A strange thing occurred to me this morning as I brushed my teeth and did that old study-yourself-in-the-mirror thing, and it’s strange specifically because of when it happened. I realized that I’m not done writing dark fantasy. Part of me has been flirting with abandoning the genre altogether and going full-on literary, though I’m not proud to admit that here. I now realize that was based on a belief that my dark fantasy had to be cleverly structure and draw the reader on with its mysteries. Don’t get me wrong, I think that can be a fun way to write a story and if I’m allowed to toot my own horn a little I think Room 3 benefitted enormously from the approach, but my critique group has enlightened me to some of the problems inherent in what I’ve been doing.
Linear storytelling has never been my cup of tea. Even when I wrote short fiction in college I had a tendency to jump all over the place in the timeline and allow the reader to reconstruct the tale. There’s something to be said for it, that you experience the twists and turns of discovery right along with the reader and allow them to share in some of the mystique of the creative process.
The problem comes when the structure drives the story, rather than the story driving the structure. I had become so enamored of the approach that it blinded me to the possibilities of really toiling away at a linear piece and turning some of the energy devoted to high-flying literary acrobatics to instead focusing on the word craft and emotional texture. Hey, it’s all a learning process until the day we die, right? Anyway, this leads me to the conclusion that I’m not done with dark fantasy, as I haven’t attempted a truly straightforward, linear piece without a central mystery. I want to see how I could stretch my wings in such an environment.
So, mea culpa to those who have read my dark fantasy works to this point. You guys aren’t forgotten, I just need to work this stuff out of my system so I can come back and do something (hopefully) really dynamite. Still lots out there waiting to be written, it’s more a question of time than desire.
Oh, and a total side-note, anyone watching Under the Dome this season? Could that thing be any more ridiculous and overwrought?