1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's so wrong with the Chosen One?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Lea`Brooks, May 12, 2016.

    A lot of people say they hate it. I've never really seen reasons. Just "don't do it." But I love the Chosen One. And personally, I think my story is screaming out for the Chosen One. I've done everything I can to fight it, because I don't want to write another typical fantasy with another hated cliche (or trope, whichever). But shouldn't I do what's right for my story?

    So what's your take? Why do you hate the Chosen One? Or, if you don't hate it, why do you like it?
     
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  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's wrong with the Chosen One?


    In 1770 the Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke wrote about the need for good men to associate to oppose the cabals of bad men. The second sentence in the excerpt below is listed in multiple quotation references and shares some points of similarity to the saying under investigation, bit it is clearly dissimilar: 4

    No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

    Just one good man - the Chosen One - won't be enough.
     
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  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    "Because he's chosen" or "because it's prophesied" always come off as really weak motivations (or rather, non-motivations) for a character. It's like when a toddler asks relentless questions and the adult says "JUST BECAUSE, OKAY?" because they can't think of a better answer.

    It's also used to excuse coincidences, which doesn't wash with me. Things should happen because characters drive them, not because "destiny" or a prophecy or whatever.

    If it's what you want to write, then write it. There are plenty of successful Chosen One books out there.
     
  4. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't hate it in and of itself. I hate the typical portrayal of it. You know, farm boy discovers he has secret royal/otherwise special heritage and is the only one who can save the world/kingdom. Then he beats the Dark Lord/Usurper/Dark Lord Usurper, becomes king (in spite of his almost certainly poor education), and typically gets the girl. You can gender swap the roles, though I'd say male chosen ones are far more common.

    I hate it because it has been done so many times, they all blend together. As soon as I see these sort of archetypes turned cliches, I feel like I already know where this is going. And that really destroys tension.

    Basically, I want to see new takes on it. Show me people that could be legitimate alternatives to our protagonist for the title of Chosen One. Maybe they even turn out to be the real deal. I could just imagine the turmoil believing you're the Chosen One and finding out you're not could cause. Or you could focus less on your Chosen One/messianic character, in favor of someone around them. The Witcher series did this: Geralt gets more focus, but Ciri is the one who fits the Chosen One mold.

    Do whatever works for you, but I would find use of a Chosen One more interesting and entertaining if you played with it a bit.
     
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  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I hate the Chosen One because goddamn it, he's such an asshole. He introduces himself like James Bond: "My name's One. Chosen One." He signs his name "C. One" or even "C. 1" when he's feeling especially prickish. If you're ordering pizza and ask him, "Do you want some too?", he says, "Don't call me Two! I'm Chosen ONE, you shit! And yes, double cheese, bacon, and olives." God help you if you don't pick him first for your dodgeball team.

    Talk about entitled. He coasts on his reputation BEFORE he's saved the kingdom or done whatever it is he's supposed to do as the Chosen One. Insufferable little snot.

    :D
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    What if the Chosen One doesn't know they are the Chosen One and do all the things in the story because they want to, not because they feel they have to?

    That's basically what happens in my story. Yes, my MC is an orphaned farm girl who becomes Queen. But I have explanation for all of that. lol There's a sickness that kills everything, the ground, the animals, people. So being a farmer is in high demand and is good money. The sickness kills her parents (or at least her mother -- her father is still alive, she just doesn't know it). And she becomes Queen because it's a very spiritual world, and the queens are chosen by having their potentials read by a Priestess. My MC doesn't want to be the queen, and she rebels against it. It's also a death sentence essentially, but that's beside the point. It's only through caring for people close to her (and the world at hand) that makes her accept the role.

    My problem is... My MC has rare magic. And I've come up with so many ways she could get it. It could be genetic, it could be accidental (through some experiment), it could be from a magical object. But they all seem so boring.
    I want the magic to be given to her by the Gods, dammit, and I don't think that's so bad. :supermad: lol She, of course, won't know this. No one will, except the goddess who gave it to her. She'll only find out at the end of the second (or possible third if I have the content) book, after she's already accomplished everything this goddess knew she'd accomplish. But, the goddess who gives her this power is also the Goddess of Time, so she can just jump around to any time period whenever she wants... And since time can't be changed (in a theory that hurts my head), my MC was always meant to have it. Right?

    I don't know. I like it. I think it works. But I know others will hate it. Should I write what I want? Or try to consider what they want? Granted, there will always be someone who doesn't like a book, no matter what. So I guess it doesn't matter? Being a writer is hard. :(
     
  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    To me, the idea of genetic magic is much more interesting than a just-because magic. But as you say, you can't please everyone!
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I only hate it when it comes with a lot of other familiar stuff. It's never one trope - it's the trope running in a pack of tropes. As soon as you see the chosen one you know where the story is going. No matter what he/she is after, no matter who he/she has to defeat you can practically see the ending before the journey has even started. I never read the Hunger Games but the movie rather bored me after Twilight. I could see where it was going and felt rather ho-hum about it.

