Pub Rants

Sucked Into The Portal

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Last night I was watching the Olympics and reading sample pages.

Yep. I like to multi-task. And to be honest, I shouldn’t be telling you this. What horrible agent has one eye on the Telly and the other on some sample pages she has requested?

Happens more than you think. So just imagine how good those pages have to be if I’m going to rip my eyes away from young women catching big air on the half-pipe in Torino.

Well, I read a lot of young adult sample pages yesterday (and some even with the Telly off!) and I could just feel a rant coming on.

What’s with portals sucking young adult characters from the modern world into the world of fantasy? Why can’t the characters just exist in the alternate world you want to create?

I can kind of see the stratagem. Maybe you want these characters to have modern issues that will only be solved in the unreality of the adventure in the other world? I’m assuming that’s it, but for the most part, it’s not working.

I’m not alone in this. I was talking to an editor over at Hyperion Books for Children and let me tell you, her rant on this topic was… well, I thought I would just let you down easily. I think her main sentiment was to stop. Please, no more portals sucking unsuspecting young adult characters into an alternate reality.

I’m sure she, as an editor, is not alone in this sentiment. Every fifth query I receive seems to have this set up and even when I think it won’t and I ask for the sample pages, boom, there it shows up.

So perhaps a gentle hint for young adult writers, you might want to rethink this. Obviously, if done amazingly well, it will work and change our minds. For the most part, I’m thinking why not rewrite and simply have your characters exist in the fantasy world where you really want the story to unfold? Perhaps nothing will be lost in that translation and you just might open a closed door.


47 Responses

  1. Muttman said:

    I think I’ll go write a book that begins with kids using the toilet and then getting sucked into a portal and send it to you.

    Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

  2. doc-t said:

    I COMPLETELY AGREE!!!!

    I do believe people have a problem with contemporary dialogue or thoughts in an otherworldly, or setting occuring in a dark ages or midieval setting.

    My question is… Why?

    the answer is ussually… “Because they didn’t Talk like that! it’s anachronistic. Because they wouldnt tell jokes like that or talk to women that way, it’s anachronistic!”

    I believe it was socrates who first said “HORNSWAGGLE! Dab nabbit!” either him or yosemite same. I get them confused sometimes.

    It’s a MAKE BELIEVE WORLD… Make it the way you want it.

    furthermore, i see nothign wrong with using more conterporary jargon or thoughts… it makes the character easier to understand and identify with. YES it IS true they may have spoke or acted differently but they FELT THE SAME WAY WE DO. they felt love, hate, anger, pity, excitement, and so on… Read shakesphear, E. Barret Browning, Lord Byron… then read contemporary poems on love. The feelings are exactly the same.

    the faces change but the song remains the same.

    Many people hated the movie “A Knights Tale” with Heath Ledger because the Director took this approach. I loved it. I loved hearing David Bowie during the dance sequence because it made me realize something i had NEVER thougth of before. Although the dances they did in midieval days appears quite boring, they must have LOVED it and had a great time just as we do today…..

    the faces change, but the song remains the same!
    Weird Al Yankovich.. or Led Zepplin. I get them confused sometimes

  3. Anonymous said:

    The storyline (or would that be plot device?) you seem to be getting a lot of sounds as if it is influenced by the japanese anime “Inyusha” (I may be spelling that incorrectly).

    That particular cartoon appears to have a lot of popularity among the teen and young adult crowd.

  4. WarHammer said:

    I caught the half-pipe last night too, and those women caught some serious air!! It was nice to see the American women keep the strangle hold on this event with the Gold and Silver!!

  5. daringadventurer1 said:

    Anon: I doubt it-it’s a very old ploy in SF/F in general (see: Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). the best defense I’ve seen of the tactic (by C. S. Lewis) is that it’s easier for most reader to identify with a character with a mundane background and down-to-earth personality, and the character serves as a kind of a portals or window for the reader to experience the weird stuff through. On the other hand, Tolkien deployed his native-to-fantasyland hobbits to exactly that purpose.

    The trope, Kristen’s commenting on can also be used as a particularly literal-minded use of the idea of fantasy-world as *escape*, or an attempt to make the fantasy world relevant to the hero’s “real” life (see the film version of Wizard of Oz: Oz is a chance for Dorothy to find the internal strength to face her problems. Whether it is strictly a dream or a world you can only visit in dreams/comas/hot-air balloons is incidental).

