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What Do You Want in Fantasy?; I'd appreciate anyone's input.
Topic Started: Feb 17 2017, 06:26 PM (496 Views)
Wyvax
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Herbivore
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One of my life dreams is to author and have published a novel or perhaps even a series. This has been a dream since childhood, but I realized that it can be more than that just over five years ago when I started writing collaborate stories online. I loved it! My interest and ambition is high fantasy, which of course means that I have the conundrum of being equally inspired and influenced by such greats as Tolkien and Lewis, yet the challenge of coming up with something truly unique rather than just "rearranging the funiture in Tolkien's attic," as Terry Pratchett once said of most modern fantasy. I've put a lot of thought and time into world and lore building for the past several years and I'm still going at it. I get a lot of inspiration from the authors mentioned above, as well as scripture and certain groups of disparate Eurasian folklores, yet I've also found a little bit in such odd places as steampunk sci fi and FMA among other places.

My purpose in creating this thread is getting others opinions on what they get tired of seeing, don't see often enough and simply never tire of seeing as far as ideas, concepts, tropes and cliches are concerned. Please I am eager for input from you all. :)

I'm willing to give broad, sweeping statements about the world and story I'm crafting to clarify things, just not precise details (eg. Spoilers). I gotta protect my work from theft after all.
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Jinfengopteryx
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Aspiring paleontologist, science enthusiast and armchair speculative fiction/evolution writer
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Are you aware of Sanderson's three laws of magic? If you want to make your fantasy story hard (if fantasy can be called that way), they are helpful. Due to my interest in hard stuff, I keep these laws in my head when working on my sci-fi story.
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Wyvax
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Herbivore
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I just checked them out, I must say they are very well thought out and I agree with everything in them rather whole heartedly. Going by what was described in the first law, magic as it exists in my writing would very much be in the "soft" or "mysterious" category of magic. It's not something that humans can manipulate or use though they are definitely aware of its existence.
It also definitely has limitations, though I'm still working out some of that.
Edited by Wyvax, Feb 17 2017, 07:50 PM.
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Grazier
Herbivore
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I've often wondered why fantasy needs to practically always be medieval wizards and dungeons and dragons and elfs stuff. Why does it even need magic at all?

What about caveman fantasy? Like numerous fictional species of hominid coexisting with fantastical creatures in a strange exotic world, varying degrees of technological advancement (and by that I mean most advanced is using bows and arrows with poison) which is balanced out by varying degrees of physical prowess? I'd find that very intriguing.

I don't find the classic fantasy totally boring, like I played the hell out of skyrim, but magic is a bit lame to me and yeah I just generally don't get why people fall back on the same old stuff.
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Finderskeepers
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Omnivore
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There are two types of magic. Easy and hard. The easy one is the simple one where they can throw fireballs and that sort of thing. The hard one is the one where they don't explain things at all. It's like...boom. Something happens.
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Wyvax
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Herbivore
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Grazier
Feb 17 2017, 08:36 PM
I've often wondered why fantasy needs to practically always be medieval wizards and dungeons and dragons and elfs stuff. Why does it even need magic at all?

What about caveman fantasy? Like numerous fictional species of hominid coexisting with fantastical creatures in a strange exotic world, varying degrees of technological advancement (and by that I mean most advanced is using bows and arrows with poison) which is balanced out by varying degrees of physical prowess? I'd find that very intriguing.

I don't find the classic fantasy totally boring, like I played the hell out of skyrim, but magic is a bit lame to me and yeah I just generally don't get why people fall back on the same old stuff.
Something more akin to Hyboria, I agree with you wholeheartedly. A fantasy RPG I'm currently playing is refreshing by simple virtue of being set in a bronze age/iron age transition (assides the fact that Tyranny is awesome in general of course). I would very much like to see more variety in the typical settings.

