1. Skids
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    Skids New Member

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    Yet another fantasy novelist...

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Skids, Jun 20, 2010.

    So I love to write, I have a vivid imagination, I like the tradition of swords and magic, and I love writing about things that fascinate me - so of course I want to write in the fantasy genre.

    The problem is, as I am well aware, there are certain clichés within this genre that have been done to death. Think of a basic outline and guaranteed its been drawn from a dozen other fantasy books.

    How can I avoid this? If I wanted to get published would I have to come up with something totally orginal? Or would it not matter if it was clichéd if the story was fluent and enthralling?

    What do other people think?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Read genres other than fantasy. Even if you still write fantasy, you need a wide reading base to avoid stagnation, and falling into the same tired old cliches. I personally don't like sword and sorcery fantasy, simply because I think it's a dead genre. There's too little innovation, in my mind, and I think that's partly because both writers and readers of the genre read exclusively that genre.

    However, in terms of originality, you're right: every story has been done before. The story itself is unlikely (especially in fantasy, in my opinion) to be something completely new. But what can be original, is the way in which you write it. The same idea, done by two different people, will come out completely different. And this is where a wide range of reading can help you. You might find styles, devices, ways of writing certain things, in other genres which you actually quite like, and can mould into your own, and use to inject a bit of an original spin to your own writing.

    I hope you find my thoughts helpful, and if you have any further questions about what I've said, just ask :)
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Originality will come from your writing style, not from the storyline. If your characters are appealing and your storytelling compelling, people will read your story. Over time, you will develop your own writing voice, an individual distinctive style that your readers come to know and look forward to.
     
  4. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    The first thing you should do is go to a website that sells books. Go to the fantasy section and then sort by the average customer review.

    You will see that fantasy is more than just swords and sorcery. One reason why fantasy books appeal to readers is because the writer creates detailed and imaginative worlds and characters.

    Overtime you will develop your own ideas. The only advice I can give you is to start writing and this will get the mind working on ideas and storylines.
     
  5. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    A story isn't made by what happened, or what will happen, it's made by it's characters, and it's elements. The surprise, the suspense, the unknown, the known. If one tiny detail is changed, then it can change the whole face of the story. If an idea hasn't been done before then you either missed it, or you got darn lucky with the imagination pool.

    Just don't stess over the "what if" part of writing. If you do that, you'll never get the story out, and you'll never know if it's the same old thing or if its something new entirely. Besides, everyone has a little bit of cliche in their book. As a writer though, you have to learn when its needed and when its not.

    But seriously, if you want to write a story about something that's been done a million times over, go ahead. Your creativity, and your imagination will shape it. Your story is like a clay model, at first it starts out as nothing, just a block of mud (in a sense) but then your hands shape it into this beautiful piece.

    So as the saying goes "Don't fret, don't freak, just keep on going"
     
  6. hownow-n
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    hownow-n New Member

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    Personally, I think if you start a story worrying about the end result then things will only get stressful. If you have a story to write, write it! The writer has to get immersed in a story if they're going to produce something that readers can get immersed in, and if you're most likely to get passionate about a fantasy novel then fantasy is the way to go.

    "Cliche" is a word we writers and art critics toss around to sound like connoisseurs, but in reality it's a kind of useless concept. Everybody steals, everybody reiterates. Harry Potter? Some fated wizard kid that saves the world from the evilest bad guy ever? How cliche is that? Romeo and Juliet? A forbidden love that ends in tragedy? Even in Shakespeare's time that had been done to death.

    In the end it's not the concepts that make a story. It's the little details, the voice, and the characters that are "original." Concept certainly helps, but it isn't the end-all deciding factor between a good book and a bad one.

    I say try out whatever fantasy story you want and see how it goes :)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you can't avoid it, as everything's been written over and over already... as noted above, all you can do is come up with a new version of the old, and/or fresh combos of the cliches, written in your own voice...
     
  8. DanielCross
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    DanielCross Member

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    New and interesting ideas are always more appealing to publishing houses, instead of the same old tired "dark lord takes over the world" thing. However, no matter how good a premise is, it will be the writing that determines quality. If you're good enough, you can rewrite Tolkein and nobody will even notice.


    Not recommended though :p
     
  9. Arvik
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    Arvik Member

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    Yeah, I think it's been said that there are really only two or three stories, and as a species, we've done them to death. Consoling thought, eh? :)

    I write fantasy too. Honestly, the best advice I can give is to read. Read everything. You'll see what's cliche, things you read that aren't even connected to fantasy can give you ideas to make your story unique (never thought I'd mix string theory into my fantasy, but it's worked out quite well). And don't forget the importance of interesting, compelling characters. Don't make them arche/stereotypes- really flesh them out. Their choices are what drive the story. If they're original, the story will be, too.
     
  10. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    Write the fantasy story the way you want, and if people like it, hey, you've got a good book. It's your writing and telling of the story that makes it interesting :)
     
  11. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Also, being too original and out of genre conventions can be harmful. If you write an awesome book, then it probably won't matter, but if you aren't following some of the conventions of the genre then publishers might not know how to market your book and will pass on it because they aren't sure how to sell it.
     
