Month: July 2015

Substrate Wars: Loglines

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1

I’ll be going to a seminar at UCLA in a few weeks, a whole weekend of talking about story and marketing to publishers and other media (notably movies.) So I’m working over the synopses and pitches. One tool I’ve never used is the logline, a single-sentence description encapsulating the setting, protagonist, story problem, antagonist, and goal.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for the Substrate Wars series:

RED QUEEN: In a near-future US surveillance state, college students invent quantum gateways and have to fight Homeland Security to gain their freedom on a new planet.

NEMO’S WORLD: From their base on a new planet, rebels use their discovery of quantum gateways to steal all of Earth’s nuclear weapons and bring down Earth’s oppressive governments.

KALIKANS: As humanity expands to new colony worlds and enjoys an era of peace and prosperity, the new government has to fight a fleet of robotic destroyer ships to save humanity from extinction.

If you haven’t succumbed to my relentless marketing yet, you can still start reading it here.

Back from Taos Toolbox

Taos Toolbox 2015

Taos Toolbox 2015 Class

I attended this year’s Taos Toolbox novel-oriented writing workshop, which wrapped up Saturday. Instructors Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams whipped us into shape (literally — a whip appeared mid-workshop), with special guest lecturers Carrie Vaughn and Emily Mah Tippetts. A marmot subbed for the usual bear appearance, and here are a few of the notable critique quotes (as collected by Nancy Kress):

“You really can’t be understated if you are a vampire clown.”
“It would probably take more than three days to eat a whole human being — although I don’t know that personally.”
“St. George the Dragonslayer should drive a Charger, not a Mustang.”
“There was a little too much pig fighting.”
“Your critique makes me glad I did not get a degree in literature.”
“It’s a gi-normous playground of awesome.”
“Get those characters out of that apartment!”
“I can see that you incorporated everyone’s critiques of your last week’s story. The problem is that you incorporated everyone’s critiques of your last week’s story.”
“I HATE rats and I will never ever read this story about rats again!”
“I know he’s the kind of person who doesn’t do his own rat killing because he can correctly use a word like ‘penultimate.'”
“I don’t mind them devouring Chad for lunch because he’s sort of a dork anyway.”
“Will the real protagonist please stand up?”
“This is a new subgenre: the “clomance,” a romance between a person and a clone.”
“I want the meaning of life to be more than an orange muffin.”
“I didn’t enjoy his tongue getting cut out.”
“It was dystopian but without the fun parts of dystopia.”
“I love the alien eggs, but they gotta go.”
“The character seems like Jane Bond.”
“It was nice to have a male character handed reproductive threats!”
“You have a missing clothing problem.”
“I get the impression you’ve never actually been a 20-year-old male Superpower.”
“You can’t start with an ‘Interlude’ because it’s not between anything — it’s just a ‘Lude’.”
“You have White Belgium Syndrome.”
“Unless this is ‘Dinner With Andre’ in space, you need more action.”
“She’s not neurotic enough for a high-school girl.”
“All female characters must keep their shirts on unless they’re actually on fire!”
“This story is torture across all five senses, and I thank you for that.”
“You’re not really suicidal if you’re having fun fondling breasts.”
“Everyone loves werewolves in mini-skirts.”
“If being grounded as a kid was all it took to trigger superpowers, I’d have godlike omniscience.”
“You should definitely go with the larcenous wood nymphs.”
“Everybody’s too sweet. I want to dip my toe in the cesspool of evil.”
“My favorite part was the mini-kayak armor.”
“I love the part where the girlfriend writes her good-bye note on the heating bill.”
“The harem of slave girls wasn’t enough to make him unlikeable to you?”
“Add more goats.”
“If this book had any more atmosphere, you could terraform Mars.”
“I like that Thor is a jock-boy and talks like Drunken Hulk.”
“I would love to see the Fury leave her anger-management session to go kill somebody.”

Attendees to watch out for: S Marino, Terry Gene, Patrick Lundrigan, Sharon Joss, Chris Kelworth, Diana Davis Olsen, Jeb Kinnison, Anna Yeatts, Brandon McNulty, Chris Bauer, Sally McBride, Lawrence Buentello, Paul DesCombaz, Ginny Campen, Gerda Shank, Barbara Caridad Ferrer, and Sunil Patel.

More on the workshop: