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View Full Version : What would you guys want to see in epic and high fantasy?



Calliea
06-23-2014, 09:28 PM
I'm having a writers block, I need to clear my head, so I came here to post. Sorry if it's been done before more than 10 times already :o

In the other thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=292034), people named the things they were tired of, cliches that ran their course, what annoyed them, what was done too many times.

So how about the opposite? What would you want to read about most? What do you miss?

What tropes/cliches/ideas would you like to read about either straight or subverted?

What kinds of characters/relationships?

Basically anything you can't find/found, but want more of in your reads?

http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080410164923/uncyclopedia/images/0/0a/Cute_kitten.p.jpg

Maybe some writers from around will find those themes present in their own books and feel happy about themselves :)

Xelebes
06-23-2014, 09:41 PM
Cute scottish-fold kittens.

Calliea
06-23-2014, 09:48 PM
Cute scottish-fold kittens.

Damn, should've known he'd steal the thunder :D

I don't know if it's not scottish-kilt kitten here (scottish fold munchkin, biggest win ever).

EffinGoose
06-23-2014, 10:13 PM
I'm not sure if it would make for a good story, but I would personally be blown away is an epic battle that was forming between the forces of 'good and evil' would simply never happen because both sides reached an amicable agreement/peace treaty beforehand. I mean, we've seen so many epic battles already, the most surprising one would be one that never happens.

Another fun thing for me was if the main character or whatever starts off as a great warrior who solves everything at the end of a sword, only to forsake violence for nonviolent solutions at the end. I actually a comedy fantasy serial like that once (need to find the name again) where the main character was an cursed undead warrior trying to reach Valhalla, only to forsake violence at the end.

Also, a demonic race where the females aren't sex objects. I can understand gender dimorphism, but seriously.

snafu1056
06-23-2014, 10:34 PM
New environments, plain and simple. Im tired of the Tolkien-esque, northern European thing. Every culture has its equivalents of kings, knights, wizards, monsters, rogues, barbarians, etc. You wouldnt even have to radically alter the familiar formulas of fantasy. Just adapt them to another cultural context. True, it means more work because there's research involved, but hey, sometimes writing is work.

Marian Perera
06-23-2014, 10:54 PM
A fresh take on unicorns.

Dinosaurs. I'm working on this.

A fantasy foodie. I don't mean an epic fantasy where the author includes more and more details about food in lieu of story; we already have a series for that, thanks. I mean one where the food is an integral part of the plot. Maybe the heroine is head cook in the castle, or the hero is a food taster. Either way, there should be mouth-watering fantastical feasts.

A desert setting or a High Arctic setting. Or a convincing underwater setting. Convincing for me = humanoid characters adapted for swimming are not likely to have full breasts or long flowing hair.

Machines of any kind.

Hive minds. Which are not automatically evil or wrong because they lack individuality.

Chasing the Horizon
06-23-2014, 11:18 PM
#1. Creative settings that aren't recognizably a real historical place. I'm talking wizards fighting airships from levitating castles sort of creative. Why is this so hard to find? It's called speculative fiction, so speculate already.

#2. Action/adventure based plots, as opposed to the intrigue that seems to be so popular.

#3. Established familial relationships. Way too many stories focus on creating a new romance instead of exploring the many other kinds of relationships that exist. New romances may seem exciting, but they're really simplistic compared to the levels of dysfunction, attachment, and complexity which form in 30 years with your parents or a 20-year marriage.

rwm4768
06-23-2014, 11:59 PM
Good quest fantasy. A lot of the quest fantasy out there is fun because I like quests, but it's really simple stuff. I'd like to see more depth and stronger characters.

LOTLOF
06-24-2014, 12:19 AM
I would love to read a heroic fantasy where the good guys win... but they all die in the process. I love stories about self-sacrifice. I am sick of stories where the good guy never makes a single mistake and wins every fight without so much as a scratch. The idea that there is a cost to war, that achieving something on the order of saving a kingdom or world comes at a price, is often missing. Way too many fantasy stories lack any real sense of drama because it is clear from the beginning everyone is going to have a happy ending.

Telergic
06-24-2014, 01:06 AM
Well, mainly good writing, which is unfortunately not that common in this sub-genre. But unusual settings aren't a bad draw, e.g. Bear's fantastic Mongolia in the Eternal Sky.

Unique and original conceits are nice too -- and just to continue to cite it as an example, in Bear's extended trilogy, the sky changes -- sun(s), moon(s), and sky color -- to reflect which culture or god is in possession of a given region. That little trick can be exploited a dozen ways to present thematic and contextual information of all kinds.

Xelebes
06-24-2014, 01:16 AM
A good epic fantasy where the characters you are introduced to are neither the hero nor the villain but live on the periphery, where you never meet the hero or the villain but you know that something epic is happening.

silentpoet
06-24-2014, 01:25 AM
I like themes of duty and honor. But not cardboard cutouts of the same. I want to see people struggle with the higher ideals. Sometimes failing, but ever striving.

If you want a historical example, somebody like the prophet Jonah. Not for the whale part, but for the running from God part. He would make a very interesting character.

I want to see real internal conflict. Ideals and pragmatism colliding. You know, like the real world.

But on the other hand I like true heroes as well. Like the David Crosby/Phil Collins tune, Hero.

My desire is to get those into my writing.

maggi90w1
06-24-2014, 01:46 AM
- Medieval Europe-eque Setting. With a twist.
- Dynastic struggles (like in game of thrones)
- Political Intrigue
- A magic system that follows Brandon Sandersons Laws.
- No magical creatures like elves or dwarf. Just Humans.
- Strong female characters who aren't fighters.
- A arranged marriage that actually works out fine.
- Grey morality
- Characters with disabilities as main characters (I loved Sand dan Glokta).

I think that's all for now...

Mr Flibble
06-24-2014, 01:55 AM
A fantasy foodie. I don't mean an epic fantasy where the author includes more and more details about food in lieu of story; we already have a series for that, thanks. I mean one where the food is an integral part of the plot. Maybe the heroine is head cook in the castle, or the hero is a food taster. Either way, there should be mouth-watering fantastical feasts.

Am author I follow of FB said they were working on something like this. Racking my brains to think who. Ack! Also John Courtnay Grimwood's Last Banquet? Not fantasy (historical France), but a "story of life, love and a lust for food" :D


Or a convincing underwater setting. Convincing for me = humanoid characters adapted for swimming are not likely to have full breasts or long flowing hair.

Working on it :D


I would love to read a heroic fantasy where the good guys win... but they all die in the process. It;s in the queue.

Myself I'd like less political machinations, more personal stories -- sort of epic sword and sorcery if that makes sense. Plus, obviously, excitement, adventure and really wild things. New and unusual settings, great characters who find themselves in impossible situations - and by that I mean impossible especially for them, because of who they are. Moral quandaries, people trying (and sometimes failing) to be noble, caught between the hammer and the anvil.

Wilde_at_heart
06-24-2014, 01:57 AM
GBLT characters where their orientation isn't a main focus of the plot.

