Friday, March 19, 2010

WRITERS: Can Fantasy turn into Farce? Toot Your Horn Friday!

As you know, my debut novel is an animal fantasy about rats. For the most part, my rats have kept their rattiness, but Nightshade City rats are very special creatures.  They have super intelligence and a lifespan parallel to humans, not the 3-4 years a normal rat lives, they're quite strong and sizeable compared to your typical rat, not to mention--they talk! There are reasons behind these humanlike qualities my brilliant rats' posses, but you'll have to wait to find out what they are!

So, my question to you is, can a fantasy novel go too far? When does a fantasy novel become, well, too fantastic? When does a book become so far-fetched even though you know it's a made up world or creature or a combination of the both, that the fantasy turns into farce? Can even a well written story fumble if the fantasy aspect it too extreme or does a well written story trump all?

Hit me!

xoxo -- Hilary

30 comments:

  1. Anonymous3/19/2010

    I thought the book, Alice in Wonderland, got a little too out strange for me, with the fantasy aspect. So much so, it got in the way of the story for me, though it's a classic, so what do I know? I did like it, but in places it was a little too much.

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  2. Sarah Schultz3/19/2010

    I think as long as the fantasy does not get in the way of the plot, it's okay to go to the extreme. After all, that's why they call it fantasy and not real life! :)

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  3. I've read a lot of fantasy over the years, and enjoyed most of it. I'm pretty willing to suspend my disbelief - until the author lets me down through illogical actions. The world has to have its own internal logic. If the author suddenly changes the rules of the world part way through - I'm out.

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  4. For me it's all about plausibility, which is why I don't normally read animal fantasies. If it's too hard for me to suspend disbelief, the book just takes on a contrived feel. That's where gritty realism comes in for me... if people's interactions feel real, then things are plausible. I'm not knocking animal fantasy, mind you, it's just not usually what I jump into head-first. I love fantasy purely because of it's "not realistic" qualities, so for me an adventure is an adventure no matter what shape the main character takes.

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  5. No matter the story, or where it takes place, it has to have rules. If characters act outside of the rules of that story it becomes unbeliveable. An author can also lose their readers if a character extends his/her rules to avert danger or pull themself out of a sticky situation.

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  6. Jemi, that's a really great point I never thought of...when the author changes the rules of the fantasy world, very insightful!

    T.D.! Awh, you break my heart! You are telling me super intelligent rats that talk are implausible? *sniff* In any case, I hope you give my rats a chance! :)

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  7. Shain,

    Both you and Jemi have mentioned "rules" in terms of fantasy novels! I'm so glad you did! It never crossed my mind when I wrote this post, but it makes such good sense! Just because it's fantasy does not mean anything goes!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  8. Well written is the key. Things have to logically make sense and follow the rules.

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  9. Lotus,

    I totally agree. The fantasy world the author creates needs to stay true throughout the book. There is nothing more disappointing then when you adore a well written, well plotted story and it takes a nosedive in one form or another.

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  10. It's important not to stretch the suspension of disbelief so far that it breaks, but where is that point? I think it depends on how good the writer is at creating the world. There have to be "rules" within the fantasy world that hold up for that world, in my opinion. I think your book sounds terrific, by the way.

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  11. Angie! First of all, going by the last sentence in your post, you are my new favorite person!!! :)

    I think you bring up a great question, where is the point that you stretch the suspension of disbelief too far that it breaks? What is the extreme in fantasy, wherein it borders on ridiculous? I wish I could answer that myself!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  12. For me, Alice in Wonderland. I never got to finish that book. I still haven't seen the movie. I know as a kid I read it up to a point that I got scared.

    And yeah, probably your book as well lol. I mean, intelligent rats? Man, rats are intelligent and scary as it is!

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  13. Glen, ha! You WILL love my rats! You will love them so much, you'll by a pet one for your very own! They do make great pets, by the way.

