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Taika's Song - First Two Sections

Howdy All --

Attached, if I have done this correctly, should be the first two sections of one of the novelish somethings I've been working on. It's the oldest of the three. I have deep affection for it but have not worked on it in earnest in quite some time. I thought sharing parts with all of you might be just what I need to give it some renewed energy and attention. 

The working title is Taika's Song and I would classify it is a kind of real-world fantasy story. Not sure that's a real category or something I've made up myself, lol, but the idea is of a so-called "regular" day-to-day life with an infusion of something unexpected and fantastical rather than a story told in a completely constructed fantastical world. 

Besides overall thoughts and feedback on the writing itself, what I'd most like to know is if there is any interest at all in knowing what happens next to the two main characters introduced in these two sections. It's about 2500 words, I think, so I hope that's not too much. 

Thank you in advance for any and all thoughts. 

Best,
Sulya

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  • Wow Sulya! I love your writing. These two characters are intriguing and beautifully introduced. I like the interaction with the inner voices. Yes, I definitely want to see what happens to them.

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    • Hello Kate--

      My *sincere* apologies for taking so long to get back to you. Please forgive me. 

      THANK YOU for taking the time to read my work. I am very grateful.  

      It is useful to know that you enjoyed the inner voices and my heart did a little skip when I read that you were definitely curious to see what happens to them next. As I said in another comment, there is something so ticklish and fidgety and grounding and sweet about knowing that you can put stuff in the world, people will read it, and actually want to know more :) 

      I hope you are well when you see this and, again, I'm sorry for taking so long to reach out with my thanks.

      Best,
      Sulya

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    • Hi Sulya. I really like the picture paint of Tenessee's bohemian birth and upbringing and the sense you give that he is embarrassed/repulsed by their way of life - which he's clearly repeatedly tried to escape - but also that he belongs in that theatre more than Milis does, even though she's the musician and he's tone deaf. I love the description of his birth, built around stories which have evidently been told and retold hundreds of time and the group photo.

      I definitely feel warmer towards Tenessee, probably because I feel that I already know him better through his perspective on his parents' theatre. Then there's the extra gems of Milis's observation of Tenessee - I particularly like the dinosaur jumper - which suddenly give us an external perspective on him, and also the information we get about him apparently being a bit of a failure who can't hold down a job but then the sense of her warming to him more when she sees the mug he chooses.

      About Milis, on the other hand, we learn very little except some what I would imagine are fairly standard 40-something woman's inner thoughts in a bit of a Bridget Jones sort of way. Perhaps that's intentional, and I realise that you probably wouldn't want to rewind back at this stage to give us a picture of her childhood or world in the way you have Tenessee's. I do like that fact that her story picks up just where his leaves off. I think you could probably do with something though that makes her stand out as a more unique character to your reader, not just to Tenessee.

      I'm intrigued by what you say about this being a 'real world fantasy story'. These opening sections give us nothing of that fantasy element and without your introduction, I would have assumed it was a romance. If you have a fantasy element, is there a way it can be hinted at in these sections, so that readers know that they are not just reading a romance novel?

      I like your long sentences but there are a few which I couldn't make sense of, even after reading them several times...

      In short, he thought, I have been watching rehearsals in this theatre since before I was even born. Watching rehearsals is, arguably, my birthright. He’d gestated inside his mother, inside this theatre, for the whole time it took his parents and their creative Carole King singing everyone to bring their second award-winning play into being.

      I can't make sense of 'and their creative Carole King singing everyone' in the middle of that sentence.

      Otherwise, those meaner, defensive voices wind up making her decisions and she goes literally years without finding a man interesting no-less interesting enough to stand any chance of ever again being held no-less laid.

      'no-less' isn't a turn of phrase that I'm used to. I'm guessing it's American. I think in the UK, we would say 'let alone'. Either way, I think this sentence needs some commas.

      (to be continued)


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      • (continued)

        I think there are also a few places where you don't need to tell us quite so much. For example, I would write...

        he knew from experience that whenever his life sent him spinning back here...

        and

        He'd seen her and regressed to an adolescent.

        and

        Not wishing to be caught observing him  (I don't think you need to say 'so closely')

        and

        So, whatever the hell was going on to make her this frazzled over a stranger, she was going to honour the impulse and the rest would be what it would be.

        Also, when you introduced Jacob, do we need to be told that he is the musical director - surely what follows effectively tells us that.