Political-economic intrigue and corruption - one of many reasons why I love Pratchett.

Myths and mythical creatures from other cultures, or lesser known stories from Western myths. Any adventure stories that reminds me of the old Harryhausen films like the Sinbad stories.

Esoteric magic - alchemy, sorcery, summoning, etc. from someone who really knows their stuff and doesn't just borrow from videogames, comics, other novels, etc. (Say, if Alan Moore wrote novels, or something heavily influenced by Foucault's Pendulum)

And above all, well-written.

Mr Flibble
06-24-2014, 02:03 AM
Any adventure stories that reminds me of the old Harryhausen films like the Sinbad stories.

Yes, that's exactly it!

Brightdreamer
06-24-2014, 02:49 AM
A fresh take on unicorns.

The most recent take has been "Killer Unicorns", as in Diana Peterfreund's Rampant (http://www.amazon.com/Rampant-Killer-Unicorns-Book-1/dp/B005IUY8XC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403563147&sr=1-1&keywords=rampant) series. (I also saw a book called Unicorn Battle Squad (http://www.amazon.com/Unicorn-Battle-Squad-Kirsten-Alene/dp/1621050548/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403563186&sr=1-1&keywords=battle+unicorns) go through the library once... and at least one other YA title where people were riding unicorns to battle, but whose name escapes me at the moment.) But there were several unicorn-like creatures in world mythos, particularly in India and Asia, who really don't get much page-time in books.


A fantasy foodie. I don't mean an epic fantasy where the author includes more and more details about food in lieu of story; we already have a series for that, thanks. I mean one where the food is an integral part of the plot. Maybe the heroine is head cook in the castle, or the hero is a food taster. Either way, there should be mouth-watering fantastical feasts.

Confessions of a Gourmand, or How to Cook a Dragon (http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Gourmand-How-Cook-Dragon-ebook/dp/B003H05Y24/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403563298&sr=1-1&keywords=confessions+of+a+gourmand), by Tom Bruno. Reading it really made me realize how underutilized food is in fantasy, and what a driving force it can be in a culture. (Unfortunately, my American taste buds are too underdeveloped for writing that kind of story myself.)


I would love to read a heroic fantasy where the good guys win... but they all die in the process. I love stories about self-sacrifice. I am sick of stories where the good guy never makes a single mistake and wins every fight without so much as a scratch. The idea that there is a cost to war, that achieving something on the order of saving a kingdom or world comes at a price, is often missing. Way too many fantasy stories lack any real sense of drama because it is clear from the beginning everyone is going to have a happy ending.

It's been a while since I read a grown-up fantasy where it was a given that all the good guys would live and/or the bad guys would die. The cost of victory, too, is often shown. But I suppose my reading experience may be skewed. I do know what you mean, though - I've read some books where it was blatantly obvious that Nothing Bad Would Happen. Even grown-up books that don't have the Fluffy Bunny/"bubble-wrapped world" excuse of (some) YA titles.


A good epic fantasy where the characters you are introduced to are neither the hero nor the villain but live on the periphery, where you never meet the hero or the villain but you know that something epic is happening.

Hmm... I suppose that would be along the lines of many historical fiction books with Big World Events as backdrops; you're not going to follow The Guy Who Took Out Hitler And Saved The Free World (in part because that guy doesn't exist), but someone else whose own problems mirror, or are magnified by, the greater turmoil. It could work, so long as the author makes the character and the conflicts interesting enough that the reader doesn't keep trying to peek past them to the Big Bad Battle... a more realistic portrayal of life in a secondary world than the Farm Boy Who Saves The Universe.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-24-2014, 02:59 AM
GBLT characters where their orientation isn't a main focus of the plot.

Esoteric magic - alchemy, sorcery, summoning, etc. from someone who really knows their stuff and doesn't just borrow from videogames, comics, other novels, etc. (Say, if Alan Moore wrote novels, or something heavily influenced by Foucault's Pendulum)

And above all, well-written.


These things would be great.


I'd also like to echo non-European settings.

Also, post-Renaissance settings. I'd love to see more gunpowder fantasy. Not necessarily steampunk, though.



Also what Xelebes said: characters on the periphery.

Roxxsmom
06-24-2014, 03:02 AM
I'd love to see more novels where there are romantic relationships that aren't completely dysfunctional and doomed, including ones where couples are partners working to solve a problem together.

I'm also going to break with the crowd and say I'd like to see more happy endings, as my experience lately has been rather the opposite of what others have been having, and lots of what I've been reading has a high body count. I like ASoIaF, but enough with the writers trying to emulate this, already.

http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j302/Roxxsmom/94d180d5-a859-4777-b08d-f241b7b7543d_zpsa37f3144.jpg

Anyway, I'd also like more novels with fewer pov characters--maybe not just one, but say, 2-4 instead of 6 or more. The the killing off pov characters thing does tend to work best when you have lots of them. The old-fashioned storytelling convention assumes that the reason the protagonist is the protagonist is because they're the one who did something significant, and it's the how of it that makes the story interesting.


Also, novels where the female protagonist has a secret shame, conflict, or trauma in her past that isn't rape. Also, stories where the protagonist is an older woman or one who isn't especially attractive, but hey, maybe she's still lovable. Stories where protagonists have personal issues that aren't magically resolved by resolving the story's main conflict but with which he or she has to make peace.

More protagonists and important characters who aren't straight, white cisgender males (even though my own protag in my first novel is a straight, white cisgender male heh :tongue) and more cultures that aren't modeled (whether well or badly) off a real-world culture and ethnicity, or if they are inspired by real-world cultures in some way, maybe not always off the handful of ones you always see in fantasy novels with the serial numbers filed off.

Family structures that aren't just like the ones we see in modern America--patriarchal, nuclear families.

But really, what I want most of all are interesting characters in interesting settings that feel like they've got to exist somewhere.

Polenth
06-24-2014, 03:18 AM
Penguins.

Marian Perera
06-24-2014, 03:22 AM
I'm going to break with the crowd and say that I'd love to see more novels where there are romantic relationships that aren't completely dysfunctional and doomed, including ones where couples are partners working to solve a problem together.

I like those too. One reason I write (and read) fantasy romance.


Confessions of a Gourmand, or How to Cook a Dragon (http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Gourmand-How-Cook-Dragon-ebook/dp/B003H05Y24/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403563298&sr=1-1&keywords=confessions+of+a+gourmand), by Tom Bruno. Reading it really made me realize how underutilized food is in fantasy, and what a driving force it can be in a culture.

Thanks for the recs. :)

Roxxsmom
06-24-2014, 04:01 AM
I like those too. One reason I write (and read) fantasy romance.



Thanks for the recs. :)

I'm still steamed over the double standard about men and women writing romantic arcs too. I'm reading a military style fantasy written by a male author right now, and there's definitely a romance brewing between the mmc and one of the female support characters. Not sure how it's going to end yet, but it's not giving out that "this is going to end horribly" vibe. I also feel another potential romance in the work between the fmc and another secondary character.

