Blog Archives

Ideas: Self-Permission

As I said in my previous post, taking a look at where my ideas come from turned out to be a more complex subject than I anticipated, and ran into this one, which I think counts as a subject in its own right. Also as I said there, please be patient with material that looks like it’s wandering off-topic; it isn’t.

When I was nineteen, and came out as not heterosexual (I lacked the terminology at the time; the word I use now is “pansexual”), my writing went through a massive transformation. Instead of trying desperately to keep it “clean” with no sex or gender exploration, I started to allow myself to play with whatever came.

Fairly early on, I created, as a kind of shortcut, a set of characters that I dropped into a wide variety of urban fantasy situations, essentially to observe what happened – what if this character isn’t human but is a, oh, werewolf? dragon? vampire? Now, what happens if I switch which character it is? The dynamics were fascinating, watching how the story shifted and flowed and altered with small changes. Along with being an immense amount of fun (yes, this is my idea of how to spend not just a Friday night, but an entire weekend and then some), it also taught me an incredible amount about how stories work. However, since I was writing these only as an experiment, I didn’t censor anything or rule out anything, just let it all happen. Read the rest of this entry

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Ideas: Where Do They Come From?

It’s now a cliche, to ask a writer, “Where do you get your ideas?”

It’s been a long time since anyone bothered to ask me that, and most of those were not out of any particular admiration – generally more along the lines of, “Where on earth do you come up with this wierdness, anyway?”. I decided I’m going to answer it anyhow, because it’s an essential part of the whole process. After all, you don’t get far writing unless you can think of something to write about. I’m reluctant to comment on where anyone else gets their ideas, but I do know where my own come from – and I know that I had a struggle with myself over one major source and its validity. In fact, this subject ran into another, turning this into two closely linked ones. The second part of this will be posted on Thursday. Meanwhile, since this is a more complex issue than I expected before I sat down and started to think about it, please bear with me if I seem to wander off-track at moments.

So. Where do I get my ideas? Part of the answer is, everywhere. From books I read, either fiction that sparks a thought of a variation, or non-fiction that triggers an “Oh, that’s neat!” reaction. From my own real-life experiences. From things people around me say. A major part of the answer is, from other ideas: starting to experiment with one idea leads to others. Trying out variations by changing a factor or two at a time and testing the results can lead in fascinating and unpredictable directions within the internal logic of the concept. Read the rest of this entry

Assumptions: Gender and Sex

Everyone has basic assumptions about the world around us. We have to; they’re a part of how we keep functioning.

When you’re writing, however, and especially if you’re writing speculative fiction of any sort (speculative fiction is an umbrella term for fantasy, science fiction, and anything else that doesn’t fit precisely into either but is nonetheless outside “normal reality”), it’s a good time to take a look at your own assumptions. Speculative fiction is, after all, about transgressing the normal rules. I’m not going to try to give specific instances of these, mainly because there are so many I’ve long since lost count and I’d rather not single out individual works from a long list.

A personal pet peeve is the assignment of gender to absolutely everything. Beings of kinds that have no sexual reproduction nonetheless are treated as intrinsically either males or females, no reason for this offered, and Western society being what it is, that tends to then colour everything else associated with that being. Read the rest of this entry