    In any case, if agents and editors are tired of ’em, don’t send ’em/write ’em if you can help it.

  6. Stuart said:

    Stephen Lawhead did this in his Song of Albion trilogy, but very well. Lewis wasn’t a teenager, but got sucked into a Celtic otherword.

    One reason I think it worked (besides being very well written) is that there was a link between the fate of the otherworld with this world. I wasn’t just a jaunt across dimesions with a “wasn’t that fun” ending.

    But I agree, too much of anything is too much. 1 out of 5? Really? Wow.

  7. Bernita said:

    I disagree with you,Doc-t, insofar as setting an adult novel in a medieval times. I believe the writer should take resonable care that the details are right.

  8. Gayle said:

    derringdo1– I agree with your points about Lewis and Tolkien. It’s a technique that can be done with or without actual transfer to another world. I have to say I felt more wonder when first reading Lewis rather than Tolkien, but that was perhaps because I was much much younger when I first read about Narnia.

    The only series that has ever managed to recapture that same sense of wonder in discovering a new world for me (and I read and love a lot of fantasy) is the Harry Potter series. We discover the hidden world of witches and wizards through Harry’s eyes and experiences.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Fanfiction, Agent Kristin. The writers are sending real world versions of girl falls into Middle Earth or muggle shows up at Hogwarts. There’s always the escape at the end – girls falls back out of Middle Earth, muggle gets shipped sideways through Diagon Alley. Likely to happen when the orcs come over the hill or the magic flies too thick and fast.

  10. Anonymous said:

    Kristin, thanks for the candor. I discovered your web site while looking for an agent for a friend who has finished her book and was thinking about self publishing until I convinced her that since she finished the book six months ahead of schedule, why not take that time to try and find an agent. She is having some success, is happy in the interum and not. I figure this is a good dress rehearsal for me, since I will be looking myself in four or so months. I liked your web site, I admired your client base, and appreciated the fact that you blog.

    Since I am working on a chick lit fantasy thing, that does have some similarities to my character warping somehow to a different time and place, I feel confident that I at least am not having her sucked there through some portal.

    Please continue writing subjects like “Sucked Into The Portal”.

  11. Lizzy said:

    Oh, I disagree. How else, if not some sort of portal, do you get a kid from this world into another world for an otherworldly adventure? There has to be some doorway, some beanstalk, some magic, some sort of something that zips them into the alternate reality. “Portals” are a necessary part of the fantasy genre–at least the kind where the protagonists grew up in modern day Earth time. Besides, portals are real in quantum physics.

  12. Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said:

    Oh, my. You don’t like portals. forests are out. No potty talk. Probably don’t like dragons in chapter 12 either. Dang. I think I wrote the wrong book. …

    I’m thinking my next one will have to be about the virgin gerbils that escaped from the Pike Street Market, invaded the Seattle underground, never have to pee, and are saved by a handsome goat, instead of an obliging dragon.

  13. The Beautiful Schoolmarm said:

    I think I have enough to write the worst query ever:

    This book opens with a forest battle scene while children who were sucked through a portal are picking herbs and their dog is doing his business. It’s intrepid! It’s inciting! It’s insidious! If I use more exclamation points, will you read it?!

    So, people being kidnapped by deities from various mythologies in order to gain dominence over a different world is right out? King Arthur will be so disappointed.

  14. Jen said:

    Anon #1’s Inuyasha theory is quite possible as part of this increase in “kid goes through portal to another world” stories. ^_^

    Inuyasha is on TV channels in the States and Canada, and is available on DVD, therefore it’s easily accessible to people with relatively little effort (how much effort does it take to change the channel to Cartoon Network? Next to none). It could easily be influential on younger writers, since I know what I see/read/experience leaves little ideas in my mind as well. ^_^ It’s what you do with those little ideas that counts though. Make it original enough, and Bob’s your uncle. ^_^

  15. December Quinn said:

    I know what you’re saying, doc t, but a historical needs to have enough authenticity or I won’t read or enjoy it. Yes, a book set in the medieval period where the people spoke exactly as medieval people did would be extremely difficult to read-but there’s a happy medium between, “Forsooth, thart’s summat the winkle ner thort” and “Hey, cool!”

    A fantsay world, though, you’re right. They can talk however they want. I’m currently working on a book set in a fantasy world, and while I thought of creating new words to replace common expletives (use your imagination) I ultimately decided, what the (expletive). That’s what I mean, so that’s what I’ll say, and if the reader wants, we’ll pretend they’re actually saying whatever word means (expletive) in their world.

