Let it be known up front that I am a big fan of Scott Sigler’s work and work ethic. A harder working writer, I do not know. Having said that, there are things about him that I don’t get. That’s okay. Diversity makes this world and interesting place. But he said something in a recent episode of The All-Pro that made me mad. Hit the link and listen to the last ten minutes or so to get the full context.
He was talking about his writing process. He’s an outliner. Given what he writes, it makes perfect sense to do a thorough outline before he starts in writing. He talks about the whys and wherefores, in particular that he pitches ideas via his outline to his agent/publisher and hones it to a silicone coated pointy point before commencing. All of that’s good and well and makes perfect sense. He went further than that, though.
He said “any time the story gets into a rabbit hole they [paranormal/fantasy writers] can whip up some magic and get themselves out of that”. Now he does qualify that to a degree. It still came across to me as painting with an awfully broad brush. He also said that he has to outline everything and make sure that everything you’re reading does actually matter. That certainly seems to imply that at least some fantasy/paranormal writers don’t have to pay as much attention to the craft and that everything they write doesn’t have to be tightly plotted or make sense. That’s simply not true.
It caused me to tweet:
The FDO basically said as a thriller writer he doesn’t have the luxury of the supernatural to get him out of corners he writes himself into.
I also tweeted:
I’m fine with his stance except that he apparently believes writers of supernatural fiction are lazy somehow
Did he say “lazy”? No. I did infer that from what he said. I certainly don’t think he believes that all writers of fantasy are lazy writers. He himself has written fantasy (I think Nocturnal qualifies and there’s another project he’s working on that I know little about). I also think that his GFL series qualifies as fantasy of a kind.
As a writer of paranormal/fantasy fiction myself, I can see that using magic as a deus ex machina can be a crutch/problem. That’s also true of tricorders/sensors and other SF tropes. It’s one we all need to keep an eye out for. It’s also important no matter what genre you’re writing in to have a solid plot and to make sure that everything you’re writing “does actually matter” to the story at large. To single out a wide swath of genre fiction in the way he did was short sighted at best.
As I told one person, I certainly reacted emotionally. It’s also possible I overreacted. I would love to get Scott’s thoughts and yours. Listen to what he said and tell me if I’m way off base here.