Saturday, August 09, 2008

Writing Lessons From the Soulless

This afternoon I read an interesting submission to Rage of the Behemoth. I recommended rejection because, in short, the story lacked soul. This is an odd thing to try and capture but you know it when it's not there. The words were all correct and they formed proper sentences which were strung together in perfectly grammatical paragraphs but the overall effect was... blah. Blah is not what you're shooting for in fiction (unless you're writing chick lit) and it especially has no place in heroic fantasy. I read the whole story and kept wondering when something was going to happen in a way that made me say 'wow.' Wow is what you're shooting for in heroic fantasy. In my comments to the editor I said the story was 'correct, but not good.' It was a strange thing that I don't think I've really seen like this before. Usually if a story lacks excitement and emotional connection with the characters there is almost always several other things wrong with it as well. This story had correct structure and proper pacing with an interesting setting and plot... but no soul.


von Darkmoor said...

Your words actually do make perfect sense to me - but I hold one piece of information you do not. I know the author. I would expect nothing less than correct structure/pacing/usage/etc from this person . . . but the lack of soul is rather a surprise. Guess I'll have to read it myself :)

Jeff Draper said...

And once again I may be guilty of smarmy overconfidence. Such is the price of greatness.