Monday, April 7, 2014
This is day six in the A to Z April Challenge. It's a blog hop where participants post every day, except Sunday, following the alphabet. If you want to visit the home page click HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my A to Z Challenge theme. Today I'm writing about Fantasy.
Lester del Rey was a longtime writer, critic and editor in the fantasy/science fiction field. He used to say that it was harder to write good fantasy than any other form of fiction. Why? Because a writer of fantasy is free to invent anything, unfettered by the laws and dictates of this world and limited only by the depth of imagination and willingness to dream. The temptation to free-fall through a story chock full of incredible images and wondrous beings can be irresistible - but, when not resisted, almost invariably disastrous.
In creating a world populated by monsters and other strange life forms, reliant on uses of magic, and shimmering with images of childhood tales, legends and myths, a writer runs the risk of losing touch with reality entirely. Given the parameters of the world and characters that the writer has created, something of that world and those characters must speak to what we, as readers, know to be true about the human condition. If nothing corresponds to what we know about our own lives, then everything becomes unbelievable. Even the most ridiculous farce must resonate in some identifiable way with truths we have discovered about ourselves. Even the darkest sword and sorcery epic must speak to us of our own harsh experience.
Achieving this end as a fantasy writer demands mastery of a certain skill, one not uncommon with that required of a ship's captain charting a course at sea. When putting together a fantasy tale, a writer must navigate a treacherous passage that bears neither too hard to starboard nor too far to port in order to avoid arriving at an unforseen destination or, worse, ending up on the rocks. Fantasy writing must be grounded in both truth and life experience if it is to work. It can be as inventive and creative as the writer can make it, a whirlwind of images and plot twists, but it cannot be built on a foundation of air. The world must offer us a frame of reference we can recognize. The characters must behave in ways that we believe reasonable and expected. The magic must work in a consistent and balanced manner. The book must leave us with a feeling of comprehension and satisfaction at having spent time turning its pages to discover its end.
Do you have a favorite fantasy that you like to expound on?
(Excerpt from Introduction by Terry Brooks in "The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference")