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View Full Version : What are you guys tired of seeing in epic and high fantasy?



MynaOphelia
06-20-2014, 05:02 PM
I mostly write scifi, but I've been reading some high fantasy lately and I've already started getting sick of some really tired settings, themes, characters, etc.

So I'm curious--what are you guys tired of seeing in epic and high fantasy?

If there's already a thread like this or if this belongs somewhere else please let me know : o

Anninyn
06-20-2014, 05:05 PM
My particular issues are well known but basically boil down to 'lack of imagination'. Just rehashing the same old settings, characters, tropes and gender/sexual politics as I've seen hundreds of times before. I prefer writers who do something a little more interesting and innovative, like N. K. Jemisin.

I just feel that a lot of people think that Tolkien-inspired is the only way to write fantasy, which it's not.

Marian Perera
06-20-2014, 05:28 PM
As Anninyn said, a lack of imagination. I'm really tired of the "you killed my father" plot which sets the orphaned protagonist up against the Dark Lord, for instance.

Rape or pedophilia being used to show how eeeevil the antagonist is. Also, if every other woman in the novel/series gets raped but the hero's love interest escapes, I'll never read anything from that author again.

The hero is horribly hurt so we can be shocked and sympathetic, but recovers overnight so he can fight the antagonist. Or shag his woman, e.g. the "walnuts" subplot in the Runelords books.

Any wild-animal-turned-sidekick which behaves exactly like a loyal, perfectly trained dog which doesn't need to be fed, walked, brushed or cleaned up after.

Magic is linked to virginity or diminishes during menstruation.

Characters give lip service to the idea that women can be in charge, but most women in positions of authority are sexually sadistic psychopaths. Good women are those who love children and appreciate a strong man at their side.

ETA : The armies of evil are masses of faceless orcs or trolls or whatever, which are mown down like wheat during the final battle. Even worse if the armies are masses of dark-skinned men.

The heroine starts out more or less ordinary. Maybe there's one thing she does really well. Through the course of the story, though, she picks up skill after skill, develops talents like no one has ever seen before, and is godlike at the end. I always think these characters are inspired by RPGs.

Wilde_at_heart
06-20-2014, 05:34 PM
Usual disclaimer that with the right story and good enough writing, any of these can still work, but you need to go above and beyond the usual tropes to do so:

Any story centered around an ongoing battle between x Kingdom and y Kingdom

Anything set in some version of Europe or especially England during the middle ages

The royal-born maiden forced to marry someone she doesn't want to and instead runs off to show how feisty and independent she is (though she isn't, really)

The Chosen One, born into obscurity, who will lead some kingdom or rebel group to greatness

Someone who thought they were normal but as they hit puberty/adulthood they discover they are special and magicky and they have to learn all their special new powers while fighting off the forces of evil.

Stories that center on someone seeking revenge for the destruction of their village by some evil Empire, or the death of their parents. Especially the latter, which was wonderfully ridiculed some thirty years ago ... My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die. My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.

Once!
06-20-2014, 06:00 PM
Prophecies, curses, destinies.

Anybody with "the" and "one" in their job title, whether or not this is separated by another word, such as "chosen".

Maxx
06-20-2014, 06:04 PM
My particular issues are well known but basically boil down to 'lack of imagination'. Just rehashing the same old settings, characters, tropes and gender/sexual politics as I've seen hundreds of times before. I prefer writers who do something a little more interesting and innovative, like N. K. Jemisin.

I just feel that a lot of people think that Tolkien-inspired is the only way to write fantasy, which it's not.

I agree. I haven't read much lately (oddly I have been re-reading parts of Tolkien for the 8th or 9th time), but I can recall being extremely tired of huge wars that made no sense at any level. Tolkien at least had been in WWI and could do odd and slightly interesting things like model the campaigns on odd events of that war (Helm's Deep -IIRC - the appearance of Gandalf and co has echoes of the supposed annihilation and unexpected return of most of the 5th army in early 1918 during the last big German offensives). Odd how much I've used "odd" here.

SamCoulson
06-20-2014, 06:22 PM
Villains who are just villains with no rational explanation driving their actions besides "He's a dark lord" or "they are an Evil Empire". A good tale will, at least in the end, show that there is a good reason for their perceived evil. If you give me an evil corporatist--give me one who is just trying to please is daddy--or that his lover is held hostage--or maybe his mother was killed by aliens--something.. but everyone needs a decent origin story.

Gilroy Cullen
06-20-2014, 06:22 PM
The cast of fifty, but of whom only two to four are really worth following, and having it span 6+ books to tell a story that could be told in two.

jeffo
06-20-2014, 06:23 PM
Nothing. Nothing at all.

Personally, I like epic high fantasy just because I DO know what I'm going to get. I never tire of the story, even if it is the same one with different people and different settings (as long as the protaganist isn't a 10-year old boy that weighs 80 pounds and then defeats the dark lord by strength of arms alone).

Reziac
06-20-2014, 07:37 PM
Prophecies, curses, destinies.

Anybody with "the" and "one" in their job title, whether or not this is separated by another word, such as "chosen".

Argh, these! Maybe I've just seen 'em too often, but they've become an automatic sort of deux ex machina in my mind.

I remember reading something where The Prophesied Chosen One, a person of no evident ability or merit, was reluctant to take on the role, and I was like, so pick another village idiot, how different could they be??

rwm4768
06-20-2014, 08:09 PM
Characters who are supposed to be complex, but instead they're just terrible people.

Stories completely devoid of point of view characters you actually want to root for. Similarly, worlds where everyone is a complete jerk.

Endless political scheming where nothing interesting happens.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-20-2014, 09:00 PM
Magical Medieval Europe, but with the rough edges scrubbed off.

The Chosen One narrative with no significant differences from the last 50 such books

The arranged marriage where they dodge the arranged marriage or the other person happens to be their soulmate

Pet Companions who are just like people and never cause trouble

Villains with no character beyond the stereotype

Lack of creativity

Religions that are just bad reconstructions of stereotypical paganism

Race or some other obvious descriptor as the line between good and evil

Good and evil in the same old stereotypes



Honestly, I can put up with most things as long as they do well somewhere else.

Even a very stereotypical story if the characters are well done.

DanielaTorre
06-20-2014, 09:21 PM
Not so much what I'm tired of seeing, but rather, what I'd like to see is more magical realism than fantasy. You know, pepper the magic in. But then again, would it be considered "epic fantasy" if it involved magical realism instead?

Also, I agree with the whole dark lord, one evil, and the chosen one that will stop it trope being played out. Not just in epic fantasy, but in every market/genre. I would love to see a personal story where I can connect with the character's personal struggles and their own evils. Not just a universal evil. We all deal with our own versions of "the global threat" because we all live in our own world. I'm dying to read something like that.

AVS
06-20-2014, 09:55 PM
"I am Rugal,ath,kthar,khtar, wizard warlock and general know it all... but I shall tell you, dear protagonist, none of the key information that would help you. You will need to work out how to use your own power, though I could tell you and save time and probably countless lives. There is a good chance I will mysteriously disappear, just when you need me most and/or just as I am about to reveal the central mystery..."
I am looking at you Donaldson, Erikson, Goodkind, Tolkien and countless others...

SamCoulson
06-20-2014, 10:11 PM
"I am Rugal,ath,kthar,khtar, wizard warlock and general know it all... but I shall tell you, dear protagonist, none of the key information that would help you. You will need to work out how to use your own power, though I could tell you and save time and probably countless lives. There is a good chance I will mysteriously disappear, just when you need me most and/or just as I am about to reveal the central mystery..."
I am looking at you Donaldson, Erikson, Goodkind, Tolkien and countless others...

Another 100% agree. In my book I actually had the opposite--my "hero" accidentally tells the bad-guy the critical piece of information (rather than the other way around). I'm not sure how well it 'worked' but I definitely enjoyed it.

It would be a fun exercise to go through and try to take every one of these conventions and turn them completely on their head in your writing.

hermit_writer
06-20-2014, 10:21 PM
"I am Rugal,ath,kthar,khtar, wizard warlock and general know it all... but I shall tell you, dear protagonist, none of the key information that would help you. You will need to work out how to use your own power, though I could tell you and save time and probably countless lives. There is a good chance I will mysteriously disappear, just when you need me most and/or just as I am about to reveal the central mystery..."
I am looking at you Donaldson, Erikson, Goodkind, Tolkien and countless others...

Bahaha this!

Also, I'm getting tired of this sorta gritty spell that seems to be happening now. I'm so tired of excess violence and sex. I just want to be filled with wonder again.

Lillith1991
06-20-2014, 10:26 PM
Another 100% agree. In my book I actually had the opposite--my "hero" accidentally tells the bad-guy the critical piece of information (rather than the other way around). I'm not sure how well it 'worked' but I definitely enjoyed it.

It would be a fun exercise to go through and try to take every one of these conventions and turn them completely on their head in your writing.

To be fair, Gandalf is one of this tropes originating characters. It's how many people copy Gandalf like wizard mentors that's the issue. At no point in my epic fantasy series will a Gandalf-a-like appear I'm happy to say. They aren't needed and I won't be putting them in. I ain't doing it, I refuse!

JustSarah
06-20-2014, 10:34 PM
I haven't read enough of it to say. In any genre, please no more Princess rescue arcs. Either make it a Prince rescue arc, or better yet non at all. Or even a tragic rescue arc, just anything to break the traditional mold.

I'll taking a fairy tale adaptation song over a rescue arc.

Sage
06-20-2014, 10:47 PM
Magic is linked to virginity or diminishes during menstruation.
Oh, my. The former does not surprise me--I've seen it often--but the latter is kinda hilarious. I sort of want to take it and reverse it now.

Reziac
06-20-2014, 10:49 PM
Oh, my. The former does not surprise me--I've seen it often--but the latter is kinda hilarious. I sort of want to take it and reverse it now.

Imagine your wicked witch... with cramps. :eek:

amillimiles
06-20-2014, 10:51 PM
"I am Rugal,ath,kthar,khtar, wizard warlock and general know it all... but I shall tell you, dear protagonist, none of the key information that would help you. You will need to work out how to use your own power, though I could tell you and save time and probably countless lives. There is a good chance I will mysteriously disappear, just when you need me most and/or just as I am about to reveal the central mystery..."
I am looking at you Donaldson, Erikson, Goodkind, Tolkien and countless others...

HAHAHA.

For me, the tropes are acceptable if there's some sort of twist on them, or something special about the plot. Also, the main characters can make or break a book for me. I'd much rather have a more-or-less typical plot with great MCs than really average MCs.

Sage
06-20-2014, 10:51 PM
Imagine your wicked witch... with cramps. :eek:

That solves the evil-for-the-sake-of-evil problem too. I mean, the hero was bound to piss her off during her most powerful time of month.

Atalanta
06-20-2014, 11:02 PM
Plots that revolve around a bunch of straight white people doing... anything. I can't stomach it anymore. My eyeballs are going to roll right out of my head one day.

Marian Perera
06-20-2014, 11:09 PM
Oh, my. The former does not surprise me--I've seen it often--but the latter is kinda hilarious. I sort of want to take it and reverse it now.

The latter crops up regularly in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels novels. The moment a woman gets her period, she needs to sit down and allow her big strong male love interest to take care of her. And that has nothing to do with sexism, because the magic (or lack thereof) requires it!

Dreity
06-20-2014, 11:11 PM
Worlds that are filled with sexist, racist bigots because that's how fantasy works, and not because the author wanted to thoughtfully examine such issues. IE, spec fic minus the spec.

Sudoroot
06-20-2014, 11:35 PM
The latter crops up regularly in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels novels. The moment a woman gets her period, she needs to sit down and allow her big strong male love interest to take care of her. And that has nothing to do with sexism, because the magic (or lack thereof) requires it!

I just.. I mean... what.

I don't read much fantasy but that is so bizarre. I don't see how that is a good idea in any way whatsoever.

StormChord
06-20-2014, 11:36 PM
Serpent Queens. Why are there so many goddamn serpent queens all over the place?

slhuang
06-20-2014, 11:57 PM
Faux-medieval Europe.

All/mostly white men driving the plot.

Women as whores.

Rape used as a shorthand for grittiness.


Not book-meets-wall, but still annoying:

Magic swords (or magic any MacGuffiny artifacts).

Royal lineage making someone a more special human, instead of just a dude/dudette, or, alternatively, the "true" king being automagically the better leader.

Cringeworthy horse depictions.

Cringeworthy sword fighting / training depictions.

Elderly mentors who die.

Putputt
06-21-2014, 12:14 AM
-Prophecies.

-...which always lead to... The Chosen One.

-A very clear divide between Good and Evil, where the "good" side is filled with attractive fair-skinned people and the "evil" side is filled with brutish dark-skinned orcs or similar beings.

-Women who are sexually voracious being cast as the evil seductress, whereas "good" women are ones who have only been with one man (their husband) before sacrificing themselves for their children, either in childbirth or when the child is older.

-MCs who are amazingly adept at everything, including magic, logic, martial arts, music, sex, and breathing (*cough* Kvothe *cough*).

Mr Flibble
06-21-2014, 12:38 AM
Have ti say, feeling good about Trilogy In Progress.

No Princess Rescue (book one, FMC saves MMC, her brother. Book two she tries to save MMC2 and fails. Book 3 she decides to save herself)

No chosen ones

No prophecy

A bit of revenge, non family related

No clearly good or evil characters. Hmm...mostly anyway






-Women who are sexually voracious being cast as the evil seductress, whereas "good" women are ones who have only been with one man (their husband)

My "evil seductress" has in fact only been with her (now ex) husband. She promises a lot though. She just manages not to actually keep the promise. Sometimes via the use of a knife if they get too pushy about it. No one mentions any problem with the sexually active FMC -- it;s expected that everyone has a healthy sex life (while I don't explicitly mention it, it's implied that there is good reliable contraception. FMC and MMC1 have both taken an oath that nothing, not spouse nor children, will come between them and fulfilling their obligations, though affairs are common and fine for both sexes)

ETA a mentor does die, but only because one of the charactes dobs him in for being an evil git...

Roxxsmom
06-21-2014, 01:11 AM
To some extent, I believe anything can work if the author does it well enough or has a clear reason for doing it the way they did. But still, some things I notice:

--Sausagefests--AKA stories where every significant and interesting character is male, or there is, at most, one token woman character who essentially loathes her own gender.
--Elves, dwarves and other traditional fantasy races unless there's a good reason for them to be there, and they've got a fresh spin.
--When stories feel too much like video games to the point where I think, "He's leveling up," or "She just got a quest from a guy with a yellow exclamation mark over his head."
--prophecies that are only there because the author seems to think they're expected in fantasy. It's very hard to read a book where the prologue is someone prophesying, or a chosen one is being born (and especially if mom bites it, or the babe is torn from her protesting arms), or...
--Completely black and white morality, including gods and religions that are completely good or completely evil. C'mon, how many people see themselves and their deities as evil, and how many gods regarded as completely benevolent really are?
--Male gaze when the pov character is female.
--Unrealistic depictions of animals in the story that are obviously due to the writer's misconceptions and not the pov character's.
--Rape as the go-to trauma for women when men get to have a variety of reasons for their hang ups and personal demons.

Marian Perera
06-21-2014, 01:30 AM
--Elves, dwarves and other traditional fantasy races unless there's a good reason for them to be there, and they've got a fresh spin.

How could I forget? This, a hundred times this.


[When stories feel too much like video games to the point where I think, "He's leveling up,"

I once read a novel where, each time the heroine or her friends fought demons, the narrative would list the number of demons and say what level those demons were.

Oh, one more thing. A strong woman will always show her strength by kicking ass (at which she is superlative) or telling some bigot where to shove it.

Mr Flibble
06-21-2014, 01:32 AM
HA strong woman will always show her strength by kicking ass (at which she is superlative) or telling some bigot where to shove it.

Actually I kind of like that one....:) They tend to get to do/say what I wish I could IRL. nut don't because Customer Service.

Marian Perera
06-21-2014, 01:37 AM
Actually I kind of like that one....:)

It's not a story-sinker per se, but I feel like it's been done to the point where I don't want to see it unless there are other women who are strong in different ways. They don't all have to be the baddest fighters for me to find them tough.

Plus, I really don't want to read some man delivering a "you're just a girl/woman" line so the Action Girl can smack him down either verbally or physically. I think that was one reason why I liked Brienne in ASoIaF. She must have heard that line a hundred times, and she usually ignored the sexist idiots who delivered it. That was actually kind of refreshing to read.

Mr Flibble
06-21-2014, 01:48 AM
I know what you mean (esp re Brienne, though I got the feeling she tried it once or twice and paid the price?)


But tbh most of the women I know are like that*, so it kinda makes sense to see a lot of them in fiction



* minus the martial arts skills mostly but they get by as most of the guys don't know any either! They don't take shit from no one.


Plus, I really don't want to read some man delivering a "you're just a girl/woman" line so the Action Girl can smack him down either verbally or physically Why not? Men do that all the time IRL. I'd love to be able to do that back (but again, Customer Service) And there;s no "I hate it when men get angry" trope thing. So why can't women? Men can get pissed off at people being nasty but women can't? That seems unfair/ OK anything can be overdone, but...

ETA I totally agree there should be variety. But tbh none of my characters are "nice". Fucked up? Yes. Nice? Weeelll...I donlt see any reason teh women shouldn't be as fucked up as the guys.

Marian Perera
06-21-2014, 02:05 AM
I know what you mean (esp re Brienne, though I got the feeling she tried it once or twice and paid the price?)

But tbh most of the women I know are like that*, so it kinda makes sense to see a lot of them in fiction

* minus the martial arts skills mostly but they get by as most of the guys don't know any either! They don't take shit from no one.

Well, as an example of what I mean: Randyll Tarly in the fourth book treats Brienne in a very dismissive, derogatory manner. Brienne ignores it and moves on. I found that to be far more sensible of her than if she had, for instance, challenged him to single combat or something. Same thing for Hyle Hunt (where she probably would have gotten away with challenging him, since he was just a hedge knight). When she does choose to fight, she's badass, but she doesn't fight just over verbal slights.

It's great if women don't take shit from anyone. But women (and men, but for the purpose of this discussion I'll just say women) may sometimes be in a position where discretion is the better part of valor. If this is the case, I'm fine with the woman letting the bigot blow hot air, and I might even prefer this to the woman delivering a smackdown of some sort.

If there's a lot of this in fiction, maybe that's why I was tired of it. Though if other readers love it, that's great for them. We all have different preferences in what we read, and I'm happy there's so much varied material out there to suit everyone's taste.


Why not? Men do that all the time IRL. I'd love to be able to do that back (but again, Customer Service) And there;s no "I hate it when men get angry" trope thing. So why can't women? Men can get pissed off at people being nasty but women can't? That seems unfair/ OK anything can be overdone, but...I am not saying that women can't get angry but men can.

I am saying that I get a little tired of a strong women showing she's strong by putting Generic Bigot in his place. I also get tired of this being the only line Generic Bigot has in his repertoire. Maybe I'm just into more creative or original insults.

Again, this is just me. Other readers may feel differently.


ETA I totally agree there should be variety. But tbh none of my characters are "nice". Fucked up? Yes. Nice? Weeelll...I don't think any of my female characters are nice as in doormats. But at the same time, I get a little tired of strength being depicted mainly as the ability to beat someone down. That goes for men and women.

And this is just my personal opinion, regarding my preferences in what I read.

