Two women I respect discuss reality vs. fantasy (or something like that)

For some reason I can’t articulate how I see these two articles connecting, but when I was looking through my file of specific articles I’ve bookmarked, it struck me that these both discuss the same concept from different angles. I think Le Guin’s entry discusses reality vs. story from a philosophical viewpoint and PCW gets into the nitty-gritty of what a writer needs to do to maintain the story.  To me both are teaching parallel lessons.

Anyway.  Both good articles and worth the read.  So enjoy.

First, here’s Ursula K. Le Guin: It Doesn’t Have To Be the Way It Is

A few quotes:

“But fantasies, whether folktales or sophisticated literature, are stories in the adult, demanding sense. They can ignore certain laws of physics, but not of  causality. They start here and go there (or back here), and though the mode of travel may be unusual, and here and there may be wildly exotic and unfamiliar places, yet they must have both a location on the map of that world and a relationship to the map of our world. If not, the hearer or reader of the tale will be set adrift in a sea of inconsequential inconsistencies, or worse yet, left drowning in the shallow puddle of the author’s wishful thinking.”

“Fantasy not only asks ‘What if things didn’t go on just as they do?’ but demonstrates what they might be like if they went otherwise — thus gnawing at the very foundation of the belief that things have to be the way they are.”

“Fantastic literature, like all the verbal arts, must satisfy the intellectual as well as the aesthetic faculty. Fantasy, odd as it sounds to say so, is a perfectly rational undertaking.”

And then Patricia C. Wrede on An Illusion of Reality

“One of the ways to hang on to readers is to give them very few places to escape the story, and that means maintaining the story-illusion on every level as much as one is capable of.”

“… that’s the first mistake a lot of writers make in this regard: they focus on one type of illusion-consistency (usually the worldbuilding or characterization) and forget that the plot, the prose, the dialog, the descriptions, the ways the characters interact, etc. also have to foster the overall story-illusion and be consistent with it (and, perforce, with each other).”

“The second major error a lot of folks make is that they don’t have a feel or a plan for just what the story-illusion they’re creating is, so when they get to a tricky bit of dialog or plot or worldbuilding, they fall back on reality, even when reality is at odds with the illusion they’re trying to create.”


About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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