My Fantasy Tool Kit (8): Butt Out![Every now and then I remember the purpose of this blog is to get you interested in my books–so please feel free to click “Books” and look them over.]

If you ever want to write a fantasy novel–or any other kind of novel, for that matter–that’ll be sheer torture to read, be sure to make a thinly-disguised version of yourself the hero of the story.

Not that the reader is going to recognize you. But most readers can recognize pure poppycock when they see it. And few are so dense that they can’t detect irrelevant personal issues from the writer barging in between the reader and the story.

When you’re telling a story, butt out! I take it for granted that no one wants to read about me–not when they could be reading about Wytt or Helki. [You’ll have to read my books to get to know these characters.] Nor do they want to read my opinions on politics or the problems of this modern world that I’m supposed to be taking them away from.

To any writer, the same advice: Get out of the way! Don’t be like the jidrool who gets up and shambles around in front of the screen in the most exciting part of the movie.

If you want your readers to believe in your characters, you have to believe in them first. Don’t make them extensions of yourself or of the people in your lives. Think of them as real. Don’t try to control every little thing they say or think or do. Get so deeply into them that they start to say and do things you never expected.

Yes, I know–if it was easy, everyone would do it. A lot of published authors can’t do it. But you don’t even want to imagine the mountain of wasted paper produced by those would-be authors who don’t even try to keep themselves out of the story. That no one ever spent any money to publish their work goes without saying.

We are always being advised, “Write what you know.” But that’s no way to go about creating imaginative fiction.

Caveat: Let no one take this to mean I endorse the practice of lazily omitting to do research and just “intuiting”–that is, making up–false information about something for which real facts are easily available. For Pete’s sake, do not write about tribal customs of the Navaho unless you first read up on it: the ghost of Tony Hillerman will show the Navaho exactly where to find you.

2 comments on “My Fantasy Tool Kit (8): Butt Out!

  1. Great advice! The most interesting characters in my series are the least like me! 🙂 They are much harder to write, but when I get it right, the results are very rewarding. I love it when characters become so real they take the story in directions I never expected.

    I am going to buy the first book in your series today. Really looking forward to getting a first glimpse at your imaginary world. Then we can get that interview set up…which I am also looking forward to.

Leave a Reply