1. Constance
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    Constance New Member

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    Are there too many magical/fantasy stories out there?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Constance, Nov 10, 2010.

    Sorry to post again so soon. I'm new, as I said in my previous post. I'll get over it once the novelty has worn off.

    When I was younger I was very "anti" fantasy stories. I was quite a pretentious teenager who took myself and my writing far too seriously, and I didn't even consider reading anything that wouldn't have made my English teacher proud.

    I've snapped out of it over the past few years, and have come to realise that, actually, fantasy is where my strengths and interests lie. All my favourite stories of childhood involved witches, and I've discovered a new-found love of reading fantasy.

    However - do you think there are too many fantasy/magical stories out there? E.G. after Twilight became popular, you couldn't walk past a bookshop or turn on the TV without being bombarded with copycat vampire series'.

    I want to write a story involving witches but I don't want readers to think I was trying to get on the Harry Potter bandwagon...
     
  2. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well. We are all children of our time, so you are on the bandwagon whatever you what to or not. But there is not to many stories of any kind out there. Genres hypes come and go but all stories are really the same, stories about ideas, about people, about intriguing things happening, about emotions. Whats in popular at the is just a matter of what our society feel a need for, and what sort of stories they are used to be exposed to.

    The question isn't if the bandwagon is good or not, whatever your on it or not, but if the story you tell, no matter what is focus and way of telling it, are good or not.
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just write what you want, and the quality of what you write will decide how people see it. Don't worry about who's already written what.
     
  4. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fantasy is a lot more than Harry Potter and vampires. And above all, it can be much more than fantasy writers have come up with so far. You could read some ethnic folk tales to find something original to base your fantasy on.
     
  5. Pallas
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    Pallas Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whatever the genre, it is likely to have been reiterated countless times. The difference however is quality and whether your work can stand not by the idea but by the execution. Though for fans of fantasy, I suppose there can never be enough of the want of good stories.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love fantasy both to read and write - it is the fullest expression of the writer imagination at least for me. They are fairy tales and legends the kinds of stories that have been around forever. You can take that world and write a romance etc, blend old styles, new styles - for me done well fantasy is the ultimate in escapism and storytelling. I love other genres naturally but I loved things like Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree growing up. Arthurian Legends, Robin Hood, Tam O'Shanter (not sure if that is a fantasy or just drunk ramblings lol) - my fantasy stories incorporate spies, action, adventure, romance, teen angst etc Plus means research is minimal lol
     
  7. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^
    That's what I totally like about fantasy. All it adheres to is the scope of your own imagination. Nothing more.

    ^Yes, completely :D I concurr.

    My answer: No. End of story :D There are still many more stories still to come.
     
  8. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depends on whether you want it to be a rich, psychological allegory with references to mythology, religion and our own society, or just a random collection of colorful brain farts. ;)
     
  9. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, at least you don't have to research specifics, like places and historical events, if you find that boring.
     
  10. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, rather you have to understand the actual mechanics behind them. If you're not copying an actual city, you'll have to understand the whole process of city planning/developement. If you're not copying actual historical events, you'll have to understands the mechanics of politics and cultural developement. Much more work than just nicking a blueprint of New York or reading about the battle of Waterloo.
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    :) All the very best stories are a random collection of someone elses brain farts.

    A reasonably well educated person will be exposed to all of those things by way of everyday life without even realising it giving you these things to draw from in your imagination. I have had a lot of comments about the amount of all those things in my books - none of it was intentional it came out of my head as a story. The Asian mythology probably came from 80s cartoons, Hindu Cartoons, Hong Kong films and RPGs lol

    I am having to trawl legends right now for a specific one of Merlin and I have to read Alice in Wonderland again (they are dating as teens in my book). But it is hardly strenous - I have references to Socrates. Plato etc but what I needed I got off Wikkipedia.

    You can make it up so it works with the story - most people live in a city, have a cultural background and polictical thoughts about how they want society to me. I'm not Tolkein and personally I find the LOTRs a very dull read.

    Over four stories the only thing a quick wikkipedia or asking a question on here couldn't give me is a local Merlin legend which I have now found and I have to reread Alice in Wonderland (Alice and Merlin are currently teens in my story and dating).
     
  12. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    There are not really too many of any kind of book, because they can all be unique. The issue is when people take (a) book(s) they like (LOTR) and spawn a clone with slightly different characters. As long as your fantasy book is special, as long as you care about the characters you create and the unique world they live in, it will be a book worth writing.