It's not the main point of the story or anything, but even so, if this author were female, she'd be lambasted by some readers for writing a "stealth" romance. But male writers seem to get more of a pass on this.

As per the food thing in a fantasy romance: Maria Snyder's Poison Study book dealt with a character who became a food taster in order to escape execution. While she wasn't a cook, there was some attention to food, cooking, and flavor, and it was plot relevant.

Marian Perera
06-24-2014, 04:29 AM
As per the food thing in a fantasy romance: Maria Snyder's Poison Study book dealt with a character who became a food taster in order to escape execution. While she wasn't a cook, there was some attention to food, cooking, and flavor, and it was plot relevant.

Yes, I enjoyed the start of that. It derailed a bit towards the end, IMO, and I'd prefer a foodie to focus more on the food, but I liked the unusual premise. Plus, it had a stunning cover.

AHunter3
06-24-2014, 04:36 AM
I want the long story arc.

Start me off with characters who are having conversations and are in situations and are having experiences. Gradually incorporate enough backstory that I grasp the larger context and the deeper implications of what the characters are doing, and have it turn out to be fairly impressive and noteworthy stuff. By the 3/4 point of the book, have it turn out that what they're immersed in has implications for the largest considerations and questions that our species (or any other species) has ever faced, really globally important stuff.

Example A: Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy

Example B: Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code

Example C: Stephen King's The Stand


But... DO follow through and actually complete the story arc. If you're going to tell the reader by the 3/4 point that the events in the book will reshape everything, cause a new beginning, make everything different from this point forward on a really fundamental level, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT cheat the reader by wrapping things up in a "actually everything ends up going back to normal, or at least nothing in day to day everyday life changes". That's a really nasty copout.

The long story arc is difficult because you need to actually have a vision for it.

Albedo
06-24-2014, 04:57 AM
A fresh take on unicorns.

Dinosaurs. I'm working on this.
Unicorn dinosaurs.


A desert setting or a High Arctic setting. Or a convincing underwater setting. Convincing for me = humanoid characters adapted for swimming are not likely to have full breasts or long flowing hair.
New environments, plain and simple. Im tired of the Tolkien-esque, northern European thing. Every culture has its equivalents of kings, knights, wizards, monsters, rogues, barbarians, etc. You wouldnt even have to radically alter the familiar formulas of fantasy. Just adapt them to another cultural context. True, it means more work because there's research involved, but hey, sometimes writing is work.

These things would be great.


I'd also like to echo non-European settings.

Also, post-Renaissance settings. I'd love to see more gunpowder fantasy. Not necessarily steampunk, though.

Yes. Environments on Earth are amazingly diverse. I want more fantasy set in savannas, taigas, mallee scrubs, high deserts, cloud forests.

And more fantasy at all tech levels, not just late mediaeval European. More late Renaissance or Enlightenment fantasy. More future fantasy. More Eastern mythology and social structures in fantasy. Agrarian social structures other than feudalism. Ecologically, economically, geographically, geologically aware fantasy.


Good orcs. Fat elves. Socialist dwarves. Helpful gods. Were-anything-but-wolves. More non-humanoid races of any provenance.

Marian Perera
06-24-2014, 05:12 AM
I want more fantasy set in savannas, taigas, mallee scrubs, high deserts, cloud forests.

I'm working on one set in a taiga... but until now I didn't know about cloud forests and they look wonderful. Especially the picture accompanying the Wikipedia article, which shows a bridge stretching through the trees, surrounded by fog. How atmospheric, no pun intended.

snafu1056
06-24-2014, 06:09 AM
Considering how rich Siberian folklore is the Taiga would be a great setting for fantasy.

Kevin Nelson
06-24-2014, 06:59 AM
I'd like more surrealism--more things going on that are just plain bizarre. For my taste, too many fantasy settings have just one or two really fantastic elements, in stories that are otherwise told with gritty realism.

Mary Thornell
06-24-2014, 07:34 AM
New environments, plain and simple. Im tired of the Tolkien-esque, northern European thing. Every culture has its equivalents of kings, knights, wizards, monsters, rogues, barbarians, etc. You wouldnt even have to radically alter the familiar formulas of fantasy. Just adapt them to another cultural context. True, it means more work because there's research involved, but hey, sometimes writing is work.

Im with Snafu on this one, only Id put it in terms of anthropology (that was my degree, what can I say? LOL) - more effort into actually building a fresh new society and their culture. Id like to see more of a what if principle...someone who understands something about Ruth Benedict and applies her studies to some creative ideas...

SampleGuy
06-24-2014, 08:32 AM
A new type of fantasy world with unique characters and new types of races that have nothing to do with folklore.

Telergic
06-25-2014, 09:01 PM
Since another volume just came out (The Sea of Time), let me also cite P. C. Hodgell's lengthy Kencyrath series featuring Jamethiel as great high fantasy. This series has three important qualities, at least:

- very good writing, informed by scholarly knowledge of the genre and affection for the classics

- unique setting, lore, and perspective

- enormous auctorial investment in the character and the world

On that last point, it's my understanding that Hodgell has spent even more time in Jamethiel's shoes over the years than Tolkien spent in Aragorn's (and Tolkien supposedly as a young man spent a lot of time swashbuckling vicariously through that character's deeds). This profound attachment to a character may or may not be healthy in every sense of the word, but it certainly invests the character with a vitality and power that probably would not otherwise be present. Moreover, unlike many authors (not just in fanfic) who idolize their main characters, Hodgell if anything gives Jamethiel more nightmarish experiences than soap-operaish ones.

hermit_writer
06-25-2014, 09:24 PM
Since another volume just came out (The Sea of Time), let me also cite P. C. Hodgell's lengthy Kencyrath series featuring Jamethiel as great high fantasy. This series has three important qualities, at least:

- very good writing, informed by scholarly knowledge of the genre and affection for the classics

- unique setting, lore, and perspective

- enormous auctorial investment in the character and the world

On that last point, it's my understanding that Hodgell has spent even more time in Jamethiel's shoes over the years than Tolkien spent in Aragorn's (and Tolkien supposedly as a young man spent a lot of time swashbuckling vicariously through that character's deeds). This profound attachment to a character may or may not be healthy in every sense of the word, but it certainly invests the character with a vitality and power that probably would not otherwise be present. Moreover, unlike many authors (not just in fanfic) who idolize their main characters, Hodgell if anything gives Jamethiel more nightmarish experiences than soap-operaish ones.

I second this! P.C. Hodgell is a world building and writing goddess! And she makes her world an essential part of the plot/over all story. She even has migrating trees! Her characters are fantastically unique (although I'm kinda getting tired of Jame and would love some more Torisen). It's sad she isn't more well known.

Aggy B.
06-25-2014, 09:35 PM
A fantasy foodie. I don't mean an epic fantasy where the author includes more and more details about food in lieu of story; we already have a series for that, thanks. I mean one where the food is an integral part of the plot. Maybe the heroine is head cook in the castle, or the hero is a food taster. Either way, there should be mouth-watering fantastical feasts.


