1. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    Fantasy Creation Story

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Stammis, Jan 16, 2018.

    If anyone have read the Silmarillion they know what I'm talking about: does any fantasy writers do that anymore? Invent a creation story and events that span thousands of years before the actual story takes place?
     
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  2. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    I haven't actually read the Silmarillion, but yes, creation stories are still a thing. I think the style these days is to have it related in a story that characters are telling each other, or to drop tidbits of it here and there, rather than to have a prologue or chapter or whatever dedicated to it. The most recently-published book I'm thinking of that did this is The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu, in which the gods themselves are minor characters, so it feels natural to get their backstory. I think it's one of those things where if the reader has enough context and reason to care why you're telling them the story, it works.
     
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  3. Teladan

    Teladan On the outside looking in. Contributor

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    Only do this is you have some original ideas and something worthwhile to say. Everyone has done this already, I'm afraid. The great pantheon, the nameless void, the incomprehensible nature of a time before time...
     
  4. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    I guess that's true. Never read the stories you mentioned, but I heard GoT have a rather extensive origin story. I hope G Martin will publish it someday. That's the difference I guess, because, for instance, Lotr had very little to do with the Silmarillion, in fact, Tolkien wrote parts of the Silmarillion first and then adjusted the Silmarillion to the Lotr... It's a bit convoluted but great works are rarely straightforward. But at the same time, the Lotr would probably not had happened without the Silmarillion, which is my point, if fantasy writers put time in developing their origin stories before writing the actual story.

    I don't really like the fantasy genre, not modern fantasy at least, and I believe part of it is because many modern writers neglect to create "their Silmarillion" whether they publish it or not.

    Once upon a time, fantasy was inspired from folklore and real world myths, instead of being Lotr knock offs or trying to be all realistic and gritty... I don't know, I'm sure there are some newer works that I'm not simply aware of that still has the classic elements of fantasy in them, aka Lord Dunsany.
     
  5. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    Everyone? Please give me some names! I am not aware.

    I realised that I might have sounded fatigious but I'm genuinely curious which authors and stories you refer to.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  6. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

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    To quote an author of whom I am quite enamored, "Someday I really must read this Everyone. He seems to have written so much...much of it wrong."

    I don't actually...read, a whole lot, but most of the stories I do read are some flavor of fantasy. They've got origin stories, but they don't state them outright at the beginning. They're dropped in, bit by bit, until you can read on the wiki what the whole story is. Mine will come in its entirety 2/3rds of the way through the second book (it becomes quite relevant, that grand cosmic ordering), but until then, there will be lots of little 'When Jakar created the physical universe' and 'Tyrion dipped the Thoran progenitor in blood, giving them their color and strength' kind of things. Just a sentence here or there, and that's mostly how the authors I read do it. I used to be able to tell you how Tamora Pierce's world came to be, but I'm pretty sure it took her almost ten books to spell it out, if not more.

    Responding to Teladan's post: Sure, everyone has mostly the same idea...but if you look at the mythologies just on Earth, everyone pretty much agrees on certain things. There was either nothing, or everything was very wet. And then there was stuff that was dry...and then it was all wet again. Just because there's commonalities, doesn't mean there's nothing interesting to be had even in those commonalities. I have a visceral objection (not that it's entirely your fault) to the idea that you shouldn't write X if you've got no new ground to cover. If X is what you want to write, write it. Just because someone else has written something similar, doesn't mean you can't be interesting enough to be acknowledged on your own. Otherwise, no one would ever write another romance novel set in 13th century Scotland.
     
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  7. TheRealStegblob

    TheRealStegblob Kill All Mages Contributor

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    Well, there's George R R Martin's world of Ice and Fire as a good sort-of example. He created a lot of his world before he created a solid story for it (I believe he began with a vague idea/outline and created a world, then cemented a story out of that). For a personal example, I'm part of a project where a partner and I have been building a world before we had a real story set into it.
     
  8. Hwaigon

    Hwaigon Member Reviewer

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    Scott Bakker's Darkness That Comes Before is a respectable overkill in terms of Silmarillion-esque world and mostly history-building. Haven't finished
    the book myself, it's...dense. Poetic. Reads a little like Miéville. If not the most of the story then at least a portion of it is situated some hundreds of
    years before the main story line. Or else it somehow blends. And just like Silmarillion it does not deign to brief you on what is going on, is even worse in this regard.
    I'm genuinely impressed he got published because that book is far, far from an easy read. My friend who finished it said it was one of the best fantasy he had ever read.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I do think The Silmarillion was meant to be notes, rather than a published novel. It got published on the coat-tails of the immensely popular Lord of the Rings, back in the late 1960s (if memory serves me right.) It was a compilation of Tolkien's notes for Middle Earth, that got published by his son, after Tolkien's death, to give Tolkien fans more information about the creation. I don't think it was ever meant to be read as if it were a novel, written by Tolkien. I found it incredibly disappointing, but not because of content. Because of its style. It never made it into real novel form. It was Tolkien's worldbuilding exercise. A good example of how a fantasy writer needs to know all about his world, but the reader does not!
     
