About Me

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A 40-ish publisher (editor, project manager, etc.), husband, and father of an even number of offspring, I grew up, or failed to, reading fantasy and sci-fi. I still enjoy reading, and now am trying to write. My favorite books include YA fantasy, manga, biography, and advice to authors. I'm also a former history major/grad student/high school teacher and assessment writer. Now I work for a school supplement publisher, specializing in high-low chapter books. I spend a lot of my time controlling reading levels. At night, I cut loose and use long words. W00t!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I was thinking of re-reading Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series...

...when the great and terrible Web intervened.

I followed a link about plot development - I couldn't resist the tone of ridicule - and found Nick Lowe's mocking 1982 "educational" essay, The Well-Tempered Plot Device.

Lowe takes down Donaldson, Susan Cooper, and JRR Tolkien (and several I don't know) for obvious plot devices, and proposes, tongue-in-cheek, a more appropriate manual for science fiction and fantasy than the usual how-to-write-a-good-novel. He proposes a how-to for cheap plot devices to get books into print and keep the sequels coming.

This all makes me feel better about struggling to write. I thought perhaps I was a hack. I thought I was taking clich├ęd approaches. I thought I was wasting my time. On reading Lowe's hilarious piece, I think now that I have been avoiding the simplistic plot devices he accused, almost two decades ago, of cheapening the genre I'm trying to contribute to.

I think I feel a little bit better.

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