At the moment I am reading SCIENCE FICTION 101 edited by Robert Silverberg. It contains some of the stories that shaped him as a young writer, and he analyzes these works as to why they are not only brilliant stories, but brilliant Science Fiction stories. The Forward of this book is a recounting of Silverberg's rise as a young writer hoping to become a pro. He offers the insight into the crafting of science fiction from people he admired, and how their words taught him. This has inspired me to some extent, not only in my own fiction, but also in how I consider the "genre" that has chosen me as a vehicle.
Right now, let's get something straight between us: I believe that the work chooses a writer at least as much as the writer chooses the work. At least, in so far as those people who are honest with their fiction. Countless examples of copy-cat fiction line bookstore shelves of people who "choose" their brand of fiction in search of literary success, and there's nothing really wrong with that in and of itself. The problem comes for those of use who a drawn to a certain type of story that also seems ripe pickings for those people looking to make a quick buck as a writer.
I have the wonderful misfortune of being a fantasist. My ming turns to the magical and the strange more often than not as I'm writing a story. It's how I'm wired. I've tried writing main-stream and literary fiction. Several of my professors at SFSU demanded it of me. The work this produced was pail, dry, trying-too-hard, and ultimately, dishonest fiction. Perhaps I'll post some at a later date, just so people can see what I'm talking about. However, I digress. I say that I have the misfortune of being a fantasist because, aside from Romance, I can think of no other genre of fiction that contains so a large body of poorly written work -- with a great deal of it (romance and fantasy both) making a metric crap ton of money. And while some of the greatest fiction I've ever read is fantasy, the amount of drivel that one has to slog through to find it is mind boggling.
With this revelation in mind, and with my recent first sale (YAY ME), I find myself needing to explore the ins and outs of fantasy fiction. Over the next few weeks, I plan to make commentary on what makes good fantasy good and why so many people seem to fail it. I may site specific examples, but most likely this will be my own private musings. At this point, some people might be accusing me of an extreme case of hubris that I, unpublished writer, should dare assault the entire spectrum of fantasy with an eye toward literary criticism. At this point, I can merely reply to those people, "Perhaps, but I can do whatever I bloody want with my blog." If you have any disagreements with my assessments, feel free to respond to an of my posts. The bottom line is, I'm not undertaking this critical journey for anyone other than myself. It should be one hell of a ride!
"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"
"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."
"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."