Dear Paranormal Fiction (and you too, Urban Fantasy),
There is a place and time for your heroine to volley smart-ass remarks. There is a place and time for your hero to be an insufferable bastard. Everywhere else, please make your characters act like human beings (even if they aren’t).
View our other grumbles here.
Conversation from early yesterday:
theOtherCanary: I was just rereading my review of Alchemyst.
Is it a sign of sickness that the review made me want to read the second book just to find out if its as bad as the first?
And not just any review.
Your own NEGATIVE review.
theOtherCanary: I mean seriously? What does that say about me?
CanaryTheFirst: Meg, let me stage an intervention.
Your intervention will end with me reading it for your profit.
CanaryTheFirst: if you are inclined to read terrible books, let me switch out that one and switch in–
…you know me too well.
Five hours later, I get a text from Meg saying that the book in question had leaped across the expanse of teal carpeting, dodged a mystified reader, and dove into her bag at Barnes and Noble. As she explains, she has no option now but to read the poor, desperate thing.
Canaries, ever get jumped by a book?
Small Chirp: Select Pet Hates from the Fantasy and Paranormal Genres
When in doubt, make your character sigh.
In fact, make your characters sigh all the time! It adds depth to their already angsty personalities and highlights how tortured and put upon they are. It can also be used while daydreaming of that hawt actor look-alike across the room, to convey impatience with the police line that just won’t let the character ogle the corpse, or to express pure frustration when the villain, once again, slips out of a clever ambush. It can even convey boredom. It’s a very versatile act.
For an even better use of this elegant action, have your character (if female) fiddle around with the strands of her black-dyed hair as she stares about the bookstore sighing or (if male) glance broodingly around the coffee shop as he slumps in his seat with as sigh. Life is meaningless. This story is boring. The characters are deep.
What age difference? It’s true love!
Sure the human girl may be super mature for her tender age of 13 (or 20, or 30) but you have to wonder what a 100-year-old (or 500, or 10,000 depending on how far out we’re going) immortal sees in her. Continue reading
Let’s face it. If High Fantasy were a geographic location, it would be nestled on the bosom of Africa, or settled squarely on the permafrost of the Russian taiga. It would be any place where bright-robed women wander barefoot through the lion-ridden desert, and men in tall, fuzzy ear-hats wrestle bears every Tuesday–after a shot of vodka and a can of caviar, of course.
So I will start by saying that I understand that High Fantasy doesn’t have to play nice with our mundane reality. That’s part of the appeal. Still, any genre of fantasy must follow its own internal logic. And, if there is a lapse–such as the existence of 50-pound swords, or one of the characters running around with several limbs cut off–and it goes unexplained, I will assume that it’s either really, really cool, or the writer is a muttonhead.
There are, however, more subtle crimes against reality. In The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, they come in the misleadingly curvacious shape of glass bottles.