I survived!

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So the second critique meeting went well, and I didn’t run screaming from the room. Yay, me!

I admit, when I realized my printer was messed up and couldn’t print up all the stories the others had submitted, I was tempted to just not go. But I set my anxiety on mute and went.

And it was great. We definitely did end up chatting way too much, but fortunately we still had time to go through everyone’s submission and talk about what we did and didn’t like. I even managed to keep my mouth shut on a submission by a writer I’m growing to really dislike; I honestly don’t know how much of my criticism was due to the writer being an annoying prat and how much was due to the work itself, so I kept myself from going overboard.

I also found that I really enjoyed reading and critiquing (or beta reading, maybe). I was worried about making too many notes, but another critiquer (I know, it’s not a word) was even more verbose than I was and I really liked their input, so I’ll go for broke next time.

Best of all, we now have the option of submitting longer pieces every second month. I’m soo into that; I really did cherry pick one of my better scenes for the first submission, so this will give me more time to a) clean up the next scene and b) write more of the story. I’ve got maybe 10% of it written, so we’ll see how it goes. Otherwise I’ll have to bring in something else. Of which I have lots, so that’s not a problem.

Yay for critique!

I didn’t mean to take a month off

Given that this is a blog dedicated to my thoughts and feelings about writing, while I’m writing, it really isn’t all that surprising that when I took a break , I had no real impetus to blog, either.

That isn’t to say that I didn’t think about writing; I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about various stories, refining some, extending others. But all of it’s been in my head, so yeah, no writing, no blogging.

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Fangirling a little: Anne Bishop news

HEA gets to unveil the cover of book five in Anne Bishop’s Others series, Etched in Bone, which arrives in March 7, 2017. AND an excerpt! About the book: After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung.…

via Exclusive cover reveal and excerpt: ‘Etched in Bone’ by Anne Bishop — Happy Ever After

That ‘almost’ feeling

I’m finding it hard to describe the sort of fictional magic I’ve been trying to talk about here. So I’ll try to give a better definition of three styles.

Magical Realism is the trickiest to describe. In Magical Realism, magic is unremarkable. When a couple kisses for the first time, they find themselves floating a foot above the ground. When people see them, nobody goes ‘wow, look at that!’, they say ‘must be in love’ and shake their heads at the foolishness. Magic is the result of natural actions and events, it’s never the cause of events.

In the urban lite/faux Magical Realism, like Garden Spells by S A Allen, magic is noticeable, but it’s very tiny. Nobody throws lightning bolts. No werewolves, no vampires, no gods, etc. Think instead of kitchen witches who can alter your mood with their cooking, or men who can charm all the people in town with the sound of their voices and the glint in their eyes*. People around them notice the magic, understand that it’s magical, but simply make space in their minds for it (or try to forget the trauma). After all, every family has it’s quirks; witches are just a bit more quirky than normal.

Harry Potter is full on Urban Fantasy, nothing quasi or subtle about it. The fact that it’s hidden from the real world (by magic) doesn’t make it less powerful, it just means that there are established rules about when and where you can use it. This kind of magic constantly effects the story, because it’s an action done by or used against the characters.

I love Urban Fantasy, a lot of my stories are set in this style. But I’m really being drawn to the ‘urban lite’, which focuses more on the characters than on the neat stuff they can do. I think writing a story in this style will give me a better grip on strong character-driven writing, which I sometimes ignore in the face of all the cool special effects.

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*Yes, both examples are from S A Allen novels; I really enjoyed them!

Needles in the Haystack

Trying to find new ‘magical lite’ books à la Sarah Addison Allen is proving a bit of a challenge. The first handful of books I borrowed from the library, based on recommendations from a library associated website, was a complete miss. Some were okay, all were ‘chick lit’, and none had a drop of magic to them.

Sigh.

Next batch is based off of goodreads recommendations, so once I read them, I’ll post about it. Hopefully I’ll have better news!

Magical Realism

I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately that I found under the label of ‘magical realism’, and as the novels gave me story inspiration, I decided to look into magical realism.

Well. Talk about mislabeling!

Instead of trying to explain Magical Realism (MR), and the problems with the misuse, I’ll let this dude explain.

What I’ve been reading is more like, Urban Fantasy Lite, with some literary fiction elements. It has some similarities to MR, but it also lacks some key elements.

The similarities are pretty straightforward; both use lyrical, very elegant tone/style, rather than the common voice I generally write with. Both tend to move along at a slower, more thoughtful pace. Both use tiny elements of magic. So, lots of similarities, at least on the surface.

What are these missing key elements of Magical Realism (that I think are necessary)?

  1. Magic is mundane (so magical events and people are treated exactly like everything else). In most of the ‘urban lite’ stuff, the magic always marks the main character out as different than everyone else. Magic is used to create a sense of isolation, but that’s not part of MR. In MR, the magic is just so ordinary, everyone within the story world just takes it for granted, which is completely opposite of the intent of urban lite writers.
  2. Major social and ethical issues are examined (war, classicism, racism, etc). Most urban lite stuff is about personal interactions, sense of belonging, and romance. All great things (after all, I enjoyed to books a lot), but they’re far more about entertaining than making the reader think.

All that said, I really like this urban lite stuff. I’ll eventually write my own take on it, but I won’t call it magical realism, because it isn’t.