Adventures in NaNo-land – Larger than Life

November 26, 2012 at 1:29 am (fantasy, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

I’ve been asked many times why I prefer to write speculative fiction like fantasy and horror rather than writing general fiction. Aside from the fact that I grew up on fairy tales, myths and young adult fantasy, and those genres are my preferred reading now, I also like the fact that I don’t have to adhere to the existing limitations of the real world. Not that I don’t like realism and I don’t set boundaries, but with a speculative world, I get to establish the parameters I’m using.

Along with having things that don’t normally exist like magic or monsters of legend, speculative fiction allows you to exaggerate certain traits in characters without these things seeming out of place. People who would appear larger than life in a normal setting are a little more acceptable in an imaginary environment. It already has plenty of things that seem strange, exotic or alien.

The chapter I’m working on, chapter 14, now contains a giant from Sami legend named Stallon. In The Trading of Skin, he is a guardian of sorts in the labyrinth of Laib Olmai. He’s also an extreme example of a bully, picking on those smaller than himself because his size and role permits him to. Everything about him is an attempt to be more intimidating, carrying a tree as a weapon, and wearing a tunic of many pelts including one of his human victims (at the forefront of the garment.) He speaks mostly in loud threats and the moment anyone attempts to thwart his appointed authority, he starts to throw his weight around.

I run into people every day who exist as a lesser version of Stallon. They might have felt powerless as a child or young adult and now abuse a position of power or a physical advantage to give them a sense of control and security. In presenting one of those characters in an ordinary situation, some of that might be lost on a reader. Expanding those traits to the point where they can’t be ignored helps the character to achieve its full impact, especially if you can present them in a package that accentuates them, like Stallon.

I’ve now posted Chapter 13 – Labyrinth. You can find it here:

More tomorrow J



  1. ericjbaker said,

    Speculative fiction lets you go places other genres can’t. It lets you raise the stakes higher.

    When I got backing into writing after many years away from it, I tried to do other things, but I know my heart is in the fantastic.

    • chantellyb said,

      I’ve written a couple of short stories that weren’t speculative fiction but to be honest, my heart just wasn’t in it. I love the freedom I find in fantasy and horror.

      • ericjbaker said,

        I did one a couple of years ago that was supposed to be a “Stand by me” type of piece. I had a writer friend look at it (she had no idea I used to write horror and sci-fi), and she said, “It feels like it wants to be a horror story.”

        I took that as a sign.

  2. chantellyb said,

    My sign was when I managed to get family members who never read horror to read my horror stories and actually confess to loving some of them. That tells me I’m in the right genre.

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