Category Archives: Technique

Pretty much what it says on the tin. Techniques of writing to smooth the process, to tilt towards one genre or another, etc.

Public Face

So. One of the things I’ve been wrestling with lately is publicizing my own work. And, honestly? Publicity scares the crap out of me. Asking people to blog about or tweet or otherwise share my work? Yeah, no. Writing ad copy? I’d rather clean and gut food animals. Making promotional materials? Where the hell do I even begin? How do I promote myself? Who the hell knows? I wrote a blog entry last week and I didn’t even put it on Twitter because I was afraid I was incoherent and rambling. The only way people knew it existed was because my mailing list auto-notifies when a new post is added. I suck at publicity. Which is why it’s probably a good thing I’m not doing this for a living.

I mean, there are some things I am good at as far as putting on a public face. Passive advertising, we’ll call it; looking like a competent, professional adult online. I habitually “speak” on the internet, which is to say post, with proper spelling and generally in complete sentences, or dialogue-like sentence fragments. I don’t cover things in bright colors or use auto-play for any audio I might ever post. There are also some ways in which I make it harder on myself: I swear a hell of a lot. I have a strong dislike of posting pictures of myself on the internet, one might almost call it a phobia except phobia generally applies when there aren’t real, probable consequences to your actions. You don’t have to go looking very far to see the number of articles about how women are treated and judged on the internet, and it’s worse if they have pictures up. Call it self-protecting. The active stuff, though? I’m learning. But I have to develop the habits to post about my work, to track down all available outlets, and I have to develop the attitude that I am willing to put it out there or, well. See also: publicity scares the crap out of me. I will panic and back out given any chance at all.

 

This is the only time you’ll ever hear me devoutly and fervently wishing for a major publishing company to pick me up, because it would be so easy just to not embarrass them in public and let them do all the submitting pictures and writing ad copy for me. So easy.

All right, so. I’m working on being a better publicist for my own work, so what can I do? Apart from, you know, have good content and putting it out there on time when I say I will. First off, pick your indie publishing house carefully. I started off going with one service only to realize that I couldn’t distribute in all the formats I wanted to, and the only advantage was getting print copies, which I scared myself out of doing anyway. Don’t be me. Don’t do that. Research, research, plan, and research some more. Then decide. There is absolutely nothing worse than trying to put yourself out there as being able to do or be all these things and then realizing that you only have half an idea what you’re doing. Even if half an idea is good enough to get it done, fear will do the rest. Secondly, make friends with booksellers. Make friends with librarians. I don’t mean opportunist friends who sidle up and go “Hey, hey, little kid. Pawn this book off on you?” I mean actual friends. Listen to what they say. Commiserate with them. Share interests! And for the love of god, listen to what they tell you. Librarians are the keepers of the knowledge. Booksellers are the keepers of the lists of people who want to buy books, and how to get things to those people in exchange for cashy money.

The first two stages are the acquisition of knowledge, and the third stage comes in two parts. The first part is establishing an online personality. You are your brand, and to the extent that this personality associated with this name (it doesn’t have to be your name or even your username) and these social media accounts, your brand is you. Go out there, make friends! The world, or at least the internet, is your oyster. The second part, and I cannot stress this strongly enough, do not show your ass in public. Do not be that person. Do not go off on long-winded tirades about how X has treated you unfairly, where X stands for anything from this author to this critic to life. Whine at length to your friends, not to your audience; they generally don’t want to hear it. Do not start airing your grievances about a subsector of people who you think are uncouth freaks from Hell, do not preach or proselytize, do not be pushy, asinine, or unpleasant. As time goes on and you learn more about your audience, and as they come to learn more about you, just like in any relationship you’ll learn more about what you can say and what you can’t. Sometimes you can get away with massive trolling! Look at Orlando Jones. Or don’t, you may be blinded by his beauty. Sometimes you can get away with being incredibly uncouth and disgusting, and for that I give you Warren Ellis. Sometimes you can be fierce, or pushy, or assertive, and sometimes you may reckon that the cost to you is worth it, see also the dichotomy of women being pushy or bitchy for the same behavior that in men is called being forthright or assertive. You may decide that the people who think you’re being a bitch, you can afford to lose. By all means, kick them to the curb!

