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Old 09-27-2013, 06:16 PM View Post #1 (Link) A Quick Reality Check
Demon Hunter (Offline)
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A REALITY CHECK

By reading dozens of fantasy threads on this forum and a few outside of it, I have come to the following conclusion: Many, many… (many) people believe that fantasy is all about writing incredible things and making the reader sigh in longing and admiration. Hm… I’ll get back to this in a minute.
I, personally, think the expression ‘make believe’ is more appropriate than ‘incredible writing’. For one, the word incredible means unbelievable. For two *grins*, I think that ‘make believe’ is the opposite of ‘writing incredible things’.
I have a sneaking suspicion that I might not be making any sense to a few of you. Let me illustrate:


Accountability.

A novice writer (no offense to members of that category) writes the following in his twentieth chapter (totally made up here):

“Jaego jammed his heels into the flanks of his stallion and sped on towards the snow troll. He snatched his broadsword from his sheath, and, standing upon the saddle, hurled it into the gaping mouth of the monster.”

While this may entertain someone who doesn’t know that real people don’t ride stallions and that it is impossibly hard to stand in your saddle while riding a horse – much less think straight enough to aim, it is not the same for the larger part of the world…

ESPECIALLY IF THE WRITER HAS HAD REALITY GLITCHES FOR THE PAST NINETEEN CHAPTERS. I AM EMPHASIZING THIS FOR A REASON… BESIDES THE FACT THAT IT’S SO FUN TO WRITE IN CAPITAL LETTERS.

Ok. Look. NOW, imagine Tolkien writing that paragraph… or better yet, George R. R. Martin, as the English sounds more like his. Would it be believable?
I dare say yes.
Wait, what?!?
Yes, yes.
Why?? Why does such a ridiculous paragraph work with one writer and not the other??
Because, dear novice writer, (Yes, I’m having a conversation here) you didn’t even acknowledge the fact that a stallion is an un-castrated male adult horse, and it would take an insane amount of breaking and training to where it lets you ride it, and a lot more to where it lets you steer it. You didn’t mention the years that Jaego spent in training it. You didn’t even mention any magical spell that tamed the horse all at once (which I think would be a very cowardly escape).
Besides that… have you even lifted a broadsword? Man, throw one of those over three yards and call me so I can congratulate you.
I’m not even going to mention the saddle-standing.

Do you see what I mean? These are just examples. Now, back to the ‘make believe’ deal. What I mean is exactly that; make your readers believe what you are writing. Make your characters frigin real, and make your world real… (Please no one mention how bad I was at this in my first threads. I’m learning here.)
It is hard to take a book seriously when things happen just because you (the author) need them to happen in order to accomplish something else, or because it’s cool. For example:
A tester battle. Hero gets to show off his skills. (ME: Where the heck did the army come from? Why would they attack them? Random…)
Hero ducks, evades a blow, and stabs bad guy through the heart. (ME: Where did he learn to do that? Wait, is this supposed to be what he learned in those three days of training? Does this guy not have armor and ribs in from of his heart?)
Hero reaches his steed just inches ahead of his pursuers, mounts, and leaves them in the dust. (ME: What the… Steed? Where did that come from? Wasn’t he walking down the forest road with Fernuccio? You didn’t mention him buying a horse, or any kindly peasant giving him one.)
The sky bulged and contracted, and a giant green finger touched the ground, sucking up mud and trees. (ME: no, that’s not how tornadoes are formed. Haha, yes, Tsh4r, you were right about that one.)

Ok, I could go on for a while, but I shall restrain myself. Do you see what I mean by make believe? Martin accounts for all of the extraordinary things he writes. So does Tolkien. He writes elves and gods and dragons, and I can believe it. Martin writes wights, dragons, and skinchangers, and I can believe it because EVERYTHING IS ACCOUNTED FOR. Their true potential, their limits, where they came from. He (either one of the authors mentioned) mentions the training that lets the characters dance around with a battleax. He mentions the horses they bought, or the way he got the money to do so. A servant doesn’t disappear once the master doesn’t need them. Secondary characters and friends don’t vanish once the main character has left them alone. The world EXISTS, AND GOES ON. Everyone has a family, everyone has friends, and everyone has pasts that made them what they are at the time of the story. Everyone has REASONS, dang it… why is the dark lord dark? Just cause?? So I thought. Why is your character afraid of fire? Why can Rinushtaga punch holes through mountains? For that matter, why do you even have a world?

