1. Gammer
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    Gammer Active Member

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    Cliches to avoid with "trapped in another world" plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Gammer, Mar 31, 2011.

    I've been tweaking my fantasy WIP for some time now, and have recently cleared several hurdles that have been bogging me down, but during that period I realized that the story seems to work better if the MC is from our world and falls into this fantasy world.

    Originally the MC was going to be just a farmhand who accidentally gets involved in saving the world, but something about his character then just seemed really bland.

    When began planning the switch, his character just flowed better. He's a genre savvy smartass who thinks he knows what to expect, but is constantly proven wrong during the course of the story.

    Anyways, my question being, with this plotline of falling into another world, what are the most overused cliches for this kind of story? So I can both avoid them and make jokes about them in the story.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Here is an example of what is cliche:

    MC: 'All I want is to get home!"
    Other World: "But you must carry out your mission first."
    MC: "What mission?"
    Other World: "You must [save them from tyranny/overthrow evil overlord/collect MacGruffin]
    MC: "But I just want to go home. Why me?"
    Other World: "Because...it's stated here in our ancient prophecy...you are the CHOSEN ONE."

    Stay away from this. Please. :)
     
  3. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    This:

    Is subverting the cliche that the guy coming in is always naturally good at everything in the new world or will become so. In other words, good job! You're already avoiding a cliche.

    Another cliche, I think, is that the guy who falls into the world always convinces the natives of the 'superiority' of his own culture or technology - i.e., "here, natives, learn how to take baths and be hygenic!" or "hey, natives, killing each other for religious reasons is bad!". This stuff is more prevalent in older works, when it was more acceptable to have, say, a modern, Western man come in and magically show the natives the evils or primitiveness of their ways. Speaking of which, the said Western man somehow develops a wonderful romantic relationship with the daughter of some powerful leader, the daugther of whom is young and beautiful and is generally open-minded to the Western man's progress.


    Also I'm pretty sure there's some cliches about how and why the character goes into the fantasy world in the first place, but I dunno much about that to comment.

    One thing I think I should note is that at least to some level, there isn't that much a difference between whether your MC suddenly finds himself in a fantasy world, or he teleports himself to some sci-fi place, or he's a historical explorer exploring some "unclaimed" territory inhabited by savages (*cough*Pocahontas*cough*). They generally have some similarities, as noted above.
     
  4. lost123
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    lost123 Senior Member

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    It would be a good idea if you don't mention saving the world in your story. Let the reader discover the idea because it would be a little bit embarrassing to the reader that he/she reading a story about saving the world--unless if you want to make a children fantasy book.
     
  5. Bay K.
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    Bay K. Contributing Member

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    Shouldn't this thread be in the 'Plot' section of the forum?
    (Just thinking out loud ...)


    ----------------------------------------------
    Be good, wise and strong
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I think it could fit in either place...I mean does it really matter? It's not like the OP is asking random questions about the publication process in Character Development.
     
  7. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    How about:

    Other World: You have been summoned to fight a great evil! Now here is a sword and five gold coins. Go forth and conquer!
    MC: I don't know how to use a sword!

    And then there is 'the MC falls into another world that coincidentally speaks the same language the MC's world does.'
     
  8. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Instant respect is one thing to avoid. I'm not sure if having him be unnoticed or having him be considered a lunatic would be less of a cliche. I suppose if they are enlightened enough, he could be considered some sort of foreigner and nothing to be concerned about.

    Actually having a way to get home is expected, whether he gets to go or whether he purposefully stays so he can marry the king's daughter.

    Falling in love with someone in that world is a pretty bad cliche. However, I don't see much die-for-you devotion that isn't romantic in nature.

    It sounds interesting to have his background of being a farmhand overlaid over his modern ideals. Don't have it be destiny calling him to the quest, have him decide to go on the quest. Maybe he has no clue how to get home, but living off the reward money sure beats being a serf.


    One of the sequels to "Dragon and the George" pointed out how the two people from the future were under a spell to translate from American English to Ye Olde English. They also discussed how they had to be careful to drink only water that had been boiled, and how the man preferred to sleep on the floor at inns because of the fleas.
     
  9. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think as long as no one is expecting him either, then it should be okay - if he gets tangled up in saving things for his own reasons and coincidental external factors. In my own novel with an epic fantasy adventure it could have been stupidly easy to have a prophecy, or allow room in the reasons for going on the quest which state Only She Could Do It. But the quest is open-ended - if she dies on it, the main character who's basically just waiting for someone to complete the quest is perfectly willing to wait around for some other handy person to wander by and help out.
     
  10. Gammer
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    Gammer Active Member

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    I don't see much of a problem with those. I mean if the MC and the people of the fantasy don't speak the same language how can anyone know what's going on? I don't that being much of a problem as long as I explain how it happens or something.

    Also since most MC are from our time, it makes sense they don't know how to use swords. So I don't see a problem with that one either.

    And if i'm wrong and they are how would I avoid them or subvert them?
     
  11. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    On the language: for the sake of the story you don't need to have them speak different languages, I think, but it could be an interesting angle to look at. Maybe have the natives slowly teach the MC the language or something, and maybe have his lack of learning in the language be an important plot point (like maybe he doesn't hear that his 'friend' is actually an assassin sent to kill him). But again, I don't think it's necessary - if it's something that will get in the way of your story, then don't use it.

    On swords: maybe they use a different weapon commonly over there, like spears, or crossbows, or fire-throwing magical weapons, or something else entirely. Not all cultures in our own world use swords, so who's to say that your fantasy culture doesn't?
     
  12. demented-tiger
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    demented-tiger Member

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    Cliche's are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it's fun to use them in creative ways, point them out in the story, twist them (though many twists are themselves cliched), or outright parody them (again, may be cliched). If you're a good enough writer, any cliches you use may not sound cliched at all.

    Now here's some food for thought: as far as the above language discussions above go, one way I get around the language barrier is to have a sort of telepathic dubbing. If you've ever seen an old Godzilla movie, you'll know what I mean: a character's lips form the words and sounds of thier native tongue, but the listener hears the speech in thier own language.

    Second of all, does the other world have to be medieval or otherwise primitive? How about steampunk? Wild West? Edwardian? Post-war? Cold War? Even Modern? Applying fantasy cliches to a world with a whole different set of technological and social advances and values presents a whole range of new possibilities in itself.
     
  13. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you explain how it happens (whether the MC learns thier language or whatever), that's one thing. I was just pointing out that lots of books/movies/games will drop a character into a world that is completely differnt from his own and he has no problem understanding the local language.

    I wasn't specifically pointing out swords. I meant any martial weapon in general. There is a certain skill needed to use an axe, sword, staff, or spear. It's not as simple as putting the pointy end in the other guy. The average person doesn't know how to use one correctly.

    Even knowing how to use one type of sword doesn't mean you know how to use another type. For example, a rapier and a broadsword. Two different types of swords. Two different styles of fighting.

    Look at the tv show Survivor. The contestants barely know how to start a fire without lighter fluid and matches. Do you think they could really survive in the wild on their own with absolutely no help?

    Okay, so Survivor isn't the best example since they choose the biggest idiots for contestants. :rolleyes:
     

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