Rewriting to Greatness

Rewriting to Greatness

Dave Farland

Dave Farland

I previously wrote that I was taking an online writing class, Writing Mastery I, with Dave Farland, aka Dave Wolverton. I’m proud to say that this afternoon I turned in my last two assignments for that class and now await Dave’s feedback. I can say completing this class has been invaluable to improving my skills as a writer and I can’t thank Dave enough for his tutelage.

Now, I’m moving on in the next phase of my plan to prepare the first book of my Fantasy Series The Sphere Saga to submit seeking a publisher. I’m comfortable with Dave Farland, and have learned a great deal from him. I’m embarking on a higher level online class with Dave called Rewriting to Greatness which is geared toward teaching authors the ins and outs of editing and revising their own work. My goal is to revise my book (The Dream of the Sphere) to make it the very best it can be in order to secure a publishing contract. I’m confident that with Dave’s guidance I’ll be able to develop the professional skills that will help me launch a successful career as a professional writer.

Beginnings

Beginnings

It’s official, I have now submitted a book to a publisher. I searched Writer’s Market 2015 and found a publisher I felt was compatible for my Children’s book: Blacktooth’s Treasure Chest. I may very well never hear back, but that’s not the purpose of this exercise. I’m thrilled to have finally fought past the terror of submitting.

More importantly, in the process I discovered and was able to define for myself my “Brand” as a writer:

“My goal as an author is to create an engaging and fun body of work to sustain a generation through their life as readers of Fantasy: from intelligent chapter books to sprawling epics.”

What George Lucas provided me with Star Wars is what I want to accomplish. Might as well think big! Our children need stories and myths to grow by. Star Wars, Harry Potter, both captured the hearts and imagination of a generation. I seek to create a body of work that will engage a young reader and carry them through a lifetime of immersive fantasy.

Part of my ambition is to appease my own drive to create. Part is repayment of a debt for all the great stories I’ve enjoyed, lived by, and shared with my kids. I want to make stories that encourage people to dream and also allow people to escape. Most importantly, I want to make readers think.

Here’s to a small step on that journey…

The Importance of Epic Fantasy

 

The Importance of Epic Fantasy

I recently read an essay by author Stephen R. Donaldson about Epic Fantasy which was quite thought-provoking:  Stephen R. Donaldson: Epic Fantasy: Necessary Literature.

A few excerpts from that article, along with some of my own thoughts:

If we take it as given (I do) that the underlying purpose of literature is to shed light on the essential conundrums of being human (“Why are we here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “If it’s all meaningless, why do we care about anything?” “Why are we all so dissatisfied?” “Is there a God?” “Can there be a God?” “What is our relationship—if any—with the world in which we live?”), fantasy is the literature of the irrational, the transcendent, the spiritual. It is the literature that dares to confront those facets of being human that seem at odds—sometimes wildly at odds—with our mundane waking lives. And it’s vital.

Couldn’t agree more.  This is one of the primary reasons I have always been enthralled with reading fantasy literature.  For the same reasons, the important impact Fantasy can have on our youth is one of the main reasons I tend to write Fantasy, more so than anything else.

“Contemporary fantasy—even in its most cynical, post-modern guises—is the literature of reintegration because it both explores and accepts every dimension of what being human means, every natural language that humankind speaks (I mean both the language of critical intelligence and the language of magic and monsters, which can be seen as the language of religion). It expresses itself in both the language of alienation and the language of affirmation. That alone makes us more fully human, more fully ourselves, than we would be without it. It imagines possibilities for us that may seem incredible until they’ve been experienced.”

This passage in particular is important to me.  I’m fascinated with religion, spirituality, and faith, and themes centering around those things always bubble to the surface in my writing, intentional or not.  Donaldson is right on point.  Fantasy allows me as a writer to delve into those concepts deeper, giving perhaps less offense, and possibly even more insight than if I were writing straight fiction.  People avoid discussing politics and religion with friends and family at times for a reason.  Emotion gets in the way of such debates and prevents logical discussion and thought.

If modern fantasy and especially epic fantasy serve any function at all (I mean any function that we haven’t already seen beaten to death in our literature), it lies in the ability to dramatize—to demonstrate—reintegration. In a “nightmare world” ruled by “alienation and nausea, the quest for identity, and the comic doomsday vision,” what could be more necessary?

Fantasy and genre fiction in general allows us to tell stories that resonate back through our collective conscience.  I suppose fiction does that in general, but to me, fantasy allows for deeper immersion.  It’s much easier for me as a reader to become absorbed in the story, characters, and setting of a fantasy, than general fiction.  Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth analyzes it the best in my mind.  At our very core, we share an interconnectedness to other people and the strongest connections tend to be accomplished through our stories.  Be it, literature, song lyrics, movies, or television, through Story our bonds as human beings are formed from a very early age.  To my mind, fantasy forges the most powerful of those connections.

The success of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films and the surge of popularity for Hero tales over the last decade is a clear indicator that our society is in great need of epic fantasy.