1. Darkstar
    Offline

    Darkstar Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Fantasy genre

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Darkstar, Dec 29, 2010.

    Hey, I am writing a fantasy novel, I've been trying very hard to avoid another Tolkien spin off. I have come up with several unique races and creatures. However at the same time I would like to have elves in my novel, but part of me thinks its so overdone. Also if anyone has any ways to help come up with other races that would be great.
    Thoughts?
     
  2. TokyoVigilante
    Offline

    TokyoVigilante Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Canada
    Think of the Archetypal Elf. Do the exact opposite.

    Or look into classical Elf mythology, and bring back elements other have dropped in favor of redressing the Tolkien-style Elf.
     
  3. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Tolkein did not invent elves. Honestly look them up in a variety of legends and see the various incarnations they have had over the years and get some inspiration.

    To be honest think the way people are so desperate to be unTolkein it is going to be easier to keep your writing fresh by having a Tolkeinesque Elf.
     
  4. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    kudos for wanting to make your story unique - maybe you could give the elves a darker element. Tolkein's elves are majestic and otherwordly and elegant and flawless. You could make yours....creepier.
     
  5. Unit7
    Offline

    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,151
    Likes Received:
    59
    I once read a blog or an article or something addressing whether or not Elves were cliche. The author pointed out that if Elves were cliche, then wouldn't humans?

    Its not so much that Elves are the problem, its that they all tend to be the same. If you want Elves in your story thats fine. You should just make them your own. As suggested before look at the various legends and myths involving Elves.

    Also don't make all elves the same. Are all humans the same? Hardly. Some love reading, some love adventure, and others just want a nice quiet life. Some elves might be more attuned to nature, but some might be more interested in advancing technology. Some are heroic and others are only out for themselves.

    But if you want to include Elves then do it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    I should add traditionally Elves were split into dark and light elves - they were as capable of evil.

    My elf type race is built off a fire element, they have hot tempers, tend to flirt with anything wearing a hat, have pale skin that appears blue, flame shaped ears, bright orange hair and amber eyes lol They are also over 6ft tall and very skinny. They do however like bows and arrows :) They also tend to drink too much. My advice is make your race unique/different/uncliche by tailoring them to your story rather than the world - get them to do what you need to do, make each one different in personality - if you have one that is good - make him grumpy or a flirt - have an extramarital affair, or maybe he is a clown and funny.
     
  7. Agreen
    Offline

    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,143
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Canada
    Good post, I agree.

    I will admit if I'm in the bookstore and see 'elves,' on the back, I get worried. If I buy this book, am I going to be subjected to yet another 'we are close to the earth and though our society is simple it is sooooo much better than the hustle and bustle of silly materialistic humans!' In which, as Unit7 notes, except for physical description, everyone is practically identical in terms of beliefs, interests, and demeanor.

    But if that's the case- if there is such a lack of variety and depth to their culture, doesn't the problem stem from the shallow culture the writer has provided them, rather than the elves themselves?

    At the end of the day, it's your story. If you want to include something, and you're worried about others not liking it, you're already allowing it to become someone else's story. So include your elves. But think about the implications their lifestyle and mainstream culture could have on individuals- what about the materialistic elves who want pretty things? What about ones that aren't agile, or clever, or wise? What if one of them find the gods of humans more personally appealing- or if they choose to believe in none? How would their society react to it. Or, of course, you could always go and read some of the legends and original sources that inspired Tolkien. Put your own spin on them.

    Also, though I suppose it will soon become its own cliche, consider how The Witcher series, and Dragon Age handled interactions between elves and humans, where, within the cities, elves form a lower class forced to live in the worst parts of the city.

    I think there's still room for elves in fantasy. But just think about them- collectively, and as individuals.
     
  8. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    A question to ask is 'why' would elves be in the novel?

    Do you have a plot or are you currently working at the stage of creating races to populate the world you hope to use in writing the novel? (some people create the plot first, some the main characters...etc. No way is the 'right' way).

    Unique races/creatures do not necessarily make the story unique.

    Other races would heavily depend on the world you're creating, and it would be difficult for individuals to come up with ways or races for the world you're devising. Everything as to fit--have a place and mesh with the entire world, and you, as the writer, are the only one who can really do that. You have all the ideas and little bits and connections that could never be explained in a post or a conversation.

    For my novel, Flank Hawk, I don't think that there is anything 100% unique as far as creatures go. There are goblins and zombies, wizards and dragons. There is a m'unicorn (a cross between a horse and a unicorn) and souled zombies, but even those are not 'unique'--at least as I see it. Fallen angles, muzzle-loading rifles, and panzers are also a part of the story's conflict.

    It all fits together. But I don't see how others could have created the races/cultures and told me how to fit them into the mix.

    To come up with other races and cultures, read (not necessarily in the fantasy genre only), watch the History Channel, National Geographic Channel and other such stations. Let you mind wander, make connections and creations.

    At least that's my two cents. Good luck as you move forward.
     
  9. Darkstar
    Offline

    Darkstar Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks, everyone made some good points. To answer a question -yes my elves do have something to do with the plot. Second of all, I agree my elves need to be unique I was thinking a darker element (as said above) and instead of the typical living in the forest, I was thinking I would have them living in large snowy mountains.
     
