1. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    What is it with new writers and fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by EdFromNY, Jun 25, 2013.

    It's been my impression over the past few years that I've been on this forum that an inordinate number of young/aspiring writers are looking to write in the fantasy genre, and I was just wondering if there is some overarching reason why that might be. I'm not putting down the genre, just curious as to why it should be so markedly dominant.

    My own thought is that it might have something to do with two major influences - Hollywood (particularly with LOTR and HP, as well as the HP books) and video gaming (from what I can tell, aside from 1st person shooter games, a large chunk of the video game market is in the fantasy realm).
     
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  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, fantasy is very popular. Young, aspiring writers today grew up with the Harry Potter books and movies, and the Lord of the Rings, as you say. I agree, also, about video games (whether shooters, MMOs, etc). Fantasy books in general have been popular, and people are motivated to write the sort of thing they enjoy reading. Also, Fantasy seems to many to be open-ended in terms of possibilities, so there is a sense of a great deal of freedom there. Others enjoy creating worlds or whole universes (also something that makes science fiction attractive).
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is the part that would seem to me to be of great appeal to younger writers. Since Fantasy need only be consistant at an insular level, the freedom to create what one wishes would seem a natural draw to the budding, younger writer. It is less restricted by code than its sister genre, Science-Fiction.
     
  4. EmmaWrite
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    EmmaWrite Member

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    I agree that its probably influenced by the volume of fantasy material out there and writers want to imitate authors that they admire. I also think that fantasy offers a kind of escapism that's appealing to young writers/readers.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think we're going to see even more fantasy from young writers considering the popularity of Game of Thrones.
     
  6. Sir Awesome
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    Sir Awesome Member

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    As a new writer, I would think that I am drawn to that genre because of why I like to write. Like mentioned before, the reason I write-at the moment-is because of the freedom, and escape from reality.

    Fantasy gives more options to create more things, and is much easier to get sucked into it compared to what I would think a Humor or Romance would.

    Though, I haven't tried to write in any of those genres (fantasy and science fiction at the moment) I don't feel the appeal to try it.
     
  7. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    It's a very interesting genre and in a way is easier to write than other genres. Why? Because one is not limited by realism in the same way if you was to write a story about a copper. If you was to write a story about a copper then you'd be expected to understand everything about the police force. In fantasy, its your world and your rules.

    Also, because of the increase in TV like game of thrones, harry potter etc.

    I don't think LOTR has much to do with it.
     
  8. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Probably because it's the genre where the writer isn't limited by the constraints of reality. There's no research involved, you just use your imagination and go. It's good for new writers to get their ideas out in the open without always stopping to ask themselves "does this actually happen in real life?" every scene.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree that it is easier to write than other genres, though that's a common sentiment. Fantasy writing covers a broad spectrum, and a lot of it requires plenty of research on real-world elements that are included. If it is a wholly made-up world, it still requires attention to detail to remain internally-consistent, and to give it a feeling of a 'real' world requires providing a significant level of detail and making sure it all works together. Probably more time-consuming than researching the facts of a real historical setting. And once you get beyond all of that, whether writing fantasy or something else, you've got to put in the work to make a good story of it, and that's going to be the same regardless.
     
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  10. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I didn't mean it was an easy genre to write, it's just easy for new writers to start off with. Any good story needs proper planning and especially with fantasy, sometimes you need to create your own physics system that ends up constraining your writing in the end. New writers probably just want to start writing from the top of their heads without preplanning an entire book, and fantasy is the best outlet for this especially if they don't know much about real world topics like war, military, crime investigation, politics etc. Not every new writer is like this and I'm not saying it's the way to go.. it's just my opinion on why new writers start with fantasy.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed. I think too often, as you mention, the freedom of the genre is confused with simplicity of execution. In a real world story or even in a Science Fiction story there are elements of real life that are taken for granted, that do not need to be created by the author. A fantasy world requires creation to minute detail because nothing can be taken for granted. One of my favorite Fantasy series is the Wraeththu series by Storm Constantine which serves almost as a fictional ethnography of the Wraeththu themselves, her detail is so precise.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, could be [MENTION=53357]rhduke[/MENTION]. I think it goes back to the open-ended nature of it, and that may be part of the allure. Though even in fantasy, I can usually tell when an author hasn't done their homework :)
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Storm Constantine is excellent, and the Wraeththu series is quite well done. Good example.
     
  14. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've wondered about this myself. Since I started meeting writers, I've been amazed that the overwhelming majority of folks I meet are writing in one of the following categories: 1) YA; 2) Sci Fi; 3) Fantasy; 4) YA Sci Fi; and 5) YA Fantasy. Frequently with a dystopian bent. I can't tell you how many pieces I've read about post-apocalyptic worlds.

    I agree that I don't see how they'd be any easier to write -- in some respects, I think it would be harder, because you have to come up with everything. A lot of interesting plot points happen because of real-world constraints.

    I think it has more to do with the vast escapist nature of the genre. Younger people tend to fantasize more about someplace totally different from where they are, I think. A fantasy world can be completely devoid of parents, teachers, school constraints, etc. All the decisions are yours'.
     
  15. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Yes. I shouldn't have said "no research" before because that's completely untrue. It is entirely dependent on what they're writing about.
     
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  16. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    Don't forget stories can be inspired by real life events and so they can have a plot to work with. They don't have to be completely made up.
     
  17. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I agree. Many youth might feel trapped inside their lives. Depressed, restless. Writing fantasy is a way for them to break free of real life and symbolically take control of their lives through a character in a story.
     
