Writing Tips

Wonderbook Contributors Redux (yes there are more)

Jeff VanderMeer • September 7th, 2013 • News, Writing Tips

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Well, you’ve seen the table of contents for my forthcoming Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction and I’ve also shared the list of artists and illustrators. (I should also note that the mighty John Coulthart stepped in and provided necessary expertise, balance, and stability for the page layouts. Matthew Cheney served as a consultant on the text, although any errors are mine and any enhancements are his…)

Now I thought I’d share additional information on contributors to the book. The fact is, the coffee table format allows for a lot of layering effects. So in addition to the material found in the main text—quotes and whatnot—there are things like Disruption Dragons and Revision Snakes…about which you’ll find more information below. The website will also have exclusive content, as noted by the website symbol found throughout the book.

Contributors to the Main Text

The main text, written by me, is about 90,000 words. The Appendix includes features on LARP and Games in the context of fiction by Karin Tidbeck and Will Hindmarch respectively, in addition to a 7,000-word exclusive interview on craft with George R. R. Martin.

Here’s the full list of writers who have short essays (sidebar articles and spotlight features) interwoven into the layout. Most are original to Wonderbook.

Joe Abercrombie
Lauren Beukes
Desirina Boskovich
Matthew Cheney
David Anthony Durham
Rikki Durcornet
Scott Eagle
Karen Joy Fowler
Neil Gaiman
Lev Grossman
Ursula K. Le Guin
Stant Litore
Karen Lord
Nick Mamatas
Nnedi Okorafor
Kim Stanley Robinson
Peter Straub
Catherynne M. Valente
Charles Yu

I also conducted a lot of interviews for Wonderbook, and also used some material from interviews I’d done for other venues and quotes from conversations with writers who saw various parts of Wonderbook in a beta version. One advantage of the longish gestation period for the project is that I could discuss sections with various people and then change the text if I thought something had been left out or could be better expressed.

So within the book you’ll find wisdom and experience from the following writers, listed below. Some interviews for the book, like ones with James Patrick Kelly, Stant Litore, and Leena Krohn, will appear exclusively on the (in progress) Wonderbook website. (I also made use, with permission, of substantial material from lectures by Karin Lowachee, Nick Mamatas, and Ekaterina Sedia.)

If someone has an asterisk by their name, Wonderbook interview Q&A that didn’t make the book will probably be posted to the website.

Tobias S. Buckell
Matthew Cheney
John Chu
John Crowley*
David Anthony Durham*
Matt Denault
Junot Díaz
Brian Evenson*
Jeffrey Ford*
Lisa L. Hannett
Will Hindmarch
Jennifer Hsyu
Stephen Graham Jones*
Caitlin R. Kiernan*
David Madden
Michael Moorcock
Ian R. MacLeod*
Kate Maruyama
Haruki Murakami
Cassandra N. Railsea
Thomas Ligotti*
Johanna Sinisalo*
Vandana Singh*
Catherynne M. Valente
Kali Wallace
Charles Yu*

In addition, many writers’ work is quoted from, including that of Amos Tutuola, Brian Evenson, Elizabeth Hand, Greer Gilman, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Lisa Tuttle, Premendra Mitra, and Lewis Carroll.

Not including dozens of brief references and mentions (prominent amongst them, Carol Bly, Samuel R. Delany, Vladimir Nabokov), there is more extended analysis of works by:

Ian M. Banks
John le Carre
Angela Carter
Tamas Dobozy
Brian Evenson
Leena Krohn
Mervyn Peake
Joyce Carol Oates
Kim Stanley Robinson
Amos Tutuola
Colson Whitehead

Wonderbook--SF Signal

Also, in terms of analysis, Wonderbook includes an extensive masterclass on the opening of my novel Finch, which lays bare the entirety of the decision-making process, including several false starts.

