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July 27th, 2004

11:39 pm: Bildungsroman rant
Quick definition of a bildungsroman, courtesy of A novel whose principal subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual development of a usually youthful main character.

So you have a teenaged protagonist, and you’re writing hell-bent for leather to make your fantasy the story of her (or him, as the case may be) growing up and finding herself. So how do you make this old-as-the-hills plotline shine?

Follow the good fantasy authors )

The bildungsroman is one of those stories that I love seeing in the hands of a competent author, but too often its handlers are ham-fisted.

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July 24th, 2004

07:40 pm: Avoiding deus ex machina
There are a few definitions for deus ex machina, but the one I'm using here (courtesy of is "An unexpected, artificial, or improbable character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot." It is, by definition, stupid and evil and not something you want to have around. Even the mildest definition, "unexpected," points to a failure in the story, since something introduced well enough can be traced back by the reader and admitted as part of the story without straining suspension of disbelief. So this is a list of ways to avoid reaching for one of those gods by machine at a critical juncture in the plot.

Turning the gods mortal )

If the majority of authors do outline, as I've been assured they do, it puzzles me why so many fantasy stories feel forced and contrived in their endings. Maybe they just need to do more rewriting.

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July 17th, 2004

06:08 pm: Redemption rant, part two.
What happens when authors get ideas in their heads about redeeming their villains…and then go about it wrongly.

Villains can be redeemed, but not like this )

A villain redemption can be done realistically, I think. It’s just one of those things fantasy authors tend to follow in each other’s footsteps on and not give enough thought to.

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July 16th, 2004

01:19 pm: Redemption rant, part one
This is an odd subject, maybe, but it came to me the other day when I read an online fantasy story and found the hero’s “redemption” from his tragic past jarring and unnatural. Here are some tips to make the hero’s redemption, if you’re trying to pull it off, convincing. (Tomorrow’s for villains).

Redemption’s not the problem, just the shallow versions of it )

Enough tormented heroes who snivel, already.

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June 7th, 2004

11:05 pm: Stupid plots rant, for <lj user
Well, I’ve had my say about the Quest plot (twice), but, as [info]dawnkiller pointed out, that’s not the only overused (and often terminally stupid) plot in fantasy. There’s also “Let’s defeat the Dark Lord!” And “Let’s get the heir his throne back, never mind the usurper is doing a fine job of ruling in his place!” And, usually, “Let’s do both at once!”

Yes, Tolkien did both at once, and yes, he did a good job with it.

But most fantasy authors are not Tolkien, and they really shouldn’t start believing the blurbs on the backs of their own books )

Feel appropriately snarly now. I hate the “royal heirs raised as peasants” plotline more than anything in the world, but save-the-world plots in general make me want to bite them.

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May 23rd, 2004

04:27 pm: The speed of the story
Because characterization is a huge problem in fantasy, but pacing often isn’t much better, even among some published pieces.

The pacing of the action and the action of the pacing )

I’ve read too many stories lately that rush at the end, and until then don't move. Stories are living creatures. Living creatures move too, you know, as well as contemplate their navels.

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January 15th, 2004

06:37 pm: Pacing in fantasy.
Wow. Had my first environmental literature class today and think I'm actually going to like it.

*regards glass of water suspiciously*

Oh, well.

Pacing in fantasy novels )

That got longer than I expected.

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