1. Aire
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    Aire Banned Sock-Puppet

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    Wizards / Magic / etc.

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Aire, Oct 22, 2015.

    So I am thinking magic. Wizards. All that jazz. It's always interested me from childhood.

    But the thing is, has the genre become overworked, overused and generally simply abused. The beating of a dead horse.

    You have the Tolkien / LOTR wizards & magic which is a bit more friendly, then you have the Dungeon Dragons / World of Warcraft sort which is more action packed / violent, and then you have things like Harry Potter which doesn't really fall into either category.

    Has the fame of things like Harry Potter reshaped the genre such as how Twilight has done for vampires [more basic teen drama than the convoluted Interview with a Vampire]. For example if I wrote a book set to a more modern world than outright fantasy or historical would people be tossing the books aside because it's not what they're "expecting".

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think it would be out of the ordinary at all. The entire subgenre of urban fantasy is primarily built around the idea of a modern world setting. There's a lot of diversity in fantasy already, and readers tend to be open to a wide range of expectations. The LoTR/D&D/Potter branches are only part of the genre - a big part in terms of sales, but there is tons of other stuff out there as well. For urban fantasy, you've got an entire spectrum from stuff like Jim Butcher and a lot of the vampire-related stuff, to more understated stuff the likes of Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, and maybe Holdstock (if you put him in that box), all the way into some of the magic realism works. Then you've got UF that doesn't fit neatly into what came before, like Richard Kadrey or Seanan McGuire's InCryptid works (not the other October Daye or whatever, which is generic UF). Then you have works that push more into the literary realm like Glen Duncan's The Last Werewolf, or work from Octavia Butler. The genre is all over the map, and wherever you land you're going to find readers who will go along with you.
     
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  3. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    To be honest, I don't like magic, never have. In Harry Potter for example, the magic is hugely inconsistent, it fills in gaping plot holes and is used as a deus ex machina on multiple occasions.

    The only time I can abide magic is if it is a very scarce resource that is difficult to use and has very strict rules to prevent any inconsistency. In this manner Tolkein got it right and Rowling got it wrong, in my opinion. But obviously I am wrong because the rest of the population disagrees with me.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I prefer that as well, though I don't mind if the author doesn't share an explicit rule set. So long as it is dangerous and difficult to use and that puts a cap on it.
     
  5. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    What you're talking about is called Urban Fantasy and it's incredibly popular. Go for it.

    Tangentially, it kills me the John Bellairs died before writing a sequel to The Face in the Frost.
     
  6. Aire
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    Aire Banned Sock-Puppet

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    Nah I don't think you got it wrong, the books are merely a reflection on the readers [50 Shades of Gray for example has a rather childish method of writing, but got incredible hype]. No insult to some how may like these newer releases but I swear that books being shoveled out nowadays are getting simpler and simpler every single year. I am an avid reader, as is my mother, and finding things worth reading is difficult - I haven't read a really good book in more than a few years as I find a large number of them read like some B-grade flick was shoved between the pages instead of anything even remotely resembling good writing skills.

    Urban Fantasy - popular.

    Maybe I'll reword the question a bit.


    If I wrote something more to Tolkien - long, in depth with convoluted characters - would it be tossed aside in favor of things like Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments [which I see is another subgenre they've started making into movies].
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It would be passed over by some who don't like that sort of thing, but that's true of anything you write. People are still reading Tolkien, and writers like Gene Wolfe. Erikson's Malazan books have done well, and he makes Tolkien look relatively light in comparison. Sanderson recently embarked on what looks like it is going to be a huge Stormlight Archive series that is a lot closer to the sort of thing you're talking about than something like Potter or Urban Fantasy, and it is also doing well. There are a subset of fantasy writers that very much enjoy that kind of work, and if you do a good job with it I think you have an established audience waiting for those types of book, regardless of the particular features of the setting you're using.
     
  8. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Harry Potter may have inconsistent magic, but that hasn't impacted its popularity, because those books are more about the characters and their lives.
    Anyway, back on topic. Yes, wizards and magic have been Done. But they haven't been Done by you. You haven't made your mark on it, told your stories with your characters, in your way.
     
  9. Aire
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    Aire Banned Sock-Puppet

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    He does, doesn't he?

    I am probably overthinking it in a way but all the hype seems to be more HP-type books than anything. I mean I stopped by Coles [bookstore] today while going for some new dress shirts. Most of the books were basic [aka simplistic] books on the shelves.


    Keep in mind I haven't read HP in a long while & if it didn't have Rickman in it I probably never would have watched the movies. Most of the books centered on "poor" Harry and his "terrible" fate and everyone else was sort of placed second fiddle, with little thought to what they might sacrifice, if I remember correctly.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, there are definitely tons of those on the shelves. YA/Teen fantasy is a huge seller at the moment, so the stores dedicate a lot of shelf space to those books. But I think what you have in mind is perfectly viable, even if it doesn't fit into the most popular trends of the moment.
     