Not to mention other elements in Wonderbook…

Disruption dragon

Disruption Dragons

Basically, after there was a rough draft of the entire book in a near-final layout, I sent a PDF to various writers and asked them to create a “yes, but” statement for sections where they thought additional interrogation was needed or where they disagreed with the text in some way. This, to me, begins the necessary process for readers of thinking about what’s being read and reacting to it, not simply accepting what is put in front of them. So you’ll find very wise and useful Disruption Dragons in the page margin from:

Nathan Ballingrud (x2)
Kelly Barnhill
Matt Bell
Desirina Boskovich
Kij Johnson (x2)
Brian Francis Slattery
Sofia Samatar
Karin Tidbeck

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Revision Lizards

For the revision chapter, I thought I’d ask some writers about their specific experiences revising a particular novel. The results are capture on two pages of somewhat whimsical Revision Snakes, with their eyes showing the number of revisions. You’ll find accounts from:

Daniel Abraham
Aliette de Bodard
Tobias S. Buckell
Jesse Bullington
Jim Hines
Simon Ings
Stephen Graham Jones
Richard Kadrey
Nicole Korner-Stace
Karin Lowachee
Ian R. MacLeod
J.M. McDermitt
Nene Ormes
T. A. Pratt
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Patrick Rothfuss
Sofia Samatar
Pamela Sargent
Delia Sherman
Peter Straub
Jeffrey Thomas
Lisa Tuttle
Carrie Vaughn

Editorial Roundtable—Website Only

Finally, I must also mention one feature meant to be in Wonderbook that couldn’t be added because layout-wise it just wasn’t working, and we were also running out of pages…It’s an entire editorial roundtable, with some of the best editors in the field making specific and general comments about a promising but flawed short story: Ellen Datlow, Paula Guran, James Patrick Kelly, Nick Mamatas, Ann VanderMeer, and Sheila Williams. In addition, Liz Gorinsky and Gardner Dozois provided general comments.

Ed_Round--graphic

(This feature will be available on the Wonderbook website in the fullness of time.)

Wonderbook--appendix1
(Sample page from the appendix…)

Editors, Influence, and You

Jeff VanderMeer • August 14th, 2012 • Writing Tips

SF Signal just posted a podcast dealing with the aftermath of the writer Genevieve Valentine being harrassed at ReaderCon, which included the fall-out from ReaderCon not following its own zero tolerance policy. The panel consisted of Stina Leicht, Mur Lafferty, Jaym Gates, and Carrie Cuinn with Patrick Hester asking the questions. Hester didn’t do the best job in the world this time around, in my opinion, but the input from the interviewees is excellent.

One thing not related to Valentine or ReaderCon that came up during the podcast discussion was a report from a prior World Fantasy Con about an editor trading off of his influence to hit on women writers, especially up-and-coming writers where the power imbalance is very severe. The suggestion being, put up with this because I can help your career.

I mention this because I think it’s important that every writer, beginning or otherwise, know that this is absolutely, terribly, awfully wrong and no one ever should have to put up with this kind of behavior. Or any lesser variant of it. And also that no one editor out there has enough influence to have a dampening affect on your career if you have to tell them where to go. And that most all editors out there will be horrified and pissed off to hear of such behavior by a colleague and want to punch their teeth through the back of their face.

Beyond the harrassment, Valentine also was on a panel during which she was heavily condescended to by the male moderator. This is also not okay, should never be okay, and I don’t think it’s entirely out of bounds for audience members to address such an issue as it comes up—or other panelists to do so. The other general issue being men talking over women panelists, not listening to them, etc. Also not okay. Which should be obvious. (For my part, I tend to get into manic modes that sometimes coincide with being on a panel, and I will happily shut the fuck up if told to shut the fuck up, should I forget to stop going on and on. Although I also do try my best to self-regulate and be a responsible member of all panels I’m on—a good moderator is always appreciated in this regard, too.)

***

In a different context, I got to thinking about the editor-writer power balance in general, outside of toxic situations. Which is to say, although I personally am beginning to enter the Old Fart stage of my career, I still often feel like an up-and-coming outsider—and that is certainly the vantage from which I usually conduct my conversations, whether in email or in person. I do not see much distance between myself and some writer in their twenties. If I drop a newbie writer a line, it’s generally in a relaxed and informal mode, for instance. But what I’ve come to realize is that no matter how I might see things, some beginners will attach more weight to your words than you yourself expect. And this, quite frankly, horrifies me. I love that people enjoy the books we put out, but please don’t give too much authority or…whatever the word is…to any editor or writer. Seek out those who produce books you love, learn whatever you think you can from them, and that’s it. (Besides, it has a calcifying effect on Old Farts…we tend to turn to stone much sooner, babbling out of our rapidly solidifying mouth-parts ridiculously boring anecdotes from the old days.)

This blog post feels as if I only kind of got at the meaning I wanted to convey, but hopefully it’s good enough.

