A tree story

Tree or Field?

What kind of writing do you like? I don’t mean genre, I mean style of writing. Let me explain…

Recently I have started reading the Steven Erickson books, aka, Malazan Book of the Fallen. I’ve heard a thousand good things about them, and finally I have had time to sit and read them. Or at least try to. But I’m finding it a hard slog. I wasn’t sure why, but nothing seemed to resonate with me. It’s a detailed (maybe a tad overly so for me) world. It lives. There’s rich descriptions on every page, and yet.. it’s not that interesting. Today, at lunch, I realized why. It’s a field story, not a tree story.

So what kind of writing do you like? I like tree stories. And I’m not talking about actual trees. Let me break the idea down. A field story is one that has a rich, almost textured world. And a thousand little stories that make up that world, all going on at the same time. There is so much to do, so much to see, so much to follow. But the thousand little stories all exist separately. They are like leaves of grass, they exist all by themselves. There’s no interaction, no intertwining of narratives. Some of those little stories are quite good, or even fantastic, but they are little things, hidden in a sea of ‘fine.’

A tree story might start that way, a bunch of small stories (I always think of them as roots) that slowly come together and link up, forming that trunk, the core story. There will be branches, offshoots if you will. Characters might come into the main story and then leave later, but the trunk remains. The *core* remains. The trunk centers the story, it’s what the story is *about*.

As i write this today I’ve realized that ‘field’ stories are more common now. Maybe that’s what more readers want, a hundred different threads that more exist to give life to the world, than to form a narrative. I don’t know. But what kind of writing do I like? I like tree stories.

What kind of writing do you like?

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