  18. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I tend to think that it's the genre that best lends itself to ego. The idea is very appealing that you can have your own little world that you created, and where you can (often unwittingly) deal with these larger topics in relative safety, such as war, and racism (like in Lord of the Rings) and at the same time can just be an escapism if you want it to be that. Also, in a fantasy story there is lots of danger and excitement every day, and you don't know what could be over the next horizon because it's fantasy, it could literally be anything. You'll never see a fantasy story about some guy doing his taxes, but you see many about some guy charging a ruin full of orks, or something like that.

    So it's the genre that best lends itself to young, eager and (I mean this in the nicest possible way, Lord of the Rings compared against Gravity's Rainbow sort of thing) immature minds. It is very much a 'safe genre', as is sci-fi in many respects.
     
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  19. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, you could be inspired by a real event for a plot, but nothing else can be taken for granted. Everything must be explained if it's an entirely different world. You can't take for granted necessarily that you might drown in water or a snowstorm would be a problem. Or that there are seasons or one sun or one moon. You can't use any common references like sports teams or real events or activities like watching television. Everything needs to be re-imagined, even if you ultimately use something very close to the real-life counterpart.
     
  20. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Now, does that mean that we will soon see an increase in published fantasy fiction that reflects this trend? And if we do, will it be due more to the fact that e-publishing is so accessible now, with few (if any) checks on quality (disclaimer: this is not meant to launch a traditional-e-pub flame war; just an acknowledgment that e-publishing is a less reliable reflection on what is being read as opposed to what is being produced) than a reflection of reading tastes?

    Or, to put it another way, is the fantasy writing becoming a stage of development that maturing writers pass through, on their way to writing about other things?

    What caught my eye in the comments above were the twin assertions that fantasy provides an element of escapism for the writer, and that much of the current writing is of a dystopian nature. Dystopian fiction is not new, but all the dystopian works I read in my formative years - 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, A Canticle for Liebowitz - all had real world points to make. Is that true of the dystopian fiction our young writers are producing now, or do they use dystopian settings merely as a convenience for eliminating real-world safeguards that would normally prevent what the writer wants to present in the story?

    Or, does the combination of fantasy and dystopian reflect a new (and deeply troubling, in my view) pessimism among those currently in school or just leaving? I live across the street from a college campus, and this year, on graduation day, I was struck by how proud the parents looked and how terrified the kids looked.
     
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  21. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wonder about that, too, Ed. This is what I have seen with the writers that I've met since I started writing a couple years ago, and I don't have a sense of how this reflects writers as a whole or whether it has changed over the years. Most of what I've read that's dystopian does not appear to have some sort of larger real world-point. (Usually I'm not seeing completed novels, but only segments thereof.) Some does have an element of fighting against some kind of oppressive government, but a lot of it is just people making their way after some sort of war or mass disease.
     
  22. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    I could not disagree more. As a new writer, I proclaim myself to be a multi-genre writer (have not written a single fantasy short story yet, but the novel I'm working on is fantasy). However, I find fantasy simply holds more possibilities than any other genre. I further disagree that one can just start writing fantasy, without preplanning. I daydreamed, typed up bios on countries and characters, made backstory on characters as well as a history for an entire continent for the last 10,000 years and I still am learning about my made up world. I didn't know my jungle elves were going to be such a gender-equal type culture, but I found myself typing that midway through my second chapter. Not to mention I had to do plenty of research on things I've never done that are done daily by people in my world; Sailing, rope making, medieval child birth, mounted combat, etc.

    Perhaps it's influenced from books/movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, but maybe not. The Hobbit, for example, was published in 1937 and was very popular.

    Lastly, Crime, War, Military, and Politics are all consistent themes within fantasy. All elements are included in my novel, for example. It seems to me odd that older writers are saying fantasy is becoming more popular when the grandfather of fantasy was writing the in the 1930's, not to mention disney movies that span decades as well. But, it's possible I just don't realize it because of my age.

    Fantasy is so popular because your abilities are the only limit.
     
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  23. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Good questions, Ed. The classics of the Fantasy realm all have strong themes as scaffolding. Something the author is undeniably trying to say to the reader. Strangely, this seems to be at odds with the opinions I have read here in the forum concerning thematics in writing in that there seems to be a strong general consensus that such construction leads to a "preachy" story. It's a strange dichotomy. Some opinons I have read here regarding theme have been openly hostile.
     
  24. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think it's more art reflecting art ( i.e. comic books, t.v. and movies. ) than art reflecting life. In the same way that the 80's had a boon
    of romance books and ya fiction. And the 40's hard-boiled mysteries. Now we've got a boon of fantasy.
    It's a trend. I don't think most writers have a hidden truth behind their work, accept for trying to outshine the trail blazers.

    I like fantasy because I can hide truths in it. But I'm not big on the
    whole world building or scientific jargon element of it. In fact, I like to keep things a little sloppy. I just wrote this story which took
    place on Mars. A part of the story had water floating off - I was told by a reader this wasn't possible not on Mars, and had to laugh.
    The fact that there were people living on Mars sans masks didn't bother him but the water-thing he pointed out.
     
  25. Kaidonni
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    Kaidonni Member

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    I hope not - the sign of a mature writer isn't the genre he/she writes in, but in the attitude of the content he/she writes, the ability to thread it all together consistently and fluidly, and the manner in which he/she treats a wide range of subjects. Fantasy has been looked down on enough, yet the oldest and most treasured stories in the world are myths and legends, the fantasies of their respective societies and times.

    It might be because people fear that there is a hidden agenda to placing certain themes in fiction, that the writer will get on a soapbox and beat the reader about the head. Some of the biggest blockbuster movies have left a very bad taste *cough*Avatar*cough* (they were only big because everyone believed the hype and went to see such movies...then it was too late to get their money back, and the movies broke big).
     

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