‘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.

 

‘How Not to Write Dialogue’ (2014)

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Trying to figure out how she got in without opening the door…

Fantasy probably features more misbegotten dialogue than any other genre of fiction. Maybe the hard-boiled private eye comes a close second. Or a fantasy about a hard-boiled private eye.

How Not to Write Dialogue

Suddenly the idea of a fantasy about a hard-boiled private eye is starting to look pretty good to me. I’ll betcha Anthony Boucher or Henry Kuttner could’ve done it standing on his head. “The dame came through my office door in a rustle of that fancy crinoline stuff like you see in the movies. Real class. But she didn’t open the door to come on…”

I mean, as long as we’re going to be writing bad fiction, it might as well be funny!

‘A Really Stinky Book’ (2011)

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I read this book, and a couple other clangers, in preparation for an interview. I think it was with Joshua’s uncle, Kevin, on his internet radio show. I look back with amazement that any published book could be this bad.

A Really Stinky Book!

Sometimes when adults write about teenagers, they come off as space aliens trying to write about human beings without having the slightest understanding of humanity, they might as well be writing about catfish. A book like this is an insult to every poor devil who ever tried and failed to get published. A monkey could write a better one, if you gave him a keyboard.

You owe it to yourself to give this book a wide berth.

‘Literary Crimes’ (2015)

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I read a lot of fantasy, and a lot of it is poop. That’s usually because it’s full of literary crimes.

Literary Crimes

The Know-It-All Elf and The Invincible Female Warrior–what would certain writers do for characters, if they didn’t have these worn-out cliches to fall back on?

Then there’s crazy dialogue. There’s only one thing worse than long passages of speech written in what the author images to be dialect. That’s long passages of speech in which the author wanders in and out of dialect.

The mystery of it all! We wouldn’t know these cliches for cliches if they weren’t crammed into books that actually got published–thousands of ’em.

‘Can Fantasy Be Reformed?’ (2014)

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This blog post, back then, resulted in a wonderful article by John Dykstra in Reformed Perspective Magazine–which I’ve been able to locate, and which I’ll re-post for you tomorrow.

Can Fantasy Be Reformed?

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how I hate fantasy cliches–the Invincible Female Warrior, the Thief With a Heart of Gold, Know-It-All Elves, etc., etc.

Fantasy can be made into a useful tool for Christ’s Kingdom–I’m totally convinced of it. But first it has to be straightened out.

‘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.

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!

‘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.

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.

‘I Stand Rebuked’ (2016)

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I gave up on this one when the Sumerian hero’s immortal half-human mother started calling him ‘Gilgy’…

I’ve seldom been so disappointed in any fiction series as I was in Brian Godawa’s novels of life before the Great Flood. And I’ve seldom gotten so much pushback from a book review.

I Stand Rebuked

This guy wrote great movie reviews, and fascinating appendices; but his retelling of Genesis turned it into a cliche-packed summer movie script. “Disappointing” is hardly the word for it. “Bowel-wrenchingly awful” is barely adequate for descriptive purposes.

At least it wasn’t as hard as reviewing a book written by a friend.

‘Murdering Fantasy’ (2016)

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People wonder why I got so mad at the library director when she assumed my books were self-published. Well, gee–“self-published” means no quality control. As in the following example.

Murdering Fantasy

It’s bad enough, you populate your fantasy with stock characters whose every action and reaction is totally predictable. Bad enough you name your lead characters after popular pain reliever products. But to do both at once is to create something monumentally bad.

I find it hard to get my books reviewed because so many potential reviewers and interviewers say, “But that’s just fantasy.” Like it’s all verbal cliches and stupid unbelievable characters named Feen-a-Mint or Tylenol.

Sometimes every step’s a struggle.

‘The Abuse of Fantasy’ (2015)

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Remember those “Spirit Animals” fantasies, from Scholastic Books? If you don’t, I do. I had to review them. Reading them was like a root canal gone wrong.

https://leeduigon.com/2015/01/30/the-abuse-of-fantasy/

Fantasy is a powerful tool for communicating the intangible, especially to children. As a fantasy writer myself, using fantasy to serve an evil purpose is something that makes me quite truly angry. But it should always make you mad to see something good twisted into bad.

We see a lot of that, these days.