A Writer’s Manifesto: Why I Write What I Write

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A quick manifesto.  My name’s Bruce Burns and I write science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy.

Writing has been slow for the past year.

The fault has been my own. I forgot my fundamental method.

So I’m going back to the white board, and I’m going to tell the sort of story that I love. There will be plenty of martial arts, some science fiction, a touch of the mystical, good faith, honor, friendship, brotherly as well as romantic loves, villains to conquer, skies to reach, injustice to correct, and a romping good time to be had in the process.

Then, when my imaginary friends and I are quite exhausted at the end of our adventure, we’ll open it up for others to come and share the ride.

There will be violence, because ultimately the world is ruled by the naked expression of force, and in an ideal world there are heroes strong enough to oppose the villains who would do us harm.  Or do you not want 1000 fellow free men with guns by your side when ISIL comes rolling over the hill in a dozen makeshift warthogs (I swear they learned their tactics by playing Halo in a bunker)?  The earliest childhood memories of peace reflect this, resting in a father’s strong arms, or within the strong walls of our home as the storm rages impotently beyond.  Peace is when those who protect us are stronger than that which would harm us.  It’s true, and a great source of drama.

There will be sex, because everyone cares about it from about the age of 10 on.  Sometimes people care about not having it, or not having a chance to have it, or having too much, or suffering wrongs in this department, but sexuality is always important.  It’s simply life.  You know… sort of how without it there isn’t any life.

There will be faith, because everyone believes in something, even if it just their own importance.  Everyone.  Believes.  Something.  Their true beliefs show and shape what they are and do, and so any true story must have a true conflict between beliefs, whether that is overt or subtle.

There will be science.  I know too much history to pretend that there has ever been a world without knowledge.  You try navigating across the ocean in a perpetually leaking plus-size war canoe, as the Vikings did.  At college studying medieval history we still didn’t know how the medieval people managed to make some of their stained glass colors.  The ancient Greeks calculated the size of the earth simply by looking down a well, and did geometrical equations with stick drawings that most American college kids don’t understand.  Engineer a trireme with nothing more than an abacus, and I’ll be impressed.  Technological innovation defines the history of mankind, so I can’t believe a story that does not contain it.

There will be magic.  There always has been.  It’s in the Bible.  It pervades ancient historical records.  Only the supreme arrogance of our current materialistic generation claims that “everyone knows” there is no such thing as magic because “no one has ever seen” it actually work, and all of those thousands of years of people who wrote about it were simply so much stupider than we are.

Please… Without ever being taught it, without looking it up, stare at the night sky and figure out the temporal period of stellar conjunctions so well that you can construct circular monuments perfectly aligned to them, without the ability to photograph or preserve the sight of the conjunction itself, and then preserve that accuracy over the months and years it takes to build Stonehenge.  After you do that, we’ll talk.

Finally, I must steadfastly reject the dao of George H.R.R. Martin.  Certainly there are horrible things in the world.  Terrible things happen to good people, unjustly.  Fiction serves no great benefit to surrender to the mean.  If we are ever to have a better world, stronger love, more honor, greater justice, we must forge it out of the world that we currently inhabit.  Before we can make it, we must dream it.  Therein is the duty and delight of fiction, to dream the better world we someday hope to inhabit!


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