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Thread: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Pet Peeves (can include cliches)

  1. #76
    practical experience, FTW Wiskel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffysquirrel View Post
    My book has a fake prophecy. Does that count as hateable? XD


    My problem with prophecy is that I'm a psychiatrist. I spend half my working life trying to convince people that nothing is preordained.

    I see kids growing up in awful circumstances, sometimes depressed, who need to believe they control their own destiny.

    I see families who are doing the wrong thing simply because their parents did it too.

    The greatest weapon in my arsenel is the belief that people can choose to change any time they want to. They might need help to do it, but nothing is beyond someone who's motivated.

    My personal philosophy of life is so opposite to the idea that things are preordained that I want my stories to be that way too, so this is the most personal of pet peeves.

    I look on heroes who go questing because of a prophecy in roughly the same way as I'd view one who went questing because the mighty prince of some foreign country wanted to give him a great fortune for help smuggling the prince's personal fortune out of the country . . . after he'd sent a handler's fee of 10 000 gold pieces and his bank account details to the prince in an unmarked cave in the mountains.




    Boy, that's a lot of ranting for one friday afternoon. It's definately been a ranty sort of week for me.

    Craig
    Last edited by Wiskel; 03-08-2013 at 10:54 PM.

  2. #77
    Abuses commas at will. milkweed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saija View Post
    Hurray for prophecies about characters with names you can't pronounce? (Yup, that's me, too. I have a love of Irish names that require me to look up pronunciation.)

    Authors of clichéd fantasy novels about ancient prophecies, unite!!!! (?)

    Here, here!

    The names in my book are real names but if you don't speak Swedish or Norwegian they might be a tripping point for you. I have a couple of Scottish and Irish folks in my book as well, complete with scottish and irish names. The name of my book is also a Swedish word.

    As for the prophecy it's merely hinted at.
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  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saija View Post
    ::is never going to show her query letter in SYW now because it contains a prophecy::

    ::hangs head in shame::
    Readers will forgive most any cliche if you write it well. If you stop and think about it, Harry Dresden is the royal orphan raised on a farm trope. Wheel of Time combines prophecy and royal orphan farmer. If I recall, Robert Jordan's punishment for such a cliched story was that story becoming a world-wide best seller.

  4. #79
    Your source of questionable advice Saija's Avatar
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    True. I was always of the opinion personally that what makes a book is not the plot on a surface level, but how well it's written and how the characters come to life. Not that I can write well or make my characters come to life, but you know, in theory...
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  5. #80
    practical experience, FTW Wiskel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saija View Post
    True. I was always of the opinion personally that what makes a book is not the plot on a surface level, but how well it's written and how the characters come to life. Not that I can write well or make my characters come to life, but you know, in theory...

    Totally agree. And I read your deleted post before it vanished. I'd like your heroine if she doesn't believe in prophecy.

    Many books need a McGuffin. Prophecy is only a problem if it's driving the plot, but that's true of any McGuffin. It should never be a substitute for invention.

  6. #81
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    If there's got to be a prophecy, let it be the sort that actually exists, i.e. hopelessly vague/universally applicable in hindsight/reflecting the "prophet's" private agenda more than external reality/a conman's spiel. It bugs me when people in fantasy books accept prophecies as literal guides to specific events AND THEY'RE ALWAYS RIGHT -- even given a world where magic is real etc., that's a hangman's drop for my disbelief.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbenberi View Post
    If there's got to be a prophecy, let it be the sort that actually exists, i.e. hopelessly vague/universally applicable in hindsight/reflecting the "prophet's" private agenda more than external reality/a conman's spiel. It bugs me when people in fantasy books accept prophecies as literal guides to specific events AND THEY'RE ALWAYS RIGHT -- even given a world where magic is real etc., that's a hangman's drop for my disbelief.
    I once considered a world where prophecies are 1) most powerful when very specific 2) absolutely, completely literal 3) influenced by the prophet's will.

    The rich and powerful would commission detailed prophecies about their success, and keep lawyer-ish professional prophets on retainer to look for loopholes in similar prophecies about their enemies.

  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiskel View Post


    My problem with prophecy is that I'm a psychiatrist. I spend half my working life trying to convince people that nothing is preordained.
    I get ya. My protag doesn't care that the prophecy is fake--it's useful. So it's not really about destiny. More about propaganda .