The internet is forever. Even in the rare circumstances when it isn’t, when your mistakes get lost in the noise rather than the signal, pretend it’s forever. The easiest part of having a public persona is being polite and nice online; it’s also the hardest. Get in the habit of taking a second to think before you post things online to the general population, is this something I want out there for the masses. When you get to the stage where you have guest blog posts, interviews, advertising copy listed on all the indexes, and people discover you and go to see who you are on the web, you’ll be glad you can present yourself to your new readers with an appearance of effortless grace.

Voluntold

So, the Editrix and I and undoubtedly several others have a word for this sort of thing, that thing where someone asks for volunteers, pretends or makes a show of contemplating, and picks you. We call it being voluntold. It happens a lot in rigid structures such as military or police forces, or some kinds of school. Latrines need scrubbed? Congratulations, probie, you’ve been voluntold. Someone needs to go on that scouting mission into known hostile territory? That’s right, you’ve been voluntold. Some idiot needs to pass a series of increasingly ridiculous and difficult trials in order to win the dubious privilege of battling the villain who’s terrorized the known world for the last century? Congratulations! You’ve been voluntold. Here’s your MacGuffin.

I still maintain that if half these protagonists weren’t in a place where their choices consisted of getting thrown in prison by the evil army or scraping a living off the streets because your dead parents left you nothing, most of them would tell their guides where to stick the prophecies that chose them.

The other option you get in a lot of organizations is the reaction of “How nice, you have a problem. Now go fix it.” This crops up only as a reaction, which limits the potentials somewhat. It requires the initial effort of spotting the problem, after all, in order to be tasked with fixing it. But doesn’t that make for a more dynamic beginning? Someone poking holes in the structure that’s been set up around them, then reacting to being told they have to fix it. Not necessarily with belligerent determination, that’s why we have the Refusal of the Call, but reacting nonetheless to a situation set up by their own actions. Admittedly, certain themes and archetypes and structures don’t work well with that sort of beginning, but as a general rule it’s a much more active start to a piece. It involves much more agency, choice, and action on the part of the protagonist. And that’s just one of the problems I have with this Chosen One malarky.

If you know me at all well, you know (and if you don’t, now’s your chance to learn) that much of my thinking on narrative is influenced by Babylon 5. Maybe not determined, so much, but influenced. So here’s where I reference Babylon 5, specifically a line from Marcus Cole. He said,

I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?’ So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.

It’s much the same with being a Chosen One. There’s an outside order of things, something that’s imposed upon people and their actions and consequences, chance becomes thin on the ground. Whether or not that has anything to do with fairness is only tangential; in certain works, fairness becomes dependent on the point of view of the Chosen One. We call this protagonist-centered morality. (And we hates it, precious.) Depending on the skill of the writer, the Chosen One can clear obstacles from their assigned path by making personal choices and taking actions, but a lot of the time obstacles are simply cleared because they are the Chosen One. And the ultimate result is always the same: 

The lesson in the work tells us that the universe is a more friendly place when it’s all geared to work in your favor. When destiny says you are chosen and will fulfill this great promise. It’s part of what makes works with that kind of dynamic and prophecy so appealing. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that all of our suffering, all the bad things that happen to us are simply to prepare us for something grand and important and wonderful in the future? I know I’d like that. I have a couple of really bad choices I made in the past that I’d like to think were destiny’s hand nudging me towards something greater in my future. When you’re the Chosen One, that’s exactly what happens! You’ve been voluntold to struggle through this bad relationship, this mind-numbing trained-monkey-level job, this class you’re failing so that in the future you’ll be a better… whatever. And you can defeat the bad guys and save the day.

But what’s your other option? “How nice, you have a problem, now go fix?” Not only is that putting all of the burden on diagnosing the problem correctly on you, it also conveys the sting of rejection. You ask for help, it’s refused, and it hurts. On the face of it, it’s a lot less friendly than having someone in a deep British-accented voice come down and whisk you off for adventures unknown telling you there’s a grave problem and they need you to fix it. Here’s your MacGuffin.

But that’s essentially the same thing, isn’t it?

When you find the problem, you have some idea at least of where to start. You might not know where the full boundaries of the problem are but you know where to begin looking. If done right, within the story at least, that kind of approach can be shown to confer confidence, authority, ability, after a suitable struggle of course. And this is all assuming the response is tempered by having the actual tools to fix the problem. If you don’t, it becomes futility and the Protestant lie of “You’re not succeeding therefore you’re not working hard enough, you’re wrong.” We’re all familiar with this one, yes? Still, this is fiction. We are the writers, we make the rules. We can give the protagonist a problem to find and then solve. We can give our protagonist the tools to solve it.

