Posts by Francis Poretto

Audience Participation

     These days, a writer who allows it will get plenty of feedback from his readers. I encourage it; it helps me to know what I’m doing badly, what I’m doing well, and what I could try that I haven’t yet thought to do. But there are pitfalls to the practice, some of which are less than obvious.      For one thing, people who merely want to piss you off have as much access to you as those interested in an honest exchange. I’ve received a fair amount of such “input.” I hardly need to tell you that I don’t
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Prosodies, Threnodies, And Maladies

The indie-writers movement is a thing of great internal variety. Indeed, the one thing we have in common is that we publish our own crap. However, our offerings do display some differences, statistically at least, from the drivel that Pub World puts out. In particular, Pub World fiction puts more emphasis on style than does indie fiction. Indies tend to emphasize plot and excitement. That cleavage probably derives, at least in part, from the reason we write: the kinds of stories that thrilled us as readers have become rare among Pub World offerings. That’s certainly part of my motive power:
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On Reviews

The online book review has come to be a matter of some controversy. Many reviews are unmoored from any standard of evaluation, while some are plainly meant to wound. Here are some thoughts about producing a review the prospective purchaser will find useful.
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Fantastic Terminology

One of the great challenges in the depiction of worlds and phenomena distant from reality as we know it is mastering the art of the coinage. It’s not easy; take it from a writer who’s struggled with it for thirty years. Some science fiction writers are truly gifted at this art. Larry Niven, in his early “Known Space” stories, displayed a talent for introducing strange words as labels for strange things. For example, when he decided to allow faster-than-light travel in his fictional universe — always a chancy proposition — he gave us the hyperdrive shunt. He called the kidnappers
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On Thrillers

As an indie writer, I take an interest in other indies, their achievements, and the degree of success they experience. Many indies craft thrillers by preference. That might be because that’s the genre they most enjoy; indeed, I’d say that’s the overwhelmingly most common reason. But sadly, most of those writers haven’t bothered to master fundamental writing skills – and that includes many who have plotting and storytelling gifts that their lack of writerly chops underserves. I’m not talking here about stylistic arabesques of the sort identified with “literary” fiction. Anyone who’s been reading my thoughts on fiction for any
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“Indoor” Fiction

Much of what passes among and between human beings happens — drum roll, please — indoors, within a home, an office building, or some other place people have put to a particular use. This is a factor of great significance in a writer’s attempts to imbue his fiction with the virtue called realism. Did that stir up the mud at the bottom of your psychic reservoir, Gentle Reader? Or did it cause a sudden wave of precipitation, such that much that was once cloudy has now become clear? Either way, it’s part of the challenge I face in nearly every
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Trends In Writing Beget A Trend In Reading

Something unexpected has developed in my reading patterns. Perhaps it’s happened to you, too. Back when I first became an avid reader, I’d read whatever I could get my hands on. That was particularly true when it came to science fiction; all the SF there was in the world wasn’t nearly enough for me. Anderson, Asimov, Bester, Blish, Bloch, Bradbury, Budrys, Clarke, Del Rey, Dickson, Heinlein, Kuttner, McCaffrey, Russell, Simak, and all their colleagues could barely keep me supplied. But that was a long time ago. Things have changed. One of the most visible changes has been the rise of
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The Character Is Not The Author…Or Is He?

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] Of late — i.e., since the publication of Freedom’s Scion and Freedom’s Fury — I’ve been getting a lot of email questioning whether I endorse the actions of various of my characters. Really! My correspondents demand to know which of my fictional imaginings “represents me” — and to what extent I approve of his behavior. The question leaves me utterly baffled. I know there are writers who “write themselves” into their narratives, in the guise of a prominent character. Some of them admit to it, while with others
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