    Note; that doesn't mean it'll sell well. Many great books don't sell just because of poor marketing, a common genre, or a changing market. If you're writing for mostly non-monetary reasons there shouldn't be any issues.
     
  13. SilverNightPanther
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    SilverNightPanther New Member

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    Very interesting. I agree with a lot of the above. Be unique. Yes, it seems like EVERYONE is writing these days, but I guess there's as many fans as there are writers, and plenty of material to go around. But, yes, it IS depressing to get out there and try to get sold... Trust me. I know.
     
  14. Top Cat
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    Top Cat Senior Member

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    Just to play devil's adv - actually, just to play the devil: fantasy is easy to feck up.

    One has to always be careful with fantasy - in that usually fantasy is an arena to explore universal themes and human emotions. Hence, why so much literature features anthropomorphic characters ranging from the Fantastic Mr Fox to E.T

    They contain elements of our reality so we have a basis of understanding.

    Also, fantasy (being such a strong genre) therefore has a lot of conventions, and tropes. Most fantasy revolves around the Quest, yet there are other stories such as a love story or a Cinderella story.

    You should be most careful when writing quest stories - which often turn into something reads like fan-fiction LOTR rehashes.

    Personally, I find fantasy most interesting when it's combined with mundane, or unexpected arena's, or characters.

    So to answer your question if there is too much fantasy? Well, it depends what kind of fantasy.
     
  15. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    +1

    I'm a little alarmed at the consensus above that fantasy is "easy" because you don't have to do research. :) This is Big Mistake #1 that most people make when it comes to writing fantasy.

    Do you have a castle in your fantasy work? Yes? Right, then you'd better be VERY familiar with correct castle terminology and design, for starters, as fans of the genre will be able to spot the errors or anachronisms in a badly-researched setting. You'll also need to be pretty well-versed in military and political protocol, since castles were centres of both, and make sure you know the types of people who would be living and working there, including how those of the higher-ranking social order would treat their serfs. It wouldn't do for your characters to show contemporary behaviour in a medieval setting, would it?

    It might just be me, but that's starting to sound like a lot of research.
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    With fantasy you can do as much or as little as you like - I tailored mine to things I was already familiar with. I do know how castles work live in an area where there are more castles than cowpats but I didn't use one. I used a Palace and only ever used four rooms in it. The assumption created from the scale is there are more but that is for the reader to imagine. I have a monastery but it isn't even close to a Christian or Buddhist model (for a start the Abbot is having an affair with the King's Equerry).

    It is a different world so the society and religion functioned in the manner I made up for them. With my first two novels no serious research was needed - I asked questions, watched youtube and used wikkipedia (nothing it couldn't handle lol )

    With my current one more is needed to give the historical characters a 'feel' so it is obvious who they are but again I stuck to ones I was familiar with - I chose Alice in Wonderland to frame the book because I had been in the play and know the story inside out. The research has already done.

    However when I am writing an historical story based on the local area to sell in the local area the history in that needs to be a lot more accurate.
     
  17. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Oh, no one will complain even if you were trying to get on the Harry Potter bandwagon. Countless people do things like that all the time. As a matter of fact, when Twilight became popular, people I know would come and ask me to read over their manuscripts. When I asked them what it was about, the same word constantly came up: vampires. It was only a matter of time until TV networks got on the bandwagon too.

    To answer your question, I would say no. You most likely feel that there are too many fantasy/magical stories out there because that is all you have been exposed to recently. Indeed there are many fantasies out there, but you can say the same of any genre. I see romance and comedy stories everywhere!
     
  18. Top Cat
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    Top Cat Senior Member

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    I really don't like fantasy being called a "genre" - it limits people. Is comedy a genre? Maybe...but it's not a story -type- like a love story is...or a revenge story. They have determined emotional beats.

    I would call them styles...in the same I wouldn't call a Parody a genre, or a documentary - that's merely a form. So, thinking in those terms - you could a fantasy detective story...or a fantasy drama - a fantasy tragedy - a fantasy sci-fi, a fantasy biopic.

    Remember, fantasy can be stretch beyond World of Warcraft and someone with the magical quest-token to save all humanity :p
     
  19. Top Cat
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    Top Cat Senior Member

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    Tis true. J.R Tolkien was an obsessive researcher. So much so that he would study grammar and syntax of Finnish so he could be base Elvish upon it. As well as lots of scandinavian mythology and details for the world.

