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On Characterization & Magic in Fantasy

by Vern Crisler

Copyright, 1997

WRITER has got a good start on characterization in Fantasy when he doesn't write up his main character--a wizard, for instance--as all-powerful at the beginning of the Fantasy story, but allows him (or her) room to grow in power as he faces new conflicts.

With regard to magic in Fantasy: it's there to create a certain sense of wonder. But magic in itself won't keep the story going along. There are so many fantasy books on the market now, but ninety five percent of them are trash. The reason is that it is a popular market, and publishers are looking to cash in on it no matter if the quality of their products is low-grade.

Very few writers understand characterization, conflict, description, and seem to think that if a few magic potions are included in the story, it'll go. The Fantasy market is therefore glutted with tiresome and unreadable novels simply because writers refuse to learn their craft. Instead, they want to publish their rough drafts as soon as they're done with them. If they'd only keep them a while, and revise them two or three times, we might have an interesting Fantasy market. Nowadays, though, we've got . . . nothing.

Forgive the cynicism of the above. I'm just so tired of not being able to find a halfway decent Fantasy novel, I've almost given up even looking anymore. Where's Robert Jordan when you need him?