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How to Bake a Bad Book

July 7, 2010

I haven’t read nearly as much Fantasy as I’d like to have read, so I can’t claim to be much of an expert, but I read more of it than I read of other genres, so I suppose I’m entitled to gripe about some of the more common idiocies.

To continue with my comparisons between books and food, here is a recipe:


First, take some generic world-dough and form it into a rectangular continent, of a size that will fill a book page perfectly. If you are going to have mountain ranges or rivers, make them perfectly straight. Do not give a damn about climate zones or proportions.

Sprinkle a few town names over your continent cake. Make sure to mix English names evenly with made-up ones, and ensure that the made-up ones sound as if they come from at least five different languages.

Bake your world-cake for about half a minute at very low mental energy, then cut it horizontally and lift off the top part.

Now prepare the character filling.

First make sure you have a confusingly large cast of absolutely indistinguishable characters. Personal traits should never appear natural – every reader should be able to recognize the hard work you have done tacking them onto your standardized character.

Next, add some elves and dwarves – Tolkien had them, so you have to have them, too. If you are going to give them a language and culture, base them closely on Tolkien’s. Otherwise, make them indistinguishable from the rest of the cast, except for some obvious physical traits, namely pointed ears and good eyesight, or shortness and beards.

For an even tastier cake, mix in a couple of dragons, werewolves, vampires, zombies and demons.

A wonderful rectangular world-cake. Please observe the good utilisation of paper space and the nearly entirely straight mountain range. Also, the fantastically large dimensions of the mountain pass in relation to the size of the continent. And the jumble of English and made-up names!

Now, you will need some language cream. This is best prepared by taking sounds from at least three different languages – the more different, the better. Something vaguely Germanic, Tolkien’s Elvish and some Japanese will do nicely. Stir until you’ve got a lumpy mixture and coat the characters evenly with it.

If the language cream seems like too much work, don’t worry. Just get some instant gibberish, easily obtained from any five-year-old. Who needs  a language, really, when you can just throw in some swearwords like ‘sagahog’, ‘pompaprune’ and ‘pocksicker’?

Spread the mixture of characters and language on the bottom part of the cake, and set a villain in the middle of it. Make sure to use the most evil one you can find, preferrably one of the ‘I’ll destroy the world just for the heck of it’ kind. A power-crazed tyrant will do in a pinch, but only if he is following some incomprehensible plan, aided and adored by sadistic henchmen and feared by everyone else.

Put the top part of the cake back onto the filling and prepare the plot icing. It should consist of finely ground clichés mixed with large amounts of magic. Also, always keep in mind the formula for getting people’s attention: neon colours, sparkle and ka-BOOM! As such, your icing should have blindingly bright colours, sparkle and go ka-boom on a regular basis.

Should any plot holes remain, patch them up with a generous dollop of ‘But it’s magic! That’s coooool!’ paste.

Lastly, cut the cake into three or more pieces, to serve as, at the very least, a trilogy.


And then, as my best friend (my partner-in-crime in creating this recipe) and I like to say, you’ve got a magnificent… headache.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mlknudsen66 permalink
    July 14, 2010 21:16

    Awesome analogy and oh, so true. Dang fantasists.

  2. July 14, 2010 21:50

    Glad you like it. It was fun to write!

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