    Quote Originally Posted by benbenberi View Post
    If there's got to be a prophecy, let it be the sort that actually exists, i.e. hopelessly vague/universally applicable in hindsight/reflecting the "prophet's" private agenda more than external reality/a conman's spiel.
    For sure. The protag first hears about it from someone who comments, "No name, you see, so anyone will do."

  9. #84
    Your source of questionable advice Saija's Avatar
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    My prophecy predicts that things will go one of two ways, depending on the choices people make. It predicts a chance for saving the world, but only if people make the right choices. One of my protagonists want it to end one way, and the other wants the other thing to happen. And it creates a very difficult choice and major sacrifice for both. I have no idea if that counts as a typical cliche prophecy plot or not. x)
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  10. #85
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saija View Post
    I have no idea if that counts as a typical cliche prophecy plot or not. x)
    If the plot is predicated on the prophecy being a specific, reliable and actionable guide to the future, yeah, that's the cliché.

  11. #86
    Your source of questionable advice Saija's Avatar
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    Bleh. I don't know. I guess you guys can tell me if it's too cliche when I get the chance to post my (awful) query letter in SYW. x) I was actually already wondering if an agent would see the word "prophecy" and already be turned off to the idea before finishing the query. I guess I'll find out someday, though.
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  12. #87
    practical experience, FTW Dreity's Avatar
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    "Bloody elves" is turning out to be something of a running bit in my WIP. A couple of the humans - well, mostly just one obnoxious one - are rather frustrated that my MCs fit certain elven stereotypes to a tee, but are remarkably human in other ways. FMC lets it roll off her back mostly, but MMC repeatedly gets baited into arguments about "proper" elf behavior.

  13. #88
    Blissfully Clueless Mutive's Avatar
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    Lots of good ones here...let me see if I can name a few:

    1. Random "cool" science buzz words thrown in that don't mean what the author seems to think they do. ("Nano" and "quantum" seem to be favorites.)

    2. Science so inaccurate that someone who'd taken high school physics could be like, "Ummm...that's not how it works."

    3. This *amazing* technology that appears...but then only changes one aspect of the world. (i.e. we have the power to send ordinary people on near light speed travel towards worm holes...but the economy otherwise works exactly like it does now, because apparently the terrestrial economy hasn't benefited from whatever technology is giving us obscene amounts of cheap poewr. This could also go for magic - where, yeah...I'm guessing that if wizards are plentiful and can trigger nuclear sized blasts at will, it's going to have some major implications in things like oh - mining, and heating, and other critical economic stuff.)

    4. The old "call a rabbit a smert" thing.

    5. Endless genealogies or fantasy histories. I do not want to feel like I'm reading a dry, boring text book when I am reading *for pleasure*.

  14. #89
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbenberi View Post
    If the plot is predicated on the prophecy being a specific, reliable and actionable guide to the future, yeah, that's the cliché.
    I guess I'm safe with my prophecy then. It is very vague, and there are many different paths it can take.

  15. #90
    Burninator! CrastersBabies's Avatar
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    Prophecies still happen today. Nostradamus. People are always trying to fit that square peg into a round hole. It will never stop.

    The world was supposed to end in 1000.
    Y2k in 2000.
    2012 Mayan calendar.

    Some of it not necessarily prophecy, but it's pretty much embraced as such by some believers.

    I, for one, don't mind it. Not at all. I'd rather have it more subtle than heavy-handed, but I think you can have elements and be okay.

    I like playing with the prophecy trope. For example, let's say a guy lives in the present then goes back in time and creates a "prophecy" of what will happen (not because he's divining it, but because he knows what will happen in the future).

    Or, the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy. That always gets me interested.
    Last edited by CrastersBabies; 03-09-2013 at 10:35 AM.
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  16. #91
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    I think any trope in fantasy can work if it's premised correctly and is part of a story with characters I care about.

    I will preface that any and all pet peeves I toss out there are in response to their often being handled in a formulaic or lazy way. I get a bit tired of the baby boy is born and old seer/wisewoman/wizard/priest makes some prediction that leads to him being taken from his mother's protesting arms and raised in secrecy. I usually wonder why, just once, the chosen one can't be female or be allowed to grow up with his or her parents, for instance. I also sometimes wish for said chosen one to turn said prophecy on its ear.

