Sauron Explains It All

The only thing I have for a second chapter is the line, “In the beginning of days, I was better than you.” I really like that line, because it’s got a lot of personality behind it, but I don’t have enough jokes to write a chapter to support it.


I did the Incline Friday. I do it fairly regularly, on the order of a few times a month. It took a piece out of me as usual.

Corwin’s about to bolt up the stairway to Amber, carrying Orak, pursued by Gogomoth, and I have no way of telling you all how absolutely bonkers that is.


If the Nine is dark it’s not because of the killings, it’s because of the jokes.

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.

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!


Last chapter of the Nine, Under the Sea, was largely a matter of opening moves. I had to get Bleys into Rebma, and have various undertakings down there, but those seeds aren’t going to germinate for a bit. Likewise I had to get the royals out of the castle.

There’re a couple aspects I’ve got in mind. First, Benedict has now lost use of both hands. Anyone who counts Benedict out on the mere basis of losing both hands is overconfident to the extreme, but anyone who doesn’t think being behanded is going to affect him is equally overconfident. Benedict’s entire power structure has changed, and the character has noticed.

Secondly, Bleys now doesn’t have a ring. After the madness that fell on him before, he gave both of them up immediately after Gerard walked the other six through the Pattern and broke/weakened/did something to Sauron’s hold on them. But he’s also not being a great guy. There is treachery and gamesmanship afoot, and Bleys is no novice.

Happy reading everyone.

If you want a reply or advice on something, please let me know. I’m not terribly skilled at C&C, and improving that will help me. Receiving C&C may help you, and at the very least, it might alleviate the feeling of sending work out into the void. I know that feeling well. Either way, good luck on your own writing everyone.


The Nine is getting a lot darker than I expected.

It’s exposing me to a couple of my bad habits, the first is the desire to stuff dragons or vampires into everything. Everything. There are vampires in LotR, but I’m holding the (silver) line against them. The dragon got in because, Hey! Dragons! –which was pretty much verbatim my thought process.

That’s sort of true. I was doing a bunch of plotting and outlining, and needed a scheme, plot, characters, etc. And I thought to myself: this needs more menace.

Hey! Dragons!

But the feel is getting dark. Even in triumph the dark powers are nearby. Tolkien himself developed this, but JRRT had an obsession with Götterdämmerung I cannot relate to. It’s a peculiar notion, to me, the idea that our best days are all behind us, and while we can defeat the evil for a time, it will return. You see this in Galadriel’s mention of the long defeat. Victory is short, but defeat is forever. As such, so long as battles happen, in the end evil will necessarily triumph.

It’s the necessarily triumph, specifically the ‘necessarily’ bit I disagree with.

That does not imply, not should it, that good is going to necessarily win in the Nine. I’m not entirely sure how things are going to end, so there’s plenty of room to maneuver. I quite like bad endings, wherein team good is defeated and the world is plunged into ruin, provided it feels suitable. I don’t like it when it seems tacked on, like good should have won but the author decided to be edgy. I dislike the other side as well, where evil should have won but deus ex machina brought victory from the depths of plot device. I like endings that suit the body, and good or evil winning specifically is not as important as who earned it, and how the book feels.

There are some interesting points in there about evil earning anything, but see my ethical philosophizing in the Kangaroo Graveyard. If you work really hard and try your best, and then kill a few species of people, you’re still a bad guy. Earning your evil doesn’t make it less evil.

Unrelated to everything, I’m not terribly impressed with WordPress’s spellchecker.

Anyway, thank you for reading the Nine or anything else of mine, including this website.