1. gusain
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    gusain New Member

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    How do i make prophecy not boring?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by gusain, Oct 5, 2015.

    Almost all the fantasy stories have a prophecy which will be fulfilled some day (avatar,harry potter etc.).

    Now I also intent to do same but how do I make it realistic and also not boring?
     
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  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree that most fantasy stories have prophecies. Most fantasy stories don't have them, and a lot of fantasy authors consider it cliche. However, there is a subset of fantasy that has prophecy, and good authors make it work.

    I think "realistic" is a word I'd avoid here. What I recommend is making the prophecy a conditional one or a possibility, or making it ambiguous in interpretation, or even making it also prophecize some bad things for the protagonist. You keep the uncertainty intact, even though you're using prophecy, and that allows you to maintain tension.

    For example, there are stories where the prophecy says the main character will die after completing whatever she is supposed to do. That's a source of tension. Is it true, will she really die? Could it be a case of misinterpretation? And so on. There is a lot you can do with prophecy that doesn't lock the story into a set path and make things boring.
     
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  3. Bocere
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    Bocere Member

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    I think that depends entirely upon your plot and what you need the prophecy to do. (Aside from propel your unwilling hero/heroine into action, of course).

    Without further information I'm not sure how much help I can be, but I mean, if the prophecy is about someone other than the MC that might be a road slightly less traveled, like if your sidekick, or even maybe your villain is the one trapped in his/her fate instead of your MC.

    If your MC is a part of a group of people the prophecy may apply to, and everyone thinks it's someone else but it's really your MC, that might be a little different. OR the other way around - imagine Harry had died unceremoniously in the forest and Neville really did end up being the Chosen One at the end of Harry Potter, that would have spiced things up a bit there.

    Or I think you could do the tragic Oedipus-style prophecy with accidental fulfillment where the reader doesn't see the whole picture until the end? Not sure how frequently that's been done but as a reader I would probably like something like that.

    Not sure if any of this is remotely relevant to your story :) If you give a little more detail I can take another stab at it!

    Good luck!
     
  4. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    By not using.... the choosen one... sorry pet hate lol... especially when its normally the person least likely to be.... think late 80 early 90s movies... always the wayward kid.. who had nothing to do with the culture the prophecy came from.... grrrrrrrrr
     
  5. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Misdirection is good. Prophecies, be they fictional or religious scripture, are heavily symbolic, full of poetic metaphor and questionable semantics. This opens the door to limitless interpretation.
     
  6. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe write characters that have good reasons to disagree with each other about how the prophecies work ;) Are they literal or metaphorical; are they completely changeable, partially changeable and partially unavoidable, or completely unavoidable; ...
     
  7. JustinCupcake
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    JustinCupcake Member

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    A good example here is Wizards First Ruler or the legend of the seeker Book series by Terry Goodkind. Terry Starts the story out with the prophecy, its What shapes the Main characters journey and honestly after the first half of the book its not really mentioned again. See finding the main character to stop the bad guy was the prophecy, the story takes place at the conclusion of fulfilling that prophecy. If you think its boring don;t use it. There are many other ways to have a fate feeling in a story.
     
  8. Moth
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    Moth Active Member

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    Prophecies, by their very nature, are unrealistic. If you want to make one interesting, have your prophecy in favour of the story antagonists. Rather than having your antagonists try to fulfill a prophecy, have them actively fighting against it.

    After all, if your main man is destined to prevent the apocalypse, it does dispel the threat. "Oh. If Jenny is already predetermined to stop the bad dudes then what are we all worrying about?"
     
  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    My favorite kind of prophecies are prophecies that are very obscure. The only thing that's known is that Jenny must face the bad guy at one point, which is already obvious considering there can't be a story if she just...doesn't stop the bad guy.

    In this kind of prophecy, it could go either way. Jenny can still fail, and better still, she can't do this alone. She needs help, and likewise the villain needs help from his/her allies.

    Another thing you could do is make it so obscure that no one knows exactly what it means other than that someone or a group of people will eventually strike down the bad guy. Star Wars did this one with Anakin. It wasn't clear if he were the Chosen One, nor how he would destroy the Sith. It allowed for free interpretation which, in this case, meant he would become a Sith himself for twenty-three years before finally destroying himself and Palpatine onboard the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. In Jenny's case, maybe she just abandons the quest for twenty years until she defeats the bad guy...by accidentally pushing him off of a ledge.

    It can be a pretty fun thing to play around with. :D
     
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  10. animenagai
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    animenagai Member

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    I just don't get it. So you find a lot of prophesies boring, or at least fear that your prophesies are boring -- why do you need them in the first place? Just because other people do it?
     
  11. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Maybe their story demands a prophecy and wants to figure out how to make it believable and not cliché?
     
  12. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until

    Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill

    Shall come against him.' (Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1, lines 100-102)
     
  13. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    I have a prophecy of sorts where its not a particular person, just an event that is triggered and stopped by anyone fore-filling the criteria, basically earning the chosen spot... not a birth right.
     
  14. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Why can't the protagonist fight tooth and nail against fulfilling a prophesy???
    Should someone walk into my office one day and say, "You will have a daughter who will restore the world order and bring peace to the universe."
    I'd say, "What the F*ck! I'm 38 years old; my son's are 16 and 18 and there is no way on the Gods green earth that I'm going to issue forth anymore offspring. If you need a daughter that if fruit of my loins, I'll give you my son's addresses. Good luck on convincing one of them to have a sex change!"

