A dive into genre today, along with a discussion of whether there's an identifiable plot arc for Science Fiction or Fantasy (hint: there isn't), and what I've recently discovered about writing a Romance.
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Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I'm here with my first cup of coffee.
Ah I'm running so late today. Ah but today is say it with me Friday ah July Twenty Eighth last Friday of July and I'm terribly dappled this morning. It's betterfy. Don't sit back.
As I sat down in and the grape Arbor this morning. There was a an actual grape if you're on video I'm holding it up for you to see not very I'm not good with camera angles. But yes little grape lying here on the table. Ah, so the grapes are are ripening this one seems to be ripe. So Let's taste it. Ah, ah if I can actually get it My mouth. Oh m It's ripe. It's lovely I'll have 2 um more little tart.
Ah there's my tart base not that I am a a tart well depending on circumstances. Clearly this is tmi friday yeah, ah so yeah I overslept this morning. Um I've been. Really head down on this revision of Oneira I'm got well I've got like 128 pages to go. Let's see I am officially on page one Ninety Six wow impressive of 324 so um, yeah I should finish not today I was hoping I would get through it today but there's really no way I'll get through 128 pages today. Especially since I know I need to solve some things about the ending. Um, but. Those things may not entirely present themselves I think I talked about this Monday too. So I have to get Grace's additional feedback as she finishes reading ah Carien I need to ask if she has ideas. And I still have not heard back from agent Sarah she's had it in her grasping paws for a week now. Ah and I mean that in the most loving way I always feel like your agent should be at least part.
Baracuda you really want someone who has that willingness what to go to the mat for you right? Ah so I I very much respect that about Sarah when she is um.
Definitive about things because an agent should be definitive. So anyway, um I but heard back from her on her verdict. But as soon as I finish this revision I'm sending it out to a number of. Author friends who have offered to read to get their feedback and we will see what they what their impression is and see if anyone has any other ideas for sewing up this ending. It's not that the ending's going to change. It's just that I feel like I have some. Elements in the story and I've been making notes of those as I go along that I haven't fully exploited like there are things I could do with certain secondary characters or elements that would make it even yeah, more. Rich and satisfying. So um, yeah, it's kind of funny because if you listen to the podcast monday you'll know that Grace's verdict is is that this is not a romance that it's high fantasy and I touched on that a little bit. Ah, and I want to explore it some today because it's a really interesting question and one that comes up all the time is how do you know? if you're like writing a fantasy romance or a fantasy with romance or.
Ah, fantasy with romantic elements and I've mentioned before that I've been very influenced by a panel I was on that Mary Robinette Kowal um moderated ah with an agenda she was you know sometimes you're. Assign the moderator a panel and this panel she was in charge of programming at the nebula conference then ah she created this panel with the intention of moderating to ask these questions and as an aside I saw that Mary Robinette put this on Instagram um. She had emailed me a couple of days ago and so I wasn't sure when the information would be public but then she put it on her Instagram that her mother passed away which is very sad and I got to meet her mother. Her mother was a lovely lovely gracious woman who you know. Declined with parkinson's disease over the course of many years so my heart goes out to marry robinette and all of them so anyone it wasn't unexpected. She had gone into hospice. but still yeah um but that was in the side. So anyway, Mary Robinette moderated this panel with several of us who write fantasy romance romantic fantasy and one of the things that she asked us.
Was to define in science fiction and fantasy. What a science fiction or fantasy plot arc is and it was a really interesting question because it had not been posed that way to me before. And I invite you all to think about it even take a pause and tell me what do you think? the science fiction plot arc is or what is the fantasy plot arc and for contrast we could talk about what is the plot arc for a mystery. Right? The mystery typically a dead body is discovered and then you have the progressive discovery of clues until the murderer is discovered um a thriller someone is in peril. Ah. They go through these steps of trying to evade the peril and then hopefully eliminate the source of the peril at the end ah horror interestingly enough and I didn't know this until this panel because I said well what's the horror plot arc and Mary Robinette said it it starts with somebody making a choice that then cascades into a series of worse choices which I thought was really interesting and I could see that and it doesn't necessarily have to be like they made the choice because they're a bad person but you know like they made your choice to move into the haunted house or something like that.
Romance the plot arc you know is a couple meets they go through various trials and tribulations and they end with the happy ever after and this week in the romance community. There was like yet another hot take blog post on how that like even the title of it was. Why a romance doesn't have to have a happy ever after and I didn't read the thing because I wasn't going to give them clicks but you know everybody was talking about it and peanut sat and there're like why do we? Why do they keep publishing articles like this and I'm like because you all have been talking about it all week long. It's like the surefire way. Get the entire romance community talking about a book that otherwise would have gone completely unnoticed. And yeah, so so anyway now that you have been thinking. Ah.
what do you think the fantasy plot arc is what is the science fiction plot arc ah and I of course can't hear you but I would love to hear see your comments if you care to type any in. But if you look at. Different kinds of science fiction and fantasy stories I think that what you come up with and I was very surprised to come to this conclusion that there is no standard science fiction or fantasy plot. The plot of star wars like the original star wars um episode. 4 you could argue whether it's more of a science fiction or a fantasy in some ways it's more of a fantasy feeling plot with the chosen 1 right? but that is not the same plot as alien with saherny weaver right? Definitely a science fiction movie. Ah, it's not the same plot as game of Thrones. It's not the same plot as a deadly education by Naomi Novik a deadly education doesn't have the same plot arc as uprooted or spinning silver by Naomi Novik right and those are absolutely fantasies. How do we know their fantasies because of the presence of magic in the stories right? Ah and what we and how do we know? It's science fiction. It's the presence of space. So.