  10. R-e-n-n-a-t
    Offline

    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    2
    Why does each race/species live in only one region and have only one type of personality? This should be avoided, unless there's a reason for being dark elves who live in mountains.

    For example, they might live in the mountains because humans are racist and kicked them off the good land centuries ago. This could also define a general persona for the race, if you're inclined to create one.
     
  11. Darkstar
    Offline

    Darkstar Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, I do have a reason for them living there lol, In my novel they have secluded themselves from humans and their affairs for many years (for reasons I don't want to have to get into lol). As for them being dark that was just an idea, and I agree that they should have more than one personality type. I should work on expanding that.
    Thanks to everyone :)
     
  12. Ellipse
    Offline

    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    714
    Likes Received:
    32
    Creating a culture unique to elves is a good way to set them appart from Tolkiens.

    For example, the elves in my universe refer to themselves as an alv or alva (male and female elf respectively), have a culture that I've modeled off of ancient roman/greek culture, and have close ties to humans because the two species are so similiar (a lot more similar than say an elf and a dwarf or ogre).

    Another thing in my universe is that there is a universal curse called the Sorrow that effects all the races in different ways. The elves have to drink the blood of their own kind to restore ethereal energies so they can use magic.
     
  13. ministar
    Offline

    ministar New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    Fantasy is fun because nothing is impossible! That's why I don't understand why it has become such a stereotype for the genre to have all this sword-and-sorcery, elf-human-dwarf thing going on. Something else that bothers me about the fantasy genre is how black and white everything is. The elves are beautiful and good and the orcs are evil!

    On Earth, stuff doesn't work that way. We're all just human. Some of us lie and steal and murder. Some of us believe in a higher power and some of us don't. Some of us are dark-skinned and some of us are light-skinned. If there's so much variety in just the human race alone, why have the elves become an army of clones?

    I think the best way to avoid making elves cliche is to make them, well, human. Maybe one of them is a smart-mouthed thief. Maybe another is a gentle and pious but full-of-herself princess. One might dress in rags, another spend every day of his life fretting over his appearance. Variety is the spice of life.

    Don't worry about making your races unique. Worry about creating good characters. If one of them happens to be an elf, so be it, but that should not be the be-all-end-all of their role and personality.
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. goldhawk
    Offline

    goldhawk Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    The Great White North
    I'm sorry but orc, or if you prefer the old spelling, ork means killer (think: orca = killer whale). In my worlds, orc is not a species but a generic term for killer for hire. It's like a gunslinger in a western; somebody who is on the shady side of the law.
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    You're not reading the right fantasy :D

    There is a ton of fantasy out there that doesn't follow these traditional tropes. Some very good stuff.
     
  16. Dante Dases
    Offline

    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,446
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    West Yorkshire, England
    A Song of Ice and Fire being a good example. A very good example. Then there's K.J. Parker's work, which is always shades of grey. Or the Malazan Book of the Fallen (not my personal favourite, but still far more sophisticated than basic black and white 'ooh, wizards' plot).
     
    1 person likes this.
  17. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    Love the Malazan books.

    Yes, G.R.R. Martin, K.J. Parker, R. Scott Bakker, Glen Cook, Joe Abercrombie. You can even go back to Gene Wolfe, with Shadow of the Torturer and subsequent works, which are more like a literary fiction/fantasy hybrid.

    Then Angela Carter for some interesting fantasy short stories with a feminist/sociological approach.

    Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books certainly don't follow genre tropes.

    Lots of great stuff in the genre.
     
  18. Agreen
    Offline

    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,143
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Canada
    ^ That's a good list, Bakker, Abercrombie and Martin especially. I'd add China Mieville as well.
     
  19. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    Yes, Mieville. Very good pick.

    Let me also add Storm Constantine, who has written some fantasy that is really distinct from the traditional elves/orcs and good/evil fare.
     
  20. Agent Vatani
    Offline

    Agent Vatani Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2010
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    In the land of writing
    Vampire, werewolves, shape shifters, dracopire, werepire, werebear, alien and dwaf.

    There a big list of races.
     
    1 person likes this.
  21. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    Your elves are Irish? Kewl!
     
  22. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Probably lol their land is called Scotia - their capital is near a volcano like ancient Edinburgh. (I called it Glassburgh lol) So probably more Pict than Scot (Scots being Irish originally) - I bet that was way more complicated than you needed :) However they are too tall to be celtic :)

    Good grief I am becoming a geek on my own world that no-one else knows lol Is that worse than being a geek about Scotland hmm ...
     
  23. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    Picts pre-date the Celts, correct? They were in what is now Great Britain before the Celts came over from mainland Europe?
     
  24. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    The answer to that question is a mystery all we have by way of knowledge about the Picts are a few stones, scattered but poor archaeology (down to lack of funding more than anything - local Universites have only recently reintroduced Archaeology as a subject in last ten years), and a few paragraphs by the Romans. We don't even know what happened to them - they were somehow overwhelmed by the Scots, whether that was by breeding, war or just they were so laid back they took the name (unlikely). At some point the land the Romans originally called Pictland became Scotland.

    The Scots language has influences from all over the place there is a suggestion the Picts were Celtic as the original language may have been close to Welsh/Breton/Cornish.
     
  25. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    Interesting, Elgaisma. So they may have been an earlier wave of Celtic migration to the island from the mainland? I'll have to do some reading on this. This sort of thing fascinates me.
     

Share This Page