Writing plausible fantasy

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I enjoy reading—all kinds of books. But I especially enjoy well-written fantasy. J.R.R. Tolkien, David & Leigh Eddings, Guy Gavriel Kay and Sara Douglass are among my all time favorites.

I tend to be somewhat hesitant to pick up an unknown author, however, unless they come personally recommended from someone I know. I'm not this way with other genres—I suspect it has to do with the fact that there is a lot of fantasy that isn't terribly internally consistant. (If you'd like to recommend your favorite author(s), please leave a comment.)

Reading Will's blog tonight I found a link to an essay entitled On Thud and Blunder that talks about how writers should do their homework to make their heroic fantasy plausible. Maybe if this were the norm for all published fantasy I wouldn't be so hesitant to pick up a new author...

If I ever actually get around to participating in NaNoWriMo, and assuming I choose to write fantasy, On Thud and Blunder and the somewhat related 30 Days of World Building will both be well worth re-reading.

Speaking of plot ideas, I think there'd be an incredibly rich story (circa 50 B.C.) packed into just a few verses of scripture:

But behold, Kishkumen, who had murdered Pahoran, did lay wait to destroy Helaman also; and he was upheld by his band, who had entered into a covenant that no one should know his wickedness.

For there was one Gadianton, who was exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore he became the leader of the band of Kishkumen. Therefore he did flatter them, and also Kishkumen, that if they would place him in the judgment-seat he would grant unto those who belonged to his band that they should be placed in power and authority among the people; therefore Kishkumen sought to destroy Helaman.

And it came to pass as he went forth towards the judgment-seat to destroy Helaman, behold one of the servants of Helaman, having been out by night, and having obtained, through disguise, a knowledge of those plans which had been laid by this band to destroy Helaman—and it came to pass that he met Kishkumen, and he gave unto him a sign; therefore Kishkumen made known unto him the object of his desire, desiring that he would conduct him to the judgment-seat that he might murder Helaman.

And when the servant of Helaman had known all the heart of Kishkumen, and how that it was his object to murder, and also that it was the object of all those who belonged to his band to murder, and to rob, and to gain power, (and this was their secret plan, and their combination) the servant of Helaman said unto Kishkumen: Let us go forth unto the judgment-seat. Now this did please Kishkumen exceedingly, for he did suppose that he should accomplish his design; but behold, the servant of Helaman, as they were going forth unto the judgment-seat, did stab Kishkumen even to the heart, that he fell dead without a groan. And he ran and told Helaman all the things which he had seen, and heard, and done...

—Michael A. Cleverly


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