

This is, for example, why it’s necessary to do your research – if you get something wrong that your reader is in a position to notice, the reader’s ability and desire to continue playing along with you is going to be compromised. The same goes for poorly-motivated characters and plotting by incredible coincidence.

It’s just one of the many oddities of the writer’s craft.  We are, or at any rate ought to be, scrupulously honest and careful about the small stuff, all in service of a bald-faced falsehood:

Listen. I’m about to tell you a true story….

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Ah, Summer!

jamesdmacdonald:

It’s been foggy and cool. The weather feels more like September than July.

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

I’d like to say I’ve been on vacation, but alas, the latter half of June wasn’t that entertaining.  Mostly it was spent dealing with assorted mundane but distracting issues like household repairs (ongoing and expensive . . . most of the time, when you live in a big old house, things fail one at a time, but this was the year when everything – including the dishwasher and the hot water heater – decided to go on strike at once), and oppressive weather  (after a prolonged winter, we’re now in the middle of a cool and clammy summer, with all the associated mosquitoes and mildew), and workshop work (reading all the submitted applications, and helping to finalize the roster of admitted students), and writing work (a set of revisions that I’ve been chasing for this long while now like Achilles trying to catch the tortoise.)

But now I’m back…

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Friday

A couple of weeks ago I visited at Star Cat Books (as remarked upon below). This is a used/new book store concentrating on science fiction and children’s literature (though they have a lot of other things).

I was there for two days, and during some down time I started re-reading Friday by R. A. Heinlein. I’d started it back in 1982 when it came out, but bogged down in Chapter VI, during the interminable discussion of a group-marriage’s finances.

One of my character flaws is that I’m unable to not-finish a novel once I’ve started. So, despite the 30+ year gap, there I went. This time around I soldiered on and finished it. So: a few observations.
friday

First, the protagonist, Friday, despite the light-skinned blonde seen in some of the cover paintings, is a person of color: she speaks about “this built-in suntan of mine.” She explicitly compares her skin tone to a Maori or a Tongan.

Second, when asked to define a “sick culture” she says, “Dominance of males over females seems to be one of the symptoms.”

Later the “Old Man” character (seen in so many Heinlein novels under a number of names), says, “a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”

Beyond that, while in 1982 I wouldn’t have known this, now I can say that Mr. Heinlein had never been to Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape school, and didn’t run this book by anyone who had. The number of bone-headed SERE blunders that the protagonist (and all of her friends) make is purely mind-boggling.

The overall message of this book seems to be that civil disruption can be a lot of fun provided you’re fabulously wealthy, gorgeously beautiful, brilliantly intelligent, young, healthy, athletic, and swimming in a sea of casual sex. Alas, the interesting novel set in this world would be the one in which the protagonist was none of those things.

Very late, very minor Heinlein.

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