Blog Train

Three Things I Write & Three Thing I Don’t

A few eons ago, my wonderful friend–a very talented writer/editor–Rhonda Parrish tagged me in a bloghop going around dealing with, you guessed it, three things I write and three things I don’t write.  It sounded like a lot of fun, I’ve just had a very busy summer and am only just now getting around to participating.

On a random note: I normally try to put some images in my blog posts to break up the text monotony.  Since I recently bought a really cool camera, these images will be a smattering of random photos I’ve taken over the past week or so.  As such, they probably won’t be at all related to the content matter of this post.  But who cares, right? Sit back and enjoy the hop!


Three Things I Write

I write Speculative Fiction

Science Fiction, Fantasy, the occasional Horror piece.  These are the genres I return to time and again.  While I dabble in ‘literary’ or ‘mainstream’ genres, I just love speculative fiction with my whole heart and soul.  There’s something thrilling about pushing the limits of your imagination and trying to imagine what no one else has yet imagined.  And yes, they say there’s nothing new under the sun.  But how many people have thought about cellos that have baby cellos inside them?  Someone, somewhere probably–but it’s finding those strange little ideas that I love.

I write Robots.

Yes.  Robots.  They demand their own section, despite falling under the header of ‘speculative fiction’.  Why?  Because robots are just so dang awesome.  Artificial Intelligence, robots, cyborgs, you name it and I love it.  I’ve written numerous robot stories, especially ones that deal with romantic attachments between humanity and machines.  Two of my favorites were published last year at Scigentasy and Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi.  There’s something intensely fascinating about robots, about Artificial Intelligence and possibilities of sentience.

For me, the attraction of robots is twofold.  First, there’s the aesthetics of it.  Gleaming metal and sleek forms, the astounding power of a machine, the versatility of arm attachments, the immortality of an identity which can be easily backed up or sent to multiple locations.  There are of course the rust-bucket robots which are charming in their own right.  Games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution really fed my love of flesh-and-metal-amalgamations.  Shows like Battlestar Galactica (the reboot of course) only further amped up my fascination.  And reading stories like “The Shrike” by Zachary Woodard or “How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps” by A. Merc Rustad provides me further incentive to return to robots in my stories time and again, reaching for deeper meanings and themes and exploration of emotion and philosophy and society.

I write Poetic Prose (Sometimes).

This final “I write” is somewhat of an evolution for me.  When I first set out to write short stories in earnest four years ago, I was very much a minimalist.  In some ways I still am–I’m not overly fond of obsessing over my character’s appearance and dress and body, or detailing to the most minute level the way the tile is laid out on the floor.  But my writing itself used to be quite sparse and functional.  This is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile–this evolution of preferred style that I’ve undergone.

I think I first fell in love with beautiful, sweeping prose when I read E. Catherine Tobler’s “Half a Woman, Half a Shadow” in Insatiable Magazine.  The story and the lush prose were utterly captivating.  I was swept off my feet.  After that, I still continued to write much as i always had.  Eventually I took up a job slushreading for Niteblade (where I got to know Rhonda much better) and more poetic stories spilled beneath my eyes and soaked into my mind.  As time continued and I stumbled into such excellent magazines as Electric Velocipede (Rest in Peace, sweet magazine!) and Shimmer, my writing style slowly evolved.  I still sometimes write rather sparsely, but I love playing around with lush writing styles.


Three Things I Don’t Write

I don’t write Rape.

Might seem like a weird one to start with, but I’m really touchy about how rape is used in fiction.  The whole ‘rape as backstory’ is something I don’t ever want to do. And in the event that I someday write a story that involves rape (in the character’s past or present), I will be very, very nervous and very careful about how I do so.  In fact, I recently had a really gross, weird idea for a horror/crime/erotica novella and had almost started plotting it when I realized it had a character who not only had been raped, but was going to rape other people.  Why am I telling you that?  Because sometimes we just get bad ideas or ideas with implications and effects we may not have considered at first.  So yeah.  No rape.