  16. Anonymous said:

    As a plot engine, I tend to place the charecters already in their world of fantasy, but make them semi-young, that way they are learning of the world in which they live along with the reader.
    -J.Mack

  17. Lady M said:

    Piers Anthony – Juxtaposition and Split Infinity… Fantastic reads that shows Sci/Fi, Fantasy and uses the “portal” in a superb way.

    I’m not sure if others have read Anthony, but if you have not, I might suggest it, should you like the genre.

    I think the overall conversation isn’t about “Portals”…

    It isn’t about bodily functions…

    It is more (at least in my eyes) the fact that people are writing novels/books/ms/stories that have an idea in them that has been “used” before – and they are doing it badly.

    IMHO, writers are getting worse with time. Less care is being taken. Less imagination is being used. Less capability is happening.

    They are getting boring.

    Imagine having to read a thousand pages by ten different authors. And they all say the same thing:

    Once upon a time there was this portal and it sucked a young girl through it to the other side of it to another the universe and it made her very super magical when she stepped on the magical universe land. She was so beautiful and magical now that she was sucked through this magical portal that she could smile and the sunshine would make trees grow all around her and the magical land on the other side of the portal was beautiful as she walked through it and smiled.

    I would imagine with the advent of the internet, and internet “speak”, that people are slowly forgetting proper writing skills.

    I also would imagine as a publisher or as an agent that it gets very tiresome to read through every single story hoping one will be special, yet… finding them all to be run on sentences and full of errors that even a word processor cannot fix.

    Especially where the same idea is used repeatedly – with little to no variation.

    And this is what I surmise from reading Ms. Nelson’s blog.

    Not that the concept is for the birds – but that no one is writing it well enough.

    Just thought I’d think “out loud”.
    😛

  18. Gayle said:

    Congrats to Kristin and Linnea Sinclair on their “very nice” 3 book deal! Saw it in Lunch Weekly. I always get so excited when I see someone in the feild that I’ve heard about, esp sf/f.

  19. doc-t said:

    First: Shael and Becca, You need to finish those books because i freaking love what you’ve got so far.

    Second: Bernita and Quinn, I think you took my meaning and went too far down that slippery slope. By no means did I mean Knights would ride moter cycles, with demons painted on the back of their armor.

    Nor did I mean they would use words or terms such as dude, smurf, ‘bite me’, or ‘let’s get jiggy with it.’

    but like you pointed out Quinn, there’s no reason words like forsooth, thou, and cans’t have to be the norm.

    Also, I don’t see a reason characters in fantasy, or midieval, settings can’t have a sense of humor. You so rarely, if ever, see that. The first five books of ‘The Wheel of Time’are excellent. Most fantasy fans would agree. but i can only recall one situation where a character tried to tell a joke. There’s virtually no sarcasm. I see no reason people in a fantasy world cant tell a joke, be coy, or sarcastic, but these are things typically associated with today.. not yesterdays world or a fantasy world.

    Even in a midieval setting:

    1: a little girl can have a crush on a grown man.

    2: kids can wine and moan.

    3: A wife can have PMS.

    4: Oh! here’s one i have NEVER seen mentioned. A woman can have a period. While the subject would pop up in contemporary fiction, ‘we the people’ for some reason, like to think that ‘lady faile’ didn’t have periods.

    5: Sexualy transmitted diseases. They’ve been around for quite some time, but don juan never had syphillis, and the town prostitute never seems to have to go to the ‘healer’ for a shot of magical penicilin.

    My thought was simply, (i believe) many people feel they can’t have such topics in a fantasy novel unless they bring someone from present times into the story…

    HE will be able to help someone with a drug addiction because surely no one in a fantasy novel knows about drug addiction.

    He will know about avoiding the town prostitute because surely no one in a fantasy novel has ever had exposure to an S.T.D.

    He will be more aware of governtment conspiracies because he’s from our enlightened time, whereas King Thorin would never know that the prince could conspire with the enemy…

    what we consider ‘modern topics’ or thoughts…. we can bring into a fantasy world without apology or qualification. Lady caitlin CAN have a period, Little Emily CAN ask Lord Thowron to marry her, and one boy can say to another “You’re so stupid! I bet the midwife dropped you on your head when you were born.”

    it’s fantasy… when did it become so constricted.

