My recent reading of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy set me to thinking about pacing in a more rigorous way than I have before.
There are two main ways to read The Dragonbone Chair and its sequels in the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, and they are not mutually exclusive: this can be thought of as a historical fantasy story with sorcerous elements, or as a Tolkien-style fantasy with strong historical elements.
I wish that the human brain was a better tool for diagnosing itself, because I would be very interested to know how much of my distaste for this book arose from the writing style, rather than the contents. To be honest, the writing sounded juvenile. It is my hope that the author adopted this style in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience, rather than it being an actual reflection of their intellectual capacity, but I found it quite off-putting, and rather undermining to those parts of the book that are valid. While I realize that an inaccurate understanding of electromagnetism does not preclude wisdom in the area of fiction writing, making a blatantly invalid analogy does make me question how well the rest of the book was thought through before being published. And that was just the most obvious example; the whole tone of the book conveyed a similar impression.
Not my thoughts, for once - I subject you to more than enough of those in the Tuesday blog posts. No, this Saturday I wanted to share with you an article Brandon Sanderson wrote in response to his recent, and unprecedented, Kickstarter campaign.
need to have different languages for different cultures, or measurement systems based on the length of the Prime’s big toe, or different calendars that never quite line up properly. It’s your world, and you’re free to design it in as orderly a fashion as you could desire. But you shouldn’t.
established a social media presence. Granted, that’s only through GoodReads, for the moment, but it’s a (painful) start. If you’re tired of reading my book reviews here on the site, you can also find them posted on GoodReads, along with a list of books I’m intending to read, and a progress bar for books I’m currently reading.
For our purposes in talking about framing stories, we will define the story being framed as the plotlines explored directly by the narrative. To take a well-known example, look at Harry Potter. The plotlines of the character arcs, and combatting Voldemort, are the core story. A framing story could be if there were a line at the beginning or end of the books saying "based upon the diaries of Harry Potter, Wizard." Which takes us conveniently to the next set of definitions we need to supply.
Other than indulging my penchant for expounding on space-related topics, and perhaps providing you with some insight into rocketry, I bring this discussion up because it informs a way I have been slowly coming to approach writing. I, probably like a lot of new writers, was approaching the writing of my stories like a single-stage-to-orbit. When I sat down to write, I had an expectation in my head that I would sit down and craft all of the components of a story in a single pass, and that revisions were mostly just for changing around wording and cleaning up typos. Which, it turns out, is really challenging to do, because stories are complicated.
I remember having several English teachers, especially early in my schooling, who spent a great deal of time talking about how important a good opening line is. As they likely did for many of you, they called this opening line a “hook,” and explained how the entire fate of the universe, or at least my essay, rests on having a “hook,” a first line that will draw readers in and make them desperately excited to learn more about what I have to say on such fascinating topics as Lyme’s disease, Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home, or the intelligence of dolphins.
I have made it a policy here on the site not to post reviews for books that I read in the past. That is, while there are many books that I read before starting this site and before starting weekly reviews on the site, I only intend to post reviews for those books if I actually sit down and re-read them. In some cases, like for books that are a part of ongoing series, that means that reviews for the older books will likely be posted eventually as I re-read to get caught up for a new release (like we did for the Stormlight Archive books). There are a lot of books that I would like to add to the review collection that I've already read, but with a reading list as long as mine is, it is increasingly challenging to justify spending too much of my time re-reading books.