Mr Flibble
06-21-2014, 02:20 AM
Well, as an example of what I mean: Randyll Tarly in the fourth book treats Brienne in a very dismissive, derogatory manner. Brienne ignores it and moves on. I found that to be far more sensible of her than if she had, for instance, challenged him to single combat or something. Same thing for Hyle Hunt (where she probably would have gotten away with challenging him, since he was just a hedge knight). When she does choose to fight, she's badass, but she doesn't fight just over verbal slights.

that just whooshed over my head (not read the books!) :)


It's great if women don't take shit from anyone. But women (and men, but for the purpose of this discussion I'll just say women) may sometimes be in a position where discretion is the better part of valor. If this is the case, I'm fine with the woman letting the bigot blow hot air, and I might even prefer this to the woman delivering a smackdown of some sort.

Oh yeah, even the most wassname of characters should know when to keep it zipped. But one who doesn't? Makes a great character flaw. (Like they have Foot In Mouth Disease.)



If there's a lot of this in fiction, maybe that's why I was tired of it.

I guess I haven't seen it enough to be tired of it? In fact I've seen very little. The books in your local bookshop and mine are probably very different. One reason why many books will do well one side of the Atlantic and not the other.



I am not saying that women can't get angry but men can.

I am saying that I get a little tired of a strong women showing she's strong by putting Generic Bigot in his place.

I didn't think you were really, But as I can't even recall the last time I saw that....*thinks hard* Um, Granny Weatherwax? But she;s strong everywhere else, and she snipes everyone, not just bigots soo....??? Tbh I'm really struggling to see here why it'd be something to be tired of because I hardly ever see it!



I don't think my female characters are nice as in doormats. But at the same time, I get a little tired of strength being depicted mainly as the ability to beat someone down. That goes for men and women.

As you say, variety is important.


And this is just my personal opinion, regarding my preferences in what I read.

Same here. But we are obviously reading very different books...

noranne
06-21-2014, 02:29 AM
I didn't think you were really, But as I can't even recall the last time I saw that....*thinks hard* Um, Granny Weatherwax? But she;s strong everywhere else, and she snipes everyone, not just bigots soo....??? Tbh I'm really struggling to see here why it'd be something to be tired of because I hardly ever see it!

I see it a lot between MCs. Like Male1 meets Female1 and thinks she can't be good at X because she's a girl, and then she thrashes him. I think it's an overplayed way to introduce someone and it does grate on me.

Marian Perera
06-21-2014, 02:33 AM
Oh yeah, even the most wassname of characters should know when to keep it zipped. But one who doesn't? Makes a great character flaw. (Like they have Foot In Mouth Disease.)

Sure, but I've read some authors for whom this is not a character flaw.

In other words, whenever a character (usually the author's favorite, IMO) fires off a snappy retort or delivers a smackdown to a bigot, this is feisty or tough or badass of them. I don't approve of bigotry, but I also think there are some circumstances where such a smackdown would not be the best course of action. Whether that character is male or female.


I didn't think you were really, But as I can't even recall the last time I saw that....*thinks hard* Um, Granny Weatherwax? But she;s strong everywhere else, and she snipes everyone, not just bigots soo....???

Well, the example that came to mind was Matthew Woodring Stover's first novel Iron Dawn. I still enjoy reading it, because if a fast-paced, action-packed story works for me in general, I can ignore a lot of cliches, but the heroine can come off as a terrible Sue at times. In one of her first scenes, she sees a man staring at her, so she picks a (verbal) fight. The man reveals himself as the Generic Bigot (validating her decision to pick the fight), she escalates it to the drawing-weapons stage, he backs down and slinks away.


Same here. But we are obviously reading very different books...

Sure, but that just means we'll have different opinions on what we think is cliched, and maybe I'll love what you're tired of. Doesn't mean you're wrong to be tired of it. :)

Liosse de Velishaf
06-21-2014, 02:44 AM
That solves the evil-for-the-sake-of-evil problem too. I mean, the hero was bound to piss her off during her most powerful time of month.

I would love to see that, just as a short story maybe.

OJCade
06-21-2014, 02:44 AM
Prophecies, curses, destinies.

Anybody with "the" and "one" in their job title, whether or not this is separated by another word, such as "chosen".

This. This times a thousand. No more prophecies or chosen ones. And the only time I ever, ever want to see a magic baby again is if someone feeds it to a crocodile and it dies and stays dead. The baby, that is - I'm fully prepared to see the croc rewarded for services rendered.

Reveen
06-21-2014, 03:27 AM
The thing with fighting over sexists giving you shit... it depends.

Is the character from a martial culture or subculture that genuinely thinks that dueling to the death over insults is a great idea? And that not doing so would result in a loss of face and accusations of cowardice that proves the bigot right in other people's eyes?

I think that'd be great. Because it would not only show that the character has a sense of pragmatism and real pride instead of peevishness, it would also show that the culture has aspects we find unsavory that don't involve how they treat women and minorities.

I mean, I feel like most fantasy settings are either "girls have cooties" or just twentieth century values with swords. Why can't we have cultures where gender equality and honor duels to the death are the norms?

Introversion
06-21-2014, 03:31 AM
Serpent Queens. Why are there so many goddamn serpent queens all over the place?

For the Mongoose Kings to fight?

I don't think I've even encountered this meme yet. I clearly need to get out more. :tongue

Wilde_at_heart
06-21-2014, 03:47 AM
It's not a story-sinker per se, but I feel like it's been done to the point where I don't want to see it unless there are other women who are strong in different ways. They don't all have to be the baddest fighters for me to find them tough.


Ah, yes, the 'kickass heroine' *rolls eyes*

I've learned not to bother (so far at least) with any book where the cover art is some woman in tight jeans or black leather, often with a bare midriff, and brandishing some weapon. I just came across these two articles the other day:

http://thedissolve.com/features/exposition/618-were-losing-all-our-strong-female-characters-to-tr/
http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters


I hate Strong Female Characters

Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong.

Roxxsmom
06-21-2014, 03:48 AM
It's not a story-sinker per se, but I feel like it's been done to the point where I don't want to see it unless there are other women who are strong in different ways. They don't all have to be the baddest fighters for me to find them tough.

This goes for male characters too, as far as I'm concerned. I was reading a very good blog on medicine in fantasy, and the author commented that readers like their heroes strong, so a wizard who gets migraines when he casts his spells wouldn't likely go over well. My thought was, "What a good idea!" But then, I'm writing a story where my male main character has magic that makes him rather ill, so...

Give me a mix of characters.


Plus, I really don't want to read some man delivering a "you're just a girl/woman" line so the Action Girl can smack him down either verbally or physically. I think that was one reason why I liked Brienne in ASoIaF. She must have heard that line a hundred times, and she usually ignored the sexist idiots who delivered it. That was actually kind of refreshing to read.

I especially find it annoying when the guy doing this is *really* on her side, but he's pulling this line to toughen her up, test her resolve, or to "teach" her what she's going to have to deal with in the "real world" if she continues down her chosen path.

Yeah, because those teachers who told girls we couldn't or shouldn't do certain things back in my school days always had this in mind and they never discouraged anyone for real.



In other words, whenever a character (usually the author's favorite, IMO) fires off a snappy retort or delivers a smackdown to a bigot, this is feisty or tough or badass of them. I don't approve of bigotry, but I also think there are some circumstances where such a smackdown would not be the best course of action. Whether that character is male or female.

This is an interesting conversation, because it's something I've thought about without really realizing I was thinking about it.

I have a character who is gay in my novel, and his boss (to whom he owes a lot) takes snide potshots at his orientation from time to time. I have him gritting his teeth and thinking of acerbic rejoinders that he dare not fire off, though there's another scene where he launches a counter potshot at another jerk (and later reflects that this might not have been the best course of action either). Another of my characters has a bit more of a temper, though he's the kind of person who sometimes lets resentment and anger build up until he can't hold it in anymore, and the results don't tend to be good, since he rarely lets it out at the most "opportune" moment. The third of my three mains is more sanguine, but when she finally speaks her mind (fully expecting irrevocable consequences), the target of her ire listens.

I hope each is presented in a way that makes sense and doesn't come off as too cliched.

I think so much of what I do and don't like in a story is in the execution. Is there a reason for this thing to be the way it is in this story? Does it serve the story well? Is it done in a way that doesn't feel canned? If so, I'll possibly be okay with it.

Marian Perera
06-21-2014, 03:56 AM
This goes for male characters too, as far as I'm concerned.

Oh, same here. The most recent manuscript I sold is a fantasy romance where the hero is a health inspector. Although there are battles and explosions (I love battles and explosions) he never once physically fights a single person. But he outthinks and outmaneuvers nearly everyone else.

And the wizard who gets migraines wouldn't go over well?

One word: Raistlin.

Marian Perera
06-21-2014, 04:23 AM
Ah, yes, the 'kickass heroine' *rolls eyes*

Thanks for the links! I enjoyed reading those.

And I've said this before, but one reason I like Gone with the Wind so much is because it presents two women who are strong in different ways. Melanie doesn't speak up refusing to take shit whenever someone makes a sexist comment. But from her first line of dialogue, it's clear that even though she's quiet and gentle, she stands up for what she believes in. And when she believes in a person, she'll defy anyone from her husband to the formidable town matrons to the town itself for that person.

I like heroines who are fighters. Heck, I chose my username for a reason. I also like heroines who pick their battles and who may never raise their voices, let alone their hands, but who stand their ground and achieve their goals anyway.

snafu1056
06-21-2014, 04:25 AM
It's not a story-sinker per se, but I feel like it's been done to the point where I don't want to see it unless there are other women who are strong in different ways. They don't all have to be the baddest fighters for me to find them tough.

Plus, I really don't want to read some man delivering a "you're just a girl/woman" line so the Action Girl can smack him down either verbally or physically. I think that was one reason why I liked Brienne in ASoIaF. She must have heard that line a hundred times, and she usually ignored the sexist idiots who delivered it. That was actually kind of refreshing to read.

Its kind of an oxymoron since getting all worked up over every little slight, doubt, or insult that comes your way is kind of the opposite of "strong" behavior. In real life thats more a sign of severe insecurity, not strength. Genuinely strong people usually have better self control than that.

VeryFairy
06-21-2014, 04:32 AM
Cringeworthy horse depictions.


What do you mean by that?

The only thing that really annoys me is when all elves are Tolkien elves. Where are all the shoe makers??

rwm4768
06-21-2014, 04:35 AM
I'd be willing to bet that a sufficiently skilled author could make any of these tired tropes into a fresh story. It's not the tropes themselves that bother people. It's the way they're handled.

I don't believe I've ever decided not to read a book just because it contains a certain trope I don't like. I look to see how the author handles that trope.

I'll agree that a badly written prophecy or chosen one can sink a book, but the mere presence of those things doesn't make a bad book.

Marian Perera
06-21-2014, 04:42 AM
Its kind of an oxymoron since getting all worked up over every little slight, doubt, or insult that comes your way is kind of the opposite of "strong" behavior. In real life thats more a sign of severe insecurity, not strength. Genuinely strong people usually have better self control than that.

Okay, I have to share this story.

Way back when, I was living in the Middle East with my parents while I applied for migration to Canada. Most of the time, my mom and I got along, but the one topic where we disagreed was religion, because she was a Christian and I'm an atheist.

I didn't argue religion with my parents or anything like that, but at the same time I didn't go to church or Bible study with them. So one day they sprang an intervention on me. We were supposed to have lunch with my mom's second cousins, who were so devout they had framed inspirational verses hanging in their bathroom. Since it was just lunch, I went along... except once we reached the cousins' house, the cousins told me to get into the back seat of their car because they were going to their pastor's house and he could talk to me about God.

I didn't have any money for a cab home, and I knew my parents wouldn't put up with it if I said what I thought. So I sat in the back seat, silently fuming, until we reached the pastor's place.

Meeting the pastor actually helped, because it turned out the intervention was so stealth, even he hadn't been informed about it. He gave me this confused look, like he was thinking, "all right, she's an atheist, she's happy being an atheist... now what do I do?" The intervention fell through and we all went back home. Without lunch, I might add.

I still restrained myself as much as I could, but I told my mother I would never visit those cousins again. Never.

She looked hurt. "But they're my relatives!"

I said, "What am I?"

Perhaps it's experiences like that which make me more receptive towards heroines (or characters in general) who sometimes have to bite their tongues and let people make bigoted comments. :)

slhuang
06-21-2014, 04:53 AM
What do you mean by that?


I'm talking about when authors who don't know anything about horses write a lot of scenes dependent on horses for transportation, mail, etc. and it's clear from their depictions that they don't know anything about horses at all. ;)

I mean, I guess these could be FANTASY horses, but then don't call them horses, yanno? :D

Telergic
06-21-2014, 05:08 AM
I'm tired of all epic and high fantasy and have been for a long time.

The last one I liked even slightly, was, uh, Bear's Eternal Sky. Which I finished reading, uh, last month.

Well, okay, so that one was pretty good. But I can't remember the last fantasy of that kind before that one that I liked....

VeryFairy
06-21-2014, 05:26 AM
I'm talking about when authors who don't know anything about horses write a lot of scenes dependent on horses for transportation, mail, etc. and it's clear from their depictions that they don't know anything about horses at all. ;)

I mean, I guess these could be FANTASY horses, but then don't call them horses, yanno? :D

Okay, got ya. I have a sister who has a horse and talks about them a lot, so I find myself thinking the same thing a lot of time. Maybe that's why I steer away from them in my WIP, after my sis laughed at me for saying rear instead of buck I gave up :flag:

Roxxsmom
06-21-2014, 06:09 AM
I'm talking about when authors who don't know anything about horses write a lot of scenes dependent on horses for transportation, mail, etc. and it's clear from their depictions that they don't know anything about horses at all. ;)

I mean, I guess these could be FANTASY horses, but then don't call them horses, yanno? :D

Yeah, it's surprisingly common for horses (without the benefit of any spell or artifact) in fantasy to not need food, water, or rest of any kind, like they're cars or something. Heck, even cars run out of gas and need oil changes. So many stories where they ride all day and night and sleep in the saddle (also not easy to do, and any horse worth its salt would likely wander off the road and start grazing, or turn around and go where it wanted to under these conditions). And who could blame it. Horses need rest too.

Conversely, I had a friend (in real life, not a story) who didn't want to do the take turns driving all night thing on a road trip, because, "The car needed to rest."

Liosse de Velishaf
06-21-2014, 06:27 AM
Oh, same here. The most recent manuscript I sold is a fantasy romance where the hero is a health inspector. Although there are battles and explosions (I love battles and explosions) he never once physically fights a single person. But he outthinks and outmaneuvers nearly everyone else.

And the wizard who gets migraines wouldn't go over well?

One word: Raistlin.

I would totally read about a wizard with migraines, especially if he gets one halfway through the main fight and half his buddies die.


Its kind of an oxymoron since getting all worked up over every little slight, doubt, or insult that comes your way is kind of the opposite of "strong" behavior. In real life thats more a sign of severe insecurity, not strength. Genuinely strong people usually have better self control than that.

Do they? I guess I've met very few genuinely strong people.


I'm tired of all epic and high fantasy and have been for a long time.

The last one I liked even slightly, was, uh, Bear's Eternal Sky. Which I finished reading, uh, last month.

Well, okay, so that one was pretty good. But I can't remember the last fantasy of that kind before that one that I liked....


Any idea why you don't care for them now? Is it the genre in general or what?

Roxxsmom
06-21-2014, 07:22 AM
Actually, thinking of fantasy and world-building cliches: most of the epic and secondary world fantasies I've read lately isn't in ye olde faux medieval England. Looking at the books on my reader, the settings have been:

--An epic "grimdark" fantasy series set on a flat world that feels like a blend between the renaissance and the Napoleonic era, but with northmen and only limited use of gunpowder.
--A novel set in a world with steam powered ships where the protagonist is from a country that feels a lot like Vietnam.
--An epic fantasy series with two cultures that feel a bit like Tsarist Russia and China, but with flying mechanical dragons.
--An epic fantasy novel with a society that feels like the late renaissance, filled with intrigue and deception.
--A novel with an empire that feels a bit like Rome, but with a nice, darkish feel.
--An epic gunpowder fantasy set in a secondary world that feels a bit like the late 1700s or very early 1800s.
--An epic fantasy novel set in an Alternative (and magical) Earth that's in something equivalent to the 19th century, but the Romans never conquered the Celts in Britain, and where a large number of people from Africa moved into Europe at some time in the past.
--A fantasy trilogy set in an alternative Elizabethan England.
--An epic fantasy set in a world that's definitely more renaissance, or even enlightenment era than medieval, but with magic instead of gunpowder.
--An epic Fantasy set in a desert environment that is really not at all European and where controlling water means controlling everyone.
--An epic fantasy set in a society that resembles ancient Nubia.
--A fantasy noire set in a multi-layered city with magically powered factories.

I don't know if this is representative or not, but the only really popular epic fantasy series I can think of right now that approximates the European Middle Ages as a setting is ASoIaF.

Telergic
06-21-2014, 07:32 AM
Any idea why you don't care for them now? Is it the genre in general or what?

It's that they're mostly dull, hackneyed, trite and predictable rip-offs of older works, and often terribly padded and overlong with zillions of unnecessary POVs. Bear's is none of those things.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-21-2014, 07:53 AM
It's that they're mostly dull, hackneyed, trite and predictable rip-offs of older works, and often terribly padded and overlong with zillions of unnecessary POVs. Bear's is none of those things.


The Bear doesn't seem all that different, but I've definitely felt that way about a lof of the adult epic/high fantasy coming out in recent days.

writer_mccall
06-21-2014, 07:53 AM
We need more fantasy that's inspired by something other than medieval European culture.
AS much as I love ASOIF, its still the same inspiration as most traditional fantasy settings, although the style in which it does it, is much better.
How about an African or Native American inspired fantasy series? Or Polynesian, or South East-Asian?
There's so many different cultures the human race has created over history, so we should use more of them for story telling

NRoach
06-21-2014, 08:00 AM
This distaste for medieval Europe saddens me. It's probably my favourite setting for damn near everything.

hermit_writer
06-21-2014, 08:09 AM
This distaste for medieval Europe saddens me. It's probably my favourite setting for damn near everything.

Same here.

In fact I don't think that a lot of so called 'medieval' worlds really explore the rich and varied folklore and cultures that really exist in mainland Europe and the British Isles.

I think the tired feeling--I feel it with epic-- comes from a combination of a not well developed world, characters that don't have much depth (or ones you can't connect with), and just *too* much story. Sometimes it feels like so much work to get through a book.

I certainly understand borrowing from some underused cultures, but at the end of the day you still have to write a good story with dynamic characters. And if you don't have those I don't care what the setting is, I'm going to be bored.

rwm4768
06-21-2014, 08:14 AM
It's that they're mostly dull, hackneyed, trite and predictable rip-offs of older works, and often terribly padded and overlong with zillions of unnecessary POVs. Bear's is none of those things.