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  10. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    Actually, according to a biography about Ronald Tolkien, written by Humphrey Carpenter, I read that he wrote the Silmarillion consistently throughout his life. He had every intention of publishing as a stand alone novel until he wrote The hobbit which, incidentally, fit into the narrative of the Silmarillion. He then wrote the Lotr series and came up with new ideas (the Ent race, for instance) and had to edit the Silmarillion to make it consistent. The Silmarillion was Ronald Tolkien's baby, no a mere set of notes, but he could never finish it before his death because he was a perfectionist.
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    He definitely intended to publish it at some point (after he finished it, etc) but I don't think 'novel' would have described it. Tolkien envisioned this as a set of 'tales' that would be similar to legends in British mythology, etc.

    While 'notes' might not quite have described this work, I think 'novel' is stretching it as well. It certainly isn't written in the same style as Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Tolkien was a scholar, and I think he saw this, along with his development of the languages of Middle Earth, as a sort of imaginary work of scholarship. As such, it would have died the death, if he hadn't produced Lord of the Rings.

    Here's the Wikipedia article on it. Lots of interesting ways to look at this work. I bought the book when it came out, and never ever managed to get into it at all. It really wasn't a 'novel' in any sense of the word, in my opinion.

    I don't think his son was trying to 'cash in,' as some have suggested. I think he really did want Tolkien fans to see what else the man had been working on. But in the rush to get it out to 'catch' Tolkien readers, I think he made a mistake. If he'd maybe extrapolated some of the tales from it, and actually wrote (or had somebody else write) them in readable story form, I think he might have had more success. As somebody else said—quoted exactly in Wikepedia—lots of people bought the book but very few actually read it. I put myself in that category, for sure.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silmarillion
     
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  12. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    Thanks, I'll check it out.
     
  13. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    I suppose that's true. I read the whole thing and it was really only at the end I lost interest because it was so obviously not written by Ronald himself, or he hastened to make the Silmarillion tie in with the Lord of the rings. The beginning was a bit difficult too, lots of names and abstract imagery, but that is to be expected if you are coming up with your own creation story.

    I think the reason he wrote in the style he did was to emulate how real lore and myth was written, and also, I think that if he wrote the Silmarillion in the style of a regular novel, I'm sure it would have been a couple of hundred stand alone novels, so, he didn't have much choice in that regard.
     
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  14. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Stammis, please, please, please, please, please try very hard to remember that the upper area of the forum is not for the posting of one’s work - be it in whole or in part - for general critique or consideration. In our forum, the correct area is the Workshop, which, as I am sure you know, has certain requirement regarding reciprocity of critique.
     
  15. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    Sorry, I'll PM jannert directly instead.
     
  16. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    I've recently written the creation story of the fantasy world that my WIP takes place on. Think Howard inspired by Dunsany. While elements of the story are very important to the plot of the series, I never have the intention fully retelling it in the book series or releasing it. It's purely an author's reference. I believe, with exceptions of course, that this kind of story has little interest to the general reader. While Dunsany's The Gods of Pegana is an interesting read, I much more enjoyed the King of Elfland's Daughter. The Hobbit is one of my favorite books of all times, but I've yet to make it through the Silmarillion.
     
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  17. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    There is a companion called The World of Ice & Fire, that goes into a lot of detail on the history and setting and was fascinating even to someone like me who didn't know much about the novels. I'm not sure how much of it is Martin himself vs an officially approved work based on his novels, but it's well worth a look.
     
  18. TheRealStegblob

    TheRealStegblob Kill All Mages Contributor

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    Martin wrote it himself. I thought World of Ice and Fire was, eh, alright enough. He almost sort of bitched about it several times during different interviews and convention panels. The rumor is that he was basically strongarmed into having to write it and that he sort of just 'came up with all sorts of stuff' out of necessity even though they were just random cities and names he was pulling out of his ass to satisfy the project. I guess in that way it's an interesting look at what someone might come up with when they have to expand their world, heh.
     

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