Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How Did They Do That?

Today I read a new book. New to me. It's been out a while. I think it may have even won a prize somewhere. Od Magic by Patricia McKillip. It's a fantasy with lovely lyrical language and a dreamy sort of feel and a touch of romance in its soul. And while I was reading it, I kept wondering "How in the world did she do this?"

Did she just float off into this dreamy, mystical world and start writing down what she saw there? Did she plot out all her threads before hand? Where did she find them? Did her scenes just happen and then she tied them together afterward? But how?

I think it left me feeling this way because my books, while fantasy, don't really have much that's mystical or dreamy or lyrical. The plots tend to charge straight ahead--sort of like that Gordian knot thing. Easiest way to untie a knot is to pull out a sword and whack it through the middle. And I think it's a very good thing that there are both kinds of books in the world--those that meander through the dreamy landscape, and those that plunge in.

Have you read something lately that made you wonder how the magic was done?


Shanna Swendson said...

I've read two recently that made me feel like a hack in comparison, like I shouldn't even be bothering.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman was so very dreamy and lovely.

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos was swooningly romantic and beautiful in a gem-like way.

I have a love/hate relationship with books like these. I love them as a reader, but as a writer they make me question my abilities. I have to remind myself that I'm a different kind of writer.

Patti O'Shea said...


Me too! I have a friend who writes very lyrically and after reading her stuff, I always think I'll never be able to write like that in a million years. It took me a long time to just accept that I was a different type of writer.