Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane


The other day someone criticized my work as being “stiff and telegraphic, but shows talent.”

It didn’t hurt, so much as frustrate and irritate.

Let’s start with the last half. “Shows talent” is a bone thrown to young authors. It’s true or they would not have said it, but still I’m an old fart with a ton of credits. I don’t have enough teeth at this point to chew that bone.

And now the first part, because that is what I consider most important.

I felt they missed the fact that I write very deliberately.

And, I feel that part of that reason (or all of that reason) relates back to what I said about exclamation points.

Despite the fact that I usually have a strong theme, I’m not trying to write Literature.

I have no bones against gorgeous prose. It’s just not for me.

My Lycan Blood novels are the best examples of what I call “Cultural Voice.” They are written in the same voice that any of the characters from that culture would use. Which is to say, phrases we ourselves are well familiar with. “Chilled to the bone.” “Scarlet as a whore’s petticoat.” The voice is informal. It isn’t stretching for elegant phrases that would never come out of a small town fellow’s mouth.

It’s deliberate.

So is the floating third omni, walking into a scene with one character and out of it with another.

I had my reasons for this.

And those reasons are born of what I see is a problem for the majority of fantasy.

At some point, fantasy stopped being a group of friendly accessible villagers and became instead a horde of high-falooting city slickers. They gave up simplicity and directness of narrative for complexity and sophisticated stylistic devices. A multitude of popular authors were no longer seeing themselves as ‘mere’ storytellers, but LITERATI.

You know what I like best about Andre Norton and Rowling? Simplicity of narrative.

Norton’s witch world novels were mostly narrative (something I complain about in modern writers), but the reason they work is that the narrative is like sitting down and listening to the village storyteller relating great events to his avid listeners.

Rowling’s work for a different reason. Her narrative is easy to read, and serves primarily to transition the reader from one scene to another.

While I love the gorgeous phrases of Robert Jordan, his endless, heavy narrative stretches quickly had me skimming. The same holds true for J. V. Jones and Terry Goodkind. (There are other problems, but I’m not going into them here). Jones writes great characters. I love Angus. But I’ll probably never know what happened to him after he arrived home because it is not worth it to spend money just to skim through looking for him.

Jones’ books are 75% interior monologues.

Now, let’s return to those stirring tales of yesteryear, such as the 1950s and even the 60s. Those days when adverbs and adjectives and exclamation points were not verboten.

Tell me a story.

That’s all.

Just TELL me a story.

And let me forget the world of cares for a time and lose myself in another world.


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This entry was posted on March 2, 2010 by in Janrae Frank and tagged .

Janrae Frank

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