1. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    Writing a Fantasy - Dos and Dont's

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by aimi_aiko, Jun 27, 2011.

    While playing an MMORPG earlier tonight, I began consuming ideas of what could be a fantasy novel. I studied the creatures as well as the setting and began wondering if I could create a world of my own as well. I shut off my game and immediately grabbed my laptop to begin some research.

    "Creating your own creatures"
    My choice of search engine (of course) was Google and I began researching about creating brand new creatures for my fantasy. I came across a website that pretty much answered my question for me, even though I already knew the answer, but wanted to make sure, and I quote:
    So I thought, I could create new creatures, but that is not my top priority right now. I then wanted to find out the "dos and don'ts" of writing a fantasy.


    Source: The following information given are exerpts from www.creative-writing-solutions.com

    DON'TS



    DO'S


    Those are only a few of the "Do's and Don'ts" that I chose to include, the given information is what I found most important to writing a well-thought out fantasy novel, and I will be following these guidelines when doing so. I suggest several of you to follow these guidelines as well, for they will be quite helpful to your story.

    Any suggestions, feedback or questions you may have is greatly accepted and will be answered.


    Thank you and happy writing.
    aimi_aiko
     
  2. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Thoughts:

    I think it should be fantasy cultures, not fantasy races, because not all fantasy have more than just humans. In fact, I think some fantasy authors don't know that you DON'T need to always have somebody other than humans.

    Also, I don't think it's necessary that fantasy always has a pseudo-medieval setting. Actually, it can be or be inspired by any setting, really - steampunk, clockpunk, ancient East Asia, Middle East, some tribe in Africa - but regardless of whatever setting the author likes and chooses, its important that the author has at least a basic - even if barely - knowledge of what they're drawing form.

    Oh, also, one big don't - DON'T put tons of apostrophes in names without actually having a reason to; names like Spak'ka'av'bar look horrendous. In real languages, there are actually linguistic reasons for putting apostrophes - usually to indicate a consonant known as a Glottal Stop - but lots of fantasy authors don't know this. And it's really painful to see hordes of names with apostrophes for no reason.
     
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  3. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    I appreciate your feedback and thoughts. I agree with what you have given here and I will be sure to keep this in mind.

    I do have a random question though about my fantasy, for my research had failed me, as well as my thoughts.

    Is it possible for an assassin (vamp) to train a human to become a warrior?

    This is just an idea I have for my fantasy, there is a 50% chance that I will change it.

    Thanks.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Also keep in mind that plumbing and sanitation predate medieval times by quite a long period of time. Look to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and you can find examples of each.

    And a Fantasy world doesn't have to track earth's medieval times - in fact there is no reason that it should. So just because medieval society on earth was lacking something doesn't mean it is necessary that your Fantasy world, even if it is more or less medieval in setting, has to lack it.
     
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  5. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the feedback.
     
  6. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    I appreciate your feedback and I will be sure to take your suggestions to mind.
     
  7. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure why that would be an issue at all.
     
  8. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    Okay, I appreciate your response. Thank you. :)
     
  9. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me it seems like those rules are totally arbitrary and have no foundation or justification, unless you're seeing them as rules for "building your own Lord of the Rings clone". If you can imagine something, it's fantasy, so don't let someone else tell you what you can imagine or not -- why would you want to be restricted by what they, personally, like to dream about? If you wanna write about flying fish monkeys who have internal plumbing in their pants, and you have the skill to pull it off gracefully, then do it -- it's not wrong just because Tolkien didn't write about it.
     
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  10. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    I've done two of the don't's and not done one of the do's. Heh.

    But it makes sense in my story, so I'm ok with it.
     
  11. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Had they forgotten it by medieval times? Because sanitation was a huge problem in medieval cities and filth was usually thrown out on the street.
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's your fantasy so it's your rules. Just think about what issues there might be and deal with them. If vamps in your mythos have super strength then the assassin might have unrealistic expectations of the human, might accidentally keep hurting him, or might get distracted by the thought of a feed. Meanwhile, the human might well be nervous about the relationship. If you are asking "is it possible" it's really up to you to work out how to make it possible.
     
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  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    They had forgotten many things that were known in antiquity, but I'm guessing this could also have something to do with that many cities grew from villages and once you have a city full of houses it's a little late for planning sewers -- the Romans constructed theirs as trenches that were then "roofed" and houses built on top, because they planned their cities better.

    Aside from that, it wasn't all medieval cities that were extremely filthy. When people say "medieval" they tend to think of medieval England, without regard for the fact that there were huge differences between nations in terms of culture, habits and technology. From the POV of the Italian city states, England and France were poor developement-countries you'd look down your nose at.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    HorusEye is right - many things were lost over time, rediscovered later, etc.

    But just because it happened a certain way in our world is no reason to expect that it happened that way in a Fantasy world. In fact, in my view one of the most implausible aspects of fantasies where magic is commonplace is that people still live a medieval lifestyle. If magic is common, sense would dictate that it would be applied to many ever day problems. On the other hand, if magic is dangerous, shunned, uncommon, etc. then it makes more sense for people to still live much like a medieval person might, if that's the technological/societal level of the world in which the story takes place.
     
