Moon, Bujold and McKillip (Was: Re: Slightly OT: Nebula Awards)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Mar 4 11:00:23 EST 2004


On Thu, 4 Mar 2004 09:52:04 +0000, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:

>>Melissa:

>>I think pretty much the same about Lois McMaster Bujold, by the way.  Though
>>in her case the breakdown is not along SF/fantasy lines, but by individual
>>book.  If I don't get drawn in for whatever reason, the writing style gets
>>on my nerves.  I noticed this more with _The Curse of Chalion_, though it
>>sounds like I didn't have as serious a reaction as you did with _Paladin of
>>Souls_.  I liked the first book just fine, but didn't *love* it, and after a
>>while the writing started to become too obvious for comfort.  There was a
>>scene where I could have sworn it was Miles and Ivan arguing, for example.
>
>Interesting - I wonder whether I mightn't have had the same response 
>if I hadn't got sucked into Chalion so completely. There was one 
>scene at the end I thought slightly lame, and it was the 
>heading-for-cliche-romance style that annoyed me. Although I can't 
>think of a single complaint I have about Bujold's writing style in 
>the Miles books.

If I pay attention, I can see the "stylistic errors," but mostly I don't
care.  Anyway, writing style is largely a matter of preference.  Aside from
true errors in grammar, spelling, and usage, style is just mass consensus
over years.  Even the thing about not using adverbials or too many
said-bookisms aren't errors the way a subject/verb disagreement is.  They're
something that, over time, writers and critics and style wonks recognized
weakened the flow of a story, and they became Wrong.  For good reason,
really.  But it means that even when I say so-and-so isn't good at the craft
of writing, it's kind of meaningless as far as readers are concerned.  As
long as the reader can understand what's going on in the book, beautiful
writing style is only going to matter to those readers who care about it.

>To broaden this slightly, I don't think there are that many writers 
>in this genre that I do appreciate primarily for their writing style 
>- Patricia McKillip being the obvious exception.  Just finished _In 
>the Forests of Serre_, btw, which I really liked, but didn't love. 
>This is still very nebulous, but my feeling was that the elements of 
>Russian folk-tale, which were a wonderful basis for the story, 
>somehow seemed to become a bit colourless, though elegant, and even 
>fun at times.  I have no idea if this makes the tiniest bit of sense 
>to anyone else...

I can't remember thinking about it enough to have an opinion on why I didn't
love it.  :)  I liked it--I also appreciate McKillip's later work mainly for
the writing--but didn't love it, but I haven't *loved* anything by her for a
long time, so no worries there.  I mainly remember images, like the witch
herself, or the windows of the palace exploding over the waterfall, and I
was very worried for the princess coming into such a harsh and terrible
environment (though I never really felt she was in danger).  I suppose this
speaks to writing craft again.

Melissa Proffitt
(procrastinating at 9 a.m.)

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