Post taken out a forum discussion. Every time you like something you are branded like a “fan” who lost all objectivity, and blindness is elevated to higher status than sight.
If you want an idea on Erikson approach to writing you can read this article.
That’s Erikson explaining his approach to writing, including an example of dialogue out of GotM that I consider very well done. You can see that as an example like one of those you provided to prove the opposite. That’s for me good writing, and in the first book.
That said you can even read Adam Roberts articles on the Wheel of Time.
He almost exclusively analyzes prose and proves how dreadful it is. It’s not the occasionally clunky, it’s that sometimes it doesn’t even make sense and there’s verbiage that leads nowhere. For me the gap between Jordan and Erikson is already considerable. Jordan is one who’s not rarely *praised* for his command of language and flowing prose, meant as positive qualities of his writing. Other people may clump together Erikson and Jordan as very bad, but for me there’s enough a distinction to make.
Also, and I can comment on this, Erikson among fantasy writers is one who uses a rather rich language. Jordan or even Martin are easier to read for someone who’s not a native speaker. The language is usually easier and requires less attention. Say, from easy to hard: Jordan – Martin – Erikson – Wolfe
Gene Wolfe is the one considered the best prose stylist among those. I can definitely recognize that. But the bravura comes with its flaws. I’ve said in the past that Wolfe can sometimes say a very simple concept in a very complicate and ornate way. In my book that’s not a “talent”. In what I read I enjoy complexity, but complexity that is not there for its own sake.
DF Wallace is one writer whose prose is incredibly convoluted and layered. He knows this.
But the complexity to be found there is one of value. The content is DEEPER than the surface. That’s what I want from a book. Not something that lulls and dulls me, nor something that complicates without a reason.
Which brings me to Scott Bakker. This is a writer that to an extent I like even *more* that Erikson. He’s also the one who’s usually considered a better “writer” than Erikson by those who have read them (including the previous page of the thread).
Well, the aspect I like in Erikson MORE than Bakker is language. Bakker’s prose is flowing smoothly, well written and sometimes poetic even. But it’s straightforward and, to an extent, simple. It has no shadows or undertones. The complexity in Bakker’s work is in the concepts that rise from the page and the characters. The language is simple and usually undemanding. It does one thing.
What instead I like specifically in Erikson, and like above all writers in the genre and often outside it (DF Wallace is a case I put above), is that Erikson’s prose is often densely layered. It needs to be interpreted and read on different levels and from different points of view. It does more than one thing, and sometimes hidden from the immediate attention.
Wallace and Erikson don’t write with a similar style, but I see a specific similarity in this layering of prose and complexity that is hidden in the text (in plain sight for me). Wallace opens universes with his writing. Is infinitely complex and gives me the impression I’m “falling in”. It opens the mind. I like Wallace because the prose is not complex for complexity’s sake, but because it opens up to meaning within.
Erikson has some of that layering and complexity. Scenes that you read “echo” with scenes coming before and sometimes across books. There’s resonance and there’s use of a number of key words that return and bring significance. The way Erikson writes the single scenes and structures whole books is similar to the idea Wallace uses of “refracted light”. A ray of light (meaning), that is refracted through scenes and characters. Every time it brings along what it was, and says something anew.
That’s the complexity I like, and that’s why I enjoy Erikson not just for what he writes, but HOW he writes it. It can take some time to adjust to the style and discover those qualities. They are there for me, I’m sorry if you don’t see or don’t want to see it.
Erikson on “writing”:
Find out what you want to write about. Choose key words and stack them in your head, leaving them to do a slow-burn through the writing of your story. Don’t look at the light, don’t fan the flames, don’t flinch when they burn. Write around the fire, circling, ever circling, working to edge closer as the story progresses. Drive for the moment when you get singed, scorched. Then pull back, smarting. Study the red welt. Good enough? If it hurts like hell … probably good enough.
Heal. Start again.
It’s not that Erikson put a spell of me and made me a brainless fan who lost all awareness and objectivity. It’s simply that I recognize those qualities in what I read. And it is rather presumptuous to state that NO, those qualities do not exist and I’m the one who’s blind.
I see stuff, you don’t. I’d say you are the one more indicate to have some doubts.