Dunnett Despair

I’m beginning to think I should impose a moratorium on my reading of Dorothy Dunnett’s novels. Some authors I can read and be inspired; she makes me despair for my ability to write at all. On every level I can think of, she induces a feeling of abject inferiority: her dialogue, her descriptions, her characters and her plotting . . . and hell, that’s just re-reading bits of The Game of Kings, also known as HER FIRST BLOODY NOVEL. I like Doppelganger and all, but it just doesn’t compare, and I know it.

It doesn’t even solve the problem to write some manner of fiction very different from hers. A first-person urban fantasy would sound odd indeed if written in her style, but that doesn’t quite let me shake the inescapable awareness that the awesomeness quotient of any given sentence isn’t up to snuff.

Sigh. I should go read some crappy fiction to get my spirits back up — but that wouldn’t be nearly so enjoyable in its own right, of course.

0 Responses to “Dunnett Despair”

  1. danielmc

    crappy fiction?
    I gots some terry Brooks and David Eddings you can borrow.
    even some old robert e howard, lin carter, and burroughs.
    …well that is more pulp…but still.

    • kniedzw

      See, I have a soft spot for Eddings. He only knows how to tell one story, but it’s a pretty entertaining story.

      At least it was the first time or two through.

      Brooks, I’ll agree, is a bit of a Tolkien clone.

      • mindstalk

        I’ve heard it said that only the first Brooks was a clone, possibly with publisher pushing, and that he got more original in the sequels. I haven’t read him myself, though. (Nor Eddings, Anthony (well, one), Lackey, or some other standard fantasy extruders.)

      • danielmc

        actually, i was half- kidding.
        the eddings first series was wonderful for me at the time i read it.
        and after the tolkein rip in “sword”, brooks created some interesting tales.
        i have a soft spot for the four lands…

        and there is always room for pulp…


  2. moonartemis76

    you knew this would happen 😉

    your life will get there. It’s a pretty cool frickin’ life.

  3. ninja_turbo

    Dude, it’s okay.

  4. lowellboyslash

    I get the exact same feeling about my stuff when I read, oh, just about anything… but especially Philip K. Dick.

    Just remember that your stuff is awesome in your own way, and that’s much better than being awesome in Dunnett’s or anybody else’s way. (If that helps.)

  5. Anonymous


    We all need some humility at times; Ricardo Pinto’s THE CHOSEN sparked a similar reaction in me. At my best, I can write that way; but he does it all the way through and consistently.


  6. anima_mecanique

    Whenever I feel bad, I go back and look at the Mercedes Lackey books I read when I was sixteen.

    No matter what sort of crap I write, I can at least take comfort in the fact that it will never, ever feature horrendously wangsty wizards who ride magical telepathic horses.

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