Fantasy and Taters

Hello fellow readers and writers,

I’d like to address an age old argument: Potatoes in Fantasy.

Image from Lord of the Rings.
Gollum asks, “What’s taters, precious? What’s taters, eh?”
Sam replies, “Po tay toes”

Potatoes in Fantasy?

There’s an argument that potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, and other non-European food don’t belong in medieval fantasy.

The argument goes that a fantasy should stick to it’s temporal cultural roots. Since potatoes are a South American food, they shouldn’t exist in a European inspired fantasy.

It continues to go along the lines of dragons being a fantasy element and potatoes being a real like element that having the first makes it fantasy and the second lazy writing.

Potatoes, apparently, hurt an audience’s suspension of disbelief.

What’s your opinion Éric?

I think that if you are writing a historical fantasy or any form of historical fiction, you should make sure to avoid anachronisms.

I can even see the argument for gritty, or realistic fantasy trying to be as close to it’s cultural inspiration as possible.

No, really, what do you think?

Okay fine. I think no potatoes in fantasy is overly didactic, ridiculous, and extremely condescending. I think it’s another way to gatekeep and I think it leads to people who don’t know shit complaining about false anachronisms.

If a damned potato throws you out of a fantasy story, then maybe you should consider only reading historical novels.

The 11th Doctor points at Strax the Sontaran and says, “I’m the clever one, you’re the potato one.” Which is honestly how I see the condescending pendants that make this argument.

In my opinion, if you want to write french fries into your fantasy, go right ahead. I’m a fan of kitchen sink style fantasy (throwing everything into it including the kitchen sink.)

We’ve been giving King Arthur full plate armour for the past hundred years, so why the hell shouldn’t we use potatoes?!

Do you disagree?

Éric

Bad Writing

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

What is bad writing? I bet you can think of multiple examples right off the bat right?

In Star Wars Attack of the Clones, Anakin says, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth “

What if I told you this wasn’t terrible writing but realistic awkward, cult raised, teen flirting? Would you disagree?

So what’s the line? Where’s the litmus test? Why am I using so many question marks? Seriously, this is getting irritating, like sand?

Okay, silliness aside, most people have no idea what bad writing is and love to use it as an argument.

“I don’t hate women, but Doctor Who’s writing just sucks this season.”

“I’m not racist, but Star Wars The Force Awakens is badly written.”

What these people mean is that the show isn’t the way they remember and that makes them unhappy.

It’s not actually about the writing.

There are four main types of bad writing and that’s how I judge a book or show’s writing:

1. Mechanics

Typos, sentence structure, and grammar are important. If they’re off for no reason, that’s bad writing.

Eg: Th woman starred up at his face, wondering what that beard hide.

2. Repetition

I struggle with this in my writing. Repeating things can be useful, but makes it feel like you’re over explaining or condescending to the audience

Eg: She looked into his eyes, wondering what secrets hid behind those eyes. The eyes were dark blue and seemed to see right through her. She’d describe the eyes as piercing.

3. Boobing / Privilege

When you write about something you’re not familiar with but don’t realize, you end up, at best, sounding like a male author poorly writing a woman, or at worst, tone deaf and racist.

Eg: She boobily boobed down the stairs with her boobs boobing. BOOBS

Eg: Her exotic light-chocolate skin marked her as one of the less educated mexican delegation. She’d probably never been to such an advanced city. He was certain she’d appreciate the taco truck outside the conference centre.

4. Inconsistent Story

Contradictions, temporal weirdness, odd twists, or ridiculous luck can all throw an audience out of a work. In tiny doses, it’s not too bad, but too much or too blatant and it’s just bad writing. (Shakespeare was terrible with time.)


People will talk to you about pacing, clichés, contrivances, too much or too little dialogue, starting too early or too late, etc. etc. etc.

It’s all bullshit. What they’re actually saying is they don’t like something about the work and instead of facing that, they’d rather just make a vague useless statement.

Unfortunately, it’s also really hard to argue with such a statement.

Did I miss anything? Do you disagree?

Later days,

Éric

Top 5 Dumbest Arguments

XKCD – Duty Calls

5. I can’t see the curve

For the past two thousand years scientists have been explaining that the earth is a spheroid. Ancient soldiers needed to keep the curve of the earth in mind when firing catapults, and trebuchets.

But for some reason, to this day, there are people who argue their inability to see the curve of the earth is proof that it must be flat.

We have footage from countless satellites, astronauts, space telescopes, and sports cars in space, but apparently that’s just a giant conspiracy.

4. The devil did it

Science isn’t flawless. History is only a good as the person who wrote it, those that can read it, and the medium it was recorded on. However, we have near certainty that the earth is old. Like really old. Somewhere around 4.5 billion years.

Certain people however think that an allegory can help date the earth and they believe that it’s 6000 years or less. Some believe that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans two thousand years ago. Others, when asked about dinosaur bones, will reply that the devil put them there to test our faith.

3. Car exhaust is worse

If I’m standing close to a smoker, I start coughing and feeling like I’m going to be sick. We’ve known that cigarettes cause cancer and are bad for people’s health for more than fifty years. Yet smokers still walk around like they own the sidewalk or bus stop.

When smoking is banned, or talked about being banned, smokers start arguing about their rights and there’s always those that argue that you’re getting more harmful chemicals from car exhaust.

As if the fact that car exhaust is bad for us means smoking should be okay… I guess their view is if Rome is burning, they should be allowed to walk around with flame throwers.

2. Bad guys don’t follow laws

When it comes to weaponry, certain people believe that it’s inevitable that the “bad guys” with get their hands on them. No laws or restrictions cans stop that. They use this as an argument against those laws.

We have laws to not only deter, but also prevent. If this statement were true than the rate of drunk drivers wouldn’t go up if there were no laws.

Our laws should be a reflection of our taboos, beliefs, and values. In the case of weaponry, the laws should show that we value well-trained, responsible, and safe weapon users.

1. I’m not/wasn’t/wouldn’t be hurt/offended

I’ve been guilty of this myself, but it’s extremely important that when someone tells you that your actions or words have hurt or offended them that you listen to them.

Just because I wouldn’t be hurt or offended to be called frog, doesn’t mean that others wouldn’t.

If you value the friendship of those around you then you need to value their feelings too. It’s not your place to decide what people should feel or how they should react to something.

 

Are there any dumb arguments I missed?

Éric