You must be reading the wrong books then. I think there's more variety in epic and high fantasy today then there's ever been.

writer_mccall
06-21-2014, 08:17 AM
Actually, thinking of fantasy and world-building cliches: most of the epic and secondary world fantasies I've read lately isn't in ye olde faux medieval England. Looking at the books on my reader, the settings have been:

--An epic "grimdark" fantasy series set on a flat world that feels like a blend between the renaissance and the Napoleonic era, but with northmen and only limited use of gunpowder.
--A novel set in a world with steam powered ships where the protagonist is from a country that feels a lot like Vietnam.
--An epic fantasy series with two cultures that feel a bit like Tsarist Russia and China, but with flying mechanical dragons.
--An epic fantasy novel with a society that feels like the late renaissance, filled with intrigue and deception.
--A novel with an empire that feels a bit like Rome, but with a nice, darkish feel.
--An epic gunpowder fantasy set in a secondary world that feels a bit like the late 1700s or very early 1800s.
--An epic fantasy novel set in an Alternative (and magical) Earth that's in something equivalent to the 19th century, but the Romans never conquered the Celts in Britain, and where a large number of people from Africa moved into Europe at some time in the past.
--A fantasy trilogy set in an alternative Elizabethan England.
--An epic fantasy set in a world that's definitely more renaissance, or even enlightenment era than medieval, but with magic instead of gunpowder.
--An epic Fantasy set in a desert environment that is really not at all European and where controlling water means controlling everyone.
--An epic fantasy set in a society that resembles ancient Nubia.
--A fantasy noire set in a multi-layered city with magically powered factories.

I don't know if this is representative or not, but the only really popular epic fantasy series I can think of right now that approximates the European Middle Ages as a setting is ASoIaF.

Some of those books sound great, do you have a list of the titles?

Liosse de Velishaf
06-21-2014, 08:32 AM
This distaste for medieval Europe saddens me. It's probably my favourite setting for damn near everything.


It's not distaste. There's some brilliant European fantasy out there. But there's so damn much of that, and a lot of it with crap world-building, and so little else.

Mr Flibble
06-21-2014, 08:38 AM
Sure, but that just means we'll have different opinions on what we think is cliched, and maybe I'll love what you're tired of. Doesn't mean you're wrong to be tired of it. :)


Absolutely. But I love the fact that what one person is tired of, another will love and find the whys and whatnot fascinating. I look at a book with Stanbard Tolkien Dwarves in it and roll my eyes. My husband will read it till the cows come home.

Reziac
06-21-2014, 08:44 AM
This distaste for medieval Europe saddens me. It's probably my favourite setting for damn near everything.

Me too. Nothing against other settings; I've read some fine works set in different and obscure times and places. But none of the alternative historical settings have caught and held me across the decades. Meanwhile, I never tire of medieval Europe, be it in SF/F or historical fiction.

slhuang
06-21-2014, 09:14 AM
This distaste for medieval Europe saddens me. It's probably my favourite setting for damn near everything.

Tbh, I used to love it. My current disfavor for it comes from a combination of two things:

1) faux-medieval-Europe fatigue -- just, that for a while it seemed like EVERY fantasy I read was using the same setting with the same setting-related tropes, and I wanted some variety, and

2) my sense (as someone who is not a historian myself, but as someone with an armchair interest in history) that most people who do faux-medieval-Europe fantasy are writing in . . . well, not a fantasy version of medieval Europe, but a fantasy version of their impression of medieval Europe, that impression having been gleaned from cardboard cutout romanticizations and D&D.* I get that sense of . . . shiny veneer with no depth. If, say, Medievalist wrote a medieval-Europe-set fantasy? I'd be ALL OVER THAT like white on rice. ;)

Like most things we're talking about (I think), there are exceptions from the do-not-want list for new or thoughtful treatments of those tropes. :)

(Oh, yeah, and #2 leads all too easily to the "white men do everything" problem, despite its historical inaccuracy (http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/). Which brings to mind: I am further annoyed by faux-medieval settings indirectly, because of the way "historical accuracy!" tends to get used as a rallying cry for defending a lot of other tropes I don't like when they occur in those settings -- except the "historical accuracy!" people aren't actually correct about the history at all. I think that's added to my distaste.)


* nothing against D&D, I'm a tabletopper myself. But if I were to write fantasy based in a version of medieval Europe I wouldn't base my research on it.

Roxxsmom
06-21-2014, 09:25 AM
Since a couple have asked, I'll add the titles.


Actually, thinking of fantasy and world-building cliches: most of the epic and secondary world fantasies I've read lately isn't in ye olde faux medieval England. Looking at the books on my reader, the settings have been:

--An epic "grimdark" fantasy series set on a flat world that feels like a blend between the renaissance and the Napoleonic era, but with northmen and only limited use of gunpowder. First Law Trilogy by Abercrombie. Lots of povs.
--A novel set in a world with steam powered ships where the protagonist is from a country that feels a lot like Vietnam. Green, by Jay Lake. One pov, first person.
--An epic fantasy series with two cultures that feel a bit like Tsarist Russia and China, but with flying mechanical dragons. Jones and Bennett's series (starts with Havemercy). Each seems to have four different first-person povs, which is unusual, if nothing else.
--An epic fantasy novel with a society that feels like the late renaissance, filled with intrigue and deception. The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch. Written in omni, so pov isn't really relevant here.
--A novel with an empire that feels a bit like Rome, but with a nice, darkish feel. Amanda Downum's necromancer series.
--An epic gunpowder fantasy set in a secondary world that feels a bit like the late 1700s or very early 1800s. Django Wexler's the Thousand Names. Only two pov characters here as well.
--An epic fantasy novel set in an Alternative (and magical) Earth that's in something equivalent to the 19th century, but the Romans never conquered the Celts in Britain, and where a large number of people from Africa moved into Europe at some time in the past. Kate Elliott's Cold Magic (first of a trilogy). Told in first person with one pov.
--A fantasy trilogy set in an alternative Elizabethan England. Anne Lyle's Night's Masque Trilogy. Just three pov characters.
--An epic fantasy set in a world that's definitely more renaissance, or even enlightenment era than medieval, but with magic instead of gunpowder. Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series. More povs, but focuses on Seregil and Alex mostly.
--An epic Fantasy set in a desert environment that is really not at all European and where controlling water means controlling everyone. Glenda Larke's Stormlords trilogy. Also, her earlier Isles of Glory trilogy had a rather unusual setting, society, and storytelling style (two stories rolled into one, one of the two epistolary in nature).
--An epic fantasy set in a society that resembles ancient Nubia. N.K. Jemison's Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. First person and one pov.
--A fantasy noire set in a multi-layered city with magically powered factories. Francis Knight's books. One pov, first person.
An epic fantasy set in an alternative, futuristic earth with magical mechanoids and a patriarchal, hierarcical religion based on atheistic beliefs. Lamentation and series by Ken Scholes.
I don't know if this is representative or not, but the only really popular epic fantasy series I can think of right now that approximates the European Middle Ages as a setting is ASoIaF.

I might add Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing trilogy. It's set in a world that feels like a strange hybrid between an old empire and the American west. It hasn't gotten the attention of her books that are set in the world of Fitz/Fool books and the rain wilds, and I didn't get as into it, but it was still an interesting read.

Some other fantasy novels that look to be unusual and novel that are on my to-read list include The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato, The Emperor's Blade by Brian Staveley, No Return by Zachary Jernigan, Lascar's Dagger by Glenda Larke.

Actually, the only recent fantasy series I can think of that's set in that kind of medieval-ey world with elves etc., is Sullivan's Royce and Hadrian books. But this author is writing a new series in a very different setting, it appears.

blacbird
06-21-2014, 09:38 AM
Elves, dragons, magic swords, magic amulets, ancient curses, wizards with spells that solve things, farmboys dispatched on mystical quests.

caw

Liosse de Velishaf
06-21-2014, 10:11 AM
Since a couple have asked, I'll add the titles.



I might add Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing trilogy. It's set in a world that feels like a strange hybrid between an old empire and the American west. It hasn't gotten the attention of her books that are set in the world of Fitz/Fool books and the rain wilds, and I didn't get as into it, but it was still an interesting read.


I loved the Soldier's Son trilogy. More than her Fitz/Fool books. Not a lot more, but it was my first Hobb, and the setting was great, and the magic was intriguing and more original than her Fitz stuff.



Larke's Stormlords series was also fun. Not as well-written, but a cool setting.

Xelebes
06-21-2014, 10:30 AM
I'm tired of completeness in epic fantasy. Write a calamitous threnody, a tragic vignette, a snapshot of victory pulled away from one's grip, all within a day or two.

in medias res, ex medias res

Roxxsmom
06-21-2014, 10:37 AM
I'll admit that I'm all right with medieval-esque settings, even if they aren't historic. And actually, the middle ages lasted a thousand years anyway, and took place over a large geographic area, so there was a lot that changed during that time.

But have a reason why it's plausible for things in your world to be different from history in some ways, even if it's something to do with the gods, or the way magic works in your world.

CrastersBabies
06-21-2014, 12:15 PM
I get it if some people are tired of medieval fantasy, but come on. To me, that's like saying, "Hey, no more sci-fi set in space. Or on space ships."

For many readers, it's a highlight of the genre. (I love faux medieval settings.) I look for fantasy with knights, courtly intrigue, medieval-era warfare.

I can't even begin to imagine researching another era entirely at this point (for my books). I'm already doubtful about my abilities to get THIS right. I shudder to think of what some renaissance "Expert" would do to my attempt at that.

Roxxsmom
06-21-2014, 12:26 PM
I don't think it's possible to make everyone happy. These "what cliches are you tired of threads" come up from time to time in every genre subforum. They can be fun, especially if you've read something lately that pushed your buttons. But they can also be demoralizing. I usually learn that some things I really enjoy or have in my own work will make some people chuck a book across the room. I think we tend to gloss these pet peeves over when they work for us.

I think a lot of it's in the execution. And one thing to remind oneself of, every one of those novels that had a cliche in it we wanted to chuck was (assuming it's trade published, at least) picked up by an editor and has probably sold at least some copies and gleaned at least some good reviews. I read a book a while ago that I could not get into. It did all those things I'm trying to not do in my own writing, and imo, it didn't do them well. But it's the first book of a successful fantasy series that's reasonably well reviewed. I should do so well with anything I'm writing someday. I won't say which series it is, because RYFW, and anyway, there's a lot of subjectivity to what we consider good and bad. Some of you might like the series just fine.

Zoombie
06-21-2014, 12:27 PM
Reading this makes me feel very comfortable about my fantasy series!

...except for the strong asskicking female lead and the main character who is good at everything ever bit. But to be fair, those things are integral parts of the series! Which is to say, I thought out logical reasons for why the characters are that way, and it is part of the world building AND plot. It's not just me being lazy.

Me, I'm sick of grimdark. Which sounds really weird coming from a fan of Warhammer 40,000, THE LITERAL ORIGINATOR OF THE TERM, but...there you go.

Cereus
06-21-2014, 12:46 PM
Faux-medieval Europe.

All/mostly white men driving the plot.

Women as whores.

Rape used as a shorthand for grittiness.

Royal lineage making someone a more special human, instead of just a dude/dudette, or, alternatively, the "true" king being automagically the better leader.


Yeah.

writer_mccall
06-21-2014, 02:54 PM
I get it if some people are tired of medieval fantasy, but come on. To me, that's like saying, "Hey, no more sci-fi set in space. Or on space ships."

For many readers, it's a highlight of the genre. (I love faux medieval settings.) I look for fantasy with knights, courtly intrigue, medieval-era warfare.

I can't even begin to imagine researching another era entirely at this point (for my books). I'm already doubtful about my abilities to get THIS right. I shudder to think of what some renaissance "Expert" would do to my attempt at that.

Not quite an accurate analogy, its closer to saying no more sci-fi set on Mars/or the Moon when there's an entire universe of settings underused.
Why does fantasy have to be medieval? Or even if it does, why does it have to European medieval?

Marian Perera
06-21-2014, 03:19 PM
I don't think it's possible to make everyone happy. These "what cliches are you tired of threads" come up from time to time in every genre subforum. They can be fun, especially if you've read something lately that pushed your buttons. But they can also be demoralizing.

They can be, but I think it's best not to let these things get to us as writers.

For instance, even if (hypothetical example), someone said they hated fantasies set on ships, that the Liveships novels had the last word in this and that he/she would never read such a book again, that's not a personal commentary on my work. I'd stand to lose more by getting defensive about this than I would from letting it go and allowing that person their opinion, rather than trying to argue them out of it.


I read a book a while ago that I could not get into. It did all those things I'm trying to not do in my own writing, and imo, it didn't do them well. But it's the first book of a successful fantasy series that's reasonably well reviewed.

Same here. Which only goes to show how subjective taste is.

snafu1056
06-21-2014, 05:55 PM
Okay, I have to share this story.

Way back when, I was living in the Middle East with my parents while I applied for migration to Canada. Most of the time, my mom and I got along, but the one topic where we disagreed was religion, because she was a Christian and I'm an atheist.

I didn't argue religion with my parents or anything like that, but at the same time I didn't go to church or Bible study with them. So one day they sprang an intervention on me. We were supposed to have lunch with my mom's second cousins, who were so devout they had framed inspirational verses hanging in their bathroom. Since it was just lunch, I went along... except once we reached the cousins' house, the cousins told me to get into the back seat of their car because they were going to their pastor's house and he could talk to me about God.

I didn't have any money for a cab home, and I knew my parents wouldn't put up with it if I said what I thought. So I sat in the back seat, silently fuming, until we reached the pastor's place.

Meeting the pastor actually helped, because it turned out the intervention was so stealth, even he hadn't been informed about it. He gave me this confused look, like he was thinking, "all right, she's an atheist, she's happy being an atheist... now what do I do?" The intervention fell through and we all went back home. Without lunch, I might add.

I still restrained myself as much as I could, but I told my mother I would never visit those cousins again. Never.

She looked hurt. "But they're my relatives!"

I said, "What am I?"

Perhaps it's experiences like that which make me more receptive towards heroines (or characters in general) who sometimes have to bite their tongues and let people make bigoted comments. :)

see, thats a much more interesting and real reaction. That would be a pleasant suprise in a story, to have the "strong female character" react that way instead of in some cartoonisnly "tough" way.

I think a lot of male writers use their female characters in a self-serving way. They know that theyll get praised for making them "strong", so they lay it on thick. I think these are the kinds of "strong female characters" women are sick of. The ones whose strength is just a facade made of girl-power cliches.

Reziac
06-21-2014, 06:43 PM
--Male gaze when the pov character is female.

But what if she really IS turned on by $FemaleAttribute... ??

Reziac
06-21-2014, 06:56 PM
Do they? I guess I've met very few genuinely strong people.

In nature, a true boss (leader) allows the underlings a certain level of misbehavior, because otherwise pretty soon you have no underlings left. It's only the boss who isn't really a boss who feels like they have to smack down anyone who misbehaves or annoys them.

Kinda like the old dog who lets the puppy chew his ears and steal his toys, so long as the pup doesn't draw blood and gives the toys back when the old dog wants 'em... vs the dog who beats up the puppy just for looking at him wrong.

Humans are the same way, we just don't think of it in such raw terms.


"He was a leader because he did not look back to see who was following him."
-- from the book version of Mr.Roberts

Hapax Legomenon
06-21-2014, 07:15 PM
But what if she really IS turned on by $FemaleAttribute... ??

There's a reason it's called "male gaze" and not "attracted to women" gaze.

slhuang
06-21-2014, 08:17 PM
I get it if some people are tired of medieval fantasy, but come on. To me, that's like saying, "Hey, no more sci-fi set in space. Or on space ships."

Eh, I could certainly see this happening -- if space opera were a more rampant subgenre (as faux-medievalism seems to be in fantasy), and if it felt like every single space opera was completely cavalier about actual physics (as faux-medievalism seems to do with history). ;)

I mean, science fiction isn't at all defined by being set in space. Think 1984, Frankenstein, The Time Machine, I, Robot, The Handmaid's Tale, Fahrenheit 451, Kindred, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Brave New World, Cat's Cradle, Little Brother . . . There's cyberpunk, time travel, dystopian subgenres . . . even a lot of alien-related science fiction doesn't take place "in space," but has aliens on earth (e.g. War of the Worlds) or the setting is confined to a single extraterrestrial planet (e.g., The Martian Chronicles). And in my opinion, some of the most arresting science fiction is that which wanders creepily close to humanity as we know it.

Similarly, I don't see fantasy as defined by a faux-medieval setting at all. It's a vast and deep genre, with plenty of opportunities for all kinds of stories that aren't old-style Europe. :D You don't at all hafta like medieval Europe to like fantasy.

eta: I do agree with writer_mccall, though, that "space stories" is more of a whole subgenre of scifi, whereas "medieval Europe" is only a setting when it comes to fantasy -- i.e., "high fantasy" does not imply "medieval Europe" any more than "space opera" implies "the moon." So, yeah, a more accurate analogy might be if every space opera story (high fantasy) suddenly took place on and around the moon (medieval Europe) and was fraught with bad physics (bad history). I imagine people would get irked in much the same way and say, "stop setting stuff on the moon!!!"

rwm4768
06-21-2014, 08:28 PM
I have no issue with lack of accuracy in a faux-Medieval setting as long as the author isn't making a point about the Medieval similarities. It's a fantasy world. As long as it's logically consistent, it doesn't need to be historically accurate. If it's historical fantasy, that's one thing, but if it's secondary world fantasy, it is not our middle ages.

slhuang
06-21-2014, 08:37 PM
I have no issue with lack of accuracy in a faux-Medieval setting as long as the author isn't making a point about the Medieval similarities. It's a fantasy world. As long as it's logically consistent, it doesn't need to be historically accurate. If it's historical fantasy, that's one thing, but if it's secondary world fantasy, it is not our middle ages.

I honestly don't think I would have such an issue with the historical stuff if not for the fact that when other tropes are criticized, defenders rise up crying, "Historical accuracy! It's the middle ages; it HAS to be that way!" and aren't dissuaded when people point out that, yanno, the middle ages didn't have dragons. ;)

My personal tastes have become: if it's meant to be a riff on a historical time/period/culture, I want to see it VERY well-researched and cleverly explored, and if it's meant to be a secondary world that's a pure departure, I find I like to see more creativity than a D&D carbon copy (because -- secondary world! How many possibilities!). Faux-medieval tends to fall into the uncanny valley for me -- like people are trying for fidelity, but only to a very one-dimensional version of history.

Your mileage, of course, may vary. :D I know other people aren't bugged by the things that bug me!

Calliea
06-21-2014, 08:37 PM
1. I know this might not be a popular opinion (though I've seen some guys mention it here, in one way or the other), but I'm tired of badass women. I loved them as a teenager, but I guess I've had enough.

When I think of it, it's only heroine-wise. I don't mind badass female villains at all (or sidekicks, they don't bother me at all either, maybe cause sidekicks are rarely the badass part).

By badass here I mean physically strong, brash and tomboys or 'rogues with golden hearts' of any kind. When the badassery comes from mind brilliancy, I'm all good. But when I see a snappy heroine, drinking beers with harsh men, being one of the guys, swearing, telling ribald stories and being the center of cool, I just roll my eyes.

It's not jarring to me when she's ugly, probably because I've seen very few of those. It's very rare that the ugliness is more than a line in text "she was ugly". When she's actually treated as such.

If a heroine is a pretty badass, she better have some real sucky issues. And "tragic past" is so NOT that - tragic past/dark (but ultimately cool) secret being a main issue would just get a double eye roll from me.

2. Any sort of farmboy origin story, Chosen One, and what it entails.

3. Elves, dragons, dwarves, halflings, anything that makes me think of D&D campaigns or hard Tolkien fantasy.

4. Quests for artifacts and a lot of travel from place to place just to show the other places with random adventures unrelated to the story.

5. Token, predictable romance that is stuffed into the story forcefully and treated like the unloved child. I love romances and I will inwardly (or outwardly) whine when there's none at all, but it's better if there's none at all than that.

