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What is it with new writers and fantasy?

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

  1. Illandrius

    Illandrius Member

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    I think the biggest issue is that people think since fantasy is all make believe it's easy and anyone can do it. That may be accurate to an extent. The fact that fantasy can be anything your mind can imagine is true but making that story something people want to read is different. To make a book something someone wants to read requires a lot of effort. We have to create a land, i.e. Middle Earth, Narnia or even Hogwarts. The story was about the characters, the land and how they interact together. It's just as hard as any other genre of book. The reason people write it I think is because it allows our imaginations to flow. A unicorn in Harry Potter makes sense, but one in a mystery novel doesn't unless it's fantasy based.
     
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  2. ClassyCanuck

    ClassyCanuck Member

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    Being a fantasy writer sort of made sense to me... I love medieval history, dragons, magic and elves. The powers you have and the abilities to develop a world similar but different from our own amazed me. More than anything I wanted to live in a time before technology and escape the modern age. Fantasy fit all that for me and over time became what I found myself writing about. It is easier to write fantasy because you rely more on your creative voice than the confines of reality.

    That is just why I write fantasy at least. :)
     
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  3. Illandrius

    Illandrius Member

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    I can agree with a lot of what you say. I think its fantastic and completely agree. However, It may be easier to write because fantasy doesn't have to fit any specific rules, but it is not easy to write at all. It can be complex and complicated. You may not have to fit into the confines of this reality but you are making your own reality and that comes with its own set of rules that you have to create and follow.
     
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  4. ClassyCanuck

    ClassyCanuck Member

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    I agree with you on all your points. It gives you freedom because there aren't any standard rules when it comes to fantasy. :)
     
  5. Shattered Shields

    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    Writing good fantasy is much harder than people like to think. Not only do you have to create a world, you have to fill it, and do it believably. And it has to be fun, has to be vibrant, has to have history.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
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  6. Chinspinner

    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would insert the word "good" before fantasy. Writing fantasy is easy for a someone new to writing, as they can hide behind the unreality of it all.
     
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  7. Shattered Shields

    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    Fixed it. Very good point
     
  8. Tella

    Tella Member

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    The usual comment I get from friends regarding fantasy is "I hate these kinds of films\books because they're so unreal", and while I personally don't mind something far from reality, I must agree. Beside sheer fun, what is it we find in fantasy? More than that, what do we find in a story that is no more than a story?

    There is much sense in the concept: "if it's unrelated = it is boring". We want a story to answer a certain question, to fill a hole. I'll say that answering questions is more of a logical experience while filling a hole is more of an emotional one. Take Edgar Allen Poe. He wrote horror, a genre considered nowadays in the media to be nothing more than a source of thrill - that is the hole to fill, the emotional experience. Poe, however, used horror as a means to explore the human mind in certain phsycological scenarios. He effectively researched the mind, thereby providing a logical experience.

    In the same manner in my opinion, a story, and most especially fantasy and science fiction - because they are distant from us - must be relavent to reality. What first comes to mind is allegory, like the debate of Tolkien painting The Lord of the Rings in the shadow of World War 2, but it is not necessarily supposed to be grand. I'll go as far as to say that the little things - character interaction, say - can supersede as relevant to our reality. The formula of the scenario is the same as in our world, only the particulars are different. The emotions are the same, the phsycological process of the characters is the same, etc... You could say that a relevant fantasy book is a what-if scenario, as it inserts unchanging factors into a hypothesised reality and lets you see the result.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
  9. Starfire Fly

    Starfire Fly Member

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    I never read much fantasy, and my whole fictional universe was originally set in the real one, but with a kind of hidden undercurrent of alternate history. I'm not exactly a new writer, either. I've been writing since I was seven, but I've never attempted anything on the scale of what I was trying to undertake in setting up this universe.

