I don't disagree that prose should be developed; I think it's a very important part of writing and should be able to convey the kind of cinematography you were talking about. I just disagree that it should be so differentiated that a work must clearly be "fantasy" by anyone who opens the book to a middle chapter to take a glance.
It first appeared on LiveJournal in May, I have had requests for this material since; but the first few parts of the series are, in my maturer judgement, sadly inadequate, for I only gradually relaxed and began to speak my mind at full length as I went on.
Here it is, updated, extended, and I hope brought into better harmony with the whole. Prose style is an endless source trouble for writers in the imaginative genres, and fantasy above all.
There is always the temptation to write in an entirely modern, journalistic style. Such a style is like an Interstate highway in America: Such styles and such roads are good for getting to your destination in a hurry.
But experienced tourists, and experienced readers, find it more fun to take the scenic route. If you are a writer of some ambition, then, you will try to build a scenic route with your prose. It has every virtue, alas, except that of being in print.
If not, you and I will have to worry along together the best we can. As Le Guin says, what you want in imaginative writing, and in fantasy particularly, is distancing from the ordinary.
The scenic route had better show the reader some scenery that she will not see in her daily commute. In fantasy, part of this effect is inherent in the subject-matter. A story about dragons is not likely to be mistaken for the morning newspaper. But if you want to achieve the best effects, if you really want to sweep the reader off her feet and carry her into your imagined world, you need a style to match the substance.
You will want to describe your freshly imagined world with fresh and imaginative language, or else you may put your reader to sleep with the very story that is meant to awaken her sense of wonder.
How, then, do you build a scenic route out of words?
It is an easy trick to come up with a stilted and unnatural way of telling a story; and all you will achieve by it is to sound stilted and unnatural. The real trick is to come up with a style that is not quite like ordinary language: The same technique has often been used to portray other countries and cultures in the real world; particularly, to give the flavour of a foreign language, with its own set of idioms and cultural assumptions, without actually writing in a foreign language.
Ernest Hemingway was an early master of this technique, but also an early failure; oddly enough, his failures came after his successes.
Unfortunately, he soon degenerated into self-parody. He also makes much use of Spanish idioms translated word for word, no import how unnaturally the sentence puts itself in consequence.
Quakers in Spain, forsooth! There are words in Spanish for people who do this kind of thing, and we do not have such words in English, but I will not instruct you in obscenity by repeating them here. The effect of all this is to persuade you that the book you are reading was written by an idiot savant who is intimately acquainted with foreign idioms, but does not know how to form English contractions.
There is a place for this technique, but not much of one. A little goes a long way. Tolkien skirted the bounds with his gobbets of undigested Elvish, but at least his Elves, when speaking English, spoke English a peculiarly archaic and cadenced English, which suited them, and sorted well with the things they had to say and not a tortured attempt at Elf-glish.
A variation on this is the faux archaism one finds all too often in fantasy. Two twentieth-century fantasy writers did this perfectly: Eddison and Lord Dunsany.
But the butchered version of the line became instantly famous, and still gets a knowing snigger from fantasy fans, and from people who think they are film buffs. Unlike Tony Curtis, you might actually deserve it. Just take a completely modern, colloquial, slovenly speaking style, and do a global search-and-replace to swap in three or four archaic-sounding words.
In this case, it wastes words, and it does nothing to convey the idea that Mandorallen comes from a different culture. If you are going to make people talk strangely in a book, whether they are Spaniards in For Whom the Bell Tolls or Arendish knights in a cheapjack epic fantasy, there ought to be a cultural reason for them to do it.
The cultural value of archaic English was described admirably by J. Mandorallen has the slack and frivolous modern idiom, with just enough archaic words sprinkled in to make it ludicrous.Title: From Elfland to Poughkeepsie You are not logged in.
If you create a free account and sign in, you will be able to customize what is displayed. Ursula K. LeGuin taught us all how to make science fiction and fantasy as real as our own lives, with characters we love like friends; and her essay "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" transformed my attitude toward the language of fantasy.
This is an idea instilled in me very young, when I read Ursula Le Guin’s landmark essay, “From Elfland to Poughkeepsie.” Another focus of my work is character.
While these books are filled with enchantments, djinn, political intrigue, and battles, it all comes back to the human heart. In "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" Ursula K.
Le Guin described Book of the Three Dragons as "a singularly fine example of the recreation of a work magnificent in its own right (the Mabinogion) -- a literary event rather rare except in fantasy, where its frequency is perhaps proof, if one were needed, of the ever-renewed vitality of myth.".
- From Elfland to Poughkeepsie Uploaded by ALaquesis Ursula K. Le Guin's essay "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" (), in which she discusses the importance of style in Fantasy stories. In her essay “From Elfland to Poughkeepsie” Ursula K.
Le Guin calls Lord Dunsany “the First Terrible Fate that Awaiteth Unwary Beginners in Fantasy” – specifically because his mastery of voice and style is so inimitable and so frequently imitated.