  20. Cindy Procter-King said:

    I have several chapters written on a YA time-travel chicklit idea–the whole concept behind the book is that she needs to learn how to deal in her mother’s body, in her mother’s teenaged “time.” Okay, so there’s not exactly a portal, but still. Just when I thought I was safe…

    Cindy

  21. Anonymous said:

    Right, so I need to send in a story where a fantasy world young person gets sucked into what passes for MY world. Ya-huh. Getting right on that one.

    Portal, portal, hmmm, sounds like crude birthing symbolism going on. You travel down a chute, get popped into a strange, hostile environment, and first thing some giant comes along and smacks you one.

    Yeah, yeah, been there, done THAT.

  22. December Quinn said:

    Second: Bernita and Quinn, I think you took my meaning and went too far down that slippery slope. By no means did I mean Knights would ride moter cycles, with demons painted on the back of their armor.

    Nope, I think we’re in agreement. I just took your comment as an opportunity to blather on about my own opinions. I absolutely agree that some historical fiction tends to ignore the fact that people are people, and they were in 1215 as much as they are now.

    That’s bad historical fiction, though, and bad fiction in general.

  23. Bernita said:

    Like December I think we do agree on the main point, Doc-T – that they should be people, not cardboard cut-outs from an illuminated manuscript.
    Which reminds me, there’s one of Thomas a Becket giving Henry the finger.
    I’ve seen a fair amount of humor in historical fiction, but I can’t see the point of some gratutious bit of information about going potty to the garderobe or a woman having her period unless it promotes the plot or developes the character.
    Otherwise it’s just an ( irritating) example of a writer either saying “see how real I am, huh, huh?” or else showing off research for no good purpose other than self-indulgence.

  24. The Beautiful Schoolmarm said:

    I have a character in my fantasy novel that uses ‘thee, thy, thou, thine’ in his speech. He is a very formal, old fashioned character and I think it works. Everyong else speaks modern English, though I avoided slang.

  25. Bruno said:

    Thought I should comment. Been a lurker here for a few weeks and had to chime in: I recently completed polishing my first fantasy novel ms which tried to answer the problems with fantasy as I saw it. I have to agree with Ms. Nelson, here, but felt I had to add a few points. So, here we go:

    1. Too many people taking the political route. I go into the stores and read the back of these things and it starts to become an exercise in reading about aristocrats running about a fantasy world (Prince, princess etc…)What about everyone else? Like the poor SOBs in the armour who have to follow these noble clowns…

    2. Anyone sucked into a fantasy world, by the end of the book will have achieved a level of greatness. “Let’s make him our king/queen/champion because….”
    What? Daughter of Eve? Has a pet dragon? None of the locals knew how to hold a sword?

    3. Up here in Canada we have our own “portal” silliness. Every YA book involves the hero/heroine interacting with a YA from an earlier time. Funny thing is, Canada hasn’t been around that long. As a result we seem to have a plethora of YA protagonists interacting with their great-grandparents’ generation.

    4. The human factor. We’re either writing about humans or anorexic humans with pointy ears and really, really good health plans. What about all the other sentient creatures in fantasy? Give ’em their due. You’d be amazed what these critters are capable of.

    5. Believable combat: How hard is it it to research sword play? Or how a bow is made? Chek out Wikipedia on archery. It’s got lots of useful info. Great at cocktail parties too. Moreover, anything with claws, teeth or hooves isn’t going to be stupid when it fights. Think about the tactics it might use to its advantage.

    I’ve got to say that the charge of the centaurs and other mythical beasts of Narnia in the last film made me cringe. These folks supposedly lived under a harsh government for a century and you’re telling me no one came up with the concept of Guerrilla warfare? “Look, everyone. A young english lad. Let’s follow him into battle. Tally ho.” Ask the Scots (or even the Canadians)how well this worked out for them. Sigh…

    Ok, I’m done. Thanks for listening.

    Cheers.

  26. Wesley Smith said:

    Although Ms. Nelson hasn’t stepped back into the comments to… um, comment, I think her main point about the Portal problem is that it’s a trite, hackneyed cliche. Can the story overcome it? Sure. But many times even in published novels the device is used simply to cover up the fact the “plot” is really just a fantastical travelogue following the protagonists around the landscape.

  27. Natalie Damschroder said:

    This is really funny.

    Check out this post. What timing, eh?

    I would imagine with the advent of the internet, and internet “speak”, that people are slowly forgetting proper writing skills.

