1. KristinJames
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    KristinJames Member

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    First-time Fantasy Plot feels 2D

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by KristinJames, Sep 21, 2014.

    Hi there! I've never tried my hand at writing fantasy. Well, that's a lie, I sometimes write bottom of the barrel urban fantasy. But I really wanted to go for a high fantasy short story to start off! My problem is that it simply feels bland, 2D, overused even.

    My story would follow Mya, an assassin, and her brother who need to go to the Golden City (name in progress, guys) to kill a target. But the target had an unreasonably high bounty and when they arrive to kill the mark, not only do they encounter numerous trials, but they find out that the mark is somewhat of a reflection of Mya. A twisted, darker version.

    I typed up a rough idea for the first chapter on Wattpad, if anyone would like to see my writing style. But I was wondering if the idea was too vague or overused, and if it would actually be worth anything to a fantasy audience.
     
  2. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    As always, your goals shape the answer.

    What are you goals with this story? If your aiming for entertainment, then I'd say that a certain level of "overused" setup isn't the worst thing in the world. If you can make the characters interesting, complicate the plot more, and splice some well-written action that isn't unrealistic to keep some life/death tension, then there's a fair chance it could be an entertaining little read.

    I don't know if the idea is overused, but a good deal of fantasy is overused, so, as I said, this isn't necessarily the downfall.

    I can't really comment on the complexity of the plot, since the "numerous trials," could be something crazy that I'd otherwise assume is generic, but I'd say find some ways to make the plot more nuanced. Maybe slightly come out of the III-act plot sequence, just enough, to create some separation between your work and other fantasy works. This could create some contrast and add to the reader's experience of the story. Maybe, read some fantasy literature and see how the authors create tension. You could go against that convention of building tension to build tension, since it would conflict with reader expectation.

    Sorry I'm not really giving any specifics, but I'd say look at your plot and throw realistic complications into it that, in a mixed manner, confirm or reject what you'd imagine a reader to expect. This would create some nice tension (holy hell, have I said tension enough?), and since it sounds action-related, that could pay off.

    To note, however, this is just me saying shit; take it or leave it, depending on if you think it sounds viable or not.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    A twisted, darker version of an assassin? Hmmm. You kinda lost me already.

    Assuming there is a way past that problem, I'd say you need to work out motivation. Why are they assassins? Do they assassinate for money? Are they genetically programmed to assassinate? Is there some reason us ordinary folks should empathise with them at all?

    Play around with twists. What if the dark version IS Mya the assassin, and the 'target' turns out to be the better version of herself? The version she might have wanted to be if her life had been different? What role does the brother play here. Well, he could play lots of them, actually... Figure out their relationship, and you might have the bones of an original story.

    I'd say get into the heads and hearts of your characters, and your story will evolve. At the moment, I'm stopped by the first bit. To me, being an assassin seems very dark and twisted—unless there are other factors I'm not seeing.

    I'd say the first thing to do is make up your mind not to take the easy or obvious route through this story. That's the best way to avoid cliches. You can take a known trope and twist hell out of it. Joe Abercrombie did that with his First Law trilogy, which to my mind is one of the best series ever written that does this. Abercrombie takes fantasy 'stock' characters and twists them out of shape. Nothing happens the way you think it will in his story. And the hero? Or heroes? Well they're not what you'd figure on.

    I'd say grab your scenario and explore all the things you could do with it to turn it on its head.
     
  4. KristinJames
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    KristinJames Member

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    Thanks! A nice few ideas. I was planning on the trials all foreshadowing what was happening, but the plot outline is quite vague at the moment I admt
     
  5. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd also say that you can always re-write. Try not to stress too much about it. Things can be fixed.
     
  6. KristinJames
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    KristinJames Member

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    Her brother forced them to take on that specific job, and the evil-er version of Mya is her, but darker. Mya was forced into what she did because there's a whoooole other story behind her people and how they were driven into the darkest reaches of the world by humankind, but evil Mya is sort of her doppelganger, one that takes pride and enjoys killing people. Sort of from another, more demonic plane of existence. I'm working on the kinks.

    Thanks for your reply, though, it's made me think about a lot of things!
     
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  7. KristinJames
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    KristinJames Member

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    Thanks, I like to get it looking good the first write, though. :3
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I see what you're driving at. However, while this all sounds good, it's also basically easy. Easy, in that the evil Mya SHOULD be killed, shouldn't she, because she is evil and demonic. It's just a matter of figuring out how.

    Complexity creeps in, however, if perhaps the evil Mya turns out not to be evil after all. Turns out Assassin Mya has been misled, and maybe is unwittingly working for the wrong side? Or something makes the Assassin Mya not want to kill her evil doppelganger after all, once they actually meet each other ...but she still has her job to do? Or her brother has some ulterior motive in getting Mya involved in this 'job?'

    I'm not saying this is what you should do, but if you want your story to avoid cliche, you might want to work at making it less straightforward, more morally ambiguous, more emotionally challenging? As soon as you set up 'good' versus 'evil,' with no gray area, it just becomes a game, like chess. If you want it to feel real, there needs to be lots and lots of gray area. Create and exploit gray areas, and your story will really stand out.
     
  9. KristinJames
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    KristinJames Member

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    Good ideas! I initially wanted her brother to be working with the people who try to get Mya killed, but I erased that idea from the drawing board.
    Hm, yeah they're some good ideas so thank you for that, I'll definitely think about them! Iam really struggling getting this more complex. Fantasy just... scares me. I can't quite get my head around it for some inexplicable reason. Now, horror and crime... I can do those. But I guess I just want to dip my toes into a different pond.
     
  10. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    The only thing that feels really overused to me is the totally evil demonic feature character. A lot of fantasy writers think its almost necessary to feature such a character but is it?

    Ive read plenty of assassins that enjoy the kill but they werent by necessity demon-like, or even really evil. Some of them just enjoyed the planning, the masterful use of skill and even just snuffing out another worthless individual in the world. You've got to remember that this idea that human life is sacred and ending it is the worst possible crime is a very modern idea. In worlds where people live and die by the sword often before they've even escaped teenagerhood, the value of human lives is somewhat different. People in those ages casually ended lives quite often under various guises.

    If its feeling flat to you its likely to be because you still need to develop the background fully. Just plonking modern attitudes into a fantasy setting may not always yield the best ideas. There's a lot that can be changed just by shifting the local moral code, politics and religious beliefs. Fantasy is about a world thats relatable but alternative to our own in important respects.
     
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  11. KristinJames
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    KristinJames Member

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    I agree, I was working on the background/landscapes over the past few days and it feels a little less 2D but still feels dry, in my mind. So I might keep developing it for a while and see how it turns out
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My issue with your original concept was here. I'm not sure if you mean obstacles that would naturally come up, or a set of "prove yourself" trials that you have to go through before you get to the end, like the labors of Hercules or something. If it's the second, I always find that idea to be rather mechanical and not very engaging. It fits the structure of video games nicely, but it doesn't work, for me, in other forms of fiction.
     

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