    ...So, eventually I scuttled over into fantasyland. I'm still somewhat conflicted about the whole thing. I started a prequel that's set in this world, but I'm still having trouble introducing the hidden undercurrent dimension to my satisfaction. What's more, I've already got a Book One in the works in fantasyland, which is 400+ pages at this point. I'm thinking I can still rework that back into the "real" universe, though, since it's set about 2,000 years in the future. Technology can advance to the point of seeming magical, as ours certainly would to our ancestors.

    To be honest, I feel more comfortable operating in the "real" universe. I never could quite get the hang of fantasy. Too much reliance on things I'm not terribly interested in. And it was hard merging my quasi-alien science into "magic." If anything, my stuff might be sci-fi, but even that's a stretch because it's not at all science-based. It's the people I'm interested in.

    The only real issue I see in setting it back in our universe is that I explore history and religion in ways that might make some uncomfortable. The religious might be offended, and the non-religious might...well, also be offended. Or just put it down at the first mention of religion. Although, actually, the first mention is very mixed, so it's hard to see how anyone could object either that the book is for or against religion. Neither stance are exactly what I'm going for, anyway.

    But a fantasy religion and history don't allow me to do the exploration I most want to do.
     
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  10. Willowy

    Willowy New Member

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    The first book proper book I read was Watership Down. I remember thinking, at the age of 8, that I would give almost anything to be able write that well and with that much imagination. :)

    I will (and do) read other genres but I enjoy the escapism that fantasy gives me. I live here, in the real world, why would I want to write about it? :D
     
  11. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Who wants waffles...? Contributor

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    Because it is better to be trendy, and follow trends. Follow what is popular in the moment, as it will
    gain you an audience more likely than others. Personally Fantasy is one that has existed in far
    vaster variety than most other genres. There is more possibility to be buried under all the many
    thousands and millions scrambling to cash in on the trend of the moment. :p
     
  12. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    I suspect another element might be that new writers think that fantasy is going to be easier (I'm not say it is , just that it might seem so) because they won't need to do research into how things work , they can just make it up

    that perception is of course false - at least for decent fantasy - because making up a whole world is a lot of work and requires just as much research and background effort as writing in the real world, if not more.

    I also think that this "oh it will be easy" mentality accounts for the outpouring of cliche'd pap featuring big breasted maidens, muscular swordsmen, kindly old wizzards, and evil overlords
     
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  13. Carly Berg

    Carly Berg Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's in just keeps changing. I remember when fantasy was quite the hard sell. But then look how big westerns used to be. A more recent example (sub-genre) is chick lit, hugely popular, then so not.
     
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  14. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    What separates fantasy from other genres is it's reductive nature. Historical fiction explores what actually happened. Science fiction explores what could happen. Contemporary/literary fiction explores the author's perception of what currently is happening (his internal world). While all three genres are make believe, just like fantasy, they work closely within the realm of our accepted reality.

    Jurassic Park looks at our real world and says, "what if we could extract dinosaur DNA?" The Egyptian crafts a fictional tale in a world that tries to re-imagine an ancient Egypt that once existed. Post Office recycles events from Bukowski's real life and gives us an alter ego (Chinaski). In case 1, the reader is asked to take our reality and then hypothesize and extrapolate. In case 2, the reader is asked to take what he knows from history and interpolate (how did the Pharaoh really act?). In case 3, the reader is given a window into ones mans subjective experiences. Some of these experiences may be false or exaggerated, but they're a recombination of things that actually happened. After all, no one's experience is actually objective, but always interpreted, anyway.

    The Wheel of Time takes us to a time period that never occurred and will never occur, to a location that doesn't exist and will never exist, and tells us about people who were never and will never be real. The laws of physics as we know them simply do not exist. People can transverse large areas of space instantly, create earth quakes, and do all sorts of crazy shit just because. What we're looking at here is pure reduction.

    Imagine any forest but don't place it anywhere in the known universe.
    Imagine a person but don't give him any real origins.
    Imagine a fire ball exploding suddenly from someone's finger tips, but don't try to find a catalyst.

