‘Writing Believable Fantasy’ (2017)

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“The writer who can’t look into another person’s heart, and find some kinship with it…” might as well go on to Congress. Or join the nooze media.

So what does it take to write believable fantasy?

Writing Believable Fantasy

I only get to see books that are actually published; and a lot of those are bad enough to dry up a good-sized pond. After many years of studying the matter, I don’t know why that should be. Unless it’s simply that so very few people can actually write a good novel, the supply can never catch up to the demand and a lot of pfud gets published because they don’t have anything better.

 

‘A Serial Poisoner Stalks Broken Hill’ (2015)

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The nooze is getting me down, I can hardly bear to cover it.

And so, for the time being, turn we unto murder mysteries–stories about crimes that get solved instead of just sucking whole countries into their depths.

The Bachelors of Broken Hill, an Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte mystery by Arthur Upfield–this is one of the best detective novels you’ll ever read.

A Serial Poisoner Stalks Broken Hill

No matter how fiendishly clever the crime, “Bony” will always solve it. No matter how big the crime, the perps won’t get away with it.

I know, I know–now it sounds like fantasy. Well, so what? Go ahead–just try to convince me that multitudes of anti-heroes in “I give up, everything’s so awful!” stories have done anybody any good–let alone the country. Prayer and faith are what it takes to help us back to a belief in ordinary goodness, decency, and sanity. But a little dab of fantasy doesn’t hurt.

 

Talkin’ My Books (with Jon Dykstra)

The Last Banquet (Bell Mountain, #4) by Lee Duigon

Jon Dykstra, of Reformed Perspective, did a wonderful job of interweaving some of my blog posts and some of my answers to his questions into a seamless, easy-flowing article. It first appeared in 2017.

After Lewis and Tolkien

I’ve also been asked why I bother writing fantasy while America is being eaten alive by Democrats; but that question doesn’t come up in this article. I’ll have to answer that another time.

For now, Mr. Dykstra’s editorial skills still have me going “Wow!”

I hope he makes you want to read my books.

 

My Newswithviews Column, March 11 (‘History and… Fantasy’)

My new “Bell Mountain” book, The Wind from Heaven, ought to be coming out sometime this spring. But between now and then there’s a lot of nooze to cover: sort of like wading through a pestilential swamp.

So this week I’ve written about my books.

History… and Fantasy

Sometimes, by the end of the day, all I want to do is crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. The monsters are out there, ravaging our country. But you don’t win battles that way, and you certainly don’t win wars: and like it or not, we are in a war with Far Left Crazy–a war for the survival of our country, our freedom, and our way of life. They mean to take it all away from us.

Just now it seems we have nothing left but our prayers. They’ve nullified our votes, censored us off the social media. But if all we have is our prayers, then let’s use them. Pray often! Pray hard!

Where Will God Take Us from Here?

The Bell Mountain Series - Reformed Reviews

I’m tired of writing about the nooze. Tired of watching Democrats murder my country by inches. Nevertheless, I have to write for Newswithviews this week; and I think I’ll write about my books–because there’s a lesson in here somewhere, if I can dig it out.

When Bell Mountain No. 12, His Mercy Endureth Forever, came out last year, a few readers said the series had gone on too long and it was time to put it to bed: grant the good guys final victory and let them all go home, to live happily ever after. Like, it’s a fantasy series, you should be able to do that. Why not? Tolkien did.

In my series, the characters plod ahead through good times and bad, enduring one crisis after another, doing their best to serve God, although the world seems to fight them every step of the way. This pattern is also known as “history.” We don’t get a final victory, just a lot of little ones–and that’s if we’re lucky.

Was World War II a final victory? Hardly. The Cold War took its place. Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East. To say nothing of the domestic crises each and every nation must endure. But that’s history. It doesn’t stop. When the Byzantine Empire finally defeated the Sassanian Persian Empire after some 300 years of war, the same emperor was still in office when Islam broke forth from the deserts of Arabia and crashed against the walls of Constantinople.

As Christians we believe in final victory. We can read all about it in the Bible. Jesus Christ has won it for us. Ultimately Christ shall reign forever and ever.

