Aug. 22nd, 2007 12:25 pm
farla: (Default)
I've been trying to read fantasy novels for the last several months, and keep giving up in disgust about a hundred pages in. (I tended to lump sci-fi and fantasy together, so I hadn't noticed that I haven't been reading it for years.) There's a fantasy story I'd like to write, so I'm trying to read some of it to get an idea of how, and...ugh.

I finally managed to finish the first book of a trilogy, Dirt Eaters, and I've learned a lot.

Most importantly, railroad the fuck out of your protagonist. If you absolutely need him to do something of his own free will, it should be limited to a frantic run from enemies and imminent death, and be described as hazily as possible, followed by fainting. Otherwise, you should assemble a wide cast of characters to move him from place to place. Ideally, he should usually be unconscious during this as well, just so you can make it clear he has a level of personal volition normally found in dead trees. In fact, it's best to think of the protagonist as a dead log being carried about by the other characters.

The correct way of going about a quest is to avoid that quest at all costs. When your sister is begging you to come meet with her because she misses you and is in trouble, and a hallucinatory rat is telling you that instead you should enter the forest of painful death in the other direction because it says so, you should obviously obey the rat. The more bizarre, counterproductive and unexplained the request is, the more you have to do it.

Continuing on that line, curiosity is not a virtue. The main character should be inexperienced with the world, which translates to utterly trusting of strangers and completely uninterested in anything they do. Remember, the people who tell you about things are evil and lying. You can identify the good and trustworthy by their refusal to explain anything whatsoever to you. Exceptions exist for the generic streetwise character who explains how to survive in area X.

The basic plot of the story should involve an idyllic village being burned to the ground, protagonist somehow surviving to be caught by a bunch of shady characters. Shady characters train the protagonist, who has a natural skill in fighting that surpasses actual trained fighters on the first try. Then voices in the protagonist's head tell him to do stuff and he does. Then he finally decides shady characters are shady about two hundred pages after the reader figured it out (this is called suspense building!), uses his leet fighting powars and the voices in his head to escape after attacking the head honcho, then wanders about meeting up with various characters who will move him about in accordance to the voices in his head. Near the end of the story it should finally be explained that the voices in his head didn't want him to do X because it was dangerous because it was, and that despite the seeming random sidequests that served no purpose, he's closer to his main goal.

In conclusion, I'm going to hunt down the author and beat them to death with the book.


farla: (Default)

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