On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fantasy and Literary Endings

Image hosted by Photobucket.comFirst, I'm sorry to say I don't recall who did this graphic for me. I think she belonged to Site Fights. Apologies.
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I've been thinking about this topic for a long time (since my editor wanted me to kill off various people in Echoes In The Dark). I've had conversations with editors, agents, readers, writers and am still stumped...or think that there are two diverging kinds of thought.

I think it depends on Fantasy vs. Dark Fantasy/More Realistic Fantasy. Or maybe the definition of Epic Fantasy (in my mind).

I am of the opinion that if characters suffer through terrible events and triumph they should be rewarded. Of course there is a cost, but there's a reward, too.

I know that there are other authors who will set up a sympathetic character for a thousand pages and then kill him/her off. That's not me. In fact, I'm not sure I could write a story like that, even if the character had to go. I didn't want the animal companion to go, either, and I softened the scene, then took the softness out because it was too syrupy (probably still too soft for many people).

There's no denying that real life can be very dark, and so can fantasy. But what happened to rewarding our characters? I don't get it, and I don't get why a book is more important if it is more "realistic"...less optimistic?

No one can say I totally write fluffy. I will point them to Heart Choice and Heart Quest. Those definitely had darker tones in the book. But my characters still made it through and triumphed and were rewarded.

I guess I'll just repeat that I don't get why happy endings are not acceptable in fantasy.

May you have all the happy endings you want.
Robin

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read for the imagination and fantasy. Doesn't make any sense to me to read something "real" .. there are newspapers for that and true crime books, biographies etc. and even those are not truly "real"!.
There are people who relish public executions, stop with glee at horrible accidents, love gory horror movies, books describing in minute detail torture...
They defend their liking by saying that one must be close to reality!... I new somebody that had Photo Albums of "road kill"...
... good to get away from this kind of people and reality.
Please don't let anyone to get you into the dark/sadistic side of things!

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A reader
Love the heart shaped bon-bon.

Have you seen the webside of J Kranzt? The Harmony part has celtic accents and they reminded me of your books too.

Your books are lovely and fun the way they are. Don't change! One cannot please everybothy and
everyone has to do their own thing!

Thanks

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all of my favourite authors have the happy ending. I don't mind reading about the trials and the tribulations that the characters have to go through, but, if I am going to be crying at the end of the book, it had better be tears of joy and laughter. I read for enjoyment, for fun, for escapism. As the first writer said, if I want to read about realism, I can pick up a newspaper or turn on the news.

Robin, you are the only author whose books I have read twice this year. That has never happened to me with any other author ever before. Whatever you are doing, keep on doing, because it is wonderful and right and fun and for me, very rewarding to pick up one of your books.

Tine

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope is a precious commodity. When I read a story, and start to empathize with the characters, I need to be able to hope that no matter how dark, it will work out ok, in some fashion (even if not the obvious). I think we all need a bit of hope these days - even the critics calling for "realism".

Wishing you the prosperity of Disney, and very much looking forward to buying your next book as soon as it becomes available!

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Carolyn said...

As the others said, if I want "real" all I have to do is pick up a newspaper. I read for enjoyment. There is too much real out there. I want to escape into a much happier place.

Since when did editors get the power to tel authors how to write? I thought editors checked for spelling, grammer, sentence structure, so forth. I've always heard if you can't write, be an editor. Obviously some editors have developed a "God-like" attitude. It is a shame that really good authros have to deal with that.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Silver Phoenix said...

I blame the realism movement of the '50s for perpetuating the "if someone doesn't die, it's not a good book" crap. Sometimes, even in real life, good things happen. People triumph, babies don't get thrown off cliffs, and the depressives don't get proof that they're right for having despair. And when you're not actually an alcoholic depressive, trying to write in that style (ie, killing people because that makes the book 'literary') makes it forced and badly done.

Then again, I was traumatized by reading Steinbeck during my formative years.

(Speaking of, just went to see the movie Happy Go Lucky this weekend, which dealt with this very issue. Strange movie, but it did make the point that our responses to the world do make our luck for us.)

11:55 AM  
Blogger Nancy J. Cohen said...

I am hoping you don't kill off any favorite characters. J.K. Rowling killed off a few people in her series, but it wasn't Hermione, Ron, or Harry, or other favorites like Hagrid. I would have been seriously disappointed if any of her main characters got bumped off. I, too, believe in happy endings and while a sense of jeopardy must seem real in fantasy fiction, secondary characters can take the hit but not the good guys we're rooting for, or the pets. For that reason, I don't read dark fantasy. I'd rather read fantasy with a romantic subplot and even some humor. You want dark...read the newspaper. By the way, wonderful world building, Robin.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

Thanks folks. I read for entertainment, too, and have no problem with being an author who writes to entertain. I know some people read for a good cry, but I don't get that...of course, I'm a sentimental person who can cry at commercials, so don't need too much catharsis otherwise.

I haven't seen J Kranzt's website, but since I'm goofing off this am, I'll head over. ;)

Tine, Thank you SO much, an awesome compliment that will definitely go in my files...yah, I do save some of the best.

Carolyn, if an editor thinks your book doesn't work they can refuse to buy it, this doesn't happen often. Actually my editor in this case is a very good editor, and when she said something didn't work for her, and still didn't work after I changed it twice, I went ahead and reworked the whole thing (it would have been the black moment of the romance between Jikata and Luthan, since the book wasn't a romance, I cut it back to the bone since I didn't have the time or space to do it right. So I do trust my editor and her instincts as to what makes a good story, whether she spots a wrong note or something that needs to be clearer or not so much. She also said everyone was jumping into bed too often (I had many allusions), so I cut down on that, too. She's trained to see problems in a work and to try and strengthen the work. She and I just disagreed on the amount of death...I did kill off an additional character I had planned on killing originally, then forgave, and two more besides...they, too, could have been built up more in the books...

Oh, well. It's all done, and I'll be looking forward to reader reaction, though I know I'll take some hits from folks who like their fantasy darker.

But the bottom line is that the series is done and I am moving on.

Robin

9:45 AM  
Anonymous trish said...

Hi..I just PM'd you a few minutes ago, but in my never-ending avoidance of housework, i meandered over here...(I'm not stalking or anything ;} )

I have written some FanFiction for another world ...the girls there call me the Queen of Angst...

Yikes!! I didn't do it for FUN, though! I had thought it through, carefully, and the way "I" could see to get the MAIN characters to grow, was through permanent change..and that comes, sadly, through death...I was careful however to provide the 'victim' a good role, a good life, and a true opportunity to help out his friends via his passing... It's all good, as it's not REAL!!!

7:47 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

Trish, I got your email and replied...and I understand if a character needs a death to grow. I think many of the coming of age stories are like that, a person's confrontation with their own mortality. I use mistakes, usually, mistakes that could be fatal, and are usually life changing...

Robin

4:53 PM  

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