        I like your paragraph about the cello playing, although some might say that you don't need to start with 'he could hear her cello'. I'm a bit confused by the last sentence in this paragraph about the orchestra working the same few bars over and over - how this fits with the rest of the paragraph. Are you meaning that Tenessee hears all this in her playing even though it's just a few bars over and over?

        Why are Tenessee's parents referred to as 'impossibly condescending'? It strikes me as not really fitting with the rest of your description of them. Unless you're communicating that they were always critical of him because he wasn't artistic or musical like they were.

        I noticed you talk a lot about inner-voice, inner-critic, inner-monologue. I think this fits for Milis, but I would take it out of Tenessee's bit. Milis is consciously aware of battling with her inner voices and contradicting them. It would also make Milis stand out more if you don't refer to inner-... explicitly with Tenessee at all.

        Yes, I enjoyed reading it (particularly your introduction of Tenessee) and I think there's lots here that makes me want to find out how they get on when they finally talk to each other, but I'd like to see something more in Milis to feel that she is worthy of Tenessee's attention (that she's not just a pretty face who's good at playing the cello!).

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        • Hi Paul –

          Thank you SOOOOOOO much for your thoughtful and thorough feedback. Much appreciated and so many juicy things to consider. It feels so good to be back in touch - in a kind of reinvigorated way - with these characters!  

          Probably my favourite of your observations is that we need more meat on Milis’ bones in her character intro. I have changed the opening so many times that I had become totally blind to how much of who she is just isn’t there now. I am so grateful you pointed it out. Now, I can weave some pieces back in. 

          Related to your comment about Tennessee’s neuroses relative to Milis’ and seeking a bit more contrast: Now that I know I have to get more of who Milis’ is back into her intro, I have been reminded that it is she who is the more steady self-aware, and generally more self-accepting one. Given I have obviously not communicated this properly in this draft, I’m glad for the prompt to tuck back in and fix it and hope you will forgive that I’m going the other way from what I understand of your suggestion ;) 

          About the “real-world fantasy” element. I hear you loud and clear and have agonized about this.  

          One part of me thinks: (1) There is no version of me sharing this with anyone where it would not have a pitch or “back of book” synopsis of some kind that allows for the “real-world fantasy” to be teased; and (2) the fantasy element is introduced in the next 2500 words or so (hoping to shorten that down a bit too). So, is it okay to leave it at a really compulsive-feeling chemistry and romantic pull until we get to the fantasy element? 

          Another part of me thinks: Is it worth finding ways to drop hints sooner so that people who might not like “romance” but are intrigued by “real-world fantasy” (and who have maybe not read “the back of the book”) might stick with it until around the 5000 word mark?  

          On to language stuff:  How about something more like this?

          In short, he thought, I have been watching rehearsals in this theatre since before I was even born. His parents and their crazy team of Carole-King-singing-creatives had midwifed their second award-winning play right out into this theatre while he’d gestated inside his mother. Watching rehearsals is arguably my birthright. 

          The other lines:

          he knew from experience that whenever his life sent him spinning back here...

          GOOD CALL & CHANGED

          He'd seen her and regressed to an adolescent.

          GOOD CALL & CHANGED TO: He’d seen her and regressed to adolescence.

          Not wishing to be caught observing him  (I don't think you need to say 'so closely') 

          GOOD CALL & CHANGED

          The ones from Milis’ part I will fix as I go through and edit that section.

          Also working on the “hear her cello” bit and very grateful for the flag on “a few bars over and over”… I will make it a “movement” related to a particular scene in the play perhaps?? Really –  thanks for the catch. It’s such a simple logistical thing, but it affects all those other pieces. 

          If/As we continue to hang out on each other’s pages, you will find that Canadian spelling and expression is the misbegotten offspring of its British and American cousins :)

          And, yes, “let alone” and “no-less” can be used fairly interchangeably. I  also use "let alone," but it didn’t feel like Milis’ voice at the time I guess? I will sit with it as I rework her section.

          Last thing: I find it interesting to read the sense that Milis is "pretty" when I have not yet described either character’s looks in any real detail. I totally hear you about making sure they are worthy of each other, lol :)  -- but do you think the assumption of “pretty” might have come from the sensation of “romance” as the genre? If so, it might be one more check in the column of “try to hint more at fantasy” or, perhaps, it will shift as I beef up her character intro?? 

          Anyway!

          Thank you, again, for really sinking your teeth into these pages!

          Best,
          Sulya

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          • Hi Sulya. Firstly, forgive me for assuming that you were American!

