1. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Depressing and slightly worrying trends in fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by CMastah, Jan 22, 2015.

    Every time I look up a fantasy book on Amazon, I'm greeted by:

    XYZ was an assassin...

    XYZ IS an assassin...

    XYZ is a monster hunter...

    XYZ is being TRAINED by an assassin...

    XYZ is a king...

    XYZ is a prince...


    The MCs in my book are not skilled combatants and nor will they become skilled. Even my buddy, my beta reader, reads novels about relatively capable characters (Drizzt, Kvothe, Brian Sanderson stuff (not sure which), Game of thrones characters). I'm STILL going to continue my writing and not let this stop me, but this trend is depressing.
     
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  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Todays fashion is in tomorrow's charity shop. I just made that up, but trends pass so you probably want to be writing towards the next one rather than coming to the party late with the existing one.
     
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  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Just make up a new occupation for your MC that doesn't involve assassins, tutoring under assassins, hunting monsters, or being kings or princes. Even if that occupation is just 'this MC works in a clothes store'.
     
  4. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Avoid the genre fiction, then, though it is expected and often dull. I'm sure there's some literary fantasy or soon to be literary.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think it applies to the most commercial, most heavily-promoted fantasy. There's a lot of other fantasy out there, though.
     
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  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Don't get depressed. Write the story you want to read. That's what I'm doing.
     
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  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Hear hear! If you want to write a story about an assassin/assassin apprentice/monster hunter/king/prince then I say go for it. It all depends on what you're interested in.
     
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  8. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think he has the opposite problem; he isn't writing these things but feels that he should be given current trends.
     
  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well he shouldn't. By that reasoning, I should be writing supernatural romances or stories set in post-apocalyptic dystopian America. Or a story set during a zombie apocalypse.

    He should write what he wants to write about. If he tries to write with the trend, the trend might be long gone by the time he gets his book published.
     
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  10. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup, always work against the trend because by the time you've finished the trend will have changed.
     
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  11. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    People need to come up with better names than just "XYZ". George, Clark, Clarence, Doug, Jamal, Olivia, and Kate are all fine ones. Just XYZ though, it does sound like a conspiracy.
     
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  12. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    People have to get sick of vampires or zombies eventually, LOTR clones might take a bit longer but even a change from wizards or sorcerers to enchanters/eldritch or rune masters would be a welcome change.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    What? You're not already sick of vamps and zombies? :rolleyes:
     
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  14. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Yup, Chinspinner's got the right of it.

    I have a few stories I want to tell/write, but they don't feature much in the way of combat, nor the whole 'fighter/king/prince/assassin/trained by assassin' thing either. It seems like the majority of fantasy novels that get churned out feature dark/charming assassin/king characters. Last novel I read that didn't feature that was wolf brother.

    I don't want to write a story to try and fit a trend (if I'm not personally interested in the story, I won't be able to sit down and write it), it's just that I'm worried the trend will kill my book :/
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    And that's a problem, why?
     
  16. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with GingerCoffee, I don't see it as a problem. To be honest the slightly masturbatory combat found in a lot of fantasy is often cringeworthy.
     
  17. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    You're putting way to much stock into these trends. While I don't doubt that trends are important, you are making it seem as if everything must rigidly adhere to this very specific formula and anything that deviates even slightly is guaranteed to fail. I think you'll find there is more than enough flexibility that writing a character without great combat skills isn't a death sentence for your story, so just write what you want to write. You'll probably do better writing what you know, rather than mindlessly following supposed trends.
     
  18. Jenurik Name
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    Jenurik Name Member

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    What troubles me more than anything is the sheer excess of many of the new series and trilogies that are being hailed. Stories that used to be told in 350 pages now balloon to 700-800 page books. I thought it might be traced to the latter entries of the Wheel of Time series. The fact that everyone still bought Crossroads of Twilight showed the industry that making every page count is no longer a sacrosanct principle.

    But that was after the first few, tightly-plotted books were released and built up goodwill.

