Thursday, May 17, 2012
The Fantasy Story Trap for New Writers by William Tooker
I used to go to a certain story critiquing site to get my work evaluated. It was the usual mosh of useful observation, petulant egos, and bland "I like its" as you would expect. I have always been concerned about keeping up my due diligence in groups or classes where it was required to reciprocate the critiques. There was a fellow on there who seemed to be posting quite prolifically in the fantasy categories. I put some time into this kids work because as much as he wrote he was clearly determined to be good at what he did and I respect that. He could put together a sentence and he created some intriguing images but he had one massive flaw in his technique that I could not seem to get anyone else to see.
Every story, every snippet of plot and dialogue was related to some magic weapon the main character possessed. It was usually a katana and being used to confront a dragon in his own lair. Make no mistake this awesome super cool katana blade was the headliner. The main character was generically noble and seemed to be the chauffeur for his miraculous weapon. And if he were writing for an audience of regular old souvenir store katanas he would likely have had a hit. But he wasn't, he was and I hope somewhere else continues to write for people, There is a reason why The Sword of Shannara was not written from the swords point of view.
I am as big a fan of magical super weapons as anyone, but only as a tool, not as the hero of the piece. You remember that time when you were a kid riding your bike and you tried that daredevil stunt that first busted your ass, bloodied your nose or tore your gooch? Yeah, so does everybody else. It's a moment most of us have in common and that is the power of a story; to evoke an emotional memory. I know that feeling. I've been there. When you feel like you and the hero have that thing in common, you relate to them and you will follow them through the landscape of any book. And you'll do it because that's your story after you get your lead character.
Super intelligent, lightning bolt wielding flying swords are great, that's why everybody has one. But if you want to make people follow you through 200-600 pages of novel with this super bad ass, Its got to be because they are invested in the person carrying the sword. We all get failure, we all get hardship, we all know fear and we can all be inspired and that's what people love about their heroes...or anti heroes. So for those of you out there having growing pains in your craft think about that as you write your 3 dozen story beginnings or your intense climactic scenes that fill up your desk top with word icons. Show me the humanity, and I'll follow you to hell.
William Tooker lives in Ohio where he labors away in the tech support coal mines of Hilliard. He has written the Horror Novel "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" and is currently working on his ongoing Series The Invisible Society. Will is also co-founder and head writer of Creephouse Comics with Kevin Gentilcore as well as the Writer for Matt Campbell's Mythica saga from CCP Comics. Will also has projects going in film and video and wants his work to be seen on your book shelf.
You can find him @ his Amazon Author Page also: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_tc_2_0?rh=i%3Astripbooks%2Ck%3AWilliam+Tooker&keywords=William+Tooker&ie=UTF8&qid=1337271576&sr=1-2-ent&field-contributor_id=B005NU588G
Posted by Helping Hands Press at 9:21 AM