I get so much spam on this website that by now I automatically delete all comments that don’t reference the post. The way to overcome this filter is comment useful information that addresses whatever point the blog-post addresses.

There’s an XKCD about it.


The best part of writing is stuffing dragons everywhere.

Dragon Law: If you have a problem, you just need more dragons!

Character Perspectives

I prefer 1st person POV. One reason why is that as an author the separation between character viewpoint and writer viewpoint is more clearly defined, and can be expressed without constantly writing ‘he thought/she thought.’

Suppose Bob thinks all orcs should be killed. In 1P POV from Bob’s perspective, I can just write ‘All orcs should be killed,’ and that’s clearly an opinion of the character. Statements like that should be supported by having Bob live that opinion, and it can be undercut easily with narrative elements. If orcs are always chaotic evil, than scenes of orcs doing so can be shown. If I want to demonstrate that the all orcs should be killed opinion is wrong or flawed, narrative elements showing orcs being good, or at least worthy of living, can be shown too. That also leads to narrative conflict which is the pulse of a story.

But if I’m in 3P POV and Bob’s getting genocidal, that opinion is difficult to reveal without either having dialogue or a bunch of ‘he thought’ tags. Now the dialogue introduction of opinion is fine, but it’s a hoop to jump through. Writing constant thought attribution tags gets cumbersome, and sometimes I don’t really want to reveal a character’s thoughts. If there’s a murder mystery and the victim is an orc, I might not want to reveal Bob’s murderous impulses.

This is not to say any of those things cannot be done and done well, but they are often cumbersome. More specifically, they’re set of problems I don’t enjoy solving. I much prefer writing opinions that are wrong and subverting them.

Pet Peeves

I’ve probably never told you how much I hate being right all the time because I love it. It’s delightful.

Good sentences

Want a good intense sentence?

But the ring would not be denied.

That’s a good one. JRRT dropping a banger.

It’s got some aspects worthy of consideration. The ‘But’ beginning establishes conflict. The sentence isn’t too wordy. The final ‘denied’ is a good, strong one, and supports the implicit conflict of the opening, augmented by ‘not be’ denied. There is a lot of conflict within that sentence purely grammatically, and the ring as a focus of the narrative is a tool of conflict.

Furthermore the ‘would not be’ implies a desire and a will. Both are good for the narrative, but also support the conflict. The ring wants something, and that’s pretty clear.

That’s what you do to make a sentence intense. Make it short but laden with conflict. Give it a clear meaning, and leave the implications nebulous. It sets up later events.

More Continuity

The problem with Amberfic is that Zelazny wasn’t always certain who’s related to who and how.

In 9PiA Corwin says Random is his full brother and Eric a half. In GoA, he says Eric is his full brother, albeit with different legitimacy. Which is right?

I’m trying hard not to pick sides.

In 9PiA Random also refers to ‘your sister’s sister,’ right before he, Corwin, and Deirdre (using that spelling) descend into Rebma (p 47, GBoA). I read that as referring to Moire via Llewella, and thus take Moire and Llewella to be half sisters by different fathers (Oberon and someone unnamed). The ladies are both green. But why ‘YOUR sister’s sister,’ emphasis mine, instead of ‘our sister’s sister’ or something? Why disavow her? Random and Deirdre have different mothers and the same father, and R and C have the same father and possibly the same mother, so they’re related as closely as R and L. Why disavow her?

No idea. Z’s dead and not talking. Welcome to fanfic.

The Moon

The Moon appears flipped upside down in the southern hemisphere vs the northern.

In cosmological terms (cosMOlogy is the study of the universe, cosMETOlogy is makeup and cosmetics) there is no predefined up and down, but more humans live in the northern hemisphere than the south. As such a lot of popsci refers to north as up and south as down, and this is the convention for immobile maps. Those of the big pieces of paper kind usually use put north up, whereas computer maps often have north rotating around as the mobile device moves. Google Maps lets you lock north to up, but will free spin otherwise.

This up-down ambivalence is not found everywhere. For example a boat has a definite top and bottom, and getting the two confused will make the thing sink. Tree branches grow up, roots grow down, and there isn’t a lot of confusion between the two. People have their heads on top and feet on bottom, usually. These are what we call preferred reference frames. One can, via math, make any reference frame up or down, but some are much more work than others. By convention, down is the direction the gravity force vector points, and up is the other direction.

Cosmology doesn’t have such preferences, so up is whichever way we pick. The more pedantic among us will eschew terms like up and down to refer to directions unencumbered by gravity.

North of the Equator our heads generally point more north than south. Up and north do have some overlaps. South of the Equator our heads generally point south. Up and south have some vector overlap.

The Moon is the same Moon in both north and south, so the part of it we think of as the top, the bit that is furthest ‘up’ in our personal reference frame, depends on where we stand. At the North Pole this bit, the uppermost part of the Moon, will be the northernmost part of the Moon. At the South Pole the uppermost bit is the southernmost part of the Moon. Inbetween ‘up’ will point to an edge, and where that direction points depends on our latitude on Earth.