            Why had I assumed that Milis is pretty? Well perhaps pretty is the wrong word but Tennessee obviously finds her instantly attractive - from your first description of her, I imagine her with long dark hair - straight and fine, which has picked up the frost but then sheds it just as quickly. Her cello case clearly looks big and heavy which to me implies that she is perhaps relatively petite/slight. Then there's Tennessee's immediate self reflection on his own appearance - pimple on his nose? Feeling that he could not possibly be attractive to someone like this? Later, he imagines her legs wrapped around her cello, perhaps implying long slender legs? Perhaps I'm misreading or reading too much into your descriptions, but to me the attraction Tennessee has found in Milis is, at the moment, almost exclusively physical - such that he can forgive her shitty mood, or even find it endearing.

            Yes, I think your long Carole-King-singing-creatives sentence makes much more sense now and I like the use of the verb 'midwifed' in there.

            I guess that if you're introducing your fantasy element in the next 3000 words or so, and it will be evident in your back cover blurb, it doesn't necessarily need to be hinted at in this first section, although agents might think differently. I watched a Debi Alper webinar where she was stressing the importance of the first page - that it has to grab your readership because the thing that almost everyone does in the library or bookshop is to read the first page to decide whether it's a book for them.

            Need to stop now as I've got an online church service to set up for in our kitchen!! Wanted to respond straightaway though because we're packing later to go away for a couple of weeks first thing tomorrow. Glad my feedback was helpful and look forward to perhaps reading more of Taika's Song in the future.

            Paul.

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            • Hi Paul --

              Thank you for taking a moment before your service to jot  some lines back to me. Appreciated. The details you held about Milis are interesting to read for me as I imagine ways to rework her section and I'm glad that particular sentence re-write has offered some clarity for you. YEY! I enjoyed reworking it and like it better myself now, too. 

              I'm so far away from imagining pitching agents or publishers at the moment but I totally hear the idea of reading the first page. When perusing in bookstores was a more common experience, I almost never read the back of books so much as I read the first paragraph to see if it could pull me in.  

              Eventually, I will post the next section and get a read on how the fantasy element plays to people. Then I can decide what I want to do about going back to the start and making changes. 

              Really grateful for your thoughts, support, and time. How your service, and your Sunday overall, were lovely.

              Best,
              Sulya

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            • Yes, I want to hear more! The characters immediately engage.

              I think it could be shorter - tighten the writing up, avoid repeating information. 

              If you could find a way to hint at any fantastical elements early on then they won't be jarring when you do throw them in. But without knowing what they are going to be I don't have any suggestions as to how!

              Is your genre maybe magical realism rather than fantasy?

              xxx kunden

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              • Hi kundun --

                Thank you for taking the time to read my pages. I am grateful. Copy that about a general tightening and I hear you about the fantasy elements. You are not the only one to flag this. I think I may wait to make a final decision about "hints" until the next section is posted and people can see how they feel about the how/when of adding the fantasy element.

                And, yes. Magical Realism may well be the right genre. I've always been fond of it as a category and drawn to the idea and practice of magic in the every day, but somehow the idea of "magical realism" feels so much bigger and more beautiful than I can meet, lol. Thus, I use the far more pedestrian "real-world fantasy." :) 

                Thank you, again, for sharing your thoughts.

                Best,
                Sulya

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              • Hi Sulya,

                Wow! Firstly, I loved the really striking and distinctive use of language. The sentences and choice of words have a lovely ornate texture which gives the writing a richness and strangeness that I really enjoyed. I was reminded - and this is intended as a huge compliment(!) - of Angela Carter at her most baroque and entertaining.

                I was instantly immersed in that bohemian theatrical world, and Tennessee's parents are beautifully drawn in a very few deft touches - his father's casual joint smoking and wonderfully delicate description of the ambulance driver, and his mother's general insouciance and reluctance to obey 'the Man'. Lovely subtle stuff.

                I thought the contraction of Tennessee's early life into the fourth paragraph, thereby segueing us from the 'reportage' into his direct POV was accomplished beautifully.

                He’d spent the better part of the day in the office today, and one of four boxes of hisparents’ receipts had been successfully beaten from its wayward, reckless, chaotic state of financial ruin into tidy, compliant submission. What a fab sentence!

                I really liked both Tennessee and Milis by the end. They are wonderfully brought to life and their tonal qualities, I thought, were different enough to hint at the fireworks that will ensue when they come together (as I'm sure they will)!

