Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dear Authors:

Allow me to post now purely as a reader, begging the authors of fantasy novels to read my heartfelt pleas.

1. Do not start your book off with a character who is not the main character. If you have to start with the bad guy doing something bad because it's more interesting, you're writing the wrong book. Or you shouldn't be writing at all.

2. Do not give your main character a name that is difficult to pronounce or remember, or one that incites laughter in the reader. Adding an apostrophe to a name does not enhance it or make it cool. It just makes you, the author, look fucking stupid.

3. When you do finally get around to introducing your main character, make sure you have provided her with a personality beyond whining. Especially when your book is 471 pages long. That's a long time to spend with a character who isn't interesting.

4. Your book is probably 471 pages long because you spend far too many words describing the landscape and having your whiny main character think things over. This means you've slowed the pace of your novel one million percent, and I'm not a patient reader. That is why, dear author, I didn't get past page 13 of your masterpiece.

5. Please watch your style. Stilted formality does not sit well with modern slang. Particularly when we're talking about your prose as well as your dialogue, for gawd's sake.

Oh, I could go on and on, but it won't help. The kind of writer who needs this advice isn't the kind of writer willing (or probably able) to change. I do think Diana Wynne Jones's The Tough Guide to Fantasyland should be REQUIRED READING for anyone who wants to write fantasy. And not as a how-to guide, either.

And yes, a particular book set me off. I paid cash money for Kristen Britain's godawful Green Rider despite misgivings at the store, mostly because I kind of liked the cover and the premise seemed interesting. How did this shit get published? I really have no idea. It's got some of the worst writing I've seen in years; it makes White Rose seem like a masterpiece. Oh, and the main character's name is Karigan G'ladheon. What the fuck is that apostrophe doing there? And why the fuck should I care about this character, who has less personality than one of those cigar store Indian carvings? *tears hair out and screams*

Kristen Britain is welcome to come post here if she wants to, because I'd like to explain to her that she owes me $7.99 plus tax, which is what I spent on her crappy book.


Carrie Harris said...

Oh yes, the apostrophe names. I've seen some good ones of course, but otherwise? If it has an apostrophe and more than two Ys in it, it's going to make me laugh. Add a Z in there and I'm done for.

Frankly, this list made me laugh, but only because it's so true.

K.C. Shaw said...

I was in a filthy mood this weekend, partly due to lack of sleep, partly due to stress. That book just hit at the wrong time, with all the things wrong with it that I keep seeing and keep seeing!

Apostrophe names drive me nuts even in an otherwise fantastic book, too.