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  1. MoonieChild

    MoonieChild New Member

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    Avoiding the rehashed themes/plots/mechanics of Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by MoonieChild, Mar 12, 2019.

    I am curious to know what people think is overdone in the Fantasy genre. For me I'm tired of the good vs evil trope, especially Orcs. I (and of course many other writers too!) try to write without the them of good vs evil while still maintaining conflict. In fantasy specifically, I try to maintain a grey area over most issues and avoid writing characters as "I'm doing this because I'm a big bad baddie" or "I'm a good guy, so I'm doing good things!". I try to focus on the why they have their goals and the means they will take to reach them.
    For example, in a series I am currently developing, one of the major subplots (in the first book, it becomes the main plot in the next few books) is Orcs being on the brink of war with humans due to the fact that humans are trying to conquest their land for imperialism and resources. While most Fae are docile and peacekeepers in this universe, a subset of them (the fire Fae) side with the humans for the purpose of reclaiming lost land (the Orcs stole land from the fire Fae a few centuries ago). Wanting to keep the peace and keep things in their "natural order" the forest Fae side with the Orcs (an unlikely alliance in most fantasy literature I have read) because they are motivated by keeping things in natural order (as well as having a mutual ally with the Orcs- the Forest Elves).

    That was a bit of a tangent, but I wanted to give an example of what I meant by not being lead by the over-used good vs evil trope and instead being motivated by individual goals and values.

    So TL;DR- I'm over the "good vs evil" theme and also over the "ORCS ARE INHERENTLY EVIL" trope.

    What are some rehashed themes and other fantasy related elements that you are just done with reading about?
     
  2. Reece

    Reece Member

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    I'm not done with any of it really. It's my genre of choice, and I love all the tropes so long as they are done well. If I had to choose, I would say 'the chosen one.'
     
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  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I feel like morally ambiguous or grey (in terms of morals) fantasy is predominant today. I like it, but I’m down for an old fashioned good v evil story.
     
  4. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Good and Evil, and the Grey Realm between the two isn't the problem for modern fantasy. Dragons, white guys thrashing about with swords, Ogres/Orcs/Giants, Elves, Dwarves, Fairies, Princes, Overlords, Princesses, rings, overdressed royalty, is what's way overdone.
    If it were up to me, some moonless night I'd drive to the edge of town, stop by the roadside; pull Frodo and Samwise from the trunk, kneel them down and blow their fucking brains out. I'd roll them into a shallow ditch where overused fantasy tropes belong.

    Writing fantasy means you get to write whatever you want. So why is it almost everyone borrows from Tolkien? Goodness, be adventurous and do your thing your way.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
  5. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    I agree. Leave J.R.R. and D&D behind and invent your own alphabet.
     
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  6. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    How do you know "almost everyone" does?
    You only see what gets published, and most authors don't get published.
    The trend toward tired tropes may be driven by the money people, who think what has sold is what will sell.
    The Romance genre may be the most extreme example of that.
     
  7. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    Orcs, Elves, Dwarfs and Trolls, to name a few. I don’t care about these races anymore. Of a read a story that is constantly trying to rehash these all too common races I shut down immediately.

    I grew up on Warhammer so I’m quite happy to frame my understanding of these races in that world. I don’t understand what drives someone to write a novel with the generic set of races though. Seems almost the antithesis of what fantasy is about to me - meaning to create something fantastical and unseen, not something that already has a long, long, long history within the genre.

    That said these races are archetypal so even if you do create mew races they’re going to seem “orc-like” or “elf-like” somply because we’ve come to associate these creatures with certain characteristics.

    A true flight of fancy means to make something unique and meaningful to you, not to take on an old idea and reiterate it.

    I generally view the real world as fantastical and bearly believe it exists! In this light writing something I deem “fantasy” likely feels more “mundane” because I end up delving into subjects in fantasy writing that others would find meaningless/dull. What seems to have been lost in modern literature, as far as I’m concerned, is the lack of description. Many have become so reliant upon film that the need to describe scenes and items has waned. I think something along the way has been left behind though.

    The “good vs evil” is essential to any narrative. It’s certainly something more polarised in fantasy writing where the lines are more firmly drawn out, but I wouldn’t call it a problem for fantasy writing - most narrative requires exaggeration in order to hit the reader/writer and rouse the emotions intended.
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I’m not convinced this is true of the genre anymore, even among published works.
     
  9. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Contributor Contributor

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    [​IMG]

    I'm getting sick of books written specifically to be part of a series. I don't mind if they are part of a series, but they should function on their own. The Death Gate Cycle is a series that has an over arching narrative, but each book operates well independent of the others, same with the Harry Potters. I can pick up any book in any order and be able to track the story without having read the ones before. A lot of fantasy books I've read lately do not do this.
     
  10. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    While people have mentioned Tolkien before, I feel that nobody has actually mentioned how fantasy has largely avoided him thematically, apart from "The Power of Friendship". Middle Earth is in magical decay and becomes more mundane. The villains have started to industrialise. The big battle scenes that fantasy is famous for is more or less what the book was against. And I feel that that's what's missing from a lot of modern fantasy. Series potential means that the world can't mundane as it prevents escalation of stakes. Medieval stasis means that technology can't move forward. The general aesthetic of Tolkien has been taken, but the underlying themes have been largely left untouched, and I think this is largely what fantasy could do to be more original. Exploration of theme. If you can do anything with the creation of your setting, use it.

    Otherwise, fantasy has grown to be massively broad. Dark Fantasy, Science Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy. Somewhere down the line, you will copy someone. Just try to put your own spin on it, and write it well.
     
