1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fantasy Story Cliche Help

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Elgaisma, Aug 17, 2010.

    This worked so well with the last novel figured i would run the second one past the forums lol As a result of last time of doing I pulled all prophecy out and a couple of other things and wow what a difference to my story thanks to all who helped with that:)

    I think this one is a lot less original than the last one and I may not be able to change things but its worth getting opinions:)


    1) My main character is gay and I know its cliche but its staying it is told in first person present tense from his perspective.

    2) In the previous novel he abdicated as Crown Prince leaving his seventeen year old brother as King.

    3) He is partnered to head of the secret service (yep I know lol) and he is the Deputy Headmaster at the school.

    4) His partner and the Queen are kidnapped.

    5) He and his brother go to find them and most of the novel has just these two characters in it.

    6) He and his boyfriend have a psychic connection that increase their powers

    7) He discovers that he is not his parents child and that the Lord of all Evil (who turns out to be maligned rather than evil) is his Father. As a result he will only die if he reproduces. He's the only other character that appears outside the first two and last two chapters - I think.

    8) Over the time period of the novel he learns his own capablities and that he could become the best conductor of the universal powers that has existed in over 500 years.

    9) Bit Arthurian but he kills his twin sister at the end (she had kidnapped his partner)

    10) At one point he tried to commit suicide.

    11) He has the ability to transform into a Swan, he is the first person in 500 years to achieve this bird. The previous one was the original Chief Priestess.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Different thread, but I have to give the same answer:

    I'd read through whatever I had written of it, and decide whether it was a good enough start to finish and revise, start over from scratch, or simply shelf it.

    I would decide based on the writing, not the summary.

    And of course:

    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read this thread about What is Plot Creation and Development?

    It's the same question, regardless of te phrasing: What do you think of my story idea? What should I keep, what should I drop, what should I tweak?

    Only you, the writer, can decide this. The story outline is merely a skeleton. Not even a structural skeleton, more like a hurried sketch on a napkin. It is not the story, and as you develop the story, you will find what needs to be changed from your initial concept.

    Don't let other people tell you what to put in your story. All they can tell you is what they would do to make it their story.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't have to give the same answer, read it on the last thread I wrote like this:) I'm not asking for someone to write my story for me. The plot is created I am now developing it more.

    I know the story is good this is about making it better, it is about the elements that make up my story not the story as a whole. If I can't remove a cliche without destroying the story I won't, however the suggestions last time were invaluable to making my good story better. I personally reject the idea that throwing ideas around with other people is a bad idea. I love the likes of Monty Python, Morecombe and Wise, etc

    Not to mention it was also brilliant for helping me construct my query letter and synopsis
     
  4. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Right. Going through your points, in order:

    1) My main character is gay. I don't know how the hell sexual orientation can be a cliche; there are only about five different options, or eight if you go into the other cultures I know about. Gay is not a cliche, dammit. Nor is first person point of view.

    2) Previously, he abdicated as Crown Prince leaving his brother as King. Again, not a cliche, just a situation. I don't know how your inheritance laws and royalty system are set up, but it's not unreasonable for someone of royal blood to decline the throne if he thinks a trait of his -- presumably his homosexuality, in this case -- would be a political issue, or would disqualify him for the throne in other ways. Or, he could simply live in a country where all the royal children and heirs-to-the-throne were trained in how to rule, and if some of them didn't like that path in life they'd just go off and do something else, like make stuff or go soldiering or train younger relatives in how to fight or negotiate.

    3) He is partnered to head of the secret service and he is the Deputy Headmaster at the school. Again, I don't see how this is a cliche. The secret service thing may or may not fit depending on when and where your story is set. In a fantasy monarchy somewhere in Europe (which is kinda what it sounds like, although that's because without additional details I just assume your characters live in Generic Fantasyland), it might very well make sense to put non-ambitious relatives in positions of authority -- Regent, Headmaster, Armsman, Master of Coin, Logistician, Master of Spies. So having him as Deputy Headmaster because of his bloodline or his knowledge, in a town where he will be teaching children of nobles and wealthy middle-class people, is pretty reasonable.