This one is neither novel nor full-blown foodie, but it might tickle your fancy. Theobromancy @ Crowded Magazine (http://www.crowdedmagazine.com/current_issue.php?id=5) A sweet little story about chocolate and coffee wizards.

[Not mine, by the way, but it was published the month before one of mine and I thought it was lovely.]

Atalanta
06-25-2014, 10:30 PM
#1 Good, solid, quality writing. This is the biggest obstacle I face in finding new books to read.

#2 Protagonists who are women, queer, transgendered, disabled, people of color, etc. I don't care whether or not those factors affect the plot so long as it's written well.

#3 Creative magic-systems and world building. "I live in a kingdom and shoot magic missiles," just isn't good enough for me anymore.

Putputt
06-25-2014, 10:53 PM
- Characters with disabilities as main characters (I loved Sand dan Glokta).

I think that's all for now...

Yay for Glokta! *licks him*

I would like to see more...

- Diverse casts (PoC, LGBT, characters with serious disabilities, not "My disability is that I'm clumsy in an adorable way!")

- Matriarchal and/or gender neutral societies. Oh, and not ones where the message is: Wimmin make turrible rulers cause all the power goes straight to their widdle heids and make 'em crazy cackling witches.

- Quiet, non-physically ass-kicking MMCs who shit their pants at the slightest hint of danger. I would like to see more Samwell Tarlys.

- Humorous, bawdy FMCs a la Nanny Ogg. Yusss, I need more songs like "The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered" and "A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End". :D

- More light-hearted stories in general a la Pratchett and our own Red Wombat's Nine Goblins. Something that makes me laugh but actually has a lot of depth.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-25-2014, 11:50 PM
I'm working on a fantasy story with something much closer to gender equal society, and I've spent way more time than is healthy imagining the attacks on the historical accuracy of gender relations I'm going to get nailed with if this thing ever actually sees print.

Brightdreamer
06-26-2014, 02:14 AM
I'm working on a fantasy story with something much closer to gender equal society, and I've spent way more time than is healthy imagining the attacks on the historical accuracy of gender relations I'm going to get nailed with if this thing ever actually sees print.

Sadly, you probably will... because some people cannot comprehend that "fantasy" and "historical fiction" are not identical terms. (It's weird what some people will fixate on. They'd probably be just fine with alien dragons zapping people with lasers, but tread on one of their sacred-cow notions of history, and it's straight to the internet to start a hate blog. "OMG, a woman led the army against the Evil Dragon Queen! No way would 13th-century French soldiers follow a woman into battle! That book is so totally unrealistic!")

rwm4768
06-26-2014, 03:18 AM
Sadly, you probably will... because some people cannot comprehend that "fantasy" and "historical fiction" are not identical terms. (It's weird what some people will fixate on. They'd probably be just fine with alien dragons zapping people with lasers, but tread on one of their sacred-cow notions of history, and it's straight to the internet to start a hate blog. "OMG, a woman led the army against the Evil Dragon Queen! No way would 13th-century French soldiers follow a woman into battle! That book is so totally unrealistic!")

Yeah, some people seem to think that things can only happen the way they happened on Earth. But it's a fantasy world. That's not going to be the case. The simple presence of a magic is a major reason for deviation, and it can definitely level the playing field between genders. If your soldiers fight with magic, for example, there's no reason women can't fight too.

Mr Flibble
06-26-2014, 03:25 AM
I'm working on a fantasy story with something much closer to gender equal society, and I've spent way more time than is healthy imagining the attacks on the historical accuracy of gender relations I'm going to get nailed with if this thing ever actually sees print.


Unless you are very lucky you'll get nailed on something (even sometimes because someone skipped what you actually said, or read it and didn't get what you were saying or...I got mullered in one review for not mentioning the heroine's hair colour till the last chapter. Which was odd because I'd mentioned it half a dozen times before then. Or "classic damsel in distress, wallbanger" when the narrative states very clearly that at that point she saved the Male MC)


You cannot control how people read your book, you can only control how you write it.
So I say do it anyway.

Roxxsmom
06-26-2014, 04:13 AM
Unless you are very lucky you'll get nailed on something (even sometimes because someone skipped what you actually said, or read it and didn't get what you were saying or...I got mullered in one review for not mentioning the heroine's hair colour till the last chapter. Which was odd because I'd mentioned it half a dozen times before then. Or "classic damsel in distress, wallbanger" when the narrative states very clearly that at that point she saved the Male MC)


You cannot control how people read your book, you can only control how you write it.
So I say do it anyway.

Completely. For instance, I just discovered that a pov that I enjoy reading (first person) is irritating to many readers because it tends to make characters sound whiny. I guess I like whiny.

I also was told once (by someone who hadn't read my ms) that an epiphany that my male MC had--that he can't be responsible for the choices made by the people he loves or protect them from all of the consequences of these choices--is emasculating, because the cardinal male value and function is protecting others, especially your womenfolk (and I got a mini lecture about how modern men rape, harass and disrespect women because feminism has devalued sex and stripped men from their protective purpose). So rape and sexual harassment are modern things, and feminists are responsible for them. Who knew?

I guess this means that if you're writing dark, gritty fantasy set in an old-fashioned world where men are men and most women know their place, rape would have to be a non issue.

:sarcasm

Oh well, hand me the clippers, I guess. I wonder, though, why no one ever accuses writers who shoehorn women into limited and implausible roles in stories are never taken to task for efeminating them. In fact wonder why "efeminating" isn't even a verb, while emasculating is.

It does seem that fantasy fans are higher maintenance today and expect their fantasy worlds and societies to be "harder" or more plausible in real-world terms than they used to. And they seem to be more likely to pick nits and argue over the alleged holes in authors' world building than they once did. It never used to occur to me to wonder why a world might be stuck in the quasi middle ages for far longer than our own world was, or for viking women to be knitting (or have wall inset fireplaces in their huts), or for a world to have a concept of sanitation but no steam engines, or for there to be age of sail era ships in a world without gunpodwder.

I suspect some of it's the internet. Not only can fans get together to discuss these things more readily (and point out "flaws" to one another), but people can look things up and say, "Hey, 'escalate' is an anachronistic word in a world without the Otis corporation."

Mr Flibble
06-26-2014, 04:33 AM
(and I got a mini lecture about how modern men rape, harass and disrespect women because feminism has devalued sex and stripped men from their protective purpose). So rape and sexual harassment are modern things, and feminists are responsible for them. Who knew?
I hope you either laughed derisively or smacked them upside the head.

Rape is in the bible...ofc it was presented differently. Same with slavery soooo....

Marian Perera
06-26-2014, 04:47 AM
I once got a pretty nasty review from someone claiming that my first novel was unfeminist because my heroine started out a sex slave. She helps save her homeland and ends up in a happy relationship with a man who treats her as an equal, plus I thought the novel passed the Bechdel test because she learns about physics from another woman.

Oh well.


It does seem that fantasy fans are higher maintenance today and expect their fantasy worlds and societies to be "harder" or more plausible in real-world terms than they used to.

