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Thread: Aggravation

  1. #1
    Galen M.
    Guest

    Aggravation

    I have only begun writing this year and although I have a few shorter M/S out, I am not published. My writing is done for my own enjoyment, and because it is something that I always wanted to do. The short stories / novellas I have written and sent out are all horror / suspense, but the novel I am trying to write is fantasy and that’s where I am having a major problem.

    When I write the horror stories, the backdrop is based in the world as we know it and therefore it is much easier.

    “The young man drove his car down the two-lane road to the haunted house, a slow jazz song playing on the radio like some snappy dirge signifying his eminent doom.”

    Everything with the exception of the paranormal theme is based in reality, a car, a road, a radio. Nothing requires thought in regards to those things. However in attempting to write fantasy, in addition to trying to write the story itself, I also have to write a background history to the “world” I am creating and it is becoming tedious and slow. No explanation is needed for the radio, or the car in the previous sentence. In the fantasy story however, I find that it is necessary to give explanations of events and geography to “quantify” the story itself. I would not need to describe to anyone in a non-fantasy story what and where New York is < example> but would need to let the reader know what and where “Blithia” came from.

    I am close to giving up on the project as too great an undertaking for an amateur like myself and going back to collecting my rejection slips from magazines.

    Anyone else have such a problem and if so any suggestions? Slamming my head in a drawer isn’t helping.

    Thanks



  2. #2
    Nathan Nicholl
    Guest

    Re: Aggravation

    Try your fingers instead.

  3. #3
    C Bets
    Guest

    Re: Aggravation

    Galen:

    How many fantasy stories have you read? I would think having years of your nose in those books would assist you tremendously in that area. If you're trying your hand at something you simply aren't all that familiar with, yes, you're going to have a tough go at it. I know I would never even attempt fantasy or sci fi or the like. Don't read it, don't know much about it, couldn't fake my way through it. Period.

  4. #4
    Nathan Nicholl
    Guest

    Re: Aggravation

    I guess it's why fantasy novels are generally longer than the average. I don't have any suggestions other than to write the minimum amount of backstory needed to get your story across.

  5. #5
    Galen M.
    Guest

    Re: Aggravation

    Nathan,thanks for the thoughtful input I will try that.

    C.Bets..Fantasy comprised most of what I read growing up. Tolkien, Jordan, De Camp,Howard even "The Worm Orobouros". I am quite familar with the genre, just a bit frustrated.

  6. #6
    Nathan Nicholl
    Guest

    Re: Aggravation

    Actually, I have another thought. It's best to dripfeed backstory. I know my eyes glaze over when I'm forced to bash through paragraphs of it, but a little bit here and there is tolerable.

  7. #7
    John Oberon
    Guest

    Re: Aggravation

    Well, to my mind, you're fretting a little too much about details. I don't write fantasy, but I've read quite a bit and I don't believe it's necessary for you to explain every detail like that; context usually provides more than enough clues to lend sense.

    For example, if a character says, "Tonight, I ride to Blithia to confer with the King!", most people would readily understand Blithia to be a major city, probably a capital. The details come in as the story unfolds and conflict emerges, like when the head sorcerer tells the King, "Long ago, at the birth of Blithia two mighty warriors, Akon and Mirak, fought for dominance. Though Akon was a mighty sorcerer, Mirak prevailed, and with his dying breath, Akon uttered this curse upon the descendants of Mirak, of which you are one, O King..." You see? Write details only when they impact the story, otherwise let context do most of the work.

    How did Mirak prevail? "He whipped out his thrognythe and sapticated Akon," saith the First Counselor. It isn't necessary to define those words instantly. Readers gather a thrognythe is some kind of weapon and that saptication is not something pleasant else Akon wouldn't have died from it. Later, have the hero witness the saptication of one of his men he tried to save, then when the meanies capture the hero and say "Traitor! Prepare for saptication!", readers get the cold shivers. Let the story dictate when and how much detail to reveal. If Blithia is a huge key to the story and characters spend tons of time there, then yep, need lots of detail up front, but do it through the actions of the characters.

    I always kind of liked that kind of jabberwocky in fantasy.

  8. #8
    Usman Ijaz
    Guest

    Re: Aggravation

    I only describe things as the characters come upon them, and I never do histories of anything in narration; it fits in better in dialogue.

  9. #9
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: Aggravation

    I chuckled over "eminent doom." Is he famous? If not, I think you mean "imminent doom."

    Yes, you are right, fantasy (and science fiction) often include the creation of alternate realities and you have to have a clear sense of the physical, social, and other aspects of this world in order to convey a believable world and a believable story to your readers.

    And yes, welcome to the world of writing, some aspects of writing are difficult. Some of it is hard work.

    J.R.R. Tolkien spent many years creating the "backstory" to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It took time and effort. If you think creating a fantasy world is hard, just wait until you encounter the business world of agents and editors. Dreaming up a fantasy world is a piece of cake compared to getting a fantasy novel published.

    I think C B is right. Reading a lot of fantasy helps. And I think John is right too. You don't always have to explain every detail as long as you paint an overall picture that is logically consistent within the world you have created. I also agree with those who said you can feed in the backstory, a bit at a time, through dialog and description, as the story unfolds.

    Best of luck. Remember, writing is fun, but parts of it are work, but it's rewarding work and worth the effort.

    --- Mya Bell

  10. #10
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: Aggravation

    It sounds like you're trying your hand at urban fantasy, where magic, undead or other supernatural elements combine with a "normal" world, possibly present day, or even futuristic, as mine is. My advice is to explain what won't make sense otherwise and leave everything else to the reader's imagination. As an example, I see no reason to explain why Doc Sideburns isn't available until sunset; he's a vampire, and that's all the reason you need.

    I'd suggest reading some of Tim Powers' stories, as he does urban fantasy and does it well. I remember him once at a LASFS meeting telling us that one of the most important things in doing this is making sure that all the "real world" facts and locations are RIGHT. The more things your reader can recognize as right in the every-day world, the easier it is for them to accept the fantasy elements. That's why I had a map of Hollywood bookmarked at MapQuest when I did my story; I was able to check street names, intersections and distances. I even went up to Bronson Cavern the day before writing the ending as I'd not been there in years and wanted to walk the ground and refresh my memory.

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