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.
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.
Where’s the Reset button for this day? We’re getting inundated with nuisance phone calls, some of them robo-calls in Chinese, and another one offering a reverse mortgage on our apartment: what in the world makes them think they can sell us anything by plaguing us?
So I typed up the third chapter set for my book and sent it off to Susan, to be informed that because of some computer claptrap, she can’t open it and read it… ah, fap. Just plain fap.
But I did get out there this morning and resume writing The Wind From Heaven, which is galloping headlong toward I don’t know where: the Lord has the steering wheel and I’m just writing everything down as He gives it to me. Chutt and Ysbott, you’re in trouble–let’s see you get out of these jams. Prester Jod, you need a telephone: too bad they haven’t been invented yet. The wind is blowing and all the characters are just hanging on.
And there’s another nuisance call–that’s at least half a dozen of them so far today.
And back to work I go.
Not exactly the stuff of heroic fantasy…
No character in a fantasy novel ever has to go to the dentist, or have his appendix out, or stand around waiting in line for something. I think that’s why some people love fantasy–and also why some people hate it.
It boils down to how realistic you want to make your fantasy world–always keeping in mind that one of the chief purposes of fantasy is escape. But its other chief purpose is to enable the reader to view reality from a whole new angle. So it’s a juggling act.
I’ve added a physician named Tam to my cast of characters: she learned the healing science from her father. So in my fantasy world you can get sick, or injured in an accident.
But I refuse to write about weight-loss plans and protest marches.
Maybe it’s old-fashioned to insist on certain standards in the art of fiction. But what happens when you chuck those standards out the window–ugh!
No one who has ever tried to write for publication has been able to avoid being mystified by the abundance of really awful stuff out there. This will continue to mystify us till the end of time.
But then we wouldn’t know what literary crimes are, if they didn’t get published so often.
The only thing I haven’t seen is a good writer purposely trying to write dreck, thinking poor quality is the key to achieving publication.
I went to the bike shop this morning and got my tire replaced, then settled down to write.
The Wind From Heaven is galloping along, and I won’t find out where we’re going till we get there. Ice Age hyenas on the rampage, mysterious strangers from an unknown continent, frantic efforts to make peace before another war can start, a venture into a legendary region of Lintum Forest where no one dares to go, savage barbarians in search of a heathen god–no wonder I’m tired at the end of the day.
But it’s better than writing up the nooze. And if I’m not too beat after supper, I can unwind with a bike ride.
It looks like the wind from heaven is about to blow some heavy rain our way, so I’d better get out there and write what I can before it rains.
When Ellayne shinnied down the vine into “the cellar beneath the cellar,” she had no idea what they were going to find down there. I know how she felt: the book I’m writing now, The Wind From Heaven, is very much like that. Follow where the spirit leads you and see what you can find.
Monday I was totally at an impasse, had to stop writing for the day because I had no idea, no idea at all, what Lord Chutt was going to do in response to the position in which he found himself (all his own fault, I might add). Tuesday I came out, said a prayer for guidance, lit my cigar–and botta-bing, botta-boom! It just came out of my pen, that chunk of the story, as if it had been there all the time.
I ask the Lord to give me the story He wants me to tell, and so far He has–through twelve books, going on thirteen.
In 2011 I reviewed this book for Chalcedon, The Narnia Code by Michael Ward, chaplain of St. Peter’s College, Oxford–who said, “The Narnia books are much more Christian than we’ve realized.”
He also said this: “If only we had eyes to see it, we would notice the divine plan in seemingly meaningless events.”
Less than an hour before I read this, I was writing of Obst, the teacher, and Obst had this thought: The wind of heaven is blowing all sorts of people in all different directions, and to us it looks like chaos and confusion: but not to God. God never loses His grip on the reins of history, and He guides it where He will.
I’ve always said my Bell Mountain books are smarter than I am; and Obst certainly is. It’s not like I consciously think these things up and then put the words in my characters’ mouths. Those are words God gives me.
For which I give Him all the glory.
Just try telling Toad that he’s a minor character…
How would you like to be told, “You’re just a minor character”? Well, fictional people don’t like it any more than you would.
Just image someone telling you that you only exist to make him look good. What could be more insulting?
In writing fiction, as in life, treat your so-called minor characters–I prefer to think of them as supporting roles–as you would want them to treat you.
Because without them, you haven’t got a story.