Friday, March 30, 2012
First theme: good versus evil is a cliché, and it’s prevalent in most genres whether in the form of vengeance, retribution, or otherwise. The key for the writer (I think) is to muddy the lines a bit. Maybe the hero/heroine isn’t all that good and maybe the bad guy isn’t all that bad. For example, in ‘The Bounds’, my heroine, Robyn, derives a type of sexual pleasure when killing. Because of her experience, she understands the motivations of the bad guys and (hopefully) the readers root for her to fight the repulsive urges. On the other side, my bad guys, Keepers, actually strive to maintain an orderly and peaceful society—not a bad thing, although their reason for doing this is warped. I like the stories that mix it up a bit. If you read Donalson’s ‘White Gold Wielder’, the hero, Thomas Covenant, enters the alter-world thinking he’s dreaming, gets an erection, and rapes a girl. Not a proud start for Thomas, but we come to love the terribly flawed and reluctant hero.
Next plot: Kill the bad guy save the girl…right? Star Wars—rescue the princess and kill the bad guy or save the galaxy by killing the bad guy. It’s a cliché that sells every Superman story ever written or filmed. As a writer, I think to myself, how much do I deviate from such a simple plot? My hero has to have a goal, right? The story has to go somewhere and what is better than killing the guy who murdered your family, right? I think the most memorable stories are the ones that don’t fall into this cliché. In Fantasy (more speculative fiction), I can think of Auel’s ‘Earth’s Children’ series where she chronicles Ayla’s adventures…no bad guy (except in the first book). Taking a look at ‘Jericho Solus’, the plot was Jericho’s journey to discover who he was and why he existed. The book I’m currently working on is along the same lines in that I stay away from the clichés of “good versus evil” and “kill the bad guy, save the world”.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
When I write my stories, I don’t build out my outline with magic in mind. I don’t sit down and say “here are the cornerstones of what makes Fantasy, Fantasy. Magic—check; strange entities—check; different world—check”. As with my current story, I focus on the characters first, situation second, objectives third, then obstacles. It seems in my thought process, magic never really enters into the equation. Don’t get me wrong, I love stories with magic weaved in, and when done well, are fantastic.
My trilogy, ‘The Bounds,’ has magic, although I never call it magic. In the story, I describe magic as a person’s ability to manipulate energy. As I said in an earlier post, there must be rules and consequences to make magic believable and I detail the boundaries and repercussions in my story.
I think my next story will be magic laden and I'll approach it with magic being an integral element in the story. I already have the concept of what I want to do and if I can pull it off, it’s going to be awesome.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
When I grab a Fantasy book off the shelf and read some random pages, there are a few things that cause me to place it back on the shelf. I’ve already spoke of character races and magic. The third element in Fantasy is the setting. Typically, the setting is what defines the genre, right? You can have strange races, but the setting can be Science Fiction or you can have magic, but the story may be Romance. Setting is what grounds the Fantasy genre and I’m not simply talking about a bunch of trees rather than a steel enclosure in space. Setting is broader. It is society and culture. It’s what’s used for currency and how the people or entity’s worship. It’s everything from units of measurement to burial ceremonies.
So why is setting so ignored in Fantasy? Why do writers simply take 1300’s feudalistic Europe add Dwarf’s and magic and call it Fantasy? And we as Fantasy readers let them get away with such laziness. As soon as I read “the Lord did this” or “the Lady did that”, I toss the book right back on the shelf. Whatever happened to world building in Fantasy? This is what it’s all about and perhaps the driving reason I no longer read High Fantasy. Fantasy writers have gotten lazy or simply don’t care…and why should they, we keep buying their books.
I write what I like to read. My stories have none of the feudalistic backdrop that pollutes the Fantasy genre.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Friday, March 2, 2012
Think of magic like an athlete’s ability. Take Michael Phelps (Olympic swimmer) as an example. Michael is the Grand Master Wizard when it comes to swimming. When wielding his craft, he’ll beat any foe. He would crush a novice swimmer such as myself. So I’m going against Michael in a 50 meter freestyle. Of course he crushes me and that’s expected, but what is the cost? In many fantasy stories there is no cost. The magicians have the ability and that’s it…let’s dance around and cast spells with no repercussions. I just swam the 50 meters giving it everything I’ve got. My lungs burn and my muscles have the consistency of gelatin, I’m gasping for every breath, hoping I don’t drown getting out of the pool. Michael hops from the pool as if he merely stepped from a shower. Magic should have similar laws. The caster should be effected in some way, shape, or form such as I was completely drained physically. Of course the more adept, such as Michael, the less exertion or toll the skill takes. Some stories do have robust laws governing magic, but unfortunately, there are too many stories that simply ignore any rules.