I confess that the protagonist hails from a corner of the world that is definitely medieval in its technology and culture, but that stems from an honest love and fascination with that broad diverse section of history on my part. I'm trying to diversify said culture with unique traits to avoid the copy paste of so many pseudomedieval societies in literature. For example, agriculture that focuses equally heavy on rice and wheat depending on what region of the country is from, assuming of course that both crops could flourish in a landscape/nation that is roughly equal parts fields, temperate rainforest and wetlands. I'm researching this. Also I don't want a panmedieval world, nor a copy paste of "Europe/Mid-East/Orient with Africa underneath", I immediately became aware of that tendency after attempting a very rough draft for a map a long time ago.
Magic as it stands exists in this world, it's just not OF this world and cannot be invoked by any human. I'm defining a very practical and realistic realm, people get be perfectly fine without magic and like in our own history view it with fear and superstition, because that's normal for humanity, and more importantly though it cannot be controlled, it can still affect them. It's simply something potentially very dangerous and unknowable to mankind. Think more on the spiritual level but not quite.
Edited by Wyvax, Feb 17 2017, 09:59 PM.
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Grazier
Herbivore
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I'm fascinated by early primitive human cultures- australian aborigines, papua new guineans, andaman islanders... and then also the polynesian sea farers (although they're much more recent), then I'm also interested in earlier still... neanderthals, denisovan man, homo floresiensis, and homo erectus and heidelberg man, etc. A fantasy world using these groups as analogues for it's unique "races", all competing to survive and coexist with dramatic megafauna (some could even be dinosaur-like) would be cool as hell. Could also delve into more hot and tropical type environments rarely explored in fantasy, and I don't even like the heat but the snow and temperate woodlands and all that has been done to death. Also explore, rather than harry potter-esque magic hands/wands/staffs, supernatural in the form of superstition and voodoo curses and the like. Basically a fantasy world stuck back before civilisation, a totally wild world with people to experience it, but wild people.
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Carnoferox
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Things I'm tired of seeing in fantasy:

Elves
Dwarves
Orcs
Wizards
Dark lords
Dragons
"Chosen ones"
Prophecies
Magic rings
Fictional languages
Medieval-type settings

Basically anything lifted from Tolkien or other classic fantasy authors. If you want a new and refreshing fantasy setting, place it either in the far past like the Pleistocene with primitive humans, or set it thousands of years in the future where science is advanced enough to be considered magic.
Edited by Carnoferox, Feb 17 2017, 11:27 PM.
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Finderskeepers
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Omnivore
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Or hundreds of millions of years in the past. Dino-mages. How cool would that be? And the trexes could easily fill in for the orks.
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SETA222
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Omnivore
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ermmm... I don't think I would read a story about magical dinosaurs at all.
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Jinfengopteryx
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Aspiring paleontologist, science enthusiast and armchair speculative fiction/evolution writer
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Carnoferox
Feb 17 2017, 11:23 PM
Things I'm tired of seeing in fantasy:

Elves
Dwarves
Orcs
Wizards
Dark lords
Dragons
"Chosen ones"
Prophecies
Magic rings
Fictional languages
Medieval-type settings

Basically anything lifted from Tolkien or other classic fantasy authors. If you want a new and refreshing fantasy setting, place it either in the far past like the Pleistocene with primitive humans, or set it thousands of years in the future where science is advanced enough to be considered magic.
As for your last suggestion, science fiction and fantasy are not synonymous (though they both belong to the genre of speculative fiction and have many counterparts) and the difference between science fiction and fantasy is not that the former is more realistic than the latter (most fantasy creatures are more believable than time travel, for example), but the kind of setting. Fantasy is typically based on traditional mythology, while science fiction plays with how far we can extrapolate the abilities of hypothetical gadgets and a fascination of these things probably motivates writers to choose these genres.

So, the distinction between them is not so much the realism, but the setting and the setting of something we can consider fantasy would have to overlap with the stuff you mentioned. There are ways you can put creativity into it though. Make up some new, fantastic creatures for example. Or google for the most underrated ancient civilizations and see which ones should finally appear in some novel.

