Lloyd Alexander’s rules for writing fantasy

Horn Book just posted some old essays which everyone is talking about, including me.

The one that got my attention is Alexander’s notes on the rules a fantasy writer must follow.

look how nicely he puts this:

“writers of fantasy must be, within their own frame of work, hardheaded realists. What appears gossamer is, underneath, solid as prestressed concrete.”

This has been on my mind lately after reading a brand new book that I was real excited about and finding some flaws. I won’t name it, of course. So let me change some details and then state my complaint:

I am perfectly willing to believe that flying dragons can carry talking chickens on their backs, but why should they do that when the talking chickens could just take a taxi?

Does that make any sense?

I have a similar complaint about books from any and all genres that feature chracters laughing hysterically. I recently read a book like this:

Person A: Is that a talking chicken?

Person B: HAHAHAHAHA …… until they had to sit down and catch their breath from laughing so hard.

A more likely response would have been:

person B: Yes.

Another pet peeve of mine is when an entire classroom of children does something together.

“Everyone laughed!”

“Everyone jumped up to see the talking chicken.”

“Everyone groaned.”

It just doesn’t ring true to me, sorry. For one thing, several of the kids aren’t paying attention. For another some kids see “everyone” doing something and then are too proud to join in.


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