    The chosen one has gotten a bad rap because it tends to feel wishful-filling instead of real. The whole I can make a difference routine but on a megalomania level. Sure anyone can make a difference - but we didn't hatch out of eggs - we had/have teachers, friends, guides, deep rooted beliefs, loved ones struggling with us and helping us. For me it's bad when it turns into the lone gunman routine as though the character doesn't have any of this. Just once I'd like to see a father go along on a young girls adventure. Or a mother or a sibling. Enough with the orphan routine.

    Also it doesn't help when logic starts to destroy the whole chosen one theme. I read a book about a family put in a bomb shelter - *
    by their erratic father. And though there were two other children and a mother - only the teenager when he got over his moping - became suspicious. He alone had to do something about it. That was annoying. As a young girl I couldn't imagine any teenager being okay with being cooped up.
    That's the trouble with the chosen one - we're expected to believe nobody would do anything but him/her? If they're the first then whatever/whoever stirs this rebellion to rise up and become the chosen one?
     
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  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Write what you want. There will be people who judge your work before reading it, but that gives you the opportunity to change their minds. ;)
     
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  10. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did too! But since it's genetic time magic, people started to argue that... Why do you need more than one person who can jump through time? Couldn't the original person just jump wherever they needed to go? Why have a whole family? And honestly, they were right. People would think that way. You only ever need one person who can jump through time. So I scrapped that.

    Hey, if that's your biggest problems with the Chosen One, then I'm golden! :p My character is definitely never alone. She has six advisers, two friends, two personal guards, one mentor, two parental guardians, an aunt, a cousin, a father (in book two), ten life magic users, a whole city guard, and the King of another country to help her. Oh, and a group of griffins! EDIT: And a crow named Kohl. :D

    ....Is that too many? :p

    Mine becomes the Chosen One though by her magic. It's ancient, died out long ago, and she's the first to get it in ages. There have been people before her who have tried to accomplish what she does. But it's her unique magic, pooled with the strength of the ten life magic users, that is finally able to accomplish it. It's how she comes by the magic that would make her the Chosen One. And that's what I'm struggling with.
     
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  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There's nothing wrong with it, Lea. It's all in the execution. If you do a brilliant job with the story, and make it work, people will read it and enjoy it. If the story is poorly executed, the lack of a chosen one certainly isn't going to save it. As much as people sometimes complain about this, fantasy is full of very success, modern novels that employ this element. Just write a great story and don't worry about whether some people don't like the idea of a chosen one.
     
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  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I agree that there's nothing really wrong with "the chosen one". There is a problem with "the lazily chosen one". And the problem with that kind of chosen one is the lack of any stakes in the story. When everything is setting this person up to save the day and pwn the baddie and get the girl (or guy), then nothing is at stake. It's a kind of elevated Mary Sue. Yeah, that's the issue I have. When the chosen one is just a Mary Sue or Marty Stu in disguise.

    Even Frodo failed at the end. Were it not for the love and faith of Samwise Gamgee, Middle Earth would have fallen to Sauron. Frodo is the chosen one, but Sam is the hero. The chosen one doesn't save the day. Love does.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    What is wrong with the Chosen One?

    Well it follows a safe little walk way, and always seems to be the same story more or less. You take a poor individual (typically male, though it is not exclusive), and then drop some random mumbo jumbo (prophecy) nonsense on them at around puberty. Then this nobody starts to wonder about their life and tralala, then slowly turns into an arrogant prick. Followed by XYZ trying and failing to kill them no matter how absurd they still manage to survive (somebody needs to try a nuke sometime, chosen or not they ain't going to walk it off like a bad leg cramp). Then once the 'bad guy' gets the upper hand and eventually kills the chosen one, the satisfaction only lasts a few minutes. Because for some other random reason the chosen one gets up, and shrugs off death it self. Followed by then destroying the 'bad guy', and then confetti rains down on them and big party. Everybody just lets the chosen one do whatever they want, and has no problem when they screw up everybody else's life just to 'fulfill the prophecy'.

    Basically hey you want to save the world? IDK, sure... Ok, take this (hands over god mode and all the money), now save the world. By the way you have to be arrogant and survive a bunch of non deadly deadly situations, because you can't die no matter what. Thanks. Also you will be loved by all cause that is what it says here on the mens room stall, and you didn't have to do damn thing other than be plucked out of a random chance generator. Awesome! Now go be a jerk to the peasants that cannot contest you and your OP status. They grow up so fast (wipes tear from cheek). And the end............

    In conclusion it all started a couple thousand years ago, and we just white wash the fence every so often to hide the fact that it is weathered and deteriorating. Read one, you have read them all. Tada!
     
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  14. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm... You guys are making me feel better about the idea. :p

    I know I still have a lot of cliches. But honestly, I love my story. And I really think using this example of the Chosen One will only benefit it. I've been struggling with it for so long, trying to come up with an alternative, and none of them seemed right. This does. It always has. I just didn't want my novel to be the Big Book of Cliches. But now I'm not sure I care whether it is or not. lol
     
  15. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    If you use the chosen one, try to add a bit of a twist to it. Imagine how boring Star Wars would have been if Anakin Skywalker grew up and destroyed the Dark Side. Making him grow up, kill everyone and everything he loved, maiming his son, and then destroying the Dark Side was a much better route for the story to go. :p

    If you're still in the first draft, I'd say don't worry about clichés and tropes - just write what needs to be written. Afterwards you can add a bit of flair to take away the parts you think are too generic.
     
