Welcome to Biting-Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein. We’ll cover urban fantasy, vampires, pop culture, and all things Joss Whedon. Unlike other fantasy blogs, we don’t insist on body cavity searches (unless you ask politely). Snarkiness is most welcome...though we won't promise not to bite back!

Monday, April 30, 2012
  Breaking them rules
Mario here,

I've just finished watching the first season of HBO's Game of Thrones. My first thoughts are that I am jealous of George RR Martin, as the TV show is based on his book series of Medieval inspired intrigue, A Song of Fire and Ice. Typically, a book has to be condensed to fit into the two or so hours of a movie. With this cable series, Martin was given ten hours per book. If you've seen at least one episode, you can appreciate the money budgeted for the set design. Amazing and the source for much of my envy.

Now, all is not perfect. I read every one of the 699 pages in Game of Thrones and reveled in the richness of the prose, only to discover that this doorstop of a novel is a prologue to the story. I've been cautioned by others who've read the next books in the series that, rather than tighten the plot lines, Martin keeps expanding his universe and yanking on the reader's expectations. Plus, he gallops over the no-no's we fiction writers have been indoctrinated to hew to. In both the book and on TV, we see the murder of children (one lives but is left paralyzed), the deaths of major characters (and not always in dramatic ways. one was gored by a wild pig, the other died of an infection), incest, rape, and most shockingly to us Americans, the killing of dogs (huge taboo!) and horses (by graphic beheading and another by having its throat cut). Which proves that you can break any rule in writing as long as you do it well.

I found more rule breaking in Eleanor Brown's wonderful novel, The Weird Sisters, a long way from the spatter of Martin's bloody mayhem, and an engrossing read about three sisters who return home because their mother is dying of cancer. What makes them weird is that they grew up in a family of bookworms where the common language was Shakespeare, and though they each wrestled to escape, they rebound to the nest, broken and ashamed.  Brown writes from a first-person plural POV, as in "we," and then yo-yo's into each sister's narrative in third person singular. It's an unusual technique that Brown uses to build an intricate and entertaining story, proving again that you can do anything in a novel as long as you do it well.

My contribution to helping you do things well, or at least better, is in my online class with the Lawson Writer's Academy: Fang It to Me: Writing Vampires, Fantasy, and the How To's of World-Building. Only $30 for a month's worth of advice from me and a host of outstanding authors who include Carol Berg, Stephen Graham Jones, Dakota Cassidy, Jaye Wells, and our own Jeanne Stein. Come learn the rules so you can break them!

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I haven't yet read THE WEIRD SISTERS, but I want to. My agent, Elizabeth Winick of McIntosh & Otis, represents Ms. Brown and I remember how excited she was when she sold this book. Sometimes coloring (or in this case writing) outside the lines of conformity can be a really good thing when done well. :)
Karen: You're in good company. Hope you like The Weird Sisters as much as I did.
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