  11. jakuper

    jakuper New Member

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    First, I think we should agree that anything you write today was already written. Not in the exact way, yet, any idea can occur to many people. This hav not to be plagiath, just use an idea differently. Combine ideas in such a way that will give burth to a new untold story.
    Writing fantasy, doesn't mean that fantasy has to be the engine of the story. The war between the good and evil - it's just one idea.
    Romeo and Julia in anothe. Combine them and write about Org and Fea Romeo and Julia.
    Write aboout a rebelios Org who wants to be good. In such a story, using that generically Orgs are bad can serve the story.
    Write about Orgs school where they get knowledge by eating books.
    Write about spells that like boomerang return back to the speller and work on her.
    Write about the world where flowers can move and eat other creatures, such as a bear - this way you have a story of the beauty and the beast but in reverse.
    In fantasy you can make tales come true, for examplethe red hood meets an Org in the forest. A wolf saves her and her grandy from that bad Org.
    Fantasy better than other geanres can mix between geanres and ideas. Don't write fantasy for its sake. Put into it love, espionage, Sc.F. elements like machinery or stars journey, police (make gnomes policemen), crime. This way any such dressing will make you fantasy different from all others.
     
  12. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Senior Member

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    Same here. I can't think of a single trope in any genre that I'm done with.

    There's evidence in this thread that some folks don't want to read stories featuring certain familiar fantasy races. And that's fine. Avoid whatever you want to. But I know I could never (thankfully) reach that point. I could write a hundred different orc or elves stories and not get bored. That's just not how my imagination operates.
     
  13. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I like elves, dwarves, fairies, ogres, and trolls. They aren’t generic. They come from folklore.

    Dude thrashing with a sword is the heroic archetype people want to identify with.

    Princes and princesses are the rich and beautiful of the settings. People like admiring the rich and beautiful.

    No folklore. No heroic archetype. No rich and beautiful. No moral stance.

    You better come hard with something fresh if you are going to get rid of the main things people like.
     
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  14. LazyBear

    LazyBear Active Member

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    Tired of made up names that sound intentionally exotic and hard to pronounce just to make it sound more fantasy-ish until you want to puke.

    Tired of renamed words that already exist in English and would be translated. I prefer descriptive names. (drowners, gnawlers, beholders,...) These make things easy to remember even before the introduction.

    Tired of whole chapters with just a person running from a dragon without any dialogue nor reflection over the event.

    Tired of heroes "leveling up" without any effort. Makes them into unlikable brats who didn't learn responsibility along the way.

    Tired of large scale battles where too many random units are thrown in. It's about people, not numbers.
     
  15. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Then go right ahead and do stories for the kiddies, of magic spells and good morals and no untidy endings. If all you identify with are heroes, then I'd say you live a stunted existence.
    I'm so tired of Norse folklore and legends. What a fucking bore!
     
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  16. Friederich Kugelschreiber

    Friederich Kugelschreiber i can edit this now Contributor

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    It's actually the most epic thing in existence.
     
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  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Some people can't handle people liking things they don't like. There's a lot of nerdrage in fantasy and science fiction, including in novels, games, movies, etc.
     
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  18. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I don’t think there is anything wrong with liking different kinds of stories, but I think it is dangerous for writers to dismiss the most popular tropes as simply unsophisticated and childish, at least when trying to make something else popular.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
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  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Certainly one can write a kid's story using the traditional tropes (and, also, without using them). A story for adults can be written using the same tropes. It doesn't do much good, especially as writers, to adopt such limiting views of what is possible.
     
  20. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    A lot of fantasy "tropes" are efficient short-hands. Just mention "elf," "orc," or "dragon" and you've communicated a ton of information to the experienced fantasy reader.

    So if the novelty in your story lies elsewhere, why waste time (and bore your reader) by re-inventing the wheel?
     
  21. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Senior Member

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    Ironically, I find your perspective childish.
     
  22. Friederich Kugelschreiber

    Friederich Kugelschreiber i can edit this now Contributor

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    I wrote this in the plot pet peeves thread, but I think it fits here, too:

    Magic having clearly defined rules in epic fantasy. I like my magic like I like my women: sultry and mysterious.

    Another one is a bunch of stupid races in fantasy. I don't want to read about a race of dark elves crossed with arctic foxes, who are ancestral enemies of the swamp dwelling lizard butterflies, who are allies with humans, except they're not humans, because they have seven toes and purple hair, who have an on and off relationship with the dwarves, except they're not dwarves, clearly, because they don't speak with a Scottish accent and they're not afraid of heights.
     
  23. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Come on down to Elf-Mart for all your elf needs. We've got high elves, dark elves, wood elves, sun elves, moon elves, death elves, desert elves, star elves, trapped down the back of the sofa elves, sea elves, space elves, blood elves, the awkward spot you can't scratch elves,void elves, night elves, day elves, left elves, right elves, centrist elves, orcs that are actually elves, dwarfs that are actually elves, and Kevin.

    Buy one, got four free to fill up your world, and we'll even throw a gnome in for half price.
     
  24. Friederich Kugelschreiber

    Friederich Kugelschreiber i can edit this now Contributor

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    Are you willing to haggle for the gnome?
     
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  25. Just a cookiemunster

    Just a cookiemunster Active Member

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    I could not agree more! I think people want fast paced dungeons and dragons and they forget about the art of story telling. And I for one love description. That is one reason I do not read fantasy too often because I want MORE story telling in my fantasy than what many books seems to offer. When I first started the stroy I am working on I intended it to be a high fantasy with a super magical world and now that I am halfway finished I realized the fantasy aspect is sort of in the background and some might find it boring but what I chose to really focus on was the relationships, the characters, their lives, the descriptions and what they go through in life. I wish I could find more fantasy like that. But the good vs evil aspect is definitely there.
     

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