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  16. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm starting the second draft on Monday. But none of this is really relevant to the first book anyway. It won't come out until the next, or the one after that if I have enough content to make two more. I just wanted to get the general twists and plot points laid out so that I don't accidentally write myself into a corner.
     
  17. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    There's nothing wrong with the ‘Chosen One™’ trope. Plenty of fiction have done it well (ie, Avatar: The Last Airbender). I think it just boils down to how you use the trope.

    For me, my favorite usage of the trope is when its obscure whether or not the hero can succeed. There's an equal chance the hero can actually fail to deliver what was promised. The way The Last Airbender did it was by making the Avatar State (the go-to God Mode™ for the Avatars) be a dangerous thing to use in battle because if an Avatar is killed while in the Avatar State, the Cycle is dead.

    My second favorite usage of this trope is to actually make it clear why this person is the only one that can defeat the big bad. In The Last Airbender, Aang was the only one powerful enough because he was the only one who could bend all four elements, not just one, thus making him more powerful.

    In short:
    - Make it clear that there's no sure-fire win for the Chosen One™. He/she can still fail, he/she can still die.

    - Make it clear why this person is the only one that can do it. Are they stronger than most people, for example?
     
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  18. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can do that. :D Thanks!
     
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  19. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I think the chosen one can be done really well if you think a little outside the box.
    One of my favorite humorous stories is Lamb: The Gospels according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore. Teenagers are bad enough, so image living with one who truly believed he was God's gift to the world! Let's just say there was a very good reason Jesus's life between the ages of 12 and 30 are just missing for the bible. But, don't you fret, Biff will fill you in on all the fantastic details.

    (Including a really great scene where Jesus convinces Biff to employ there services of a temple prostitute in order to better understand what sin feels like and why people do it. Unfortunately, the whore couldn't do much explaining because her mouth was full, so Biff had to tell Jesus what it felt like, and well, at the moment Biff wasn't capable of words either. LOL)

    Everyone knows how the story of Jesus's life ends and it's perfect example of a "chosen one." The beauty of Lamb, was that it gave us that something extra that made the book worth reading.
     
  20. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    My main issue with the chosen one narratives is that it's basically a "hero" button. This character is the hero not because of any skill, motivation, or personality trait. They are the hero because a deity pressed the button that said they were. My favourite story that uses the narrative is Dark Souls. The player does not begin as the chosen one, but becomes it by fulfilling certain requirements. Even then, the prophecy was created so people would purposefully shape themselves into tools for other peoples plans.
     
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  21. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    So you've been reading the bible, have you? That, and a goodly number of other myths. The chosen one works, has for eons, and people like them because they are predictable.

    Growing up my mother had boxes full of Harlequin romance novels. Every damn one of them followed the same formula; after the first three, I just started skimming for the sex scenes. After about a dozen books even the sex was boring and repetitive, but there is no denying this is a billion dollar industry. And I'll be the first to complain that romances are boring, predictable, filled with shallow characters, and repetitive, but guess what? They weren't marketing to me, they were marketing to my mother, who ate the things up.

    The thing is, I'm not going to tell @BayView or @Tenderiser not to write the things because "romance is so over done." So, if @Lea`Brooks wants to write about the chosen one, I say go for it.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lovely to be tagged in a post saying that my genre is "boring, predictable, filled with shallow characters and repetitive." It's the personal touch that means so much.

    But hopefully the point was meant to be that there are ways to write standard ideas in a fresh, new way, and there are ways to write standard ideas in an old, tired way. So if you're going to write a "chosen one" story, try to write it in a fresh new way!
     
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  23. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @KhalieLa No I have not been reading the original story of the chosen one, just pointing it out as the first pave stone to simple and safe tales of today. :p

    On the other topic, Romance is not one that I subscribe to, as it has too become somewhat of a parody of where it started. I like to crank the amp up to 11 and get into much more technical things that are more involved than to people bumping uglies. :p Seems I have to entertain myself in complex ways to satisfy that itch, but it is much better than guy gets the girl into bed and then blah. But enough about that, considering this will devolve into an entirely different discussion.:p

    I am not saying that no one should write safe and predictable, it is just not for me. I need that sense of wonder, that unknowing of what twists and turns one will throw at me. :)
     
  24. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like the premise. It's not strictly formula, and there's at least some explanation, which many of the worst chosen ones don't receive.

    Just do what you want. You can always tinker with it later if it's not working. That's the great thing about writing: you don't need it to be perfect the first time.
     
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  25. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah. That was... odd.

    Just going to PM you my new story idea about a Chosen Two romance. K?
     
  26. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dunno, sounds kinda boring, predictable, filled with shallow characters and repetitive. Not sure I'll care for it...
     
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