Why is everyone so quick to make fantasy either urban steampunk or medieval? There's so much more.

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by FireWater, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you ever been subjected to my lectures about using Maslow's Hierarchy to create a consistently inhuman psychology :twisted:
     
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  2. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here we go again!

    Grabs popcorn.
     
  3. OJB

    OJB Contributing Member

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    I hope I don't regret this, but I want to chime in here.

    I agree with @123456789 100%

    There is nothing wrong with Fantasy, per say. My problem is that writers don't push themselves far enough in their creativity. And Creativity, by the way, is NOT throwing more fantasy elements into your work. Creativity is picking one or two elements and just honing in on those elements. I write Dark Fantasy/Horror in a modern setting, and anyone who has read my stuff (and there is a few of you on this thread) knows I take careful measures to limit what I present in any one story.

    Example: My current story I went with Hell Raiser-style, murderous ghost, I mean in horror how much more basic and cliche could you go? But, I honed in on two elements: My Ghosts are more Animal like in appearance and nature, and they beautiful, angel-like singers.

    The point I am trying to make is if you are going to write a fantasy, horror, Sci-fi, Steam punk, whatever, pick a few elements and really dive into that aspect. The epic stories we love and wish to write were built on top of a lifetime of experience. Take the time, gain the experience by working with a few elements at a time, and don't be in a hurry to become the next Stephen king, only to fail because you kept attempting more than you could handle. Small victories lead to big victories.

    -

    That's all I got for you kids. Play nice.

    :love:

    -OJB
     
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  4. Viridian

    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    This thread has been an interesting read and the above quote in particular. I agree with @ChickenFreak's description of what qualifies as supernatural, it's a difficult one to put in a box. I've tried very hard to keep magical elements out of my book and stick to the above description of supernatural (it has a druidic/celtic theme running through, but my own interpretation) and I personally seek out stories with this kind of fantasy element but I struggle to find good books with a supernatural theme and an interesting (almost believable) story - if anyone has any examples I could read I would very interested to hear about them. That said, I do still enjoy other elements of fantasy but tend to only read them if recommended to me - there's just too much rubbish out there and I HATE to leave a book half-read but find myself doing just that more often these days.

    Someone mentioned Stephen King's the Dark Tower series. I'm currently on book 3. I'm am enjoying it, but not sure I'll make it to the end of the series (might give book 4 a go though). I haven't read GOT but I have watched the TV series and am totally in love with it. I read a sample of the first book a couple of days ago thinking I wouldn't like it, just as I can't read the Harry Potter books but love the movies - but I was pleasantly surprised - VERY pleasantly surprised - and I am considering purchasing the book set to enjoy not only from a reader's point of view, but from a writer's too - I found I highly liked GRRM's style of writing.

    I think fantasy can be inserted into just about anything, if done properly, and I also think 'less is more' definitely applies if you want to make it more believable (insofar as fantasy can be believable) - but that's just my personal opinion.
     
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  5. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maslow's Hierarchy would probably be mine :)

    Humans, orcs, and vampires all care primarily about living for as long as possible, but humans are the most likely to see individual nonconformity as a death threat, orcs are most likely to see rigid scheduling as a death threat, and vampires are most likely to see the giving anything to others as a death threat. Psoglavs are as afraid as orcs are of getting stuck doing the same thing over and over and over again, but they're also far more interested in the number of people in their lives than they are in the number of years.
     
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  6. RWK

    RWK Senior Member

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    Regardless of the setting, you still a plot and writing skills to make it work. GRR Martin used time-tested setting elements in GoT, as I've posted repeatedly, and produced a world-class series. If you cannot build a plot, a non-traditional setting will not save your book.

    However, when writing a book that you hope will be read by more than just your friends and family, you had best give serious consideration to marketing. As with any product, you ability to reach the customer base is key.

    Have you even looked at the market lately? Amazon alone adds over a million titles in fiction a year.

    The number of published authors is exploding while the number of authors who have sold ten thousand copies of their work are not exactly booming.

    Speaking from experience, finishing a novel is the point where the real work begins. If you want to be read by strangers in serious numbers you had better be planning for the market before you type 'Chapter One'.
     
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  7. OJB

    OJB Contributing Member

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    Totally agree with this. I read an interview (I'll have to find it) with GRR Martine and he states that he got a lot of his ideas (namely killing off beloved heroes) from reading Shakespeare. I want to say he quotes the Rape of Lucrece???? But I can't remember exactly.
     
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  8. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like this - one thing I think I tend to miss from a lot of the fantasy I read is really rich characterization - I don't want to read about one-dimensional heroes or one-dimensional villains. Looking at the psychology behind it all, the reasons the different creatures act like they do? I think that could be really interesting.
     
  9. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    You made an absolute statement. Such statements can be disproven by one contrary example.
     
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  10. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    "For every rule there is an exeption," Watson said.

    "No my dear Watson, an exception breaks the rule," Sherlock replied!

    ;) lol
     
  11. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find one thing here troubling. The line, you better be planning for the market before you type.

    I certainly understand the value of that.

    But I think it is a bit unfair to imply that one cannot be serious without that.

    I started out as the pretentious 17 year old with a dream of telling stories. Actually I doubted myself beyond belief, and tended to be more of a critic of other work than anything else.

    Someone planted the thought in my head that if I could critique or spot flaws, why not try my own?

    Been at it nearly ten years now. I am only half as pretenious(Improvement yay!) and I still suck but I have improved a lot.