    The relationship to the secret service guy is something you need to be careful with. He is no longer the crown prince, so his partner may have to keep secrets from him. Just be careful not to have the secret service guy spilling secrets foolishly "for love." No, he's got to protect his country and his King, who just happens to be the former crown prince's brother.

    4) His partner and the Queen are kidnapped. Make sure the method and the motivation are reasonable. His partner could be a target for an assassination, or could have been whisked away by a third group in order to protect him from an assassination. Maybe there's a double-agent in the organization, working against him? The Queen is presumably someone who could be ransomed or killed or maybe interrogated for useful information, or just gotten out of the way while some political debate raged among the nobility, if she has taken a side in that debate.

    5) He and his brother go to find them and most of the novel has just these two characters in it. You mean, it focuses on these characters, right? Because if they go places without meeting anyone else at all, I call LAME. No dice for you.

    6) He and his boyfriend have a psychic connection that increase their powers Okay, here's where you need to be really careful. Love bonds and soul bonds are stock fantasy cliches, because they work as Plot Coupons and convenient ways for the author to let one character know what the other one has discovered. NUKE THIS. If the psychic connection is a relatively common thing in this society, and if the psychic connection allows them to do a ritual or invoke something at cost to increase their powers, that's fine.

    No magical compass, "I-know-he-went-that-way" crud. Or "supa speshul no-one-else-has-a-soul-bond" magic. And no using the soul bond as an excuse for them to be able to hold long conversations for free, or to see each other's thoughts. Seriously, no. This cheapens their journey, and makes the bad guy look stupid; if the kidnapper knows that soul bonds are common, he would knock out the secret service guy or just kill him. And if the soul bond is rare, then you need to make it plausible that the characters would have a soul bond, or explain why its rarity isn't much talked about at court (again, or the kidnapper would just kill the guy to destroy the bond).

    7) He discovers that he is not his parents child and that the Lord of all Evil is his Father. As a result he will only die if he reproduces. Okay, he's invulnerable or invincible or otherwise immortal. Be careful; soul bond + royalty + immortal can sometimes = Mary Sue.

    8) Over the time period of the novel he learns his own capablities and that he could become the best conductor of the universal powers that has existed in over 500 years. Wading deeper into stock fantasy speshulness here. If he has to, say, work his butt off for thirty years practicing magic in order to do this, that's fine. If he is going to randomly get magic powers in time to save the day, then you have reached Cliched Fantasy Central.

    9) Bit Arthurian but he kills his twin sister at the end (she had kidnapped his partner) Fine, as long as she had good reason to do the kidnapping. Mind that you don't use this as an excuse to have your hero angst and angst and angst about it.

    10) At one point he tried to commit suicide. Not cliche.

    11) He has the ability to transform into a Swan, he is the first person in 500 years to achieve this bird. The previous one was the original Chief Priestess. If many people can transform into birds, fine. If he has to train or practice to turn into a swan, fine. If he randomly magically gets to do this with no explanation why except the author likes him, then you should be really careful. Now we have the equation "Royalty + immortal + soul bond + most powerful link to universe in 500 years + special bird guy = Mary Sue to the Nth Degree."

    This doesn't mean it can't be done, or done well. This does mean that unless your world has a lot of bird-transforming, soul-bonding people in it, and magical rituals that enable the doer to become immortal, then I as a reader will assume that you broke the rules because you lurved your character. That happens sometimes, and it can even make a good book, the sort I would read in an evening or two as my literary equivalent of soda pop. But it won't result in a world that feels real to me.
     
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  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank You its very useful

    I forgot to mention the world lol Its basically a planet that forms the heart of the universe, energy passes through it to be cleansed it works like our heart does with blood. It was the place all life came out the sea to be then moved round the universe lol The time is modern, most people dress in jeans and tshirts, only roles that require a uniform dress in a medieval style (King, Abbot, Teacher etc). They have laptops, MP3 players but few cars there is an explanation for that.

    It is populated by the Hai-Ren any who have not reproduced have never died and live in Monasteries, they were created that way to protect the life force, and people descended from Noah Flood ( legend says he was commanded by God to build a spaceship to escape calamity on Earth, its the only prophecy I left in the first book.) he from there spawned a people who were Christian Puritan for many generations.

