Weepy Wednesday: Wondering Words

I am… uncertain. Shall I weep or shall I chortle?

Welcome to Weeping Wednesday, where we post writing that makes us shed tears, whether from joy or sadness.

When I started this, I stated that I would not share the author or book a bad example came from, for want of protecting the egos and possibly sales of those who worked hard to self-publish. However, if a book went through “traditional publishing,” I would share the title! Well, today we get such an example. 

Feast your brain on this opening passage from Calvin Miller’s War of the Moonrhymes, Volume III in the Singreale Chronicles. It was published in 1984. The cover itself and the quality of the paper gives it the wonderful feel of “Fantasy is selling now so we’re going to publish the most outlandish fantasy we can find!” I’m sure Mr. Miller put a lot of heart into this story, so I bear him no personal ill will. We’re also jumping in at the beginning of volume three, so I’m sure there’s a lot of backstory we simply don’t have. (And I don’t have the previous volumes to find out one way or another!)

This is the cover I have. It’s got that feel of a thrift-shop find… which it probably was at the time.
It’s since been re-released with a much more “standard” modern fantasy cover.

However, let me give you the opening paragraph:

The same month that Raccoman and Velissa sailed for the troubled northern lands, a leathery old Moonrhyme heard the cry of the last Ganzinger fowl making its way to warmer lands. The cold of the northern winter held an icy prophecy. “It is the end, the end of all is at hand unless the stones can live,” the Moonrhyme whispered to himself in the darkness.

Now, there’s not anything particularly wrong in this — except the foreign language. I realize that this is a fantasy, but I feel a bit like I’m reading “Jabberwock.” There’s just enough strange words to make me look at this as work rather than a pleasant reading experience.

In your writing, unless you’re going for whimsy or you’re someone amazing like Lord Dunsany, limit the amount of strange words, particularly in opening paragraphs where our context is limited.

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2 thoughts on “Weepy Wednesday: Wondering Words

  1. It’s just my opinion, but I think that cover you have isn’t so much thrift shop material as it is representative of other fantasy art from that era.

    Exhibit A:

    Exhibit B:

    Exhibit C:

    1. TSR much? 🙂

      I’ll grant you it’s art from a certain era, but my most vivid memories of such covers come from thrift stores and discovering these treasures that my parents always made me put back. So I’m acting more on my personal experience there. (And to be clear, I’m certainly NOT saying that it’s worth only a thrift store; it’s just that’s where I encountered most of these kind of covers.)

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