Monday, February 1, 2016

Fantasy vs Scifi & my writing style

I wrote a blog post on "The Red Ant" blog that was basically a story stub.  One reader really enthused about it but the others are suspiciously quiet, and LOL I know why.

It's not my usual writing style.  Sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet and thrash out a piece in that style: slapstick humour. "The Racing Finn" and "Fanta Claus" were both written in that style. It is incredibly easy to write that way, much easier than most authors realize.  You simply exaggerate everything and point out obvious flaws that would have any editor worth his salt groaning.  It doesn't even have to conform to the high standards of editing that usually rule - not repeating words, or avoiding cliche.  On the contrary, this style absolutely lives on cliche.  Old jokes that people have heard a million times come in such rapid succession that they get their giggle buttons tickled even though it's old hat.  Once you got someone giggling it's easy to keep them giggling.  And the key to getting them giggling in the first place is that initial "what?!" moment.

That's not to say that I'd enjoy churning that kind of style out continually.  I normally write differently.  My readers who do love my books will back this:  My focus is on storyline, world-building, and most importantly on lovable characters.  I fall in love with my characters.  I allow them freedom to do what they want, and in doing so, I watch them develop.  They grow, they learn, they make mistakes and fail and try again, and break, and get picked up by others.  If you don't enjoy falling in love with story characters, my books are not for you. 

Also, it being Science Fiction, I love exploring possibilities.  I know a bit about science (having some background specifically in medical genetics and biology), so I love bringing that in and seeing where it can take us.  We're living in a world full of relevant science.  It should be part of a good, unique storyline.  Besides that I love doing the research for stories:  Reading up how a hurricane is structured, what fuels a storm, how freak waves arise, how a volcano is born, evolves and dies.  I love reading up about the places where I write (no "enchanted forest" for me).  The Everglades - in a dystopian futuristic setting.  The Marquises Islands.  The Romanian Alps.  Places like Auckland where I've never been but that are so accessible by Google these days.  And of course, places where I have been and that I loved.  Like behind the Moon.  (Just kidding.)

In all that, where is there space for slapstick?  The humour in my serious novels is sparsely strewn, but it is there - more for the connoisseur, it catches you when you don't expect it, and some of it is so subtle that you only pick it up on second reading (this is deliberate).  Yes I wrote a few things into the books specifically for those sweethearts who actually read it more than once!  They deserve the special consideration.

My novels are not about making you laugh (though hopefully they do at times).  I am not, and wouldn't want to be, Terry Pratchett.  But here and there I'll write a story purely for the sillyness.  I'd be sad if that were the reason for me to be famous one day!  When you pick up one of my books, I would like it to be because you're hoping (and I'm hoping to be able to deliver this) that when you open that cover, you'll step through a portal into a world, of freedom, emotions and adventure.  A world where you are aboard a ship for instance and part of the crew, each of whom you can fall in love with.  I want to give you that.  I want you to forget whatever your own circumstances may be at the time, and become a teenager again as you, along with Paean, bandage up that savage Wolf and try to tame him, and feel her frustration with her as he cold-shoulders her, and that sneaking, subconscious process by which she falls in love with Federi instead.  I want you to be up in the rigging with Shawn and Federi when the storms rage over the sailing ship.  (This is authentic by the way.  In "Sea Devil" by Felix Luckner, the author - himself a versed seafarer - describes how during a storm on a steamer, everyone goes belowdecks where on a sailing vessel, during a storm everyone goes up into the rigging to help control the sails.)  I want you to experience the terror and exhileration with the crew, with every freak wave they brave - some from storms, some from explosions, some because they are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The sea has many more freak waves than currently given credit for.  I researched this in depth.  (Pun intended.)

I guess many feel that way about their work.  It is said of Antonin Dvorak, the composer, that he didn't want to write too many of his famous Slavonic Dances because he felt they detracted from his status as a serious composer.  They are incredible compositions anyway.

So, no, you won't see a lot of slapstic giggle fiction from me.  Here and there as the silly-bug bites me, sure.  But not as a staple diet.  I'd feel empty if this were all I could put out.

:-)  Hope I have not disheartened anyone now.

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