    I would consider myself serious. Even if, abit a bit slow. But my dream is not the paycheck, but the art. And as a result. I do want to be read by many.

    But I never think. "What is the current market and how will this do in the current market" before I write. And I don't think I ever will.

    If anything. If my work couldn't sell specifically based on the trend being out of style. I'd rather my work sit and wait for the work to come back into style.

    Even if I had to wait til I was 65. Because this is the dream of my life and I am not in a rush to have to done by 30.

    I did warn you I have still half as pretensious as I was. lol Sorry if this came off as rude.

    I just think one can come to this field in the sense of dreaming just as well as they can come in the sense of business. The business style may have an edge but the dreamer should be aware of this before he starts. I certainly am, but I wouldnt' change it for any amount of anything.
     
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  12. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    Let me preface this by saying I don't use the traditional non-human fantasy races at all. Only humans, spirits, and a species inspired by hobgoblins/brownies/European folkloric house spirits (who are very primitive, only recently gained sapience, and have almost no impact on the world at large).

    For one thing, you can dive into different psychology. Elves are often depicted as immortal or extremely long lived; that would obviously impact one's outlook on the world. To continue from one series I mentioned earlier, there are elves in the Witcher universe who still remember what things were like before humans arrived thousands of years earlier. Specifically, they remember how far they've fallen, and are deeply resentful of that (though being treated like dirt gives them reason to feel that way). They also have a much lower birth rate than humans, with relatively short periods of fertility. That makes the fixation they have on driving out humanity drift towards species suicide.

    Speculative fiction also lets you talk about social issues with one degree of removal from real world matters that may be too hot to touch (Star Trek did this a lot). Fantasy races may stand in for real world issues related to race/ethnicity, religion, prejudice, and discrimination, and some members of the audience may listen when they would've ignored a more straightforward approach.

    As with anything, fantasy races are only superficial if you write them superficially.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
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  13. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reread the last post of mine you responded to. I said I am always speaking in general terms. You just assumed I made an absolute statement. Work it out.
     
  14. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks :) I think the two most important things to remember are
    1. Baseline tendencies are not 100% ("Vulcans are logical"), but they are not 0% either (anybody is just as likely to be anything as is anybody else): every species has a most common tendency, against which many individuals deviate, and against which such deviation is recognized as being uncommon
    2. Humans are not the "default," we have our own quirks
     
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  15. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually they are outliers and many times meaningless. Otherwise, plane seats would be much much bigger for the one time that eighth foot tall man decides to get on...
     
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  16. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You do realize Vulcans are not real? We're pretty much the default right now.
     
  17. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want people to understand what you're talking about, you should type exactly what you mean. I don't know anyone here who is psychic; no one can tell your broad, unqualified statement is supposed to be qualified.
     
  18. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A rock is only a weak weapon if you're not able to throw it with the same firepower of a gun. There's a reason most literary works don't use elves. They're largely unnecessary.
     
  19. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think ya missed the point of the quote lol.

    The premise of rules(in the sense the quote is referring to a rule) needs to be that they are absolute. Thus other things are not rules just commonly seen things.
     
  20. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lots of things are unnecessary (which, especially in art, is a very subjective judgement). That doesn't make them bad.

    You know, I've seen your posts in this thread and other similar ones, and I have to wonder why you keep trying to frame things in a way that lets you compare the worst of fantasy with the best of other fiction. Can't say I haven't seen similar attitudes toward spec-fic before, but it's curious.
     
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  21. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Romance writers see this attitude all the damn time. It's frustrating, yes?
     
  22. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this is a totally valid approach. We all have our own goals and work toward them in our own ways. I have no problem with that.

    I do get frustrated when people have a goal and work toward it in an irrational way or when people seem to be raging against reality instead of actually working for their goal. Like, if you accept that you may have a more difficult path to publication because you aren't writing with the market in mind, carry on! I respect your passion, etc. But it gets a bit old when people want to write without considering the market and expect the market to welcome their book with open arms. I think that's where a lot of the "agents have no vision" and "publishers won't take any chances and only want to publish the same book over and over again" bitterness comes from.

    Everyone makes their own choices, and everyone is responsible for the consequences of their own choices. If people chose to write less marketable books, it's not the market's fault when those books don't find a home.

    So, kudos to you for staying true to your own goals and being realistic about it!
     
  23. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hypothetical scenario: I'm a teacher and you're a student in my classroom.

    I say, "Guys, you need to study if you want to do well on the exam."

    You don't raise your hand and say, "Actually, I don't need to study because I am the exception to the rule and I always get perfect scores, anyways." You simply don't study and then go ahead and get your A.

    Most people need to study and most elf, orc, dwarf fantasy is considered derivative, at best. If you know you're different, great, go ahead and do your thing.

    Anyway, time for me to move on.
     
  24. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap. We may quibble on the exact percentage, but I think most of us find this to be true. Sure, there's lots of bad, derivative fantasy out there, but the same can be said of every genre in every artistic medium. So singling out medieval fantasy, or fantasy with the traditional nonhuman races, isn't too helpful.

    If we want to make the genre more diverse in setting--and have higher quality fiction set in the more traditional settings--it would probably be better to look at the people who do it well and the reasons for their creative choices, rather than the choices themselves. Think about the themes we want to work toward, and craft a setting that supports them. If that means a medieval European fantasy with elves, dwarves, and orcs, then so be it. Same if it a means a secondary world inspired by the American West, World War One, or pre-colonization Australia.
     
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  25. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    And tiresome.
     

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