That thing where the person thought you knew the context of the thing.

Vaguely related to my last post, I suppose–that was about how one story can be dressed up in the shape of a different kind of story, and this is about how one story can be dressed up as itself but be misread as to what that is.

I saw Wonder Woman. (Not recently, and I mean, I think everyone saw Wonder Woman.) And I was discussing it with someone else who’d seen it, and they mentioned that they’d thought the movie hadn’t explained enough of the story. I thought the movie worked fine for explanations, but I figured that I have some cultural-background-radiation familiarity with Wonder Woman, and am generally pretty happy to sit back and watch for world-building anyway, so I asked for clarification.

They felt that if the movie was going to reference existing Greek myths about the Amazons and Themiscira, and use those as the basis of the story, they should include more details. For example, since they put time into bringing up the story about Themiscira being protected from the outside world, that was obviously something that should have mattered, and they should have explained why and how it was that way so that it wasn’t jarring when everyone got through the protection.

(This was when I started re-examining my casual assumptions about how much of what I knew about Wonder Woman was general-culture background radiation, and how much of it was my-specific-subculture background radiation.)

I mean, on the one hand, it certainly makes sense; if a story establishes something, you expect it to come back to that thing. That’s basic stuff, Chekov’s Gun sitting right there. And yet no-one else I personally know assumed that the story of Themiscira was about things that were supposed to come up; it was just a story about things that were.

I think every genre has this, to some degree. In an office romance, the annoying co-worker’s horseback-riding hobby may not signal that she is going to try to trample anyone. In a mystery, the police sergeant’s impeccable grooming may never be a plot point. Some things establish setting and character, and some things are a hook for action; the two don’t have to overlap, although they can.

(It’s like in Escape from L.A. The gizmos that Snake gets given all come up as plot points throughout the movie. On the flipside, the evangelical moral purity of America and the catchphrase “Call me Snake” do not; they establish the setting, but they aren’t keys to the events.)

((I can’t believe I’m discussing Wonder Woman and Escape from L.A. in the same post.))

I haven’t quite figured out exactly what signals the difference between establishing points and action points to the viewer, and clearly it’s subjective, but I’m turning it over; if I can figure it out, it’ll be useful for being able to convey a story’s promise more clearly.

(And I’ve just gotten my first rejection of the year! The quest for centiBrads continues.)

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Counting ink, 2015.

Now is the time for minutae-minded individuals to get bogged down in idly typing up details, so I’m posting about my reading and writing this year.

Reading

In 2015, I aimed for 70 books and finished 82, covering a total of 22535 pages.

Four of the books I read I five-starred on Goodreads, which is a rating I reserve for books that I think people should read even if they usually pass over that genre (A Gift Upon the Shore, “Sugar“, After the End, and Feeling Very Strange). The first is a novel, the second is a standalone short story (although it’s set in the Tabat universe, which also contains the really really lovely “Events at Fort Plentitude“), and the other two are anthologies.

Two of the books I read I two-starred, which means I did not hate them but pretty much stopped enjoying them and ground on to see if they would get better. If they had, I would have rated them higher.

And the oldest book I read this year was Fritz Leiber’s Gather, Darkness!, first published in 1943.

Writing

I submitted stories 56 times in 2015. I also got 49 rejections (one shy of a deciBrad, which I have decided is the correct term for ten centiBrads!), but three were from stories submitted before 2015, so you can say I only got 46 2015 rejections. (In 2014, those numbers were 34 submissions, and 31/30 rejections.)

I also got four acceptances, which was four more than last year. Or ever. Three of them have already been published; they’re linked over here.

This means I’ve got six stories out at the moment. I’m hoping to manage seventy submissions next year; will see how it goes.

Happy New Year! See you on the other side.

Trisennight, short

(Yes, nearly three weeks since I’ve posted. That said, I find sennight to be a rather lovely word.)

A quick roundup, definitely not in order;

  • I finished edits on one of my accepted stories, and it’s currently with the copy-editor.
  • I developed double tennis elbow, which has slowed my typing down quite a lot. It is currently being alleviated by a little nailgun-like object that, instead of nails, fires pulses of pure sound. (Cue another chorus of “I love living in the future.”)
  • The light of my life got me two bottles of wine of a kind I have been trying to get for the better part of a month, and (even better!) a print of the Sockdolager cover in which my story appeared! (The entire magazine is free to read online, but the first link is to the store where you can see the print cover which you may buy. The second link is to my story, and you can find all the rest of the issue there.) I am plotting which wall to put it on. There are many options.
  • I got a small birdcage for my Venus Flytrap at the dollar store. (The cats have a great interest in Venus Flytraps. It’s how the last one died. I am hoping that the birdcage will serve as a protective enclosure for Seymour 2. (It is a spooky birdcage, all in black with “bars” that mimic a spiderweb. (The dollar store is a great proponent of Hallowe’en goods.)))
  • I decided that I am not going to the convention I had earlier planned to attend. I am a little sad, although a lot of that has to do with not getting to go on a trip. Have made plans to attend a different con, though.
  • I watched the Hugo Awards. I do wish I could have made it to WorldCon for many reasons (postapocalyptic smoke being among them), but I am glad for everyone there who had a good time.
  • I have been mildly astounded by the resiliency of the morning glory plant on the balcony. It was wilting and dying, and its stem was broken in half sometime last week, for which I blame a squirrel. Since then, with no connection to its roots and with leaves that resemble peels of green paint, it has put out six blossoms.
  • I got a full centiBrad’s worth of rejections, and submitted the same number of stories.
  • I have turned my sleep schedule into something resembling Swiss cheese.
  • I got close enough to both a young bluejay and a downy woodpecker that I think I could have taken decent pictures of them if I’d had a camera handy (and, you know, all the chops to use it). The bluejay in particular was fun to watch; he was making strident and typical bluejay sounds, and rather confused sounds, and some very brave attempts at raucous noise that trailed off into a hesitant stutter.

So those are all things.

Prompter attempts to update will be forthcoming. The Swiss cheese issue needs addressing first, though.