6. Old mentors that I know are just there to die dramatically.

7. "Training" arcs for the protagonist as he/she must get from being 0 to being something. I snore. Would have to be really funny/surprising to make me like it.

8. Peasant parents who are totally irrelevant and just scream "the moment you have a kid, you stop to matter and fun stories are not for you".

9. Orc hordes (or anything like that).

10. Evil overlord in evil tower doing evil things with his evil hordes of evil orcs.

(I've been stalking this thread so it was easier for me to remember some things surely x) )

Marian Perera
06-21-2014, 09:08 PM
By badass here I mean physically strong, brash and tomboys or 'rogues with golden hearts' of any kind.

One of the things I like about Arya in ASoIaF is that while she's a tomboy, she doesn't look down on girls who aren't kickass. She quarrels with her sister, but that's because of their individual personalities, not because Arya is sneering at girls who prefer sewing to swordplay.


4. Quests for artifacts

Oh, this.

I once read a novel where the characters had to enter a fortress to find an amulet which opened a portal to another dimension in which they had to kill a demon to retrieve a scroll which contained a spell to save the land from a foreign invasion, and it was like those Russian nesting dolls where you never quite get to the end, but are more likely to have forgotten how the whole thing ever began.

Calliea
06-21-2014, 09:38 PM
Oh, this.

I once read a novel where the characters had to enter a fortress to find an amulet which opened a portal to another dimension in which they had to kill a demon to retrieve a scroll which contained a spell to save the land from a foreign invasion, and it was like those Russian nesting dolls where you never quite get to the end, but are more likely to have forgotten how the whole thing ever began.

:D That sounds so much like video games. But that's where those things can work. I hate retrieve quests in any sort of novel, it's not even good for me as the red herring anymore.

Also hah, baba w babie :D
http://www.pravda-nn.ru/upl/news/src/5835.jpg

rwm4768
06-21-2014, 09:50 PM
I actually love a well-done quest for an artifact. Of course, the key word is well-done. I think the dislike for this kind of plot is more a result of too many authors writing bad quest fantasies with cardboard characters.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-21-2014, 09:56 PM
In nature, a true boss (leader) allows the underlings a certain level of misbehavior, because otherwise pretty soon you have no underlings left. It's only the boss who isn't really a boss who feels like they have to smack down anyone who misbehaves or annoys them.

Kinda like the old dog who lets the puppy chew his ears and steal his toys, so long as the pup doesn't draw blood and gives the toys back when the old dog wants 'em... vs the dog who beats up the puppy just for looking at him wrong.

Humans are the same way, we just don't think of it in such raw terms.


"He was a leader because he did not look back to see who was following him."
-- from the book version of Mr.Roberts

I think we have slightly different ideas of "strong character". There are all kinds of ways to be a strong character without fitting someone's perfect and very specific definition.


I have no issue with lack of accuracy in a faux-Medieval setting as long as the author isn't making a point about the Medieval similarities. It's a fantasy world. As long as it's logically consistent, it doesn't need to be historically accurate. If it's historical fantasy, that's one thing, but if it's secondary world fantasy, it is not our middle ages.

But they rarely are logically consistent. It's a technique that's used to avoid certain hassles of real world-building, where they use tropes and details that trigger people's idea that they have knowledge of some various setting, and as long as the writer doesn't stray to far from that "knowledge", readers are willing to suspend a certain amount of disbelief basically for free. It's not confined to faux mediveal settings, though. Saladin Ahmed does it in his Throne of the Crescent Moon series, except with western cultures faux knowledge of Arabia/the Islamic world.

I don't object to medieval inspired settings if the writer has clearly done some research and world-building. What I dislike most is the laziness displayed by many writers using faux medieval settings.

Cereus
06-21-2014, 10:16 PM
I don't object to medieval inspired settings if the writer has clearly done some research and world-building. What I dislike most is the laziness displayed by many writers using faux medieval settings.
I don't have a problem with the lack of research as much as the lack of imagination inherent in hundreds of stories with nearly identical made-up worlds.

Dave.C.Robinson
06-21-2014, 10:24 PM
I have to admit I've used a few of these myself, though I tried not to be entirely predictable.

Yes, I used prophecies, but their purpose in the story is to be manipulated. The warrior woman wears armor, and is a warrior because that's what many women in her culture do. Not everyone's white, either.

I even have a couple of short stories, and a planned novella about a dwarf. Of course the setting is roughly Victorian and the dwarf in question works for the Miner's Union as a sort of troubleshooter, so it's not really pseudo-Tolkien. (If dwarves are naturally "lawful" and spend all their time mining why wouldn't they form unions?)

Hapax Legomenon
06-21-2014, 10:50 PM
I mean if you're working in a culture where being a warrior is a career path some women take, then by all means, go for it. A lot of fantasy stories do seem to go by the logic "everyone knows" women don't fight, but if I'm not mistaken, there have been a significant number of societies where when the lord goes out on campaign, the lady takes care of the home, up to and including fending off enemy invaders, at least. Yes raising children is a full time job but there are women who don't have them. Why not warrior nuns?

It's less I think that people are annoyed by warrior women and more that people are annoyed with establishing fighting as "men's work" that only men can do and then having a woman do it and be portrayed as oh-so-liberated because she's doing what men are doing.

Roxxsmom
06-21-2014, 11:04 PM
Eh, I could certainly see this happening -- if space opera were a more rampant subgenre (as faux-medievalism seems to be in fantasy), and if it felt like every single space opera was completely cavalier about actual physics (as faux-medievalism seems to do with history). ;)



I think some of the ire over faux medievalism is directed at novels that aren't actually meant to be in medieval settings. Some of the trappings of medievalism associated with fantasy (such as "ye olde tavern") actually arose in our later middle ages or renaissance. And castles and armor were around for quite a while after the middle ages ended, though of course they evolved and were used differently.

Anyway, standard-issue fantasy is in a secondary world that has its own history. It doesn't have to track our own history all that closely. I ran into some crits from early readers who poked at things in my world building like there being printing presses, clocks, and crude microscopes etc., because they didn't exist in the middle ages. But my story's not set in its world's middle ages. I've tried to provide more cues in the narrative that this isn't the case, but some readers will see any pre-industrial setting where there are taverns and cobbled streets (things that really didn't become terribly common until the renaissance) and think "medieval."

Even with a marked lack of knights in shining armor.

I made the kind of world I needed to tell the story I wanted to tell. But it's also very true that people like the stuff they like, and writers shouldn't take it personally.

Atalanta
06-21-2014, 11:29 PM
I get it if some people are tired of medieval fantasy, but come on. To me, that's like saying, "Hey, no more sci-fi set in space. Or on space ships."

For many readers, it's a highlight of the genre. (I love faux medieval settings.) I look for fantasy with knights, courtly intrigue, medieval-era warfare.

I can't even begin to imagine researching another era entirely at this point (for my books). I'm already doubtful about my abilities to get THIS right. I shudder to think of what some renaissance "Expert" would do to my attempt at that.

+1 to everything here. I'm deeply in love with the Medieval era, both as a setting for stories and as a history buff. I swear, if someone wrote a book called Socks in the Middle Ages I'd be all over it in a heartbeat.

That said, I get frustrated by books with paper-thin world-building, where they just throw in some taverns and horses and kingdoms and think it's going to work. Boooooring. Even worse are books where the world-building isn't logically consistent: technology has far reaching consequences, and even something as "simple" as the domestication of horses can reshape entire continents.

Um yeah, I love research. :D

Dave.C.Robinson
06-21-2014, 11:39 PM
Oh, as for the horse thing. I'm not a rider, so all my major journeys in my fantasy novel are by ship.

(I've done some sailing so I'm on much firmer ground there.)

rwm4768
06-21-2014, 11:42 PM
I mean if you're working in a culture where being a warrior is a career path some women take, then by all means, go for it. A lot of fantasy stories do seem to go by the logic "everyone knows" women don't fight, but if I'm not mistaken, there have been a significant number of societies where when the lord goes out on campaign, the lady takes care of the home, up to and including fending off enemy invaders, at least. Yes raising children is a full time job but there are women who don't have them. Why not warrior nuns?

It's less I think that people are annoyed by warrior women and more that people are annoyed with establishing fighting as "men's work" that only men can do and then having a woman do it and be portrayed as oh-so-liberated because she's doing what men are doing.

Especially if you have a setting where magic plays a crucial role. In the epic fantasy I'm currently writing, both men and women fight because they both have command over the world's magic. While there are more men than women doing so, no one thinks strangely of women fighting.

Calliea
06-21-2014, 11:48 PM
It's less I think that people are annoyed by warrior women and more that people are annoyed with establishing fighting as "men's work" that only men can do and then having a woman do it and be portrayed as oh-so-liberated because she's doing what men are doing.

Never thought of it that way, but you might be onto something here! :D

Putputt
06-22-2014, 12:05 AM
1. I know this might not be a popular opinion (though I've seen some guys mention it here, in one way or the other), but I'm tired of badass women. I loved them as a teenager, but I guess I've had enough.

When I think of it, it's only heroine-wise. I don't mind badass female villains at all (or sidekicks, they don't bother me at all either, maybe cause sidekicks are rarely the badass part).

By badass here I mean physically strong, brash and tomboys or 'rogues with golden hearts' of any kind. When the badassery comes from mind brilliancy, I'm all good. But when I see a snappy heroine, drinking beers with harsh men, being one of the guys, swearing, telling ribald stories and being the center of cool, I just roll my eyes.

Oh, THIS SO MUCH. :D I get that it's a backlash to the uber-passive FMC roles, but, goddammit, sometimes I want to grab people and yell, "Rude/violent/thuggish is not the ONLY way to show strength!!" Also, whenever a FMC is described as "feisty", I just want to bite the author's legs off.

I actually found Arya of ASOIAF annoying in the first couple of books. She reminded me too much of Lyra, who I found seriously annoying. She became less obnoxious in the later books, but I much prefer understated strength (read: non-loud/"lookit me I am totes rejecting everything that is slightly feminine cuz I am strong!"). FCs like Brienne of Tarth or Tiffany Aching from the Discworld.

It's not that I dislike FMCs who are not afraid to dish it as well as take it. I love Ripley's character, for example. What I can't stand is when the character's strength lies solely in her rejection of femininity, as though wearing a frilly dress automatically means you're weak, and mouthing off automatically means you're strong.

In conclusion, I would love to see more characters like:
-Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Tiffany Aching from the Discworld books. Come to think of it, I would LOVE to see more characters who are like Nanny Ogg. Humorous, gets along with everyone, unashamed of her sexuality, and knows exactly what to do to fuck people she hates up.
-Brienne of Tarth, Ygritte, Cersei (before GRRM ruined her), and even Dany from ASOIAF

And fewer characters like:
-Arya Stark from ASOIAF
-Lyra from HDM
-Denna/Daena/Allora/whatever name she changes it to in that chapter and Felurian (Oh god, please, do not ever write about thousand-year-old sex goddesses who fall for 16-yr-old virgins, because NOPE.) from those Kvothe books.



It's not jarring to me when she's ugly, probably because I've seen very few of those. It's very rare that the ugliness is more than a line in text "she was ugly". When she's actually treated as such. Mm, I agree. I would like to see more unattractive heroines a la Brienne. And by unattractive I don't mean "oh she has a rather fetching scar that only serves to highlight her beauty".

The Package
06-22-2014, 12:48 AM
I'll toss my hat into the ring.

Above all else, placenames that sound like the writer was making them up as they went along. Like, "then he crossed the river Fing...o...lon... nah. Fing...a...lin... Fingalin. He crossed the river Fingalin and arrived at Raven...hollow. Ravenhollow."

Bugs me so much. Tolkien's placenames like Ost Guruth, Barad Dhorn, are so awesome. And aesthetically they look foreign, so that only helps to immerse me.

Hapax Legomenon
06-22-2014, 12:56 AM
Well without the "liberation" angle the thing that annoys me about warrior women is the same thing that annoys me about warrior men, as in it seems like waaaaaay too many fantasy books seem to be based on physical conflict/combat and I'm tired of it.

Calliea
06-22-2014, 02:00 AM
I'll toss my hat into the ring.

Above all else, placenames that sound like the writer was making them up as they went along. Like, "then he crossed the river Fing...o...lon... nah. Fing...a...lin... Fingalin. He crossed the river Fingalin and arrived at Raven...hollow. Ravenhollow."

Bugs me so much. Tolkien's placenames like Ost Guruth, Barad Dhorn, are so awesome. And aesthetically they look foreign, so that only helps to immerse me.

I'm quite the opposite often. I prefer names that connect to something in my mind, I don't like the letter jumbles, it confuses me and makes it hard to tell one from the other if there's more than five of them or so.

Then again, I was never a lore geek, I suppose it's got a lot to do with whether someone reads more for the world building or more for the characters (I'm the second kind).


Well without the "liberation" angle the thing that annoys me about warrior women is the same thing that annoys me about warrior men, as in it seems like waaaaaay too many fantasy books seem to be based on physical conflict/combat and I'm tired of it.

Agree so, so much. I hate fight descriptions, duels, battles, all of those. I always just skim them to see if there's some important plot element, but generally I pick books that shy away from those. Which put me in a pickle when I had to write a fight (the only one in the entire book), as I didn't really know the right way :D Hopefully it's not a complete suckage, I tried to make it short and painless (to the reader) so it basically goes:

Enemy: A-HA! BRACE YOURSELF!
Character: *shoots him in the face*

~

I'm still unsure if my book is epic fantasy though, some things seem to be, some not. The more I read this thread the more I know nothing :D

Marian Perera
06-22-2014, 02:06 AM
I'm fine with pretty much any names as long as they don't have apostrophes, diacritics or excessive capitalization. And they don't all sound the same, e.g. the hero is Gathrivan of the house of Arvoan, and his friend is Galhedan and they live in Ormethan.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-22-2014, 02:37 AM
I don't have a problem with the lack of research as much as the lack of imagination inherent in hundreds of stories with nearly identical made-up worlds.


Lack of research is the cause of those things. They don'y know anything except the same faux medievalism peddled by hundreds of years of no research, so they always repeat the old cliches.

rwm4768
06-22-2014, 02:43 AM
Agree so, so much. I hate fight descriptions, duels, battles, all of those. I always just skim them to see if there's some important plot element, but generally I pick books that shy away from those.

Funny. I'm the complete opposite. Those are my favorite parts of fantasy books.

Marian Perera
06-22-2014, 02:51 AM
Funny. I'm the complete opposite. Those are my favorite parts of fantasy books.

I like 'em too. Especially when the narrative builds up to a no-holds-barred showdown, like Bigwig vs. General Woundwort, or Fingolfin vs. Morgoth.

Calliea
06-22-2014, 03:15 AM
I'm fine with pretty much any names as long as they don't have apostrophes, diacritics or excessive capitalization.

I like diacritics. Especially in the names that need to have a letter pronounced, but normal English read would eat it, but sometimes just for the accent. So guilty :P

Apostrophes not so much anymore, now they look quite pretentious to me more often than not.

Wilde_at_heart
06-22-2014, 03:29 AM
Agree so, so much. I hate fight descriptions, duels, battles, all of those. I always just skim them to see if there's some important plot element, but generally I pick books that shy away from those.

I'm the same way - don't like them in either films or books.

Roxxsmom
06-22-2014, 03:48 AM
I'm fine with pretty much any names as long as they don't have apostrophes, diacritics or excessive capitalization. And they don't all sound the same, e.g. the hero is Gathrivan of the house of Arvoan, and his friend is Galhedan and they live in Ormethan.

I don't mind apostrophes if they are actually there because they represent either an omitted letter or a glottal stop in the word. I do get tired of those novels where there are tons of umlauts, accents and so on. I guess it's all right if they actually help with pronunciation, but when I start thinking of 70s and 80s era heavy metal bands, then...

I don't get the farm boy hate, though. Two of my three pov characters grew up on farms. I thought the majority of people in pre-industrial societies lived on farms, and I was tired of stories where all of the characters come from an upper class background (can't think of any farm boys or girls as major characters in ASoIaF). Being an outsider is one of the themes I'm going for.

I will say that none of them is really a royal in disguise, or a chosen one (in fact, they're trying to stop someone who thinks he is a chosen one and is the bastard son of an important religious leader).

Calliea
06-22-2014, 04:06 AM
I don't mind apostrophes if they are actually there because they represent either an omitted letter or a glottal stop in the word. I do get tired of those novels where there are tons of umlauts, accents and so on. I guess it's all right if they actually help with pronunciation, but when I start thinking of 70s and 80s era heavy metal bands, then...

In my case, I use apostrophes and dashes in names for people from a different region than where the plot takes place, same with all the non-translated names coming from their native tongue. I always did it, those could be okay without them, it just never crossed my mind it could be bothersome :P

A different case is when I've got a name like Jaéll - which doesn't sound like Jail, but Jah-ehl (ish). The accent seems to be the least intrusive thing.

Apostrophes always make me think of those dragons and all Nizzi'dram'a'niiyit or pretentious mages Vel'dore and similar :D I do my best to avoid them. I think I got just 1 and not in a character name.


I don't get the farm boy hate, though. Two of my three pov characters grew up on farms. I thought the majority of people in pre-industrial societies lived on farms, and I was tired of stories where all of the characters come from an upper class background (can't think of any farm boys or girls as major characters in ASoIaF). Being an outsider is one of the themes I'm going for.

I will say that none of them is really a royal in disguise, or a chosen one (in fact, they're trying to stop someone who thinks he is a chosen one and is the bastard son of an important religious leader).

I think that as far as none of them are the Chosen One the hate won't trigger :) It's farmboy+prophecy, farmboy+chosenOne that grinds people's gears. I believe :)

Marian Perera
06-22-2014, 04:13 AM
I'd be okay with, say, a farmboy working in a paddy field in South Asia. Or a farmboy toiling from dawn till dusk at the cotton crop. But if I see a farmboy who's living an idyllic pastoral life rambling through the fields and forests, hunting an occasional rabbit when he feels like it, that's going to annoy me. On top of that, if his happy existence is shaken up either by the minions of the Dark Lord or the revelation (from some Gandalf-type) that he must play a role in saving the land, it's too much.

Or to put it another way, more of the reality and variety of farm life. If there's a fantasy which begins and ends on the hero's emu farm, I'll be the first to read it. :)

NRoach
06-22-2014, 04:21 AM
This talk of diacritics and the like in names got me thinking (or rather, reminded me of an idea I'd had previously).

Ive ƿanted, for a ƕile, to subject re̊ders to ŝis sort of langůge. It ƿŏld probably drive most re̊ders insane, I knoƿ, but I reckon it ƿŏld be a gre̊t excercise in sadism. Ŝe original ide̊ ƿas more scifi ŝan fantasy, ŝŏȝ.

I doubt it could be kept up for an entire novel, though, sad as that is.

Reziac
06-22-2014, 04:25 AM
I don't get the farm boy hate, though. Two of my three pov characters grew up on farms. I thought the majority of people in pre-industrial societies lived on farms, and I was tired of stories where all of the characters come from an upper class background (can't think of any farm boys or girls as major characters in ASoIaF). Being an outsider is one of the themes I'm going for.