    While I think there’s an element of that in everyday communication, I don’t necessarily think it translates from e-mail correspondence to manuscript submission. I think the problem is more a matter of volume. There always been a certain percentage of aspiring writers who really can’t write. But because there are many, many more aspiring writers nowadays, there are proportionally more bad ones.

    I have a feeling it’s only partly that the stuff she’s reading isn’t well done. Maybe if she read a portal book that blew her away with its craft, she’d overcome her aversion to the device, but if you’re not that delighted with it to begin with, seeing it a lot is only going to make it worse, even if not poorly done.

  28. Lizzy said:

    Why are “portals” in MG/YA fantasy any more cliche than love triangles in romances, talking animals in picture books, space ships in sci-fi, or murders in mysteries? In fantasy involving modern day kid protagonists, portals are not cliche–they are necessary. How else can the kid get to the fantasy world? There must be some sort of transport, be it a rabbit hole, a magic train, a wardrobe, a tornado, or whatever. Maybe the problem is that agents/editors are sick of the same old portals.

  29. Jackie said:

    You know, Kristin isn’t saying that she will never request the full of a kid-meets-portal book. She’s saying the query, and then the partial, have to be pretty damn spectacular to make her want to read it.

    Sounds fair to me.

  30. The Beautiful Schoolmarm said:

    Fantasy and YA fantasy are rife with cliches. I’m sure that most genres are. The portal is one. Google ‘fantasy cliches’ and you’ll find lists and lists of them. Good writing and a different slant on things can overcome cliches, but even pretty good writing with an overdone idea probably isn’t going to make the cut these days.
    It’s just a guess, but the increase in literacy overall has probably led to the increase in writers (and bad writers).

  31. Jpatrick said:

    I read “The Giver” a few weeks ago, and while that occurred in what some might call a fantasy world and what others might call a dystopia, it needed no “portal” and it had none. Interesting trend you are seeing here.

  32. Natalie Damschroder said:

    In fantasy involving modern day kid protagonists, portals are not cliche–they are necessary.

    If you’ll read her post again, she is not complaining about the portals as a device, she’s complaining about the whole stratagem of using a modern-day character and transporting them. She’s encouraging people to write about a fantasy world that is completely encompassed–all the characters are FROM and PART OF that fantasy world.

  33. Lizzy said:

    “If you’ll read her post again, she is not complaining about the portals as a device, she’s complaining about the whole stratagem of using a modern-day character and transporting them. She’s encouraging people to write about a fantasy world that is completely encompassed–all the characters are FROM and PART OF that fantasy world.”

    Of course, if I had just read a bazillion bad queries involving portals, I would probably want the whole mess of them to get sucked into portalish oblivion like an imploding black hole. That said, I’m thankful for both types of fantasy—for Middle Earth and Narnia, for Camelot and Oz, for Earthsea and Hogwarts. Don’t you suppose that the “portal-type” fantasy is beloved among children because it lets the child reader wonder, hmm, what if there really is a whole new world beyond that doorway or rainbow or looking glass, a fantastical place where I could actually go, and be important, and be a hero?

    And, actually, when you consider string theory, portals are probably just as true as potholes. Which, as all of you know, can suck you into oblivion. And let’s not forget that sock-sucking wormhole that exists in everyone’s clothes dryer.

  34. MK said:

    As a child, I especially loved these “portal” books–still do, as a matter of fact, from picture books through adult novels, when I can find them. Why? Because these fantasies say that ordinary people living ordinary lives can explore new places and/or participate in Adventures they’d never find in the mundane existence the Real world may hand them. Such folks, from kids on up, tend to identify with main characters (writers strive for such connections, after all), and it’s all the better if those characters escape this dull old world to find excitement in another.

    However, as I discovered when I tried to write a “portal” book many years ago, just sticking bored-longing-for-adventures characters into another world won’t work all by itself. The writer must know why these characters need that place. Usually, in their Real world, they have conflict in need of resolution and/or problems to be solved. Plot-wise, what they learn about themselves in that other world should benefit them on their return. If this isn’t done smoothly, or if there’s no apparent reason for framing the fantasy world with the real one, then the story lacks integrity. Even the most faithful of the “portal” fantasy readers may put the book down and reach for another.

    Since it’s that first paragraph or page that speaks to the agent or editor, inviting her to read on, it had better be well-enough written to convince her to suspend disbelief and duck under that portal, as curious as the characters about what dwells on the other side.

