The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, all guaranteed to make you a literary legend. Compiled by manly.
Caroline Furlong – Dealing with villains
Charlie De Luca – Editing tips that really work!
Andrew M. Friday – Harmon’s Plot Embryo
Fantac Cisse – The Ultimate Factory for Inspiration and Creativity
thesagaofaelelorad – Swords: The Most Overused Trope in Fantasy
Sierra Ayonnie – The Essential Elements of a Good Story
Kakymc – Writing What You Don’t Know
Jean Cogdell – How to write a good one-sentence pitch
Call it synchronicity. Or whatever you want. But I came upon this video after witnessing one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. While visiting my father in the rest home last weekend, his roommate’s ex-wife visited. She didn’t seem to care my father and I were in the room as she announced to her former husband she wanted to see him one last time before he died.
The man didn’t remember her. She told him they were once married.
“Why aren’t we still married?”
“Because you kept screwing around.”
“Oh.” He thought for a moment. “Is it okay if I hug you?”
“Yes,” she said.
She hugged him and walked out the door.
Then today I saw this:
From the artist’s website:
A visually rich, darkly inventive fairy tale directed by former Student Academy Award® finalist Carlos Andre Stevens.
Starring 2-time Academy Award® nominee John Hurt (V for Vendetta, Alien, Hellboy, The Elephant Man, Midnight Express) and up-and-coming star Eloise Webb (Cinderella, The Iron Lady).
Be sure to maximize the video. It’s gorgeous and richly detailed.
The Alchemist's Letter from Carlos Stevens on Vimeo.
We squander so much in life, don’t we? Even our memories.
Over at Kill Zone, editor extraordinaire Jodie Renner discusses a fault she sees all too frequently in manuscripts she reviews:
Have you ever been reading a story when suddenly the protagonist does or says something that makes you think, “Oh come on! Why would he do that?” or “This is crazy. Why doesn’t she…?” or “But I thought he…!” or “I didn’t know he/she could [insert extraordinary ability].” The character seems to be acting illogically, to be making decisions with little motivation or contrary to his personality, abilities, or values.
Renner is right — there’s no better way to lose a reader than to force a character to do something brainless or out of character just to advance the plot. But it happens, and some writers get away with it. In my opinion, the worst example of a character suddenly behaving both out of character and illogically is in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Lisbeth Salander, a plucky computer hacker, figures out that Martin Vanger is the serial killer she and journalist Mikael Blomkvist have been trying to identify. Meanwhile, Blomkvist has also figured out Martin is the killer, but the wily Martin captures Blomkvist and prepares to torture and kill him in his dungeon. Fortunately, Lisbeth sneaks into Martin’s dungeon just in time. Martin, who’s coldly and methodically killed dozens of victims, totally panics and RUNS AWAY from a 90-pound girl armed with — a golf club. Now, Martin’s in his fortress, with guns and other weapons all over the place, but for some mysterious reason, he decides to abandon it by running upstairs and out of the house to his Volvo. Okay.
But it gets worse! Lisbeth chases Martin on her little motorbike. As they race down the mountain, all Martin has to do is tap the brakes, and his pursuer would squish against the rear of his Volvo (which I think is Swedish for “Tank for Civilian Use.”) But no, instead our previously calculating and unflappable villain crashes and ends in a fiery wreck.
And millions found this believable? Give me a break!
Here’s Lev Grossman writing in Time Magazine on the new popularity of fantasy fiction:
It’s interesting to compare the present moment to another one when fantasy was a big deal: the 1950’s, the decade when The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings were published, two of the founding classics of modern fantasy. By that time in their lives, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had lived through some massive social and technological transformations. They had witnessed the birth of mechanized warfare – they were both survivors of World War I. They had seen the rise of psychoanalysis and mass media. They watched as horses were replaced by cars and gaslight by electric light. They were born under Queen Victoria, but the world they lived in as adults looked nothing like the one they’d grown up in. They were mourners of a lost world, alienated and disconnected from the present, and to express that mourning they created fantasy worlds, beautiful and green and magical and distant.
God knows, characters in fantasy worlds aren’t always happy: if anything the ambient levels of misery in Westeros are probably significantly higher than those in the real world. But they’re not distracted. They’re not disconnected. The world they live in isn’t alien to them, it’s a reflection of the worlds inside them, and they feel like an intimate part of it.
Modern man inhabits a world that is increasingly alien to him. There is no sense of place, of history, of community. The nobility and purpose of the Fellowship of the Ring, and the family and community spirit that inspire Katniss in The Hunger Games awaken us to the possibility of a life enriched by interconnection and mutual concern. And then there’s that sense of wonder we can recall from childhood, and can feel again in imagined worlds.