DECIDING TO WRITE FULL-FANTASY OR HALF-FANTASY IN YOUR NOVEL
Maybe one day we’ll get to the skill of the George R.R. Martin (the Tolkien of our day – in my opinion). Some will argue – as some typically do – but I truly think that GRRM has redesigned fantasy…although in some cases to a fault.
I know that sounds oxymoronic. But I’ll explain, though I must start by admitting that I did not get on the George Martin train until last year. **William covers his face as the stones start flying** I know, I know. How dare I claim to write fantasy without having first read the fantasy standard. My only rebuttal to that is: “I wasn’t ready…”
Now with that out of the way, here’s what I suggest to those who are getting a handle on fantasy (or sci-fi). And this applies to urban fantasy as well. DO NOT DO WHAT GEORGE HAS DONE.
What has he done? Well, I have to say that I was turned off by a large portion of Game of Thrones (not the series, but book 1, as the series is A Song of Ice and Fire…but I digress). I was told that the book was fantasy, but besides the prologue, there wasn’t any real fantasy until about 70% of the way through the book. Sure there was the small stroke here and there, but compared to fantasy that I’d read before, well GoT didn’t seem to deliver. I felt cheated, quite frankly. But after enduring through it, believing that some X million of people could not all be wrong, I realized that there was a lot of drama and intrigue – enough that kept me coming back to catch up with the world, as I am now eagerly awaiting book 6.
What I have noticed is that newer writers attempt to toy with George’s method, meaning that newer writers assume that their drama is enough to hold the reader’s attention. Usually, this is not the case. I know that’s a hard statement, so let me backtrack. I don’t want to deter anyone from writing what you want to write, but this is merely my suggestion for someone who is trying to figure out if she should incorporate fantasy throughout her WIP, or if she should hold off until later in the book.
If I had to choose, I would tell that reader that she should incorporate fantasy thorughout her WIP. The reason is because when a book is advertised as fantasy, it will undoubtedly attract readers who love what? You guessed it: FANTASY! My inclination is to know your fanbase and appeal to those people. Does that mean conform? Nope! But it does mean “know.”
If you decide you want to write an urban fantasy romance thriller set in a sci-fi world with zombies and Godzillas, you’d better know know know know KNOW your fanbase! They want to see a sci-fi city set in today’s time with fantasy elements. They want to see two lovers as star-crossed as Katnis and Peeta. And they want to see high action detective thrills on the level of JA KONRATH. Oh, and you’d better have zombies, and god help you if you don’t have Godzillas! And your readers will expect that. So why not give it to them?
Does that mean that you should compromise good characters and good drama?? I will let you answer that. (If you answered “yes,” I will be taking your pen from you…and your writing journal).
I’ve tried to read through a few books recently and it feels more like mopping a floor or churning butter – a chore. Why? Because the reader promised me fantasy and I didn’t get fantasy. Why be afraid? Why not write the genre that we want instead of trying to mimic GRRM? Because one thing’s true about fantasy AND sci-fi: people say they don’t like either, but if that were true, then why do these movies rule our box office: AVATAR, THOR, IRON-MAN, AVENGERS, LORD OF THE RINGS, BATMAN, STAR WARS, HUNGER GAMES, WALKING DEAD, TWILIGHT (grumble, grumble, grumble), HARRY POTTER? Oh and the list can go on. So people DO like those two genres if we give them what they want! And yeah, I left out Game of Thrones…I know…because we all know how great those are.
Anyway. What are your thoughts?
I so agree with everything you say! The most important thing to remember when writing a book for publication is that IT IS A COMMERCIAL PRODUCT! When I go into a shop to buy a mobile phone I expect it to be a telecommunications device, not make tea or wash my clothes. A fantasy or sci-fi fan buying a book that’s listed in that genre wants just that for the hard-earned cash they’re handing over, a product that delivers what it says on the publisher’s listing.
If writers want to write stories that please merely themselves and their friends, then why not go to the vanity press and publish a few books just for fun? But please writers, don’t inflict such books on the book-buying public! Sorry, that sounds harsh, but that’s the publisher’s view and anyone hoping to make it as a professional writer should open their eyes to the commercial reality of the book market.
That’s very true in so many regards. A person who doesn’t want a wide readership can deviate from the market. But the market dictates how writers should write. Thanks for your comment!