Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Clarkesworld, Epic Fantasy part 2

Just saw they had posted up part two, and thought I would share a few of my favorite quotes.

These especially get the heart of my problems with George R.R. Martin. Once again, Ed Greenwood really has a lot in common with my feelings. He seems to have an interesting perspective since he more or less wrote novels in order to get paid. It's also interesting to see how a lot of the authors who have answers to these questions I don't particularly care for, also tend to be authors I don't particularly care for.

This probably says more about me than it does about any of these individual quotes. but I've never been secretive about my opinions when dealing with any of these subjects.

After reading these two battery interviews, it really makes me want to give the Erikson/Esslemont duo a try. I may not wind up liking their books, but both of them seem to have their heads bolted on right. But again, the one person who really seems to have the closest opinions to me is probably Ed Greenwood. he's an author i've never read, though I've read maybe 12 forgotten realms books by other authors. I'll have to see if I have any of his and give them a try sometime.

Steven Erikson:
Every death needs to mean something—it's the one conceit authors possess: the one real fantasy in this whole mess. So it needs to be handled respectfully. When it isn't: well, we all succumb to cowardice every now and then; and if not cowardice, then laziness. If those excuses don't fit well, there's always senseless stupidity, which afflicts authors on occasion as much as it does anyone.

The risk with killing off main characters is, if you do it too often and too capriciously, you risk your audience deciding it's not worth emotionally engaging with any of your characters, and then you're screwed.

Peter Orullian: We've all likely read a novel where the death of a character felt like the writer was proving to us that he's got the chutzpah to do it, but the death didn't make sense in the story. I'm not talking about senseless death. It's rather like the rash of fantasy writers who admire George Martin for being able and willing to kill his characters, and so decide they're going to do the same. And that not killing a character becomes a fantasy cliché.

Truth is, trope-avoidance is the new trope. Very transparent.

Patrick Rothfuss: [Kill a character?] On page 603 of your third book.

I kid, I kid....

Never, really. A lot of people think that you need to kill someone to raise the stakes in a book, or build dramatic tension, or prove to your reader that the world is truly dangerous and that seriously bad things can happen.

Ed Greenwood: Writers should resist the temptation to kill characters on a whim or as the easiest way to write themselves out of a situation, but should always bear in mind that to some extent, writing is a service industry: your readers' needs should be paramount. Arthur Conan Doyle discovered the cost of eliminating Sherlock Holmes the hard way, and had to bring him back. I am not saying every beloved character should lead a charmed life, improbably surviving every sticky situation (because the character is thereby lessened in the reader's eyes, and the dramatic tension of peril in your storytelling lost, as the reader becomes aware that any peril isn't real).

Steven Erikson: If there's going to be tears, better have a few laughs along the way. Besides, it's almost impossible to sustain the heavy stuff without ending up wanting to top yourself, or sinking into mawkish melodrama. A novel's like a drug; sometimes for everyone's sake you got to cut it with something innocuous.

Terry Brooks: Violence is a key element in epic fantasy. Wars and battles are almost always involved. Conflict is the bedrock of sagas and of the changes brought about by life. I do have some self-imposed rules. I am not a fan of graphic violence, so I steer clear of elaborating on blood and gore and body parts and the like. I'm not saying it doesn't work; it just doesn't work for me. My emphasis is on issues. How do hard choices impact us? What is the nature of our responsibility to others? How do we balance right and wrong when it isn't always clear which is which? Violence is a part of resolving those dilemmas, but I don't want it to be the focal point.

Ian C. Esslemont: Violence in fantasy, epic or not, gets more attention than it deserves. If it is justified by the needs of the story then it has earned its presence. If not, then it is just shallow gore or juvenile pandering. It must serve the thematics, not just splash prettily.

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