My MC is both a farm boy used to getting his hands dirty every day, and nobility by birth, which he thinks he'd rather not be but I inflict on him anyway, leading to a good many of his problems in life. :D

That's a good point re ASoIaF, and I have wondered myself --where are all the farmers growing the food to support everyone else?? We seem to have a lot of back country, but damn few people doing anything in it... other than tramp across it, sword in hand... thus passing armies have slaughtered all the livestock and trampled all the crops into the dirt. So NOW what do we eat?? Especially out in yon desert, what do a hundred thousand men eat and drink... each other??

Calliea
06-22-2014, 04:25 AM
This talk of diacritics and the like in names got me thinking (or rather, reminded me of an idea I'd had previously).

Ive ƿanted, for a ƕile, to subject re̊ders to ŝis sort of langůge. It ƿŏld probably drive most re̊ders insane, I knoƿ, but I reckon it ƿŏld be a gre̊t excercise in sadism. Ŝe original ide̊ ƿas more scifi ŝan fantasy, ŝŏȝ.

I doubt it could be kept up for an entire novel, though, sad as that is.

Especially since the "w" is suddenly a "p" basically, and has to be consciously replaced all the time :P

rwm4768
06-22-2014, 04:30 AM
I don't think people hate farmboys just for being farmboys. It's the collection of cliches that cause a problem, as mentioned above.

In my current epic fantasy, one of my three main characters starts out on a farm, but his life is anything but idyllic. He actually ends up being sold into slavery by his father. No minions of a dark lord anywhere in sight.


Something I was just thinking. Why don't we see more characters who are neither royalty/nobles nor peasants/poor people? Maybe that ties in to the faux medieval thing, but I'd like to see more fantasy settings that have a strong merchant class.

rwm4768
06-22-2014, 04:33 AM
I'll toss my hat into the ring.

Above all else, placenames that sound like the writer was making them up as they went along. Like, "then he crossed the river Fing...o...lon... nah. Fing...a...lin... Fingalin. He crossed the river Fingalin and arrived at Raven...hollow. Ravenhollow."

Bugs me so much. Tolkien's placenames like Ost Guruth, Barad Dhorn, are so awesome. And aesthetically they look foreign, so that only helps to immerse me.

I don't really care so much about place names. As long as they're not ridiculous and I can pronounce them, I'm fine. I'm there for the story.

That's my general outlook on a lot of the worldbuilding details. As long as it doesn't get in the way of the story, I don't care so much about the tiny details.

NRoach
06-22-2014, 04:33 AM
Especially since the "w" is suddenly a "p" basically, and has to be consciously replaced all the time :P

Now, now, ƿ has a long and distinguished history as an independent letter of the English language. Sure, it's fallen on hard times in the past millennium, but to conflate it with P?

I am deeply, deeply offended. :)

Atalanta
06-22-2014, 04:36 AM
Something I was just thinking. Why don't we see more characters who are neither royalty/nobles nor peasants/poor people? Maybe that ties in to the faux medieval thing, but I'd like to see more fantasy settings that have a strong merchant class.

Me too! I'd be all over a story based heavily on the Hanseatic League. I've already read one book about it, and I'm looking for another. Sometimes I think I write fantasy as an excuse to do research...

writer_mccall
06-22-2014, 05:06 AM
I don't think people hate farmboys just for being farmboys. It's the collection of cliches that cause a problem, as mentioned above.

In my current epic fantasy, one of my three main characters starts out on a farm, but his life is anything but idyllic. He actually ends up being sold into slavery by his father. No minions of a dark lord anywhere in sight.


Something I was just thinking. Why don't we see more characters who are neither royalty/nobles nor peasants/poor people? Maybe that ties in to the faux medieval thing, but I'd like to see more fantasy settings that have a strong merchant class.

Exactly what I thought, while writing my fantasy series, which is why my characters are a diverse bunch, several university students, a magic teacher, several city-watch members, drug-dealing criminals, corporate CEOs, and a smattering of the traditional royalty/government archetypes as well

Marian Perera
06-22-2014, 05:14 AM
I like seeing different professions too. One reason I picked up Maria Snyder's Poison Study was because the heroine became a food taster.

My main characters are a reporter, health inspector, naval officer, shark sorceress, violinist, diplomat, courtesan and professional perfect mate (http://www.jammersreviews.com/st-tng/s5/perfectmate.php).

Calliea
06-22-2014, 05:18 AM
Now, now, ƿ has a long and distinguished history as an independent letter of the English language. Sure, it's fallen on hard times in the past millennium, but to conflate it with P?

I am deeply, deeply offended. :)

Apologies :D English isn't my native language, and since that didn't appear in Baldur's Gate, I've no knowledge of it. That's where I got my English from :P

Atalanta
06-22-2014, 05:42 AM
My main characters are a reporter, health inspector, naval officer, shark sorceress, violinist, diplomat, courtesan and professional perfect mate.

Wait, wait... A shark sorceress? Now I'm imagining what that job interview must have been like. "If you could be any kind of chum, what kind of chum would you be?" I totally want "shark sorceress" on my resume. :D

NRoach
06-22-2014, 05:43 AM
Apologies :D English isn't my native language, and since that didn't appear in Baldur's Gate, I've no knowledge of it. That's where I got my English from :P

In that case, you're totally forgiven.

Xelebes
06-22-2014, 07:03 AM
In that case, you're totally forgiven.

Eh, just write it in fuŝorc. That will surely get the agents baying for more.

Reziac
06-22-2014, 07:56 AM
Mm, I agree. I would like to see more unattractive heroines a la Brienne.

Speak fer yerself... I think she's stunning!!

But, yeah, I've come to dislike gratuitous pulchritude, where it's like you can't have a hero or heroine unless they're the epitome of classic beauty. Perhaps worse is when the author repeatedly draws attention to how homely or flawed they are. :/

CrastersBabies
06-22-2014, 08:28 AM
Not quite an accurate analogy, its closer to saying no more sci-fi set on Mars/or the Moon when there's an entire universe of settings underused.
Why does fantasy have to be medieval? Or even if it does, why does it have to European medieval?

It doesn't, but there are a vast number of readers (myself included) who look for medieval fantasy. (I read other types, but I really like the medieval setting.)

I think saying "the moon" or "Mars" is way off in terms of an analogy. How many times have you walked into a bookstore and said, "Dang, I need some MARS SCI FI RIGHT NOW?" or "I really only like sci-fi set on the moon?"

I love non-medieval settings too. And non-European. But eeesh, what would I do as a reader if people just stopped writing in the medieval setting? Forever? While I would find enjoyment in other lands/worlds/settings, I would probably become pretty disheartened. As someone who grew up on mythology (not just Western) and LOTR, I see no issue with reading that/writing it. The Name of the Wind? Well golly, it's too medieval in "flavor." Let's just ignore it.

I agree with it Roxx in that it really has to do with what a writer pulls off in his/her world--regardless of where it i.

I don't know. I just don't get the whole "We must ban a setting from our reading forever because I read one too many books set in medieval times/Atlantis/Mars...."

(ugh)

Oh, and I had so many apostrophes in my names. This was back in the mid-90s when I started writing a trunk novel. LOL. I didn't even realize this was kind of frowned upon until I came to this board. Then I did some research. And more research. And, well, let's just say that I made some tweaks to names on my current WIP.

As for cliches I don't like. I'm on the gender bandwagon here. Stop writing stupid female characters. I don't care if it's a "strong badass woman" who can beat any man. I don't care if it's a princess. I don't care if it's a queen or a warrior maiden or a ninja in leather arching her back on the cover. Just GIVE HER BRAINS, FFS. Make her a thinking, thoughtful being capable of pulling us through a story.

Oh, and wizards in pointy hats. I know it's not done anymore so much, but a friend recommended Terry Goodkind to me. The minute I read whatshis face, Zedicus, with his dumb-ass hat. I closed the book and never opened it again.

silentpoet
06-22-2014, 08:36 AM
Speaking of chosen one and poor use of cliches, did anybody else catch Dominion on scifi channel? It mashed up a bunch of cliches and generally had what I would consider poor writing. However by the end I still found it interesting. Like a weird mashup of Supernatural and the Walking Dead. But they had the low born, orphaned chosen one with a forbidden romance. It was like they went shopping at the cliche store. Still as I said it became interesting to me at the end.

Cliches do exist because for the most part they work/serve a purpose. Good writing can use them just as easily as poor writing. We don't remember all the times the clichés work like say the belgariad(autocorrect tried to turn that into belgarath, odd).

CrastersBabies
06-22-2014, 09:04 AM
Speaking of chosen one and poor use of cliches, did anybody else catch Dominion on scifi channel? It mashed up a bunch of cliches and generally had what I would consider poor writing. However by the end I still found it interesting. Like a weird mashup of Supernatural and the Walking Dead. But they had the low born, orphaned chosen one with a forbidden romance. It was like they went shopping at the cliche store. Still as I said it became interesting to me at the end.

Cliches do exist because for the most part they work/serve a purpose. Good writing can use them just as easily as poor writing. We don't remember all the times the clichés work like say the belgariad(autocorrect tried to turn that into belgarath, odd).

LOL, I'm about to go watch the pilot. "Shopping at the cliche store." Mmmmmm......

Roxxsmom
06-22-2014, 09:45 AM
I'd be okay with, say, a farmboy working in a paddy field in South Asia. Or a farmboy toiling from dawn till dusk at the cotton crop. But if I see a farmboy who's living an idyllic pastoral life rambling through the fields and forests, hunting an occasional rabbit when he feels like it, that's going to annoy me. On top of that, if his happy existence is shaken up either by the minions of the Dark Lord or the revelation (from some Gandalf-type) that he must play a role in saving the land, it's too much.

Or to put it another way, more of the reality and variety of farm life. If there's a fantasy which begins and ends on the hero's emu farm, I'll be the first to read it. :)

Ha! Well, the farms in question aren't too exotic, but none of my characters are actually living on their farms when the story is taking place, and their memories of their childhood are far from idyllic.

Cereus
06-22-2014, 09:50 AM
Lack of research is the cause of those things. They don'y know anything except the same faux medievalism peddled by hundreds of years of no research, so they always repeat the old cliches.
I appreciate the argument you're trying to make, but imo the problem arises at the beginning of a project when the writer decides to set their lovely, troubled characters in hackneyed medieval settings. I love it, but I also find it uninteresting and not-so worthwhile.

Kitty27
06-22-2014, 09:51 AM
I get very pressed when writers obviously use real life POC cultures and people as inspiration for their novels. Then proceed to infuse these characters with every Noble Savage/Dark Horde/SO FREAKY sexual practices tropes known to writerkind. I.can't.stand.it.

Gratuitous violence against women. It makes me think the author has some serious issues he needs to work on when nearly every chapter contains some sort of attack on female characters.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-22-2014, 09:58 AM
I get very pressed when writers obviously use real life POC cultures and people as inspiration for their novels. Then proceed to infuse these characters with every Noble Savage/Dark Horde/SO FREAKY sexual practices tropes known to writerkind. I.can't.stand.it.

Gratuitous violence against women. It makes me think the author has some serious issues he needs to work on when nearly every chapter contains some sort of attack on female characters.



This. There actually are depictions of other cultures than white european in a lot of fantasy. They're just shitty depictions and relegated to exoticism or side-characters.

Mr Flibble
06-22-2014, 02:18 PM
Names -- I'm OK with the occasional apostrophe or umlaut. But when there's and Sha'ke'it'al'labou't AND their sister is called Emily.....



Speak fer yerself... I think she's stunning!! Me too (Old Man has a bit of a thing for her. Her and Yggritte (sp?)


Just GIVE HER BRAINS, FFS. Make her a thinking, thoughtful being capable of pulling us through a story.

I concur in general. I like characters -- male and female -- real (in all the flavours that is) which does sometimes mean doing something stupid.....as long as it's a believable stupid. We all do daft things when we are het up. Soemtimes we fall for someone we really really shoudn't but are blind to how bad they are for us. Having them always do the most smart thing when so pissed off they can't think straight, or when loved up to the eyeballs...I'd rather they did what they thought was the right thing at the time (even if under the clear light of day it might not seem the best thing). But also it has to fit the character. If they aren't the sort to get het up over anything, sure make 'em always do the smart thing. If they're the sort to go off half cocked, them let 'em do that. As long as there is variety. People always doing the smart thing would probably mean less plot :D

But if they are stupid just to further the plot, then yes, they should die horribly.

IMo yada yada.

Putputt
06-22-2014, 02:34 PM
Speak fer yerself... I think she's stunning!!

I don't watch the TV series!! :D So I don't know what the actress who plays her looks like. But in the books she's always described (and treated by the other characters) as unattractive.



But, yeah, I've come to dislike gratuitous pulchritude, where it's like you can't have a hero or heroine unless they're the epitome of classic beauty. Perhaps worse is when the author repeatedly draws attention to how homely or flawed they are. :/Yuh yuh. I was actually kinda annoyed by The First Law graphic novel's depiction of Logen. In the books, he's always described as not very attractive and brutish, but in the graphic novel, he looks all dashing, with a few scars that don't detract from his looks. Pfftt.

Once!
06-22-2014, 02:46 PM
Names -- I'm OK with the occasional apostrophe or umlaut. But when there's and Sha'ke'it'al'labou't AND their sister is called Emily.....

Oh yes - the sci-fi curse of the apostrophe. First we went through the "bingbongs" - Klingon, Vulcan, Romulan, Gondor, Rohan. Two (sometimes three) syllables ending in "or", "on" or "an".

Then we seemed to have a phase of hyphenating everything. Yuan-Ti, Shar-Teel.

Then we started with the apostrophes - the Ba'Ku, T'Pau.

Or maybe all three overlapped and it only felt like we were going through phases.

PeteMC
06-22-2014, 02:52 PM
Yuh yuh. I was actually kinda annoyed by The First Law graphic novel's depiction of Logen. In the books, he's always described as not very attractive and brutish, but in the graphic novel, he looks all dashing, with a few scars that don't detract from his looks. Pfftt.

Heh, I haven't seen the First Law graphic but I've always thought Logan ought to look like Marv from Sin City :D

PeteMC
06-22-2014, 03:01 PM
That's a good point re ASoIaF, and I have wondered myself --where are all the farmers growing the food to support everyone else?? We seem to have a lot of back country, but damn few people doing anything in it... other than tramp across it, sword in hand... thus passing armies have slaughtered all the livestock and trampled all the crops into the dirt. So NOW what do we eat?? Especially out in yon desert, what do a hundred thousand men eat and drink... each other??

All the farmers and other smallfolk are now footmen in all those armies, pressed into service by their lords - see Septon Meribald's speech about Broken Men in AFFC.

And yes, the armies have destroyed the land and the crops, which is shaping up to be a major plot point - there's the mother of all famines coming to Westeros in Winds of Winter. Jaime hints at this with his "plant, and pray for one last harvest" line to old Sir Hogg.

As for crossing the deserts... yeah, I'll give you that one :)

Reziac
06-22-2014, 04:40 PM
Ha! Well, the farms in question aren't too exotic, but none of my characters are actually living on their farms when the story is taking place, and their memories of their childhood are far from idyllic.

Have you been stealing my setting? :D My MC owns a vineyard and winery in the back end of nowhere. When the tale opens he hasn't been home in 9 years, and his premier memory is something nasty that was his own damn fault.


I don't watch the TV series!! :D So I don't know what the actress who plays her looks like. But in the books she's always described (and treated by the other characters) as unattractive.

None of the other actors were an especially good match for my mind's eye from the books. But enter Brienne and I'm like -- I'da known her anywhere! that's HER! :D


Me too (Old Man has a bit of a thing for her. Her and Yggritte (sp?)

I never liked Yggritte. I still don't. The actress nailed her personality dead-on, tho.


All the farmers and other smallfolk are now footmen in all those armies, pressed into service by their lords - see Septon Meribald's speech about Broken Men in AFFC.

And yes, the armies have destroyed the land and the crops, which is shaping up to be a major plot point - there's the mother of all famines coming to Westeros in Winds of Winter. Jaime hints at this with his "plant, and pray for one last harvest" line to old Sir Hogg.

Yep, but by now we should be seeing more of the effect -- it's been what, about 3 or 4 Earth years since this mess started? As some historian once put it, the first time the army crosses, they eat everything the peasants don't manage to hide, make off with all the livestock and all the young men, and there goes half your labor force. The second time, the army scours the farms down to dirt, kills anyone who gets in the way, and now there's nothing left but the old men, and there's no seed left either. After that either there's an outside food source, or everyone starves. We've tramped across Westeros how many times now??

I'm reminded of this hoary tale:
========

An old Pole finds a magic lamp. He rubs it, and out comes a djinn. The djinn says to him, "I will grant you three wishes, but then you must set me free. What is thy bidding?"

The old Pole thinks for a moment, then says: "I wish for all the Cossacks in the world to come riding across the steppe, to loot, pillage, and burn Warsaw, the most beautiful city in the world."

The djinn looks at him funny, but a wish is a wish. And so all the Cossacks in the world came riding across the steppe, looting and pillaging and burning all the way, and have their way with Warsaw, which is now a smoking ruin. Then they ride back into the sunrise with their loot.

"Excellent," says the old Pole. "Now here is my second wish. I wish for all the Cossacks in the world to come riding across the steppe, to loot, pillage, and burn Warsaw, the most beautiful city in the world."

The djinn is starting to think he's seriously teched in the head, but a wish is a wish. And so all the Cossacks in the world came riding across the steppe, looting and pillaging and burning all the way, and... well, there's not much left of Warsaw from the first time, but they salvage what they can, then ride back into the sunrise.

"Even better!" says the old Pole. "Now here is my third wish. I wish for all the Cossacks in the world to come riding across the steppe, to loot, pillage, and burn Warsaw, the most beautiful city in the world."

By now the djinn is sure he's a lunatic, but a wish is a wish. And so all the Cossacks in the world came riding across the steppe, looting and pillaging and burning all the way, and... kick around the ashes, piss on the dirt, swear, and ride back into the sunrise.

"All right," says the djinn, "now I'm free, like we agreed. But first -- tell me. If Warsaw was the most beautiful city in the world, why did you wish the Cossacks to come loot, pillage, and burn it three times??"

The old Pole smiles and says, "They had to cross Russia six times."

=====

Lillith1991
06-22-2014, 05:46 PM
Oh yes - the sci-fi curse of the apostrophe. First we went through the "bingbongs" - Klingon, Vulcan, Romulan, Gondor, Rohan. Two (sometimes three) syllables ending in "or", "on" or "an".

Then we seemed to have a phase of hyphenating everything. Yuan-Ti, Shar-Teel.

Then we started with the apostrophes - the Ba'Ku, T'Pau.

Or maybe all three overlapped and it only felt like we were going through phases.

I think they overlapped. And to be fair with the Vulcan female names, not all of them have appostraphes or if they do, start with the T'P thing. V'Lar a minor one episode character on Star Trek: Enterprise didn't have the T'P thing going on, though she did have the apostraphe thing. Besides, the T'P beginning has a purpose. It's only given to female children in line to be clan matriarch.

Now, the weird apostrophe thing with out a purpose is beyond annoying as hell. I mean, frex, give it a purpose. But that goes for any created naming convention, it needs a purpose so as to not sound like your just doing it to do it. I've been thinking about it because I need to construct two whole worlds for my Epic fantasy trilogy and Star-Crossed (my Scifi interplanetary, lesbian, retelling of Romeo & Juliet). In the case of Star-Crossed, the rival groups use to be one planet. So I need to adjust the names for the development of each culture after they left their original homeworld.