Regarding the other suggestion, I don't know where the "paleo-fiction" Finders and you mentioned (I suppose the cavemen have magic) would fall into. Dinosaurs are normally entrenched in the science fiction genre, but dino substitutes for mages? If all the other fantasy tropes are met, it could classify as fantasy and be similar to those Disney films where people are replaced with animals. Or "paleo-fiction" becomes an own speculative fiction genre lol , though it would obviously be too small.
Edited by Jinfengopteryx, Feb 18 2017, 12:51 AM.
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Carnoferox
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Jinfengopteryx
Feb 18 2017, 12:35 AM
Carnoferox
Feb 17 2017, 11:23 PM
Things I'm tired of seeing in fantasy:

Elves
Dwarves
Orcs
Wizards
Dark lords
Dragons
"Chosen ones"
Prophecies
Magic rings
Fictional languages
Medieval-type settings

Basically anything lifted from Tolkien or other classic fantasy authors. If you want a new and refreshing fantasy setting, place it either in the far past like the Pleistocene with primitive humans, or set it thousands of years in the future where science is advanced enough to be considered magic.
As for your last suggestion, science fiction and fantasy are not synonymous (though they both belong to the genre of speculative fiction and have many counterparts) and the difference between science fiction and fantasy is not that the former is more realistic than the latter (most fantasy creatures are more believable than time travel, for example), but the kind of setting. Fantasy is typically based on traditional mythology, while science fiction plays with how far we can extrapolate the abilities of hypothetical gadgets and a fascination of these things probably motivates writers to choose these genres.

So, the distinction between them is not so much the realism, but the setting and the setting of something we can consider fantasy would have to overlap with the stuff you mentioned. There are ways you can put creativity into it though. Make up some new, fantastic creatures for example. Or google for the most underrated ancient civilizations and see which ones should finally appear in some novel.

Regarding the other suggestion, I don't know where the "paleo-fiction" Finders and you mentioned (I suppose the cavemen have magic) would fall into. Dinosaurs are normally entrenched in the science fiction genre, but dino substitutes for mages? If all the other fantasy tropes are met, it could classify as fantasy and be similar to those Disney films where people are replaced with animals. Or "paleo-fiction" becomes an own speculative fiction genre lol , though it would obviously be too small.
There is such a thing as "science fantasy". Something like Star Wars would fit into this category. There is less a focus on actual science (more advanced science is treated almost like magic eg. the Force), but the setting is still in space (a more traditional sci-fi setting).
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Jinfengopteryx
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Aspiring paleontologist, science enthusiast and armchair speculative fiction/evolution writer
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I'm aware of this, but I doubt if it can be considered to be fantasy* because the only real argument for treating it as fantasy is its extreme softness and I think you can write hard and soft science fiction and fantasy likewise. But yeah, it is probably a borderline case.

*I would of course like to hear Wyvax thoughts on what he considers to be fantasy, as it is his thread. Maybe we can expand it to speculative fiction in general. Especially the science fiction/fantasy deserves discussion.
Edited by Jinfengopteryx, Feb 18 2017, 05:06 AM.
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Ceph
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Piscivore

Are you familiar with Robert E Howard? He is the God father of the gritty sword and sorcery genre, which predates Tolkien by a few years. It merges sci fi, fantasy, horror(typically of the Lovecraftian variety), and alternative history. It often revolves around elements of barbarism vs civilization. It includes themes like moral degeneration, drug abuse, social inequality, rape, and lost or isolated races. There is also a healthy dose of monsters, gods, and of course sorcery. I'd like to see this type of rather than the dnd or Tolkien variety of fantasy that's been done to death.
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Carnoferox
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Ceph
Feb 18 2017, 05:12 AM
Are you familiar with Robert E Howard? He is the God father of the gritty sword and sorcery genre, which predates Tolkien by a few years. It merges sci fi, fantasy, horror(typically of the Lovecraftian variety), and alternative history. It often revolves around elements of barbarism vs civilization. It includes themes like moral degeneration, drug abuse, social inequality, rape, and lost or isolated races. There is also a healthy dose of monsters, gods, and of course sorcery. I'd like to see this type of rather than the dnd or Tolkien variety of fantasy that's been done to death.
He created "Conan the Barbarian", if I'm not mistaken. I'd like to see a more Lovecraftian type fantasy.
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