Monday, August 10, 2015

Realism In Fantasy (again)

I flog this tired old nag periodically. It's a recurrent irritation to me. My own fault of course. I started off writing science fiction, which usually requires slightly more rigorous attention to natural laws. So the habit of trying to write in terms that make a story as believable as possible followed me over to fantasy writing like a starving puppy.

This is a relatively new thing, and many people don't share my opinion about this. In the old days of fantasy writing, say anything prior to the twentieth century, fantasy stories were fables, lessons, parables, and the important thing was the message that they were trying to teach. So everyone apparently assumed magic could do anything, and divine power had no limits.Apparently they also assumed that most characters in magical worlds were idiots, too. But who am I to judge? A lot of people today still don't give a care. Or don't give much of a care.

Then there are those of us who strain at gnats. We are the ones who are bothered by the fact that a world where summer and winter are decades long implies an orbit so wildly oblique that it most likely wouldn't develop life at all. And if it did, the odds of anything like a human developing seem slim to the point of ludicrous.

We get antsy, wondering why nobody, not one single member of the Hogwarts faculty, or the magical government, ever considered the advantages of loading up a few shotguns. Or buying some computers. Maybe setting out some usb cameras and microphones. Or a walkie-talkie? If that was too hi-tech for them to figure out, since a rubber duck seemed to floor them, would it confound them to work out the intricacies of cocking and loading a crossbow?

It just bugs me, that's all. One of the reasons that my third book is taking so long to complete is related to this issue. I know what is going to happen. In fact, all but one of the main conflict scenes are already written. But I need to make it the plot develop and work within the context of the magical system that I already have in place, while at the same time not insulting the reader's intelligence. I also need to avoid making it look like the main characters have suddenly been beaten senseless with a stupid stick.

Kulhn is not the land of Oz. People bleed in my world, and they go hungry, and they get cold, and stuck in the mud. Nor do characters in Kulhn get the privilege of 'traveling at the speed of plot', to quote an online writing acquaintance of mine. Horseback and cargo wagons take time. Magic can supplement speed, but there is a cost. If you run, it drains you because you are pushing your body beyond its natural limits. If you cast it on your horse, it kills the horse. There is always a price.

Maybe I'm just weird for caring about those kind of details. But that's me.  Oh, well.