Read Like a Writer

How to Read Like A Published Writer

Written by Caitlin Jans | February 27, 2017

I was a reader long before I was a writer. As a child I fell in love with books like The Balloon Tree, A Wrinkle in Time and Ramona Quimby, Age 8.  That love of books has never left me.

When I was a teenager I remember being shocked by the fact that most of the adults around me didn’t read more than one book a year. But they all told me that they were busy, and when I was older I would understand, and I wouldn’t have time to read.

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Ice Princesses in Science Fiction & Fantasy

Just today, Emma Watson was called a “hypocrite” about her feminism because she chose to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair in a revealing (but tasteful) image. There seems to be a conception in popular culture that women must give up their sexuality to be a strong person who is a match for a man, and this trope is perpetuated by right wing traditionalists and second wave feminists both.

One of the most potent ways in which women have been subjugated in history is by means of controlling their sexuality. If feminism were about equality and opportunity, shouldn’t a woman’s sexual choices be celebrated?

Instead, we must make women into “ice princesses” before we’ll take them seriously. We still slut-shame in our culture, but now, we claim that women who choose to celebrate their sexuality can be neither strong, nor actually a feminist.

As this author points out, this trope has carried into modern science fiction and continues to be a staple. Women do not have to be one or the other. Perhaps it’s time we gave it a sharply-pointed stiletto boot.

s a gibson

IcePrincessTVMovies2017.pngHave you noticed how the supporting females roles in science fiction television and movies have been portrayed, especially over the last 60 years? I found myself wondering what was going on. Female characters like T’Pol in Star Trek: Enterprise, and Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager were rendered as highly sexualized but with limited emotional range. T’Pol was a member of the famously emotionally controlled Vulcans, and Seven of Nine had her human emotions stripped away by the Borg. It seems that science fiction liked to portray females as nearly unattainable beauties with limited gender socialization.

This treatment, of female characters, has existed since the early days. In the movie Forbidden Planet (1956), the alluring Altaira is naive and inexperienced with gender relationships. She does not know what a kiss is, and must be taught by the male crew of the spaceship. Mission Stardust (1967), introduced the…

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Darkness in Fiction: 7 Tips for Writing Dark Stories

I enjoy dark stories. I like reading about characters that struggle, worlds on the brink of destruction and in need of saving, words that go into the deep, little-seen parts of the soul. I like writing them, too.

And that’s why I’m so disturbed by what darkness in fiction has turned into. It seems like each year the books get darker and darker, and each year they become more and more abused by authors who don’t seem to understand (or care about) the ramifications of their words.

As a writer and lover of stories with a dark side, I’d like to point out what makes a dark story good with the hopes that we can get away from the current “Darkness without meaning” trend that’s running around like a rabid dog (*cough* or a certain DC director who thought it would be a good idea to turn a certain character into a murderer *cough* *cough*). So here it is: 7 tips for writing a dark story that’s not just a black hole of death and depression and strangled puppies.

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