But we don’t know when. We just keep working. We don’t get to see God’s calendar. It would be a terrible mistake to show it to us, and God doesn’t make mistakes. We get a glimpse, in the Book of Revelation, of what Christ’s final victory will look like. And then, as C.S. Lewis hinted, the story really begins. We can’t even imagine what’s in store for us then.

God rules history. From time to time He intervenes in it. We have no idea what our history will be like after the restoration of all things. How could we? God has the whole universe at His disposal.

There’s no telling where He will take us from there.

 

‘Well, Then, Should I Just Change My Value System?’ (2014)

Bell Mountain (Bell Mountain, 1) by [Lee Duigon]

We never have to wait very long for this to come up–attacks on Christianity by worldly folks who think they know better than the Bible. So I re-run this post every now and then.

Well, Then, Should I Just Change My Value System?

The damnedest thing is that they actually do think they can get us to give up our Christian faith, as if pleasing them were more important than pleasing God. And they think they’re tempting us by offering us STDs, atheism, race riots, an all-devouring government, and all the rest of their Far Left Crazy menu–and those are just the goodies.

God protect us.

 

‘So Where Do I Get the Funny Names?’ (2014)

Bell Mountain (Bell Mountain, 1) by [Lee Duigon]

My mother wasn’t the only one who was put off fantasy by the names of the characters. My wife felt that way, too–and a pretty odd way to feel, I thought, for someone who likes Russian novels.

Where do my Bell Mountain characters’ names come from?

So Where Do I Get the Funny Names?

Admit it–if you were reading a novel set in Japan, you’d expect the characters to have Japanese names. You wouldn’t expect them to be called Frank McGlothlin, Suzanne Jones, Reggie Smythe, etc., etc.

I need those funny names when I’m writing about the world of Bell Mountain. But I have tried to keep from going overboard with it.

‘How Did C.S. Lewis Do It?’ (2013)

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The government insanities that scared C.S. Lewis in the 1950s are still here, still tearing at our freedoms. A stolen presidential election wouldn’t have surprised him.

But I’ll always been in awe of his art–and of his Chronicles of Narnia.

How Did C.S. Lewis Do It?

I’m sometimes asked how one learns how to write a novel. The only sound advice I can give is “Read, read, read–and then read some more!” C.S. Lewis was a professor of literature. He would have known what good writing looks like. So you read, you study, you imitate–and if you have the talent, the technique will draw it out.

Just one word of warning: you’ll wind up writing what you read.

‘Beat Global Warming: Don’t Work!’ (2013)

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Don’t work, be happy!

As “Unknowable” pointed out, imaginary problems requre imaginary solutions!

Like this one.

Beat Global Warming: Don’t Work!

Yeah, this’ll work! Everybody stop working, and The Government will give you all the free stuff you need from now on. As an economic theory, this beats rubbing your floor lamp until a genie comes out to grant your wishes. Would you believe it was the product of a “think tank”? More like a drunk tank.

As a fantasy novelist, I believe I’m qualified to say that fantasy can make for great entertainment but is a truly lousy basis for public policy.

 

‘My Fantasy Tool Kit (5): Let Your Characters Rock’ (2015)

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Faith H. thinks that maybe she would like to be a writer someday, and has asked me for some writing tips.

Tip No. 1: Be good to the people out there who want to read you! Really, I can’t stress this enough. Some writers grow a bit snooty and take their public for granted. Don’t do that! Ever.

And then there’s the fun of creating fictional characters.

My Fantasy Tool Kit (5): Let Your Characters Rock

You’ve got to let your characters be themselves–and they’ll surprise you, especially if you’re writing a series–then they really have a lot of room in which to move around. Writing my Bell Mountain books, I had plenty of surprises provided by characters like Lord Orth, Bassas, Ellayne’s mother, Judge Zerayah, Gallgoid–let your characters do what they’re gonna do, and you can have a lot of fun as a novelist.

Never, never, never write up a character who’s only a thinly-disguised version of yourself, carrying out assorted wish-fulfillments. Readers see through that at once, and most of them don’t like it.

Try to think of your fictional characters as real people with their own lives to lead, their own hopes and dreams and fears; and you, too, might wind up with a Gallgoid or two.