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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fantasy: Watt-Evans Laws of Fantasy

  1. Watt-Evans' First Law of Fantasy: Stories are about people.
  2. Watt-Evans' Second Law of Fantasy: People are never wholly good or wholly evil, and therefore characters should never be wholly good or wholly evil.
  3. Watt-Evans' Third Law of Fantasy: The basic human motivations are universal.
  4. Watt-Evans' Fourth Law of Fantasy: Everything other than the basic human motivations will vary, depending on the cultural setting.
  5. Watt-Evans' Fifth Law of Fantasy: Magic, like everything else, has rules.
  6. Watt-Evans' Sixth Law of Fantasy: If a story can be written without a fantasy element, then don't bother with the fantasy element.
Other Laws:
  1. Watt-Evans' Law of Literary Creation: There is no idea so stupid or hackneyed that a sufficiently-talented writer can't get a good story out of it.
    1. Feist's Corollary: There is no idea so brilliant or original that a sufficiently-untalented writer can't screw it up. (Raymond Feist came up with this one in response to my ''Law of Literary Creation.'')
    2. Morrison's Corollary: There is no idea that a sufficiently-talented writer has made into a good story that can't become annoying in the sequels. (Keith Morrison added this one in 1999.)
    3. Holliday's Corollary: There is no plot so stunningly original that a journalist can't make it sound hackneyed. (Added May 12, 2000, courtesy of Liz Holliday.)
  2. Debra Doyle's Rule: If it has horses and swords in it, it's a fantasy, unless it also has a rocketship in it, in which case it becomes science fiction. The only thing that'll turn a story with a rocketship in it back into fantasy is the Holy Grail. (Reprinted by permission of Debra Doyle)
  3. Sophronia's Rule: Don't use metaphors in fantasy; your readers will take them literally. Or they may take them figuratively -- but if so, they'll also take your magics and transformations figuratively. Either way, you're in trouble. (Reprinted by permission of Teresa Nielsen Hayden)
  4. Steven Brust's Rule: Don't explain why it works; explain how you use it.
  5. Yog's Rule: Money flows toward the writer.

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