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I found a pair of essays (term used loosely) written by Paolini on writing.
I thought it would be interesting to share a bit of the more interesting tidbits. (All tidbits are taken from here.)

Writing is the heart and soul of my being. It is the means through which I bring my stories to life.


Eragon is the first novel in the Inheritance trilogy. I started this book when I was fifteen, after several failed attempts composing other stories. It has been an incredible learning experience, and not only in writing. The greatest lesson it taught me was that clear writing is a direct result of clear thinking. Without one you cannot have the other.


Eragon is an archetypal hero story, filled with exciting action, dangerous villains, and fantastic locations. There are dragons and elves, sword fights and unexpected revelations, and of course, a beautiful maiden who's more than capable of taking care of herself.

While the first paragraph is almost pretentious sounding, I think I understand what he's saying, which is basically he needs to tell stories. I think perhaps a better way of putting it, a clearer way of putting it, would be "Storytelling is the heart and soul of my being. It is through writing that I bring my stories to life", but that's just the editor in me.


Now as for the line, "The greatest lesson it taught me was that clear writing is a direct result of clear thinking. Without one you cannot have the other." I believe I have great issues with. While this may be true, I can honestly say from struggling through his writing, his thinking is about as clear as tar. The fact that he believes this to be true of himself means that he hasn't had a good editor go at his work.


What he describes as the archetypal hero story is not the archetypal hero story, but instead a list of cliches that are often found in archetypal hero stories. The hero's story does not need dragons, elves, sword fights, dangerous action, and exciting villains. The hero's story only needs the hero character going on a journey or quest to discover something and then return triumphant changed by his new knowledge. "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: Fabulous forces are encountered there and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow men." (J. Campbell (1972) Myths to Live By (pp.202-03). New York:NY.Penguin Putnam, Inc. There's nothing in there about villains, getting the girl or anything like that. What he has done is taken the skin of the hero's journey and called it the entire animal.


For me, the time I spend plotting out a novel is more important than the actual writing. If you don’t have a good story, it’s exceedingly unlikely that a good book can be pulled from the morass of ideas floating around in your brain. Typing out Eragon was a rather straightforward affair once I had the plot firmly in hand—though I did spend some time revising Eragon and Murtagh’s flight to the Varden because of some fuzzy thinking before reaching that segment.


Now, I think, you can take a bad story and if you're a talented enough writer create a good book. But looking at this, I think he's confusing plot with story. A book is a story. The two terms, at least in fiction, I think are interchangeable. A good story makes a good book, because if the story isn't told well, then you can't tell if it's a good story or not. Plotting is apart of writing the story, it gives you the structure of the novel, it tells you how you're going to tell it. It may be more important that the physical act of writing, but it is still writing the book. And even still, if you have the plot firmly in hand you must be willing to make changes to it because sometimes the plot, the story, or the characters demand it. Plots are at best outlines that grow organically from the beginning to the end, twisting and changing as you develop the story and the world.


I used Old Norse as the basis for my Elven language in Eragon, as well as many names. All the Dwarf and Urgal words, however, are of my own invention.


I really don't think that Paolini could have learned enough about Old Norse to make his own language and then he goes and proves that he's been pounding at the keyboard to make shit up.

Essay
Essays

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