Sunday, December 11, 2011

What I Have Discovered About Writing Fantasy

This week, I am not going to bitch about how poor I am. Instead, I am going to talk about my nerdy little passion: writing fantasy.

I don't just write, as I have said many, many times. No, I write fantasy. I'm the person who dreams of places with weird names and weird species, and puts them down on paper. I watch as Microsoft Word freaks out with its little red and green squiggly lines as I try to type in words that its software brain cannot comprehend. (I have since become pro at ignoring the little buggers unless it is a true spelling crisis.)

Despite the frustration of trying to get my computer to respond to what I want, the truth is that I do not follow "typical" fantasy conventions as I have found out so frequently when my work on Book Country is reviewed. I have discovered that my work can be awfully polarizing, with people loving the wit and character interaction, and others spitting upon it for its lack of Tolkienesque details. When I set out to work on my book seriously sometime during my freshman year in college, I realized I wanted to write something that people would be able to read and connect to without being bogged down in unnecessary detail and background information like I had come across in fantasy so frequently.

To clarify, I do engage in world building to give people a setting, a place to escape to. The characters that are created must exist and interact in this world. You can't just throw in characters and not tell the audience what the laws, rule, or customs are. (Actually, don't tell. Show. But thats for an entirely different blog entry.) My point is that I don't like to overdo it. The people who don't like my work prefer whole paragraphs where I describe in minute detail what the street the character is standing on looks like, or the mountain top, or etc.

Too bad. If it isn't relevant, I don't put it in. I'm not going to describe the bar across the street unless my character goes into the bar at some point. For readers who want that kind of detail, read George RR Martin. The fact that I don't bog the reader down in unnecessary details is one thing those that like my work praise me on. I don't "let the genre rule me," as my creative writing professor told me once.

If there is one thing that I've learned from writing, period, is that people want action to happen with characters they can connect with. That is what I'm trying to achieve. I've come to the conclusion that if people can get that, then they might give it a try. With my work, I attract people who read just about anything from any genre, than those who read pretty much anything and everything fantasy. Those into "High Fantasy" really, really don't like my stuff. (I have yet to discover if this is a good or bad thing.)

For now I just keep chugging along in the hope that my audience will pop up and show itself. I've had from the "This is awesome!" to "Uh, no..." to those who missed every single important detail ever written down. For those of you who want to give my book a shot, here is the link: Hands of Ash.

I'll keep writing fantasy until my hands fall off. So all the naysayers can suck it, because I love being a such a geek.