Creative fun in
the palm of your hand.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/newsletters/action/archives/id/9731
Fantasy: August 28, 2019 Issue [#9731]

 This week: Nature
  Edited by: Waltz in the Lonesome October
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
         -Ralph Waldo Emerson

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
         -William Shakespeare

All things are artificial, for nature is the art of God.
         -Thomas Browne

Word from our sponsor

Letter from the editor

Ah, nature. Trees, wind, rain, skyscrapers...


Okay, let me explain.

We humans tend to draw a distinction between "natural" and "artificial." The former is normally used to refer to stuff we had little or nothing to do with, while the latter refers to stuff humans create. That's a useful distinction, I think, even if the line gets blurry: is a radish natural if we plant a seed on purpose, nurture the seedling, pour water on it, pull what we consider weeds from its vicinity?

But then we have to go and make value judgements. "Natural" has the connotation of healthy, pure, wholesome; "artificial" is... well, not those things. Think of all the foods labeled "All-natural!" or "No artificial ingredients!"

Let's not forget that lava, poison ivy, cobra venom, and the sun's ultraviolet rays are also "all-natural."

But then we run into other problems with our nomenclature. Consider a bird's nest. It's made of twigs, grass, bones, whatever - all "natural" - but a bird built that thing for bird uses. Is it natural? Or perhaps a termite mound, built by termites to do termite things and usually devastating the environment around it - a "feature" often used to decry that which we call artificial.

In my view, since humans are natural creatures, anything we do is therefore natural also - including automobiles, nuclear plants... and skyscrapers. Whether these things are generally beneficial or not is a different issue.

But okay, personal opinion aside, again, let's go back to the idea of "artificial" being a synonym for "human-made."

Okay, Waltz, how is this relevant to Fantasy?

Glad you asked. One of the most common tropes in fantasy is other sentient species - think elves, trolls, faeries, whatever. When constructing a world with species like these, or similar to them, then where do you draw the line between natural and artificial? Is it only what humans create that is considered unnatural, or do the elves' treehouses count as well? Sure, generally, elf-types are portrayed as living more in harmony with the rest of nature, but I'm only using that as one example.

How is a fictional troll enclave (or whatever it is trolls live in) different from a bird's nest, in terms of its artificiality?

No, I'm not answering the question here; I'm asking it in hopes that, in writing, you'll keep this sort of thing in mind. "Nature good, artificial bad" is baked into a lot of fantasy, but I'm challenging that.

Oddly enough, those value judgements are reversed for much of science fiction, where nature is sometimes seen as the enemy and technology as savior (think about the common Star Trek trope of exploring a new planet and getting faced by some weird alien plant) - could this be one of the elusive differences between those two genres?

In any case, I hope this has given you something to think about. I know I'll be considering how to play with these themes in future work.

Editor's Picks

Let's look at some all-natural, artificial fantasy:

 Thunderclouds  [13+]
A free verse poem
by Snow Vampire

 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

 Son's Karma  [E]
An angry father goes after son.
by Kellie Burke

 Letra and Cobar Trial of Faith  [E]
This is a short story of fiction of a myth.
by sopaw

Dating Ken  [18+]
The senior initiated her into his world. She wasn't prepared, nor was he ...
by Spooky Shaara

Clowning Around  [18+]
A Clown finally finds his place in the modern world.
by LJ Out To Lunch

 A Moonless Night  [13+]
My adaption of The Glass Coffin by the Grimm Brothers
by Clarified Chaos

Submit an item for consideration in this newsletter!

Word from Writing.Com

Have an opinion on what you've read here today? Then send the Editor feedback! Find an item that you think would be perfect for showcasing here? Submit it for consideration in the newsletter!

Don't forget to support our sponsor!

Product Type: Toy
Amazon's Price: $ 12.99

Ask & Answer

Last time, in "Relevance, I talked about making fantasy relevant.

Write 2 Publish 2020 : Whether the genre is fantasy, scifi, or drama, inserting a political or cultural theme needs to be subtle. When the theme over powers the story, you're in trouble. Look at any popular book, the themes are so buried in the book the reader is hardly aware of them until some reviewer or dissident point out "The book is about...." Why does every book have to have a cultural meaning? Can't we just have good vs evil?

         Of course. I never meant to imply that every story should have an agenda. I agree, though, that if one does introduce contemporary themes into a story, subtlety is important.

BIG BAD WOLF is Howling! : One should always do research.

         That's gotten to be my excuse for being anywhere. "What were you doing at the bar?" "Research."

That's it for me for August! See you next month. Until then,


*Bullet* *Bullet* *Bullet* Don't Be Shy! Write Into This Newsletter! *Bullet* *Bullet* *Bullet*

This form allows you to submit an item on Writing.Com and feedback, comments or questions to the Writing.Com Newsletter Editors. In some cases, due to the volume of submissions we receive, please understand that all feedback and submissions may not be responded to or listed in a newsletter. Thank you, in advance, for any feedback you can provide!
Writing.Com Item ID To Highlight (Optional):

Send a comment or question to the editor!
Limited to 2,500 characters.
Word from our sponsor

Removal Instructions

To stop receiving this newsletter, click here for your newsletter subscription list. Simply uncheck the box next to any newsletter(s) you wish to cancel and then click to "Submit Changes". You can edit your subscriptions at any time.

Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/newsletters/action/archives/id/9731