  15. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    Thank you for the feedback and suggestions everyone. It is greatly appreciated! :)
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Good luck with the novel, Aimi. Interesting thread you started!
     
  17. Rex
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    Rex Member

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    I agree with the previous posts, the original rules of Do's and Dont's of Fantasy are arbitrary and more likely apply to writing within the confines of another already created universe, like, Lord Of The Rings. Tad Williams' Otherland in my opinion is a prime example of what I call a "toned down fantasy".

    I am not really an avid reader of fantasy, although I have been known to enjoy a good story about wizards and warlocks etc etc. Easy thing about fantasy is you can make your own rules, the hard thing about fantasy is... you make your own rules.
    To me what makes a fantasy piece "work", is how plausible is the universe it resides within. All it's rules and laws of it's physical existence. For example, The Golden Compass universe vs Lord Of The Rings universe.
     
  18. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    One thing I take issue with when it comes to the guide you linked is it says not to make languages. Sure it's hard but it can be done and adds a lot of depth to the story. If you just type in random words there's not going to be any logic to it and you might contradict yourself. Like say if you're talking about apples in Elvish. If you do this again later on you'll need a word for apple in Elvish otherwise the two different conversations are going to end up completely unconnected and nonsensical. Obviously it's not required to make a whole language. Even Tolkien's conlangs where partially incomplete. I think at the very least though one should work out the basics of the different languages. Even if this is just common sounds in the language.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think making up languages in fantasy stories is mostly a waste of time. The whole world presumably uses languages other than English, given that it is a made-up fantasy world, but for some reason, even though you're presenting almost everything in English, it is necessary to make up languages? No. It isn't. It's a good diversion to keep from writing, but in most cases it adds nothing whatsoever to the story. If you have the ability of someone like Tolkien to really do it right, then you are going to get a lot of added depth to the world. But in most cases, it is completely pointless from my point of view as reader. If you want to make up a few words here and there to try to add character to different races, that's one thing, but attempting to make up a language if you don't know what you're doing (like Tolkien did) is going to be a waste of time and probably a failure on top of it. I've critiqued some fantasy stories in writing groups where the author made up languages, but was so clearly clueless when it comes to language (again, unlike someone like Tolkien) that it was more of an unintentional joke than anything.
     
  20. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    What about replacing only certain words in a language (instead of creating a whole language)? It seems that most cultures (even fantasy cultures) would have at least some words that would belong to them and make it difficult for someone else to understand exactly what was being said at first. What are your thoughts on replacing only certain words? Does it work?
     
  21. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I'm not saying it's necessary but you can't deny it adds depth to the world and I don't think anyone should be told not to do it.
     
  22. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't get why everyone thinks medieval whenever you say fantasy. I write a lot of fantasy, and not a single one of those stories are set in medieval times. They are mostly set in the present, on earth, or in the high tech world I have created.
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't say absolutely don't do it, but I think unless you really have a good handle on how languages work and can do it well, the benefit you obtain from creating a language isn't worth the time or the risk that you'll bungle the whole thing.
     
  24. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Aye, agree with Steerpike. One of the beaten old rules that is worth considering -- write what you know. Not that you have to have a professor degree in every subject you touch upon, just keep in mind that someone who does have a degree might read your book some day!
     
  25. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I do the languages thing, but I also had to learn quite some basic linguistics in order to make sure I didn't just make a cipher of English. Was it worth it? For me, personally, sure. For the story, definitely - it certainly does add a good amount of depth, blah blah blah.

    But I do agree that most fantasy authors shouldn't bother. Firstly, most fantasy authors seem to not want to bother with learning even a bit of these kinds of things - out of laziness, arrogance, fear, I dunno. Secondly, when they try to make languages, it generally ends up being a cipher of English (that is, for instance, if you translate the sentence "Three days ago I went to the market and bought a sword", it will have exactly 11 words). Thus, I feel that most fantasy authors can just get away with making up a few words here and there for important items or concepts - and make sure that they remember to keep the names consistent - but otherwise keep it at that. If you don't want to learn linguistics, then don't bother pretending that you did.


    Also, concerning the sanitation of Medieval times - Europe wasn't the only place around in the medieval world. The Islamic and Chinese civilizations had better sanitation than Europe, for instance, and even certain parts of Europe, as already mentioned, were better than others (the Byzantine and Italian civilizations, for instance).

    I think perhaps the biggest problem fantasy comes across is having everything be so monolithic and... static. EVERYBODY is a pseudo-medieval European culture, except for those evil people who are ALL like bad copies off Mordor. NOTHING happens in history until the heroes come along and do something. ALL of the elves are always stuck-up tree huggers. So on and so forth. I think many of the problems can be traced to this, since it also has to do a lot with the fact that a lot of fantasy relies too heavily on established precedents, i.e. cliches and archetypes, often incompetently taken from Tolkien or Dungeons and Dragons.
     

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