May 15th, 2011

ISeeYou2

Writing Excuses 5.36: Non-traditional Settings with Saladin Ahmed

Writing Excuses 5.36: Non-traditional Settings with Saladin Ahmed

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2011/05/08/writing-excuses-5-36-non-traditional-settings-with-saladin-ahmed/

Key points: Non-traditional settings raise the learning curve for the reader. Splice familiar elements with unfamiliar to provide a familiar hook. Nontraditional settings take research! Look for the grand sweep of history and the little daily details of everyday life. (My suggestion -- think what it would be like to live there!) Focus on a specific country, area, or time. "The past is a foreign country." Take that seriously. Blend the familiar and the strange. Think about the learning curve of your reader, and adjust it. Use familiar situations to ease readers in. Be judicious with strange language ("Don't call a rabbit a smeerp." From the Turkey City Lexicon at http://www.sfwa.org/2009/06/turkey-city-lexicon-a-primer-for-sf-workshops/) Consider using something that you know better than anyone else, and build a nontraditional setting around that.
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[Howard] Well, Saladin, I think we may need to put you on the spot here to take us home. One of the things we do for our readers... our listeners, excuse me, is we give them a writing prompt. Often it's related to the cast. But sometimes when the guest has been put sufficiently on the spot, it's just nonsense syllables. So, Saladin, writing prompt?
[Saladin] Writing prompt. Describe a food that is familiar to you from the point of view of a character who has never encountered it or anything like it before.
[Brandon] Wow. That could be really good.
[Howard] That's way better than the nonsense syllables we sometimes get.
[Brandon] Mac and cheese from someone who's never eaten it. All right. You can find Saladin's work at his website. Saladinahmed.com. Ahmed is spelled A-H-M-E-D. Saladin is spelled S-A-L-A-D-I-N.
[Howard] Saladinahmed.com.
[Brandon] Dot com. There are some short stories up there that people can read for free. His book is coming out next year from DAW. Thank you very much. Thank you for listening. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.