    Now you have authors going with the bloat right off the bat. I'm someone who could not get past the Tarbean section in The Name of the Wind. I could not trust Rothfuss to carry a focused narrative once Kvothe finally got to the University.
     
  19. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    So what do they do? Do they plow fields and feed pigs? Or do they fight evil or liberate the country from an evil emperor or save their darling from the clutches of a band of thieves or... ? I'm asking 'cause, yeah, I like regular janes and joes, but I don't like to read about them unless they do something cool in that fantasy setting. Like magic. Or hunt ghosts. Fight evil. Or good. And they have to develop, like, I don't know, become skilled at something (even if it's at tending to potatoes).

    There's a reason why the fantasy audience is drawn to certain types of books and tropes.

    ESCAPISM!

    My life is boring as shit. I'm stuck in a small town, in a shitty job, I have health problems, bad knees, bad back, too much gut and an unsightly mug etc etc but then, when I open that book of heroic battle, badass fighting, beautiful princesses and handsome princes, elves and dwarves, I can forget about that boring life for 800 sweet pages and adventure. There has to be danger and then overcoming that danger (often it involves excessive weaponry and ass-kickery).

    If you can offer that amazing fantasy adventure with your non-skilled non-combatants, that's great. Maybe they're witches or fairies or something else, but the point is, they lead lives your readers want to lead but can't ('cause there's no magic for realz and all that).

    Yeah, write what you want, but know your audience too. You aren't writing for them, but what you write, has to sell (unless you're self-pubbing, in which case you can write about the daily life of Filip the Fart who doesn't do much else but builds up in the asshole of some burrito lover until his liberation day), especially if you want to make a living out of this. You have to show your would-be agent why they'd want to do business with you.
     
  20. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Children's story, anybody?
     
  21. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Shouldn't it then be somewhat educational?

    Don't hold in your farts 'cause it bores them and that's just impolite. Also, you get stomach ache.
     
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  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm already interested in your story. Please please DON'T stop writing. You'll be like a breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre. It always amazes me that a genre as open-ended and all-encompassing as Fantasy should have become so hidebound and formulaic in such a short period of time.

    It's the banal age we live in, I reckon. Quality and imagination is usually trumped by 'what sells.' And 'what sells' is always 'what sold last time.'

    However, there is always room for something new and inventive. I don't think your book will be rejected because it doesn't contain an assassin, at least not if it's good enough. Well done you, for bucking the trend.
     
  23. Name taken
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    Writing fantasy doesn't mean you have to stick to a specific formula. You can just let go and have fun, as long as you show the reader the world and characters you're building.

    The MC doesn't have to have mad skills in combat or be a top level assassin and unless you have someone you can ask or have had some sort of combat training, I would steer clear because battle scenes are difficult enough to write. That would be akin to a virgin writing Erotica.

    Start a new trend, Bram Stoker did.
     
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  24. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    This is hardly a 'trend', look at the Classics. Everyone in The Iliad is either a king, a divinely-protected warrior, or a divinely-protected warrior king, or a god. Modern fantasy is hardly unique in these tropes, in fact, it's hardly even fantastical. Those are the oldest tropes in the book - literally.
     
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  25. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    True.

    To be honest, it's all up to the writer themselves what they want to write about. If you want your story to have kings, god-kings, god-warriors, dragons, etc., then go ahead. If you want your story to not have any of that, then that's fine as well. It really depends on what the writer wants to read.

    I'm not ashamed to admit that my fantasy does contain an Empress, a god-warrior, and an assassin force. That's just what I want to write about, regardless of what's trendy right now. As Cogito said, it's all been done before in one way or another. What matters is our own individual interpretation of these tropes. My story may sound like the thousands of other fantasy stories out there, or it might not. Me saying I have these three things doesn't really tell you a whole lot about the plot itself.

    Just write, don't worry about how original it is. My concern is that new writers often freeze and stress over what's original or not instead of actually putting something down in the first place. It can all be edited later.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
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