Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On Literature & Modern Writing Perfections

Long before I first sat down to write Armageddon, I had come to the conclusion that, while there was a great deal of fantasy out in the world, I had come across very little fantasy literature that had been written in the past several decades. Now when I classify something as literary, I tend to exemplify it with the use of simile, metaphor, and a greater use of narrative that falls outside of the characters' own limited perspective. Is that a correct classification? Who can say. I've seen a few places discuss the topic of "literary" writing vs. simple "prose", but it all seems a bit vague to me. I would love to hear those more educated on the topic make any comment upon the subject.

After making this determination about fantasy however, I decided that I wanted to read books that were no longer being written regularly and moreover, no longer being published. The writing itself surely exists out there, but I believe that with the "advances" in writing methods, and the changes in the english language that have happened over the centuries, the publishing and writing business as a whole seem to have bought into these new writing perfections.

The perfections themselves make perfect sense to me, of course, but they somehow loose that flavor that exists in the writings of old by putting them into play. Some of these perfections include the concept of "show don't tell" and "keep perspective limited to a single individual" and "a comma can work just as well as a semicolon." You, I'm sure, can name many more concepts learned by modern writers when they are told what kinds of books sell.

No, what I wanted for my own writing was a feeling that someone was telling me a fairy tale; a feeling that someone ancient and learned was speaking to the children around the fire in his wisened and mesmerizing voice. And though I didn't wholly want the story to be "told" in this fashion (I understand the concept of show don't tell, I did say they make perfect sense, didn't I?) I did want that feeling that I believe should accompany all true fantasy writing. I am a strong believer that science fiction and fantasy should never be written with the same style.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy many of today's fantasy novels to a certain degree. I appreciate new classifications like "Urban Fantasy," which help me to determine what to expect very quickly, and make me feel better about counting it as fantasy. I simply wish that there were more books out there that were written without being afraid of the semicolon, and without the need to stick me inside someone's head and let me listen to them babble their thoughts back and fourth with themselves the whole book, and without brilliant narrative that's filled with poetic language that makes one's heart say "Yes! Now that is an epic!"

Terry Tibke

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