Making It Fun

Had lunch on Sunday with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while.  A great guy, he was the star writer at my high school, among other things.  (Yes, I actually attended a high school that could have a star writer.)  He’s a painter now because, in his words, “It’s much more relaxing.”  An excellent painter, too – he just gave me a lovely landscape of Button Bay on Lake Champlain.

I’ve been thinking about what he said ever since.  His difficulty, I think, was that he always wrote too much about angst and pain.  There was never a lot of joy in his writing, whereas there is in his paintings.  The bittersweet beauty of thunderheads menacing a tranquil valley or a still life of old tin cans both remain beautiful no matter how often you look at them.  Color, light, and shadow require no response beyond the immediate.  They strike you, you respond depending on your taste, and generally that’s it.

But writing is different.  Writing probes more deeply, especially if it’s good.  Which is why, I think, if you write about nothing but broken relationships and bruised psyches, especially if you do it sympathetically, you start to feel the pain yourself.  And then maybe you end up like my friend, no longer writing because he hated the way it made him feel, even when he was writing well.

Which is a long-winded way of explaining why I like to write about what’s fun.  That’s not to say I won’t write about broken relationships and the darker parts of life as well, but I want to make sure that, if I do, there’s a lot that’s exciting and joyful in my books.  Airships in the Underground.  Beer-guzzling bears.  Magic and love.

Life is hard enough without having to read about it too.  Thank heavens we have F&SF.

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  1. 1. Sarah Prineas

    On the other hand, don’t some people write about angst and pain in order to write through their own angst and pain, and maybe come out the other side?

    Not me, though. Fun and adventure all the way, no angst.

    Or maybe only a little angst…

  2. 2. S.C. Butler

    If they do, I feel sorry for them.

    And you’re right. You have to have a little angst, otherwise where’s the story?

Author Information

S.C. Butler

Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.



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