                Putting on my 'critic's hat' (an old and battered fez) ... there are some odd tense skips along the way, at least to my ear, particularly in Milis's section but occasionally in Tennessee's too. 

                I really like the 'present perfect' tense of much of the narrative, with lines like 'Fortunately, that voice has never had much power over Milis. Milis is too much of a not quite-grown-up herself to get judgey of other people’s questionable adultness.' making me feel right here and intimately close to the character. But this closeness is occasionally undercut by a sudden drop into 'past perfect' with a following line like: 'It had been many years now since she’d found this particular subconscious manifestation of her selfloathing despicably self-righteous and annoying...' which feels to me like it ought to retain the present perfect tense and be 'has been...' and 'she's...' to be consistent.

                Some other minor random observations (and also horribly nit-picky stuff... sorry!). 

                I wasn't sure of the meaning of 'bougie', as applied to the doctor. 

                I would have liked to have known who 'Jane and Tom' were before the reference to them taking Tennessee's mother to hospital.

                You generally use italics to show Tennessee's thoughts: 'How can I be at all useful, he thought, if I don't get up to speed...'. But a paragraph after this example his thoughts are non-italicised although the sentence construction is almost identical, only the tense changing: 'Weather like this could irritate the Buddha, he'd thought, but it had felt...'. This may be correct because of the present/past difference in the thoughts, I'm not sure, but it felt slightly odd and brought me out of the story. If no italics is right for the 'past' thoughts, I wonder if it might be possible to tweak the sentence to remove the 'he'd thought', which might also reduce the psychic distance slightly too?

                The sounds of things winding down for the day was typically a bustle of movement ...  - Sound (singular) should be followed by 'was' rather than 'were'.

                 '...morph into the complete silence of almost-full and dress rehearsals and then performances.' From my own twenty-year career as an actor, can I respectfully suggest it would be clearer if this was: into the complete silence of almost-full and then full dress rehearsals, and finally performances'? If you wanted to be really pernickety, there'd be technical rehearsals before the 'almost-full' (although those are usually very far from silent!) and there might be 'previews' in between the full dress rehearsals and the performances too. But that's probably too much! 😁 

                'It was sonorous, rich in tone, expressive and bright'. Can something be both 'sonorous' and 'bright'? I would have thought either or... maybe at separate points in a single performace, but not (as suggested here) at the same time.

                'Milis wove her cello’s voice into the collective with skill even notable to Tennessee who has long considered himself tone deaf and creatively destitute.'  This is one of those funny tense moments. I think 'had' would be better here.

                He knew Jacob, the music director, well enough to know that he would ask them to play this part until it felt right to them all... 'a part' maybe, rather than this specific part? It suggests a pattern of behaviour rather than this single passage.

                Continued...

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                • Continued...


                  His hands then deftly sorted through the messy stack of clean mugs on the drying rack. Obviously seeking one mug in particular, she pretended to read through some script sections that had been left on the table for as long as possible to see which mug he would choose.

                  It felt to me that the comma and full stope were wrongly placed for the sense here. It's Tennessee doing the sorting, obviously, so shouldn't the passage read: 'His hands then deftly sorted through the messy stack of clean mugs on the drying rack, obviously seeking one mug in particular. She pretended to read through some script sections that had been left on the table for as long as possible to see which mug he would choose.'

                  if she could get passed past him to the sink and then the doorway...

                  '...the man in the office had become a caught breath between every note.' Gorgeous line!!

                  'Well through the idiocy of her twenties, the pert, pretend confidence of her thirties, and into the softened flow of her mid-forties...' Also gorgeous and beautifully observed and insightful!

                  'She was an anxious eight year-old in an itchy party dress trying not to cry over a workaholic parent late to her grade...  school concert. ... There was an immediate sense of both more and less space between all of her bones...  The certainty of his presence and observation was caffeine and bright sunlight and a sinewy stretch of her whole naked body spread out on clean sheets.'  This is all wonderful!

                  Final thoughts. I loved this. It's beautifully written and really made me want to spend more time with these characters.My only slight qualm when reading was what felt to me like inconsistency in the tense of the narration, which felt as if it somehow kept shifting when it wanted to be either 'one or the other'. But the language is so vivid and evocative, the characters so likeable and their characterisation so strong, that it was an absolute pleasure to read! Thank you so much for sharing it!

