Skip to Content

How do you go about fabricating a story?

From: Raymond E. Feist
Date: 11 February 1997

OK, the how:

When I was a kid, I listened to my father.  Not often, and I didn't realize I was until years after he had died.  Like Mark Twain I didn't realize how smart the guy was until I was older.

Anyway, my dad was a hell of a writer.  He never got recognition for it, because he worked as a director most of the time, or even a producer, and his writing credits included pearls like "Babes in Bagdad."  But he did a first rate job of adapting Curt Sidomark's 'Donavan's Brain' and wrote a killer screenplay on the life of Edgar Allen Poe (his favorite author; his favorite book was Samuel Buttler's 'The Way of All Flesh') that never got produced.

He said, "Give the audience someone to root for, kid."  That distills down about 90% of why I chose to write character driven fiction.  Most people consider _Prince of the Blood_ the weakest of my novels, and I agree.  That's because I never found a handle on making Borric and Erland likeable characters.  I think _Rise_ on the other hand is a pretty decent novel because I managed to write an entire book about a character who was even less lieable than Borric and Erland were; thus I chart my growth as a writer.  Your mileage may vary. <g>

My dad also said, "Tell the damn story, kid."  Hence, my work tends toward the "page-turner."  No long digressions, save a few that I think are needed to enlarge the reader's view of my universe, i.e. Tully and Kulgan's long discussion on magic in 'Magician' or the one coming up between Nakor and some other characters (no spoilers <g>) in 'Rage'. Otherwise, everything I write must do one of two things, either move the story forward or tell you something about the characters you need to know (back up there to the 1st quote).

There are things I hate in writing: tableau setting is my least favorite thing to do.  "Sitting around the table were Lord Jones, how was at the King's right hand, and behind him stood the Evil Lord Bad Guy, and across the tale the Bored Duke Silly . . .etc.  Ugh.

Overly detailed description or narration bores me, and if I'm bored, I'm pretty sure the reader is going to be, as well.  "The lilacs bloomed by the side of the road as the rider's cresty chestnut gelding's horseshoes struck silver sparks that cut through the morning gloom on the flint streaked cobbles of the towns's single road as the rider hurried . . . "

The rider hurried?  Some writers are clueless about pace and style and how they interact.

John put his left foot on the first step, hesitated, then put his right foot on the step above that one.  By repeating this process, he managed to climb to the second floor landing above the staircase.  Huh?  About about, "John climbed the stairs"?

Anyway, my dad said several things that came back to me when I started writing, and those pearls of wisdom were vastly appreciated over the years.  I'm just sorry he never knew how valuable they were to me.

Best, R.E.F.

FAQ answers attributed to Raymond E. Feist are copyright by Raymond E. Feist.
It should also be born in mind that the answer given was only applicable on the date written, and to a specific question. You may find further, similar questions, in the FAQ.


More things to See