Allow me to be extra self-indulgent here.
Dear Sylvan circa 2010:
You’re in the middle of writing Shadowflame, right? Well, you know that thing that’s going to happen in the story that you’ve been planning since book 1, or before that actually, and you’re hoping you can capture all the heartbreak and confusion and betrayal so that the reader will feel it?
You’re gonna do a great job. In fact you’re going to do it so convincingly you’ll be screamed at a lot on the internet. People will tell you to kill yourself over it. They’ll tell you that you’ve committed unforgivable sins against monogamy and moreover heterosexual monogamy. Dear God the homophobes are going to lose their fucking MINDS. People who didn’t bat an eye at the ultra-tropey rape in Book 1 are going to FLIP OUT over Big Gay Adultery.
Like seriously, they’re going to threaten and bully you. You’re going to lose a shit ton of readers and a lot of sales and in all likelihood your series will never go any farther than the shelves because of it. The queries you got for your sub rights for Queen of Shadows will vanish like a fart in the wind. People on the internet are shitty little cowards and they are mean just because they can be.
I’m not telling you to shake it off, because I know you, and I especially know what you’re like at this age. You’re still on shaky ground, creatively, after That Nasty Old Harridan made you give up writing for years and only fan fiction brought you back. You made yourself incredibly vulnerable even trying to write QoS, and you should be way prouder than you are! But on this side of it, looking back at what you’re going to go through, if I had to do it all again, here’s what I would do:
MAKE EVERYBODY GAY. MAKE THE WHOLE STORY SO FUCKING GAY. EVERY CHARACTER, EVERY PLOTLINE, GAY IT UP TO ELEVEN. BISEXUALS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE. MIRANDA TRANSITIONS TO AN ASEXUAL MAN AND SHE AND DAVID HAVE AN OPEN MARRIAGE FROM DAY ONE WHERE HE WEARS CORSETS AND GIVES HEAD AT COUNCIL MEETINGS. GRAB THE MOST HYPERMASCULINE PRIME YOU CAN, ROLL HIM IN GLITTER, AND PUT FOUR DILDOS IN EACH ORIFICE. VIOLATE EVERY STUPID GENDER NORM YOU CAN THINK OF. GET FAITH A GIRLFRIEND WHO LOOKS LIKE JOHN GOODMAN AND TURN THE NEXT ELITE TOURNAMENT INTO A GIANT ORGY. BUT NOT UNTIL HALFWAY THROUGH THE BOOK, JUST TO MAKE IT A SURPRISE.
FUCK THE HATERS, FUCK THE HOMOPHOBES, LET THEM KEEP THEIR MONEY. IT’S NOT WORTH IT. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU EVER TO FEEL BAD FOR TELLING THE STORY ESPECIALLY IF IT’S MORE INCLUSIVE. YOU ARE LOSING NOTHING BY ALIENATING GARBAGE HUMANS. YOU’LL PROBABLY HAVE A DAY JOB FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU’LL ALSO HEAR FROM PEOPLE WHOSE WORLDS OPENED UP A LITTLE BECAUSE OF YOUR CHARACTERS. AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOUR WORK WILL LOVE IT EVEN MORE BECAUSE IT’S REAL. MISOGYNISTIC MANBABY TRASH DOESN’T DESERVE THE WORK OF YOUR COLON, LET ALONE THE WORK OF YOUR HEART. THEY CAN DIE MAD ABOUT IT.
YOU’VE GOT WORK TO DO.
You, nearly 10 years in the future.
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