1. Josh
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    Josh Member

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    Not Using the Prophecy: A Good Idea?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Josh, Jul 27, 2009.

    Hi. I am currently writing a high fantasy novel and I decided to not use a prophecy to forward the plot, rather allow the nature of events run its course.

    Is this a good idea or is it preferred that I use the prophecy?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you don't need a prophecy, don't use one.
     
  3. wave1345
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    Agreed with above. The story will be more believable if it doesn't require
    supernatural contrivances to keep it going!
     
  4. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hard to say, what does the story call for?

    This question is analogous to asking, "Should the antagonist die?", or "Should my main character be female?"

    There is no correct or incorrect answer here, its all in the author's ability to shape and deliver an interesting telling of the story.
     
  5. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Using prophecies can really lend to the mysteriousness of a given story as long as you cloak it well enough, though a lot of writers will use one simply as a plot device because they can't be bothered creating believable ways of motivating their story.

    If you think that your story could use a dramatic twist that you want to allude to throughout the course of events then a prophecy can help you do that, but if you find that the story itself is using the prophecy as a crutch then it needs to go.

    good e.g. Dark Materials Trilogy (Philip Pullman)
    bad e.g. Any harry potter fanfic, really
     
  6. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do not believe a prophecy is ever needed in High Fantasy. I love writing high fantasy, but I plan to stay away from prophecies as best I can. I definitely will be staying away from the Chosen One.

    If you want a prophecy, then add one. If you don't want one or don't think its neccessary... then its not needed.
     
  7. Josh
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    Thanks to those who posted. I will stick to my original plan by not using the prophecy.

    However I do have another question relating to another story (not about prophecies).

    I have a fantasy story set in modern New York City centered on wolves with human qualities (not exactly werewolves as they do not come out every full moon, they are nocturnal creatures who become regular wolves during the day, unless they are werewolves) and an university student from Australia who discovers them and becomes a hunter of these wolves (by chance). These wolves are led by a 37 year old female human who has some sort of connection with the student.

    I was wondering if anyone would help me with a name for the female villain.
     
  8. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Katrina Inferno.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Anna Lupino
     
  10. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lyke N. Throppie.
     
  11. tcol4417
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    I wouldn't go for any obvious puns or linguistic references (Harry Potter's Lupin, honestly?).

    Depending on whether your character is an ancestral or a "young" werewolf, you might want to make it a name with Icelandic (or general north-European-ish) origins or something completely contemporary.

    Names that are based too heavily on simple references cheapens the character themselves, so go with something that emboldens your character, not something that people hear and say "Oh, I get it. How quaint."

    e.g. Jon Talbain and Riza Wildman (Darkstalkers and Princess Resurrection respectively) do not rely on their names to enforce their character
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The Latin for wolf is Lupus. Lupino was not meant as an H.P. reference, but the genre does tend to gravitate toward linguistic references.

    In truth, I tend to avoid obvious or symbolic names. But I also wouldn't ask people for names for a character of a particular type, for much the same reason. :)
     
  13. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't go hunting for things that don't exist, or you'll try and find a common link between Gaidhlig, Saami, and Basque. If you search for ideas in non-existant generalisations, you'll either come up with a cliche or not find anything. You need to have a good idea of where you're going to look.

    But what I think you should do is, as I said in another thread, take an idea that many people have used and put it in a context that few people know. If you have werewolves, don't make them the stereotypical Frankish fantasy creature that everyone is familiar with, and don't give them a name from Germanic mythology, as people will recognise those even if they don't know where from.

    Those that do know where its from will brand your work a cliche or a mythology story (in a bad way) before they've even read it, and no unbiased critic can do anything about that.
     
  14. Anders Backlund
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    Pretty much. Sometimes prophesies are very useful and sometimes there's no need for them.

    For example, I actually liked the prophesy in Harry Potter, because it actually explained why Voldemort became obsessed with killing Harry to begin with, but it was ambiguous enough that the characters couldn't be sure of who'd win in the end.

    A story I worked on a few years back used prophesies that always came true, more or less, because they were basically reverse memories. (I've always thought that prophesies that can be avoided are more like really good guesses.) This had the effect that if you were the subject of a prophesy, it was impossible to do anything that contradicted it, which became kind of a plot point.
     
  15. HorusEye
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    I kinda loathe when plots are rigged together by prophecies and solved by use of magic. It's like fixing a broken car with duct-tape. It holds stuff together but it's crude and obvious.

    How about this: Drop subtle hints throughout your story which make the reader create his/her own subconscious prophecy about what will happen - preferably something dire and horrible - and once you reach the climax of your story, the reader feels that this is the inevitable, destined end for the heroes. It takes more work, planting all those little seeds, but in the end its worth it.

    On a side note, I did like the use of a prophecy in the myth of Oedipus. But that's because the prophecy is a self-fulfilling one. The prophecy there is not so much a magical device to fix a story - rather, the story teaches about the danger of believing in prophecies to begin with. Had the characters never consulted the oracle, the whole tragedy would probably not have happened.
     
  16. Schilcote
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    I think an interesting thing to do would have a prophecy that is wrong. The "chosen one" goes out and searches high and low for his enemy, only for his mother to call him and tell him that his little sister allready vanquished the evil Dorfengan. Perhaps that might be good in a book that is more comedic in nature.
     
  17. Jackalyn
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    Using prophecy is always interesting, too specific you give everything away too ambiguous the readers don't know what your talking about. You could make it a red herring, or the enemies prophecy or one that is already fulfilled or isn't due for another century or so.:) Up to you.
     

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