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  1. FireWater

    FireWater Senior Member

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    Worldbuilding/Setting Cliches to Avoid

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by FireWater, Jul 28, 2018.

    I'm doing some revision to make my fantasy/sci-fi worlds cooler and I thought it would be fun to list out some common cliches to avoid. Not in the spirit of bashing anyone who has done these things, of course! More like so we can know what's unoriginal, and strive to be better in our worldbuilding.

    What are some cliches you see with other-world worldbuilding? Some that I see a lot are:

    - Aliens that are 99% humanlike with some very small difference, or that are replicas of giant insects/reptiles/machines/anything else that already exists on Earth.

    - Landscapes on other planets that have the exact same type of sand, water, trees, etc. as earth. Come on, it's a different world in a different universe!

    - Agendas where the aliens want to take over Earth for an extremely predictable reason, but it's treated like a huge mystery the entire time.

    What are some others? Let's get in the spirit of sci-fi revision :)
     
  2. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    -The aliens have shinier, smoother looking technology. Their weapons are all some form of directed energy.
    -Alien planets seem to be less climatically diverse, and alien societies less politically and/or culturally diverse.
    -AI and robots always bad when a major focus
     
  3. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My biggest pet peeve is when an alien planet has only one form of religion, only one political system, only one language, only one 'ruler,' one kind of terrain, only a few kinds of creatures and plants living on it, etc. Countries—even regions—in the real world are often more diverse than this.

    While things like oxygen content and overall weather patterns and temperatures will fall within a certain range, depending on how far the planet is from its 'sun' and how long its orbit is, etc, I think it's silly to limit the range of life that can live there. It's certainly silly to limit the scope of the societies some of these life forms may have organised for themselves.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2018
  4. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    I'll add the usual proviso--that tropes or clichés aren't automatically bad, anything can be executed well, and it's often not a good idea to be different just for the sake of being different. With that said, here are my dislikes:

    --Space elves. You know, the wise, benevolent aliens / AI's that are here so the author can lecture us on how brutish, crude and warlike we humans are.

    --God-AI's. They often fall into the space-elf problem above, and also tend to just leech all drama out of the story as they can never be outwitted or surprised.

    --Magic nanotechnology in novels that sell themselves as "hard" SF. You're not fooling anyone.....
     
  5. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    Here's my language obsession showing again, but:

    Fantasy worlds where the vast amount of people speak a language called "Common." God help me. (It's fine in D&D. In a book, WHY!)
     
    Simpson17866, saxonslav and DK3654 like this.
  6. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    "Hmmm what to call my most common language...? I know, common!
    This kind of creativity is why I know I'll be a successful writer!"
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  7. saxonslav

    saxonslav Member

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    -Every state is a kingdom, even if it's not divided into a feudal system
    -THE DARK LORD AND THE DARK LANDS OF GREYSCALE
    -Aliens with a superior ideology that never explain themselves
    -The dark forces of Hell have arisen
    -Obviously human religions in a fantasy setting; A weird version of christianity or whatever
     
  8. Kingwood Kid

    Kingwood Kid Member

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    It is a little odd that a civilization from the other side of the galaxy would universally speak grammatically correct, unaccented English as a first language.
     
    saxonslav likes this.
  9. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    After I posted that I remembered that the name for Standard Mandarin, in Mandarin, is Putonghua, which literally means... "common language." Man, whoever's worldbuilding for China lately needs to step up their game. ;)
     
    Azuresun, saxonslav and Simpson17866 like this.
  10. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    China's world building is really lazy. At some point the author couldn't be bothered to write about their interactions with other cultures, so has them build a wall to keep everyone else out.
     
  11. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

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    -Putting the setting out into space but then proceeds to ignore everything about space. A few creative liberties are fine, but don't ignore everything. Particularly the part about it being a giant vacuum.
    -The bad guys always being part of some kind of oppressive empire...
    -When two small factions fight over who gets an entire planet. It's a planet, not a comet. I'm sure you guys can figure it out.
     
  12. Privateer

    Privateer Senior Member

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    Ugh, I hate that in sci-fi. A three-day platoon-scale skirmish over a whole world? Remember what happened last time we fought over an entire world?

    Lookin' at you, Star Trek: DS9.
     

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