Saturday, 30 July 2011

Beautiful Minds

"The meadow in which he sat spread away before him in a carpet of muted greens, blues and pinks, a mix of colours he had never seen in grasses. The clover was white, but touched with crimson spots. The meadow dropped downwards into a sprawling valley which rose again miles distant in a wall of mountains that formed a dark barrier against the sky-line. Behind him, the trees of a forest loomed blackly against a mountain slope. Trailers of mist hung over everything."
from Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold by Terry Brooks

"By now the whole of downtown Morpork was alight, and the richer and worthier citizens of Ankh on the far bank were bravely responding to the situation by feverishly demolishing the bridges. But already the ships in the Morpork docks - laden with grain, cotton and timber - were blazing merrily and, their moorings burnt to ashes, were breasting the river Ankh on the ebb tide, igniting riverside palaces and bowers as they drifted like drowning fireflies towards the sea. In any case, sparks were riding the breeze and touching down far across the river in hidden gardens and remote rickyards."
from The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

"Gilchrist's Second-Hand Furniture Warehouse had once been a cinema. in the years when cinemas were still palatial follies. A folly it remained, with its mock-rococo facade, and the unlikely dome perched on its roof; but there was nothing remotely palatial about it now. It stood within a stone's throw of the Dock Road, the only property left in its block that remained in use. The rest were either boarded up or burned out."
from Weaveworld by Clive Barker

Three books, three worlds, three beautiful minds. These three (the books and the writers) are gems on my bookshelves. They're very different and I've come to them at separate times in my life but they all use a very rich method within their writings. They create beautiful worlds that encapsulate not only their stories but also our imaginations. 

Terry Brooks is probably most famous for his Shannara books, I was introduced to Brooks through his novel 'Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold'. Landover is a magic kingdom, complete with dragons, wizards and tree maidens. The kingdom itself is instrumental in the storyline but the way it is described and the manner in which we discover Landover (as Ben discovers it himself) added to my involvement with the novel.

Terry Pratchett has always struck me as owning a genius mind and imagination. His use of footnotes and the mythology of the Discworld has created a set of novels that are, if not unique, then inextricably linked to him in their style and feel. Knowing the magical physics of this world includes us in the Discworld family. We accept that a piece of luggage may easily have legs and be loyal to its owner, that a camera only works if the wee man inside is in the mood to paint and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a flat planet that sits on the backs of four elephants who ride an immense turtle in space. 

Clive Barker is generally labelled as a horror writer. I daresay that for many people, the word 'beautiful' doesn't sit easily with his novels and yet he has an eye for beauty, perhaps exotic and alien, but beauty nonetheless. He paints his worlds, be they in another dimension or, as in the extract from 'Weaveworld' above somewhere we know well, in this case, Liverpool, England, with a vibrant palette. He brings colour - sometimes bright, sometimes deep to a street scene that we might otherwise have walked by unnoticed. His worlds provide not just a backdrop for his stories but a frame that seeps into the canvas of his novels.











Provide your readers with a world that is not just a scenery flat but another living member of your storyline cast. Whether it is set in this, our known world, or some other dimension, planet, or version, treat your world as importantly as your characters. As you would reveal details about your characters, reveal the rules of your world. Does magic exist there? Are the physical laws similar to our own? What is extraordinary and colourful about the world that you have created? Invest as much time and care in creating your world as you do in creating your characters and watch your story come to life.

9 comments:

  1. Great post, Fi. And I love the colors in that picture. That's gorgeous!

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  2. The picture is a perfect match for the Terry Brooks quote. Did you take it? It is really beautiful.

    I am sorry to say that, even though I read constantly, I have not read any of these authors – but your post makes me want to read them all. There are just so many books. I need to read faster. I liked your great advice on writing too: "Provide your readers with a world that is not just a scenery flat but another living member of your storyline cast."

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  3. Splashes of colors in that first piece. I'm kinda wondering if it's a bit much; flowery. What do you think?

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  4. Beautiful post about nice imagery. Thanks for sharing some of your favorites!

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  5. Hi, Fi. This was a great post. Very descriptive, beautiful language. Yeah, initially when you said Clive Barker and beauty, I scratched my head. I don't think I've read anything by him- but I keep thinking I have. I enjoyed the piece you put here so I might go find some of his works. Thanks for reminding us how important it is to have a descriptive setting/world for our readers.

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  6. Thank you for the comments.

    The tree image is a photograph that I took last summer and then played around with the colours. It always seems quite magical to me.

    Totsymae - I see what you mean but this is within the passage from the normal 'grey' world to a magical kingdom that literally knocks Ben Holliday off his feet.

    All of these writers are so prolific and diverse, that there's bound to be at least one novel they've written for everyone.

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  7. Fi - Fascinating post! I know none of these writers but I'm drawn to each one through your words. I'm sure I can find a favorite among them. Magical stretches the imagination leaving an indeliable impression. Thank you for this gift.

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  8. I love really beautifully written descriptions. I aspire to create images in the mind that are so perfect you have to catch your breath in thinking about them.

    www.katrinadelallo.blogspot.com

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  9. I find it very difficult to write scenery descriptions. Don't know what it is, but it's a show-stopper for me. If it's done correctly it is beautiful, but I find many times that an author goes overboard it is jars me out of the story. I know there is a good balance as a writer, but I just haven't found it yet! Great post!

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