1. Skattered_Ink
    Offline

    Skattered_Ink New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Fantasy Stereotypes

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Skattered_Ink, Sep 4, 2009.

    Hi, I'm new here and this has probably been answered more times than anyone would like to, but please indulge me.

    I'm writing a fantasy fiction and I was once told there is a basic formula for character development in fantasy.

    You have the main character classicaly known as the "Orphen"
    Then you have their Teacher (Either a mage or a Bard... or even the story itself)
    You have a knight protector

    I know there are more but I can't remember them. If anyone knows, please reply.

    I know there are several other character types like with the "Evil" characters; eg;
    The Over Buff
    The Under Buff
    The good guy turned bad
    The bad guy turned good.

    Is there any others I'm missing?
    I'm looking to make this a series and so I'll need plenty of interesting characters that interlace with each other.

    Thanks in advance
    Skattered_Ink
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    If you create characters by formula, what kind of story do you think you'll end up with?
     
  3. Skattered_Ink
    Offline

    Skattered_Ink New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, when you think about it ALL stories are base on one formula. A Stranger Enters. IT doesn't need to be an actual person or the main character entering a place but it could be an object or a situation that's strange.

    To folow a formula is to at least get a start on something
     
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Base your characters on people. Observe them, listen to them, without classifying them.
     
  5. marina
    Offline

    marina Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,280
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Seattle
    Google your question: How to develop characters for a fantasy novel

    See what turns up there. But you don't want "formula characters," since that would mean flat, stock characters who are not interesting.
     
  6. Syne
    Offline

    Syne Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    1
    I see. Why don't you tell me the name and address (country included) of this person, and just forget he ever said anything of the sort. In fact, forget this person ever existed. Trust me, the two of you will never meet again.

    There should be no formulas to stories. Part of the fun in them is being surprised by how they progress and how they turn out.

    You should base your work on what has come before you, but only to an extent. Just because a prominent fantasy author once wrote about a Dark Lord trapped in a mountain, there is no reason to follow that pattern; even if the story in question did turn out to be a success. Challenge it, come up with your own storylines and characters.

    Like Cogito said, model your characters based on real people and develop them accordingly. The real world is, after all, what you want to imitate -- at least to some degree.

    I noice you say you want interesting characters that interlace with each other. How will your characters interest the reader if they're nothing more than replicas? The reader must have seen them interact a thousand times before.

    If you're looking for stereotypes, tvtropes.org will yield many. However, it's more of a database of what to avoid.
     
  7. tcol4417
    Offline

    tcol4417 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Sydney, AU
    Skattered, I think you might be confusing formulas that have been used in the past, formulas used today and formulas that are successful today.

    Let's break it down.

    Past formulas have been the subject of academic debate, and if you wikipedia Vladimir Propp and work your way through the related articles you'll get a good idea. Lots of scholarly types have gone to the trouble of breaking down folklore into categories and stages and it really is interesting stuff, but hardly useful in creating something yourself.

    Current formulas - and again, these have been created mostly in retrospect - are things like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, again being broken down into segments and analysed academically. Things like "there's always a mentor that either dies or turns evil, there's always a weak person that needs to be saved or at least picked up occasionally, there's always a moment when everything seems lost but is saved at the last second, by Deus Ex Machina in the chronically uncreative cases

    There is no such thing as a successful formula unless you are deliberately writing pulp - which is understandable from a purely financial point of view, they sell quite well apparently - but not if you're trying to stand out and be creative. That doesn't mean you should take every liberty you can, but don't do the entire thing by the book because otherwise your novels will end up a lot like a soap opera series:

    Same rubbish, different names.
     
  8. Atari
    Offline

    Atari Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2009
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Louisiana
    This does seem a little strange. Are you making a satire of the genre, or are you really taking lots of cliches in order to make a serious story?

    If the latter, then listen to the people in this thread: They know what they're talking about.
     
  9. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    Besides, this is only one very specific type of fantasy, known as High Fantasy Even then, you don't need all of these character archetypes or for them to even fit the archetype perfectly. Make the characters individuals. Make them work for your story, your ideas. It's all well and good to learn the archetypes and classic story formulas, but you are not going to do well if you create a story based on the need for so many types of characters.

    Despite its setting, Star Wars is the perfect example of High Fantasy. Take a look at what was done there, how he used the characters, how they fit into the story. He needed all of them, and the archetypes were able to serve his purpose. Yet they were also individuals, and the story was his own.
     
  10. The-Joker
    Offline

    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Messages:
    742
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    Africa
    And more recently, Eragorn followed almost the exact template as Star Wars and is a runaway success, but be wary. Chris Paolini didn't have to write a query letter to anyone since his parents owned a small publishing house. If you ever intend on getting your book published forget about the formulaic High Fantasy plotline.

    Remember, when you fist query an agent, you give them a broad overview of your story, and if that follows the general pattern of LOTR, WOT, the Bulgarian and all the rest you're going to have a tough time selling it no matter what unique little details you sprinkled upon it.

    You can use certain elements but be sure to incorporate something so majorly, drastically different that it sets your book apart from the very first glance. Thats my advice if you're unpublished.
     
  11. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    Also, the primary reason it sold so well was making a gimmick out of his age, as if what he created was special for a teenager, when his writing was was pretty average for teenagers. It's obvious it was written by a kid who had not read wildly yet.
     
  12. Unit7
    Offline

    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,151
    Likes Received:
    59

    However I would like to mention that while it is true they selfpublished, he did eventually get it published by a different company altogether. Or was it redistributed by a different company? *shrugs*
     
  13. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    Someone who works at a larger publisher did pick it up, but I have serious doubts about their reasons, considering how much they pushed it and made such a huge deal out of the kid's age.
     