PeteMC
06-22-2014, 07:02 PM
I'm reminded of this hoary tale:


Oh I do like that! :D

CrastersBabies
06-22-2014, 08:42 PM
Speaking of chosen one and poor use of cliches, did anybody else catch Dominion on scifi channel? It mashed up a bunch of cliches and generally had what I would consider poor writing. However by the end I still found it interesting. Like a weird mashup of Supernatural and the Walking Dead. But they had the low born, orphaned chosen one with a forbidden romance. It was like they went shopping at the cliche store. Still as I said it became interesting to me at the end.

Cliches do exist because for the most part they work/serve a purpose. Good writing can use them just as easily as poor writing. We don't remember all the times the clichés work like say the belgariad(autocorrect tried to turn that into belgarath, odd).

Silent Poet, HOLY COW. I watched it last night and I was laughing out loud thinking about your comments here. That first speakover "prologue intro" was like Supernatural + cliche city on crack. It was so heavy handed on the chosen one that it felt like a children's cartoon. (In that aspect)

But, like you, I was still drawn in. Somehow. I think it's Michael. I find him fascinating. The main "chosen one" feels very meh right now--as does his girlfriend. I like his little "kid sister," though.

Buffy's mentor (aka Arthur from Merlin) guy was a bit over the top. Why do villains have to be so incredibly stupid sometimes? YESSS! Let's BREAK OUR CITY'S RULES and put everyone in danger to PROVE that we need to crack down on stuff!

Either way, it's odd how I wasn't completely turned off. It makes me wonder why that's borderline okay for some stories and not others.

Fizgig
06-22-2014, 09:30 PM
Overall, I actually like most fantasy tropes assuming the author creates characters i care about. If I'm invested in the character, she could be a farm girl picking flowers the day the pointy-hatted wizard arrives to tell her she's the chosen one, then her parents are killed and she finds out she's magic (!!!) and is the best fighter in the entire universe.

Things I can't stand:
1. The main female character is/was a prostitute. Yes I know her life was hard and gritty, please come up with some other way to create saucy female characters.
2. Sexual violence depicted lovingly. Book shut.
3. Token bad ass woman character who is nothing but sassy and good at killing.
4. No female characters. With rare, rare exception, I find it hard to get into books entirely devoid of women.

As an aside - I'm an anthropologist with some linguistics background and there are many, many languages around the world that use apostrophes. Those languages are primarily non-Romance languages (many African languages, most of the South Pacific, most indigenous American languages, etc). So hating on apostrophes is really asking writers to make their language more friendly for European readers....

phantasy
06-22-2014, 10:03 PM
Honestly, I'm just sick of boring stories where the magic is really limited or uninteresting. And perfect characters I can't care about. General stuff like that.

And very, very serious characters/worlds who never seem to lighten up. Drives me crazy because all that stone-faced-ness is not realistic to me, if even times were tough.

I don't like all those ritual-scenes either. You know like where the girl is getting married or something and she gets anointed with those ceremonial oils/tattoos/sexual molestation.

If I want creative/interesting/out-there fantasy, I tend to stick to anime. I know it has its own annoying troupes but the really good ones are much, much different than current epic fantasies in the West.

Lillith1991
06-22-2014, 10:12 PM
Overall, I actually like most fantasy tropes assuming the author creates characters i care about. If I'm invested in the character, she could be a farm girl picking flowers the day the pointy-hatted wizard arrives to tell her she's the chosen one, then her parents are killed and she finds out she's magic (!!!) and is the best fighter in the entire universe.

Things I can't stand:
1. The main female character is/was a prostitute. Yes I know her life was hard and gritty, please come up with some other way to create saucy female characters.
2. Sexual violence depicted lovingly. Book shut.
3. Token bad ass woman character who is nothing but sassy and good at killing.
4. No female characters. With rare, rare exception, I find it hard to get into books entirely devoid of women.

As an aside - I'm an anthropologist with some linguistics background and there are many, many languages around the world that use apostrophes. Those languages are primarily non-Romance languages (many African languages, most of the South Pacific, most indigenous American languages, etc). So hating on apostrophes is really asking writers to make their language more friendly for European readers....

Agreed. Though to be fair, taking the apostrophe out of those real word languages changes the meaning of the word, or makes the word no longer a real word. There's a purpose in the apostrophes. Which is why I like languages like vulcan, or the languages Tolkien created. They're living breathing things, with actual rules and scripts. Not just a jumble of sounds which the author threw some apostrophes or dashes at. They're true constructed languages.

Like I made mention of, in vulcan female names tend to have apostrophes then second half of the name. And even within that convention there's a certain aragment giving to those in line to be clan matriarch whether they're first or tenth in line. I think the issue some people have with it is exposure to the throw some letters on the wall and stick apostrophes in a word for no reason at all crowd, something I don't blame them for. Then again, I love languages. I had a dictionary which had a family tree of all human languages when I was a child. A huge old thing I would spend hours looking at the language charts of. I hate, hate, hate when people just stick a few apostrophes in something to make it more exotic to readers. It shows when a writer meant to use them vs a writer just doing it for the hell of it.

ETA: Vulcan uses apostrophes quite a bit, but they never seem useless.

rwm4768
06-22-2014, 10:40 PM
Here's something I'm tired of: unnecessary and lengthy descriptions. Especially when you get into long lists of all the clothing, food, and different people whose names you're never going to remember.

It looks lazy to me, like the author didn't know how to insert those things organically so they just threw them in in one long list. The worst thing is I see this even in acclaimed epic fantasies.

Mr Flibble
06-22-2014, 11:20 PM
Here's something I'm tired of: unnecessary and lengthy descriptions. Especially when you get into long lists of all the clothing, food, and different people whose names you're never going to remember.

I read a book a while ago -- I forget which prolly cos I wanted to delete it from memory -- where a Big Important Speech (which I seem to recall was how the farm boy was really the sekrit king...) and Big Important Speech was interrupted by a discourse on the mating habits of the seals in the bay. Seals who mated a thousand miles away rather than here.

The there was the other one with a description of a lancet. Basic, you'd think, right? It was 187 words, including forging history and previous owners. Tempted to shout "just stab someone with it!". And it was never just a lamp. It was a copper lamp with wibbedly splat glass and thingummy etching and a wick made from virgin's hair and .... 50 pages in, nothing had happened apart from some old biddy turned up and the MC had hurt his leg. Or wait, was that the other one i just described? That's the thing. So much over description and yet they all bleed into one another as I forget the plot while this description mushes my brain

If you are going to describe, at least try to make it specific and unique. Or you know, interesting and relevant to the story at hand.

EA: And food! If you lovingly describe wassname with added thingy sauce, I have no idea what that is. No frame fo reference. It's just cream cake words -- look nice, no nutritional (worldbuilding) value unless I can relate it to what I know. In others words, wibble pie with omg sauce is a smeerp

Calliea
06-22-2014, 11:21 PM
Here's something I'm tired of: unnecessary and lengthy descriptions. Especially when you get into long lists of all the clothing, food, and different people whose names you're never going to remember.

It looks lazy to me, like the author didn't know how to insert those things organically so they just threw them in in one long list. The worst thing is I see this even in acclaimed epic fantasies.

Wasn't aSoIaF full of those? I can't remember that well anymore, but I think we even got told what some dude who dies 3 pages later ate and similar :P

Roxxsmom
06-22-2014, 11:29 PM
Here's something I'm tired of: unnecessary and lengthy descriptions. Especially when you get into long lists of all the clothing, food, and different people whose names you're never going to remember.

It looks lazy to me, like the author didn't know how to insert those things organically so they just threw them in in one long list. The worst thing is I see this even in acclaimed epic fantasies.

This is one nice thing about limited povs. They force you to think about what's relevant to the matter at hand, because that's what your pov character is most likely doing.

Of course then I read some epic novel that wanders off into lots of not-terribly-relevant details anyway, and I wonder if my leaner approach is doing it wrong, since elaborate description is so common, it must mean most readers of the genre want and expect it.


Wasn't aSoIaF full of those? I can't remember that well anymore, but I think we even got told what some dude who dies 3 pages later ate and similar :P

Lots of descriptions of food and the way various character's armor looks. Sometimes it makes sense, like when it's a Sansa Stark chapter and she's noticing the clothes people wear at court.

snafu1056
06-22-2014, 11:29 PM
As an aside - I'm an anthropologist with some linguistics background and there are many, many languages around the world that use apostrophes. Those languages are primarily non-Romance languages (many African languages, most of the South Pacific, most indigenous American languages, etc). So hating on apostrophes is really asking writers to make their language more friendly for European readers....

Its funny that apostrophes are used ad nauseum, but very few writers have the guts to bust out an umlaut now and then.

One question--is an apostrophe there to indicate a pause, or is it just a substitute for sounds that cant be written in English?

rwm4768
06-22-2014, 11:29 PM
Wasn't aSoIaF full of those? I can't remember that well anymore, but I think we even got told what some dude who dies 3 pages later ate and similar :P

Yes, Martin tells good stories, but his lists of these kinds of things detract from the story (for me at least). I remember one time in the second book when he started listing all these different knights I'd never met. I usually skim those parts so I can get to the parts I like.

But some people must enjoy these things. I can see how clothing and food descriptions, if well done, can help immerse the reader in the world. They're just not the reason I read fantasy.

Roxxsmom
06-22-2014, 11:43 PM
Its funny that apostrophes are used ad nauseum, but very few writers have the guts to bust out an umlaut now and then.

One question--is an apostrophe there to indicate a pause, or is it just a substitute for sounds that cant be written in English?

Umlauts are hard to type on a standard US keyboard (without memorizing a bunch of ASCII codes and such). Of course, there are still some folks who love em. I was critting a rather good manuscript a while ago, and the author had this weird affection for diacritics. Even the word dragon was written as drägon.

Marian Perera
06-22-2014, 11:53 PM
Yes, Martin tells good stories, but his lists of these kinds of things detract from the story (for me at least).

You're not the only one. Sometimes I really enjoy knowing what everyone is wearing, e.g. the showdown between the Mountain and Prince Oberyn, where their armor played a significant role in the battle.

Other times, I'm thinking, "So there are seven unnamed girls who don't speak a word in the story and are killed within a page of being introduced... why do I need to know their hair colors, the sizes of their breasts and whether they have piercings?"

Dave.C.Robinson
06-23-2014, 12:02 AM
My issue with apostrophes is simple. I see them misused so often in everyday life that I often, but not always, view their use in fiction with the same jaundiced eye.

If they work, great; if they are used for names like "'The'kewlestsp'ikeyha'iredguy," then I'm going to delete the book immediately. (Not going to throw my Kindle across the room.)

Roxxsmom
06-23-2014, 12:38 AM
My issue with apostrophes is simple. I see them misused so often in everyday life that I often, but not always, view their use in fiction with the same jaundiced eye.

What do you mean apostropie's are misused in daily life? Its as easy as knowing the difference between the word's "loose" and "lose." The grate thing about teh web is how it make's the rule's of grammar and punctuation available to all it's user's.

;)

Mary Thornell
06-23-2014, 01:34 AM
HI guys...semi-new to the board...used to be here long ago, but have since lost the email/account that I used to have, so I made a new one. I like to think I write fantasy, but I write them the way I like to read them. Was largely inspired by Tolkien myself, and for a while was among many who thought fantasy was about doing what he did, but then I read Ursula LeGuin and Rosemary Edghill and Anne McCaffrey and loved their takes. Was especially delighted to find out that LeGuin was the daughter of one of the anthropologists I had to study in college (I was an anth major), which made the world she created that much richer to me. Given all that though, I read less and less fantasy as I was beginning to see more and more of the tropes listed at the beginning of this thread and I was really disappointed. I guess Im still stuck in 'fairy tale' mode and like to see happy endings and an element of support in the fantasy stories I read. What Ive seen happen though is a post-modernist nihilistic "gotta look like it just showed up in the evening news REALISTIC!" I honestly tried liking GRR Martin, but was repulsed several times. No one in the story was likeable to me, and I had a difficult time understanding what the over-all goal for the characters was. It looked like so much Sopranos in medieval gear to me. I just dont like stories like that.

I think Queen of Swords pretty much ran my list of things Im tired of seeing in fantasy novels. My apologies ahead of time for boggarting the list, but you stated it well.


As Anninyn said, a lack of imagination. I'm really tired of the "you killed my father" plot which sets the orphaned protagonist up against the Dark Lord, for instance.

Yeah, that one's real old...especially since a particular...*ahem* creator...followed up with some pretty crappy backstory to explain what was pretty much an effective reveal at the time it occurred (anyone here a SW fan?)


Rape or pedophilia being used to show how eeeevil the antagonist is. Also, if every other woman in the novel/series gets raped but the hero's love interest escapes, I'll never read anything from that author again.

OMG - this times 50. Rapes a horrible thing to contemplate for a woman anyway, so I know why its tempting to use this to drive home how bad a person can be, but its such a knee jerk way of eliciting horror in a reader (how many guys are horrified by it or titillated by the idea? When someone uses this trope nowadays I really wonder what it is they're trying to do. Certainly not to dissuade men from raping. Its even worse when I hear the cry "but its REALISTIC. Youre NAIVE if you think it doesnt happen." I don't read fantasy because I want REALISM...I'll turn on the evening news or even better yet, call up my Bestie who happens to be a Crime Scene Tech...you want REALISM? Talk to your local police officer about some of the scenes he's had to respond to. The things REAL people do to each other is often a lot worse. No, I read fantasy because I want to see a character grow and accomplish a goal, not have vile things happen to them. Rising above rape is absolutely laudable, but not the only horrible thing to overcome.

Sorry for the rant, but this one hits a real nerve I have with modern fantasy. I know its a trope in and of itself to fall back onto Tolkien and Lewis, but they WERE able to convey Ultimate Evil without having to resort to personal horror or titillation.


The hero is horribly hurt so we can be shocked and sympathetic, but recovers overnight so he can fight the antagonist. Or shag his woman, e.g. the "walnuts" subplot in the Runelords books.

ROFL - Im not*much of a Hurt/Heal fan myself. I see that as either an 'end of the story' feature, not as something to build a plot around. The results rather than the impetus.


Magic is linked to virginity or diminishes during menstruation.

That alone is such a hoary old plot that any time I see it I set it down immediately. Well...except for Rosemary Edghill's book "Sword of Maiden's Tears"...but by the time this was figured out/revealed as a plot point for the character, I was so invested in her fine writing and story, it made perfect sense.


Characters give lip service to the idea that women can be in charge, but most women in positions of authority are sexually sadistic psychopaths. Good women are those who love children and appreciate a strong man at their side.

Id also like to add a female character that is supposed to become a love interest for the male protagonist, but is actually a tom-boy who 'rebel's against the 'traditional' roles a woman like her would have in her time/setting/situation. She doesnt "mince and purr and flirt" like other women, but people instantly like her because she's blunt and matter of fact, just like a boy. She doesnt sew or cook or dance or any of those other "girly" things, but she's perfect in all the things a boy of her time/place/situation would be. So in order for a GIRL to be considered "advanced" and "unique" and "capable" she has to be...a boy?! Why not just make her a BOY? For once I'd like to see a 'girly-girl' sew, cook, dance, flirt, AND show her mettle to the Boys in her position. Its like that scene from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" -- "he may be the head of the family, but *I* am the NECK...and I can turn him ANY WAY I WANT"

THAT'S girl power!

Liosse de Velishaf
06-23-2014, 01:54 AM
As an aside - I'm an anthropologist with some linguistics background and there are many, many languages around the world that use apostrophes. Those languages are primarily non-Romance languages (many African languages, most of the South Pacific, most indigenous American languages, etc). So hating on apostrophes is really asking writers to make their language more friendly for European readers....


I disagree that that's the issue with hating on apostrophes. My backgroud is in linguistics (among other things), so I know a bit about the use of apostrophes in various orthographies(writing systems).

Apostrophes have been commonly used to denote a glottal stop. Using a standard keyboard, they're one of the simplest ways to do this. In a related use, they can follow a consonant to show that the consonant is "ejective", that is, that it is pronounced with a simultaneous closure of the glottis.

Those are non-English uses. In English, they're usually used to show an elision, the deletion of a sound or a contraction. <'s> in English is the written form of what was once <es>, the genitive ending in the old English case system, which we have lost. The apostrophe shows the <e> that we no longer pronounce in all cases. You're all probably familiar with the use of the apostrophe in contractions such as "do not" becoming "don't".


Getting back to the idea that hating on apostrophes is showing a discomfort towards non-English languages, I think if we did a survey, the vast majority of gratuitous apostrophe use in speculative fiction would come down not to well-researched and legitimate inclusion of language with non-English features, but rather an attempt at exoticism that has no basis in actual understanding of how real-world languages that make use of the apostrophe function.

Mr Flibble
06-23-2014, 02:04 AM
Why not just make her a BOY?

Because some girls like "boy stuff" and some boys like "girl stuff" and it shouldn't be gender related? "What girls like" is pretty much driven by the media rather than what girls actually like, afaic. Most of the women I know love blood and guts in their stories for instance....*

Though you never see boys doing girl stuff in fantasy I notice...



*Tiresome Stroppy Princess Syndrome is a problem though. It can get damned annoying. But I can also see why it;s there -- because the author has set up a patriarchal society and needs some conflict for the girlies *eyeroll* But ideally girls and boys should be doing the sameshit

Mary Thornell
06-23-2014, 02:12 AM
Because some girls like "boy stuff" and some boys like "girl stuff" and it shouldn't be gender related? "What girls like" is pretty much driven by the media rather than what girls actually like, afaic. Most of the women I know love blood and guts in their stories for instance....*

Though you never see boys doing girl stuff in fantasy I notice...



*Tiresome Stroppy Princess Syndrome is a problem though. It can get damned annoying. But I can also see why it;s there

True, Mr. Flibble, but my point was that if you wanted a BOY-like character, just make him a boy? For me the implication that has become a HUGE trope in fantasy is that a girl can only become a heroine in a fantasy by doing BOY things...there is a distinct distaste and contempt by the Tomboy characters against 'traditional' girls...as if those girls are incapable of becoming heroines themselves. For once Id like to see a female heroine who gets all 'stroppy' as you put it ;) but also does things like...crochet...or bakes a pretty serious batch of cookies. I think Id like to see more of the "nurture" come out in a female character...perhaps she learns how to fight not only for self-defense and to prove to the lads down at the barracks that she too can take on the enemy, but to also protect those those things that she has spent time nurturing...like the children at the orphanage that she's spent time playing with, or the widows whose husbands died in the war and work with her to darn socks for the other soldiers...(Melanie Wilkes anyone?)

Marian Perera
06-23-2014, 02:15 AM
Oh, and one more thing about exotic languages...

I only saw this in one book, but that one was enough. Characters have names with triple consonants, like Rekkk. There was an appendix at the back with rules of pronunciation, but I didn't think of checking the back of the book. I just struggled through it mentally saying, "Rek-kuh-kuh", like I had a stuttering problem.

Then when I finally reached the end, and found out it was pronounced "Rawk" (why not just call him Rawk, then?) I decided never to read anything in that series again.


For once Id like to see a female heroine who gets all 'stroppy' as you put it ;) but also does things like...crochet...or bakes a pretty serious batch of cookies.

My shark sorceress does embroidery in her spare time. I liked the contrast.

Mr Flibble
06-23-2014, 02:26 AM
For me the implication that has become a HUGE trope in fantasy is that a girl can only become a heroine in a fantasy by doing BOY things...