    MK
    [email protected]

  35. Angilix said:

    I disagree with Doc-T’s rant. Periods have been mentioned; see George RR Martin”s Song of Ice and Fire .
    Sansa did have a period, and the periods of other characters have been mentioned. You slid down that slippery slope, Doc.

  36. Shalanna Collins said:

    Every one of my fantasy novels previous to the one I’m currently working on was a “native” fantasy, in which we meet characters native to the fantasy setting and are immersed in the new world. The reason I’m taking an older one and “converting” it into one in which the heroine is pulled through a Gate into the future is (fanfare) . . . Dorch is opening up a new line of noir futuristic romance for which this is a *requirement*: 18-24 yr old woman pulled into future to meet a man who is powerful in the new world, voice being chick lit crossed with fantasy/anime. That’s how I “read” the requirements, anyhow. I saw the announcement (the line doesn’t have a name yet, even) and immediately knew that my SF romance would fit the line, if only my heroine weren’t native to the world. I’ve had to “run that one through the typer” again so that I could make the changes, and I’ve found infelicities in the prose and boo-boos in the plot, so this has helped my book. But I sincerely think this story was “made for the line,” and because it won a couple of unpubbed manuscript contests at conventions, I think it has appeal (it’s a banana! It’s an orange! It has appeal!)

    And that’s the only reason I’m using a “portal.” Albeit it’s not a portal in the back of an old oaken wardrobe (though I adored TLTWaTW as soon as I discovered it in fourth grade), but a Gate set up by scientists in the year 2045 to recall one of their researchers who has gone back to listen to a science lecture–and my heroine is in a hurry and brushes the future-man aside and stumbles into the Gate herself. Sure, it’s a trope . . . it’s a cliche . . . but hey, when they call for that in the submission guidelines and you can meet it, that’s what happens.

    I agree with you that it doesn’t need to happen all the time. However, when a new line starts up, it’s a chance to sell into one of those precious slots . . . they’ll probably buy several books to kick off the line, rather than just one or two per year for an existing line. It’s worth doing a bit of sculpting of this existing book, just in case.

    Now, if only I had an agent to submit through rather than coming in through an unsolicited query. (*GRIN*) I still believe in my book, despite everything. After all, in every romance you’ve got to get the couple together, and if the readers expect a “cute meet,” then it’s fine to give that to them. Isn’t it?

  37. Shalanna Collins said:

    Yes, MK! You’re spot on. (She/he wrote: “The writer must know why these characters need that place […] conflict in need of resolution and/or problems to be solved. Plot-wise, what they learn about themselves in that other world should benefit them on their return.”)

    And it works the other way, as well: the other world needs THAT PERSON for some reason. You are brought there to solve a problem or supply a need. You are the ONLY person who can do this (in most such plots), or you happen to have a rare talent for it and are willing, so the Universe picks you up and shoves you out there. In many time-travel romances, the big reason is that your soulmate was born into that “wrong century,” so you have to go there to meet that person.

    In time-travels, the hero or heroine has to decide to abandon the old world for the new so the two can stay together. That’s a slight variation on the usual portal thing, but I have a wrinkle in my plot (if not a Wrinkle in Time) that’s going to say, this won’t last . . . enjoy your time together while you can. Which is one of those universal truths, anyhow. That bit was in the original novel; it’s getting strengthened by the changes I’m making to customize it to this line.

    Hubby is asking me if it’s really worth the risk to change a book to fit a line when I have no guarantee that they’ll take it. Well . . . I think it’s one of the chances you take in this crazy business. I can only hope that the Universe is correct to be nudging me in this direction, as ever.

  38. Patrick McNamara said:

    Just like every other writing cliche, this can be used badly as well as correctly. Even Harry Potter uses portals, such as the entry to the train platform, although the train itself is the real portal. The Sci-Fi equivalent of this has been the rocket ship, though wormholes/stargates and transporters have also been used.

    The wrong way of using this is to get one’s character to the other world because one can’t think of any other way to do it, such as a portal suddenly appearing and the character getting pulled through.

    I don’t think portals will ever go away, but one needs to be careful how to use them.

  39. bookshop said:

    This is probably the latest (and rather most useless) commentary ever, Kristin.

    I just wanted to point out for you and anyone like me who likes to work their way through blogs from start to current, that there is a story where the portal to another world is, in fact, a toilet bowl: the popular anime series Kyou Kara Maou.

    – Aja