    Now, as for Alice in Wonderland, that's a whole other post entirely!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  14. I think it's been said, but as long as there is internal consistency, then the concept can go as far as it wants (well, as far as the writer wants to take it, that is). I think the most "out there" thing I've encountered was Jonathan Carroll's Bones of the Moon. Granted, it's not WILD fantasy, but it did catch my hmmmm-not-so-sure-I'm-buying-it-even-though-it's-fantasy-o-meter. Just sayin'n. ;)

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  15. LB,

    Anyone who puts o-meter at the end of a sentence is speaking my language! I suppose every reader has their "I'm not buying" meter. Seriously not sure what mine is yet! I mean I write about rats and dead people!:)

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  16. I love fantasy, and animals, so I'll be giving the book a go. I've seen a few rats large enough to believe they could talk :-)

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  17. Eliza! You are a darling! Yes, I've seen some rather big fellas myself!!! They look more like cats than rats!!!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  18. I can't stand rats. I have a serious phobia of them. I see one and imagine it wants to sink it's teeth into my jugular. Fortunately I live in rat free Alberta (Canada).

    But this one is adorable! Almost makes me want one.

    I haven't read any fantasies that I felt were over the top. Maybe I haven't read the right ones yet!

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  19. Stina! Little did you know this is a mesmerizing blog, slowly turning you into a great lover of rats! Within one year you will own a rat. You will love him very much. You will call him Albert. Just saying.. ;) Ha, ha!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  20. Anonymous3/19/2010

    I think as long as it well written and you don't lose sight of the plot or the rules, anything can go! It's fantasy made up in our minds and for many of us, that's a very crazy place!

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  21. The beauty of fantasy and fiction is that the whole thing is made up. However, Mark Twain said it best. "Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't."

    I take it to mean that whatever you can imagine is possible is fair game. But the story needs to stay consistent. If rats can live as long as humans and play a mean guitar, that's cool. And if, as it goes along, you've convinced us how civil and awesome they are, the reader has built up a level of trust and belief about this world. So don't go having them turn into zombies and eating each other, lest you violate that trust.

    Great post!

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  22. This is a very interesting post! I've never really thought about this before. I'm a huge sci/fi and fantasy fan, so I can take a lot of what is considered "weird" by most people. But when an author builds up a world, establishes rules, then all of a sudden starts to rely on coincidences to keep the plot moving, then I lose interest.

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  23. It all goes back to world building. I took an online workshop with Karina Fabian and she brought up the fact that when you add an element, like a second moon, to your story, you must think about how that effects other things in the world, such as the tides and the werewolves. Everything in the fantasy world must work together or it's just a random mess.
    BTW- Talking rats are brilliant! :)

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  24. Got strong characters? If so, do whatever you want.

    I read a lot of Bizarro fiction, where there may not be any rules. It may be raining machine-gun toting frogs, who all get eating by carnivorous vegan apples that all end up dying of dysentery because of a magnolia shortage, but if I care about the characters, I'll keep reading.

    For me, fantasy fails when the author is too focused on the setting, and you end up with an amazing, totally unique world, but a bunch of stock characters.

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  25. Hey, I'll give your rats a chance if you crack open The Ninth Avatar (kidding, I was planning on reading your book anyway).

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  26. i never finished the Twilight series. I know its paranormal, but v. similar

    Meyer broke her own set of rules for her vampire world. It made me very, very sad.

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  27. I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with the awesome Patti Gauch...She said all fiction is based on tidbits of facts. It's really true, you have to have a believable aspect to fantasy or the reader won't be able to relate. Although your book is a fantasy about rats, they hold characteristics that are totally believable.

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  28. Hey Jay! I promise, no zombie rats! :)

    Melissa, I totally agree! Too many coincidences' is well, a little too coincidental!

    Amanda, Oh thank you! My rats are quite clever and not too messy (the nice ones anyway)!

    Chris, Great point! My favorite part of writing is character building. Without great characters, what's the point of a super cool fantasy world?

    T.D., My rats are happily waiting! :)

    Seeyouupside, I've never read the Twilight series. That would make me sad too. I just saw the first movie this weekend and loved it! It really made me want to read the books. :(

    Thanks Sharon! I agree with Patti. There always needs to be a believable aspect, at least initially. Something the reader can connect to.

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  29. i don't think you can go to far in fantasy. As long as your readers don't have to suspend disbelief in the milieau.

    every time i see these ratty pictures, it makes me miss my own ratties all the more.

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  30. (((((Falen))))) Major hugs on missing your little ones.

    xoxo -- Hilary

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