Or we can not do that. Which is the trickiest approach of all, but sometimes necessary. When I was a child, I learned a lot of things from books, just ask the Editrix who recently took a book tour of a lot of my formative reading. One of the things we can learn from books, more safely from books and with fewer direct hits to the psyche, is how to fail at things. How to approach a problem with what seem to be all the right tools, with the right mindset and all the data, and it doesn’t work. That doesn’t happen to Chosen Ones. But it does happen to us, in real life. And it’s much easier to learn how to cope with that from a character we identify with, empathize with, in a book, than it is to learn it the hard way.

There’s always room for wish fulfillment and escapism. I’m a big fan of it, engaged in a lot of it myself. So I’m not going to tell you there’s no room in fiction for someone special to be voluntold into fixing the world, with all the attendant glory and reward and happily ever after. But I find it disingenuous to make that the dominant narrative, And it’s much more satisfying, for me, personally, to stand at the top of the heap of bodies that I put there out of stubborness of will and the tools I have to hand.

 

A Hundred And Forty Characters

So, characters. I’m about to release an anthology (Sept 1! Out on digital! Sometime after that out in print!) of braided-together stories, which means it’s time again to remember how fond I am of writing character driven fiction. Even my most intricate plots are often back-burnered so I can ramble on in the characterization vein. And because I do this so often, I have Opinions about characters and the writing of them. I could go on for pages and pages and pages about why the reading from the book of Joss (“Why do you keep writing strong female characters?” “Because you’re still asking that question.”) bothers me. I could go on for pages and pages and pages why the argument that this character is only interesting in a widespread fashion now is because he’s been made into an anti-hero. And so on and so forth.

It all boils down to one of my core tenets of writing and my approach to writing, which is that a character should be that character first. All else is secondary. It’s a bit like, shut up and tell the story. All else comes second to telling the story.

Yes, I’m simple like that.

And no, I don’t believe that it’s as easy as all that. I’m also a big believer in easy not being the same thing as simple, and vice versa. It’s not easy to write well! You have to keep track of a lot of moving parts, you have to make sure you’re engaging the audience, you have to come up with plots that are appealing in some way and settings that aren’t so far off the mark that they confuse or make  people lose interest. You have to create characters with whom your readers or audience want to spend a few hours of their time. Preferably a lot of hours of their time. It’s hard!

To go back to that persistent issue of strong female characters, let’s start with the fact that we’re leading with “strong” and “female.” In English at least, lists tend to be front-loaded, like ingredients on a food package. The first ones are the most important. Strong and female come before character, as though it was just enough that the character is strong (what does that even mean anyway?) or female (as opposed to feminine, say?) or preferably both. I do not prefer both, I prefer to have characters. Some of whom could be described as strong, some of whom could be described as female. But, first and foremost, they are individuals in my story with attributes and personality traits who make decisions that affect the plot and each other. You know, characters.

The anti-hero thing came about because of the new SHIELD trailer, and a discussion of black-bagging, and somehow this worked its way around to whether SHIELD could work as a protagonist because, let’s face it, they do some shady shit. And my opinion was that Coulson (I haven’t yet met any of the other leads in the show) didn’t necessarily get his big break simply by being an anti-hero. Coulson suddenly became interesting to millions of fans because, with a calm and bland demeanor, he threatened to tase Tony Stark and watch Supernanny while Stark drooled into the carpet. Coulson became beloved because of his combination of government issue unflappability, his interest in a show that is not traditionally masculine, which is then juxtaposed with the unsubtle implication that he’s more badass than Tony freaking Stark and the slightly more subtle implication that this is a babysitting job and Tony is a bratty five year old. Plus a touch of imagined slapstick violence. Add together, drop in one well-saturated in talent actor, blend, and you have a character so adored by his fans they created a worldwide movement to bring him back from the dead.

Characters. It’s not just about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the Anti-Hero, the Strong-Female-Character. It’s about not starting with a label requirement to begin with and then fleshing it out because you need your quota of people of color. They’re characters. People.

