Slightly OT: Nebula Awards

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Wed Mar 3 17:13:48 EST 2004

On Wed, 3 Mar 2004 21:47:52 -0000, Dorian E. Gray wrote:

>Melissa said...

>> Here's what I think.  Elizabeth Moon is one of those writers who is a
>> fantastic storyteller, but only nominally good at the craft of writing.
>Hm.  Okay, I will grant you that, but my major problem with her work lies in
>another area.
>(Please note: 1.  I really like Ms. Moon's books and 2. Everthing following
>(including what I think her books should be doing) is *only* *my*
>The problem I have is that, while she tells a great story and creates
>wonderful characters, she doesn't seem to be able to cope well with emotion.
>Now, I am a reader who cries pretty easily over books.  Give me some genuine
>emotion and I will be in tears as I read.  But with all of Moon's work, I
>keep finding myself thinking "I *should* be crying right now" - rather than
>*actually* crying (most specifically, at the climax of the Paksenarrion
>trilogy).  Somehow, she just doesn't quite write the emotion so that it hits
>me where it really truly hurts.

I consider this an effect of not being good at the craft of writing.  A
great writer can make you feel the emotion of a scene because that's a
function not of what story she's telling, but how she's writing it.  

But this is an oversimplification, of course, because emotional responses to
a story are highly subjective.  Sometimes we cry just because we've had a
similar experience.  Sometimes it's because kicked puppies and abandoned
infants are universally heartwrenching.  Sometimes it's that time of the
month.  :)  Still, it's my belief that a great writer can create an
emotional reaction even in someone who has never been in that situation
before, simply by virtue of their writing skill.

>But I am possibly peculiar in demanding gut-wrenching emotional trauma.

You realize at this point I must say "that's not the only thing that makes
you peculiar...."

Having that requirement might be peculiar, but I think if you know a scene
or situation ought to make you more emotionally involved than you are, maybe
that's not such an unreasonable demand.  I've known neophyte writers who
believed that if they were feeling sad/happy/aroused when they wrote a
scene, then everyone who read it would feel the same way.  It just doesn't
work that way.  (Though this doesn't seem to stop a number of published
authors who apparently never got this nonsense beaten out of them.)

Melissa Proffitt

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