Notes on Writing: The Perfection of Imperfect Comprehension

Jeff VanderMeer • August 10th, 2012 • Writing Tips

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(Photo by Taylor Lockwood—all rights reserved.)

The following short essay was originally presented as part of a longer powerpoint presentation given in various forms, including at a London architectural conference and at the Stonecoast MFA program in Maine.

Sometimes it’s useful to think in abstractions to more clearly see the effects we are trying to achieve in fiction. For example this idea: Everything we see around us, whether functional or decorative, once existed in someone’s imagination. Every building, every fixture, every chair, every table, every vase, every road, every toaster. The world we live in is largely a manifestation of many individual and collective imaginations applied to the task of altering reality.

If this is true, then nothing we see is entirely inert. Everything around us has, to some degree, a point of view. Thus, it may be useful to think of objects and other things embedded in your narrative as characters, too. Which is to say, that they have their own stories and agendas at the micro level of narrative. Paying attention to the possibility in these stories can be closely allied to characterization generally.

In extreme situations, these points of view become powerful influencers of behavior and history. This is the case in the imaginary city of Ambergris as described in my novel Finch, which I offer up as an example. In the novel, the subterranean inhabitants of the city, the gray caps, have Risen and taken over the city, occupying it and trying to maintain power over the human inhabitants through what can only be described as thought viruses given flesh. Their version of the city can be seen as an operational reality in competition with the reality of the original, indigenous peoples and the settlers who supplanted both them and the gray caps.

These operational realities do not play well with one another and the Rising brings everything to a boil. For a long time before this, the majority of Ambergris’s population—the descendants of Manzikert’s whaling clan, and new settlers—had the luxury of forgetting that they live in one of three possible versions of the city. This is something you see often in our real world, and this is also why you see the sparks of seemingly “new” conflict in some cases—because there is something there that has never been resolved. People on the ground have to live with that, and the dissonance it creates. (This is somewhat comparable in some ways to the more personal conflict and interpersonal dynamic between two individuals. It could be said to be a type of macro-characterization when applied to fiction.)

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Rose Lemberg on Feminist Characters

Jeff VanderMeer • June 21st, 2012 • Writing Tips

I’ve been meaning to link to this post by Rose Lemberg for awhile, about not “limiting the range of female characters to the kick-ass heroine,” although that description reduces it down too much, so go read it. The comments are also insightful and interesting. I have to say—this is what I thought it was always supposed to be about. Creating individual, unique people in terms of your characters, attempting as much complexity and inconsistency and strength and weakness as we all have.

***

A tangent: I think to at least some extent, we’re also seeing a kind of push-back against the kind of shrink-wrap, pre-packaging of cliche across several fronts, in part because the commodification of fiction, the reduction of it to just one aspect of the publishing process–as commercial product—is often incompatible with dealing in nuance, complexity, and individuality. This affects many aspects of a novel but is most noticeable, of course, in the context of the characters.

Cliche, stereotype, thinking in terms of types rather than individuals, not putting enough thought or imagination into our decisions…these things don’t just create bad writing, they diminish us as writers because it means we either don’t care enough about really exploring and investigating human nature or we simply aren’t capable of doing so.

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Jeff VanderMeer • June 18th, 2012 • News, Writing Tips

Wonderbook cover--Zerfoss

My WONDERBOOK: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction for Abrams Image is well on its way to being finalized, with publication set for 2013. This will be the first creative writing guide that doesn’t just supplement text with images, but replaces text with image. In fact, its 300 pages will include over 175 diagrams, illustrations, and photographs. The diagrams will be radically different from what you find in most writing books, and the integration of the text with image will also be something you haven’t seen before.

The cover above is a rough, but close to being final—it’s by Jeremy Zerfoss, who is doing the majority of the art, and the design of the book. The image below is an example of one of the ways in which this approach can be useful in teaching creative writing. Writer and filmmaker Gregory Bossert is planning to create an animated tutorial around the prologue fish.

The main text will include chapters on Inspiration, Elements of Story, Beginnings & Endings, Writing & Revision, The Bleeding Edge, and a special chapter on writing exercises that I think will blow most people’s minds visually—and will set out all of the things my wife and I do in our workshops and masterclasses. Elements like Characterization will be woven into the discussion in all of the chapters, since separating out the people from the story seems pointless to me.

