Welcome to this page!
I write short stories and the occasional novel, generally in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and have a select few published stories out there in unheard of online magazines. I also do art on occasion, which I don't take quite as seriously as writing but for which I still try to maintain a healthy level of quality. I produce such works rather infrequently, as I'm an astronomy postdoc who's also trying to finish up a novel. When I'm not doing any of those things, I'm probably wasting time playing NES games or something.

The MLR stands for Monsieur LeRenard, si cela vous avez intéressé, but you can call me Frank.

Latest Journal

A bit about writing furry characters

on 24 June 2017 at 12:00:27 MDT

"Humans in furry suits", I think was the quote. Or "humans in animals suits", or something like that. It got bandied around a lot back when I was still involved with the furry writing community. I started to think about it again recently when I picked up a book that's been sitting untouched in my Kindle account for a few years now, one the author advertised and wanted to be reviewed to get it some more attention on Amazon. And no, I shall not slander the author by stating which book.

There's a couple layers to this, I think. The top layer is easy to fix, theoretically. In reading your typical furry story, you tend to run across phrases like this: "He woke up in a cold sweat", or "He pushed a lock of hair behind his ear". In fact, you may notice, you tend to run across these phrases in your typical story, period. They are used as cliche actions that characters make to express emotions without stating them outright. But it needs not be stated perhaps that in typical fiction, the characters making these motions are human.

In this case, let's say the character is a fox.


So, yeah. When would you ever get the impression that either of those two phrases was describing a character who is a fox? Or a wolf, or a bobcat, or an anything other than a human? A horse, maybe, but even then you get this weird picture of a horse lifting up its hoof and brushing part of its mane behind its ear, and... yeah....

Anyway, you get the point. And so authors try to fix this by occasionally throwing out reminders, using 'paw' instead of 'hand', making slant references to fur or whiskers or whatever. But if you don't do that frequently, because the rest of the time you're using these cliche phrases you find in all of fiction that describe humans, the reader easily forgets that these aren't human characters they're reading about, and the sudden reference to a paw is jarring. That's been my experience reading this particular novel on my Kindle.

So, furry writers, please: have more fun with your genre. When you start editing, pull a Thomas Nagel. What does it feel like to be a fox? What is it like physically, and what is it like mentally? How does it influence your personality? You don't sweat; you pant. Your color vision is more limited than a human's, and you're pretty near-sighted, so you don't get quite as much from a beautiful sunset. But your eyes are super sharp at catching motion and act like little mirrors at night. Your senses of smell and hearing are incredible, so you find yourself relying on them more than your eyes. Also, you're not a pack animal: you don't go for the whole 'complex social hierarchy' thing that dogs and primates seem to love so much. Your mom kicks you out of the den when you're a teenager and you have to go find your own little patch of territory, and then later on you meet a lady or a man you like and you stick together for the rest of your lives. You get a rush from killing things, you're cool with nibbling off a rotting carcass, with digging around in the garbage. Sometimes your anal glands really act up and you start to smell worse than a skunk. You get to know who's in the neighborhood by sniffing their pee.

You get the point. This is supposed to be fun, so have fun. And anyway, if you're not willing to try this kind of stuff, then you really have to ask yourself: why not just use human characters? If you can't think of a good answer, then just stick to publishing in places like Weasyl or FurAffinity, because no one else is going to understand the aesthetic.

P.S. And try not to use cliche sentences even if you are writing human characters. This is what I have learned: the fun part of writing a rough draft is plot, and the fun part of editing is language.

View This Journal and 8 Comments


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    Thank you for your thoughts.

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      Sure, and sorry for your first negative review. If you want, we could talk more, but if not, you can take that review as aberrant given the 23 other very positive ones and go forth as you were.
      By the way, if i didn't mention it, I did think the book's concept was really good. It was like an old sci-fi epic, but where the focus was on this unusual and tender relationship between two characters who were master and slave. I can't claim I've ever seen anything like that before.

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        I'd love to hear your thoughts amplified. The review is pretty damaging, I'll admit, but you're obviously entitled to write it; for my part, I am sorry that you didn't enjoy the story, and will happily refund you the price of the eBook if you like.

        There are elements of truth to some of your points, though others are simple stylistic differences—reading through your writing, I've concluded that you and I have quite different tastes. I was, however, extremely surprised by your comment in regard to "distressingly large number of [grammatical errors and typos]," and would be curious to hear more about that. That is something which is unquestionably unacceptable, and something I took great care to avoid.

        I don't disagree about some of the "fat," although I've discovered that it's very hit-or-miss; while some test-readers suggested some trimming, in that regard, others immediately missed it once cut. If you're familiar with Æsop's "The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass," you'll recognize the quandary. In the end, I concluded that all I could do was write my story, farm it out to various people, and pick and choose between their critiques as the deciding voice. I was actually trying very hard to find comments like yours before I posted it, but nobody was able or willing to go into that sort of depth.

        In the end, I'm relatively happy with Theta. It's not a perfect book, but many strangers have enjoyed it and rated it favorably, which is more than I could have ever asked when writing it. I consolidated it into a PDF from individual chapters posted on SoFurry, then published it only after people started asking for a paperback version; I created the eBook after people began asking for that... then created a publishing company to handle it.

        Publication in reverse, if you will.

        Professional editing was never an option, because I don't have nearly enough money to pay someone for the process—the book is already published at a loss—but it was extensively edited.

        In the end, I present none of this as defensive; when you publish a book or a story, you throw it to an audience who will react as they will. I thank you for reading it, and again for taking the time to summarize your thoughts on it, even if they weren't what I wanted to hear.



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    The permissions were given in the NOTES in another internet page.

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    I decided to follow because you are a familiar face and I was hoping to get to know more about you and read your stories. I hope that is okay? I can unwatch if I am making you uncomfortable, sorry.

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      Ha ha, no, it doesn't make me uncomfortable. I was just curious, was all. Came a bit out of the blue.
      In any case, thanks. Hopefully you enjoy the little I've got uploaded here.

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    remove my account

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    Greetings! How are you today?

    A question I wanted to address you: Have you by chance read "The Jewish-Japanese Sex and Cook Book and How to Raise Wolves"? by Jack Douglas.
    The way you title your writing tutorials reminded me of this book and I could not help but wonder if you have read it.