  14. B-Gas
    Offline

    B-Gas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    14
    A second publisher picked it up and sold it based on the fact that it was written by someone very young. Not based on how good it is.

    Write to a formula and you get a formula book. Most books end up getting formula forced upon them rather than being made for it- no-one sets out to write thinking "okay, so I've got the tough guy, the fast guy, the smart guy and the charismatic hero- wait, I don't have a love interest yet."
     
  15. Kas
    Offline

    Kas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    The ***hole of the world
    Sorry to be crude, but whoever told you that was only pissing on fantasy. He obviously doesn't read much from the genre or appreciate it.

    If you want to write good fantasy, start by reading. Read as much as you can from quality writers. Don't try to get in on a fad. . . Aspiring writers do it by the thousand, and I'm sure there are more Twilight knockoffs in the Rejection Pile than anyone would care to count.

    To write good fantasy, you'll need to understand what makes it so. We could try to explain it to you, but I don't think you'll 'get it' until you figure it out for yourself--and you'll only do that by reading. . . a lot.

    No formulae are likely to work. It's like copying a research paper from the net, changing a few words, and handing it in. That's a recipe for failure, not success. . .

    The main problem, apart from the obvious, is that it won't be your story. The characters won't be yours. You won't be inspired if you copy and paste, and you'll never have the enthusiam needed to breathe life into your story, to make it more than mere words on a page.

    Fantasy is a loosely defined genre. The only constant seems to be that it must contain some element of the impossible. It could be magic, or fantastic creatures, or a world that happens to be flat. . or anything else that doesn't/can't exist. Beyond that, there is no formula specific to fantasy.

    There is a bit of formula to writing a good story in general, though. It should have a strong plot, some conflict, and it should raise questions in the reader from early on. . etc. All the usual stuff that applies to any standard story. These are the only 'ingredients' you should concern yourself with.

    You could check out the many useful threads in the General Writing forum for tips, or purchase some writing guides to get a basic sense of what constitutes a good story. Do that and read. Read, read, read.
     
  16. tcol4417
    Offline

    tcol4417 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Sydney, AU

    AAAUGH! *makes the sign to ward off evil*

    Why do so many rubbish works have a love interest wedged into whatever cracks they can be hammered in without breaking the mallet?

    URGH >_<
     
  17. Smithy
    Offline

    Smithy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Read A Song of Ice and Fire it is epic and Shakespearean to an extent not seen in fantasy in decades, if ever, and manages to be so while not using any of the usual cliches or stereotypes. Or at least not until you're so well and truly hooked into the story that it doesn't really matter.
     
  18. sapphire_chan
    Offline

    sapphire_chan Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Come on, everyone! Don't knock stereotypes too hard. It's possible to write a perfectly decent humorous fantasy by hanging a hat on the trite and cliched.

    On the other hand, if you're getting advice about writing from someone who suggests formula, tongue-in-cheek satire is probably going to be difficult.
     
  19. Edward
    Offline

    Edward Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    Messages:
    312
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    Star Wars.

    But seriously, the Hero's Journey is a good place to start with coming up with a story, not the least of which reasons is it's flexibility and it's alleged use in everything ever.

    Oh, I should mention that while Eragon follows the Hero's Journey, that isn't it's problem. It's problem isn't being formulaic written, it's being a ripoff of Star Wars, and being, well, terribly written.
    As it stands, I'd say that following a formula is something that is very helpful to an aspiring young writer, but it isn't something that you should continue to do after you've learned the ropes. Think of it like training wheels.
    Though, again, The Hero's Journey is supposed to represent every single story ever. That's a lot of variety, and it's also, most importantly, very generic, and doesn't rely on everything being in order, or even happening at all.

    Also, t-col, I know that my own story has a Love Interest because I see fantasy as an inherently romantic genre, for all definitions of romantic. It's filled with grand, sweeping vistas, and big breasted, scantily clad womendramatic and epic love.
     
  20. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,215
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Denmark
    This is bound to be a huge success. Some cliches are used for a reason! :D
     
  21. AmandaC
    Offline

    AmandaC Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    My only advice to you would be to step outside the box, or in this case the traditional fantasy formula. It's been done. Several times. So make your own rules and make it good.
     
  22. Ruloris
    Offline

    Ruloris Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    I remember taking a class last semester regarding the same issue. In fact, it was the professor that brought it up to us. Are you sure that the person that spoke this "formula" theory in the first place wasn't referring to archetypes?

    From how I understand it, archetypes are different from an actual "formula". They aren't necessarily rules, but common categories to file aspects. Such as having a scenario involving two lovers that face overwhelming obstacles to be with one another. This would be considered the "Star-crossed lovers". (Romeo + Juliet)

    Just an example.
     
  23. Little Miss Edi
    Offline

    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    South East, England
    Skattered_ink, you are refering to a literary theory (as Ruloris mentioned) that states there is no original story but 7 basic story plots: Star crossed; rags to riches; overcoming the monster; the quest etc (<-- can't remember the other 3 :p ) They're not formulas for working out a plot and they certainly shouldn't be used that way, because all you'll get is generic boring fiction. They're retrospective so you can finish your mind-boggling manuscript, sit back and say... "oh look, I think I've accidentally written a 'rags-to-riches'". Christopher Booker wrote an interesting book called Seven Basic Story Plots: Why we tell stories, if this theory interests you, look for it at the library.

    But just remember if you paint by numbers you get a picture someone else laid out for you.
     
  24. afrodite7
    Offline

    afrodite7 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    2
    -fantasy doesn't have to follow a formula,the only rule is its not real!
    -purple aliens with magical rocket launchers can be fantasy!
     

Share This Page