Wednesday, August 09, 2006

JED's Pitch from a Fantasy Generator

Link to the Original Story: Pitch from a Fantasy Generator - JED

So here's the randomly generated pitch: "A selfish dairymaid plays a prank on a band of wolves. The result is disaster." And, uh, well, that's exactly what I wrote. Straight up. Truthfully, I got seriously lucky. Truly truthfully, we did allow ourselves to scroll through several randomly generated pitches looking for a good one. So I ignored a lot of stuff about mermen and hidden kings, and fairy princesses, and uh, crap.

I decided right off the bat that I didn't want to write this as a fantasy story. I don't know why, but I often consider fantasy, and even SF, to be cop-outs. I know that many, many people will disagree, not least of all JP. I'm completely not saying that F/SF/H means crappy writing. Some of the absolute best writing come from these genres, and I myself read almost entirely these. What I guess I'm saying is that it's easy to make something half-way entertaining in F/SF/H and much harder to do when you chain yourself to some sort of reality. Anyone can write with a gimmick, but of course writing well with a gimmick is much harder. And since the point of the game is to challenge your limits, and I'm lazy, I often gravitate to non-speculative themes. It's hard but not too hard. And it sounds all literary-like. Of course, I did let myself drift into quasi-historical periodicity, so it's not like I'm really "writing what I know."

I do like this story, even though it's one of the most depressing that I've written. I like it for it's theme, and for the fact that it's fairly unflinching. I think the execution is a little bit lacking, well, more than a little. Some of the writing is sloppy and it could definitely use a good polish. Still, it's got something to say, an important and not entirely obvious theme, and often my work doesn't. Plus, it's definitely outside the bounds of my normal comfort zone.

However, I will concede that I'm once again dealing with a theme of selfishness, sin, remorse and repentance. It's weird sometimes, 'cause they don't start out that way, but I blink and there they go, slipping into maudlin-land. Very in-ter-est-ink....

I’ve said stories were JED’s best before, but that was before this one. I found this story extremely well put together, very complete, and amazingly powerful. The ending just sinks into you like a stone, perfectly evoking that horrible feeling of having done something wrong, something truly wrong, and never being able to take it back, no matter how sorry you are (or maybe this is just my petty, shallow past resurfacing in my petty, shallow present.) One thing that amazes me about this piece is how little dialogue there is. There’s virtually none. Generally, I consider dialogue a must in a story. But here, you don’t miss it.

I think one thing that really draws me to this story is the sense of harsh reality. It’s just very, very, real; cruelly real, in fact, and JED uses detail masterfully to really bring the setting to the reader. Ultimately, this just drives the point home so much more effectively. And what’s more amazing is that he looked at that randomly-generated plot, and saw this gem within it. Me, I stuck with wizards.

JP's Pitch from a Fantasy Generator

Link to Original Story: Pitch From a Fantasy Generator - JP

My random pitch: “A heartbroken wizard and a sailor search for a legendary beast in this tale of pandemonium.”

The pitch immediately struck me as something out of Peter S. Beagle, which could have had something to do with the fact that we watched The Last Unicorn the week before. Though I have sailed a small boat before, I really don’t know anything nautical, so I looked up most of the terms; I’m sure I used them incorrectly. This is really more of a scene from a much longer story rather than a story unto itself, and maybe one day, I’ll write the finished piece. I’m very fond of the characters, and the role of magic.




This story whets my appetite. It sharpens my literary hunger. I want to know more about these characters, about their quest, about their past, and about their world. JP you tease.

I think he's right on the money with the Peter S. Beagle comparison. It's fantasy with an emo touch. Visceral but simple. Possibly metaphorical, possibly allegorical. Lovely.

As always JP does a great job with characters. One of the fellow's strongest strengths (urg) is his ability to concisely introduce a layered character, to get you feeling like you know them and you want to know more. He reveals it in their descriptions, in their plotted actions, in their dialogue. I think it's what gives many of his stories their feel of originality and authenticity. Here two characters who could have easily been stereotyped cardboard cutouts come across as entirely 3D. Nicely done.

His descriptions are equally vivid, and the hinted plotline is immediately engrossing. There's no resolution, and no real arc to it, but it definitely gives you the feeling that something intriguing is waiting in the wings. Maybe if we all yell loud enough he'll give us some more one day (or Tinkerbell will come back from the dead, or an angel will get it's wings or something like that).