Damn, that's good. And I got to see 'em again at WFC, which was also very nice.
WFC panels, Saturday morning, 11/4/06, 10:00 am
['PM' is 'parenthetical me', my own glosses on the comments.]
Rules of Fantasy: Says Who and Why?
Robin Hobb: Any rule can be broken, if you can make it work.
Glen Cook: I just try to write stories people will want to read.
Tim Powers: Agree.
Tom Doherty: The rules of art differ from the rules of commerce. Anne McCaffrey's early Pern books were written under the influence of John W. Campbell, and are strongly science fiction flavored. Her later books in the same series were written for different markets and editors, and are closer to fantasy.
Kate Elliott: A hundred years ago, and a thousand years ago, the depiction of dragons was entirely different. Today's dragons may be friendly, and do not necessarily hoard gold, which is quite unlike the dragon of Beowulf.
RH: The same goes for unicorns and vampires. Frightening and evil creatures become sexy. Sadly, often the *reasons* for 'rules' regarding fantasy creatures are being lost. For example, it is largely forgotten that vampires not being able to see themselves in mirrors has nothing to do with the idea of reflection: it is because mirrors are made of silver plated on glass, and silver is a noble metal. A vampire would be able see itself in an aluminum mirror, or a pool of water.
GC: Fantasy in a medieval setting should have medieval rules. Women, for example, should behave as women really did in medieval times. No women swinging broadswords, either. [PM: this did not go down well with the largely female audience.]
TP: Modern political messages (e.g., against sexism, Iraq war allegories) in a medieval setting are an instant turn-off. "I like to think that nothing I've ever written has anything to say."
GC: Listen to reader feedback, but be cautious about following it. People who tell you what you should write are not the ones you should be listening to. GC once met a person who had bought 18 of his novels, and was able tell GC in detail what was wrong with each of them. If you think there's so much wrong with them, why did you keep buying them...?!
TP: Mentions Joseph Campbell's concept of the stages of the Hero's Journey.
KE: Prefers Vladimir Propp's "Morphology of the Folk Tale" to Campbell.
TD: By the time a particular style of storytelling is fashionable, it's probably overdone and should be abandoned. E.g., the heroic quest against the Dark Lord. However, the public still likes happy endings, and likes Good to oppose Evil.
TP & GC: Writers tend to tell the same stories about the same characters over and over. "Eventually [writers] just fade away."
RH: Found a website discussing 'recurrent themes in Robin Hobb's work'. It was painful for her to read.
TP: Was once told that his books always ended with the characters getting into a ship and sailing away. "I looked, and goddamn, they did. So I had to do something else."
RH: Writers have questions instead of answers. Each book is an attempt to answer our inner questions.
TP: It is not satisfying if the bad guys are only killed at the end. They must be humiliated, despised, reviled, *then* killed. In fact, once you have humiliated, despised, and reviled them, you may not even need to kill them.
GC: I don't see much difference between good guys and bad guys, it depends on where you're standing. During the course of the novel, the reader should come to understand the bad guys.
RH: There is one absolute rule: the events of the story must produce change of some sort. The story cannot end with things coming back to the state they were at its beginning. [PM: the opposite is true of series TV shows, in which the cast must, by each episode's end, return to the status quo ante, so as to be ready for the next week's episode.]
TD: [Apparently disagreeing (gently) with GC] Fantasy with the broadest reach has a genuinely evil character, who is opposed, and perhaps killed.
RH: Keeps a glossary of proper names, each one being entered the first time it comes up, with a notation of where in the narrative the person/place/thing was first named (*not* by page number, because that can change). Keeps chapters about the same length throughout a work. Keeps a time line of events in the story. Keeps track of how magic works and what its limitations are.
GC: Keeps similar lists. It helps that he has an obsessive fan who keeps an encyclopedia of his work and mails it to him once a year. With detailed plots for novels he wants GC to write. [PM: Uh. If I had a fan like that, I think I would keep a .38 around the house, in case the 'obsessive fan' decides to do a Mark David Chapman on me.]
WFC panels, Saturday morning, 11/4/06 11:00 am
Horror, Dark Fantasy, and Other Fictions That Go Bump in the Night
[The recent death of Charles Grant was on the minds of the panel participants; his name came up frequently.]
Stephen Jones: Reading is dying, but horror is healthy.
Nancy Holder: 'Urban noir' is a current trend.
Ann Kennedy: Horror is a universal language.
SJ: Complains about the emasculation of vampires. "Horror has become Disney-fied." Complains about 'soft horror'.
NH: Charles Grant complained that parody of horror weakened it. E.g., "Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy."
Recent fiction recommended by panelists: Stuff by Joe Hill [PM: serendipitously, 24 hours later Kelly Link gave me a copy of Joe Hill's recent hard-to-find collection, 20th Century Ghosts. Yay!], Dan Simmons' upcoming The Terror, Conrad Williams' The Unblemished, Glen Hirshberg, Lisa Tuttle, Lucius Shepherd, Albert E. Cowdrey, Don Tumasonis, Darren Speegle.
[The transcript is short because the panel didn't say that much specific. Much of what was said was vague generalities. Vague, disturbing, sinister generalities that the mind recoiled from understanding, that filled the room with a poisonous, brooding presence. I was lucky to escape to have lunch with anaparenna, where I drank myself unconscious and tried to forget the entire experience, with a great deal of success.]
meaning: mud, adhere to
拘泥 == koudei == (noun that can take する to act as a verb) adherence to, being a stickler
'Somewhat obscure' etymology. Left radical is a radical form of 'water', which in this character means 'river'. Right radical is 'nun' (尼). Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Nun in muddy water.'