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  1. NaughtyNick
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    NaughtyNick Member

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    Am I the only person in this forum....

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by NaughtyNick, Sep 1, 2011.

    ....not writing a fantasy novel? Am I the only person who finds the real world rich enough in life, emotion and circumstance to use as a setting for a story?

    Our world is home to backdrops both classically spectacular and, conversely, so reassuringly ordinary that they are beautiful. To me, a run down block of flats in the east end of London, stretching up into a malevolent sky, its washing lines thrashed and beaten by a November squall is far more evocative than a make-believe land of mountains which are home to dragons and trolls.

    And as humans, the constraints placed upon us both morally and physically serve as perfect parameters for drama and confilct. Circumventing these rules by providing protagonists with unusual powers and characteristics seems unnecessary. It's almost cheating.

    I know that not everyone who contributes to these pages is a sci fi/fantasy geek, but it does seem to be the dominant genre. I suppose the question I am posing to them is, what is the appeal of a fantasy story?
     
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  2. Quorum1
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    Quorum1 Member

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    Think of writing like visual art. Setting a story in the real world is like painting a portrait or landscape, you use what is there and create a work of art from it. Fantasy is like surrealism, anything goes!

    I read and write both fantasy and real-world stories and love and value both. For me, fantasy is like a metaphor for the real world, you can take an issue you want to explore and expand it beyond all proportions, or change it so it's more subtle than looking at it in reality. Think of how Rowling looked at prejudice in her wizards/muggles/magic-but-not-human themes.

    I have noticed that there are a lot of fantasy writers here, but I also note there are a lot of younger writers too. Younger readers often read more fantasy than real-world stories, so this is what they are likely to gravitate towards when beginning to write.

    I definitely don't see one genre as better than the other - each to their own. In answer to your original question, there are non-fantasy writers here, I couldn't name any off the top of my head though.
     
  3. AllThingsMagical
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    AllThingsMagical Member

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    I started a fantasy novel recently so as to explore the ideas of life and death. To me it made more sense to have fantasy characters - like gods - as I think it sent a stronger message. For example the gods are immortal and so their views on life will be different to those of humans who comparably have very short lives. So I guess essentially I'm saying fantasy allows me to explore concepts and ideas far more thoroughly that any other genre.

    And also I enjoy reading fantasy far more because I tend to think the storyline and plots are far more thought provoking and engaging. Not exclusively though but as a general trend.

    I will read and write other genres but I think half the fun of fantasy is creating a world that is entirely your own. So in a way you have more freedom to be more creative because everything can be completely different to the world we know.

    Anyway hope that made sense :)
     
  4. walshy12238
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    walshy12238 Senior Member

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    I'm writing a Fantasy novel because anything goes really. There's no limit to what can happen: what you want is what you get.
    That's just my opinion though, and I'm sure there are plenty of people that aren't writing Fantasy on here, you just have to look hard enough :p
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as noted above, it seems to just be the result of the preponderance of young writers here, since the majority of teenagers and younger 20s seem to be hooked on fantasy more than reality...
     
  6. NaughtyNick
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    I have read a few fantasy novels, most of which were beautifully written. But in many of them, the grandiose worlds overshadowed the characters. The main protagonists tended to be at best one-dimensional, at worst weak and lifeless, such as the self-pitying, humourless Frodo in Lord Of The Rings and Fitz in Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy who was, well, self-pitying and humourless.

    These books tend to be majestic in terms of imagery, epic in scale and fronted by brave, nobel protagonists, but lacking humour, edge and depth of character.
     
  7. JSLCampbell
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    Well for starters, I'm not certain what exactly it is that you're against. Is it just the idea of a fictional universe? Or any element that is make-believe? Because that can be quite a big leap. The Shining takes place on this planet, in a real-world setting of a hotel, using our technology, etc. but it still has fantastical elements; as your third paragraph suggests, you wouldn't find it appealing?

    My point is that it's a pretty huge category with a lot of overlap to just say "I dislike/hate/don't find appealing fantasy."


