Posts Tagged ‘werewolves’

I heard about a discussion on a board concerning a very popular book series, where the fans passionately argue each and every minute bit of plot, character, and setting. During a recent conversation, someone asked why everyone was arguing this or that point, anyway? “After all, it’s only fiction. It doesn’t have to make sense.”

Right there I knew the poster wasn’t a writer.

One of the very first things they tell you in Secret Writer School (also known as “the real Hogwarts”), is that your stories have to make sense.* This doesn’t mean they have to agree with reality, that’s an entirely different question. If you write SF/F, in fact, your stories are required not to agree with reality.**

The dichotomy comes from the need for internal consistency. You can write about elves, dragons, and werewolves fighting off invaders from Mars, but you have to set up rules about how each of these characters works, and you can’t deviate from them.*** If your elves are trapped at the bottom of a volcano’s caldera, even if the only way out is to fly, you can’t suddenly say, “So I unfolded the wings the author hasn’t mentioned in 200 pages and rode the updrafts to safety.” (This is precisely one of the reasons I didn’t like E.T. In fact, E.T. is a perfect example, but I’m not here to do a review.)

If you don’t write consistently, then when you fall off the wagon, the reader will be thrown out of the story. More importantly, you will have lost the reader’s trust, and without trust, the reader will not be led where you want him to go.

And where you want the reader to go, of course, is to the bookstore to buy your next book–which is a consistent desire, no matter what kind of writer you are.

*One of the great things about the Secret Writer School is that, it being “the real Hogwarts,” genre fiction enjoys its proper place.

**This is also a requirement if you plan to work in the White House.

***I see you there, reaching for your pen. Hands off! Come up with your own ridiculous ideas.



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I received word today that Digital Fiction Publications wants to reprint my “werewolf walks into a bar” story, “Paying the Tab.” Okay, it’s not quite like that, but there is a werewolf and he’s in a bar. But who’s picking up the tab–and what’s the final bill?

To keep you busy until it comes out, you can always check out Digital’s publications of “Dead Guy Walking,” and “Grinpa,” as evidence that these folks have impeccable taste in fiction.


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The second in our series of true biographies of famous “monsters,” showing how they have been misinterpreted and misunderstood throughout the years.
Harry Wolf (yeah, I know, why do you think they changed it for the movie?) was born to an East Coast middle-class suburban family in the early 20th century. When he was 18 months old, the family went for a vacation in the Adirondacks, and as will happen, they left him there, with nothing more than–no, not a blanket, not a compass, not even a Very pistol–a tattered copy of Tarzan of the Apes.
Young Harry was quickly adopted by a family of wolves (who were also, as it happens, on vacation). He went home with them and grew up quickly in the Canadian woods. Although completely untouched (some would say unspoiled) by a conventional education, he taught himself to read through constant study of his only book. (Which, if you’ve read Tarzan, is hilariously funny.)
Of course, Tarzan is a primer for surviving in the wild, and it kept Harry alive–until winter arrived. Canada is not the same as Equatorial Africa. It gets cold there; a loincloth made out of zebra skin isn’t going to cut it (although points for finding a zebra in Canada). Harry quickly learned he had to suit up or chill out–permanently.
He tried imitating Tarzan and using available materials, covering himself with pine needles glued on with pine sap. This had the twin disadvantages of (1) being itchy, and (2) the wolves laughed at him. After a brief stint as mascot for the Stanford University Cardinal, he looked for another solution.
“Harry,” the wolves said. “Harry, Harry, Harry.” After first he simply assumed they were being laconic, as wolves are, as well as condescending, but then he realized he was misunderstanding their accent: They were saying “hairy.” As in, hairy like his brothers. Harry gathered up all the shed wolf hair he could find, glued that to his body with pine sap, and soon was as cozy as could be. (It still itched, but it was better than wool.)
About this time, Harry (being a slow reader) finally reached the part of his book where the hero meets other humans. Harry followed suit…with predictable results. The Legend of the Wolfman was born.
Harry still goes into town on occasion, but only at night, and then only during the full moon, because otherwise it’s just too dark to see. He has never attacked anyone, but he did break into a used bookstore once and steal their entire collection of vintage Tarzan novels. He’s selling them on Ebay in hopes of booking passage to Africa where he can meet his hero–and finally get out of the damned wolf-hair suit. It still itches.

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I am happy to report that I have sold audio reprints of “Founding Principals” and “Paying the Tab” to Manawaker Studios’ Flash Fiction Podcast. Podcasts always add an extra (and extra-entertaining) dimension to stories because of the narrators’ interpretations are always fascinating, and I am looking forward to hearing these. When they go live, you’ll be the first to know.

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“Paying the Tab,” which originally appeared in 2011 in Daily Science Fiction, has been podcast at Meduspod.com. This is the third story I’ve had podcast, the second to appear at Meduspod. It’s always thrilling, in an anxious sort of way, to hear someone else interpret your words. It’s almost as though you didn’t write them at all. What would be like to see an actor do it on screen? How weird would that be?

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