In some ways arguably science fiction and fantasy are really about ambiance. It's about the set dressing. It's about where it takes place and in what kind of world. So. Fast forward I've I've been thinking about this for a long time ever since I was on this panel and had this big aha moment that and Mary Robinette's point is is that a fantasy romance is a romance plot arc with fantasy setting. Fantasy ambiance. Ah, and yes, there are various kinds of fantasy plot arcs you can bring in and I use ones that have to do with quests and defeating the big bad and so forth. Ah, but it's still a romance plot. Um, alien is a science fiction movie but it's it's really a horror plot right? Ah, that's why star wars is set in space but in some ways it has more of the the quest the hero's journey. Arc so anyway, um, what's really interesting to me about oera and when Grace looked at it she said well do you want this to be a romance because it's not paste like a romance.
And and I realize she's absolutely right.
I'm still a little dappled by to move a bit because there was a dappel in my eye a dapple in my eye that would be a good title. Um, you know like some of it is meeting the the trope conventions right. There is no obvious longing for Love. There's no me cute. So Even though there is a romance in the story. Ah, it's not.. It's not a driving factor of the story. It's not the theme. Know what? the story is about and was very interesting to me to discover that and the ending we shall see um I Of course do not want to hint too heavily about the ending.
Um, yeah, sorry but you know coming back to the if it were a romance it would have to have an hea happy ever after I was having a conversation with my friend about. Guardians of the galaxy 3 and spoiler if you haven't seen it but I was saying that I thought that it was the right choice to not have Gomorrah fall in love with Chris Pratt Starlord again um
And I won't I won't doubt well for those of you not familiar with the movies. Um, when the universe got reset. Um, you know after avengers and game and all of that. Ah, ah, gomorra kind of got caught out timewise. And so all the people who had been. You know the 2 wo-thirds of all the universe who had been disappeared and then brought back to life well gormora was she was kind of like killed at an odd moment in there. When she came back to life. She lost those years in which she fell in love with Peter Quil stowler and he remembered their love affair and she does not and it's a subject of. Difficulty with them and of course gomorra is not a a soft or tender character and she's like she gets very very angry at Peter Quill for continuing to moon after her and and in some ways she like you know he wants to show her pictures and stuff and be like believe me, you really did love me. And she chooses. Um, you know, no, she does not fall in love with him again because her life hasn't followed that same path where she fell in love with him and for all that I am a big lover of romance and love my happy ever. Afters I thought.
The right choice I think in a romance book we would have you know people do that right? you know like over lifetimes you know reincarnation that they fall in love with the same person over and over again and I think that I know reality doesn't always enter into it. But. Yeah, the circumstances by which we fall in love with certain people. Um, if the circumstances aren't there if our life path isn't the same then it's and it's not necessarily going to happen. So.
Yeah, So my so I do think that there are times and I think everyone in the romance Community would agree with me that you do not have to end with a happy ever after but then don't call it a romance and you know don't. Don't tease us. Don't tell us that it's going to be a romance and then have it end unhappily and that was apparently like this gal's essay which you know I knew enough from the way people talked about it to you know Grok What all she was saying but you know she said things like. You know that? oh well friendships are just important to as romantic relationships and it's like nobody denies that that's of course they are but that doesn't make it a romance Hummingbird Wars going on here. Ah.
Yeah I know I've got a this feeds all tainted by ants. Oh she doesn't mind it I probably need to get it cleaned out though anyway. So here I've written this high fantasy I'm going to send it out and get feedback from people on it and then we all figure out if Sarah's gonna take it on sub. Which I know if you listen to Monday's podcast I keep going back and forth I wish she would just tell me already. But you know it's like I'm not pushing her because she's already giving be. You know she's already expediting this read for me and I'm not her only clients. Oh shocking. But. You know in some ways I hope she says no and so that way I can self publish it long but in some ways I wish she would take it to trad because I think they might do a better job with it and and even I had write her coffee yesterday and they were saying the same thing I like this seems like a book that probably trad could really help you with. I should stop saying trad I should say traditional publishing because ah, the transcript really hates that that it always comes out as like something. Not ah so so yeah, that's where my head is at but I'm happy with.
Revision I it's I still like this story so so yeah the big question will be what am I going to work on once I'm done with this I don't have copious time next week because Thursday I'm flying to Portland. And I will be at willammette writers conference through Sunday I'm teaching a master class on Friday on world building. So this weekend I need to figure out wtf I'm doing ah ah it should be good. It should be good. It's just ah. I haven't really taught a class that long before and I want to make sure that people get their their full money's worth out of it. So those are all things I'm going to be working on. All right? Well I'm going to go get to it I hope you all have a fabulous weekend I hope that you have um oh all the all the things you would like to have I wish that for you and I will talk to you on Monday you all take care bye bye.