The Well-Tempered SF/Fantasy Plot Device

It occurred to me, on reading The Well-Tempered Plot Device, that with SF/Fantasy writing, the simple love-it-or-hate-it divides don’t exist. You either love it, hate it, or if you’re like me, both.

He starts off by promising that “You have to remember that Mr Donaldson’s spent years learning to produce a book so flatulent you have to be careful not to squeeze it in a public place. All I can do in the time available is to offer instruction on the first and most important element of crummy writing, which is (as my title suggests) bad plotting. I can’t promise that by the time you’ve read these pages you’ll have learned to write significantly more stereotyped characters, or that your style will have become significantly more leaden and clich├ęd. But I do promise that you’ll be fully conversant with the many varieties of plot device, their use and function, and you’ll be able to recognize and admire their handling in the works of the masters: Lionel Fanthorpe, A.E. van Vogt, and the early sword-and-sorcery novels of Michael Moorcock, to name only some of the virtuosi of the plot device I haven’t space to mention in what follows…” and it just gets better and better from there.

He doesn’t really mention the naming conventions (like, why isn’t anyone in fantasy ever called Reg or Cuthbert? Why are they all Gwynion or Tantreth or Xanthia?) or David Edding’s amazing recycling feats which remain unmatched by any Green tree-huggy types in our world, but it’s still going to hit lots of nerves/G-spots if you’ve ever read the genre. Enjoy.