    Come to think of it, that could be a good story . . . I wonder what kind of daughter my son would make? OR d@mn it, could I really end up pregnant again? That wouldn't be fantasy though; clearly that would be filed under horror!
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  15. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Best Macbeth line ever (Act 1, Scene1)
    FIRST WITCH: When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
    SECOND WITCH: When the hurly-burly's done, when the battle's lost and won.
    It always reminds me that every battle is lost before it's won.
     
  16. ADreamer
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    ADreamer Banned Sock-Puppet

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    Yes all the boring clichéd fantasy does indeed have a prophecy. LOTR didn't, nor does any number of the good fantasy [I would call neither Avatar nor HP good]

    If you don't like the idea of a prophecy, then don't do it. Write the story and then if you are insistent it needs a prophecy write the prophecy around the story, not the story around the prophecy.
     
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  17. animenagai
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    animenagai Member

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    Ok, but what does that even mean? Their story demands a prophecy? If they want to put in a prophecy, then there must be something about prophecies that they like. The question was how to do it without it being boring. If there's something about prophecies that they like, then there's inherently something about prophecies that isn't boring (to them). If prophecies are boring to them, just don't write prophecies.
     
  18. Theoneandonly99
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    Theoneandonly99 Member

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    I'd say try to make it as ambiguous as possible. The only thing your MC or your other characters is that the said prophecy is about your MC/MC's group/whatever. Then make a part of the story is them trying to figure out what the prophecy could truly or exactly mean. Symbolism and even a bit of poetry are your best friends here. I think that'd be quite interesting.
     
  19. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    The real question is that whether or not a story actually needs a prophecy. While they are a staple of fantasy, they aren't necessary. In fact, more often than not, they're overused.

    Personally I can't stand prophecies... for the most part. The moment I read some leader is destined by prophecy, I slam the book shut and throw it on my shelf. Most of the time it's used because that's just an easy way to explain why characters are doing what they're doing. It's an easy way to explain why some farm boy suddenly becomes a great warrior. Or why we should care about a character we normally wouldn't care about. They can be done well, but normally they're just a sign of lazy writing.

    There were two times where the prophecies worked out great and I really enjoyed them: 1) Mistborn Series. The reason why the prophecy worked out so well is because even though everyone was supposedly led by this prophecy, all the characters had their own motivation. They existed outside the prophecy. It wasn't what personally motivated the characters. Secondly, it uses a brilliant red herring, so what you think the prophecy says, isn't actually what it says. 2) Lariel. This sequel involves a prophecy of a hero born of two bloodlines that were established in the original book. But there's several reasons why this prophecy worked well. First off, it wasn't a well known prophecy that extended into the ages that everyone was waiting would come to pass. It was literally one, maybe two people in the entire world who knew about the prophecy. Literally. Even the Cleyr who is a group of people whose entire purpose is to read the future, didn't even know about it. Finally, the author did a good job in making it sound that even though it may have been a divine prophecy, it may not have been either. While the author leans in one direction, he in the end lets you think what you want. Which is cool. I like choices.

    So basically it's this: If the story is driven entirely by prophecies, then likely you're going to end up with a boring story that has very little drive.
     
  20. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    What about making several thousand prophecies in one go? One for your main character, one for your antagonist, one for the guard, one for the tailor down the street.. if everyone gets prophecied in one batch at the same time everyone wants to see his own prophecy fulfilled (and expects it to happen too).. and then you have a lot of chaos in which your mc can see where he/she is left *evilgrin*..
     
  21. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    What if whoever your sage counselor is misinterprets the prophesy?
    Then s/he would be pushing characters to do things that were never intended to be done, possibly generations before said prophesy is expected to be fulfilled. That would by hysterical. Think of Gandalf and his love of the half-lings weed and Radagst and all those magic mushrooms. If your wizened aid is stoned out of his/her gourd and getting it all wrong it could be the mid-adventure of a life time!
     
  22. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOTR may not have had a big, central prophecy, but it did have smaller stuff. Remember the Witch King's death?

    Speaking of which, the prophecy about the Witch King was inspired by Macbeth, which is full of the stuff.
     
  23. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    To the OP, the prophecy in Asimov's Foundation trilogy fuels the original stories, sometimes having a negative influence, never having an inevitable power, only the force of accumulated chance.
     
  24. ADreamer
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    ADreamer Banned Sock-Puppet

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    The Witch King's death was hardly prophetic.

    "Do not pursue him! He will not return to these lands. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man shall he fall."

    Éowyn was the one to strike the fatal blow and I do not believe she was elf, nor orc, nor troll but woman and as such of the race of Man. All Merry [Hobbit] did was stab him in the leg.


    Prophetic means that something comes to pass per every single word - Harry Potter & Voldemort - Gandalf's foretelling was just that, a foretelling and nothing more.
     
  25. ADreamer
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    ADreamer Banned Sock-Puppet

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    Is someone holding a gun to their head saying - write a prophecy?

    Most prophecies are clichéd. There's very few ideas that haven't been woven into a prophecy one way or the other - almost all of them ring to the same tune ... good guy beats bad guy despite the terrible odds or by sacrificing themselves or making some sacrifice. I've yet to read one where the bad guy beats the good guy.


    That is why I said for the OP to write the book first and then if yes, their story demands a prophecy and won't be "complete" without one, write the prophecy around the book. The way I am reading the OP's original topic is they want to write the prophecy first and then the book --- it'll handicap the book because it's trying to fit into a clichéd idea [the prophecy].
     

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