  11. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    I really disagree with magic systems that exist in worlds with an established scientific method yet still fail to understand the basic concepts of manifestation. While certain leeway can be given, I am used to characters who have to face steep consequences - such as having an arm or leg blown off if they push it too far. Some characters will do this to save the life of another, but this is the nature of instantaneous manifestation in such worlds. There are a few routes that I do not see in fantasy works... but by the time you are done, magic is never magic if you can explain it.
     
  12. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Keep in mind that HP was originally aimed at kids. The magic was the sort kids would think of when playing pretend; ie: "it happens by magic." The tone was fairly simplistic and Harry-centric, because that's the level kids operate on. And even though the books matured as the series progressed, the POV characters are still teenagers, and, naturally, don't possess huge amounts of depth and wisdom.

    Tamora Pierce is another good one to read for an example of a unique take on magic. In her Circle of Magic (YA) series, most of the characters work spells through artisanal crafts, like metalsmithing and needlework.
     
  13. Chinspinner
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    Funnily enough the magic worked in the early books. It really started to go horribly wrong with that time travel crap in the third book.
     
  14. Inks
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    Tamora Pierce? Hmm, might have to check that one out for it sounds fun and to see how it was handled by another.
     
  15. Aire
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    Aire Banned Sock-Puppet

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    I'd agree if not for the fact that the books I was reading were supposedly "adult". The crime one I picked up, because it was from a relatively good author, was so cliché not within the first few pages but the dang summary / leaflet that it wasn't even worth skimming the intro.


    See that's what I never understand. HP was meant for children, yet adults read it nearly as much. YA seems to be growing ever more into an "adult" market - is it because the adults are unskilled readers or because they just want something simple to read after a hard day of work [YA doesn't take as much brain power to comprehend than some adult books].
     
  16. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I've never understood the concept of a book being "hard" to read. I mean, you just read it. Maybe you enjoy it, maybe you don't, but how is a book hard to read? It sounds more like a failing of the author than the reader.
    And HP may have been intended for a children/teen audience, but there actually are things there for older readers, too, especially in the latter half a the series. They are a lot like films like The Iron Giant, Finding Nemo, etc, which were made to be enjoyed by kids, but are filled with concepts the parents of said kids would appreciate.
    Also, those books have been around for a while. It's likely a lot of those adults read them as kids, and are revisiting old friends.
    Plus, some parents will check out what their kids are reading/watching/playing/listening to.
    Besides, a good story is a good story, no matter how "simple" or "complex" you may think it is.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Dare I even ask? I want to know what book it was, now.

    And yes, YA is widely read by adults. This includes Potter and Twilight and Hunger Games etc. I read of each of those. There are some excellent YA writers (among which I don't include any of the foregoing), and I'm perfectly happy reading authors like Kristin Cashore.

    One thing you'll see now is well-known adult authors coming out with YA titles because the YA market sells so well. I've found that those usually aren't good. The authors aren't familiar with the market and can't write for it. On the other hand, I'm going to check out Joe Abercrombie's YA material. I've heard that is pretty good.
     
  18. Aire
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    Aire Banned Sock-Puppet

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    Hard might be the wrong term, complex would be a better word. And books which aren't hard, simplistic.

    Steerpike mentioned Erikson's Malazan and if you've ever read them you'd realize that that is not a simplistic book by any stretch of the imagination. The characters are detailed, the landscape quite well thought out, and the storyline so convoluted that at times you don't know if the characters are "coming or going". I have found in passing that people [this included educated medical professionals] complain they never read LOTR because it was too complex but enjoyed the movies - those sorts of people wouldn't touch the Malazan series with a ten foot pole.

    A lot of new books - adult mind you - I said read like a movie in between the pages. Too much dialogue, not enough action [or when there is action there's too much in too short a time], and oftentimes somewhat flat or outright flat characters.
     
  19. Aire
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    Aire Banned Sock-Puppet

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    I believe it was James Patterson or another known crime author. About a cop going "rogue" because some guy has kidnapped his family. Guy is wanting to see what it takes to make the "perfect criminal / murderer" and the cop is the guinea pig.
     
  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, god. I feel for you. I've heard his YA stuff is terrible. I think I've only flipped through his books. His current adult books aren't much better. He doesn't even write them anymore. He has a committee of assistants who take his outlines and write the books for him, then he slaps his name on them. That's how come he can put out so many damned books. I'd be surprised if the YA titles aren't written the same way.
     
  21. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Yeah, Patterson is basically a franchise, now.
     

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