Category Archives: Fantasy Criticism

‘How “The Last Banquet” Was Born’

Image result for images of the last banquet by lee duigon

I’m never happier than when I’m sitting outside on a sunny day, with my cigar and legal pad, with no awareness of time passing, writing one of my books. But before I can get there, first the book has got to be born.

https://leeduigon.com/2016/03/16/how-the-last-banquet-was-born/

That’s just so cool, when a dream grows into a book. I don’t map these out ahead, like I used to do, long ago, with my horror novels. I just go with whatever God gives me.

And I do enjoy the ride!


‘What Turns You Off Fantasy?’ (2013)

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Do you shy away from Russian novels because you can’t even guess how to pronounce the characters’ names? Some people have that same problem with fantasy.

https://leeduigon.com/2013/08/20/what-turns-you-off-fantasy/

I don’t know that characters in fantasy novels have names that are any harder to believe in than the names of college presidents. Clostridia Whittington Farnsworthy–names like that. Don’t tell me “Aragorn” or “Corsus” is worse than that.

I am forced to admit that great steaming chunks of fantasy fiction are totally worthless. I don’t care so much about the names. It’s the stead downpour of cliches that puts me off.

But a fantasy that really works–Ah! Priceless!


‘How to Ruin a Fantasy’ (2014)

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Just as merely destroying the dining room can ruin a do-it-yourself magic trick, there are just as simple ways to ruin a fantasy.

https://leeduigon.com/2014/06/22/how-to-ruin-a-fantasy/

Among many effective methods is the trick of repeatedly dragging the fantasy story back into the drearier aspects of what we generally think of as the “real world.” In the very worst example of that that I ever saw, the Elf turns to the Dwarf and says, “We must learn to respect a diversity of lifestyles.” I happen to know the author who wrote that. He’s a good guy. Otherwise he’d have to be put to sleep or something.

Having the characters in your fancy talk like modern teens’ text messages is guaranteed to ruin your fantasy. You’d be better off writing it in Rongo-Rongo script. Then at least we could maintain the untestable possibility that it might be good.


‘Fantasy and “Realism”‘ (2013)

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“Reality”? Or just a lot of dirty dishes?

Have you encountered this–people trying to appear intelligent by insisting that only the bad and ugly stuff is “real”? Of course you have.

https://leeduigon.com/2013/09/10/fantasy-and-realism/

The question I can’t answer, or even imagine an answer for, is why anyone would want us to believe that. To stifle belief in God–so that, in our desperation, we will turn to puffed-up goofy mortals for our salvation?

Yeah, that’s probably it.


‘My Answer to a Critic’ (2013)

Image result for images of bell mountain by lee duigon

Writers are naturally a little thin-skinned about their work. Your book isn’t going to amount to anything if you don’t pour your heart into it.

But to criticize my books for passing on secret Calvinist messages–that’s a bit too much.

https://leeduigon.com/2013/12/22/my-answer-to-a-critic/

“I’m not going to review this book because it contains an opinion other than mine!” All right, fair enough: there are lots of books I won’t review because their messages are obnoxious to me. But secret messages–no. That’s just silly.

The fantasy world of Bell Mountain is inhabited by people who never heard of Protestants or Catholics and have troubles of their own to think about.


‘Rabbits with Swords–a Fantasy You Can Believe In’ (2015)

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It’s so hard to find Young Adults fantasy fiction that’s actually worth reading and not just awful, dreary, or awfully dreary. The Green Ember was one of the best books I read in 2015.

https://leeduigon.com/2015/03/29/rabbits-with-swords-a-fantasy-you-can-believe-in/

It’s not often–and more’s the pity for it–that you encounter a story featuring love, self-sacrifice, faith, and courage. You’d almost think the virtues had gone out of fashion. Even better news: by now, author S.D. Smith has enlarged The Green Ember into a series.

At the risk of calling in competition against my own books, these would make really nice Christmas presents.


‘How to Write a Really Rotten Novel’ (2015)

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I am re-running this post as a public service.

https://leeduigon.com/2015/02/22/how-to-write-a-really-rotten-novel/

It’s not everyone who can produce a really rotten novel. Indeed, it’s a gift. But if you’re shooting for sheer unreadability, these few pointers will surely get you started. And it’s no use complaining that certain individuals have gotten rich and famous by writing pure dreck.

Now I wonder–who could we say is (or was) the Cervantes of the truly rotten novel? Any suggestions?


‘How to Write a YA Best-Seller’ (2015)

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Note the black belt. That’s one deadly nine-year-old.

Wanna buy some prime Florida swampland?

Having read and reviewed so many of them, I now know how to write a Young Adults best-seller. But what excuse could I ever have to write stuff like this?

https://leeduigon.com/2015/04/25/how-to-write-a-ya-best-seller/

Lots and lots of power over other people isn’t good for anyone, regardless of age. Offering it to children is just plain crazy.

But I also monitor the news. And correct me if I’m wrong–but aren’t there suddenly a lot of supposed adults out there taking their marching orders from children?

It can’t possibly turn out well for us.


‘In Defense of Plain English’ (2016)

Image result for images of the valley of horses by jean auel

One of the worst books I’ve ever tried to read. But I wasn’t getting paid to read it, so I stopped.

In writing dialogue, especially in a fantasy or a historical novel, there has to be a happy medium between “I feel ya, dude” and “Yea, forsooth, thou barkest up ye wrong tree.” That happy medium is plain English.

https://leeduigon.com/2016/01/19/in-defense-of-plain-english/

Yes, I know–tons of books have been published in which plain English is simply not to be found. Some of them have even been best-sellers. But that doesn’t make them any less abominable.

Someday our age will be called to account for Robert Ludlum and Jean Auel; and it won’t be pretty.


‘Why Is Fantasy So Mean to Women?’ (2015)

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Oh, come on now! What was the publisher thinking?

I love good fantasy; but there’s enough truly rotten fantasy published every year to line the whole world’s bird cages several times over.

Not that it’s anywhere near the only thing that bad fantasy gets wrong, but it is perhaps the most annoying thing: its treatment of women. If a female character in a stupid fantasy is not The Invincible Female Warrior, you can be sure she’s in for a hard time.

https://leeduigon.com/2015/01/13/why-is-fantasy-so-mean-to-women/

Ordinary family life taught me that this vision was preposterous. The Bible teaches me that it’s wrong.


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