I don’t write Racist/Sexist Characters.

As far as I know, I’ve never written a purposefully racist/sexist character.  I say ‘purposefully’ because some racism and sexism is ingrained and nearly invisible until someone points it out to you.  I’ve seen stories where characters were real assholes–and those can be fun–and then I’ve seen stories where those assholes are misogynists or racist or homophobic or transphobic, and I can’t stand them.  Especially in Science Fiction.  The future I imagine is bright and full of people accepting other people for who and what they are.  And yeah, I do sometimes write futures that aren’t so bright–I write post-apocalypse and other gritty, painful genres.  But I don’t feel the need to call these sorts of negative attitudes and viewpoints to attention, especially in a main character.

That being said, I can think of a few stories I’ve written where secondary characters or antagonists give my characters some grief over their sexuality–but not often, and when I do so, I try to make it clear that they’re in the wrong.  That being said, I’m not perfect.  I’m afraid there may be some of these things in my stories that I just can’t see yet.

I don’t write Sex (Yet?).

My characters usually don’t have very much sex–poor folks!  It just doesn’t usually come up.  They are sexual beings, sure, and I’ve written romance with the kisses and heat and all that fun, feverish stuff.  But I don’t really write sex scenes.  I definitely don’t write erotica.  I did try to this year during Story-a-Day May, but the results were less than sexy.  I won’t write sex scenes off completely, I’m just not really interested in writing them.  To me, the act itself can usually be skimmed over, the sort of fade-to-black or closed-door stuff that I see in a lot of stories works just fine for me!

(I do want to note that I know these subjects (all of my “don’ts” really) can be handled correctly in fiction–I’ve seen it done before.  In Who Fears Death — possibly one of my very favorite novels — Nnedi Okorafor deals with racist/sexist characters, rape, and consensual sex scenes and does so extremely well.  I guess I just don’t trust myself yet to write such stories well.)


So, there you have it, folks!  My do’s and don’t’s of writing.  And I’d like to tag Jared W. Cooper, Gary Emmette Chandler, and Paul Magnan to play the Three Things I Write game as well!

Thanks for reading!



11 thoughts on “Three Things I Write & Three Thing I Don’t

  1. This was awesome, Alexis! It’s funny how many of the things I was thinking I’d list, you also listed – ha! Going to have to stir the brain-pot a little bit, so as not to be cloning your post. I shall meditate on this, and return to you with words no later than the end of this year!

  2. I don’t think rape is a weird one at all. It’s such a hot button topic that establishing narrative authority over it (especially in short fiction) is incredibly hard, and without some careful handling it can come apart. That was one of the first things I considered for what I will/won’t write, but, well, you’ll see…

    A good list. I’m gonna percolate on my answers for a bit.

  3. Great list, Alexis. It’s given me good ideas for my list. I’m working on it now. Let me know how/when you want it sent. 🙂

  4. You write robots? Really? I never knew that. 🙂 LOL. Seriously though, you’ve written some really thought-provoking stories about AIs that have developed or are developing emotions.

    As for what you don’t write, you have to go with what you are comfortable with, and all can be touchy subjects. Rape, especially, is a very unpleasant subject, and I can imagine that for a woman it must be especially discomforting. The fact that you conceived an idea for a story about a character who is both the victim and perpetrator of rape simply shows the breadth of your imagination; the fact that you decided not to write it shows your good judgment. Perhaps some day you will come up with an idea for a story that touches on one of these topics that will work for you. Perhaps not. In the meantime just keep doing what you’re doing; you’re doing a terrific job.

    (By the way, while I was reading your Story-a-Day entries for this year, I was simultaneously reading some of your S-a-D entries from 2011, and your stories have improved noticeably over the last three years, both in terms of plotting and style. You are getting better; never doubt that.)

    1. Thanks so much for reading, commenting and for the kind words. I’m really glad you could see improvement between the years. I feel like I’ve come a long way, and look forward to going further! 🙂

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