And no, that does not mean I think shows or movies or books or other media should be let off the hook when they produce works that are largely populated by white able-bodied men with middle-class diction and speech patterns. If nothing else, their statistics are skewed, women do exist in the world, they make up about 48-54% of the population! Depending on who you ask. I made the numbers up. People of colors other than white do exist. People who are not from the US exist! I’ve met many many of them. People who are poor, who are filthy rich, who talk some ways different, who speak not so good English, who are missing limbs and can’t afford prosthetics, who are missing limbs and choose not to use prosthetics, who love men, who love women, who love this person right here and can’t see themselves with anyone else. Who love in so many different ways. People who function and interact with the world in ways that are familiar and common, and people who interact with the world around them in ways that are not so common. You see what I’m getting at here?

Some things I’m working on right now. I’m working on an ongoing serial (you can sign up on my email mailing list to the right) where one of the main characters is a college-educated upper middle class young woman named Lucy Townsend. In addition to being all of those things she’s had a number of lovers, some of whom were good decisions and some of whom were very, very bad. She has a mother, a father, and two stepfathers all in her life, and yes, that means her father remarried another man. She’s quick-minded, trained by a number of ex-spy, ex-military, ex-sniper types, she has a tendency to bounce and be cheerful, she’s resilient, she’s very new to the doing of such things although also well versed in the theory. By turns she could be called a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a Daddy’s Girl, a Strong Female Character, or … well, a few other things that it would spoil to say. But as far as I’m concerned, and what I keep in mind when I’m writing, is that she’s Lucy. By the time I set fingers to keyboard I knew what it meant to be Lucy. Or, well, I was acquainted with the part of my brain that knew. That’s a whole other blog entry.

In my Black Ice anthology I have a number of other characters. One of them is effectively genderless and faceless; this is made much easier by that character’s stories being written in the first person, but since that character has a lot fewer of the personal identity markers that we have, it makes the character difficult to describe. Without massive spoilers, anyway. I have a character who is a female ADA who seems to turn up ex-girlfriends in at least two places. I haven’t outright stated she’s a lesbian, and likely I won’t unless it turns out that she calls herself that for some reason in some context I haven’t yet written. She just happens to have two ex-girlfriends. (Originally I typed that she just happens to have two girlfriends, but then I changed it, because if she had two girlfriends she would have made different choices and then be a different character.) I have a dead guy, I have a lot of non-human people, I have a woman who works her way through nursing school. A couple of her boyfriends also feature. And sure, if put to it and because I’ve gotten good at slapping labels on things when I have to (though I don’t like to), I could call them a Lipstick Lesbian or a Strong Female Character or a Biker Gang Dude or a Bruiser or what have you. I try not to unless I’m actively reducing them for brevity or marketing purposes. They’re characters. People. They may be fictional people, with no concrete history beyond what I set on the page, and subject to interpretation a thousand different ways, but you know what? I try to treat them to an extent as people, too. Chiefly by not labeling them. My characters are characters are characters.

I’m not sure I’m giving writing advice here. I might be giving thinking advice. Which is as far as I’ll go down that rabbit hole, but as with all things that even smell like writing advice, take from it what works for you. I have Opinions, as I said, about characters. And if you take anything from this ramble then please take this: the second clearest voice, when writing, comes from knowing who your character is when they are not being their title, their gender role, their race, their ability, their sexual orientation, their job, their culture, their religion, or their national identity. Your first clearest voice should always be your own, but I know no solution for that except time and lots and lots of practice.

The Sound of Music

A lot of us write to music. If you doubt that, just go to the Nanowrimo forums and see how long the thread is for “what’s the soundtrack to your novel” or however that question is phrased this year. It’s long. Hundreds of people excited to share the soundtrack (or sometimes soundtracks, plural) to their novel with like-minded people. Professional authors publish the soundtracks by which they write their novels these days: the wonders of modern technology! Human beings are 80% visual*, but in the absence of direct and external visual stimuli, sometimes we need to kick in some audio in that other 20%. Thus, the soundtrack. Or fanmix, or playlist, or what have you. Even professional works have fanmixes, playlists. For example, the Nutcracker suite composed by Tchaikovsky came almost a century after the Nutcracker story was first penned by ETA Hoffman, was inspired by and based around that story.

