Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Perspective

I was grateful that after reading a comment on writing short fiction that despite my awe of fave writer Kelly Link, I don't want to write like her. (That, and I don't have the writing chops she has.)

Still, it does reminds me of a realization I had about introducing the fantastic element in my stories. Someone once told me that she prefers to write the fantastic in her stories in such a plausible non-scientific way that it doesn't jar the reader's rhythm when the element comes out in the text.

Thinking about it, I like my fantastic to be in a slipstream-ish, out-of-this-world type (yes, despite andrew's rather funny take on this idea). However, my take on it is that I'd write about the fantastic element and then ground it in reality. Hence, the protagonist in "Walking Backwards" lives in a near-SF setting but deals with the sense-deadening life of an office worker. Or the doctor of "First Contact" comes across the out-of this-world even as he tries to come to terms with his own alienation in a paradise island. Even the horror-struck victim of "Insomnia" thinks that he's only just having a very bad year.

(My recent story, "Brigada", in a way does the same: it's set in a future where the oceans have risen to drown most of the low-lying areas. However, despite the presence of giant squids and flying ships, the nitty-gritty of trying to scavenge a life in such a situation is still present.)

Am I being pretentious? Why am even doing this? I don't know; I figure that I can't write the ethereal like Link or Theodora Goss, two of my favorite writers at the moment. So to make up for this, I set my story firmly on the mud and muck of life.

Now that I think about it, maybe that does explain why my stories sometimes veer towards the SF-side of the fantastic.

Just a thought.

(Later on, I realized that that's how life is, isn't it? Like viewing the bad with the good and the good with the bad. Or the stars with the grime and dust. Just sayin'.)


JP said...

But, Joey, Giant Squid are real! (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/09/0927_050927_giant_squid.html)! So are flying ships! (http://www.flyingclippers.com/)

The thing is, Link makes ithe weird erupt into the mundane in a way that is especially odd yet matter-of-fact in a strange way. What do you think? Look how the weird stuff in 'Stone Animals' is centered in a story of a typical, almost cliched, family adjusting to suburban life. Or how the weird artifact in 'The Fairy Handbag' is grounded in the story of a familial relationship, and a main narrator we can easily identify with. How is this different from what you've described as your approach of grounding the fanastic in reality?

banzai cat said...

hehe that's cool. :-)

on the other hand, am in no way trying to achieve link's caliber as a wordsmith. I always thought that she could merge quite effortlessly the mundane with the magical with nary a stitch showing. ;-)