All of that is a long bit of saying that in Chile the Moon will look upside down compared to the Moon in Alaska. You can see this by following Moon pictures on Instagram. Look for some southern city’s hashtag and #moon, and compare the moon to how it looks in the north.

This would not happen on a flat Earth. If you really don’t trust Insta, and if you don’t I understand, a plane ticket to Chile is about a thousand bucks. You can prove it to yourself and have a great vacation. You might need a lens for your camera or phone depending on resolution and focus, but a decent one is less than a hundred bucks and will give decent lunar resolution.

Continuity and Errors

Typically I revise a published chapter on AO3 three times within half a week of it going up. I’ll revise at least once more within the week after that.

Regarding the Nine and my aforementioned comments on continuity, the biggest thing I caught was a counting error. Specifically, the number of rings in the cashmere bag didn’t always work out right, and sometimes more or fewer rings existed in the world. It should be fixed now.

Other revisions are grammar based and most of them are errors that spellcheck won’t catch. It’s/Its, to/too, and capitalization errors are the bulk of these problems. This is one of the reasons I find paid copyediting so useful, and while it is expensive, it’s mandatory for true published works (anything on Amazon). When I write something I know what I mean. Furthermore, that meaning is baked into the words. That’s the point of writing, and hopefully what comes through to the reader, that sense of being pulled along by language. But readers not yet fully hooked won’t get pulled along, and even the most hooked reader may be shocked out of immersion by an unexpected typo. For this reason a paid copyeditor, someone who isn’t going to get pulled along, is invaluable because they catch all the errors the readers will, but also hopefully those the average reader won’t.

Expect anything that’s put up on AO3 to have errors on publishing day, have less a few days later, and continue to have a smaller nonzero number until it hits Amazon if that’s my intent. That’s harder than expected though, hence the low production numbers.

English composition is more art than science, so there are some issues of preference or style. These issues tend to have adherents who think their interpretation is right and other interpretations are wrong. I can’t write to their interpretations all the time, so I don’t.

Let me give an example of opinion treated as fact in grammar.

Suppose Bleys and Caine are talking (1).

Bleys said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Caine interrupted between ‘think’ and ‘that’ with, “That’s your problem, you never think.”

The above is unnecessarily wordy but highly specific. It is most certainly ‘right’ though cumbersome.

Also (2):

Bleys said, “I don’t think…”

And Caine interrupted, “That’s your problem, you never think!”

There are a couple of issues here. First, the ellipsis (…) indicates something left out. That’s what that bit of punctuation means. So the ellipsis draws attention to that which is left out, in this case the ‘that’s a good idea’ bit. Secondly, the second dialogue tag begins with an And which great writers do all the time and English teachers complain about.

Compare with (3):

Bleys said, “I don’t think–”

Caine interrupted, “That’s your problem, you never think.”

The em dash is replaced with two hyphens due to formatting issues in WordPress. But it indicates interruption or breaking. Furthermore the second dialogue tag doesn’t begin with an And.

So which is right, 1, 2, or 3?

Bluntly, it’s a matter of style and adherents to each style will tell you their style is right and other styles are wrong.

Zelazny tended towards 2. He and another of my favorite authors, Poe, never found themselves bound by grammar if it got in their way, and both broke rules whenever they felt like it. In both cases this willingness to defy grammar allowed them to create magnificence, and things like starting sentences with an And created deeply personal styles. Corwin talks throughout Amber and you get the feel of his presence through dialogue. Poe talks through his description, and you feel the fear and madness.

Further, noting the comma after problem, commonly commas are used to indicate a speaker pausing in dialogue. But I’ve heard debate over the ‘rightness’ of it.

Notice also the difference between ellipsis and em dash. The ellipsis draws attention to the fact that Bleys continued to talk but Caine spoke over him, and therefore his words are omitted from the text. The em dash draws attention to Caine breaking into Bleys’s words. They’re not synonymous even if the difference is subtle.

But that doesn’t mean 2 is right and 3 wrong. At least that dialogue tag isn’t right or wrong. It’s obviously stylistic, and outside of English class, one can embrace style at the expense of grammar.

If you, dear reader, want good, quick-and-dirty intros to dialogue punctuation, I have two recommendations. The first is September Fawkes: How to Punctuate Dialogue which is about as clear-cut a case of ‘exactly what it says on the tin’ as possible. I’ve got it bookmarked, and I tab back and forth every now and then. The other one is Strunk and White: Elements of Style which is probably the most useful book on grammar there is.

Style is subjective. It is not right or wrong; it is better or worse. Better is that which makes reading easier or harder as author desires and reader understands. Your writing doesn’t succeed by how many angry grammarians it mollifies. It succeeds by how many readers care and sometimes, whether or not you can pay rent.


You know how the most motivating feeling in the world is the blind panic of impending deadlines?

I am getting so much done right now!