Sunday, September 20, 2009


I had a long discussion this week with my beta reader about one of my characters. This character shifts gender. My original plan was that s/he'd change with the phases of the moons on his/her planet, but the more we discussed it, the more problematic that became.

We sketched out orbits of planets with multiple moons (Saturn being my go-to example) and even used our solar system as a potential model. That showed that the moons could work as imagined, but there was still a problem with biology.

So I turned to my favorite biology reference book: Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice for all Creation. If you write alien races, you should pick this up. Almost any weird scenario you can imagine for procreation has a working model on this planet. The strengths and weaknesses of each is discussed in enough detail to work as a writer's prompt for a society that might reproduce that way. She had some good examples of gender-switching fish that opened up the possibilities for my character. A few changes, and now my beta reader and I are convinced my scenario has a solid basis in science.

It seems as if such things shouldn't matter in fantasy, but they do. An author can write him/herself into a corner quickly if details aren't thought through, which means later on they inevitably have to anger their readers by violating their world rules, or they have to go throw god into the machine - which also disgusts readers to no end. Readers are a generous group. They'll accept almost any world for the sake of a good story. Be generous back - respect their intelligence, and do your homework. It doesn't take that much effort to get the details right.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Beta Readers are Beginning to Comment

One of my three beta readers got back to me on my new novel. Her final comment: Start writing the next one in the series.

I love feedback. She had some honest criticisms (at one point saying "Is this character really that stupid?") that I need to fix, but overall it was the mental boost I needed. I mean, I know it's good, but it's nice to know that someone else feels the same way.

This past week, I joined the Outer Alliance for GLBT science fiction writers. It's the right group for me at the right time. There are many well-known names on the list who are great to tap into for insight. There's already been a great thread on agents. As I'm looking for an agent, it's timely info.

Now if I could only come up with a title for my novel. Usually, I have no problem, but I'm stumped, and my beta reader (rightly so) hated all my ideas. It's hard to pitch to an agent or a publisher without a title. Urgh.