    When you extrapolate (science fiction), interpolate (historical fiction), or mix and match (contemporary/ literary fiction) you're using your imagination. When you reduce or eliminate certain realities, you're creating fantasy.

    Isn't taking the horn of a narwhal and putting it on a white mare to make a unicorn mixing and matching? Isn't that literary fiction?!

    No. Literary takes the events and objects of the objective physical world and reinterprets them in one's own subjective, internal world. This reinterpretation or mixing and matching doesn't change the fabric of the objective world, only the internal world of the author and by extension the reader, who is looking in.

    Fantasy mixes and matches the actual objective, physical world, often without rhyme or reason, and that is true reduction.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
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  15. Kinzvlle

    Kinzvlle Active Member

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    As someone who tends to dwell within the speculative fiction genres such as fantasy and sci-fi, I will say that it affords a certain amount of creative freedom. Not only in creating your own world, history, and what not (which as Moose said should not be mistaken as easy), though that is a big part of the freedom as well, but there`s also a large amount of, sub-genres. Sure when you say fantasy most think high fantasy like LOTR but there`s more than that. There heroic, sword and sorcery, urban, magic realism, science fantasy, steampunk, mythic fiction, and so on. Fantasy carries so much under it`s umbrella, that it`s a genre that has a certain amount of freedom to work within. While i`m sure there are some who start in it because it`s trendy and whatnot but the freedom of the genre shouldn`t be written off.

    Plus I imange people who grew up with LOTR,The Hobbit, Game of Thrones, Dragon Age, and etc probably do have a fondness for the genre.
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This description is entirely reductive, particularly in that it treats these genres like discrete categories, which they are not. Individual books may or may not have the characteristics you describe. Entire genres do not. You can do the same things in a fantasy novel that you can do in any other kind of novel. And that can be said without having to examine the overlap between all of these. It comes down to not being familiar enough with the genre to be able to comment on it as a whole (which includes being familiar with only a narrow subset of the genre).
     
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  17. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Right. We've been here before, Steerpike, and I've read a plethora of fantasy as a teenager, as I have explained to you before, and before that.

    It's pretty obvious that most works will experience some overlap and I never said reduction was always a bad thing. Fantasy by definition is about reduction, because fantasy delves in things that were not, are not, and will not be real. Reread my post, and I'm sure you'll find my description of reduction is specified for anything that is not real. I think I do a pretty good job at delineating the different genres and how they work. Yes, there's overlap, but if there were no hard and fast differences we wouldn't be having this thread.

    Incomplete list of Fantasy novels and series I have read (not all of them I'm proud of)


    Wheel of Time
    The Last Unicorn
    The Little Prince
    The Worm of Oruborus
    The Dark is Rising
    Harry Potter
    The Lord of the Rings
    Ice of Song and Fire
    Enemy Glory
    Dragonlance
    Deathgate cycle
    Gormenghast
    A Wrinkle In Time
    Thomas Covenant
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @123456789 that's a woefully lacking list, and with a few exceptions quite homogeneous. There's a lot more breadth that you need before I can take seriously any commentary from you on the genre as a whole. Certainly you can comment on those works you've read. There are fantasy novels that are virtually indistinguishable from historical fiction, for example. Look at The Lions of Al-Rassan, which is fantasy (i.e. it is in a made-up world), based on Spain during the time of the Moors, with stand-ins for the three major religious groups that existed there in the real world, etc. It gets categorized as "historical fiction" sometimes, but of course it is not (though the author comments on history through the work). There's no magic involved; nothing that is at odds with the objective physical world.

    There is, of course, also contemporary fantasy, both with or without magic, that explores social issues, mental health, the author's internal perceptions of the world, and so on. It's really all over the board, and that's why your analysis doesn't have much merit. It's simply inadequate as a definition, or assessment, of the genre.

