It's time to begin answering the queries posed in this August edition of Ask Me Anything! Here we go:
Maura asks: Which is the best country to which one flees come the conservative revolution? Canada is too cold, English must be understood, and I'll need a good internet connection.
It's still Canada. Sorry! Or maybe France. But I'm not terribly worried about the "conservative revolution". I survived Reagan and George W. Bush, so I think I can survive whatever comes. (Unless it's President Palin, in which case I'm looking for property in Fort Erie, ON.)
Andy asks: How many INNOCENT sub-contractors perished when those rebel SCUM destroyed the death star???
Bah. They're defense contractors in the middle of a Galactic Civil War, and they're building an enormous military construct and weapon. What did they think might happen!
Incidentally, though, I've occasionally thought that maybe George Lucas was making a sly reference to this question (raised in Clerks) when he revealed in Attack of the Clones that the original designers of the Death Star are creepy, insectoid Geonosans. Nobody cares if they die when the Death Star goes up, right?
And finally Quince asks: If I send you $50 via pay pal will you give me an honest review the outline of a novel I am working on?
No, for a couple of reasons. First, I'm not at all certain that my input on such matters would be worth any particular sum of money. I'd feel a bit funny accepting cash for that. But secondly, and more importantly, an outline isn't a novel. Critiquing an outline isn't likely to be of use, because it's the actual writing that makes the book. Any judgments of a story that's in outline form run the risk of greatly missing the point. It would be like deciding if a person is attractive or not based on an X-ray of their skeleton or deciding if a building is a good one based on the architectural renderings. An outline won't convey dialog, voice, pacing, description, and all the other goodies that come into play in good writing. Of course, with an architectural rendering, you can still see things like "Hey Bob, did you intentionally leave the roof unsupported by any kind of truss structure?", but a novel outline is unlikely to make any such novelistic flaws stand out as such -- and if it does, well, you're probably not writing seriously in the first place.
So don't obsess over the outline -- figure out the story you want to tell, and then tell it. That's where the proof lies.
More to come!