In addition, the book will feature short essays on a variety of writing-related subjects by Neil Gaiman, Lev Grossman, Karen Joy Fowler, Lauren Beukes, Charles Yu, Karin Lowachee, Catherynne M. Valente, Michael Moorcock, and several others, as well as a long exclusive discussion about craft with George R.R. Martin. A comprehensive list of over 700 essential non-realist novels is just one item of interest in the appendices. The format of the book will allow annotations and asides in the margins for additional value.

Another unique aspect of the book is that it makes no distinctions between artificial boundaries between mainstream and genre, and it takes as its foundation fantastical literature. Which is to say, Wonderbook will be of use to any beginning or intermediate writer, but assumes a default of the fantastical. On facebook awhile back I indicated I was trying to create a new visual language for teaching creative writing. In retrospect, that was a grandiose claim. But I do think we have accomplished something special regardless.

prologue fish

Friday Writing Advice: Heed Leaf #1

Jeff VanderMeer • June 15th, 2012 • Writing Tips

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Corollary: As a reader, I don’t care what you think about current events or international politics or what you had for breakfast or your hangnail, so get off social media…

and

Heed the Leaf

Interviews and Advice

Jeff VanderMeer • May 31st, 2012 • Writing Tips

Furious fiction interview with me above, and Jenn Brissettinterviews me for the Gotham City Workshop, with questions about writing advice. I want to spotlight this bit, since these people were so important to me as a beginning writer:

“I had a creative writing teacher, Denise Standiford, in high school who introduced me to Angela Carter and who took me seriously. That was more important than any advice. In college at the University of Florida I was fortunate enough to fall under the wing for three very well-published writers. The first was Jane Stuart, the novelist daughter of Jesse Stuart. She also took me seriously, even when my work didn’t perhaps merit it, and she critiqued it, too. At the same time, the novelist Meredith Ann Pierce allowed me to be part of a workshop she ran. Pierce really looked at my work and offered great comments. And also during that period, the poet Enid Shomer critiqued my work and was very kind to me. All of these women during my formative years as a writer made it clear to me that I had some talent and that I should pursue my writing. I’m sure they all gave me great advice as well, but you can find advice anywhere. What you can’t always find is faith.”

The Science of Difficult Topics

Jeff VanderMeer • May 29th, 2012 • Writing Tips

Athena Andreadis has an interesting and useful post about rape over on her blog, which also includes a re-posted Evolutionary Psychology bingo card that I found quite illuminating. I think my favorite one was “Believes women out-talk men but keeps talking nonstop” since I’ve seen that one in action many times before. (I’ve also been guilty of the over-talking myself.)

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Entry Points into Fiction: Text Shows You How to Read It

Jeff VanderMeer • May 12th, 2012 • Writing Tips

This post was written in solidarity with Booklifenow, which has been publishing lots of wonderful and unique content—check it out!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the protocols of fiction in terms of story and novel beginnings, in part because of my own recent resurgence in writing fiction but also from reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 (more on that later). Inherent in the idea of a beginning is a sense of what kind of story or mode of fiction you are about to enjoy (or hate). Some approaches to this riff off of the idea of formula, not necessarily in a bad way—it’s just as a shorthand to guide the reader to the right set of precepts for what the writer intends. Examples include prologues or first chapters of noir novels that contain certain elements—down-and-out detective, beginnings of a case—that create expectations. There will be a mystery. The main character will operate within certain constraints of opinions and options. Constraint can be a great way to write an amazing and original character, the original cliché become simply…original.

Other types of fiction require different approaches. A sloppy opening to a mystery still more or less serves the function of letting you know what you’re reading, whether the writer intends to support or subvert that expectation. But what if you’re not working off of a common pattern? For fiction that aggressively wrenches the reader out of existing patterns and modes it is even more important that the writer show the reader how to encounter the story. This is not to say that the writer is trying to straitjacket the reader, but that without an idea of the reading protocols, the reader may well feel adrift and the intended effect or effects of the story will not be part of the reader’s experience of the story. For example, take the beginning of “No Breather in the World But Thee,” a story I wrote recently and which is out in submission at the moment:

The cook didn’t like that the eyes of the dead fish shifted to stare at him as he cut their heads off. The cook’s assistant, who was also his lover, didn’t like that he woke to find just a sack of bloody bones on the bed beside him. “It’s starting again,” he gasped, just moments before a huge black birdlike creature carried him off, screaming. The child playing on the grounds outside the mansion did not at first know what she was seeing, but realized it was awful. “It’s just like last year,” she said to her imaginary friend, but her imaginary friend was dead. She ran for the front door, but the ghost of her imaginary friend, now large and ravenous and wormlike, swallowed her up before she had taken ten steps across the writhing grass.

