I’ll be honest. I forgot to blog yesterday. I’m still getting used to blogging on a regular basis. I promise I will get better at it. Still, I did manage to get my blog up at Mad Genius Club yesterday and I am blogging at According to Hoyt today. I enjoy going both blogs because they let me bog about different things. MGC, as most of you know, is focused on writing and publishing. ATH allows me to talk politics, history, whatever. This blog is a combination of those as well as whatever strikes me as needing to be said.
Which brings me to yesterday’s post at MGC. I admitted from the start of it that I had not read the pleadings in the case I referenced. In fact, the point of the post was to applaud the Guardian, a site I rarely find myself in agreement with, for giving the other side of the suit filed by author Sherrilyn Kenyon against fellow author Cassandra Clare. I commented on the possible points in the suit based on what Ms. Clare said.
And you guessed it, some of the usual suspects condemned me for commenting on something I knew nothing about. Worse, these same folks condemned what I’d said not because I might have been wrong but because — gasp — I support the Sad Puppies last year and this. You see, I am one of those wrong thinking folks who believe that if an award is a fan award then it should be open to nominations and votes by all fans, not just those who are self-identified Fans. I believe that a story should be entertaining more than it should have a message.
Now, before they start screaming and pointing, I didn’t say that I think there should be no message in fiction. Far from it. But I think an author, if she knows her craft, can weave that message into the plot and character development in such a way it can still make the reader think without alienating the reader by hitting them over the head with the Message Bat.
I have no problem having characters who don’t look like me, think like me or believe as I do in a book. Hell, I’d get bored fast if all I read were books populated with mini-mes. But I don’t think a book should be judged by how many characters fit a checklist based on sexual preference, race, politics, etc. Again, you can connect with your reader through good writing that entertains.
What so many of those who claim we need to have that laundry list to go by forget is that sometimes less is more. You can hint and drop clues about your character in such a way that a wide variety of your readers will connect with that character. But, if you get too detailed, you restrict the identification. Don’t forget that your readers have an imagination and they will use it as they read your words.
One of the best examples of how a reader — or in this case a viewer — uses imagination is the movie Psycho, particularly the infamous shower scene. Between the music, some inspired camera angles and scene cuts, the viewer is tricked into think she seems more than she does. Not once do you actually see the knife being driven into Janet Leigh’s body. In what would be a bloodfest if made today, the scene is one of the most haunting in movie history. How many folks still hesitate to pull the shower curtain in a motel room because of that movie? Hints and more hints but little actually shown and more than one generation still shiver when seeing that scene.
But let’s get back to the lawsuit. As I noted in the comments on MGC, I’ve now read the original filings and, frankly, I have more concerns about it going forward than ever before. In many ways, it reminds me of the Games Workshop attempt to prevent any science fiction writer from using the term “space marine”. It is going to be interesting to see what happens as this suit moves forward — if it does after Ms. Clare’s attorney files his response and the court holds its first hearing.
For those usual suspects who love to hear themselves condemn everyone else, have fun. Enjoy your little echo chamber. I’ll continue being a fan of science fiction and fantasy and write the sort of sf/f that my readers want. I’ll do my best to weave any message I might have into the plot in such a way I don’t alienate my readers — my customers — so that they quit buying my work.
I will watch you guys turn the once prestigious Hugo into an award that only publishers and a few others even know still exists. That, whether you want to admit it or not, is the tragedy of this situation. Somewhere along the line, Fandom decided it was more important than fandom. It forgot there are a lot more fans than Fans and that, as authors, we need to appeal to a wide audience if we are to survive.
That said, I remember when Hugo nominated works had an entertaining plot as well as a message that didn’t hit you over the head. Unless and until the powers that be decide to official turn the Hugo into something that is no longer for the fans, I will continue to try to educate readers and fans of the genre about how they, too, can nominate and vote on the Hugo.
So, along those lines, if you want to see what some of your fellow fans are reading and think worthy of a Hugo nomination, check out Sad Puppies 4.
For information about the history of the Hugos, check out this great post by Ben Yalow.
Kate Paulk also has posts about the main categories for the Hugo over at Mad Genius Club. Just click on her name/icon at the right of the homepage and her list of posts will come up.
As for the rest of it, eh. I read for entertainment as well as for education. I don’t mind messages but I hate being hit over the head with it. I much prefer a subtle weaver of message over the trumpeter.
Now for the update. The edits on Honor from Ashes are coming along and I will begin snippets soon, probably this weekend.
In the meantime, go find yourselves a book to read and enjoy.