Ok, I might be getting beyond the point here.

Good prose.

I'm not saying much here, but think about this: if your writing sounds like a three-year-old’s, why would anyone take it seriously?

Im not going to write all of the details of good prose in part because they are being written about all over, but also because im not the best at it. (Voice, atmosphere, pacing, character, etc.) But mastering these really make writting more believabe.


Setbacks.

And I don’t mean setbacks as in “Xoxan, chief agent of the dark lord hypnotized all of their carriage horses and led them astray, so the caravan was delayed for three days.” This is part of a plot – or should be. What I am aiming at is a little more natural, more coincidental – not random to where it leads away from the plot, but…
I mean, it gets sort of suspicious when the “sheets of rain” don’t form enough mud for mudslides… or a deer just always seems to appear whenever they run out of rood… or they just never fall sick… or they arrive at the ferry just in time… every time…
See what I mean? Setbacks happen in real life. I think that if you want readers to take your writing seriously, you need to give your world a realistic feel to it.

Are your characters sane?

Unreal characters are hard to take seriously. So, if xrandomcharacter is unreal, and she is crying, i am not going to cry with him. i would be tempted to laugh.

I think conversation could thrown in here. Ask yourself: What would a REAL person do/say in this circumstance? If you do not have real people in your story, it will be hard for real people to relate to them (these are the people who will be reading your book). Can a person who is hanging off a cliff have time to think of ten-syllable words and fit them perfectly in their sentences? I know i couldnt. I'd be clawing at the dirt, screaming for help, and, probably involuntarily, pull at anyone within reach and maybe even take them down as well.

There are tons of driving forces in this world; Love/sex, hatred, desire for power, greed, honor/duty, sorrow, conscience, and curiosity to name a few. There are a ton more, which really makes me wonder WHY ON EARTH YOUR DARK LORD DOES THINGS JUST CAUSE HE'S DARK. Man, theres a panoply of motivations and you have to say he does the things he does just because he's evil? man. Man. Like Dabs said, every character needs to want something. Motivation makes your characters characters, and not just "I" or "He" or "Jargo" or "Daria".

Do your characters have a past? no? do they just show up at the beginning or your story? we are the results of out past. what happened in your character's life that makes them who they are?

To Conclude: things outside of our plans happen in our world. Things have reasons in our world. They should have reasons in your world too… either that or explain why they don’t. That’s why I say ‘make believe’, and not ‘write incredible’.


— The Hunter.
__________________
"There are billions of normal people in the world... we don't need one more." - Joshua Lenz.

I will crit upon request, but... Acknowledge: Though my punches may be soft, i will not pull any.


Professional Artist. Musician. Singer. Downhiller. Magician. No, I'm not a grown up yet, but I would give it all to be able to write the way I want to.

A Quick Reality Check
How to write Cliche Fantasy
ELEMENTAL: Characters.
  
						Last edited by Demon Hunter; 12-25-2013 at 08:42 PM.
					
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:42 PM View Post #2 (Link)
Spiders (Offline)
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Accountability is all very well, but there are more ways of suspending disbelief. Merely well-written prose can work to that effect.

But yes, a writer should be aware of the causes and effects of everything he writes; it's the fundamental principle of Dwight Swain's Scenes & Sequels and his MRUs.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:11 PM View Post #3 (Link)
2sh4r (Offline)
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Haha

Was this rant inspired by limyaael?
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Old 10-17-2013, 03:42 PM View Post #4 (Link)
Demon Hunter (Offline)
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Of course, Tsh4r. Very much
__________________
"There are billions of normal people in the world... we don't need one more." - Joshua Lenz.

I will crit upon request, but... Acknowledge: Though my punches may be soft, i will not pull any.


Professional Artist. Musician. Singer. Downhiller. Magician. No, I'm not a grown up yet, but I would give it all to be able to write the way I want to.

A Quick Reality Check
How to write Cliche Fantasy
ELEMENTAL: Characters.
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