Some writers can’t write to anything that has lyrics. Some have to have lyrics to set the mood of the piece or the tone of the character. Some writers prefer composers and classical music, some prefer anything grand and instrumental, some just put on a radio and go. As with everything else about writing, it’s highly individual. I used to be one of those who couldn’t write to lyrics. Truth be told, a lot of the time I still can’t. I get distracted singing along, or trying to listen harder, or both. That said, almost all of my soundtracks for both Black Ice and Sandborn came from fragments of tunes I’d hear in television shows and then, liking the music, I’d go seek out the song title, album, and band. I highly recommend doing that, by the way. Not just the radio, any time you hear a piece of music you like the sound of, write down any details that catch your ear that you can think of. Then see if you can find out what it is on the internet. We’ve got a marvelous tool at our fingertips, might as well make use of it.

Black Ice is urban fantasy, our modern world smashed together in an industrial strength blender with fantasy elements. There are no vampires, nor yet werewolves, but there is magic and there are (sort of) faeries, and there are creatures for which humans don’t have names yet. The brownies now run a protection racket, and there are outlaws who, rumor says, have made bargains with demons for supernatural powers. So for this soundtrack I did want lyrics, everything with lyrics, and a wistful damnation theme, how the world has turned and decayed, and how the characters within have reacted to it.

  1. If I Had A Heart – Fever Ray
  2. No Milk Today – Joshua James & The Forest Rangers cover
  3. Beat The Devil’s Tattoo – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
  4. Seven Stories Underground – The Gutter Twins
  5. Seven Devils – Florence + The Machine
  6. The Death & Resurrection Show – Killing Joke
  7. Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  8. Digging Deep – Jakalope
  9. Into the Dark – Melissa Ethridge
  10. You Are – Hungry Lucy
  11. Cry Little Sister – Carfax Abbey cover
  12. Golgotha Tenement Blues – Machines of Loving Grace

Sandborn is different. It’s not a true fantasy world in the sense that technology is stuck somewhere between Dungeons and Dragons and Middle Earth, but the world has definitely moved on. Call it, just prior to the industrial revolution. There is magic in the world, but it’s shrouded in tawdry disguises or hidden, not because of persecution but because no one believes it anymore even when it’s staring them in the face. Hope is for children, and everyone seems to be trying to scratch out another day and postpone the increasingly inevitable withering of humanity. For this I kept some songs with lyrics, but also blended it with movie and television scores. Different characters have their own selections within the playlist, too, even though at some point I’m sure I’ll end up with entire playlists for individual characters.

  1. Lucky to have Jonesy – Sofie’s Theme – Jeff Beal
  2. Mark Antony and Atia – Jeff Beal
  3. Angry Johnny – Poe
  4. The Carnivale Convoy – Jeff Beal
  5. Lucrezia Donati – Bear McCreary
  6. Pageant – Cirque Du Soleil
  7. Iguazu – Gustavo Santaolalla
  8. Balloon Girl – Hungry Lucy
  9. Dry and Dusty – Fever Ray
  10. Birth of a Legend – Graeme Revell

Write Strong

So, right now I’m doing Camp Nanowrimo (hint hint beg plead sponsor me link to the right) as well as working towards the publication of my first book ever, the urban fantasy anthology Black Ice. Plus working on a couple other projects to be revealed in more detail later, one of them a serial urban fantasy story. Plus doing Unspooling Fiction blogwork which, for the uninitiated, means analyzing episodes of Person of Interest, Grimm, and Haven when it airs/when we have time to hit the backlog. The upshot of all of this, well, the first upshot of all of this is that I am Humperdink levels of busy (just add ‘my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it to the above list of crap I’m doing) and my mind is constantly on a slow boil. The second upshot is that I’m writing and editing at the same time. This is very bad, GIR. The main reason why this is bad is because, okay, backing up a bit.

I have two brains for fiction writing. The first is my Writer Brain. My Writer Brain is a bit manic and a lot flighty, but I think it and I have managed to achieve an accord. I make words happen on the page, and it gives me the events and people described by these words. My Writer Brain constantly looks for projects, tweaks stories, comes up with new directions, and I’m pretty sure it processes stuff via my subroutines (remember subroutines?) when I’m not looking so that when I sit down to either write or plan something out, it just comes out. This accord took many, many years of practice and training. If it looks smooth that’s partly an illusion and mostly all that practice. My second brain, on the other hand, is much more disagreeable. That’s my Editor Brain, the one who goes through and fusses over punctuation, grammar, word choice, that’s not the best verb to use, you don’t need that adverb there, and how can the narrator see her nodding when they’re on the phone several miles apart? Editor Brain is kind of a bitch. But that’s okay, because Editor Brain has to be ruthless to cut those words Writer Brain ran around in circles for many hours to achieve.

