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{Take the 100 Things challenge!}

100 things #15, plot problems )10
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I started reading Finnikin of the Rock yesterday by Melina Marchetta. While she has written other YA novels, this is her first fantasy and in the author bio she said something that resonated with me. ‘I was told often that I couldn’t write fantasy unless I had read all the greats and knew the conventions well, but I think the first step to writing good fantasy is knowing this world we live in well. I wanted to look closely at that world – where loss of faith, loss or homeland and identity, displacement of spirit and break down of community are common.’

This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Marchetta since, like in my adult fiction, my YA reading are in genres that are not contemporary/mainstream fiction. And I really liked what she had to say there. After all, isn’t that what Tolkien did? Undeniably one of the greats, his epic was, at least, in part in response to the war around him.

Understanding people is probably the most important thing in any kind of writing. Conventions are all well and good, but they can become old. We turn on the news, click on the links online and we are bombarded by the worst humanity has to offer. It is often the worst that provides us with our most compelling stories. Fantasy allows for us to take one step back from the horror and view it through a heroic lens. Most of the truly successful fantasies have happy endings, at least for some of our heroes. Surely some do die, making the story that much more real. In our world, we know that there often aren’t nice tidy happy endings and as an escape mechanism, taking these terrible ideas of war, Diaspora and suffering and giving them the ending of peace and hope that most of us wish for, fantasy serves us well.

In erotic fantasy, we can achieve the same goals. We can do some truly terrible things to our heroes and heroines, make it as gritty and real as we’d like and have the added dimension of intimate human connection. Now we have at least two characters to root for, not just to defeat whatever evil we have them facing, but to connect with each other and survive to the end together.

A good fantasy doesn’t need to draw from wide sweeping human horrors like war. It can be more personal, greed, ambition, murder. Even more so than with far-reaching things like war, these more personal motivators need a keen understanding of human nature. One of the things that makes me put down a book that is technically well written is if the characters react in ways no sane person would. You can predict, up to a point, how most people will react (sort of the basis for profiling). A truly off the wall reaction can be jarring, eye rolling or story killing (unless, of course, the character is prone to these sorts of things).

So, I have to agree that understanding ourselves in our world is key to writing a good fantasy. A stray thought popped up here along the lines of ‘you haven’t even gotten into the fun things you can do with magic or advanced science in erotic fantasy/SF.’ I reminded myself that’s not quite the point of this post, but I’m leaving it here at the end so my creeping forgetfulness doesn’t push that idea into the round file in the corner of my mind; it sounds like that could make for another fun post.
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Here, have a little snippet from Haunted which will be out in a few weeks in Dreamspinner Press's Two Tickets to Paradise anthology.

Chuckling again, Trestan stripped the sock off Connor’s other foot, then dropped a kiss on its arch. His tongue tickled over Connor’s hot skin, working his way up to the blond’s ankle, his fingers working on the tight spots in Connor’s foot. Trestan hoped all the tension he felt in his lover’s leg was from the walking and not just over all stress of yet another pseudo-vacation.

“We haven’t even had dinner yet,” Connor muttered.

“I could always stop,” Trestan replied, nibbling the tip of Connor’s big toe.

“Didn’t say that.”

Also I really liked this post on creating back story and thought I'd share


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