Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Keeping it Real in a Writing World of Fantasy, Vampires and Steampunk

Twitter is great. I’ve learned so much about so many things from so many people. Ever changing trends, topics and discussions and have opened my eyes to worlds of information I’d never given much thought to.

After years of writing locked away in a private office, I jumped on the Twitter wagon two years ago and was immediately shocked and humbled by the astronomical number of writers trying to break through, just as I was.

Never before had I been exposed to so much hot off the press fiction. It was like having my finger on the pulse of the literary community. Twitter enables me to be part of the greater literary discussion, to voice my opinion on character development or ask formatting questions and get an immediate response.

All this from my private office where I’d worked for years, head down and fingers flying, oblivious to anything and everything that was not making its way into my manuscript.

But all that has changed. Now, it is not so easy to have tunnel vision. Every time I’m on Twitter, I get an eyeful of what my fellow writers are working on or have published.

Turns out, there’s a whole lot of fantasy writing a’going on. In fact, a buttload.

I’ve been introduced to an endless variety of vamps and werewolves and other worldly beings all living out God knows what kinds of lives in the literary universe. These fantastical beings have day jobs and lovers and join the PTA. They go grocery shopping, curse and spit and have explosive gas, for all I know.

Then there’s this whole thing called Steampunk which I had been woefully unaware of. A veritable hodgepodge of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s (thanks Wikipedia).

Coming out of my private office and into the Twitterverse, I have been truly astounded at the creativity and ground breaking work being developed.

This has caused me to look at my own body of writing from a different perspective. How do my novels and stories fit in this fantastical literary menagerie? How creative have I been in my world creation and character development? How much glitter did I employ?

From this fresh vantage point, I’ve realized my work is mired in realism. My characters do not have any supernatural abilities. They do live in the underworld, heaven, space, or other dimensions. They do not crossbreed with other fictional species. They do not have immortal battles.

Does this mean my characters and their struggles are any less formidable than those found in Fantasy or Steampunk? Does this mean their battles are not as grand or sensational?

The answer to these questions is NO. If anything, their battles may be more significant due to their realism.

My characters greatest battles are fought within themselves. They need saving, and saving bad. Laid flat by life and events beyond their control, or brought to their knees by their own whiskey bent and hell bound natures, my characters can’t take another step forward. Can’t stand on their two feet and face another day. Can’t turn to another living soul for help, because they haven’t just burned their bridges, they demolished them in a raging fury.

Demons and monsters are battled in my writing. But these are the ones within my characters, the one within all of us. Finding the strength and courage and will to face what is inside is about as fantastical as my stories get.

Ultimately, the fight for salvation is the greatest battle my characters fight. It is this battle to save oneself that always surfaces in my writing.

Sounds pretty boring next to all those vampires and werewolves and wizards and steampunks.

And yet, I find the internal life is as dark and deceptive and dangerous as any fantasy world. Maybe more so, because it is real.


Chris said...

Hooray for keeping it real! There's already way too much of that other stuff out there. Haven't visited your blog in far too long (sorry!) but I'm glad I'm here now. Going to look around some more...

Laura W. said...

Paranormal is kind of like...softcore fantasy. :P Not that it's not fun to read and all, but...

There's plenty of contemporary being written as well. I think the paranormal angle probably gets more attention because it's "in." It also depends on which communities and sub-communities of writers you follow.

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