Posts Tagged With: culture

Destroy Cities, Destroy Hope

After famed Minneapolis science fiction and fantasy bookstore Uncle Hugo’s and its sister store, Uncle Edgar’s, were destroyed by rioters, Tony Daniel had this to say:

…a city is not like a statue. It is an unplanned web, a crazy network of individuals doing productive, artistic, crazy, and interesting things, all at once. It pulsates with life and change in some areas, accretes tradition or staleness, or both, in others.

It’s never the same. The hustle and bustle of the street, the shops and restaurants and churches and halfway houses and all the rest engender this…when a cultural institution…is burned, the damage goes beyond the physical. It is not really possible to merely clean up and rebuild, as you might a Target or a police station. The bustle of the street, the fabric of the city itself, is damaged.

The destruction…hurts people’s souls, even if they don’t realize this. When you burn such places down…you are not clearing for renewal. You are destroying the very possibility for growth and change in a community.

You are killing hope.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

When Violence Fails Writers

A couple months ago, the New York Post wrote concerning television shows — ones otherwise known for their writing — pushing violence to new levels, raising the ire of even dedicated fans. The article notes that these shows seem to be in an “arms race” to see who can outdo each other.

I don’t think the Post is being prudish here, and I get that everyone has their tolerance levels, but at some point gratuitousness becomes a crutch that replaces good storytelling. I suppose everyone’s answer to, “How far is too far?” is a bit different, but those answers are no doubt reflective our own beliefs. The article also ponders how much television is reflective a cultural norms — or is it not reflective of any majority? That’s a whole other discussion, but right now my focus is on the writing, as this applies to books as well. Novelist Robert Bidinotto wrote on how he addressed this issue:

My stories deal with rough, tough people doing a lot of vicious and violent things. However, fiction always has dealt with unpleasant subject matter, yet the finest narrative artists have never found it necessary to descend into gore-fests, or to detailed descriptions of degeneracy and perversion, in order to write tales about evil that are compelling. (Think of Fyodor Dostoyevsky [Crime and Punishment], for example.)

Art is all about selectivity in presenting reality. Artists do not have to show everything, let alone dwell on it, in order to focus on the most important things.

This dovetails in my previous discussions on details in books: Finding balance between too much or too little.

The craft — the art — of writing demands learning to balance details and to avoid crutches. Also, violence and the unpleasant aren’t to be avoided, but there are thoughtful ways to present it. Regardless of where you choose to draw the line in your books, choose craft over laziness.

Categories: Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Timeless Storytelling

Frederick Buechner wrote (as quoted by John Eldredge in The Sacred Romance) that “there has never been an age that has not produced fairy tales.” Eldredge adds, “There is something deeply true about a fairy tale. It is a timeless form of storytelling because it..captures both our deepest fears and highest hopes.” Buechner also wrote:

…the world is full of darkness and danger and ambiguity…There are fierce dragons who guard the treasure…To take the wrong turning of the path is to risk being lost in the forest forever, and an awful price has to be paid…It is a world of dark and dangerous quests…

In other words, fairy tales, fantasy and other fiction are not purely escapist in their design. They remind of us of the world we live in as so many try to pretend it is not that way. Those stories also remind of us of what burns inside us and tell us not to suppress hope, courage and wonder.

That is why Storytelling is an essential part of our culture that must never disappear.

Categories: Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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