I agree with you there (if not the tomboy thing, cos I am one... And I therefore don't see why I cannot appear in fictional form :P)

Variety is the key. If you have one tomboy, you need a bloke who is into softer things, or a female who is more ladylike in her strength. Sometimes a tomboy can be a great foil/opposite to a FMC who is not.

Tbh I am not against any character per se. Depending on how they are written.

It's how they are used. Characters who do stupid things (Jayne, firefly, Will, POtC) Tomboys (Arya, Alana from the Tamora Pierce books) Feminine characters (Dany, Sansa,) or a mix (Morgaine, CJ Cherryh, one of my fave all time characters.) Characters who transcend their gender (Granny Weatherwax)

Character is first.Stupid ones, smart ones, feminine, masculine, whatever. Make them real and I prolly won't care about anything else.

They don;t all need to be smart

The women don't all need to conform to media representation of "women"
The men don;t need to conform to media representation of "men"
They just need to be good.
Make them crap I will probably nitpick the poor gits to death

Filigree
06-23-2014, 02:30 AM
Also a linguistic hobbyist, so I prize apostrophes used well. Generally, I find that authors who invest time in solid worldbuilding handle language issues with skill.

I'm frankly getting tired of excessive grimdark for its own sake, but I'll accept it if the writing is great.

The main thing that drives me away from a *lot* of new epic fantasy is the overhype from publishers. I get why they do it, but I get sad/angry when I see sample text that doesn't live up to the promise. I keep wondering 'Are we looking at the same book? Because I would like to read the book you told me about.'

Mary Thornell
06-23-2014, 02:33 AM
I agree with you there (if not the tomboy thing, cos I am one... And I therefore don't see why I cannot appear in fictional form :P)

Variety is the key. If you have one tomboy, you need a bloke who is into softer things, or a female who is more ladylike in her strength. Sometimes a tomboy can be a great foil/opposite to a FMC who is not.

Tbh I am not against any character per se. Depending on how they are written.

It's how they are used. Characters who do stupid things (Jayne, firefly, Will, POtC) Tomboys (Arya, Alana from the Tamora Pierce books) Feminine characters (Dany, Sansa,) or a mix (Morgaine, CJ Cherryh, one of my fave all time characters.) Characters who transcend their gender (Granny Weatherwax)

Character is first.Stupid ones, smart ones, feminine, masculine, whatever. Make them real and I prolly won't care about anything else.

Make them crap I will probably nitpick the poor gits to death

Im so sorry, in my whining I didnt mean to suggest what I was complaining about and say that there shouldn't be any tomboys...I did not think through my reply well enough. My apologies. I do not wish to see tomboy characters go away! I think I was just subconsciously reacting to friends Ive had in the past who would sneer at things that I essentially liked ie sewing, dressing in skirts, being prim and proper etc. And youre absolutely right about the foil...the VARIETY makes the character interesting. Totally agree with your comments :)

BTW Im a Red Dwarf fan as well :) :)

Calliea
06-23-2014, 02:35 AM
Some points raised in this thread made me wonder. Most didn't speak of it though, so I'll ask :D

How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?

Do I put a comma before "or" when there's 3+ options, always, or never? <that sneaked right in, right?>

Roxxsmom
06-23-2014, 02:50 AM
OMG - this times 50. Rapes a horrible thing to contemplate for a woman anyway, so I know why its tempting to use this to drive home how bad a person can be, but its such a knee jerk way of eliciting horror in a reader (how many guys are horrified by it or titillated by the idea?

This completely, and it's not just horrific for women either. Men are raped too, both by other men (it's a serious problem in warfare (http://world.time.com/2011/08/03/rape-as-a-weapon-of-war-men-suffer-too/)), and even by women (http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/04/male_rape_in_america_a_new_study_reveals_that_men_ are_sexually_assaulted.html) sometimes (and they have an even tougher time being believed or getting sympathy when this happens). Yet for all the cries of "We have to show rape in fantasy, because it's realistic," it's amazing how even the grimmest and darkest of fantasy writers tend to steer clear of showing rape with male victims (unless they're young children sometimes).

There was another long thread about this a while ago, and lots of ideas were floated about why this is so (and about why dismemberment and mutilation are more common fates for male characters who are tortured in fantasy), but I suspect it's because sexual assault is seen as something that can make a female character more sympathetic but a male character less so (because it forces him into a role many people regard as "feminine").

I don't think anything should be off limits, and sometimes there's a legitimate reason why rape (of either gender) could realistically and reasonably be part of a character's backstory, or even happen on screen. But it does seem to be the go-to trauma for female characters, especially when an author wants to create interesting back story or wants a quick way to show the reader how badly things suck in their world.


Some points raised in this thread made me wonder. Most didn't speak of it though, so I'll ask :D

How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?

Do I put a comma before "or" when there's 3+ options, always, or never? <that sneaked right in, right?>

This is an interesting question, and my answer is that I've read and enjoyed stories that have fallen along the entire spectrum. I want there to be stakes I can care about, and there needs to be some tension or conflict in a story, along with genuine fear that the character you love could fail and die. Overall, I prefer endings that are somewhat happy, where the character I bonded with has at least a chance at happiness, but sometimes a bittersweet or tragic ending is the one that makes the most sense for a given story.

I can enjoy stories that fall anywhere along the LoTR to Joe Abercrombie grittiness index, but my sweet spot is probably somewhere in the middle, or maybe a little on the gritty side of the middle. That's more or less where I shoot for with my writing too.

Fairy tale worlds are fine if I'm in a mood for a romance type story, or something that's examining that cliche in some amusing way, or if it's just a well-done example of one of those kinds of tales, but that's not my go-to subgenre of fantasy these days.

As for realistic (since neither Abercrombie nor Tolkien had terribly realistic worlds), well I have magic, but I tend to consider Sanderson's Laws when magic is an important part of the story. I try to have things exist for a reason in my world, and for the fantasy elements to be internally consistent, but I don't feel compelled to make my fantasy feel like a perfect replica of history. The world in my current work is at a roughly renaissance/early enlightenment level of development, but it's not our world, and in the end, I'll make it what it needs to be for the stories I want to tell. So darn it, my healer character knows it's a good idea to boil her instruments to drive off the miasmas and to wash her hands between patients (since her magical talent lets her sense the "miasmas" that cause infection), even though that notion didn't catch on until the industrial age in our world (at least in Europe and the US).

Mary Thornell
06-23-2014, 02:50 AM
Some points raised in this thread made me wonder. Most didn't speak of it though, so I'll ask :D

How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?

Do I put a comma before "or" when there's 3+ options, always, or never? <that sneaked right in, right?>

A) Fairy tale side - but organic. Im a big believer in how Tolkien viewed fairy tale. I dislike allegory intensely...which is why I had a hard time reading Lewis. Not that I didnt like the Narnia Chronicles...but I found it too on the nose.

B) Um...Just hopeful and some amount of transcendence? It doesnt all have to be Happy Happy Joy Joy...can't appreciate the light without the dark. Nihilism or grittiness for the sake of it kind of removes it from fantasy for me...goes back to the fairy tale element. Fairy tales acted as a subconscious means of breaking the Bad News of the Real World.

C) Happy and bittersweet. I think I know why I dont like the more 'noir'/"bad" endings, and its personal more than anything else...a long story that I dont want to bore one with, but at least with a bittersweet ending theres a sense of survival. Devastation is just too triggering for me...

*throws her hands up in surrender when it comes to commas* youd think after homeschooling my daughter with english assignments id have a comment about that...

slhuang
06-23-2014, 03:02 AM
Some points raised in this thread made me wonder. Most didn't speak of it though, so I'll ask :D

How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side? Realistic is generally what ends up pushing my buttons more, but I'll read either.

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope? I'm on the continuum -- I lean toward dark but grimdark torture porn is way too far for me. I need some of each, but I like it slanted toward grit and difficulty.

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds? Bittersweet! Happy endings that don't feel earned are too saccharine; crapsack endings are just needlessly depressing and feel pointless. (Though of course there are exceptions. Some books HAVE to end tragically. Or wonderfully.)


.

Marian Perera
06-23-2014, 03:08 AM
...I suspect it's because sexual assault is seen as something that can make a female character more sympathetic but a male character less so (because it forces him into a role many people regard as "feminine").

Oh, this reminded me of something reprehensible. Warning : the following may be nausea-inducing.

Some time ago I read Orson Scott Card's How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. One of the books Card praised highly was M. J. Engh's Arslan, so I checked it out.

Arslan is a general who conquers a small town in Illinois. To show the townspeople he means business, he publicly rapes a girl and a boy, both fourteen. It was grotesque to read. I only kept going because I wanted to see him die, but as it turned out, the book is all about what happens when a monster takes over, and it would spoil the nihilism if someone killed the monster.

But the best part was when Arslan takes the boy he raped as his lover because, as he explains to someone, when a girl is forced, it makes her feel more of a woman. But when that happens to a boy, it diminishes him, so Arslan needs to compensate for this slight gaffe he's committed in the boy's direction. And these crimes, as far as I recall, are never addressed. They're just treated as one more thing he does on his way to world domination.

The book has its champions, but it's one of those I wish I had never even heard of, let alone read.

Reziac
06-23-2014, 03:09 AM
...english assignments id...

The dark undermind of English. :eek:

Now I want to read a story about this. :D

Reziac
06-23-2014, 03:26 AM
Oh, this reminded me of something reprehensible. Warning : the following may be nausea-inducing.

Some time ago I read Orson Scott Card's How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. One of the books Card praised highly was M. J. Engh's Arslan, so I checked it out.

Arslan is a general who conquers a small town in Illinois.

Well, after he conquers the rest of the world. Jo Walton's larger summary and review is here (http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/in-order-to-save-it-mj-enghs-a-wind-from-bukharaarslan). I think this article nails it -- Ms.Engh was exploring the logical conclusion of an ugly social premise, not promoting it. It is supposed to be disturbing, on multiple levels. It succeeds admirably at what it means to do.

I thought Ms.Engh (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._J._Engh) had a page up with her own perspective, but now I can't find it.

Filigree
06-23-2014, 03:37 AM
I tend to like bittersweet instead of saccharine or crapsack. +10 if a book can make me smile through tears. I also like it when characters don't take the easy or expected path.

Marian Perera
06-23-2014, 03:43 AM
Well, after he conquers the rest of the world. Jo Walton's larger summary and review is here (http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/in-order-to-save-it-mj-enghs-a-wind-from-bukharaarslan). I think this article nails it -- Ms.Engh was exploring the logical conclusion of an ugly social premise, not promoting it. It is supposed to be disturbing, on multiple levels. It succeeds admirably at what it means to do.

I still couldn't stand it.

Maybe I'm just not the type of reader who can take disturbing without any kind of hope to leaven it, or maybe the rapes (and the lack of anything positive for the victims) meant I could never appreciate the book's finer points. Either way, though, it didn't work for me.

Roxxsmom
06-23-2014, 03:50 AM
When reading a book written in the point of view of a character, it is important to remember that the character's world view (even if they're a much more likable person than this general) is not necessarily the author's, and that even very good pov characters can be woefully wrong about a lot of things. But as a writer, it's also possible that it can be taken as such. I don't think fiction should be a soapbox for the author's beliefs, but when a character believes something that's not only wrong, but blatantly harmful, especially if a lot of people still believe it in the real world (like, ahem, that raping a boy makes him gay and raping a girl makes her more feminine), I'd argue that it's a darned good idea to at least raise the possibility that the pov character is wrong.

Haven't read the book in question, so I don't know if the author did this. Sometimes the repulsiveness of the person holding a viewpoint like the one given above is enough to make it clear that the author isn't endorsing their opinions.

bearilou
06-23-2014, 03:53 AM
--Rape as the go-to trauma for women when men get to have a variety of reasons for their hang ups and personal demons.

I'm really very tolerant of my fantasy. This one? Yeah, that one is a cover-closer. I'll put it down and walk away.


Also, whenever a FMC is described as "feisty", I just want to bite the author's legs off.

Absolutely with you on this.


How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?

No crapsack worlds with crapsack endings, I'll take bittersweet and happy endings.

I like my fantasy heroic. With heroic-y heroes.

Mostly, I want fantasy to not bore the crap out of me. I can deal with pretty much anything you can throw, cliche or not, (even crapsack but I won't be really happy about it), but don't bore me.

Atalanta
06-23-2014, 03:59 AM
I think I was just subconsciously reacting to friends Ive had in the past who would sneer at things that I essentially liked ie sewing, dressing in skirts, being prim and proper etc.

On a related note (maybe close to what you're talking about), I roll my eyes when an author portrays female side-characters as bitchy, gossipy, shallow, etc. -- you know, the ones who aren't hauling around two-handed swords. It's almost as if the author is insecure about her "strong" female MC and needs to contrast her to "wimpy" feminine women. Ugh.



How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side? Realistic.

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope? I don't care, as long as the characters are redeemable in some way.

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds? Bittersweet is the best!

Do I put a comma before "or" when there's 3+ options, always, or never? <that sneaked right in, right?> Isn't there a name for that? The Oxford comma? I don't know how people live without that thing. I notice every single time someone leaves it out.

Marian Perera
06-23-2014, 04:01 AM
When reading a book written in the point of view of a character, it is important to remember that the character's world view (even if they're a much more likable person than this general) is not necessarily the author's, and that even very good pov characters can be woefully wrong about a lot of things. But as a writer, it's also possible that it can be taken as such. I don't think fiction should be a soapbox for the author's beliefs, but when a character believes something that's not only wrong, but blatantly harmful, especially if a lot of people still believe it in the real world (like, ahem, that raping a boy makes him gay and raping a girl makes her more feminine), I'd argue that it's a darned good idea to at least raise the possibility that the pov character is wrong.

Haven't read the book in question, so I don't know if the author did this.

I read the book some time ago, so a lot of details are hazy in my memory now (and I haven't read any articles or reviews of it). What I do remember is this overall attitude of "he's too powerful and/or charismatic to resist, better just give in".

To put it another way, I could no more read this with any sense of awe or fascination than I could read a Song of Ice and Fire novel that was all about how Joffrey raped and slaughtered his way through Westeros because, after all, he was a vicious psychopath, and that's what psychopaths do in power, and it's terrible to witness. Even if that was the point of the novel. I'm sure this would work for some readers, but it would have crossed the grimdark threshold at a run for me, and kept running.

Wilde_at_heart
06-23-2014, 04:51 AM
--Rape as the go-to trauma for women when men get to have a variety of reasons for their hang ups and personal demons....

I'm really very tolerant of my fantasy. This one? Yeah, that one is a cover-closer. I'll put it down and walk away.



For me too. I've never even experienced such a thing, but I've yet to read further if I come across a rape scene in a book. Same with violence aimed at children or animals.


Some points raised in this thread made me wonder. Most didn't speak of it though, so I'll ask :D

How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side? Fairy tale

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope? somewhere in-between

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?

Do I put a comma before "or" when there's 3+ options, always, or never? <that sneaked right in, right?>

Liosse de Velishaf
06-23-2014, 06:46 AM
Some points raised in this thread made me wonder. Most didn't speak of it though, so I'll ask :D

How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?

I also prefer a combo of fairy-tale and realistic. You can play with the ratios for variety.


Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?

I prefer a balance of gritty and hope-filled, the whole chiaroscuro aesthetic and all that. You can play with the ratios, but you need some sort of contrast, or it's just boring.


Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?

I prefer bittersweet trending towards tragic. I'll take an overly-crapsack ending over an overly-gift-wrapped happy one, but that doesn't mean I like crap-sack in general.


Do I put a comma before "or" when there's 3+ options, always, or never? <that sneaked right in, right?>

It's called "the Oxford comma", which is ironic since the Oxford style manual no longer requires it. Personally, I think it provides a valuable service disambiguating things in lists. But some people feel it's not worth the benefit.

Mr Flibble
06-23-2014, 07:48 AM
Im so sorry, in my whining I didnt mean to suggest what I was complaining about and say that there shouldn't be any tomboys...

Lawks, never apologise for what you don't like! It's so subjective, and I totally agree about tomboys who sneer or Spoilt Princess Syndrome. But honestly I can say "I don't like this" and then someone turns around and executes it beautifully...

ETA There's two sides to everything in a way (or different ways of looking at it -- these threads have made me look at things very differently, and sometimes take another look at things I've said I don't like. And often I realise it's the execution, not the trope I don't like) I'm not arguing you should like what you don't. Though my posts do seem to look that way....I need to express myself better!


Some points raised in this thread made me wonder. Most didn't speak of it though, so I'll ask :D

How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?

Realistic but with a slosh of hope for the human condition. Bit of a sucker for bitter-sweet endings too

Hapax Legomenon
06-23-2014, 08:14 AM
I guess I never got what people meant by "realism" in this context.

Xelebes
06-23-2014, 08:25 AM
Realism should be mostly small gains, small losses with the occasional big gains and big losses. Nothing is presented larger than life.

Or at least that is what I think it is supposed to mean.

Bittersweet endings are not realistic if they are presented with preceding stakes as being larger than life.

Roxxsmom
06-23-2014, 08:27 AM
It's so subjective, and I totally agree about tomboys who sneer or Spoilt Princess Syndrome.

Heh, I've got a spoiled prince in the novel I'm writing now. I'm already thinking of him as "snot boy" inside my head.

As for happy endings, I'm fine with them so long as they're earned and so long as they're plausible. I don't tend to like stories as much where everything has simple answers or is black and white, but real life has plenty of sad endings. I like to be able to think of he characters I've bonded with in books having a reasonably happy ever after at some point at least, and I actually like it if they find a way to cheat certain doom in some way and pull off a happier ending than I feared they would get (so long as its not a deus ex machina). Looks like I'm a decided minority, though, which makes me wonder how the happily ever after trope ever became common enough to even feel trite to most people.

Hapax Legomenon
06-23-2014, 08:34 AM
Possibly it's only my view of reality I always thought of it as undramatic or anticlimactic, so I was confused by the use of "reality" to describe things that, to me, seemed very unrealistic.

rwm4768
06-23-2014, 08:58 AM
How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?

I like the range depending on my mood. My writing tends to feature plots that edge more toward the fairy tale side, but I like to handle them realistically.


Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?

I like to find the happy medium. By all means, torture your characters, but give me some hope in the end. I find Brandon Sanderson's stories are a good example of what I like. These are worlds with all kinds of problems, but you always feel like there's hope.

However, stories that are too light and fluffy tend not to work for me (in adult fantasy at least). If I'm reading MG, though, I'm fine with it.

Then there's the other extreme, where you get things like Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns. I can appreciate what he did, but I simply couldn't stand the story, and especially the main character.


Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?

Bittersweet endings leaning toward happy. In essence, I like the happy ending that comes at great cost. It makes the ending all the more powerful.


Do I put a comma before "or" when there's 3+ options, always, or never? <that sneaked right in, right?>

I always put it in there, but I believe it's optional. I personally like it because when you don't include it, it can lead to ambiguity.

slhuang
06-23-2014, 09:00 AM
Possibly it's only my view of reality I always thought of it as undramatic or anticlimactic, so I was confused by the use of "reality" to describe things that, to me, seemed very unrealistic.

Ha, you made me stop and think about what I mean when I say that! And I think I have an answer.

By "realism" I tend to mean that the characters deal with their struggles in very human ways, and actions have believable consequences.

For instance, let's take two of the best-known epic fantasies: Wheel of Time and ASOIAF, and how they deal with romantic relationships.

