1. JohnKPatterson
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    JohnKPatterson Member

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    What do you want to see more of in Fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by JohnKPatterson, Oct 5, 2011.

    Most fantasy readers like to complain about the cliches in the genre and bellyache about the "rules" of good writing/storytelling that many fantasy authors break unnecessarily. My question here is, what would you like to see done right in fantasy, especially novels? If complaining were all we did, we could carry on until Doomsday. Can we take a break and muse for a while on what we'd like to see authors do well?

    What is it that you want more of? More moral ambiguity? Less of it? Do you appreciate more explanations of a magic system, or prefer that more of it be left to mystery? Would you rather see authors put more spins on the old cliches, or try completely "new" things?

    Can we get some suggestions for how fantasists might improve the stories they tell? Are there any writers currently taking the genre where you would like to see it go?

    I'm still kind of unfamiliar with fantasy's current state, even though I chose to write in it. That will be fixed ASAP, but I'd like to see where some of you stand regarding the current state of fantasy
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The truth is, most of the stereotypical complaints about the genre are antiquated. Check out some of the following more recent works, for example:

    George R R Martin - Song of Fire and Ice
    Joe Abercrombie - Best Served Cold (this one is particularly brutal and morally ambiguous)
    K J Parker - The Company
    R. Scott Bakker
    Steven Erikson - Malazan Books
    Ian Graham - Monument
    Glen Cook - The Black Company (this one is a little older than the others, but I'm including it)

    there are other examples as well. The genre as a whole has pretty much moved away from the things people complain about historically.
     
  3. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    The Wheel of Time series is amazing. Read it.
     
  4. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I don't know. The wheel of Time is too complex for me. I tried reading it but i ended up returning it to the library i was so frustrated.
     
  5. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Neil Gaiman. It's not cliche or rules that matters, it's whether you keep the reader asking, "then what happened?" You can be as cliched and rule-bound as you like: if you write well enough to keep the reader asking that question then you are succeeding.
     
  6. mugen shiyo
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    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

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    @ Steerspike, you've just expanded my reading list :)

    @ Jhunter, it really is. Ironically, I just finished writing about some of the books listed on this thread. I'm really hoping the last book is going to be good.

    @ JKP, I do have some complaints just suggestions. I'd like to see people take on more challenging time periods like the age of steam boats and coal-trains, perhaps a time period mirroring the Cold War. The swords and sorcery thing is about as addictive as vampires, and plenty of others write in the present and future. But I always found those time periods to be rather untouched. (though I can see how making the Civil War era entertaining would be left alone. One of the most boring periods of my history class...)
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I fervantly dislike high-powered characters in fantasy fiction, and always have. I lost interest in Pern (yes, this was long ago) as soon as Lessa (Lyssa?) got a dragon. I liked the Narnia books best when the kids were just kids, and was bored when they were royalty.

    Going even further back into my childhood reading, _A Wrinkle In Time_ worked for me because the kids were going against such very long odds, and because the most powerful of them was taken out of play early in the struggle. I liked Dorothy when she was a nobody, and I was furious when Ozma turned out to be royalty. Superman and Green Lantern annoyed me; I liked Batman and Green Arrow. (And Swamp Thing. And Kamandi.)

    I loved playing Call of Cthulhu, where the characters are fighting for their lives and sanity, not hunting for gold.

    The Wheel of Time kept me going for a while because as I "lost" characters due to them becoming powerful, new and less powerful characters came along, but eventually I couldn't take it any more. I'm hanging on with the George R. R. Martin books because a couple of the characters are wandering around forced to act rankless and powerless right now, but there's too much royalty for my taste.

    Bilbo and Frodo in The Lord Of The Rings, and Lyra in the Golden Compass, stayed relatively low-powered; I enjoyed that. So did Harry Potter, for that matter. Dresden in The Dresden Files is uncomfortably powerful, but at least he's outclassed by darn near everything he runs into. Buffy at least has to work at her job.

    Speaking of Buffy... the Buffy world had something to talk about beyond simple, "Ooh, cool! Critters with powers!" It was addressing the emotions and experiences of the hell that is high school. Now, if it had been more aggressively metaphorical it would have annoyed me and driven me away; it was _just_ close enough to real-world issues to give it life, and not so close that it had a preachy vibe.

    So I want characters that not only have to struggle to win, but ones that are also vulnerable to the same risks as any ordinary person. I want risks that go to the core of their existence, rather than, "What if we don't find the treasure?!" And I want those risks and conflicts to somehow ring true; I don't need an obvious link to or metaphor with real life, but I need to feel them instead of just marvel at how big and shiny they are.

