SFR Brigade Showcase – No bunny rabbits, please

SFR Brigade showcase

Once a month, the Science Fiction Romance Brigade’s showcase enables the brigade’s authors to highlight snippets from new works, WIPs, cover reveals or other fun things.

My fun thing is fun for me, though I don’t know about anyone else:

I’m a grouchy curmudgeon!

Some mornings (not too many, I hope), I wake up with a growl in my throat. Like today. And DON’T tell me to grab a coffee, because I don’t drink the stuff, so quit bugging me, okay?!?

I’m going to share a dark little secret. Don’t tell anyone. It might get me kicked out of SFWA:

I disliked The Lord of the Rings.

Not the movies — they were great, lots of guys died. The books.

I read the trilogy when I was in university, and was never tempted to return to them even though I’m a compulsive re-reader. The boring descriptions went on and on and on and on and on and on . . . but that wasn’t the books’ fatal flaw. Nope. It was the villains.

The heroes each killed an average of 72,819.7 orcs, while suffering how many casualties? Oh yeah: one. And the book makes clear that Boromir didn’t die because the orcs were good fighters, but as penance for having succumbed to the temptation of taking the ring.

You know the old saying, “Show, don’t tell?” Well, Tolkien tells us that the orcs and their allies are fierce. But what does he show us?

Orcs are as dangerous as bunny rabbits.

Baby bunny rabbits.

When Gandalf was killed by Balrog, I remember cheering out loud. Finally, a worthy villain!

But then Tolkien ruined everything by bringing Gandalf back to life.

Sigh.

I learned my lesson

Back when I read The Lord of the Rings, I had no intention of becoming a writer, yet I learned an important writing lesson that I’ve applied in all my stories:

Show, don’t tell.

If the villains are supposed to be more powerful than the heroes, show their power. Don’t just tell us about it.

This leads me to my personal corollary of Show, don’t tell. I sure wish Tolkien had known it:

For villains to be worthy opponents, there must be casualties.

Maybe not deaths, but casualties of some sort. Maybe the casualties won’t even draw blood, yet the potential for pain must be real. If your heroes are battling evil, evil must be powerful:

Do I follow my own advice?

That’s for you to decide. Read my books. Let me know if I have any bunny rabbits.

The Tribulations of Tompa Lee, on sale during Patty Jansen’s latest cross promotion, is a good place to start. The villains are bloodthirsty aliens who look like miniature tyrannosauruses. And while I’m not JRR Martin, there are casualties.

And of course, check out the other great writers taking part in the  Science Fiction Romance Brigade’s showcase.

 

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6 comments

  1. Sadly I have to agree Ed. Having said that, I have to admit despite the ‘telling’ and the lack of suffering of the heroes (for the most part) I still loved the trilogy, even though the first thirty pages were so boring they nearly stopped me reding any further. I think, if I’m honest, the fact I fell madly in love with Strider might have had something to do with my love of the books!

    1. You see, that may be my issue with the books. There were no women for me to fall in love with. The movies tried to rectify the books’ female-omissions, which are glaring.

  2. I agree with you, too much telling in the trilogy and the villains are not very villainish. Even though I enjoyed the overall story line, I also have never gone back for a reread. The movies are epic, though. Sorry about the lack of kick ass women in the books–a sad side effect of a male-dominated era. I feel for you, bro. I would’ve liked to have seen more women in them too, but for completely different reasons.

    Hopefully you’re able to smooth things over with the SFWA!

    1. I’m glad I’m not alone. I’m sure, though, that ours is a Minority Report.

  3. I agree that writers should describe realistic action and emotions. When I was a child, I loved Lord of the Rings. In those days, pre-internet, many books had pages of description and readers still enjoyed the stories.

    1. I’m quite certain most people love LOTR! And back in the eras before our attention spans had been reduced to those of hyperactive fleas, people had more tolerance for description — very true.

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