What does this opening accomplish? Well, in some ways it may provoke whiplash in the reader, so there’s a risk involved in the approach, but in terms of an expectation set for readers it tells you that this is a story that will travel from point of view to point of view. Indeed the narrative then opens up after this paragraph into several connected set pieces from different perspectives, although at a more leisurely pace. The story is also telling you what it is and what it is not. It is a story of the weird, but it is not a traditional story of the weird. Giant birds, dead fish staring, imaginary friends, etc., all could be deployed in fairly conventional fashion in a story. Here they are not. Yet, you probably want to know what happens next.

In other cases, like my story “Komodo,” which will appear in the next issue of Arc magazine, the opening takes the opposite approach, in that the teaching to read will take place across the entire narrative:

Child, standing there in your flower dress considering me with those wide dark eyes while the mariachi band plays out in the courtyard…I’m going to tell you a story. It doesn’t matter if you can’t understand me—they can, and they need to trust me, need to know I’m telling them this for a reason. But I need you, too, because every tale requires an audience, and you’re mine. So I hope you’ll stay awhile. It won’t take long. I don’t have long, anyway.

It starts in a strange place, I’ll admit, inside of a giant green plastic alien head. I was all dressed up. I was on my way to a party. Let’s say the party celebrated something like the Day of the Dead, and that I was in a hurry to get there not even because of looking forward to the party but to the after party. The after party is always where it’s at—if you can get an invite.

I use a whole two paragraphs from the opening of “Komodo” as an example because the story is constantly redefining itself, in part because the narrator is acutely aware that too much information too soon will only confuse the issue and erode suspension of disbelief in those she is telling the story to. Thus, she is constantly finding comfortable analogies or lies to feed said listener to contextualize the story she is telling in familiar elements. Her hope is that as the story becomes stranger and stranger this approach will serve to keep the listener from becoming confused. Perhaps sneakily, perhaps not sneakily at all, this approach also saves the reader from discomfort in terms of concepts and context—especially since not only did I want to write a story that was continually unpacking and redistributing its context but also use the idea of rich nodes of exposition as tiny but satisfying explosions of micro-story within the main narrative, all framed by an engaging and energetic narrator with a personal stake in the described events. Which is to say, a more conventional approach that simply gave the full context in the first couple of paragraphs of the story would, in this case, have made the story less accessible; it also would not at all support the central conflict nor the narrator’s role in it.

Despite the complexity of these various elements, “Komodo” is still focused on just a couple of effects repeated multiple times in an order that provides a hopefully pleasing and continually eureka-ing effect. But what if you are telling a story that wants to do several diverse things, achieve more than one effect? How do you establish reading protocols for the multi-various? The most effective technique almost seems like indecision: it requires not committing immediately to any one set of protocols, with the danger that the reader may find your story at first adrift, unfocused, even if the individual scenes are quite precise and effective. But it’s all about not creating the distinctive tell in the reader’s mind that this is a particular type of tale.

In this case, there has to be a compelling reason to continue to read even as you’re not quite sure what kind of story you’re reading…and here we come back to Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312. It is an epic science fiction story on the one hand, a character story of the person Swan on the other. It is a love story between Swan and a man named Waltham, but also a tale of interplanetary intrigue. Robinson could have started with any of these things. He could have started with Waltham meeting Swan. He could have started with the first disastrous attack that sets off the intrigue. But he doesn’t. Instead, we start with Swan by herself, engaged in an interesting activity. From there, we are gradually are clued into the various elements of story and how they will work in combination. This serves the useful and obvious purpose, too, since it is an SF novel, of acclimating the reader to Robinson’s vision of the future. However, this inclination not to choose a position, so to speak, to foreground neither love story nor intrigue allows Robinson the space to privilege both strands, to make the novel somehow deeper and more real, less like fiction. The risk (slight in this case) is that a few readers may indeed be confused as to the point of the story for a few chapters, not to mention reviewers. At least one reviewer wrote all about the interplanetary plot and mentioned the relationships not at all, even though close to one-half the book may be said to be about Waltham and Swan. But this issue is irrelevant next to the more important point that 2312 is a better novel because of this approach.