    Anyway, this is largely a matter of taste. To take your example, as somebody who was born in London, I find a run down block of flats in east London utterly miserable and fairly uninspiring; it's not in my taste to create a story that would revolve in that setting, and, living in England and seeing that kind of stuff in real life all the time, I'm sick of the sight of sprawling dirty great flats (had plenty of experience with them). Good for you or anyone who can create a top quality story involving that setting, but for me and perhaps for people on this forum, it's not evocative, it's uninteresting, ordinary, perhaps typical of their daily lives. That's just how taste and opinion is.

    Fantasy is so much more than just dragons and trolls. Fantasy allows you to take things beyond the laws of our world. Writing fantasy means you are utterly unrestrained by any physical law that binds our world. Today, people often write "Fantasy" as its stereotype, but it doesn't have to take place in a mythical kingdom with ogres and fairies, that's just how people think of it, and what they choose to write.

    I'm with you that the real world is interesting. I would love to see the world and go to some of these amazing places, and nobody would seriously suggest that the real world doesn't hold story potential. But I think the appeal of fantasy is that you're unrestrained by the limits of the real world when you tell your story. Often fantasy novel's take what exists but expands it to grand proportions. We have lava flows on Earth, but George Lucas created Mustafar, an entire planet of lava and volcanoes, perhaps totally impossible in the real world, but fantasy means your imagination doesn't have to be contained by real-world parameters. Some creations have been below par, some have been absolutely extraordinary.
     
  8. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I personally hate the majority of fantasy with a passion nowadays. I used to love it, and then it slowly just kind of died. I mean, they're always set in a series. I don't see why there couldn't just be a single fantasy novel on its own. David Gemmell did some spectacular fantasy that stood alone.

    Really, the only Fantasy I can stand now, for some reason, is the well-written stuff that is hinted to be Earth in the far future, like a lot of Gemmell's stuff, and King's Dark Tower series.

    And the majority of fantasy writers have no idea of genetics and biological diversity, or the mundane things that are required to make a medieval city realistic. How often do you come across a description of a city's streets as "beautifully cobbled, but stinking of shit"? And there's too much magic that makes no sense.

    I'm willing to attribute the social awkwardness of the majority of writers I've met (in person) to their unwillingness to work with the real world.

    The third paragraph began with "As humans ..." and continued about the constraints on us. Not on our environment. The Shining is very definitely about humans. And The Shining has supernatural elements - those are not fantastical.
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I don't write fantasy. I don't have much interest in it either.

    To be honest I find the phrase 'standard fantasy setting' so depressing I don't like to think about it. The real world is an amazing place.
     
  10. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I don't write fantasy stories, and I assure you there are many like you and me here. I mean, the largest number of threads in the review section are in the general fiction category. I don't write fantasy but I certainly do appreciate good fantasy stories, the images they create in my mind with their descriptive power can be sometimes mind blowing. And there are many critically acclaimed books which are fantasy based... one book that comes to mind is 'Kafka on the Shore'....where the MC can read cat's mind and talk to them etc.
     
  11. NaughtyNick
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    I am not against anything. I suppose I was airing my reservations on this genre and was looking for enlightenment on what makes a good fantasy story. Everyone who has responded has done so beautifully.

    I guess I posted this as I was amazed at the proliferation of threads that start, "I am planning a fantasy story and I am having trouble with (insert type of species or type of world)."

    When I walk around Waterstones, the shelves groan under the weight of these epic stories. The volumes are enormous and I am sure they breed at night when the shop closes. By the year 2050, I predict that three quarters of the globe will be covered in series of fantasy novels.
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    @ OP- I'm mostly into historical fiction books and currently, I'm writing a historical fiction story (set during Colonial America).

    However, that's not the only genre I find my ideas in. Some of them are sci-fi (like the Santarnica thing), some of them are fantasy. For the most part, though, my feet are firmly planted in the historic fiction department, with many historical fiction ideas swimming in my head.