    However most of my legends don't make it into the books I am considering a website with them on.

    I think it was the way I had originally planned to use him that was cliche last time rather than him being gay. As a character Socrates has changed a lot since I did this in response to my first doing this.


    I am sure it has generic elements, mainly the dress of the various offices. I have kept them simple though. The offices are basic enough King, Abbot, Prior etc But it doesn't have magic as such, everyone can tap into the magic using a method of meditation, ability varies.


    They meet a few others but not many book centres on their relationship, and the family background.

    It actually hardly gets used in the book, he can't contact him because his boyfriend is drugged. They have achieved it through their meditation practice and own hardwork. It is mostly used to indicate the lonliness felt and yes it can increase power/energy. Soul bonds aren't common they have achieved the first one in many centuries. However that is why his sister is keeping the partner drugged.


    yes he does, they have come through his own work, because of the connection with his boyfriend and his real father's genetics, he has achieved them faster than anyone else, but it has been work that has got him there. He doesn't gain anything new during the book, just starts to understand what his previous study has achieved.

    Her anger came about because of jealousy aimed at the younger brother Angus, from there she carried a child that was her grandfathers etc and she went from there. She is now married to the president of an enemy country.

    Anyone can transform into a bird, it is the highest form of the meditation and fighting arts combined - naturally not everyone achieves it. Only the forms of Great White Falcon and Golden Eagle are reserved (King and Abbot), the rest are what you achieve yourself. Although the Chief Priestess was 500 years ago she is the main character's grandmother, by all accounts he looks like except his colouring is different. Its his genetics that make him immortal
     
  6. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Nice! Looking at your reply, I think you've managed to steer clear of most of the cliches. In particular, there is a major difference (to me, at least) between a world where anyone can become a bird / develop a soul bond and a world where the hero randomly gets a gift. It looks like your character made the choice to meditate and work toward the bird transformation as a goal, which makes him a hard worker instead of an Author Favorite.

    Good luck with writing this. I'd like to read it when it's published.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Me too lol the first story is almost ready to be sent off, not happy with my synopsis yet its almost there. One more edit and hopefully it will go:) I love this one more and its proving a distraction lol
     
  8. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    It sounds really interesting now Elga; and I will be sure to buy a copy of it :D
     
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  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    :) thanks I found this thread invaluable with my first novel, I went back and completely rewrote it working out the cliche I had put in. It has made such a huge difference to my writing.
     
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  10. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    It could be seen as a cliché if the reader thinks you made him gay just to be progressive or politically correct. I'd either make sure it adds depth to the story, or not make a big deal of it.

    And to make sure I don't offend anyone: By "not making a big deal of it" I mean, for example, to make homosexuality a natural part of the society where the character lives, like it was in ancient Greece. The character's gay, everybody knows it, and nobody cares.
     
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  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I didn't make him gay, his partner outed him in an early draft of my first story, it was the first time a character had surprised me lol, I only realised he had done it about a page later, and I had to back up:) intially we thought he was dead, then realised it was a way to keep him alive.

    Its not a big deal he's just a gay character in the story its not even desperatly integral to the story, however my character is. Homosexuality is accepted at about the same level as in Scotland today not as much. His father had an issue with it but he was abusive before that. Everyone accepts it but it did force his abdication in the first book, in this book its normal. There is another gay couple that managed their life quietly without anyone knowing in the previous book. I didn't intend to have lots of gay characters:) just became obvious they were during the tale.
     
  12. Islander
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    Nope, doesn't sound very cliched :)
     
  13. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    phew but shows how posting last time really helped or I would not have had so many much better ideas:)
     
  14. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    I think anything can sound cliche until you add in all the interesting details and whys of the story. Adding depth to even the most cliche cliche can make it not a cliche anymore. (giggle)

    Just wanted to note it is the kidneys that filter the blood, not the heart.
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL your right need to explain it better:) techincally the island pumps then I have a statue that purifies - heart sounds better than internal organs of the universe :)

    I know anything can be cliche but it just helps me to have in mind . I have discovered that often what fantasy fans call cliches turn out to be just lazy ways of telling the story and their suggestions have improved my ability no end.
     

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