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[personal profile] dotsandlines

The layout of the story I'm working on is something like:
a) Bunch of kids go to school together (up to age 20)
b) What happens to them afterward, separately (age 20-30ish)

I'd found myself writing B faster, while assuming that A was the important, interesting part. Harry Potter aside, since it's covered all the territory in the "magic academy" vein forever - who cares about a bunch of old people in the fantasy genre? Gandalf was never the hero of the story. It's all about farm boys coming of age and discovering that they were secretly heirs to the throne.

In the part B story, the characters worry about career paths and custody and budgets and such - all fictionalized, of course, to the effect that one's career paths might include "paladin" and "the basement flooded" is about equivalent to "held up by highwaymen". But story B is, at its heart, fantasy-wrapped chick lit. One of the core plots is about the narrator deciding whether to take over the family business, and the alternative is also prosaic. It's like "do I take over the family business or become an accountant", not "do I take over the family business or become an evil overlord".

But my impetus in writing in the first place is messing around with human questions and tendencies. Ex. hanging on too long to unwise decisions. Resisting advice because it makes you look bad. Deciding what defines you. - And I built a fantasy world that would serve as my arena, with some of the particular friction spots wiped out to see what would happen, and because I am sick of dealing with them in real life. (What does it mean to be fairly close to gender parity? That led to a domino effect through other areas of the story, even if the most visible effect is that some of the sword-carrying grunts are lady grunts.)

A lot of that is popcorn sociology, sure, but my point is - my interest lies in "old" people, not farm boys coming of age. I don't think there's any shortage of readers and writers on the farm-boy-secret-heir side. They are just peachy without me. But even knowing that this makes my stories unreadable, I'd rather aim toward Ursula K. LeGuin's star than Robert Jordan's. No offense. (UKLG's stories are readable and awesome, but I am not UKLG. all.)

I knew that all along! Yet I felt as though I "should" be writing about younger concerns, more ~exciting~ concerns, because that's what people care about, even in ostensibly grownup novels in this genre. It's all that people care about in life in general. It's all drudgery after college until you have kids, and then your kids are the ones with the worthwhile lives, because they're young; you're just there to back them up. And so in fantasy, you sally forth at 16 or 22 and either become the true king or die in the attempt. Because nothing else matters. Freaking Joseph Campbell.

Maybe I'm just being genre-ist. And/or I watch too much anime, which is laser focused on age 14 to an extent I've never seen in any other genre. And/or I'm just being a grump. I'm writing fantasy-flavored chick lit. Hooray!

I felt freed by this whole open-reading move. Last night I thought, " let someone read something that I wrote, and I didn't die."* I feel freed by admitting the genre bit, too.

* I realize that I spent pretty much all of my time in 1997-c.2004 begging people to read things I'd written. I hadn't written a word of publicly posted fiction from c.2004 through last Sunday night. I got anxious again.
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dotsandlines: The constellation Orion (Default)

February 2014

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