I’ve just finished reading ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ by Patrick Rothfuss. It is giving me a great deal to think about as both a reader and a writer – and overall a fear that I will never, ever be able to write a book half as good as this one!
What is it that makes this book so good? It’s a fantasy epic, beautifully written, with an enthralling plot and engaging characters. The main character, Kvothe, makes so many wrong decisions it is hard to keep track of them, but throughout it all the reader keeps with him, loves him, believes in him and wants him to win through. But none of those things, singly, make this a brilliant book
They are all important, but the guiding light is the genuine, absolute interest and belief the writer has in the world and the characters he has created. It is this integrity that gives the book its life.
So how can we get this into our own writing? First, we need to know what we believe, and then what our characters believe. We have to know everything about them, their past and their future, their nightmares and ambitions. I don’t personally think you need to know the exact details (he was born here, she went to school there) so much as the essence of them – the pain and the euphoria, what caused these; and if your characters experience neither of them, then why not? You need to know, or your readers will realise you don't - and then you will lose them.
So I’m going to keep on working on my imaginary world and especially on my characters, truly getting to know them, and hoping that I can express them with some of the depth and clarity Rothfuss achieves. And maybe the little bit of fear that I won’t, will give me the edge I need to keep trying.