1. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    Elves In Fantasy Stories

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Pink-Angel-1992, Apr 20, 2012.

    I'm currently developing the world for the fantasy story I want to right. On this world there are Elves and I've been planning to have more that one race. However, I'm not sure if I should, as I kind of feel I'd have to for other races.

    Do you think it would be better to have a single race of elves, split by nationality in stead of races? Also, what do you actually think about different races of elves in a book?
     
  2. CheddarCheese
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    CheddarCheese Contributing Member

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    Hi Pink,

    It all depends on what your story is, and more importantly, how you write your story. Some might work better with a single race, while others might work better with multiple. Does your story revolve around elves? Are other races required to make your story work out? Or are they just there (not required)? What kinds of conflicts in your story would work better with multiple races? What conflicts would work better with just one?

    The deciding factor is your story, and since you haven't really given much information on it, I find it a bit hard to give recommendations.
     
  3. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Why does it ALWAYS have to be elves??

    If you need multiple races of a species, why not be original and create something different? Havnig races of Elves just opens you up to accusations of *cough* Tolkein ripoff! *cough*
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It could be worse, It could be snakes.

    Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?
     
  5. Artifex
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    Artifex Member

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    The idea of having different races of elves isn't new. Warhammer comes to mind, where you have the High Elves, wood elves and dark elves etc. You could probably argue that they are actually just factions of the same race, but it's close enough to the same thing. If you want to do something new, why not create something else. It will give you more control over the appearance and general traits of the species. Something to think about. It will really challenge your creativity.
     
  6. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    I don't want to be accusation of ripping anything off (who does?), but I really want to have elves on my world, different races or single. I've decided that I'd create my own races, not use Tolkein's. Also, I know that different races of elves isn't new, I'm completely aware of that. I also know that create something else will give me that much extra room for creativity, but I really want to use elves, as I've already said! I'm not planning to hae just human's and elves either on the world, I'm planning to have dawrves and werewolves too, and possible others.

    Thanks Cheddar; this is some information:

    At present I have several idea for books revolving around the same characters; one character (at least) I have planned to be an elf. One idea is that the current High King of the kingdom it's set on hate elves, for some unknown reason and so recked choas and isolating them to their birth lands. Yet some do travel for what ever reason, but the High King's hatred of elves has sinked into a lot of people's being, making things hard for them. In the story a group of elves set out to take the High King down, knowing his secret and serching for a way to revile it, yet the majority are killed and a group of mercenaries take up the task of helping them, due to one wishing to kill the High King and seeing this as a perfect chance too.

    I think it could work with or without several elf races. It's not neccassary, but I been thinking that one race of elves (if I have several) is questionable, not beging dark, evil or anything like that, but they have a secret that few outside their race will know of. I could make it into a group, but the question is how they'll stand out.
     
  7. Skodt
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    Skodt Member

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    Besides elves you have dwarves and werewolves? My question is do you have any original characters as well? I think an overload of fantasy cliches sometimes hurts the writing in a fantasy. There have been a lot and I mean a lot of books with these characters. Not doubting your original story, but is there a different title or position of these types of characters? I mean to say are they the original live in the woods, have magic but are shy about it, and are peaceful creatures just wanting to live life? Same with the dwarfs is this a new direction for them? Or do they mine caves, and have a funny accent.

    If you can answer those questions with all new material then I say use them. If they are the same I suggust maybe looking into your creative bank and coming up with something new.
     
  8. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's nothing wrong with having elves as main characters in your book, as long as you don't rely on it. Elves have been used so much they've lost their novelty value. People won't be impressed or amazed by different races of elves, or made-up elven languages, or fictional histories of the elves, so they won't be interested in pages of exposition on these subjects. Rely on your story and characterisation to impress the reader, and keep the descriptions of elves and their history to a minimum, and it won't make much difference if you're writing about elves or humans.

    Of course, the more interesting you can make your elves and their history, the more exposition you can sneak in. Just remember that readers are usually not interested in reading background information, much less memorising it.

    Saying that something is a "rip-off of Tolkien" because it has different races of elves is just... stupid. Tolkien ripped off Celtic folklore, Icelandic sagas, and numerous other sources. Those sources ripped off the myths and tales that came before them. The question is not how much you TAKE from other sources, it's how much you ADD with your own skill and creativity.
     
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  9. Mezza
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    Mezza Member

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    My personal opinion is that multiple 'races' in the sense of different species of sentient beings kind of clutters things. That being said, when peopling a world for your story to take place it is almost necessary to have different 'races' in the sense of cultures and perhaps physical features much like our own world. We have a world peopled with Humans, and that species is composed of different races which are defined by their physical features, culture, and locale. So depending on the scope of your story, how far across the world you're going to go, where your main characters and side characters are from etc. you may or may not introduce the different 'races' of your world.
     
  10. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I couldn't care less about the races at this point. I always start to develop the story first, then decide on the setting. If I want to put it in a fantasy setting, the pure basics of the story is always generic enough to fit just about any race. The main character can be human, elf, dwarf, gnome, even a goblin, and it won't change the story much. When the basics of the story is ready, I decide on a setting (in this case the race) and flesh out everything in more detail. Lots more. The last thing I want is having the main character a specific race just to have a main character of that race. That doesn't mean you can't write a great story with elves. I just think the story have a higher potential of greatness if you allow yourself to be flexible enough to change the main character's race and stuff like that.
     
