Friday, November 30, 2012

Why fantasy is hard for me

It's been a busy month, and I haven't checked in much here at Plan D (don't even ask me about my Words Up, Weight Down check-ins!), but my last post about fantasy fiction has been on my mind a lot and I want to further explore my issues with getting too "involved" with fantasy (again).

Brenda and I both make sure we have HBO when the new season of Game of Thrones starts. I watch for new issues of Beneath Ceaseless Skies to load onto my Kindle. And every time I go to any Powell's location, one of the first things I do is check the 'H' section of the Fantasy and Science Fiction shelves to see if any new (to me) Robert E. Howard books have come into the store (to tempt me!).

There might have been a time in my life when I was a bit more fervent about it, but I'm still a fantasy fan. I just happen to consume more horror and monster media than anything else these days. I don't have an issue reconciling the two genres (although those of you who know me know I like my fantasy a bit more dark, more Conan and less Frodo).

As a writer, I tend to write the kinds of things I'm reading or the kinds of things I want to read. For the most part, though, I've managed to tuturned off the part of my brain that wants to write fantasy. I still enjoy fantasy fiction as a consumer, but I've been pretty successful at keeping the fantasy writer at bay.

But every once and a while . . . I hear the clanging swords, the chants of evil necromancers, the horse hooves and all that and I want to try writing it again.

The key word being "again."

I don't lament this because of any sort of lack of enjoyment. I do. My biggest issue is that I can't seem to pull it off. My Robert E. Howard collection is filled with characters that trample through all kinds of worlds, imagined and historical.  The characters push my through the stories.  There's a reason why the character of Conan is more well known (in most circles) than the writer Robert E. Howard.  It's the characters.  (Well, and the action, the description, the plot, etc., etc., but I hope you see my point.)

I'd like to think I'm good at creating characters.  But something happens when I sit down to write fantasy.  I get hung up in the world-building.

From the Submissions guidelines at Beneath Ceaseless Skies:

Beneath Ceaseless Skies publishes “literary adventure fantasy”: stories with a secondary-world setting and some traditional or classic fantasy feel, but written with a literary approach.

This is what I like to read and write - adventure fantasy in a secondary world.  And I LOOOVE creating those secondary worlds, so much so that I get hung up on the setting, the history, the "rules" of any magic (if it even exists), races, geography, economy, mythology, and any and everything else.  I don't think I do this a way to avoid the actual writing.  I enjoy it, and I really WANT to get to telling stories in the world with characters I enjoy hanging out with (at least I hope to enjoy hanging out with through the first draft), but I just find I struggle in this regard.

I've got characters in mind, but as soon as I start putting them to paper, the enthusiasm to tell THEIR stories just starts to fizzle.  I don't know why.  I feel like they're well-conceived and I WANT to want to hang out with them, but there's just something that doesn't work and I find myself spinning my wheels instead of spinning any words.

I don't know where I'm going with this.  I'm not writing fantasy right now - I still have my Super Zecret project in the works, and I have some other stories in various stages of "pre-writing" - but as I've been feeling that tug back to fantasy fiction, I wanted to explore this particular hang-up of mine.

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