Could it be because there's a lot more fantasy available now than there was back in the day? With many more authors to choose from (and books more easily available with the advent of epublishing), maybe that's why fans are pickier. I know I certainly am. :)

Liosse de Velishaf
06-26-2014, 05:38 AM
I'm not going to not write it because of the crap it would get. But I can't help anticipating it, either.



It's not even some sort of super matriarchal feminist utopia. It's not all that different from some of the stuff we've already seen in fantasy. Just powerful, wealthy, etc women aren't as much of an exception as they can be.

thwaitesyellow
06-26-2014, 08:01 AM
As per the food thing in a fantasy romance: Maria Snyder's Poison Study book dealt with a character who became a food taster in order to escape execution. While she wasn't a cook, there was some attention to food, cooking, and flavor, and it was plot relevant.

I really appreciated these parts of Poison Study.

Like others on this thread, I'd definitely like to see more PoC, LGBTQ, and diverse casts. Also, on the topic of diversity, different political, social, and economic hierarchies in fantasy worlds. I want to see what other kinds of organizations that fantasy characters structure their lives by, other than feudal structures imposed by kings and queens and the occasional guild. This includes families! I'd like to see older protagonists (as in 35+) who go off to war or solve a problem or save the world in order to help their families.

Roxxsmom
06-26-2014, 11:00 AM
I once got a pretty nasty review from someone claiming that my first novel was unfeminist because my heroine started out a sex slave. She helps save her homeland and ends up in a happy relationship with a man who treats her as an equal, plus I thought the novel passed the Bechdel test because she learns about physics from another woman.

Oh well.



Another example of how you can't please everyone.



Could it be because there's a lot more fantasy available now than there was back in the day? With many more authors to choose from (and books more easily available with the advent of epublishing), maybe that's why fans are pickier. I know I certainly am. :)

Possibly. I honestly don't know how much there is now compared to, say, the 1980s, at least in terms of trade publishing (which is pretty much all I read). There were certainly lots of fantasy novels around back then too, but in general, readers were more willing to let a fantasy world have things that didn't really make sense if they served the story and made for a cool world. I was reading an author blog the other day about dragons and how impossible it is for something that big to fly. Well duh, I think that's been known for a very long time. But readers care about stuff like that now, at least with respect to new writers (old writers like GRRM and Robin Hobb who have been at it for years are allowed to have dragons in their stories). Even science fiction was allowed to have stuff that wasn't terribly realistic back then. Imagine if OSC tried to write Ender's Game today, with his FTL travel and bug like aliens.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-26-2014, 11:50 AM
I think that readers are certainly more picky in some ways than they used to be. I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing. I think it can lead to good things in some books, such as creativity or contrasting solutions to problems.


That said, I'm happy to let dragons slide. And similar things. Other readers allow different things to slide.

Once!
06-26-2014, 01:17 PM
I think that readers are certainly more picky in some ways than they used to be. I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing. I think it can lead to good things in some books, such as creativity or contrasting solutions to problems.

I think that's absolutely right. There does seem to be a trend for readers to have strong expectations about what they do and do not want to see. It may be a function of having so much choice. It means that readers can fine tune their reading so that they get exactly the type of story, hero, plot, level of realism, etc that they want.

To a certain degree that has always been there. What seems to be new is the ability of anyone and everyone to write a review of a book, movie, restaurant, whatever. In the past we might have read a book(or started to read a book), not liked it and so put it down - with no-one else being any the wiser that it didn't work for us. Now we can tell the world that we didn't like it.

The trick that we haven't quite managed is to tell the difference between "I didn't like it" and "It is rubbish".

Roxxsmom
06-26-2014, 01:34 PM
And I think shame plays into things more now that people are so much more public with their likes and dislikes. It can be mortifying to discover that some author you like is widely ridiculed by the "cool kids" of fandom, especially if they make a good case for something being a flaw when you hadn't seen it as such before. I suppose fandom has always done this, but in the old days, reading was a solitary activity for most, and "fandom" was a tiny percentage of readers. The internet has changed that.

An example for me is language and names in fantasy. I used to be pretty oblivious to them so long as I had a rough idea how to pronounce them. Apostrophes, dashes, accents etc. I didn't care, and not being a linguist, I really didn't notice if Germanic names were mixing with French sounding ones or Persian ones or whatever. But hanging out with people for whom this sort of thing constitutes a pet peeve has made me more aware of this sort of thing, though I still have a heck of a time knowing how to tell if names go together sometimes.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-26-2014, 01:55 PM
I think that's absolutely right. There does seem to be a trend for readers to have strong expectations about what they do and do not want to see. It may be a function of having so much choice. It means that readers can fine tune their reading so that they get exactly the type of story, hero, plot, level of realism, etc that they want.

To a certain degree that has always been there. What seems to be new is the ability of anyone and everyone to write a review of a book, movie, restaurant, whatever. In the past we might have read a book(or started to read a book), not liked it and so put it down - with no-one else being any the wiser that it didn't work for us. Now we can tell the world that we didn't like it.

The trick that we haven't quite managed is to tell the difference between "I didn't like it" and "It is rubbish".


Yeah, we're still working on the one. And also on telling the difference between "I did like it" and "It's awesome". :Soapbox:


And I think shame plays into things more now that people are so much more public with their likes and dislikes. It can be mortifying to discover that some author you like is widely ridiculed by the "cool kids" of fandom, especially if they make a good case for something being a flaw when you hadn't seen it as such before. I suppose fandom has always done this, but in the old days, reading was a solitary activity for most, and "fandom" was a tiny percentage of readers. The internet has changed that.

An example for me is language and names in fantasy. I used to be pretty oblivious to them so long as I had a rough idea how to pronounce them. Apostrophes, dashes, accents etc. I didn't care, and not being a linguist, I really didn't notice if Germanic names were mixing with French sounding ones or Persian ones or whatever. But hanging out with people for whom this sort of thing constitutes a pet peeve has made me more aware of this sort of thing, though I still have a heck of a time knowing how to tell if names go together sometimes.


I admit that my taste has definitely been refined over the course of getting involved in fandom discussion and just everyday learning like college courses and such. Thing I would happily have put up with or not even noticed ten years ago are some of my biggest turn-offs now. And I'm more critical even of books I really like. I think it's sad to lose a bit of my reading innocence, but I think there's value in my new perspectives, too.

Anninyn
06-26-2014, 02:15 PM
More happy/bittersweet endings. I am SO TIRED of cynical grimdark. I want something that's hopeful.

More imagination in the world-building. Settings that aren't pseudo-medieval europe.

Interesting, flawed, complex characters whose actions make sense for their character. Especially women. Well-written women, who are not one extreme or the other. Women who can be powerful AND emotional AND cruel AND loving AND confused AND determined... women who seem real, rather than like they are a symbol for everything the author thinks women should/shouldn't be.

More diverse casts. I am hungry for some different MC viewpoints and characters. All people of all backgrounds are worthy of having adventures, and of seeing people like themselves having them.

DIFFERENT fantasy species. Not elves/dwarves/orcs by another name. Different. Their thought processes and behaviour should be alien and strange.

More pirates. I like pirates.

Good writing.