    You've read mostly epic/high fantasy, and some fairly generic ones at that. If you don't think making such broad generalizations on such a small base sampling is reductive, then you should revisit the meaning of the word. Your post, above, is reductive on its face.
     
  19. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Steerpike, what you're essentially saying is, "fantasy as a genre isn't like that because I can name fantasy works that have very little fantasy in them." It sounds to me like the Lions of Al-Rassan is virtually indistinguishable from historical fiction because there's not a whole lot of fantasy in it. What exactly is your point?

    Obviously, when I speak of the fantasy genre, I speak of the fantasy elements in it, not of every single thing that happens in every single fantasy novel.

    Not that my list really matters, but you and I both know it is fairly representative of the sort of fantasy novels many fantasy readers read. Did I miss Little Big? Shit, I didn't that read one. I'm sorry!

    Gormenghast (books one and two) is a terrific series because of it's literary elements, of which it largely consists, not because of its few fantasy ones.
     
  20. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    And @Steerpike, and @Starfire Fly What's your view of 'magical realism?' That's become a popular term these days, and I'm not entirely sure where it fits. Somewhere between fantasy and realism? Magic that exists in the world we know, the here and now? I don't know. I still think I'd call that fantasy. Maybe that's what you want to write, Starfire Fly? Something set in the real world, but with magical elements that are not explainable via sci-fi?

    I realised, while reading about magic realism, that I haven't actually read anything by the so-called magic realism writers. Well, except for Sherman Alexie (whom I've read a bit) and Toni Morrison (ditto.) I keep swithering about reading Salman Rushdie. I think I will go for one of his soon, just to see. I've read ABOUT him, and he seems like quite a grounded individual. I know some people who love his writing. So I think I'll tackle him next, when I start reading a new author.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  21. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good question.

    Let me first say that what you quoted of mine is just a theory, and certainly open to modification. I also want to add two terms- "hard" and "soft fantasy (sorry for the pedantry @Steerpike !).

    Soft fantasy introduces fantastic elements in the subjective world of the narrator (think of the movie Birdman) whereas hard fantasy introduces fantastic elements (through reduction) of the objective, external world. Think Lord of the Rings. Obviously surrealism lies somewhere on the soft fantasy end of the spectrum.

    Does magical realism lie on this spectrum? I'm not sure. I will happily admit that I have not read much of magical realism, nor am I exactly sure what it is. I have read The Trial, The Odyssey, and Inferno, which I think count. Unlike my fantasy list above, I admit this is far from exhaustive. I am assuming that magical realism is related to thought experiments, artistic expression, or both. I'm reading from some websites that magical realism is largely metaphor. It's an interesting genre and I'm not sure quite how to classify it. I vote we do not classify it as part of the fantasy genre :D
     
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  22. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi 1-9,

    Could I just say that yes Gormenghast is terrific, and maybe that is in part due to its literary merits. But for me what stands out above that are first the world build - Peake actually created a brilliantly mad world, and second and maybe more importantly, the characters. Even having read and watched it more than is good for anyone I am left with the perennial question, is Steerpike a baddie or a victim? That's a rare thing not to know by the end of a work.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  23. Zombocalypse

    Zombocalypse Member

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    Personally, I write fantasy because I was inspired by video-games. No other reason...
     
  24. Jess Hughes

    Jess Hughes Member

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    I'm 16 and since I was very young I would write stories, never anything but fantasy. Fantasy always seemed to suit me and I have always felt very passionate about fantasy. I think to write fantasy you have to be passionate or it wouldn't work, but a lot of people seem to think it's easy because there are no rules, really. But that's what makes it so difficult. You have to come up with your own.
     
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  25. Kinzvlle

    Kinzvlle Active Member

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    Ya world-building isn`t as easy as some of these people seem to think it is. This whole thread kinda baffles me, I mean if there`s any one cause for the flow of young writers go to fantasy it`s probably it`s rise in popular culture, they grew up with it so they write in. I doubt it`s as much as a cop out as people seem to think.
     
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