Grandpa Slowpants has decided that HBO Go is the cure for what ails him. He thanks you crazy kids for your advice about the electromagraphic signals tubing to his computerhoozits.
Now, in response to an anonymous query about the term “soap opera,” hell yes. Soap opera. A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE / GAME OF THRONES is the biggest and most glorious soap opera in the history of soap operas. It’s soap opera for people who like swords, magic, dragons, and sexy brooding people in armor. Next time you get some jackhole telling you he doesn’t like “girl stuff” (relationships, emotions, animal companions, family concerns!) in fantasy, see if you can catch him enjoying GAME OF THRONES. Then ask him HOW HE LIKES HIS FUCKING SOAP OPERA. Try “HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR HUGE-ASS SWORD AND SORCERY TELENOVELA, YOU GIRL-STUFF LIKING MOTHERFUCKER, YOU?”
You know who likes girl stuff in fantasy? George R.R. Martin. You know who could build a suspension bridge to the moon knitted entirely from ten-dollar bills? George R.R. Martin. I’m just sayin’.
Now, it’s undeniably true that male writers (including yours truly) are generally and commercially allowed to write about “girl stuff” without being penalized for doing so. In part this is the same old shit it’s always been… I’ve said before that men who write mostly about men win prizes for revealing the human condition, while women who write about both men and women are filed away as writing “womens’ issues.” Likewise, in fantasy, the imprimatur of a dude somehow makes stuff like romance, relationship drama, introspection, and adorable animal companions magically not girly after all.
In a sense, we male fantasists are allowed to be like money launderers for girl cooties.
There is no easy solution to this because self-satisfaction is nearly always less work than empathy. All we can do is point out the obvious and try to do better, bit by bit, book by book, reader by reader.
When April 6th rolls around, we can also ask the more obnoxious girly-stuff disdainers if they’re enjoying their fucking soap opera. I for one can’t wait for my soap to come back.
What he said.
In fact, the long running soap opera is the modern equivalent of the newspaper serial or comic book or radio drama, and all of those are progenitors of epic fantasy as we know it today.
A story told in western 3 (or 5) act structure has one long peak with a series of quick up-and-down ticks in tension (rising and falling action, always trending upwards to the climax).
But the plot cycle in an epic fantasy or soap opera or serial is a series of overlapping sine waves. (One for each character or plot thread.) Each peak in each sine wave is one of those three-act structure peaks in miniature. They overlap, ideally, so that one narrative’s tension is rising while another is reaching a denouement.
This is also why the damned things are so hard to end, by the way. You get into a rhythm, and used to spinning out long plot threads and thematic lines and hooks to carry you from one arc into the next. So the story, after a while, has a momentum. A natural tendency to propagate itself.
Shifting from “middle” to “end” is brutal when you’ve gotten into that habit.
What Scott says about girl cooties is also absolutely true, but we all knew that already, didn’t we?
Chrys watches GoT [x]