    I love the idea some threw out there about having a prophecy as propaganda in his/her story.

    But I love King Arthur stories, I enjoyed Harry Potter, and I've read plenty of other prophecy stories I enjoyed as well.


    One pet peeve I have is the failure of some writers (even some modern ones) to address that maybe, possibly, wizards/sorcerers/magi could be (gasp) female, because, hey, magic may not rely on upper body strength and testosterone or be carried on the Y chromosome along with the hairy ear allele. I can see setting up a patriarchal society that denies girls access to training, but at least address the issue (and possibly show the consequences of women being barred from developing their talents).

    First thing I think when I see a scene where all the wizards are sitting around, and they all so-happen to be male, is "where are the female wizards? Home using their powers to cook dinner, weed the garden and darn socks)?
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 03-09-2013 at 08:46 AM.
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  17. #92
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    First thing I think when I see a scene where all the wizards are sitting around, and they all so-happen to be male, is "where are the female wizards? Home using their powers to cook dinner, weed the garden and darn socks)?
    For all the criticisms against Robert Jordan, at least he subverted that trope.

  18. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    One pet peeve I have is the failure of some writers (even some modern ones) to address that maybe, possibly, wizards/sorcerers/magi could be (gasp) female, because, hey, magic may not rely on upper body strength and testosterone or be carried on the Y chromosome along with the hairy ear allele.
    Well you can't very well be a wizard if you don't have a... *cough* magic wand.

  19. #94
    Neophyte Writer Ergodic Mage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiskel View Post
    Surely some of them are alcoholic, dumb as a brick and leaving anti-Elrond graffiti around Rivendell.
    "Don't blame me. I voted for Glorfindel!"
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  20. #95
    Burninator! CrastersBabies's Avatar
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    Wizards, yeah. I'm just glad the "pointy hat with stars" and the "old man with the long, white beard" has pretty much run its course. I hope.
    Last edited by CrastersBabies; 03-09-2013 at 07:15 PM.
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  21. #96
    Quote Originally Posted by CrastersBabies View Post
    Wizards, yeah. I'm just glad the "point hat with stars" and the "old man with the long, white beard" has pretty much run its course. I hope.
    I have a character who wears this outfit when he's traveling and wants to look like a charlatan.

  22. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    I will preface that any and all pet peeves I toss out there are in response to their often being handled in a formulaic or lazy way. I get a bit tired of the baby boy is born and old seer/wisewoman/wizard/priest makes some prediction that leads to him being taken from his mother's protesting arms and raised in secrecy. I usually wonder why, just once, the chosen one can't be female or be allowed to grow up with his or her parents, for instance. I also sometimes wish for said chosen one to turn said prophecy on its ear.
    I remember this with the film Willow. I was pretty excited when the prophecy said this GIRL was going to be the one to save the world. Halfway through the film I was still waiting for the baby to grow up and get on with it. Then I realised the baby never was going to grow up, and it was going to be a male saving the world after all.

    Gah.

    Then again, Equal Rites? Love it.

  23. #98
    Moving with my soul, step by step Lhipenwhe's Avatar
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    Less of a sci-fi/fantasy thing, but something I've seen crop up in the stuff I've read (I am shamefully under-read, granted). Bickering couples. You know they're going to get together, their bickering/verbal fencing is often droll, and I often wonder why the hell they can't act civilly.

    Another is the super-talented teenage hero. Give me an adult protagonist who worked his/her entire life to be an ass-kicker over some brat who was just born "awesome" and supersedes the hardworking adults.
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  24. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by the wrong idea View Post
    Well you can't very well be a wizard if you don't have a... *cough* magic wand.
    Or a staff with a knob on the end.

    But there's no excuse for the lack of witches.

  25. #100
    New writer since 07/2012. Cornelius Gault's Avatar
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    1. I hate when the scientist guy is talking to his friends and says, "Wait! I know the answer!" and leaves without telling any of his friends what is going on (most of the "asteroid collides with earth' movies).

    2. I hated Jason Alexander in the asteroid-collides-with-earth movie that was playing George Costanza - I had no faith in him, but the gov guys there believed everything he said.

    3. I hate how people think that you can click a few keys on the keyboard and solve some major problem. "Wait, let me calculate the asteroid's new path ... click click click ... there, it's coming through now".
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