Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guest Post: Why Epic Fantasy is Like Shakespeare

Today we have a guest post from the lovely and talented Rhiannon Paille.

Doesn't he look a bit like Dracula?
Why Epic Fantasy is Like Shakespeare

The same reason some of us don’t understand Shakespeare is the same reason that some of us don’t understand Epic Fantasy.

It’s not written the way people talk.

It’s not about making references to guns instead of swords (a la Romeo and Juliet 1996, loved how the guns had the brand name of “Sword”) or cell phones instead of telegrams it’s something else entirely.

It’s all the little words. Today when a boy is hot we just say he’s hot. We don’t go on about how he’s pulchritudinous (which to me doesn’t sound hot at all), or bounteous or becoming. These days we’d say he was attractive, stunning, hot, amazing, beautiful, pretty.

Shakespeare would have gone on and on about a girl’s beauty by comparing her to flowers and the moon and everything else under the sun that’s pretty. And then he’d insult a man by saying he was as pink as a flower (meaning he was gay) and that’s where some of us get lost. We miss the jokes and the snarky comments and the things that make books written in modern language so popular.

When a book is written in modern language, we get it.

When we’re trying to remember what carom, wan, cinch, tarry, esker, roil, etc. etc. means, it stops us from envisioning what’s actually going on in the scene. It’s hard to follow a story when we’re all getting caught up in the words we’ve never heard of before.

And then there’s the conundrum that a lot of the popular Epic Fantasy was written 70-80 years ago. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis being the biggest examples of that, one day they are going to be the new Shakespeare. Can you imagine the day J.K. Rowling becomes Shakespeare? (You know, when Harry Potter has been around for 80 or 100 years?)

I’ve been the queen of the thesaurus this past year, writing down interesting words I don’t recognize in books and then looking them up. I actively expand my vocabulary, but there’s always room for more growth. I think it’s fun to read epic fantasy for the words, the quests, the adventures, the demons and it gives me a glimpse into the past that I can only get from these books.

When it came to my books, which are epic fantasy, but end up being historical fantasy and later urban fantasy all the while being paranormal romance, I had to choose my words carefully. I chose to write as modern as I could, without removing anything that’s really cool about the land, the characters and the storyline. With any luck, my epic fantasy won’t be difficult to decode. ;)

How about you? What was the last epic fantasy book you read? Did you get it?

Rhi was never a normal girl. She tried, but she couldn’t get rid of the visions, the voices in her head, and the hallucinations. When she was on the edge of crazy someone pulled her back and explained it all. She wasn’t insane. She was psychic, really psychic, too psychic. Her life was an urban fantasy wrapped in a paranormal romance and served with a side of horror. To escape her everyday weirdness she began writing fantasy. She frequents twitter and facebook, but if you really want to get to know her you should visit her site: www.rhiannonpaille.com . Her book Flame of Surrender (The Ferryman and The Flame #1) comes out November 1st, 2011. Check it out here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11841693-flame-of-surrender

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