1. Greenwood
    Offline

    Greenwood Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2014
    Messages:
    158
    Likes Received:
    121
    Location:
    Banished to the Void

    Worried about a "lack of fantasy" in my fantasy book

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Greenwood, Aug 3, 2015.

    For the last three months or so, I have been busy writing a fantasy novel. "Good for you", I can hear you think. Yes, I am enjoying it very much and would love to some day finish this story, and perhaps even get it published :). For now, however, that is a thing for the future. The story and the learning of the writing process is what matters foremost for me now.

    What I am bothered about is the following. Having read quite some fantasy, and having read quite a lot about fantasy books, I am starting to feel that my fantasy has a severe lack of "fantasy". Let me explain.

    The story I am writing takes places in another world . It is a world quite similar to Middle and Eastern-Europe at the time before Christianity made its way in. Pagan times. Roughly around the 600-700's. So far, so good.

    Being a fantasy novel, it does feature fantastical elements. It has folkloric entities that do indeed exist, based loosely on old Germanic and Slavic folklore. Encounters are rare, and mostly told through "I heard the hunter say he stumbled upon an X in the woods, says it lured him to its house deep in the woods, were he feasted for a week yet later found out only a night had passed since he went of hunting" kind of encounters. Then, there is a powerful yet mysterious force of beings that are revered, but almost never seen. Their powers mainly lie in cursing or blessing those that have contact with them. Besides that, it features paranormal occurrences and phenomena that none are quite capable of explaining. This mysterious element is done on purpose, as I want to create an atmosphere that makes it clear that humans in this world are not truly "on top of the world", and basically still know little of the lands they have migrated into. So far, so good.

    But besides that, it features no Elves, no Dragons, no Fairies or Werewolves, no Assassins. No Witch-Kings or magical swords. These are things I have left out on purpose, as I myself would not like to read another tale featuring those, however well-written the story might be, or however ingenious the name of the race.

    My main concern at this moment is that my fantasy novel will just be a story set in an alternate universe, a medieval tale of war, poverty, and strife that features little of what a lot of fantasy novels seem to include. I fear that a lot of fantasy readers might get the same thing that an alcoholic or a drug addict develops; an increased tolerance to the substance he or she is addicted to, needing more and more of the substance, or in this case, the tropes and over-the-top fantasy things like sword-wielding werewolves and vampiric wizard assassins.

    What do you think? Do you think a new fantasy novelist should attempt to create more of that stuff, or that the setting I just mentioned has potential? Would love to hear the opinion of you guys on this.

    Greenwood
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
  2. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,098
    Likes Received:
    5,311
    Location:
    California, US
    There are fantasy novels with no monsters, non-human races, or even any magic in them. You can find them on the shelves at Barnes & Noble in the fantasy section. It's not a problem.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    What you need to ask yourself is, is your story interesting? Nothing else matters as much as that.
     
    Ivana and Hubardo like this.
  4. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    What about your story would place it into the fantasy genre? Why would or wouldn't you read it, as a reader who likes to read fantasy?
     
  5. Greenwood
    Offline

    Greenwood Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2014
    Messages:
    158
    Likes Received:
    121
    Location:
    Banished to the Void
    Thanks for re-upping my confidence all, and apologies for the terribly late reply. Free time is quite sparse at the moment, so don't take my late response as a sign of disinterest or something.

    Ofcourse, the story itself is not boring, and is bound to contain many things that many readers will find interesting and exciting. I mean, there's quests, there's interesting characters with exciting journeys (literally and figuratively speaking), there's mystery and war. So in that aspect it's certainly going to be entertaining. I think that simply the fact that I as the author would not want to read about Dragons and Elves any more should be enough for me, as a writer, to simply don't write about them. Toning it down to up the other aspects, so to say.
     
  6. ManOrAstroMan
    Offline

    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    817
    Likes Received:
    342
    Location:
    Missouri
    Look at SoIaF: fantasy elements are few and far between. You could remove them entirely without altering the story much.
    Though I personally prefer more magic in my fantasy novels, there's no one right way to do it.
     
  7. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    I have no interest in fantasy, but to me your novel sounds like it could be a breath of fresh in an a very over-populated genre.

    Instead of questioning, you should be congratulating yourself for not following every other fantasy writer.
     
    jannert and tonguetied like this.
  8. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,984
    Likes Received:
    5,502
    I think that there are plenty of fantasy novels that aren't packed with magic and dragons. It shouldn't be a problem, IMO.
     
  9. terobi
    Offline

    terobi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    212
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    I wouldn't worry about it - Gormenghast is usually classed as "fantasy", and that has no fantastical elements in it of any kind.

    Sounds to me like it's just secondary-world Low Fantasy (in contrast with the "elves and dragons" of High Fantasy), which is a perfectly legitimate thing to write.
     
  10. terobi
    Offline

    terobi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    212
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    Well.. apart from the dragons, and the wargs, and the Others, and the liches, and the Children of the Forest, and Melisandre's magic...

    I mean, those things are all pretty important...
     
  11. ManOrAstroMan
    Offline

    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    817
    Likes Received:
    342
    Location:
    Missouri
    Oh, sure, if you're gonna nitpick.

    To be honest, I've never really read to deeply into that series. But based on what little I've read, the fantasy elements aren't nearly as prevalent as in series like Dragonlance or Narnia. The stories seem to focus largely on political drama, in a way that the magical stuff is almost an afterthought.
     
  12. terobi
    Offline

    terobi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    212
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    Well, the series at the beginning is certainly one where magic is thought to be long gone - the dragons have died out, the Others and the Children of the Forest have passed into legend, etc. As the series progresses, these things return to the world.

    But while yes, the political manoeuvring is a major part of the narrative, a large chunk of it is carried out through magical or otherwise fantastical means. Pretty much all of the Jon Snow, Bran Stark and Danerys Targaryen storylines would be non-existent without the presence of pretty important fantastical elements (the whole point of the Wall is that its actual purpose has passed into legend, it simply wouldn't exist were it not for the Others), and those things resonate into the other 'realistic' story strands as well.
     
  13. Hettyblue
    Offline

    Hettyblue Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Middle England
    If your book is not set in the 'real world' it is a fantasy - though really all fiction is 'fantasy' to some extent, isn't it?? If the setting is immersive, the plot compelling and the characters are interesting enough for your readers to want to read on then that should be all you need. What you have described sounds like folk/ fairy tale and that is definitely fantasy and can be successful whether or not there is an actual witch cursing or a more ambiguous scenario. Ambiguity is good in a story, I like to do some of the work not be spoon fed.
     
  14. Fernando.C
    Offline

    Fernando.C Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2015
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    125
    Location:
    Lands Beyond the Wall
    First rule of writing ( my first rule of writing that is) you should write the book you want to read. So if you don't like to read about fantastical creatures you don't need to write about them. So long as you're story is strong enough with captivating and compelling plots and twists and interesting characters that people can connect to, you're good to go. Because these are the main elements of every story.
    I myself am a huge fantasy fan both as a reader and a writer and I love my magic and my mystical creatures, but I'll gladly read a story like yours if it has all the elements I just mentioned and I'll enjoy it.
     
  15. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,246
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Australia
    Story defines genre, not the other way around.
     
  16. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,809
    Likes Received:
    7,333
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yay! I love reading fantasy, but those elements have been done to death.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.

Share This Page