1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Are beast races in fantasy cliched? Or just a staple of fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Link the Writer, Dec 18, 2012.

    Hey there. I'm just starting out my fantasy story, and it just occured to me that I have a lot of beast races. Basically, there are cat-people, lizard-people, dog-people, bird-people, fish-people even oxen-people. To boot, I have also considered including giants and werewolves. The only thing I can say for sure is that my humans aren't elves. They don't have pointy ears and live forever. Their life span is the same as ours.

    I don't mind the fact that I have all this, but I'm wondering, am I just not being imaginative in a genre that professes imagination? Granted, its just the bare-boned basics, and their cultures may be what will distinct them, but is it tiresome to have beast-races? Should I do something else with this?

    I'm just curious, and would love to hear what you all have to say about it. :D
     
  2. Lorraine Johnson
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    Lorraine Johnson Member

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    I think it doesn't matter as long as you tell the story well and originally. I honestly think werewolves have been done to death, I browse these threads often and everyone seems to be writing about them, but again, its all about how you present the ideas. Bird-people sounds more imaginative, I haven't heard of them before (aren't dog-people and werewolves the same thing?)
     
  3. ZarisRedmist
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    ZarisRedmist Member

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    @Lorriane I completely agree with you on that point

    However I have to say even if you believe something has been done before or over done in the past think of your own way to put your spin on it don't just settly for what has already been done for example look at the vampire which is the main character of my book I am currently writting. I am taking the vampire and forming it to what fits my story its not like I am completely changing the view of the vampire but I am also not bound to only produce one form of the vampire. If you would like an example of what I am talking about please feel free to PM me.
     
  4. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    If you're happy with it, then don't worry what anyone else will think. Just do your best to put your own spin on it. Beast races do get used a lot, but I think there still an interesting enough idea that with a little imagination you could do something really cool with them.
     
  5. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    I don't think think they're cliched, even if they might be common. To me, beast races represent a spectacle sport which is something common throughout human history. From the Roman Gladiators to modern football, recreational and communal activities often involve competition and one great way of introducing your world is to involve people in a mass cultural event. It'll give audiences great insight into your world, it's people, culture and set a tone for the story.

    I say, go for it! If you write your story and not someone else's, then it could be a great plot point.
     
  6. Kaidonni
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    Kaidonni Member

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    In this instance, 'races' does not refer to any sporting event, it's being used to refer to species. ;)
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I think I understand. If I add my own spin to it, then a tired subject like werewolves could be almost new again.

    Like I could have giants experimenting with astronomy, or ogres undergoing a scientific revolution! Or, or maybe vampires undergoing their Industrial Revolution? xD The possibilities are endless!
     
  8. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    That sounds pretty cool actually :D Sounds like you have the right idea! Have fun with it and you'll breathe new life into a tired area.
     
  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    GASP! It could all be steampunk! 8D That would really help me to explain why one country of mine is all steampunk, but the rest are all Medieval-era. Why can't they all be steampunk?!

    TO THE WORD DOCUMENT!!

    <flees>
     
  10. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Inspiration is a wonderful thing when it strikes :D
     
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  11. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Damn, I got 16 races all listed out, with four human races. xD I've got a lot of culture and background to cover...
     
  12. Thunderface
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    It's a lot less common than a lot of other cliches.

    Do it well and you can no doubt get away with it
     
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  13. VioletKnight
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    VioletKnight Member

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    I don't think it's cliche per say, but it can seem boring after a while. You might want to combine more than one animal. Like a cat-person with horns or something.
     
  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Or create more beast races that are a 'combo' of one or more animals. That would be interesting.
     
  15. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    As long as you aren't grave robbing Tolkien for his fucking elves and dwarves that have been used to death in countless fantasy stories with little variation then I'd say it's fine. Just make sure to give them an interesting culture and it should be all good.
    Just make sure not to combine canine (wolf specifically) and dragon. It's kind of a cliche in itself, and just stinks the kind of "characters" you'll find on DeviantArt.

    Wait a second ... this thread is from 2012 and has simply been necro'd recently. Oh well, it's not my fault it's alive again.
     
  16. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Yeah, I was surprised to see this thread myself, I was thinking Wait a tic, I hadn't seen this old thing since 2012! :D But good point about the clichéd combo-races. If it feels like something from DeviantArt, then it's a no-go.
     
  17. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    You may also wish to avoid sticking angel wings on your races (or people). It's yet another cliche that gets over used on people's fan-fiction characters, not to mention, if you're going to stick angel wings on a character then you might want to stick a few more things as well, such as, a great big sign reading "Hello, my name is Mary Sue."
     
  18. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Hah! They could then say, "Stand aside while I solve the plot by blinking because I'm so totally awesome and badass!! Shall I re-tell for you my overly-long, complicated tragic backstory?"

    Speaking of which, I just realized that my horned-cat race might have a problem. Their horns. In short, they stick out above their ears, are large and handlebar-shaped. For the life of me, I can't quite figure out why this is so other than mating. It serves no purpose for combat as they're big "Grab me!" signs, and for a race of bipedal beings, it really serves no function. They must get in the way of clothing and walking through doorways and don't even get me started on interacting with other people. Just imagine this:

    "Good day, I am Master Terr," he said with a deep bow. A second later the person fell to the floor clutching his face. "Oops, I seem to have accidentally poked your eye out with my overly-huge horns. So sorry about that, good sir."

    Eh, this could just be a case of me thinking a bit too much about it (after all, they could simply dull the tips or have a voluntary, non-lethal/painless procedure to de-horn themselves; or at least shorten their horns.) :p Still, I've read that the fantasy races should at least look like they could feasibly exist in the world. A race with cumbersome-looking horns growing out of their heads might want to kind of remove them, y'know?
     
  19. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    It depends on how these creatures came into being. I have a species of anthropomorphic wolf people and I'm not even going to try and justify their tails from a utilitarian or evolutionary perspective. But, luckily, my setting has a creation story so I don't have to justify anything. I can simply say "it's like this because god made it that way ... and by that I mean I want it that way, end of!"
    Now I see why deities are so useful when you want to push all kinds of bullshit.
     
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  20. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Yeah. :p

    "Why do you have these stupidly huge horns?"
    "The gods graced us with these. Please don't apply logic into this."
     
  21. Song
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    Song Active Member

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    For me cliched is not about the races themselves but what you do with them. The outsider teen werewolf that's dealing with emotional issues has been overdone. But if you were to make them unashamedly savage and brutal and show it from their point of view, I think that's a little more fresh.
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    See Glen Duncan's The Last Werewolf for a fresh take on the subject (though not a teen protagonist).
     
  23. Song
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    Song Active Member

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    well teen protagonists seem to be becoming a little cliche in fantasy/horror and scifi recently in my opinion.
     
  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    o___O

    Granted the story does not revolve around a romance, and none of them really have any deep-seated, crippling emotional problems*, I have at least three MCs in my fantasy that are teens. The story is aimed at a YA audience so I figured 'Why not?'

    *To go off on a tangent here, I never liked how rain always symbolized emotional distress. Why can't it symbolize cleanliness and renewal as well? Just once I'd like to see a character deliberately run out into the rain and laugh while he/she is getting soaked by the rain. :D
     
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  25. Song
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    Song Active Member

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    Its not the fact that they are teen alone, it's just the whole uncomfortable with themselves emotional drama element that usually goes with it has been a bit overdone recently. Not saying it can't be taken in a new direction. The age itself isn't the issue.
     

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