Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Juggling Multiple POVs

I'm close to finishing a story with three different points of view. When I started it, I didn't intend for it to have three different POVs, just one, but the other two became necessary as I wrote. What's interesting is how the POVs ended up interacting with each other. Character A narrates the first seven chapters of the story before Character B relates what happened to him while the two were separated. B's longest stretch is four chapters. Then there's a stretch where A takes over most of the story until Chapter 21, where halfway through the story, Character C enters. C is a secondary character, but they are involved in several significant events that the other two aren't present for. Once all three characters are split up, I make a deliberate effort to rotate narration among all three of them, with each one getting a separate chapter. At the climax, I give each character a short scene in each chapter. Character C's arc will end before A's and B's. I'm just trying to figure out the right emotional pitch for their final scene. 

When juggling multiple viewpoints in a single story, do you try to give all of them equal weight, or do some characters get more scenes than others? What factors into your narration decisions? Feel free to discuss in the comments. In the meantime, I've got to work on my current chapter.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Solarpunk Creatures and Equity Assurance

Today is the book birthday of the Solarpunk Creatures anthology by World Weaver Press. You can learn more about it here. The eBook is currently $4.99 and will be at that price until the end of January. Special credit should go out to the editors:

Christoph Rupprecht Mastodon: Twitter: @focx
Deborah Cleland Bluesky: Mastodon:
Melissa Ingaruca Moreno Instagram: mel_ingaruca
Norie Tamura Twitter: @tamura_norie
Rajat Chaudhuri Bluesky: Instagram: @rajatchaudhuri Twitter: @rajatchaudhuri

I have a short story in this anthology called "The Colorful Crow of Web-of-Life Park." The story is about the relationship between an escaped parrot and the crow that freed him, as the parrot is accepted as part of the crow's family. The parrot's former owner is a biologist who helps create and administer a bird flu vaccine. One of the people she speaks to during the story is an equity assurer, which is a new job I created for the solarpunk genre. Hopefully this is a concept that can be applied in real life.

My day job is in quality assurance. Specifically, I work for an enzyme company that produces food-grade enzymes, and I help implement our food safety system. Although enzymes are used in small amounts during food production, it's important that they not contain any pathogens, undeclared allergens, or foreign material that may harm the consumer. We follow a food safety code that is the basis of our policies and procedures. We keep many records to prove that that we are following our procedures, and we also have corrective and preventative actions we take when there is a problem. Every year, an outside auditor comes to our facility to review our system and make sure we meet the requirements of the code we follow. (This year, it will be an unannounced audit, meaning it can happen any time in a two-month period.) By passing this audit, my company obtains a certificate demonstrating to our customers that our product is safe. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it to prevent food-related illnesses.

I think we need a similar system to insure everyone has the resources they need to not just survive, but thrive. Income equality in the United States has grown dramatically in the past few decades while our social safety nets have been removed or made less helpful. This isn't good for the long-term survival of our society or our environment. We need to transition away from exploitative capitalism and toward doughnut economics. (Basically, we have to work within the boundaries of our resources to eliminate poverty while not exceeding the capacity of our environment.)

Equity assurance would have two major components: a collection of codes or guidelines communities (ranging from an apartment complex to towns or even nations) would follow for equitable resource distribution, and local equity assurers who are responsible for making sure that people get the resources they need. (I use "equity" instead of "equality" because everyone has different needs. Sometimes distributing resources equally doesn't help everyone equally. See here for a more complete discussion of this issue.) This could mean obtaining gluten-free food for someone with celiac disease; education, assistance, and baby supplies for a family with a newborn; or the right medicine or equipment to help sick, elderly, or disabled individuals. It can mean helping children get a good education and opportunities to develop their talents as well as people getting the right amount of social interaction.

These two branches of equity assurance aren't new. We have examples of people throughout history who have sought to help others meet their needs, and we have systems like Medicare and Social Security to give resources to those who need it. What I want to emphasize with a term like "equity assurance" is the need to make this care for others a core value of our society. When you adopt a food safety system at a company, it becomes the basis for everything you do. We need this for our society. We also need to maintain this system. Without people to monitor the day-to-day aspects of this system, things can go wrong. We need to make sure this system works and figure out ways to fix it when it doesn't.

Anyway, I plan to make equity assurance a theme in any more solarpunk stories I write. I did write another short story last year that featured equity assurance, but I haven't found a home for it yet. Establishing equity assurance for the world is certainly a long-term project, but one we need to pursue.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Writing Goals 2024

As I try to finish my current work in progress, I thought I should consider what projects I want to work on in the coming year. I've mentioned before how obsessed I've become with the Good Omens show on Amazon. I'm currently writing an alternative universe story with the Good Omens characters for the Archive of Our Own website. There are at least two more stories that I want to write in that setting. This is the kind of story that won't leave me alone, so the only way to "cure" myself of it is to write it down. Unfortunately, once I write a story in one setting, I get more story ideas. Currently there are two more Good Omens stories I want to write (three, if I include writing an alternate version of an event I already wrote about.)

If I can ever get back to my own original projects, I still have my third cozy mystery to finish and two projects in the fantasy Season Avatars universe (a short story collection and a novel starting a sequel series). I haven't decided yet if I want to enter the annual solarpunk short story contest run by I have a couple of possible ideas, but nothing's fleshed out yet.

No matter what projects I choose to work on, there's plenty to keep me busy this year. Do you have any writing goals for the year? If so, what are they?

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

IWSG: 2023 Books in Review

Welcome to 2024! I hope it's a good year for you. Since this is the first Wednesday of the year, it's also the first Insecure Writer's Support Group post for the year.  Learn more about the IWSG on their website and Facebook page.

Our hosts this month are Joylene Nowell Butler, Olga Godim, Diedre Knight, and Natalie Aguirre.

I'm skipping the proposed question this month (it has to do with following people through Bookbub, which isn't something I do) to bring you my 2023 reading year in review, courtesy of Goodreads. You can see my books here. My original goal was 175 books, which I temporarily raised to 200 books before lowering it to 170 books. I ended up with 171 books. Goodreads does list book collections as a single item, so the total number of books I read is actually higher. My genre breakdown is slightly off (I think I missed a couple of rows when I went through the list), since it only adds up to 161 (the missing 10 are probably more mysteries):

Fantasy: 27

Science Fiction: 8

Mystery (including fantasy mysteries): 87

General Fiction: 5

Non-Fiction: 34

Here are some of my favorite books I read this year:

The Last Days of the Dinosaurs


A Mirror Mended

Justice for Animals


That Self-Same Metal

For 2024, I'm lowering my goal to 150 books. The reason I'm doing that is because I would like to stretch myself and read a wider genre. I enjoy cozy mysteries and can find many of them offered for free or for a reasonable price, but I would like more incentive to read more non-fiction books and more books on my to-read lists. I belong to a local book club and a Good Omens book club on a Discord server, so hopefully they'll help me find books I wouldn't normally read.

If you track your reading, how many books do you read each year? Did you have a favorite book? Feel free to share your answers in the comments.

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