This relates, too, to the ways in which writers sometimes destabilize their fiction to provide a more comfortable entry-point for the reader—you see these kinds of suggestions often from editors or agents, and they are not without validity; even the pushback against these ideas can provide interesting third options, or help strengthen other parts of a novel. To another writer reading such material, the destabilizations can read like deformities of structure or character; to many readers, it’s invisible and all they notice is that the launch-point into story is easy. Some would thus argue that the deformity is actually an enhancement and I’m not going to take issue with that here, in part because I think it also marks an ideological difference of opinion on what the beginning of a story is supposed to do. Some writers will argue that distortion is worth it if it provides a more efficient and readable delivery system for weirder/less conventional material embedded later on. (I personally find it irritating and disappointing more often than not.)

Sometimes the very genre creates an expectation that is more commercial—Alistair Reynolds’ early novels in particular are very, very strange, but the subgenre of space opera and the expectations the words “space opera” conjure up provide a smooth entry point for the reader, who once engaged finds themselves in marvelously weird territory indeed. So this smooth launch-point can come naturally as a function of the writer working within a recognizable and established genre, and thus it is an integrated element of the approach. I’m not arguing that the only difference between, say, China Mieville and Michael Cisco is the entry point, but if you look at Mieville’s beginnings as opposed to Cisco’s, you will note an easier time being had reading Mieville. There is no time to acclimate to Cisco. He’s not particularly interested in reader comfort levels and his idea of audience is probably very different from Mieville’s. (Yet, would Cisco’s novel The Narrator have reached more readers more easily with a different entry-point?)

I think about this issue more and more, in part because I’m working on so many different kinds of novels right now. This is nothing new for me. I had pieces of Veniss Underground and all three Ambergris novels done well before I completed them, and I can no longer tell where one started and another began. The new batch is accumulating much the same way, and in contemplating their effects, I need to think about beginnings, and where one approach makes more sense and where it doesn’t, where an easier way is a deformity as opposed to simply an enhancement, and so on and so forth. In all of it, too, you must think about what affects the reader and how, within the context of your idea of the ideal reader for the work. This is separate from the Reader that permeates the internet, the Reader that is generalized and for whom we are told all sorts of things that may or may not be true about their tastes, their wants, and what may or may not interest them.

Beginnings, then, are about levels of commitment—to the text, to the reader, to yourself. The possibilities are endless, and important.

Where is Story? Story is…Everywhere

Jeff VanderMeer • April 16th, 2012 • Writing Tips

Thesis: This entry from C.W. Hart, Jr’s A Dictionary of Non-Scientific Names of Freshwater Crayfishes (Astacoidea and Parastacoidea), Including Other Words and Phrases Incorporating Crayfish Names contains all of the elements needed to inspire and create fiction. Therefore, story exists all around us, everywhere, and is inhibited only by the limitations of the imaginations that surround it.

Discuss.

***

Shrimp “(A) crevice, first a spron frey, then a shrimp, then a sprawn, and when it is large then called a crevice.” ASTACIDAE [U.K.] Randle Holme (ca. 1688), quoted by Phipson, 1883:435. [I was unable to find this quotation in Holme.]

“One of the courses was whole crevisses in a rich sauce….The guest of honor…muttered… ‘What do I do now?’ …[B]ecause I had struggled before with the same somewhat overrated delicacy…I winked at him and said, ‘Watch me.’ I picked up a shrimp between my left thumb and forefinger….” [France: Dijon] Fisher, 1943 (1954): 430 (Noble and Enough); and:

“The season for shrimps is short, and Madame Mossu paid well for all the boys and old men could find in their hundred icy streams.” [Switzerland: Chatel St Denis] Fisher, 1943 (1954):506 (I Remember Three Restaurants); and

“A light curry of shrimps or crayfish tails.” [Unspecified locality] Fisher, 1943 (1954):708 (W is for Wanton).

Fisher’s apparent lack of attention to her crayfish/shrimp food-stuffs is puzzling, considering she is (was) an important figure in gastronomy. In the first reference she speaks of ecrevisses and shrimps as if they are the same animal; in the second she is undoubtedly speaking of crayfishes that live in the streams of Switzerland; in the third she paradoxically distinguishes between shrimps and crayfishes. I suppose, like so many people, she just didn’t care. See also crawfish, crayfish and ecrevisse.