"On Writing as a Fantasist" by Dave Wolverton (LONG)

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Tue Jan 25 08:31:08 EST 2000


> Many thanks to Melissa for posting. What a great essay! I don't agree with
> all of it, but the majority of it rings very true.

I wholeheartedly second the vote of thanks.  I don't know enough about
"literature" to say I agree or not, but:

> I have a problem fundamentally with purism of ANY kind. I run into it all
> the time in the folk music world... "Folk Nazis" is the rude name for those
> who turn up their noses at anything that isn't "real" folk music. I think it
> was Josh White who said all music is folk music; he  hadn't heard of music
> made by anyone but folk, anyhow.

:-) I like it.  I don't actually disagree with purism - I find myself being a
purist too often.

But the music analogy is a good one, because a similar thing has happened in
modern music, at its worst in the 1960s, but throughout this century.

Composers have looked for other things to do than write conventional tunes woith
conventional harmonies in a conventional key.  Harmonies have become less
conventional, until most chords are now discords; tunes have no longer revolved
around a key-note; and there are whole genres of music now that don't use a
"tune" as most listeners would understand it at all.

All these things, I think, are in themselves good.  What I object to is the
attitude that has come with them, that says if you write a tune, or put a
recognisable chord under it, or have your piece resolve into a particular key,
your music is bad, or not serious, or something.  (As a composer I get this sort
of stick quite often I may add.)

All these new techniques are here to stay, and it is a foolish composer who
doesn't learn from them.  But many practitioners of "modern" music claim that
they are trying to escape the restrictions inherent in all the old systems.  So
to claim that any musical technique is "bad" or "boring" or "not serious" or
"out of date" on these grounds is hypocrisy, pure and simple.

I see Wolverton's article as exposing the same sort of hipocrisy in literature,
and more strength to his arm!

By all means write plotless, or romanceless, or anything-else-less novels if you
wish.  But don't claim that people who choose not to are not writing literature!


PS in the world of music things are getting better.  Post-modernism in music has
meant "you can write what you like" - I wish it meant that in literature too!

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