Marian Perera
06-26-2014, 05:44 PM
DIFFERENT fantasy species. Not elves/dwarves/orcs by another name. Different. Their thought processes and behaviour should be alien and strange.

One thing I learned from Star Trek Voyager is that three hours' worth of makeup application didn't make any difference if the character was still written to act and think like a human.

So... yeah. I want there to be culture shock if we ever have to live among them.


More pirates. I like pirates.

Got those. :) Also recommend China Mieville's The Scar.

PeteMC
06-26-2014, 07:41 PM
I want gunpowder weapons.



To put my stake in the ground right now, I'm a huge fan of faux-medieval-Europe fantasyland. I don't want to read about the president and senate of an island jungle matriarchy, I like my feudal kings and queens and knights tramping around the almost-middle ages just fine, but WHERE ARE THEIR CANNON?

Some fantasy waves it off by having fireball-throwing wizards replace artillery, but not a great deal these days as far as I know. GRRM has virtually no wizards at all, but still no gunpowder, and yet his castles are of the type built to withstand bombasts at the very least. Why?



Why do you only seem to get black powder weapons in things that look like the Three Musketeers, and not in not things that look like The Tudors?

Marian Perera
06-26-2014, 07:53 PM
To put my stake in the ground right now, I'm a huge fan of faux-medieval-Europe fantasyland. I don't want to read about the president and senate of an island jungle matriarchy, I like my feudal kings and queens and knights tramping around the almost-middle ages just fine, but WHERE ARE THEIR CANNON?

Oh, my first novel had cannons being invented and people being a bit... surprised by them.

Though they weren't gunpowder, because I was saving that for later. They used calcium carbide.

PeteMC
06-26-2014, 08:02 PM
I might have to give that a read :)

I've read a few things where cannon are just being invented (Heroes and WoT spring to mind) but nothing where they're an established part of warfare, despite all the huge cannon-proof castles people in fantasyland seem to build.

While I'm on pet peeves (yes I know I'm in the wrong thread for that), why do religions in fantasyland never seem to have any political power? GRRM is just getting around to fixing that, but considering the massive wealth and power of organised religion in history it feels like a bit of a missed trick to me.

I'd like to see (now I’m in the right thread) more politically powerful and astute religious leaders giving the political rulers a hard time.

rwm4768
06-26-2014, 08:10 PM
I want gunpowder weapons.



To put my stake in the ground right now, I'm a huge fan of faux-medieval-Europe fantasyland. I don't want to read about the president and senate of an island jungle matriarchy, I like my feudal kings and queens and knights tramping around the almost-middle ages just fine, but WHERE ARE THEIR CANNON?

Some fantasy waves it off by having fireball-throwing wizards replace artillery, but not a great deal these days as far as I know. GRRM has virtually no wizards at all, but still no gunpowder, and yet his castles are of the type built to withstand bombasts at the very least. Why?



Why do you only seem to get black powder weapons in things that look like the Three Musketeers, and not in not things that look like The Tudors?

Some titles you might like (books that include gunpowder):

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan. Here, the magic system actually uses gunpowder.

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks (although, if I remember correctly, gunpowder doesn't play a huge role).

PeteMC
06-26-2014, 08:15 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, I'll certainly look at the first two.

Is Black Prism set in the same world as the Night Angel series? I really didn't care for those.

Dreity
06-26-2014, 08:34 PM
I'd like to see more variety in the way religion in general is portrayed. I'm so tired of seeing the same oppressive, corrupt church that's basically a fantasy stand-in for the author's shallow understanding of Catholicism. Yeah, the current hierarchy is basically the Evil Empire right now, but I rarely see the fantasy equivalent of the local priests, nuns, and monastic orders who are pretty much the only source of positive PR these days.

Of course it'd be nice to see other faith traditions outside the Western hemisphere as well, but like faux-Europe, faux-Catholic is done so badly so often that seeing it done well would both shock and thrill me.

slhuang
06-26-2014, 09:49 PM
* Women over 40 as the main protagonists.

* Settings that riff on a real-world history or culture that isn't European (or is one of the less-used European cultural places/periods).

* More transgender and genderqueer characters. We're starting to get more in SF, and to have more LGB characters in fantasy (though even more = better), but I think people are still stuck in notions like hormones treatments/surgeries not existing meaning that transgender people can't. We see plenty of "women dressing and living as men" characters, but they're almost always explicitly cis female and straight. Would also like to see more LGB characters as primary protags and POV characters.

* Stories that don't revolve around the royal line / kingship / who gets to be king/queen/etc..

* Creativity I wouldn't think of. I love reading stories/settings/characters that I never in a million years would have thought to invent.

Atalanta
06-26-2014, 10:18 PM
It never used to occur to me to wonder why a world might be stuck in the quasi middle ages for far longer than our own world was, or for viking women to be knitting (or have wall inset fireplaces in their huts), or for a world to have a concept of sanitation but no steam engines, or for there to be age of sail era ships in a world without gunpodwder.

Wait, what? You mean like full-riggers, the big man-o-wars and stuff? I hate guns and cannons, so I try to keep my technology about pre-1250. I based the ships in my WIP on cogs (single square sail), which seem to have evolved from Viking ships and (as far as I know) were in use long before cannons. If I'm wrong, I'd best get started on flushing 3+ years of work down the toilet. :tongue


Sadly, you probably will... because some people cannot comprehend that "fantasy" and "historical fiction" are not identical terms.

Seriously? One of my favorite types of setting is one in which gender equality is the norm and homophobia doesn't exist (e.g., Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series). That's what I did in my WIP. I establish it casually and early -- one of my MCs is a woman sailor; her landlady is married to another woman -- and then move on to the story. So you're saying readers would challenge that for "lacking historical accuracy" in a story where people raise the dead??

Roxxsmom
06-26-2014, 11:23 PM
I want gunpowder weapons.



To put my stake in the ground right now, I'm a huge fan of faux-medieval-Europe fantasyland. I don't want to read about the president and senate of an island jungle matriarchy, I like my feudal kings and queens and knights tramping around the almost-middle ages just fine, but WHERE ARE THEIR CANNON?

Some fantasy waves it off by having fireball-throwing wizards replace artillery, but not a great deal these days as far as I know. GRRM has virtually no wizards at all, but still no gunpowder, and yet his castles are of the type built to withstand bombasts at the very least. Why?



Why do you only seem to get black powder weapons in things that look like the Three Musketeers, and not in not things that look like The Tudors?

Yeah, the complete lack of gunpowder in most medieval, and even Renaissance-ey fantasy leaves me scratching my head. Gunpowder was invented sometimes between the 9th and 11th centuries in China (one thought is that since both saltpeter and sulfur were used in medicines, someone fortuitously mixed them in the right proportion, and kaboom), and it was being used in effective artillery by the 13th century. They actually had hand held gunpowder weapons during the later middle ages in Europe (by the 14th century).

And the materials needed to make "black powder" are not hard to come by. Sulfur (a very common element) and saltpeter (usually potassium nitrate), which can be made from latrines or animal waste (and wood ashes) as well as from naturally occurring minerals that are mined in some parts of the world.