    I don't know if that makes sense or not. :)

    ChickenFreak
     
  8. mugen shiyo
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    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

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    ^ I agree with the whole high-powered thing. I tend to like it when the character has to think more then simply cover the continent with lightning bolts to get through a situation. But sometimes, like in actual anime, it's just awesome to watch someone get totally owned. Like that epic face-palm Ichigo gave Aizen in their last fight.

    I liked Naruto originally because the characters weren't high-powered and they weren't one on one grand standers. They fought as a team and they actually came up with really clever, really sneaky ways of fighting their opponent. It's still a good anime, but it seems to be going the way of Dragonball Z. Super Saiyan 90, lol.
     
  9. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I like it when an author puts more than five minutes of thought into the ending. I'm not a fan of twist endings that are only possible because of a new power that just showed up or that turns the whole story into someones imagination. And I really dislike endings that leave too many unanswered question, like they stopped in the middle of the story because they reached a certain word count.
     
  10. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    :eek: Do I have a split personality? I agree with all of the above.

    I never got to far into the Dragonriders of Pern, I write about Dragonriders, and they are not indestructable, they are human(oid) with a relationship with their dragon.

    I think to many authors have to go epic, bigger and badder then the last epic novel. When you lose the connection with the reader you lose the purpose of the book.
     
  11. mugen shiyo
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    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

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    @ Amy, does Battlestar Gallactica count among those too many question endings? That's the feeling I got. A lot of holes and too many endings. I hear the writers were planning it to leave the audience with wonder but I think they were hoping it would. It started so well too :(
     
  12. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I think more political intrigue would be good. Song Of Ice And Fire is really the only series I've seen that does this well. Wheel Of Time has a stab but mostly doesn't do to well on that front, like implying that entire nations manage to avoid politics and rarely saying more than "these guys were always manipulating each other.". And moral ambiguity is always good. People aren't so clear cut in real life so It's more engaging if they're not in fiction.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Dude, read Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold. A revenge story with political intrigue, and it makes George R R Martin's books look like a day at Disneyland :D
     
  14. cruciFICTION
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    The few fantasy series I remember always liking were The Dark Tower (which is only really fantasy at the start but rapidly takes on sci-fi and other genres after the first book too), and Allison Croggon's Pellinor series.

    Pellinor was actually extremely well written, and Croggon's an Australian writer. The magician characters were "Bards". The main character was the same old small town undiscovered orphan, but in Pellinor, it was a girl, and I didn't hate her. I've never particularly liked female protagonists in fantasy or anything like that, and before you go calling me a sexist, it's because they always seem too forced. The writers seem to be too obsessed with making them equal to any and all male counterparts and not just letting them be a protagonist. Pellinor was good at that.

    Other than that, almost anything written by David Gemmell is good. A lot of his different series really just tell the same stories but with different characters and settings, but they're all great. The Drenai and Rigante series are both absolutely spectacular. The Sipstrassi/Jon Shannow series is even more so.

    That's not a great analogy. I personally have a bit of a vampire fetish, mostly due to my obsession with the taste of blood and that I like the pain that being bitten brings. And yeah, I'm not joking. I frequently have dreams related to it, like this morning. A very pretty girl I went to school with but was never particularly friends with seemed to be a vampire or something, or maybe I was. I thought she might have been injured, so I kept giving her my wrist.

    Dragon rider stories always bother me. Dragons are huge animals. I liked them in Harry Potter. The one idiot stupid enough to try and tame one got his beard burned. Good. Any time something that big and powerful, but also animal, is displayed with any kind of human intelligence, I feel that it's an insult to the animal kingdom.

    I see it received David Gemmell-related awards. That makes me happy. David Gemmell is great.


    To be honest, I'm not actually that big of a fantasy fan any more. I don't think I will be ever again. I think what's killed it for me is that everyone (note: hyperbole) writes it. I go to NaNoWriMo kick off parties and everyone (note: not as much hyperbole, but still some) there says that the novel they're writing will be fantasy. I think it's a genre that's too easy to write, but not often written well.

    Also, I'd really like magic systems to make sense. Not in a "Oh look, explanations!" sort of way, but in a, "I can't really see any flaws with this" way.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I enjoy Gemmell a great deal. Love Legend, as well as the Rigante books. I am reading Lord of the Silver Bow‚Äč right now, as a matter of fact.
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you asking as a writer (to get ideas and inspiration for your future story) or as a reader? if you're asking as a writer I think you should think more in terms of what YOU would like to see more of as a reader. Chances that lots of other people want the same thing is pretty good :)
     
  17. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    ....
     

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