American Country Life,
Currier & Ives,
Museum of the City of New York.
For pleasure and relaxation I've been reading once again The Talera Cycle (Sword of Talera, Wings over Talera and Witch of Talera) a heroic fantasy series by Charles Gramlich and enjoying Charles' deft treatment of action scenes and sword fights.
I have a peculiar fondness for stories utilizing sharp pointy things and Charles does them extraordinarily well. If one wants a short course in the use of appropriate, active verbs, they could do much worse than read the Talera books. Moreover, one never receives the impression he wrote with one finger marking a place in a dictionary of synonyms.
When things settle down a bit, I want his collection Bitter Steel.
As usual, the analytical part of my brain could not be entirely suppressed and I came away with several craft observations and one general conclusion.
Assuming we all know our craft reasonably well in terms of character and plot and all that stuff, two types of detail applied (as Charles does) will lift the prose of a story from merely competent to really good and memorable.
One is the the judicious use of a striking figurative phrase or image ("we walked along inside our own silences like ghosts".) Any descriptive passages should be clean and vivid, of course, but some should be deeper, unique.
The other is the brief interpolation of minor observations, almost asides, to which a reader may relate. These might be something as simple, as small and intimate and human as the effects of a hangover, a realization one hates the taste of liver, or two characters comparing the size of their feet.
Serious heroic fantasy demands themes and examples of honour, courage and nobility. I don't think a cynic could write the genre effectively unless he believes in those virtues and disdains their opposites. So I suppose my conclusion is a variation of the standard advice to "write what you love."
Reading with Tequila, under her June 2010 Wrap-Up picked Dark and Disorderly as her favourite Book Read in June. She had given it 5 shots.
An interview with Lillie St. Claire at Southern Fried Chicas.
I screwed up. The Question-and-Answer at Wicked Jungle will be posted July 5.