Here’s a post title that caught my eye: The Trouble With Most High Fantasy Dialogue Is That It’s Terrible
I recoiled at once.
I mean, “most” is a pretty strong term. So is “terrible.” Wait, is this the sort of person who’s going to declare right off the bat that Tolkien was a terrible writer? If not that, then WAIT, is this the sort of person who thinks The Sword of Shannara is representative of high fantasy?
If not that, then what in the world?
Before reading the linked post, I instantly paused to think of (many) counterexamples. High fantasy, let me see:
a) Everything by Guy Gavriel Kay. Dialogue: terrible? No. That claim is not even vaguely sensible.
b) Everything by Jacqueline Carey. Okay, everything except her UF series. Everything else she’s written falls into high fantasy. Dialogue terrible/not terrible? Obviously her dialogue is not terrible. These are beautifully written novels.
c) Everything by Juliet Marillier. Dialogue terrible/not terrible? Emphatically not terrible.
What in heaven’s name could the author of this post possibly have in mind?
“I know this [gun],” my player character intoned weightily. “How came it here?”
How came it here. Really? What a terrible way to ask that question. Now I don’t even care how the gun got here. I care about how our language got here.
It’s a line from a GAME. It’s not even from a MOVIE, far less a NOVEL. We’re going to start THERE and indict the whole subgenre of high fantasy? We’re going to go from that to “MOST high fantasy dialogue is terrible”?
Oh, yes, here’s the anti-Tolkien comment.
The Lord of the Rings is an epic, deliberately written to showcase the history, culture, and language of its fictitious peoples. Its characters rarely just talk; they proclaim.
Actually, to be fair, I’m not sure this is meant as a critique of Tolkien’s writing. Maybe the author of this post is slapping down other writers who take a stab at aping Tolkien’s style, but can’t quite pull it off. I will just point out that if I can’t quite tell what the author of the linked post means here, maybe their very own language might benefit from a little more attention to precision of meaning.
This person IS making a good point. They’re just using an appallingly over-broad title to make their very limited point:
Using a hundred lengthy words in the place of five simple ones doesn’t make a speaker sound smarter. And using badly mangled vaguely medievalesque language doesn’t make a game sound smarter. There is an art to dialogue, in any kind of game but especially in an RPG.
Fine, that’s reasonable. Here is a title you might have used for this post:
“Badly mangled vaguely medievalesque language doesn’t add anything great to RPGs.”
Or a zillion other titles that would actually be relevant to the point you’re making.