'Kingkiller Chronicle' Book 3 'The Doors Of Stone' Author Encourages Terrible Writing

The fantasy setting for Pat Rothfuss' 'The Kingkiller Chronicle,' including lands traversed by Kvothe in his many adventures.
The fantasy setting for Pat Rothfuss' 'The Kingkiller Chronicle,' including lands traversed by Kvothe in his many adventures. Patrick Rothfuss

Fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear and the upcoming Book 3 in his Kingkiller Chronicle, The Doors of Stone, wants you to write poorly. Rothfuss was inspired by a segment on public radio show Wits, in which Neil Gaiman read aloud selections from their “Bad Gaiman Challenge.” The on-the-nose spoofs of Gaiman’s distinctive style tickled Rothfuss (as it seemed to tickle the audience in this video), who asked, in a new blog post, “could we do something like this, but for my writing?” And thus the “Bad Rothfuss Challenge” was born.

If you think you can ape the style Rothfuss deploys in the Kingkiller Chronicle, you can try your hand at 300 “Bad Rothfuss” words and submit them using a Google form on his blog.

So what’s Rothfuss’ writing like? Verbose, heavy on the imagery and prone to elaborate metaphor. Also, lots of hard-to-pronounce nouns. Here, for example, is a chunk from the prologue of Kingkiller Chronicle Book 2, The Wise Man’s Fear:

“Dawn was coming, the Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts. The most obvious part was a vast, echoing quiet made by things that were lacking. If there had been a storm, raindrops would have tapped and pattered against the selas vines behind the inn. Thunder would have muttered and rumbled and chased the silence down the road like fallen autumn leaves. If there had been travelers stirring in their rooms they would have stretched and grumbled the silence away like fraying, half-forgotten dreams. If there had been music… but no, of course there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.”

There’s 116 words there and we’ve only heard the first of the three parts of the silence. Unlike the predominant mode in genre storytelling, with its emphasis on advancing plot, Rothfuss luxuriates in stillness. He loves setting a scene and establishing a mood. So, do that, but bad.

What will happen if you’re one of the worst Rothfusses out there? He’s not quite sure what he’ll do with selections from the Bad Rothfuss Challenge, but some possibilities include reading them aloud at Gencon. At the very least, Rothfuss plans to read Bad Rothfuss passages on his Twitch channel for eventual YouTube consumption.

“If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t. But if it does work, this could be a lot of fun,” Rothfuss writes. “I know. I know. How can you satirize my effluvient verbosity in only 300 words?” Therein lies the challenge.

Join the Discussion
Top Stories