    I don't he think made stuff up, anyway. :)
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    But if everyone did it like Tolkien fantasy would become a very boring genre. He was an Oxford Don/Professor in Anglo Saxon he had huge amount of time and resources available to him.

    He was not the first fantasy storyteller - and there are others. Personally I think CS Lewis was the much better storyteller of the two - his ability to create the world that fit his various stories is fun and interesting. I love Enid Blyton and her ability to build a world - given the rate she regurgitated her books doubt she did that much research.

    Not everyone likes Tolkien's work and everyone did it the same way he did the genre would get very boring. Maybe if he had done less research and put more thought into the stories I may find them more interesting.
     
  21. Top Cat
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    Top Cat Senior Member

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    Whether or not fantasy research is important depends on why you need to research...But to dismiss research altogether is silly. I'm not erm...making a value judgement of how 'good' Tolkien is. Merely using him as an example. :rolleyes: In fact, I can't stand Lord of the Rings :D
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I like Tolkien well enough.

    I agree that one does the research necessarily. Sometimes in fantasy that might be a lot. Sometimes it might be very little.

    The idea that the seriousness or value of a work of fiction should be judged on how much research had to go into is ludicrious, however. The work should be judged on its merits. If it doesn't require much research, the the fact that the author didn't do much shouldn't be a strike against.

    Setting aside fantasy - there is much contemporary fiction (literature) that is quite good and probably didn't require any research whatsoever :)
     
  23. Top Cat
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    Top Cat Senior Member

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    Agreed.

    For me, I'm attracted to fantasy that breaks tropes - keeping the genre fresh. I'm more likely to be interested in a fantasy set in a western world (like the Dark Tower series - and that would need a LOT of research to pull off), rather than a medieval one which one could argue already dominates fantasy excessively.

    You can only have too much of something if there is no innovation. That's what I believe.
     
  24. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh I agree you put in the research you need however i think sometimes too much research can also ruin a story it can be too accurate and forget it is just that a story -

    I am writing a Time Travel NaNo (its supposed to be bizarre, bonkers and weird it was my chance to put together all the weird daft ideas I have ever had in one book). If I was writing science fiction I would need to do loads of research - however as it is fancy a grandfather clock using a special crystal and the power of the firefly which then opens a door with the aid of the Dragon Falcon key can work. All imagination no research lol
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I value research not necessarily because a story should follow any established reality, but because reality and history will produce a greater variety of ideas, customs, etc., than any writer, however creative, could come up with in his own head.

    A writer may _choose_ to decide that his medieval society consists of people who bathe and do laundry regularly, that ordinary people slept and ate in privacy or with people of their own rank instead of with all the rest of the household, that houses have glass windows, that money was an established currency with a reliable value, that young children were idle and supervised instead of working and unsupervised, that even low-ranked soldiers wore matching uniforms, and ten thousand other facts that they're familiar with in modern life.

    But if they know that those are actually decisions that they're making, instead of "of course it's that way - how else would it be?", then they have the option to make other decisions.

    Now, none of the facts above are really particularly new or interesting, but there are an infinite number of others. Salt, alone - its use as payment for soldiers, the tax on salt, followed by laws _requiring_ people to buy salt so that they would then pay the tax. You can follow the history of salt and taxation up to Gandhi's march to the sea.

    Moving on to a much more modern and more trivial fact, why was it illegal, in Tennessee in my father's youth, to pour a glass of milk in a restaurant without opening a brand new bottle just for that glass? Why was it legal to use an already-opened bottle if you made the milk into another beverage, legally, by adding a drop of vanilla? Whose interests, and whose fears, did that law serve?

    So, research in order to get the precise cut of the Palace guard's uniform to match that of sixteenth-century northwestern France? No, I don't care. Reading and reading and reading everything that you can get your hands on so that you at some point happen to learn that that particular cut had to do with the weave of the linen-wool combination and the way that the rain soaked into it? I love that stuff. (Though I made that one up.) And I think that the more that you have sloshing around in your head, the more you can put into making your book interesting.

    No, you don't drone on about fabric weaves just to show your knowledge, but if you're sitting there asking yourself, "Now, how can I justify that my character _knows_ that that fabric scrap in the thorn bushes is from a palace guard's cloak, even when he's never seen that palace's uniforms?" that idea may come bubbling up and solve your problem in a way that adds texture to your story.

    ChickenFreak
     

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