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Give me a hero worth cheering for…

I love fantasy morality tales written by such authors as Terry Goodkind, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien. They give me someone to cheer for and I love the gritty reality portrayed in Conn Iggulden, Steven Pressfield, and Michael Curtis Ford. They write books that make me think of people battling the cold survival of the fittest ethos in the ancient world.

     When I began to discover my writer’s voice, I felt it is most like the prior mentioned authors in purpose, that I ultimately offer hope against stark realities.

     Although I enjoy and admire George R. R. Martin’s talent, his towering saga, A Song of Ice and Fire, is too grim for my taste. My writing is about truth existing in spite of our postmodern celestial chaos. Martin’s point, in his current saga, seems to be how hopelessly awful humankind is. Humanity is not perfect indeed. The man can definitely spin a yarn but I found no one I wanted to cheer for in the series, so I dropped it near the end of the Clash of Kings.

     We need criticism and self-analysis, true. But I think we want virtuous heroes, too. I venture to say we might be tired of the irony in the anti-hero, it’s becoming cliché, and the tough hottie chick (think the movie SALT) in nearly every action movie these days—a skinny little woman destroying huge muscled guards with a judo chop that would have broken her hand. I roll my eyes. I’m not saying a woman can’t be heroic nor am I saying we need a new Conan but I’m sick of applying our political correctness to stories, and making heroes out of vegetarian Vikings and also the dark fatalism I see in many fantasy tales. A lot of storytelling seems to celebrate going with the flow of chaos that one cannot swim against, thus blow something up to feel significant.

     I saw the same thing creeping into my characters early on. Like many new writers, at first, I made the protagonist completely virtuous and the antagonist completely evil. That was a long time ago. I think many writers overcorrect this initial inclination and make their protagonist too flawed, to the point of debauchery being a virtue, and then protest that it’s reality. I saw it this weekend in the Russell Crowe movie The Last Three Days. The story just kept making Crowe’s character more and more flawed, until I thought, the dude’s just an idiot, I’m losing my admiration of him. The writer and director even leave in a loose end (and never resolve it) just so you think he has lost his mind. I just didn’t care near the end. There was some slight resolution to the lose end, but it never got entirely resolved. I think it was on purpose but it was more frustrating that intriguing. The old Si-fi movie, The Time Machine has bit of a loose end. What three books did the protagonist take back to the future that the other characters discovered missing from his library? It’s never answered but you sit and wonder what books would you take to a deserted island. It’s fun to think about. I don’t know if the lack of resolution was intended to be cheap intrigue in the Crowe movie, or if it was incompetence of the modern story teller.

     I know a self-published author of an urban fantasy. Before she published, I asked what’s it about, what’s the message? She said it doesn’t have to have a message. You haven’t heard of her.

     I’m having a very hard time. Not lacking drive at all… I’m Frodo and Sam on the precipice of Mordor or the Neanderthals questing for fire. Be done by mid-summer (or earlier), that is my goal. But so many vines grow out of an epic 200 thousand word story that need trimming and on top of that weeding. The garden I’ve raised is a labyrinth. I think this where a lot of writers give up or they continued half-hearted just say they finished. I will strive against this inclination.

     I see myself as that guy spinning twelve saucers, swallowing swords, and blowing flames from his mouth. I have energy, that is not the problem. My engine is reved up. I’m in gear but I don’t know where to start. Every day I open up the folder and stare at the hugeness, the epic-ness, the wonderful opportunities.

     And, It never ceases to surprise me, the things that can distract a writer. The creative flame is like a candle. It’s able to start a raging fire or it be blown out by a mere puff of air. There is no magic formula. Just write. That’s it. That’s the ‘magic’.

     Sorry, I’ve rambled. A blog entry this long practically insures no comments.

     Fresh horses for the men, for “tonight we ride”!

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