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Poison Fog
Written by Paul D. Batteiger   
Thursday, 16 October 2014 22:32
For those who might be interested, my first new story is up on my new blog.

I didn’t really know Terry, nobody did, really.  Despite that we were all supposed to be ‘pals’ now in this damned war, and we were all Eastmarch graduates, I was never that close with a lot of the lads, and so there were a lot of unfamiliar faces.  I knew we’d all come through together, long afternoons in Huntsley’s classroom wishing we were outside, putting up with Professor Rawlins and his awful coughing.  But even though I at least knew who he was, Terry was a stranger to me.

I remember he read odd books, not the stuff we were assigned, but old books with black covers and no lettering on the spines.  He kept them locked away in a trunk in his room, and nobody ever got into it.  I suppose you’d say we were cowards, being scared of him.  We weren’t, or we were but not of him.  It was the way he looked at you - like he knew something you didn’t know, and damned if you weren’t glad.

I was surprised he joined up, when the call came through in ‘15 and we all saw those posters up everywhere with old Kitchener looking at us with that great mustache and his finger pointing at you.  We’d all been hearing about the damnable time the boys had been having in France all winter.  By then a lot of us knew someone who hadn’t come back from the war - or hadn’t come back all the way.  My mother had a friend who’s husband came home missing a leg and part of his face, so they said.

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Written by Paul D. Batteiger   
Monday, 13 October 2014 00:33
Fantasy is an extremely broad category, and one that gets harder to define the closer you look at it.  The question you have to ask is: what is my story about?  This is an extremely important question, though one writers do not often ask themselves, or do not ask until they are already hip-deep in trouble and trying to hack their way out.

And bear in mind: I’m not talking about genres as a classification tool for purposes of deciding what is or is not “really” one thing or another.  This is not a class in “why my work is REAL Blahblah, and yours is not” No.  But you have to consider genre when you are writing, simply because genres send signals to the reader about what to expect, give them an idea of where to place their feet.  You ignore these expectations at your peril.  You don’t have to kowtow to them, but you need to be aware of what you are and are not doing.

If you say “fantasy” then you invoke certain images and ideas: medieval-type worlds, dragons and monsters, castles, knights, and wizards.  There are endless variations, and I am glad to see more and more fantasy getting away from the standard Lord of the Rings mold.  I mean, hey, I love Tolkien, and his work is hugely influential, but it is kind of strange that an idea as inherently unfettered as ‘fantasy’ can even be said to have a ‘standard’ variety.

I would make the postulate, for my part, that what makes something “fantasy” at the end of the day is magic.  Magic is the calling card of fantasy.  If you add magic to almost any kind of story you can imagine, it becomes a fantasy.  Gangsters who use magic?  Fantasy.  Cowboys who cast spells at high noon?  Fantasy.  Magic is the acid test.

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Genre and Conventions: Part One
Written by Paul   
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 23:12
Genre is a big term, and a big part of how writing is formulated, conceptualized, and sold.  Funny that it’s such a slippery idea that nobody is going to really be able to narrow it down.  In vernacular ‘genre’ fiction is often used to mean ‘non-literary’ - like SF, Fantasy, Horror, etc.  This is, I suppose, meant to insinuate that ‘literary’ ficiton does not have a genre, but it instead the ‘non-genred’ norm.  Which is far from the case.

Genre is a tricky tool that works well in broad strokes but less well as you zoom in.  Almost any work of fiction you can name belongs properly in a genre, but defining where the exact limits of one genre end and another begins is functionally impossible.  Trust me, any rule you think you can come up with that is specific enough to be useful will have an example of some work that defies it.

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