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                  • Hi Jon,

                    I have not read Angela Carter in about a thousand years so I don’t remember her prose well. I do remember it fondly, though, and *absolutely* and gratefully take this as a compliment! Thank you so much. Truly. And, thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful response with so many specific and kind words shared about the language. It was overwhelming and lovely to wake up to today and I think I am probably still a little flush with that “okay-maybe-I-don’t-suck-at-this” afterglow, lol. 

                    I never mind “nit-picky” – the whole point of getting outside takes is to help me see the things I just cannot even see anymore. For example, I absolutely know that it’s supposed to be “past” not “passed” and probably read it a billion times and never saw it. So, really, I appreciate nit-picky. It’s a gift.

                    Given your robust history in theatre, I am grateful that most of those pieces didn’t flag for you (though I’m sure I’ll muck stuff up moving forward, lol!). I’ve only ever been in a few plays in my life, only one that would have been deemed on the amateur end of professional really. I’ve always been more of a film girl overall, but I appreciate theatre. Thank you for the breakdown/order of rehearsals. Right now I’m wondering if I’ve overwritten the moment because I was worried about seeming “authentic” you know? Like, maybe it could be greatly simplified instead of made more “true,” if that makes sense? 

                    Okay. So. I am in awe of you properly naming the tense I used. I’ve got some game when I help others edit but I have *no idea* what anything is called because no one ever taught me “grammar.” I kind of just know (most of the time, lol) when something is wrong and can usually figure out how to fix it but it’s more gut instinct than brains or know-how that gets it done, lol. It’s great to have some proper language for this. Now – bowing thoroughly to your superior grammatical knowledge - I have to ask:

                    If one is writing in the ‘present perfect’ but something you want to talk about has happened in the past (recent or distant or ongoing-in-the) relative to that moment/tense, how would you write it? 

                    I do see/hear what you are seeing/hearing, so I will read through the sections and be more mindful of these slips so I can fix them. If you do find you have a moment to respond to the question above, I would be grateful and it might help me to understand why my “grammatical gut” obviously keeps tripping on this… 

                    Some of the smaller stuff:

                    "Bougie" is short and hippyish (and is a word making a comeback) for “bourgeois” – keep it? Lose it? Find something better? 

                    About the Tennessee "italics for inner thought and past tense catch." I chucked the “he’d thought” as you suggested. FIXED

                    The sounds of things winding down for the day. FIXED

                    'It was sonorous, rich in tone, expressive and bright'. Can something be both 'sonorous' and 'bright'? 

                    This one is super interesting to me. I looked them up to play more thoughtfully with your hiccup… The very fact that we use the word “bright” for music is kind of synesthetic in a way, isn’t it? Bright is more strictly a word that qualifies “light” (or sharpness of mind/thought/personality etc.) not “sound.” In the world of “sound,” though, it does seem to have taken on an idea of “elevation” hey? So, indeed contrary to the “depths” of “sonorous”… Honestly, as interesting as it is, it mostly makes me think I overwrote the section and can lean it down. But, being a word geek, I am stoked you gave me an opportunity to think about this :)

                    'He knew Jacob, the music director, well enough to know that he would ask them to play this part until it felt right to them all... 'a part' maybe, rather than this specific part? 

                    Per previous comments, I have changed this to “movement.” I am not well-versed in musical terminology (particularly as regards theatrical score music) but that seemed like it might work and helped to solve another problem. Thus: POSSIBLY FIXED, lol

                    Scene where he’s sorting through the mugs and the misplaced comma. TOTALLY RIGHT. FIXED

                    if she could get past him...YUPPERS, lol. FIXED

                    Thank you, again, for taking the time and for the genuine encouragement. It was needed, perhaps more than I even realized. I am grateful. 

                    I hope your Sunday was lovely!

                    Best,
                    Sulya

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                    • Hi Sulya,

                      I've jotted down my understanding of the 'perfect tenses' here. Bear in mind that this is only my understanding of them, based on a perhaps rather old-fashioned education too many years ago to bear thinking about... and may be incomplete or flawed! Anyway, here goes...

                      Present perfect is used in three basic cases, all involving activities in the past (rather counter-intuitively):

                      1/ When describing events in the past of non-specific time.

                      She has visited this place before.

                      He has written a book.

                      They have been close.

                      2/ When depicting an action or an event that started in the past and is still happening now.

                      She has eaten at this same restaurant for years.

                      He has walked a long road to get to this point.

                      We have lived in France for forty years.

                      3/ When describing an action that started in the past but finished recently (there's often an unstated, implicit 'now' at the end of the sentence).