There’s a lot of things I could write about Editor Brain and Writer Brain. Today’s reading from the book of Chandler involves writing strong. And this is because one of the biggest problems I have switching back and forth between Writer Brain and Editor Brain. Especially right now when I’m speed-writing to get all the events, character developments, and descriptions out at high speed and worrying about fine-tuning later, I don’t write strong. There are only so many things Writer Brain can keep track of, and the finer points of word choice are usually the first to get kicked to the curb.

This gives Editor Brain fits. Which wouldn’t be so much of a problem if she were asleep back in my mental Workshop till she’s needed, but right now she’s awake and stomping up and down back there ranting about how I don’t need to qualify any of those actions and can I please stop being hesitant? Don’t be timid! Write strong! Write fierce! Say what’s happening, and be bold about it! It’s not that easy, especially on a first draft. The characters are timid. I’m hesitant to commit to a descriptor. Is this the right way to say what I mean? Do I really want to go there? So my prose gets filled up with words like “mostly” and “nearly” and “actually” and “suddenly,” god, I hate suddenly. Don’t state the suddenness, Kitty, describe how startled the characters are! Show the suddenness in how the environment and the people in it react! Don’t temper your words with “mostly” and “almost,” be bold! Commit to something! The problem with that is, finding the right word to commit to takes longer than writing it out with hesitations and all, and then you get stuck on finding the right word and increase your danger of getting sick of this draft. I do, anyway. The more I hesitate and fidget over any one part, the more danger there is of me packing it all in and going “fuck this, pixel pets forever.” I need to keep moving. Especially when I get to the boggy middle, which is a whole other blog post.

So, writing strong from the get go isn’t going to happen. Not for a first draft that’s 75,000 words long, anyway, which is how long the White Lightning story is intended to be. Chances are that practice has enabled me to write a lot stronger than I did two years ago, five years ago, damn well stronger than I did ten years ago, but it’s still not going to happen. Editor Brain is just going to have to shut her fat face when I’m working on that, and wait her turn till I pull out Black Ice: Blood in the Gutters (the anchor and final story in the Black Ice anthology. Yes, I’m on edits for the last story! Woo-hoo!) Writing for Murderboarding is different, requires a different and more conversational flow, so Editor Brain is much less picky about that. Writing in the serial means chunks of only up to 5k at once, which I can chunk out in about two days, which means Writer and Editor Brains can work together on that. None of those are so hard. Working on White Lightning, though? Oh my god Editor Brain, would you shut the fuck up already?

Editor Brain will not shut the fuck up. Normally when I nano in November, Editor Brain is long since put away, replaced by Writer Brain for planning through late September and early October so I can just trample through Nano without having to stop to think what minor characters are called or where that town was again. Early September is reserved for Dragon*Con, which takes up so much time and energy that if I manage to keep up daily writing habits with short drabbles and blog posts I’m lucky. So by the time my next Nano session comes around, I likely won’t have this problem with Editor Brain. Right now, though, every time I sit down for a writing spree on my first draft of White Lightning there’s that little voice again. Write stronger. Be bolder.

Other writers I’ve talked to have run into the same thing on their revisions. We get through a few good paragraphs, hit one that we weren’t so sure of to begin with, and it shows. Half or more of the words we strike out are words that took some force away from what we were writing, describing, or talking about. We’re timid in our first drafts because no matter how much we outline, we’re still not sure this is the right thing to be doing, the right fit for character to world, world to plot, plot to size of work. But then, that’s why we revise. So that, having determined what it is we’re writing and having it written out before us, we can go through and wipe out that timidity for a clear, strong work to grab onto some reader and drag them into our worlds and show them all the works of our imagination. First drafts, it’s okay to be crap, as I’ve recently said. That’s why they’re rough drafts. Write as weak as you need to in order to keep writing, put one word in front of the other, and come out the other side. Then turn your editor or Editor Brain loose on that finished fucker to drill sergeant it into a proper piece of writing. Remember, you won’t have anything to edit until you finish it. Then you can edit to your heart’s content.