I suppose you could argue that for some reason, people didn't stumble across the recipe until relatively later in their history, but it's also possible that someone in a fantasy world might stumble across it even earlier than they did in China.

Telergic
06-26-2014, 11:48 PM
Well, saltpeter was a very late discovery, really. It was completely unknown in the classical period and dark ages. Gunpowder followed saltpeter almost immediately. It's certainly true it could have been discovered in ancient times, though; it just wasn't, for whatever reason.

But considering how cool the Musketeers are, it's a bit odd that there are fewer works of any kind of fantasy set in between medieval and modern times.

rwm4768
06-27-2014, 12:21 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, I'll certainly look at the first two.

Is Black Prism set in the same world as the Night Angel series? I really didn't care for those.

Different world. It also has a quite different feel.

snafu1056
06-27-2014, 12:43 AM
Yet another argument for using cultures outside of medieval Europe. In China you could be medieval AND have gunpowder.

AVS
06-27-2014, 12:55 AM
Well, saltpeter was a very late discovery, really. It was completely unknown in the classical period and dark ages. Gunpowder followed saltpeter almost immediately. It's certainly true it could have been discovered in ancient times, though; it just wasn't, for whatever reason.

But considering how cool the Musketeers are, it's a bit odd that there are fewer works of any kind of fantasy set in between medieval and modern times.

There are some I think they're called flintlock fantasy. The Thousand Names by Django Wexler. Magic, cannons, and muskets, equiv tech about 1800. Quite good fun.

Here's a few more from Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/flintlock-fantasy

genlablanc
06-27-2014, 01:27 AM
I would love to see more diversity both in race, and sexuality, stronger characters, (especially strong female characters),and a story that is not necessarily centered around romance. All in all, I just want more better stories, with coherent storylines.

Mr Flibble
06-27-2014, 01:52 AM
I second/third/whatever more pirates :D
I;m writing a flintlock fantasy right now. Only they don;t use gunpowder to power the guns do it's prolly not exactly flintlock...

AVS
06-27-2014, 02:04 AM
David Gemmell's Jon Shannow books (sadly underappreciated IMO) also mix firearms and magic, as does Stephen King's Dark Tower series. And very good they all are too. Both though are more post apocalypse/alternate world.

snafu1056
06-27-2014, 02:16 AM
There are some I think they're called flintlock fantasy


Not "Flintpunk"? Im amazed.

AVS
06-27-2014, 02:18 AM
Not "Flintpunk"? Im amazed.

I'm looking forward to Punkpunk fantasy.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-27-2014, 03:04 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, I'll certainly look at the first two.

Is Black Prism set in the same world as the Night Angel series? I really didn't care for those.



Different world, but if you didn't care for Night Angel, you probably won't care for these.

Roxxsmom
06-27-2014, 03:23 AM
I'm looking forward to Punkpunk fantasy.

I have a friend who just sold such a story to a magazine. But in this case, the "flint' referenced a magical stone age civilization. I've heard the term "flintlockpunk" to refer to approximate early 1700s era stories, but more usually it's called flintlock fantasy.


I second/third/whatever more pirates :D
I;m writing a flintlock fantasy right now. Only they don;t use gunpowder to power the guns do it's prolly not exactly flintlock...

They've got cannons and hand-held firearms (matchlock and some other early mechanisms, and a very expensive kind with specially crafted magical crystals) in the novels I'm working on now, but they're hung up on the notion that you need a certain kind of magical talent to use the things reliably.


Well, saltpeter was a very late discovery, really. It was completely unknown in the classical period and dark ages. Gunpowder followed saltpeter almost immediately. It's certainly true it could have been discovered in ancient times, though; it just wasn't, for whatever reason.

But considering how cool the Musketeers are, it's a bit odd that there are fewer works of any kind of fantasy set in between medieval and modern times.

The medicinal use argument makes sense, then. Until the Chinese apothecaries (or whatever they were called) started playing around with it for those reasons, the serendipitous discovery that it ignites when mixed with sulfur in certain proportions probably wouldn't have been made (when it was just this whitish residue on top of potty pits). It's my understanding that they were much more prone to medical experimentation in medieval-era China than they were in the west, so it makes sense that they'd be the ones to discover this.

Wilde_at_heart
06-27-2014, 03:47 AM
Yet another argument for using cultures outside of medieval Europe. In China you could be medieval AND have gunpowder.

AND dragons and crossbows too.

Hoplite
06-27-2014, 03:53 AM
AND dragons and crossbows too.

Didn't they have floating fortresses for ships as well, or was that Japan?

snafu1056
06-27-2014, 04:49 AM
Stuff like this? Yeah. They werent the standard, but they were used.

http://www.chinaculture.org/img/2005-06/21/xinsrc_0206022116037952654543.jpg

milkweed
06-27-2014, 05:20 AM
New environments, plain and simple. Im tired of the Tolkien-esque, northern European thing. Every culture has its equivalents of kings, knights, wizards, monsters, rogues, barbarians, etc. You wouldnt even have to radically alter the familiar formulas of fantasy. Just adapt them to another cultural context. True, it means more work because there's research involved, but hey, sometimes writing is work.

Well I had something but it's so juicey I've decided to write it myself! :D

Elias Graves
06-27-2014, 07:04 AM
Unicorn dinosaurs.

Zombie werewolf unicorn dinosaurs.

BethS
06-27-2014, 12:21 PM
There are some I think they're called flintlock fantasy. The Thousand Names by Django Wexler. Magic, cannons, and muskets, equiv tech about 1800. Quite good fun.

Here's a few more from Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/flintlock-fantasy

Yeah, I was going to mention The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson, which was a fun romp with guns and a kind of western setting. Speaking of which, I'd like to see more fantasy set in the Old West.

Overall, I'd like to see more fantasy with deeper characterizations, meaningful conflict, and really good writing.

OK, that's kinda vague and general...but I'll know it when I see it!

Mr Flibble
06-27-2014, 05:45 PM
Zombie werewolf unicorn dinosaurs.

Being ridden by Viking Ninja Pirates...from space!

PeteMC
06-27-2014, 05:55 PM
Surely you mean ROBOT Viking Ninja Pirates...from space!

Once!
06-27-2014, 06:23 PM
... versus .... ???

thwaitesyellow
06-27-2014, 07:41 PM
...versus telepathic centaurs riding hovercrafts who can shoot lasers from their eyes.

:)

Dreity
06-27-2014, 07:46 PM
There's an appalling lack of sharks in this match-up.

thwaitesyellow
06-27-2014, 07:57 PM
Telepathic centaurs riding hovercrafts who can shoot lasers from their eyes, leading an army of Great White sharks!

Fixed it ;)

Roxxsmom
06-27-2014, 10:38 PM
Overall, I'd like to see more fantasy with deeper characterizations, meaningful conflict, and really good writing.

OK, that's kinda vague and general...but I'll know it when I see it!