                      The oracle has spoken. We move on.

                      They have forgotten. History has become myth to them.

                      He has made the decision.


                      Present perfect is generally not used to describe an action or event at a specific time:

                      She has eaten there last Wednesday (!)

                      That needs the 'past perfect'.

                      She had eaten there last Wednesday.


                      The past perfect usually conveys the sense of an action or events in the past that finished before another action started (although the 'second event' can sometimes be unspoken or even 'doing nothing', as in the example above).

                      She had spoken to him on the phone and he had allayed her suspicions.

                      He had visited the shop and returned with bread and cheese.

                      The past events can be over a long duration, but must be completed.

                      They had lived there for years before moving to France.


                      There's also the 'present perfect continuous' (don't you love the simplicity of English!) which is the 'has/have been' formulation; this specifically implies the sense of 'still doing stuff now'.

                      We have been talking on the phone.

                      She has been training to be an astronaut for years.

                      He has been anxious.


                      Of course, there's also the less common and to my ear sometimes clumsy  'future perfect' (will be / will have been). This describes either actions that will be finished at some point:

                      When she sings, they will have completed the programme of events.

                      or actions that occur in the future and will continue beyond a certain point in the future

                      In August, I will have been writing my novel for thirty-five years. 😄 


                      Phew! Hope this helps. Actually, reviewing these 'rules', I've realised that the sentence from your book that I used: 'It had been many years now since she’d found this particular subconscious manifestation of her selfloathing despicably self-righteous and annoying...' could be seen as borderline as it's formulated, depending on whether you view her loathing as a specific 'timed' event. But although Malis's feelings of self-righteousness have finished (it's been many years since she's felt them)  the time at which she felt them, and the duration of those feelings, are left indeterminate, and she's still living with their echo, so on balance I think I'm right in feeling that the 'past perfect is the better option and 'has' reads slightly more naturally!

                      Glad the notes were helpful. I really enjoyed the passage, and I'd love to read more in due course if you felt you wanted to share further extracts!

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                    • Just wanted to say that real world fantasy is normally called Urban Fantasy as a sub-genre of fantasy. Some of Neil Gaiman's books are example of urban fantasy (American Gods and Neverwhere for example).

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                      • Thank you, L.. I'll poke around "urban fantasy" titles to get a better sense of the genre and be more clear about where this piece fits.  

                        Best,
                        Sulya

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                        • Laure, at the risk of slightly derailing this thread (sorry, Sulya), I wonder if I can ask for a knowlegeable opinion? It is to do with the thorny issue of genre, so hopefully not completely off-topic.

                          As an oldie, I've always slightly struggled to get my head around the fantasy genre definitions currently used. Specifically, the seeming dual use of the 'high' and 'low' fantasy titles. As I understand it, currently: 

                          'high fantasy' is used to denote a book that takes place in an 'other' imagined world different from our own - Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones

                          'low fantasy' is where fantasy elements intrude into 'our' normal world - Harry Potter or Carnival Row

                          'epic fantasy' is a sub-genre of 'high fantasy' which takes place on a very grand scale and deals with 'global' events or events over historic time-scales

                          'urban fantasy' seems to be synonymous with 'low fantasy' above

                          Have I got that right?

                          Because this slightly conflicts with my previous (and perhaps incorrect) understanding of the 'high' and 'low' fantasy labels, which used to mean...

                          'high fantasy' - as above, stories that take place on a grand scale and/or over historic time-scales. Even if the protagonist is of humble birth (the 'stableboy who fate makes a hero) the cast usually features kings, queens, princes, huge armies, vast battles, assorted members of 'Dark Lords Anonymous' etc. Often spread over multiple volumes! Lord of the Rings is probably the definitive example, but work like Moorcock's earlier tales of Elric or Corum would also fit.

                          'low fantasy' - events that involve smaller scale happenings and 'ordinary' people or adventurers - Fritz Leibers 'Lankhmar' stories of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, for example, or C. J. Cherryh's 'Merovingen'. Even the Conan stories would fit this definition, or Jack Vance's 'Dying Earth' saga. Nobility are usually background or not present at all.

                          Both of the above usually take place in an 'alternative' world, so nowadays would probably both be placed in the 'high fantasy' pigeonhole, regardless of the scale of the events they portray. Is that right?

                          Don't even get me started of the whole 'noblebright' v 'grimdark' thing! 😆 

                          I now return this thread to its primary function of complimenting Sulya on her wonderful writing!

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