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Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Magna Carta of Writing, Part I: The Awesome

I've been reading through my copy of No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty (the founder of National Novel Writing Month) and came across a great exercise. The book suggests that for the insanity of writing that you should set up and frame your Magna Carta.

What does this mean? The Magna Carta, Part I: The Awesome should be everything that you love about stories, all of the weird little plots, character types, and settings that really nerd-excite your brain. Books you see on the shelf in the Magna Carta of Awesome go directly into the insta-buy category.

While my list is a little too long to mention all of them, here is a tiny snapshot. So, here it is, my Magna Carta, Part I:

1.     Alternate history with fantasy elements: This is one of my favorite mash-ups. Yeah, I'm a big fan of genre-crossing and genre-bending (or breaking), so when series like The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger happens along, I love it. She mixes Victorian history with vampire and werewolves, and just a dash of Steampunk. Voila! You have something new, fresh, and friggin' awesome. Along these same lines is Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, which mixes the Napoleonic War with dragonriding.

2.     Steampunk: Mix Industrial Revolutionary inventions with fun and derring-do, and you have a recipe for me-likey big time. Steampunk glories in the early days of mechanical invention, giving us something like a techno-thriller...only with steam! Automatons! Airships! Steam driven computers! Yay!

3.     Post-Apocalyptic worlds or cities: My NaNo for last year was a post-apocalyptic tale involving Napoleonic Naval-style battles waged by mutated (by magic) humans. It's interesting to see what the world can be like—after it's over. I eagerly snap up stories with a big or little disaster that ruins all of civilization, whether in space or right here on Earth.

4.          Socially awkward characters: I have a really soft spot for characters that are socially awkward. Probably my favorite awkward character is Horatio Hornblower. While outwardly he commands ships and entire fleets with quiet and supreme stoicism, inwardly he questions every move, doubts himself to the point of physical illness, and can't seem to understand simple things like parties, music, or dancing. These are the Michael Scotts, Neville Longbottoms, and George McFlys or the fictional world.

5.      Smart-ass, sarcastic characters: I love smart ass characters. Love them. Luuuuuurv them.There's nothing that can quite endear me to a character like sarcasm in the face of imminent danger. Granted, I know that there are some characters who overdo the flippant, I-don't-care-I'm-cool-and-sarcastic thing, but when done right their smart-ass-ery takes them to new heights. From Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, to Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros, to George R.R. Martin's Tyrion Lannister, they all have enough smart-ass-y-ness to throw out zingers like an explosion at a Hostess Factory.

Ah, my dearies, what sorts are in your Magna Carta or writing and/or reading? What goes in the insta-buy category?

Stay tuned for Magna Carta, Part Deux: Anti-Awesome.




1 Comments:

At June 7, 2012 at 11:27 PM , Blogger Carmen said...

They all seem quite fascinating to me!

 

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