[Cradle] is sincere but doesn't take itself too seriously
Well said. And thanks!
That’s definitely how I think of it. Sincerity is higher priority to me than taking the world seriously.
On the one hand, I do take the characters seriously and I want them to live meaningful lives and grapple with sincere struggles.
On the other hand, I’m very aware that this is a series about punching Godzilla in the face.
So many series struggle with that concept. Either they have every instant be incredibly dire and epic and they just pound the reader with maximized stakes until they’re numb, or they turn everything into a joke and are unable to stay serious for more than a sentence, which kills the stakes entirely and makes the reader not care about the characters. Will strikes a good balance in Cradle. IMO, his earlier works were too far on the dire side.
Yeah, I feel like a lot of times sincerity is compromised by taking a series too seriously. There’s some integrity in the realization that “At the end of the day, this story is fantastical and ridiculous,” but at the same time, fantastical and ridiculous stories can still have real emotional impact.
IMO, his earlier works were too far on the dire side.
Funny enough, I agree, but I’d say it was for lack of ability, not lack of intention.
Early on, I thought the inflated over-the-top ridiculousness of the setting was enough to signal to the reader “Don’t take this too seriously.”
Simon’s carrying a doll and swinging a sword bigger than he is. Elder Empire is pirates versus ninjas versus Cthulhu.
But within the world, the characters take it seriously because of course they do. It’s not ridiculous to them, it’s real life.
That isn’t enough for someone reading fiction, though, because so often stories DO want you to take them 100% seriously. And I slowly realized that over a few years and adjusted how I presented them.
If I were to re-write my earlier books, basically through Soulsmith, I’d highlight the inherent humor a little more. Not necessarily ramping up the one-liners, but some more beats where I signal to the reader that THEY aren’t supposed to take this as dire and brooding even if the characters do.
Like Simon tripping over his cloak, Shera treating murder missions as the humdrum status quo, and so on.
For one thing, I could have exaggerated how overly stiff and formal Sacred Valley people are compared to outsiders.