I have have this twitter account, I’m pretty sure most of you reading already follow me. It’s a useless distraction where I post random inanities and constantly refresh for that adrenal pumping endorphin kick that my degenerate generation is addicted to. Every-now and then, and by that I mean almost daily, I make definitive philosophical and artistic declarations on said Twitter account, letting everyone know what they should be reading, writing, and how to prop up our failing civilization.
One of my recent rants was about my belief that writers should be well read in there genre, even if their genre is dominated by progressive degenerates. I believe that you should know your enemy and be able to continue the genre conversation through your work, something you can’t do if you don’t understand what the current mainstream is about.
I mostly write in the fantasy genre, so to put my own advice into practice I went to the Fantasy subreddit, the basic bitch hangout of the fantasy fan world, and noted a few recommendations.
To skip to the point, I bought three books, started reading each of them and had to give up around the 20% mark. Modern traditional published fantasy is garbage. All three novels were highly touted by the reddit crowd, all three were horribly cliche Dungeons and Dragons derivative stupidity.
The worst of the three actually, I shit you not, used the stupid wife getting raped by her lord because “prima nocta” straight out of Braveheart. I almost wretched from cringing.
Most of all, all three of the books had pedestrian writing that lacked any hint of style. The prose felt like early young adult, middle school grade, nothing fancier than early Animorphs, and the plot and characters felt stolen from a overwritten D&D module.
But to get back twitter and the whole point of this post. I posted about giving up on most fantasy because the writing sucks. People responded, we had some good back and froth, and one friend stated that people tend to never give examples of good writing/prose when complaining about bad writing. So, I’m going to give some quick examples.
I believe that Style is the most important aspect of writing. Style followed by Character, then finally plot, world-building, etc. Style is where the aesthetics of the novel come out. I also prefer adult writing with deeper themes and subtext.
For style, I think Bret Easton Ellis is the best living example right now. Check out this piece from American Psycho. If you haven’t read American Psycho, you are wrong.
there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed. I still, though, hold on to one single bleak truth: no one is safe, nothing is redeemed. Yet I am blameless.American Psycho
Excellent. The whole book is a stylistic masterpiece.
But I can hear you bitching now, Alex, American Psycho is literary fiction, it’s supposed to be stylish, you were talking about Fantasy. Yeah, ok, you might be right. But, there is a lot of fantastic, well written, mature fantasy that doesn’t read like some dorks character background for his Tuesday night D&D game he forces his wife to play.
The best living writer of Fantasy is Guy Gavriel Kay. Excellent poetic prose and mature novels that explore complex themes. Here is a few pieces.
The sailors say the rain misses the cloud even as it falls through light or dark into the sea. I miss her like that as I fall through my life, through time, the chaos of our time. I dream of her some nights, still, but there is nothing to give weight or value to that, it is only me, and what I want to be true. It is only longing.A Brightness Long Ago
We like to believe, or pretend, we know what we are doing in our lives. It can be a lie. Winds blow, waves carry us, rain drenches a man caught in the open at night, lightning shatters the sky and sometimes his heart, thunder crashes into him bringing the awareness he will die. We stand up, as best we can under that. We move forward as best we can, hoping for light, kindness, mercy, for ourselves and those we love.A Brightness Long Ago
Fantasy can be written for adults at an adult level. Some of the oldest Fantasy like the works of Lord Dunsany, are mythic and poetic. Lord of the Rings is both a beautiful and complex work of art.
I have very little time for pleasure reading. I love fantasy, but I’m not going to spend my time reading the equivalent of roleplaying game fan fiction. Why would I read your dull prose when there’s Conan?
Stand aside, girl,” he mumbled. “Now is the feasting of swords.