JOE WILLIAM New Member

    Dec 17, 2017
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    U.S. of A.

    Fantasy cliches

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by JOE WILLIAM, May 5, 2018.

    I've always wanted to write a work of fantasy, and I know there must be scores of sub-genres to choose from, but just as a wide-net query, what are some cliches that would be best for me to avoid?
  2. awkwarddragon

    awkwarddragon Member

    Mar 18, 2018
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    I've said this in similar threads, but I'll gladly repeat it here. With all the cliches in the fantasy genre - from the hidden prince, the wise old man, the great evil overlord - it doesn't necessarily mean one should avoid them per se, they are cliches for a reason. In the end, it's all about execution. If you can manage to better develop the hidden prince, the wise old man, and the evil overlord, then, by all means, use them. My two cents.
  3. solid_state

    solid_state New Member

    May 4, 2018
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    Fantasy is heavy on tradition and standards. Imagine reading a fantasy novel without a wizard or a magic sword. I will definitely agree with the last post that your goal shouldn't be to avoid them, but rather how to use them in clever, unexpected ways.

    To that end, maybe you could think of some proactive twists on those archetypes. What if your old wizard appears to be the wise mentor character, but is actually an evil necromancer slowly leading the heros astray?
  4. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Contributor Contributor

    Feb 8, 2018
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    @awkwarddragon This wise fellow is correct. I love cliches because they're so good at preparing the reader for what comes next in the story. The old mentor dies? Sadness, but also new determination to avenge them. That one cute girl/hot guy either saves/was saved by MC? I smell a love interest and potentially powerful ally. The hero gets beaten really bad by the Big Bad? Well, you better believe they're about to get a whole lot stronger. I feel like cliches get a bad rep simply because they're used a lot, and that's not fair. As dragon said above, good writing is largely dependent on execution, and less so on whether or not this event is a cliche.

    I would, however draw the line at one cliche in particular. In my opinion, this one actually upsets me. When a character dies, but comes back for reasons the reader doesn't yet know about. I'm not talking like when the villain goes "Oh! That character? I stabbed him in the stomach so I'm pretty sure they're dead.", or when the character falls off of a cliff but we never see them hit the bottom. I'm talking like when a character gets stabbed in the stomach, and we actually see their last moments before they black out. We don't see them for a while and everyone just assumes that they're dead, only for the character to just show up and give some bull crap reason like "Oh, this magical crystal/secret power I never knew about before/ secret organization I never knew about before saved my life." That one upsets me.

    Now, not to seem too irrational, I'll give some examples of what I believe to be acceptable times in the fantasy genre, (Or what I'm pretty sure is in the fantasy genre) when a character dies and comes back to life. By the way, these'll be in spoilers, just in case.

    In the final book/movie, Harry is, once again, hit with the Killing Curse. While this might make most assume that he'll die, those that have been paying attention should already know that the wand should've transferred to Draco when he caught defeated Dumbledore at the top of that one tower, and then to Harry when he defeated Draco. So obviously the Elder Wand (Which is the want that Voldy-boy used to "kill" Harry) wouldn't completely kill its master. This is well executed because there are reasons (that people should be able to extrapolate from information they already have) that Harry should not be heavily affected by anything coming out of that wand.

    While an old SNES game, this resurrection was wonderfully done. The MC, Crono, dies at the hands of a giant space-tick, and the party is devastated. The rest of the party moves on, save for a couple, and go on to act against the space-tick without their leader. I'll mention now, that reviving Crono is optional, he is not needed to complete the game. It's actually kind of funny that bringing the party's leader back from the dead is a sidequest. Eventually, the party finds an emo wizard, who tells them that, if they want to save their leader, they should speak to the Sage of Time (By the way, a large part of this game is time travel). Once the party finds this sage, he tells them that, by messing with how his death played out, they can save Crono. The party makes a body double of Crono and go back in time to the point he died, and make the switch. Now, the leader is alive (As well as mysteriously leveled so that he's on par with the rest of the party, but whatever), and there's a reasonable explanation. This revival works because Crono's friends find out that there's a way to save him, and they take it. It works because the character doesn't have to be revived, but there's a way to accomplish it without it being handwaved away by "just magic bruh". Depending on the player's choice, the party goes out of their way to revive Crono, despite not actually needing him to save the world.

    These work because, in the first, there are reasons that the reader should really know about that show that the character should not have been killed there, and the character lives; In the second, it works because the character does not have to come back to life, but there's a way and you can be damn sure that their friends won't let them stay dead if they can help it.

    I guess my point is, if you're gonna bring someone back from the dead, and you actually show us their death, make sure there's a logical reason that your character is revived and not just "The stars aligned" or "Guys it turns out that this sword I hold on to is actually some ancient magical weapon that saved me. Yes I know that, before now, there was no reason to suspect that this sword was magical, but it is I swear."

    Hope this helps!
  5. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
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    Go on TV Tropes and look up the lists of discredited tropes. Avoid those.

    As far as fantasy tropes, the closer you are to Tolkien / Dungeons and Dragons, the more likely genre fans will be disinterested. New fans will still like it: people in the market for something new but classic. So, who are you writing for?
    Dragon Turtle likes this.

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