Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Beautiful Words or Wonderful Ideas?

I don't read many mainstream fiction writers regularly. One of the few I do is Sarah Addison Allen, and that's because she writes magical realism. If you're not familiar with the genre, it's similar to old-school urban fantasy (like de Lint), but with the fantasy or magical element made far more subtle. Books like these seek to elevate you above the ordinary with beautiful language. On the other hand, fantasy also wants to transport to a different world, but it takes a more literal approach. Depending on the subgenre, the style may be elevated for high fantasy or straightforward for modern urban fantasy. Patricia McKillip excels at combining a poetic writing style with a sense of wonder, and I would say Bujold does as well.

Do you have a preference for beautiful words or wonderful ideas? I'm sure many people will say they want both, but do you think one is more critical than the other? Which authors do you think do words, ideas, or both well?

5 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If I had to choose between the two, I'd take beautiful ideas over words. Because if it' not a great story, it won't matter how well it's written.

Crystal Collier said...

Oh goodness, I love both. It would be a question of mood for me.

Andrew Leon said...

The House on the Corner was most frequently classified as Magical Realism back when I spent the little time that I did shopping it around, so I don't think the genre requires any elevated language.

That said, I like Mary Doria Russell for her style. Her language and characters are rich and deep.

Sandra Almazan said...

Alex, I'm with you.

Crystal, good answer.

Andrew, I've read The Sparrow and the sequel. Does she have any other works out? I haven't heard about anything new from Russell in a while.

Andrew Leon said...

Dreamers of the Day
A Thread of Grace
Doc

I might be forgetting one?
Her next one is due out next year.

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