1. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The need to fantasy-fy?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by w176, Oct 19, 2010.

    At my writers course we had a just a page long exercise on character, and something stuck me as odd. We got an environment from a different person (1/3 of a page) and where to insert a our character into that environment and situation to see if any new traits did arise. A nifty little exercise.

    But, I like lthe fantastic literature spectrum just as much as anyone, but in that one page exercise about character traits all the writers (except me) who expressed a liking o liked any fantasy/sf/supernatural genre had to put a supernatural trait into the absolute focus. We are 13 person in class, had 5 cases of that, and 3 of the cases where that the character was immortal. And all the environmental and situation they came up with was extremely fantasyfied.

    Seriously?

    I starting to lose some hope for the fantasy genre if the only way future fantasy/sf/horror writers can handle an exercise about personality traits is to superstress as the main thing about the character is that they are supernatural rather then actually working on personality traits first and foremost when the exercise was about that. It was a one page exercise, ffs, in what way in that context could it be super important to stress that a character was immortal?

    Anyone got any comment or what to defend this tendency?
     
  2. Lynch
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    Lynch Member

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    Might it be due to the lore and fiction they've been raised on?

    How well do you know your classmates?
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope, I can't defend it. :p I don't even like writing magical characters in fantasy settings. It's *difficult* to write people with a lot of magic. You have to start making a really twisty plot just to keep things level with other characters... I like to think I focus on the personalities as well - learned from reading so much Terry Pratchett, after all :p - but it does get pretty annoying when every other page you have to remember you character can or can't do this just because they're a fantasy concept. Much more believable to have a mundane person interacting with fantasy concepts.
     
  4. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not well enough to be in a position to have a discussion about this with them. We had two two day seminars, its a university course but aimed at beginner writers. I'm more then a bit ahead then most, and is one of the ones that dominate and heard a lot in the discussion in class. Me commenting on their writing would be me condescending and not nice. Thats the sort of thing you need to be told gently by a friend.

    I think it a it them positioning them self and taking a identity and stance of being "fantasy writers" rather the focusing on the basics, doing the exercises and become good writers. Or believing that since they are planning to write fantasy, fantastic elements must be the focus of every scene.
     
  5. Lynch
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    Lynch Member

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    "If anything is possible, nothing is interesting." - H.G. Wells

    I have nothing more to add, just felt that quote was a pertinent reflection on one of the major downsides of writing fantasy for fantasy's sake.
     
  6. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know, a knowledge that you are immortal will have a tremendous bearing on how you interact with the world and with others. It might breed indifference or a taste for cruelty or give rise to an overwhelming ennui that warps and twists personality. Were any of your classmates hinting at that sort of thing? Did they take that sort of thing as read? The offence might be pardonable.

    More broadly, I join Lynch in agreeing with Wells.
     
  7. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    No. They just sort of just created scenes to show off that the character was immortal. Otherwise I would agree with you.

    Im sure they would say that if they written a long story focus would be on something like, they are smart people, that but that still don't make much sense in a one page exercis on personality traits.
     
  8. helltank
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    helltank Member

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    I think it's okay to fantasy-fy now and then. Just don't overdo it.

    Sidenote:I like to include some catch or unique thing about the fantasy. It makes the story more fun, and is one of the reasons why I decide to read a story.
     
  9. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    I think it ties into one of the fun things about writing fantasy, especially when you're first starting. It's fun making the single most powerful character ever if that's your thing- in the same way that my D+D buddies and I enjoy finding the most game breaking character builds to give whoever is running the current campaign nightmares. It's fun in the same way that stacking Death Cloud and Inferno on a single mob of enemies in Dragon Age: Origins is fun. For a while. And not really for anyone else watching or reading. But at the end of the day, character stats are just numbers on a page, and characters that exist solely to demonstrate to the world their own powerfulness are just empty lists of descriptions. The real fun is breathing life into them, whether it's through the experience of collective story-telling in a table top RPG, or in taking a few seconds to think on what ramifications all of those tremendous abilities might have on a character. That's when writing fantasy writing really gets fun. Or at least, that's a what a teenage me thought anyway ;)
     
  10. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    I have a group of people who are mortal, but abnormally long-lived, still human though. I want to explore what it would mean to know you can live, until you choose not to live even if this can span thousands of years of ideal health.

    Throwing in a lick of fantasy can be a bit wishy washy, especially when you don't know how to make things interesting.
     
  11. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    It really irks me when people have nothing better to do than go in and out of magical portals just to make sure you know they're there.

    "I woke up magically one magical morning at the sound of my magical alarm powered with MAGIC. It's always on time unlike boring clockwork because it's magical unless there's some sort of magical interference, in which case I have to fix it with magic. I ate my magical breakfast using magic spoons held aloft with magic because I don't need to use my hands seeing as I have magic before dressing myself with magical clothes that I made with magic instead of buying at the store which isn't as magical as I am and I know because I used magic. I left my magical castle held aloft over a magical river with magic through my magical portal into a magical dimension for magical people and went to magic school only to magically realise that I had forgotten to set a magical reminder to do my magical homework."

    Words cannot describe...
     
  12. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Been reading Joel Stickley's blog? That reads like one of his write badly well posts. I think you forgot a magic between your magic and your magic though, might want to correct that.
     
  13. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Was that a piece of fantasy writing? To be honest, I think you need to mention something like magic a bit more to make it work. It's just not... magic enough.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Meh. A good DM would cause players to regret that in a hurry. But still in a fun way :) There are ways of dealing with powergamer/munchkin types.
     
  15. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, who wants to read about ordinary people doing ordinary things? :p

    It may be that fantastical elements are used as the easy way out when something needs to be made interesting.

    There also seems to be a lot of people who write about magic and paranormal abilities for wish fulfilment - as a way to extend their own fantasies about being invincible / popular / successful / etc. Unfortunately, someone's wish fulfilment usually isn't half as interesting to the reader.
     
  16. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    Yeah, it's all in good fun. If an actual game-breaking build is found, it is promptly retired ;)
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I can see that. You can house-rule things that seem to be game-breakers as well. I suppose it depends on what edition you are playing as well. I can see this being a problem in 4e (which I don't like at all), and maybe a bit of one in 3e. 1e and 2e it would be hard to do, and the same for a modern system like Castles and Crusades that is based on those older editions.

    But whatever is fun for the group around the table is fine, in my view.
     
  18. HeinleinFan
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    I suspect that your classmates got caught up in what they were writing and forgot the purpose of the assignment.

    Some people do that. (It drives teachers and professors batty, because they find themselves grading assignments that are "well-written" in terms of grammar and word choice, but which don't actually answer the essay / story prompt.) In particular, when people are using writing classes as their excuse to write -- which sounds horrible, but if you're taking a writing class and not writing anything outside of class, you're doing just that -- the creative part of their brain gets starved for exercise and can take over mundane assignments.

    It's happened to me, too, although I notice it more often in others. I don't think this is limited to the fantasy genre; honestly, it's probably just a case of people not making the time to write.

    And hey, it could be worse. I've read some real stinkers over the years, essays where the students clearly just didn't know how to marshall their thoughts, where it was not at all evident that the people involved (in this case, junior and senior college students living in my hometown) had attained anything like proficiency concerning the written word.
     

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