Tag Archives: aliette de bodard

Theme in Fiction: How do you take it?

My characters are beverage drinkers. From Clark Gabrin with his "fine decantation of valuable stimulants and nutrients" designed to taste like an Earl Grey to the national Vardin beverage, sluscheta; to Shelley Huntington's addiction to all things coffee, tea and coffee seems to show up all over in my fiction.

Myself, I am a bit of a tea connoisseur. The family cupboard has always been stuffed to the brim with assorted teas, mostly supplemental or Celestial Seasonings, and my father's pantry contained even more exotic varieties, including coffee alternatives, such as Roma and Pero. When I opened up shop in my own pantry, I included hefty doses of tea for both healing and flavor. An introduction to a local tea room owner led me to fall in love with rooibos as well. So, when my characters began showing personality through their choice of beverage, not only did it not really take me by surprise, but it made for a delightful round table of who likes what and what that says about them.

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On Brevity

I have been writing flash fiction for a long time. When I was younger, I only knew two ways to write: very, very long and very, very short. Now that I've spent more time in the trenches, I've learned how to write a decent short story or short novel in the middle ranges of word count.

Writing with brevity taught me things. Initially, it was merely a symptom of my tendency to sketch fiction instead of drawing or painting it. I never turned it into a sculpture and let it breathe. Eventually, it became my personal expression of a reality I happen to like: evoking a feeling, capturing a moment.

Aliette de Bodard, recent Nebula winner for The Jaguar House in Shadow, puts words to some of these thoughts for me in both her original post and her interview with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

That means that genre takes on the mindset, narrative structures and favoured themes of that demographic...that stories are thought of in terms of protagonist and antagonist, and problems to be fixed; that they need arc, and changes...


I am sick of the redefinition of narrative as violence, of how everything has to be a conflict in order to be valid–even to the point of defining conflict “against yourself”, which contributes to trivialising the use of the word “conflict”, not to mention twist it far beyond its original meaning.

True, much of what she writes is complexity and rich and I am engrossed in my own longer fiction drafts of that nature, but what I've also noticed is that there are those that feel a story is too skimpy or isn't a story if it only captures one moment that makes you feel, even if all it does is give an awww or an ouch or a giggle. If it does that, then I'm happy.

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