Thursday, April 17, 2008

Not THAT sort of fantasy

It’s great being a fantasy writer. How can magic and adventure ever be boring? Fantasy writers can probably produce some of the dullest stuff on the planet, but it cannot be boring to write. If it is, you are doing it wrong. If you are a hermit like any good writer ought to be you will not have encountered the horror of being a fantasy writer. Sadly most cannot afford that and the problem with being a fantasy writer the possibility of accidently mentioning it in –gasp- public!

Now, if everyone did as they ought and read fantasy it would not be a problem. Sadly, the world tends not to be as it ought. Most people do not read fantasy; Most people do not seem to read much of anything at all aside from magazines and newspapers and those books on the best seller’s lists. (I know, insulting people is bad, but they make more money on those books then I ever will, therefore I may insult them if I like.)

Most people I’ve talked to do not even know what writing fantasy even means. It happens to everyone:

Stranger/Friend: “What are you doing?”

You: “Oh, just a little writing.

Stranger/Friend: “For school.”

You: “Nah, part of a novel.

Stranger/Friend: “A novel. Can I read it? What is it about?”

You: “Oh, it’s fantasy.”

Stranger/Friend: *blank look*

“…I see.”

And thus the nice interested person never speaks to you again. It is good way to get rid of unwanted company but nothing else.

I thought the peculiar looks and confusion meant a dislike of daring heroes going on quests. I assumed it had something to do with the deeply rooted hatred of elves. It turns out only writers know that hatred. I don’t often write about daring heroes because they are far too sarcastic to make obliging characters, but I could deal with people thinking I did. After a few questions I figured it out. People don’t assume fantasy means daring heroes, they assume it means sex. (Disclaimer: I do not write about sex. I do not hate people who do. I do not plan to stage riots against them. I’m just not the sort of person who writes about sex or romance, it gets in the way of my plotlines.)

Therefore, my recommendation to those of our daring number planning to admit that they write fantasy: don’t say you write fantasy. Tell people what you write about. Tell them that you write about elves, or questing heroes, or insane hell-bent necromancers planning to summon the dark forces to aid him in the stopping Gnomish Liberation Front. Tell them about what you write, not the genre. Genre matters. Genre makes every difference in the world sometimes but they don’t know that.


Julie Weathers said...


Yes, that does happen, but I am too old to sweat the small stuff.

Fortunately, I have a split personality so I generally just say I'm working on a story. It could be the fantasy, historical, thriller or children's book.

Oddly enough, two doctors I've seen in the past couple of years asked me what I was writing, when they came in. One of them got very excited and asked if she could read it when it was done. Then she started an animated conversation about how much she loves dragons.

The other grinned and said, "All right. You go, girl. Let's get you fixed up so you can finish it."

I do agree it's best to talk about what or who you're writing about if someone asks.

Think of it as an abbreviated pitch!

Glad you're back.

Julie Weathers said...

Oh, my gosh. I just read the Gnomish Liberation.

Gasp! No way. I love my gnomes and they love me.

We actually have a guild on WoW called Gnome Depot.

Karlene said...

It seems to me that more and more fantasy is including sex, sometimes very explicit sex. Maybe that's why they think that. But good for you for drawing a line.

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