Writers often draw us into the worlds and characters that burst from their imaginations. These “made-up” worlds are reason for some to shun this or that genre because they are imaginary. The truth, though, is that authors aren’t writing imaginary stories. Alister McGrath, in his biography of C.S. Lewis, explains:
Narnia is imaginative, not an imaginary, world. Lewis was quite clear that a distinction had to be drawn between those ideas. The “imaginary” is something that has been falsely imagined, having no counterpart in reality. Lewis regards such an invented reality as opening the way to delusion. The “imaginative” is something produced by the human mind as it tries to respond to something greater than itself…to “communicate more Reality to us.”
Lewis would use his imaginative world to explore serious themes like “origins of evil, nature of faith, and the human desire for God” — not unlike most writers have grand ideas of deep thoughts woven through their narrative.
Quite often their starting point to accomplish this is surprisingly very simple. Narnia started with “an image of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels through a snowy wood.” Tolkien scrawled on a paper, “In a hole in he ground there lived a hobbit,” after the idea popped in his head and he “did not know why” it had. From these humble origins, grand tales came to life.
What lives in your imagination, ready to inspire, entertain and challenge?
J.C.L. Faltot, author of the The Road to Mars, interviewed me for the latest episode of his The Writer’s Lens podcast. Check it out here as we discuss writing, fantasy and the war Among the Shadows.
Adherents to the cult of political correctness continues to plague writers and filmmakers. Often, before a film or book even is released, trolls come out of the dark recesses of the internet to create fake outrage over films they often haven’t seen, or books they haven’t read.
When trailers were shown for The Great Wall, self-appointed diversity police immediately complained that the “white” star in a Chinese film, must have been indicative of a “white savior” story. In other words, the white man was going to save the poor Asian masses.
These claims were fishy from the start: This was a Chinese film, filmed in China, by a Chinese director, with a cast made up of nearly all Chinese actors. Additionally, the open-minded Chinese government is very picky on what is shown in its theaters. Perhaps, most importantly, is that it was clearly a fantasy film and didn’t pretend to be otherwise. Continue reading
What if a reader gets tripped up by some small part of your book? Perhaps a sentence or a few words don’t make sense to them. Maybe one of your creative flourishes isn’t sitting well. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with what you wrote, and there may only be one reader or two that have commented. What do you do?
Do you just brush it off and say, “I’m an artist and people should accept all my amazing choices” or do you see it as an opportunity to possibly improve? If you are serious about your craft, I suggest the second choice. You may not end up changing the issue in question, and it could have been brought to your attention by only one soul, but you should seriously evaluate it.
You can’t hope to make everyone happy with your writing decisions, voice and style — nor should you attempt to. Telling your own story is paramount, but fine-tuning your ability to tell that story is not far behind.
I changed three or four sentences in Among the Shadows based on reader feedback. Ultimately, these things had little impact on the overall story, but I could see why some might not like how I worded them. The revisions do read better. Part of being a writer is deciding which creative choices to keep and which to modify.
This extended excerpt from Among the Shadows is from a chapter that serves as an interlude in the story. In the midst of the dire situation Milena found herself in, this was an opportunity to see more into her mind and her husband’s, and explore deeper themes relevant to all of us. Enjoy…