    The reason many people here seem to be writing fantasy/sci-fi, because the sky's the limit. You can make anything happen. Want to write a story about bison-elf-human people who fly, do magic, and fight with katanas and whose culture is what you'd get if you rammed Feudal Japan and Tsardom Russia into each other? Do it. It's wholly possible. Plus, it provides a way to escape to something that's not of our world.
     
  13. NaughtyNick
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    NaughtyNick Member

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    I write because I want to escape the room, the building, even the town I am in. But I don't want to escape the world. I wouldn't know what to wear.
     
  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well, what if you read a historical fiction novel. Would you know what to wear then? ;)
     
  15. NaughtyNick
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    Depends on the weather I suppose. I'd go for a polo shirt, but bring a jumper just in case.
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    When you ask questions like 'Am I the only person who ...' 99% of the time the answer is no.
     
  17. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly. In most cases, people have done it or are doing it now. There's nothing new under the sun.
     
  18. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I think that's the fun part of fantasy, you can wear whatever your imaginations allow...
     
  19. theweatherman
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    It's really a matter of personal preference. I would never write fantasy because I like touching on real-world, close to home, gritty subjects. However, others use fantasy as a gateway into imaginations, which can produce some interesting results. It seems like many people write fantasy on these boards because it is popular among younger writers, which we happen to have a lot of.
     
  20. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Nope. While I enjoy reading fantasy, I have absolutely zero interest in writing it. I prefer to work the world I live in.

    I have written fantasy before though, but I don't get the same sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as I do with the nitty, gritty, and wonderful world that is ours.
     
  21. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never even really tried to touch fantasy. I've dabbled in some supernatural stuff with the spirit but mostly, my stories are cold, hard, and real (IMO). No traces of fantasy at all. So no, you're not alone.
     
  22. Bartleby
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    Bartleby Member

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    That depends, Fantasy can never happen, but if you write Science Fiction it could turn into Science Fact. George Orwells 1984 sent a message out warning about Totalitarian Governments controlling people with thought police, something that could have easily happened after WWII but that book through fiction sent out a real message. One Second After portrays the world after being struck by a massive EMP strike. Another book that sent the world a message and was cited in congress as a warning for us to follow. Sci-Fi can very well lead to Sci-Fact and that's why I love it. Not everything is so black and white.
     
  23. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    People write whatever they want. Who are you to say the real world is more fantastic than someone's fantasy world? Sure, there's a lot of "generic" fatasy stuff out there; but yeah that goes for all genres, really. All genres tend to have tropes and cliches that people get sick of- there are gems in all areas of writing.

    I dislike most Sci-Fi, yet I have found wonderful books within that genre which were different and struck a chord with me. I have found Fantasy books which do likewise.

    Just because a lot of people write Fantasy doesn't mean there's something wrong with the genre as a whole, now does it? Besides that, Fantasy can be firmly rooted in the real world- so just because something is Fantasy, there is no excuse for it not being real; if you know what I mean. 'A Song of Ice and Fire' is a good example.

    Most things I write have Fantasy flavours, but there's no way they're any less serious or developed than when I write realistic stuff.

    Writing is limitless, so why the hell should someone feel forced to limit themselves to the real world? I despise writing elitism: all writing can be considered seriously and on its own worth.
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Writing fantasy does not imply that one is unable to find stories and interesting themes or characters in the real world. Further like any genre the Fantasy genre contains some bad books, and also contains any number of them that are excellent in terms of character, theme, setting, &c. Some are dark, some are humorous, many include all of these elements. The idea that it makes any sense to characterize the genre as a whole (or any genre, really) in such general terms is odd to me.
     
  25. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    I've never considered 1984 to be fantasy or sci-fi, have always thought of it as realistic fiction.

    I pretty much agree that just because a story is "based' on the real world, it doesn't mean you can't have dystopian , pre/post apocalyptic worlds, or alternative histories, it's just more in how you handle those elements.

    Most of the dystopian worlds that I consider realistic fiction are usually those that are character studies as opposed to plot-focused stories, but yeah, even if it is "real" world based, there is still the element of "fiction" to consider.
     
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