Hierarchy of Creative License

I’ve been thinking for a while about where the difficulties of fantasy writing lie, and realized it’s a matter of basic story requirements. Authors of all genres have the duty to give their readers as original and interesting a story as they can, and each genre of fiction gives authors a chance to do so, but in different ways.

hierarchy-of-creative-license

This is how I view creating in different genres. The pyramid is based on four key elements of fiction writing: Characters, plot, setting, and world-building . Note that the latter two are separate. A setting is where the majority of the book takes place, but a novel doesn’t often take place around the whole world. Setting is separate because it zooms in on a part of your fictional world, whereas world-building is much larger and can be painted in much broader strokes. More on that later.

First off, a note: I fully admit to knowing very little about the lower two rungs of the pyramid, and even sci-if I know only a bit of at best, but I’ll try to be as thorough as possible. I am also more than willing to correct or expand if something doesn’t ring true to you.

Realistic fiction, at the base, offers authors the chance to develop characters and plot thoroughly, and runs without the risk of losing one’s reader in the setting or world.

The difficulty can be in creating a plot and characters that are both original enough to interest your readers while, at the same time, making the reader able to connect with the problems of your protagonist. The author may very well have to do research about the setting of the novel, if s/he places it somewhere s/he is not familiar with, but everything is based on the real-world, so the author would have to come up with very little about the setting and (hopefully) nothing to do with world-building. The same goes for romance, thrillers, crime… horror, even, I’d say, with perhaps a bit more variation.

Historical fiction takes the creative process a step further, while perhaps also taking it a step back. It is a genre based on historical events, naturally, but plenty of things have been lost to time. Even if this is not the case, it’s fiction, meaning the author doesn’t necessarily have to be faithful to the truth. Their protagonists and major players may be based off of real characters, but plenty of gaping holes would have to be filled in. The plot would already be decided, but in many cases, it’s likely that the author would be able to provide subplots or even main plot points if some history is missing. Setting would need to be generated, to a certain degree, because one can only imagine what a town or specific castle looked like exactly X number of centuries ago.

Originally, I was going to put sci-fi on a lower rung than fantasy, but I realized that wouldn’t be doing the science fiction genre justice. The last tier must also tackle world-building, and the reason the two genres are diamond-shaped, rather than rectangular, is because both genres have the ability to either set themselves in very earth-esque worlds (urban fantasy or near-future/dystopian sci-fi) or to grab onto creativity and just run with it (epic fantasy or Star Wars-y/ Star Trek-y sci-fi). This comes at a cost, naturally, because an author must still develop characters and plot, and to have a very realistic world, authors must also do plenty of world-building, but there it gets tricky because you can’t just dump all world-building information into the novel. It’d be a bore. Tolkien had to write the Silmarillion, an entire novel, to explain the history of his Middle Earth.

This feels almost too simplified for my tastes, but I won’t run on and on about it. The important thing is to realize that each genre has an opportunity to be creative, and one must find the genre they most enjoy writing, and use that creative license to the best of their ability. If you’re a realistic fiction writer, take advantage of the character+plot and give your readers as rich and deep a novel as you can. Compare that to my poison of choice, fantasy, an author must sacrifice true depth and richness within the novel in order to keep readers in the present situation, while at the same time must strive to do their world justice by making it feel real.

Mini Book and Drama Reviews

The Midnight Star

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Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Epic fantasy

Rating: 3.5 stars

I hate to hate this book, but it was not Marie Lu’s best. From what I understand, although she cared deeply for this novel, it was difficult to write from Adelina’s dark perspective, and Lu was eager to be done with it. It shows. The writing and world-building was, as always, quite impressive. On the other hand, Marie Lu and her characters both latched onto the first solution to their problem that they come across, without considering any other possible answers. And they end up being right, too. The ending, also, felt a bit rushed and even a bit unrealistic, considering Adelina’s characters. I’d still recommend the read, but only because I think Young Elites and Rose Society were superb, and it seems wrong to read the series without looking at the last.

The Cherry Orchard

Author: Anton Chekhov (translator: Paul Schmidt)

Genre: Comedy

Rating: 4stars

I don’t have much experience with Drama, so take my review with a grain of salt. I thought it was a decent story, although it felt a bit boring. The characters felt a little two-dimensional, rather than three-, but I suppose that adds to their comedic value. I was surprised at the end of Act III, but Act IV felt superficial and wrong. I’m not sure how to expand without giving away any spoilers, but I’ll say that in real life, no one would suddenly feel happy at that particular conclusion. The ending was the biggest disappointment; the rest wasn’t half-bad.

Richard III

Author: William Shakespeare

Genre: Historical

Rating: 3.5 stars

Can one give such a low(ish) rating to the classic Histories? I guess. Richard III was not half bad. It started out slow, and picked up quite a bit in the last act. It includes a disabled character, portrayed as a duplicitous villain, but Richard III still manages to be a very intelligent and dangerous player in the fight for the throne. My biggest stumbling block? (Besides the portrayal of a disabled character as evil, I mean.) He’s impossibly capable of convincing people to believe him, though only five lines ago they were spitting in his face. I’m not even sure what sort of acting one could do to make it plausible without making all the characters seem like complete idiots. My other stumbling block? There are a LOT of Edwards, although that’s a historical thing and not a Shakespeare thing. On the plus side, I can finally answer the question: in which Shakespeare play can one find the infamous quote “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”

Writing Prompt

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“There’s too many people claiming the title of villain now days. One has only to kidnap a princess or destroy a town and their names are suddenly spoken in hushed whispers. Ridiculous. There are some of us who actually had to WORK for our titles.” — authorhopeann.com

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