Archive for December, 2011

Stories as Presents

The holidays are fast approaching, and it’s the time of year where you start to panic because you can’t seem to think of what your little brother might want, or what to get your friend who has everything (it turns out that not everyone like rum, no matter what the Landsquid thinks), or you wonder if it would be kissing-up if you make your boss brownies.

As a writer, you may think it’s a great idea to write stories for your presents.  In some cases, yes.  In others, no.  Let’s lay down some ground rules.

First of all, remember that it takes time to write a story.  Even a short story of a couple thousand words may take you at least a week to brainstorm, outline, write, edit, rewrite, and polish.  And then, depending on how you want to deliver it, you may need to format it, print it out, have it bound, etc.  Be realistic with the number you can get done.

Well, you may think, I’ll just write one story and give it to everyone.

Remember that your friends and families have different tastes.  For example, my mom loves scifi.  My sister is a romance kind of girl, and my dad reads historical fiction.  I’d be hard-pressed to write one story that appealed to all of them (although now I want to try…) and I bet the same is true of the people you know as well.

Additionally, if you write a story specifically for a person, then that person is touched.  You can tailor it to their tastes, perhaps use characters of yours that you know they like, and they’ll treasure it.  If you write a one-size fits all story and gift it to a number of people, it loses its charm.  It may even hint at laziness to its recipients, especially if they compare notes and find they all got the same thing.

Remember that some people don’t like to read (blasphemy, I know).  A story, personalized or no, is probably not going to be appreciated in that case.

That being said, a story can be a wonderful present.  If you have time and know someone will love it, go for it.

(Also, I make an exception if you’ve just had a book or short story published.  Give that baby away en masse.)

Speaking of wonderful presents, Turtleduck Press has recently released their first anthology, entitled Winter’s Night.  It’s full of wonderful winter and Christmas-themed stories and poems, and proceeds from the sales will go to UNICEF to hopefully make some poorer children’s holidays merry and bright.  Print copies are $4.99 and ebooks are only $.99.  It’ll make a good stocking stuffer for anyone who likes scifi/fantasy and it’s for a good cause.

Subgenre Study: Quest Fantasy

I would argue that this is not a subgenre, but apparently in some circles it is considered one, so here we are.  I would say that the Quest is a plot point, not a subgenre, but I suppose it is one of the most common plots in fantasy, and you could lump all quest stories together.

(By the way, I apologize for how late this post is.  I blame this excellent book I am reading.)

The Quest!  A fantasy staple.  Often, our Hero is just a normal person, minding their own business, when something happens that propels him/hero out on a journey, where there are puzzles to be solved, monsters to be slain, and, usually, love to be found and some evil to defeat.  It is also often associated with the Hero’s Journey, though perhaps in a more literal way than some.

Quests tend to be literal journeys, requiring their protagonists to trump about the countryside in order to succeed in their goals.  A lot of classical literature that has survived also tends to be quest-related, such as the Odyssey, or even the Bible’s Exodus.

Some well-known quest stories include The Lord of the Rings, the Percy Jackson series, the original Shannara trilogy, and Watership Down.

What’s your feeling on quest stories, Squiders?  Rambling stories where it takes too long to get to the point, or excellent tales where the characters grow and learn more about their world?  Any recommendations?