  11. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do what's right for the story and the world you intend to create.

    If you do it well, it won't matter that elves are included, or whether they're different races of elves or different nationalities.
     
  12. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    /highfive
     
  13. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Honestly, elves are so overused. But, when you brought up the idea of only having elves(in your entire world)--it peaked my interest. A world filled with different elves sounds much more intriguing than the normal humans, elves and dwarfs with a sprinkling of dragons and unicorns scenario.

    I say keep it to elves and come up with a bunch of different kinds besides the obvious light and dark elves. However, obviously, if you have a world of only elves you will need to use these two frequent flyers. I am just saying to add in a whole bunch more and to let your imagination run rampant.
     
  14. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    Maybe Elven races are denoted by something other than skin colour. Height, number of fingers, where facial hair grows. Maybe there's a gender divide. Maybe there's three genders (think paper-scissors-rock meets genitals). Your imagination is the limit.
     
  15. Rebel Yellow
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    Rebel Yellow Active Member

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    Wow this does conjure some pretty disturbing images. I hope nobody calls the rule 34 on this.
     
  16. Mjolnir
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    I think Elves have their place in fantasy, but they shouldn't be a major selling point of your writing because, as stated already, they aren't new. They're not going to impress anyone by themselves. If you do use elves, please seek out their mythological origins and form your own idea of what they should look and behave like. Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, etc.. don't bother me on their own so much as the Tolkein-ized versions of them. Tolkein didn't (to my knowledge) event any of the major races in his books. He simply adapted them brilliantly to suit his needs. So, every time when I read a book about elves and dwarves who look and behave exactly like Tolkein's I die a little, on the inside. Personally I prefer to invent my own races. It seems overwhelming at first, but it can be extremely rewarding.
     
  17. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Reminded me of the one guy you try to fight in Borderlands- 9 toes and 3 balls. Lol.
     
  18. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I see nothing wrong with using Elves so long as you put your own spin on them. I have several variations of Elves in my WIP but they're very different from the Tolkienesque types. The same goes for Dwarves and Dragons, Griffins and Unicorns and the rest. So long as they have a unique spin I see no problem with them.
     
  19. Jowettc
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    To use Elves / Dragons / Werewolves / etc. that is the question.

    Depends - do you want to publish? If so then you need to know what the market is after. Is the market saturated with Elves? Sure is - has been for about forty years. I have no idea what the last book published which was majored around Elves was, or who did it, maybe someone else here can enlighten?

    If you intend to self-publish or don't care then go wild.

    Regardless of whatever spin you put on it - why does it HAVE to be Elves? Why does it HAVE to be Dwarves, or werewolves for that matter? If any writer is continually feeding off old (and potentially outdated) stereotypes then they should probably ask themselves what happened to their creativity?

    The creativity process should involve asking yourself what NEW material you can come up with - sure there are a finite number of major plots - but race? Not on your life - you go with whatever crossover mishmash work-up you can bundle together into a believable whole. The old Fantasy standards need thrown on the fire and the publishers continually say so - bring something new to the table. Genre crossovers seem to be popular at the minute - why not mash that together - anything, something, not already bloated with cliche and over-use.

    Sorry - rant over.
     
  20. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    You could populate your world with Smurfs. No one would expect that.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Smurfs are trademarked. Bad idea.

    Elves are not trademarked. And if your characters need to be long-lived but in their twilight due to a declining population, it's naive to think calling them Flitches and making them bald won't fool anyone.

    You may find it hard to sell a story with elves. I don't know. I have little interest in the fantasy market, so I don't follow thje trends. I'm sure there are still publishers who still sell that class of fantasy though, even if it's a smaller, more specialized market.

    If that's really what you want to write, see if there are still new books entering the market, and who publishes them?

    Some will say a market is saturated, because they don't care for the genre, and they think it SHOULD be saturated. Do your own research. If new books are still hitting the shelves, there is still interest in the genre.
     
  22. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    Worst comes to worst, there's always the 'find and replace' option on your software. Swap out 'elves' for 'leprechauns' and jobs a good one.
     
  23. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    lol. I think smurfs are copyright infringement.
    On another note, using elves, dwarves, etc. isn't overrated, not in my opinion. It's what you do with them that makes the difference. There's always the cliche of the "uncomfortable relationship" between dwarves and elves. Elves are always fast and intelligent, dwarves mine and create weapons. But, using them differently, or using them correctly in the cliche sense, could make the story great. Just remember, despite using cliches in fantasy (or any genre for that matter) doesn't mean it can't work out. If you have a truly great story, you will be able to bypass the cliches.
     
  24. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    I don't know a lot about this type of fantasy, but I would recommend looking into some folklore about elves - there's tons of it - from Irish, Icelandic, and German. I did this (not about elves, but another mythological creature that may or may not have existed) and it helped me draw out some ideas. I did a quick search and just typed in elves and based on the wikipedia entry I found one myth that stuck out. Based in German mythology, Der Erlkonig trans. to "Alder King" or "Elf King" (apparently there's some debate about translation). The myth goes that Der Erlkonig appears just as someone is going to die and he shows the person what sort of death they will have (painful, peaceful, etc). Apparently Goethe wrote a poem about this called Der Erlkonig.
     
  25. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Werevoles. No one ever expects werevoles.
     

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