Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Great articles —

Here’s one on writing evocative description in order to build a you-are-there feeling and pull the reader into your story.

And here’s another on violence and what it takes to make an explicit, violent scene work — here’s the part I really like:

Here’s a final reason [to write such a scene]:

9. A writer depicts violence because it provides the platform and stimulus for higher ideals to address it. Those things might include actions involving sacrifice, forgiveness, love, justice, determination, survival, hope, gratitude or redemption.

This last point invites us to strive for loftier goals than simply pointing out that ‘life is hell and then you die’.

That’s me! I don’t mind explicit violence in a book — usually — if it works this way. Whereas shocking, horrible violence for the sake of being shocking and horrible really makes a book a tough read for me, which is why I strongly prefer, say, Brent Weeks’ THE BLACK PRISM to his earlier Night Angel trilogy — because the former takes the horribleness back a notch or two.

And I really liked this post, by Kate Elliot, about re-reading stories and the narrative experience.

And you know where I got all these links?

HERE.

And there are plenty more where those came from!

Bibliophile Stalker is my new go-to site for links to all kinds of great writing-related posts. Especially great because he separates the interviews (which I almost never care about) from all the other articles (which are frequently interesting).

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1 Comment Great articles —

  1. Elaine t

    FWIW, the first article, on description didn’t sound like anything I’ve particularly noticed working for me. Part of it comes down to ‘different strokes’ and part to the telling detail, and picking the right telling detail to work for many readers, as Rowling did.
    What I have noticed in my reading is that I tend to really really like writers who are also visual artists: Dunnett, Sutcliff, Wurts (altho I sometimes wonder why I like that last one). Yet when I notice description as particularly good it’s often of sound. I seem to be an aural person, I don’t see people when I think of them, I hear their voices, so that last bit – what I notice – makes sense. Why I gravitate to writer/painters I have no clue.

    The violence article had me thinking about writer who’ve written violence, especially Nicky Brown(e?) and especially her Warriors trilogy. She used it originally as a way of showing both what a different place her characters were in (it is portal fantasy – 2 modern British teens get sent to an alternate Romans conquering Britain history) and also as a way of showing one main character’s hidden anger. How they both deal with shocking violence, grow and are changed and bonded is a large part (I think) of what I like about the books.

    Then there’s the memory of a Usenet conversation wherein someone who might have been Lois McMaster Bujold (but I haven’t tried to find the archive so don’t quote me) talked about a book with a ‘firehose rape scene.’ That speaker had gotten so far in the book and had to put it down because the FHRS was so shocking and in her opinion as a reader, out of kilter with the rest of the book. It was ratcheted up to the highest level and detracted mightily besides being seriously offputting. Others chimed in and said it fit perfectly and didn’t bother them at all. In fact it showed certain important things about the characters. Readers mileage, it does vary A LOT. It’s hard to say what is objectively good. My tastes run like yours to the violence needing a purpose besides showing awfulness, preferably an eventual positive purpose.

    And Kate Elliott’s essay was wonderful at pointing out elements of rereading that I’d never considered. Thank you for linking to it, as I’d not have found it otherwise. i reread all the time- that’s why I buy books.

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