The Glory Illusion of War

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“War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”

— from the song War by Edwin Starr

There is a slightly frightening tendency to glorify war and battle. It’s a big part of fantasy and science fiction; we’re always waiting for the big battle between good and evil at the end. But what happens when we carry this thinking over into the real world? This us-versus-them mentality, the idea that we are the brave warriors fighting the good fight, is especially attractive if we perceive ourselves as the little Rebellion fighting against the giant evil Empire, or as Peeta and Katniss resisting the malicious Games of the Capital, or as the Alliance of Men and Elves standing against the destructive might of Sauron. Everyone loves the underdog.

That’s fine in fiction. I have nothing against battles in stories and frankly I enjoy them. Halo would be pretty boring without the Flood or the Covenant to fight. It’s when this mentality leaks into real life interactions that it concerns me. If you look at the language being passed around the internet these days, especially when it comes to politics, you’ll find buzzwords like “war,” “soldier,” “fight,” and “rebellion.” Even as the world becomes a safer place overall, the language has become far more violent and polarized. You’re either with us or against us; there is no in between.
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The Game of Thrones: A Review

Well.

I just finished watching the first season of The Game of Thrones…and, to be honest, I was not especially impressed.  I know I’ll probably catch hell for saying that, but it’s the truth.

Now you’re probably wondering, “But you’re a huge fantasy buff, Kat!  How could you NOT like it?”  So let me be clear:  I do not think that The Game of Thrones was a bad or poorly done adaptation.  I did enjoy watching it.  HBO did a wonderful job on locations, costuming, sets, music, cinematography…all of the technical details.  The level of visual detail is superb…even stunning.  And it is extremely faithful to the book, which is a mark in its favor.

That being said…the characters did not really engage my sympathies.  The thing that’s often overlooked when adapting fantasy is that fantasy is about people.  Take away the people and all you have left is fancy window-dressing.

Those were the generalities; now, on to the specifics.

This post may contain SPOILERS!  You have been warned.  Proceed at your own risk!

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To Write, You Must Read

One of the greatest and most basic rules of thumb in the world of writing is: “Write a story you would want to read.”
 
The next question is, “What kinds of stories do you enjoy reading?”
 
Once you’ve answered these two questions, your journey into the realm of writing has begun. And yet, so many writers seem to forget these basic questions. Too many get caught up what they think other people want them to write, or what other people want to read, or what kind of story formula will guarantee sales that will make them a multi-million-dollar success. If you start coming at stories from that angle these days, you are only sabotaging your own efforts. Your readers can tell when a story has heart and when it was written with calculation designed to draw them in. To an extent, every writer is trying to pull readers in, but the difference is this: are you trying to hook them because you think you have a good story to tell? Or are you trying to hook them for the money and popularity?