Wheel of Time tends to have people pairing up in fated, "perfect" couplings. Every love story is epic. Love is never unrequited. When the main character falls in love with three different women, they all fall deeply in love back, and they end up having a sort of four-way bonding ceremony. I only made it to book 10 or 11, but that's a lot of words and I honestly can't think of a "good guy" character (and WoT, though it has its shades of gray, also has a fair bit of black and white about who the good guys and who the bad guys are) who ends up in a messy relationship.

Whereas in ASOIAF, I can't think of a single person who's not in a messy relationship. Take even a couple who loves each other, Ned and Catelyn: they had an arranged marriage after she was supposed to marry his older brother. They grew to love and respect each other, but they still have stresses and issues and motivations that don't match up perfectly with each other. Much like you'd expect most real people to have, were they in that situation. (i.e., even if the situations themselves that they're thrust into aren't ones we can relate to in our own lives, their actions and reactions to those situations seem very believable, as do the consequences of those actions, whether internal or external. And things don't always work out nicely with a bow.)

Relationships aren't the only thing, of course, but I think that's a good highlight of the difference, for me. :D

silentpoet
06-23-2014, 09:34 AM
Silent Poet, HOLY COW. I watched it last night and I was laughing out loud thinking about your comments here. That first speakover "prologue intro" was like Supernatural + cliche city on crack. It was so heavy handed on the chosen one that it felt like a children's cartoon. (In that aspect)

But, like you, I was still drawn in. Somehow. I think it's Michael. I find him fascinating. The main "chosen one" feels very meh right now--as does his girlfriend. I like his little "kid sister," though.

Buffy's mentor (aka Arthur from Merlin) guy was a bit over the top. Why do villains have to be so incredibly stupid sometimes? YESSS! Let's BREAK OUR CITY'S RULES and put everyone in danger to PROVE that we need to crack down on stuff!

Either way, it's odd how I wasn't completely turned off. It makes me wonder why that's borderline okay for some stories and not others.

I do think Michael is the most interesting maybe because he seems somewhat conflicted. He is not a cliche character.

I can't really point to much good writing in it, but like junk food or Jerry Springer it has a strange compelling quality. Like I want to see what they are going to do next. And maybe as a writing lesson it is useful in the same way that bad writing is easier to learn from than good writing.

I do not know why some cliche containing stories don't work and some do. Maybe because they are better crafted. The Belgariad has most every cliche mentioned in this thread, even the serpent queen thing, and yet I read it a few times a year. But woe to he who reads Eddings later stuff. Just not as well crafted. Maybe it is the time spent polishing the story, fixing it from the bigger plotting issues down to the sentence level, that makes a story work.

mpack
06-23-2014, 11:45 AM
How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?

I prefer realistic, but I've enjoyed many fairy tale-esque stories as well.


Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?

I tend to prefer darker stories.


Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?

Whichever makes the most sense for the story. Since I prefer realistic, somewhat dark narratives, that tends to the bittersweet and darker endings. A well told happy ending can be fantastic, but it has to be earned, and often the earning renders it bittersweet.


Do I put a comma before "or" when there's 3+ options, always, or never? <that sneaked right in, right?>

Always, except when you shouldn't, as in the example of that sentence.

PeteMC
06-23-2014, 01:38 PM
How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side? Realistic, by which I mean normal-ish people facing normal-ish problems (war, famine, politics etc) not the Chosen One facing the Dark Lord of Darkness.

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope? Gritty, for sure. Not sure my definition of "dark" is the same as other peoples. I'm a sucker for GRRM, Abercrombie, Lawrence, Lynch et al. I can't stand "fluffy" fantasy as a rule, although I quite enjoyed WOT until Sanderson got hold of it.

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds? Whatever works for the story. I'm not actually a big fan of crapsack endings unless there's a good reason for it. Bittersweet usually works for me.


I'm also one of those seemingly unusual people who can really get into the nerdbuilding (I made a new word, woohoo!) aspects - heraldry, family trees, who's great-grandmother married the uncle of the last Duke of somewhere that's not even in the book and that's why Tom is Dick's heir and not Harry, all that sort of thing. I'm sad, I know... :)

Dave.C.Robinson
06-23-2014, 02:38 PM
I'm pretty good with a range of tones, but I'm not fond of tragedy and I absolutely despise bleak.

At the very least, the book needs some hope, somewhere, or I'm not interested.

Reziac
06-23-2014, 04:34 PM
Maybe it is the time spent polishing the story, fixing it from the bigger plotting issues down to the sentence level, that makes a story work.

The time or the skill or maybe who the final editor was, depending on the work. (I've read a few things where it's pretty obvious that part of it was polished by an experienced editor, and the rest was never touched by any hand but the author's.)

But I think that's a good point. Tho my preference is over toward grimdark, I'll read all sorts of stuff (bright to dark, happy to grim to bleak) provided the words flow along well enough that my attention isn't drawn to stuff I maybe don't like as much.

Lissibith
06-23-2014, 04:38 PM
I'm going to sound so wishy-washy and indecisive here but...


How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?
Either. My favorite fantasy books include Split Heirs and A Feast for Crows. Sometimes I want politics and down-to-earth concerns. Other times I want big magic and larger than life characters.


Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?
Both. I've gotten tired at times of how certain genres and stuff seem to be moving more and more exclusively to grim, dark stories. *Side-eyes DC comics* If I'm only reading one type for an extended period, I start to lose appreciation and patience for it.


Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?
I hate neat-as-a-bow endings unless I'm reading something intended for middle-grade readers (and sometimes not even then). Else, make the ending fit the story and I'm not much bothered about what sort it is.


Do I put a comma before "or" when there's 3+ options, always, or never? <that sneaked right in, right?>
As I understand it, it's personal preference. I usually don't because I've been in journalism for 14 years now and you just don't do that in a newspaper most of the time. Exception: include it when it will aid in clarity (example: "Sandwich types included chicken, ham and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly." )

Roxxsmom
06-23-2014, 09:50 PM
Whereas in ASOIAF, I can't think of a single person who's not in a messy relationship.
Relationships aren't the only thing, of course, but I think that's a good highlight of the difference, for me. :D

I was thinking about this the other day, re Abercrombie's books too, but it's similar with ASoIaF.

But my take on it was different, that these were tending towards unrealistic in the other direction, since no romance ends satisfactorily.

Maybe it's because I'm happily married to my best friend, and I know plenty of other couples who are also happy in love (I even knew a fellow who was in an arranged marriage, and he and his wife were very much in love, and unlike Ned and Caitlyn, no one got their head chopped off). To me, realistic means that relationships take work to maintain, they hit bumps sometimes, and some relationships work out and some don't. Of course, these grimdark stories take place in worlds where people tend to die a lot, so it makes sense that some happy couples will be torn apart by circumstances, but it's down to where one wants to focus their attention in a story. Some people like traditional romantic arcs where the happy ending is part of the package, and you don't follow the couple after they get together at all. Others like to see the issues a couple must surmount/balance to stay a couple and reach the larger goals of the story. Others like to see couples torn apart by death or betrayal. I tend to be in the middle there, at least for the characters who are most central to a story (and most of the books I read have fewer protagonists than ASoIaF or WoT) though seeing the other extremes happening can work too.

Atalanta
06-23-2014, 10:33 PM
As I understand it, it's personal preference. I usually don't because I've been in journalism for 14 years now and you just don't do that in a newspaper most of the time. Exception: include it when it will aid in clarity (example: "Sandwich types included chicken, ham and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly." )

I've stopped putting two spaces after a period, but if you want my Oxford comma you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hand. ;)

Hapax Legomenon
06-24-2014, 12:35 AM
I would find both a happy and unhappy relationship realistic, what I would judge realism on is whether or not events occur and drive towards a certain end. A happy ending and an unhappy ending are equally unrealistic to a story that has no ending but instead a bunch of unanswered questions.

Because of this I find comedies to often be the most realistic because of all the downtime usually given for jokes, with fairytales and grit both being very unrealistic.

slhuang
06-24-2014, 01:13 AM
I was thinking about this the other day, re Abercrombie's books too, but it's similar with ASoIaF.

But my take on it was different, that these were tending towards unrealistic in the other direction, since no romance ends satisfactorily.

Maybe it's because I'm happily married to my best friend, and I know plenty of other couples who are also happy in love (I even knew a fellow who was in an arranged marriage, and he and his wife were very much in love, and unlike Ned and Caitlyn, no one got their head chopped off). To me, realistic means that relationships take work to maintain, they hit bumps sometimes, and some relationships work out and some don't. Of course, these grimdark stories take place in worlds where people tend to die a lot, so it makes sense that some happy couples will be torn apart by circumstances, but it's down to where one wants to focus their attention in a story. Some people like traditional romantic arcs where the happy ending is part of the package, and you don't follow the couple after they get together at all. Others like to see the issues a couple must surmount/balance to stay a couple and reach the larger goals of the story. Others like to see couples torn apart by death or betrayal. I tend to be in the middle there, at least for the characters who are most central to a story (and most of the books I read have fewer protagonists than ASoIaF or WoT) though seeing the other extremes happening can work too.

Ah, well, I just saw the unusual external circumstances (war / conspiracy / etc.) as selection bias. Like, there would be no book if it were a peaceful kingdom. People in books rarely have everyday lives, because we don't write books about people with everyday lives, yeah?

I guess what I was trying to talk about is whether people seemed to react realistically, regardless of whether the external pressures they're reacting to are fantasy pressures or not . . . I'm not sure I'm articulating that well!

I thought GRRM's characters run a (fairly) good gamut in relationships of how they love/respond to each other, only, yanno, even the ones who love each other still have to deal with all the external circumstances he's writing about, like beheadings. YMMV, of course. :D

silentpoet
06-24-2014, 01:16 AM
I deal with enough dark crap on a daily basis. I prefer the ending be somewhat more upbeat. Though I don't mind the theme of sacrifice as part of an ending or climax. Though some abuse the privilege, Shanarra I am looking at you.

Roxxsmom
06-24-2014, 02:34 AM
I think the classical story arc requires the protagonist(s) to give something up. And ending can feel cheap or flat if there's no change, and the character didn't have to face some unpleasant reality or didn't lose something for what he or she gained. Sometimes their life or love can be that something, but it certainly doesn't have to be. I've had people tell me I read somewhat for escapism (and the implication is that's a bad thing or that it makes me emotionally immature), and I suppose there's some truth to that. I like to be immersed in a world that isn't mine, and I have trouble believing in a story that's all rainbows, but I also like it to be relatable enough I'm not going around angry or sad for days after I finish a story. There are enough things that make me angry and sad in the real world. I like it when stories make me think, and a certain amount of poignancy does this, but a story that ends well, or at least better than the protagonist(s) feared things would can be thought provoking too.

Marian Perera
06-24-2014, 08:46 AM
How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?

I can take either.


Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?As long as they're well-written and balanced, I'm fine with both.

That being said, "balanced" to me means that not everything is grim and unpleasant even in a dark world. Conversely, even in a light fairytale fantasy, the beautiful elves do not poop sapphires.


Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?I'm not keen on totally downer endings. I mean, if I want mass murderers who get away with what they've done, I can just read history or watch the news. If the whole point of a story is that life sucks and then you die, it's not going to work for me, even if the author frames this in an eloquent style or sets it in a richly detailed world.

That being said, I've enjoyed Gone with the Wind, Watership Down, A Game of Thrones and The Secret Books of Paradys. So I'm fine with bittersweet endings as long as the main characters don't completely lose or die in despair. And if a happy ending fits a story, I'm fine with that too. I don't think a novel that ends with the main characters happy and successful is necessarily weaker or less thought-provoking than one which ends with them picking up the pieces of their shattered lives. It all depends on the story and the execution.

Roxxsmom
06-24-2014, 12:21 PM
That being said, "balanced" to me means that not everything is grim and unpleasant even in a dark world. Conversely, even in a light fairytale fantasy, the beautiful elves do not poop sapphires.



Of course not. Everyone knows elves poop cookies.

I was just thinking of this fantasy-specific fondness for depressing endings in the name of realism tonight, because my husband and I were watching the movie Argo. It's not fantasy, of course, and it's based (I don't know how tightly) on the true story of how the Canadians and CIA worked together to get six of the Iranian hostages out safely during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1981. Even though I knew how it would end, there was plenty of tension, and I was on the edge of my seat at the end when they were in the airport showing their fake documents to the officials, then at the end when the plane's taxiing down the runway and the Iranian police are chasing it (I this was probably a bit of an embellishment added for extra drama).

If George RR Martin had written it, at least a couple of the main characters (and possibly the protagonist) would have been killed. A truly grimdark tale, and maybe they'd just have shot the plane down and the whole two hour movie would have been for nothing except showing the audience how horrible people are to one another :D

CrastersBabies
06-25-2014, 06:55 AM
How do you guys prefer your fantasy: realistic or more on the fairy tale side?
I like both, but if I had to choose--more realistic. Things like cutesy little elves with ears longer than their heads or quippy halflings can get old. Fast. (Someone mentioned if it was too much like a D&D campaign. I agree with that.)

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?
I like the risks of "darker" and the way it can pull at my emotional strings a bit more. But, I don't like completely bleak. No hope. Forever doomed. Nothing good happens. Ever. An example (that is actually non-fantasy): Halt and Catch Fire, that new show about 80's computers on AMC. It's interesting, but holy shit, when will anyone get a break? When will SOMETHING go right? It's wearing me thin. FAST.

Too squeaky clean and "om gawsh, Billy Bob, you darn tootin' better not swears evar" type stuff is also a big turn off.

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?

I prefer a satisfying resolution. In epic fantasy, if I see a character go on a quest to save the world, I would hope that something SATISFYING happens. He doesn't have to completely destroy the enemy for all time. Maybe he wins, but at a great cost. (e.g. Ender's Game.)

Epic to me means victory happens somewhere, or why would you call it epic at all? The Iliad had an epic ending. Some people got what they wanted. Others were tragically handled. But there was satisfaction.

Lissibith
06-25-2014, 04:47 PM
I've stopped putting two spaces after a period, but if you want my Oxford comma you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hand. ;)
I wouldn't dream of trying, as long as you're not the person who cuts out our articles, red-pens the commas in and scotch tapes them to our office door. :D That person needs to find a better hobby. (and that tape leaves marks on glass!)

tko
06-25-2014, 07:32 PM
Although would be great to have "The One and Only who is Chosen by the Prophecies" fail big time and the village kid steps in to save the day . . .


Prophecies, curses, destinies.

Anybody with "the" and "one" in their job title, whether or not this is separated by another word, such as "chosen".

Introversion
06-25-2014, 08:12 PM
Although would be great to have "The One and Only who is Chosen by the Prophecies" fail big time and the village kid steps in to save the day . . .

Or even better, the entire village. (I realize there's usually a leader in any group, but it would be nice to see that it's not just that leader who deserves all the applause. Let's hear it for all the average grunts in the trenches! :D)

thwaitesyellow
06-26-2014, 08:32 AM
Apologies if someone already mentioned this, but I hate stories that feature a hitherto untrained character that becomes a sword-wielding sensation overnight, after two and a half lessons from the mentor.

Realistic or more on the fairy tale side?
It really depends on what mood strikes me. Most of what I read is realistic. I like characters and their worlds to be nuanced, rather than fairy tale-like archetypes. For magic, though, I like it to be sort of vague, whimsical, always around but not always obvious. My magic practitioners tend to be more like Tolkien's wizards than JK Rowling's.

Gritty and dark or light and full of hope?
No grimdark for me! I could never really get into ASOIAF or anything in a similar vein. I prefer my fantasy escapist.

Happy endings, bittersweet endings, or crapsack endings fitting their crapsack worlds?
I don't really like crapsack endings or crapsack worlds (see above). On the other hand, I don't require the characters riding happily off into the sunset, either. It's all right with me if the protagonist fails, but not if the game was always rigged against the character to begin with - I prefer a little strain of optimism. I'm also fine with "happy for now" endings. I thought the ending of The Hunger Games was perfect.

Maxx
06-26-2014, 06:22 PM
But if I see a farmboy who's living an idyllic pastoral life rambling through the fields and forests, hunting an occasional rabbit when he feels like it, that's going to annoy me. :)

Sadly, I just thought of starting a book along those lines (somewhat idyllic anyway). The involvement of large birds might help me somehow I hope if it all comes to that.

NRoach
06-26-2014, 09:19 PM
I just saw this image and thought it could be neatly applied to this thread:
http://i.imgur.com/0X9LtmI.jpg

The source material isn't fantasy, but screw it.

PeteMC
06-27-2014, 01:48 PM
Ummm...whut??

NRoach
06-27-2014, 04:49 PM
Ummm...whut??

I've seen a few disatribes against the magical healing penis; which is to say, a female character's problems, no matter how large, can be solved by sleeping with the male MC.

PeteMC
06-27-2014, 05:11 PM
Oh I see! Sorry, I'm slow today...:e2thud:

Reziac
06-27-2014, 05:15 PM
I've seen a few disatribes against the magical healing penis; which is to say, a female character's problems, no matter how large, can be solved by sleeping with the male MC.

That's a broader problem, which could be generalized as "If you'd just do whatever, your troubles would go away." Basically the same issue as "If you'd just believe in the prophecy, you can save the world" but on a more individualized basis. IOW, oversimplified cause and effect.


[When mine sleep together, it's just as likely to give all of 'em new and different problems. :evil ]

Jerboa
06-27-2014, 05:29 PM
Just rehashing the same old settings, characters, tropes and gender/sexual politics as I've seen hundreds of times before.

This this this. Especially the gender thing. I get bored of hearing the 'realistic' argument trotted out as the excuse for crappy women characters.

It's fantasy, not historical fiction.

Also, tired of medieval settings.

writer_mccall
06-28-2014, 01:10 AM
That's a broader problem, which could be generalized as "If you'd just do whatever, your troubles would go away." Basically the same issue as "If you'd just believe in the prophecy, you can save the world" but on a more individualized basis. IOW, oversimplified cause and effect.


[When mine sleep together, it's just as likely to give all of 'em new and different problems. :evil ]


The Lego Movie, twists this trope quite nicely

RikWriter
06-28-2014, 02:39 AM
Heroes that are wizards that also are warriors. I dislike that because it feels like you're giving a character too much power if he can not only wield weapons expertly but also toss around magical attacks. I prefer when magic-users have to study magic so much to be proficient that they don't have time to learn the use of weapons.

briannasealock
06-29-2014, 08:47 AM
I mostly write scifi, but I've been reading some high fantasy lately and I've already started getting sick of some really tired settings, themes, characters, etc.

So I'm curious--what are you guys tired of seeing in epic and high fantasy?

If there's already a thread like this or if this belongs somewhere else please let me know : o

I love Fantasy. I would like to see a murder mystery take place in a city. Where the character's are part of the guard and they have to find the killer and it's basically just a slice of life and no one has to save the kingdom or the world and there aren't assassins' hanging out at the local pub and the rulers aren't total a-holes. Maybe the Prince is a cool dude and no one cares if the Princess dresses up in men's clothes. And if one has to include the cliche of people saving the kingdom...those people should like "mental" patients or whatever you'd call them in fantasy and people would just shake their heads and feel bad for them. But to save time and stuff they go along with it because those people are totally crazy.

Like, what is the backstory of the bar maid who serves the ale while the hero's or the bad guys consult in a corner? what about the old dude everyone asks advice of or that other dude who just so happens to have a pice of the puzzle for the good guys? or the plot development character?

Stuff like that would be interesting.

Basically, it should stop being boring and normal and cliche.