Monday, December 6, 2010

one true thing

I was thinking just now, and I realized that all my stories have some basis in fact, at least one true thing that anchors them to the world we know. In the case of Grimoire, which you're familiar with, it's the setting, the past we all know. By setting my paranormal tale in a familiar place it's easier to believe in the witches that live there and the ghosts who haunt them. Stephen King does this all the time, giving you the most normal of towns and then having something horrific happen. It makes the unbelievable, believable. And I think if you're going to write something fantastic, it can sometimes help if you ground your reader first, like the way Phillip Pullman did in The Golden Compass, giving us Lyra's Oxford, or J.K. Rowling with Harry Potter's England, exchanging quidditch for soccer.

Or, if you're feeling particularly brave you could always toss away anything that might remind the reader of any reality he might be familiar with and create from scratch. This, however, is far more difficult and I can only think of one fantasy writer who has done it well. I refer to Ursula leGuin and A Wizard of Earthsea, which is one of the most well-imagined places I can think of because it doesn't remind me of anywhere else.

Can you think of any other original fantasies, that is, fantasies that don't remind you of any place real or anything you've read before?

Meanwhile, I'm trying to find a decent winter picture (yes, the flower is lovely but it isn't very seasonal) and still working on revisions for Grimoire. What are you working on? reading?


  1. Great post! I'd have to say RA Salvatore's home of the drow, Drzzt. It's undergound and it was a first for me.

  2. Both my fantasy reading and my history study have been a little limited. Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series has a world with both things in common and things not compared to real life, but he definitely had a real grounding in philosophy and psychology (loved that most of the bad guys thought they were the good guys).

    I have had both the experience of writing about real places and NOT real places though, and it is SO MUCH easier to start with real and change small details than to make everything up and then (the biggie) KEEP TRACK of the details!


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