Alpha Males & Fiction

English: Samson, alpha male (leader) gorilla i...

Samson, alpha male gorilla in Givskud Zoo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had an interesting Twitter conversation a while back when World Weaver Press tweeted a link to an article about hot alpha males (“dangerous,” “possessive,” “dominating,” etc.) in paranormal romance. Being a total behavior nerd, I replied that most of these “alpha males” were actually displaying lower-ranking behavior – real alphas don’t posture, act aggressive or defensive, etc. — and we chatted briefly about the implications for fiction and PNR in particular.

Don’t confuse the “alpha male” and the “bad boy.” They’re different things. It’s a common myth, the posturing alpha male, but it’s a myth. Simply put, if you’ve got it, you don’t have to flaunt it. Only those worried about their position waste time, energy, and other resources in reminding others of their position. Continue reading

Writing emotions. No, not ABOUT emotions.

The problem with writing is that it’s wholly subjective. Qualitative. No hard data.

ClickStats, my clicker-training data-keeping app

ClickStats, my clicker-training data-keeping app

Where we can do quantitative analysis, we can make reasonable judgments even when our emotions aren’t in alignment. “I felt great about this today, but we actually had only a 70% success rate.” Or, “Oh, man, today has been a total downer and I hated this session, but we nailed it with a 90% success ratio.”

That’s very nice for behavior analysis and free throws. Not so useful with writing.
Continue reading

I’m very visual. Except when I’m not.

English: Drummer James Roddick of the 92nd Gor...

Drummer James Roddick of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, defending Lieutenant Menzies during hand-to-hand fighting in Kandahar, 1880, signed and dated ‘ W. Skeoch Cumming/1894’ (lower left), pencil and watercolour, 28 x 42½ in. (71.1 x 107.9 cm.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are two reactions I get from pretty nearly all my beta readers and critique partners, regardless of the story:

“I don’t know exactly what your characters look like; don’t you ever describe them?”

and,

“Holy smokes, your action scenes are really detailed.”

These may be phrased in various ways, but the general gist is almost always there. And it’s a problem for me. Continue reading

An Outsider’s Perspective

Study for The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by...

Study for The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by Noel Paton: fairies in Shakespeare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just came home from opening night at the Indiana Reperatory Theatre‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I gave it a glowing review, but I wanted to comment on a technique they used which made the play more accessible. (And let’s be honest, Shakespeare often unnecessarily intimidates potential audiences, just because of the language and reputation.) Continue reading

Fantasy, and Why We Need It

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(Photo credit: Hani Amir)

Today I intend to justify fantasy as a genre. Not that it needs justified, no more than any other genre, but I’m going to anyway.

But first, I’m going to tell you a story. Continue reading

What’s It Like, Being a Writer?

What’s it like being a writer, you ask? Well, there’s several different aspects to it all, of course. Here’s a quick glimpse into a writer’s head. Watch your step….

That guy's brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.

Continue reading

Storylines and Plot Beats – Rise of the Guardians

Warning! Here there be spoilers, in great measure. Also, plot dissection and narrative breakdown. Continue reading

Pep Talk from Hell.

Anger Controlls Him

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Someone on the NaNoWriMo chat group mentioned a technique in which a writer writes a pep talk from his or her characters. She said she had found it helpful.

I hadn’t heard of the technique, but just the thought of it scared the snot out of me. Continue reading

Announcement: a new book is coming soon

Laevatein & McCoy

Laevatein the Doberman and McCoy the skeleton

So you knew I was working on bringing Kitsune-Mochi to you, right? Did you know I’m also working on a non-fiction book?

My day job is in behavior, animal behavior specifically (though I’m also certified in TAGteach), and I’m working on a book in that field. Continue reading

On Spoilers. (I Hate Them.)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 2011 psychology experiment indicates that spoilers don’t ruin a story, but rather enhance it.

With all respect, in this regard psychology has its headlight plugged firmly into its tail-lamp. And that’s coming from someone who makes her day job in psychology and behavior, so you know I feel pretty strongly about this. Continue reading