  12. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    That's a good point. It must actually be identifiable as being in a genre, in order to be sold under that genre. That's not to say you can't merge genres. In particular, the genres that fall under the umbrella "speculative" (that is, fantasy, science-fiction and horror) are particularly amiable to genre line blurring. But such blurring does have to be undertaken with care and awareness that it may make a story harder to sell.
     
  13. Skids
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    Skids New Member

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    Wow. Okay thanks everyone. I will certainly try and broaden my reading horizons.

    I've got a general idea for a novel so I think I'm going to just start writing and see how it goes.

    Thanks for all your advice.
     
  14. *JJ*
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    *JJ* New Member

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    I love fantasy fiction Skids. If that is what your passionate about, then that's what you should write. As long as the writing style is your own, a fresh new angle or viewpoint can only help. I have tried reading towards the egdes of the genre and found that I don't like fantasy/Sci fi, or fantasy so far removed from my perfect fanatsy view. It might be narrow minded , but I like some of the safe and consistent aspects of fantasy, be it done before, with new twists, storyline, characters and challenges, as this way I can get lost in the story the author has written, without the sudden jars of a book trying to prove it can break away and be groundbreakingly different. Good luck with it.
     
  15. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    I'm a fantasy man myself. Fact is, people have been telling stories since the dawn of mankind. It's human nature, if you ask me. So of course everything's been done. What you see nowadays is new and innovative voices. You take that story that fills your soul, you look at it closely to figure out what it is exactly that you're seeing and why it affects you so, and then you use every drop of talent and skill at your disposal to show the world what it is. That's where success comes from. It's the story told that affects people. Not the story itself.

    I mean, let's say you knew all of the details of, for example, Lord of the Rings. You knew its ins and outs. Now imagine that you wrote it as your novel. It would be the same story... but it would be entirely different from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings! And maybe it would be a worldwide success, or maybe it would be that tiny success that you keep for yourself. Because it's your voice telling your story and that's what will make it worth reading. But it's Tolkien's story, you say? Nope. Because in this example, it's the story that filled your soul, and you figured out why, and you shared it in your voice. :)
     
  16. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Maybe so, and I don't think anyone would argue that it was plagiarism. But there are an awful lot of Tolkein clones (for want of a better phrase, though maybe reinterpretation would be more apt) out there. Myself, I find them uninteresting, and I think there are a lot of people who would feel the same.

    My main issue with your argument there is not that it's wrong, but that it seems to discourage attempt at originality. Whilst voice does put the original spin on an old story, a complete lack of concern with originality as far as story goes would have the potential to render a genre (in this case) simply a homogenous lump, with different writers telling the same story. And to a certain degree, high fantasy in particular can be seen as this. I know that's what killed off my interest in it, a few years ago.

    Maybe it's just my own disallusionment with fantasy, but I think that giving up even attempting to tell something new, is going to slow down progress in any genre. But that's just my own opinion, and I don't presume to think it's universal, or even that I'm necessarily right.
     
  17. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    Perhaps I was a little unclear. My apologies. I wasn't saying that I think cloning LotR in your own voice is a good idea. lol. Far from it. I agree with you that there's a struggle to find real originality in Fantasy these days, and I also agree, 100%, that up-and-coming Fantasy writers need to take it upon themselves to delve into it and find something truly new to bring to the table. My point is that there are ways for a writer to make something new out of something that's been done. I don't encourage unoriginality so much as it admittedly sounded in my above comment. Perhaps it was an incomplete thought.

    Thing is, there's little magic that hasn't been written about. There's few ages in the future that haven't been written about scores of times with scores of different ideas on what the universe is like at those points in time. There's few types of alien civilizations that we haven't been contacted by. There's few evil overlords that haven't been overthrown. A writer who intends to write fantasy or sci-fi or anything else shouldn't be scared by what's been done before, is the point I guess I wanted to get across. That said, you're 100% correct that writers need to stop being comfortable with the idea that "it's all been done." I think the best thing a writer can do is push his limits, so to speak. Think of that far out sci-fi world, and then try and figure out what the most far out sci-fi world for someone living there is. Think yourself into that world of magic and myth, and figure out what would be the most amazing and fantastic story that could be told there, you know? Maybe your results will have "already been done." But you'll have gone farther for yourself, and that's what genres like this need these days from their respective writers.
     
  18. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Read a lot of fantasy. What sells, what sells in subgenres like urban fantasy chick lit, or military fantasy.... read read read. Know the field.

    You will find the clichés you hate, some you tolerate, and others you love to keep with a twist.
     
  19. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I don't think you necessarily need to break the mold to get published. It would be nice to have some originality to your work. I can only repeat what Cogito posted. That being said, I wouldn't worry too much about it because no matter what, I think that a writer will always add something new to his or her work, whether it be an original character, a plot or storyline that no one has ever seen before, or just their own, original writing style.
     

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