I'd say these things really are the most important determinant of whether or not I get more than a couple of chapters into any book :)

Dryad
06-27-2014, 11:03 PM
If a group is involved, I very much want at least 50% of the characters to be female. This is one of the first things I scan for in any book, actually. Ultimately, I want at least one primary character to be female or else there has got to be something amazing sounding about the book for me to select it--getting 50% of the cast as female is almost too much to ask at this point.

As several others have mentioned, I'd like to see something on the cover copy that indicates I haven't read this story before. Setting and unusual character types are examples. I like the the good vs. evil backdrop and I want the good guys to win. But, also, I've read a fair quantity of this sub-genre, and I'd like something about the story to quickly indicate that I will find THIS story to be distinct.

Mr Flibble
06-28-2014, 02:05 AM
Telepathic centaurs riding hovercrafts who can shoot lasers from their eyes, leading an army of Great White sharks!

Fixed it ;)

I'm sorry but if there are lasers and they aren't coming from the shark's eyes via nano implants, I'm done.

:D

writer_mccall
06-28-2014, 05:07 AM
There are some I think they're called flintlock fantasy. The Thousand Names by Django Wexler. Magic, cannons, and muskets, equiv tech about 1800. Quite good fun.

Here's a few more from Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/flintlock-fantasy

I called mine industrial fantasy, but would fall under a similar genre

writer_mccall
06-28-2014, 05:13 AM
I'd like to see a focus on a world where the big bad/evil overlord has won the war against good and how it is managed

Once!
06-28-2014, 07:28 AM
I'd like to see a focus on a world where the big bad/evil overlord has won the war against good and how it is managed

Funnily enough, that's the premise for my WIP!

rwm4768
06-28-2014, 07:57 AM
I'd like to see a focus on a world where the big bad/evil overlord has won the war against good and how it is managed

Brandon Sanderson's first Mistborn book.

I've also done something similar in one of my epic fantasies. It's only a small portion of the world, though, because my villain's opponents sealed him away.

Of course, the people were sealed with him, so they've had five hundred years of suffering to endure (although they aren't suffering that badly. My villain isn't ridiculously evil. He actually has good goals. His methods are problematic, though).

Papaya
06-28-2014, 11:46 PM
I agree with so much of what's already been posted. Am going to quote some of the ideas I like the most, because why repeat what's already been said. :D

A good epic fantasy where the characters you are introduced to are neither the hero nor the villain but live on the periphery, where you never meet the hero or the villain but you know that something epic is happening.


GBLT characters where their orientation isn't a main focus of the plot.

Political-economic intrigue and corruption - one of many reasons why I love Pratchett.

Myths and mythical creatures from other cultures, or lesser known stories from Western myths. Any adventure stories that reminds me of the old Harryhausen films like the Sinbad stories.

Esoteric magic - alchemy, sorcery, summoning, etc. from someone who really knows their stuff and doesn't just borrow from videogames, comics, other novels, etc. (Say, if Alan Moore wrote novels, or something heavily influenced by Foucault's Pendulum)

And above all, well-written.


I'd love to see more novels where there are romantic relationships that aren't completely dysfunctional and doomed, including ones where couples are partners working to solve a problem together.

I'm also going to break with the crowd and say I'd like to see more happy endings, as my experience lately has been rather the opposite of what others have been having, and lots of what I've been reading has a high body count. I like ASoIaF, but enough with the writers trying to emulate this, already.

Anyway, I'd also like more novels with fewer pov characters--maybe not just one, but say, 2-4 instead of 6 or more. The the killing off pov characters thing does tend to work best when you have lots of them. The old-fashioned storytelling convention assumes that the reason the protagonist is the protagonist is because they're the one who did something significant, and it's the how of it that makes the story interesting.

Also, novels where the female protagonist has a secret shame, conflict, or trauma in her past that isn't rape. Also, stories where the protagonist is an older woman or one who isn't especially attractive, but hey, maybe she's still lovable. Stories where protagonists have personal issues that aren't magically resolved by resolving the story's main conflict but with which he or she has to make peace.

More protagonists and important characters who aren't straight, white cisgender males (even though my own protag in my first novel is a straight, white cisgender male heh ) and more cultures that aren't modeled (whether well or badly) off a real-world culture and ethnicity, or if they are inspired by real-world cultures in some way, maybe not always off the handful of ones you always see in fantasy novels with the serial numbers filed off.

Family structures that aren't just like the ones we see in modern America--patriarchal, nuclear families.

But really, what I want most of all are interesting characters in interesting settings that feel like they've got to exist somewhere.


* Women over 40 as the main protagonists.

* Settings that riff on a real-world history or culture that isn't European (or is one of the less-used European cultural places/periods).

* More transgender and genderqueer characters. We're starting to get more in SF, and to have more LGB characters in fantasy (though even more = better), but I think people are still stuck in notions like hormones treatments/surgeries not existing meaning that transgender people can't. We see plenty of "women dressing and living as men" characters, but they're almost always explicitly cis female and straight. Would also like to see more LGB characters as primary protags and POV characters.

* Stories that don't revolve around the royal line / kingship / who gets to be king/queen/etc..

* Creativity I wouldn't think of. I love reading stories/settings/characters that I never in a million years would have thought to invent.


If a group is involved, I very much want at least 50% of the characters to be female. This is one of the first things I scan for in any book, actually. Ultimately, I want at least one primary character to be female or else there has got to be something amazing sounding about the book for me to select it--getting 50% of the cast as female is almost too much to ask at this point.


Overall, I'd like to see more fantasy with deeper characterizations, meaningful conflict, and really good writing.


I'd say these things really are the most important determinant of whether or not I get more than a couple of chapters into any book
Lots of great ideas, and the best part is, as writers, we can make these ideas a reality. Here's hoping to see an even greater shift towards diversity in the near future. :)

ETA: Missed this one -

I would like to see more...

- Diverse casts (PoC, LGBT, characters with serious disabilities, not "My disability is that I'm clumsy in an adorable way!")

- Matriarchal and/or gender neutral societies. Oh, and not ones where the message is: Wimmin make turrible rulers cause all the power goes straight to their widdle heids and make 'em crazy cackling witches.

- Quiet, non-physically ass-kicking MMCs who shit their pants at the slightest hint of danger. I would like to see more Samwell Tarlys.

- Humorous, bawdy FMCs a la Nanny Ogg. Yusss, I need more songs like "The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered" and "A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End".

- More light-hearted stories in general a la Pratchett and our own Red Wombat's Nine Goblins. Something that makes me laugh but actually has a lot of depth.

Kaidonni
06-29-2014, 01:06 PM
I'd like to see more variety in the way religion in general is portrayed. I'm so tired of seeing the same oppressive, corrupt church that's basically a fantasy stand-in for the author's shallow understanding of Catholicism. Yeah, the current hierarchy is basically the Evil Empire right now, but I rarely see the fantasy equivalent of the local priests, nuns, and monastic orders who are pretty much the only source of positive PR these days.

Of course it'd be nice to see other faith traditions outside the Western hemisphere as well, but like faux-Europe, faux-Catholic is done so badly so often that seeing it done well would both shock and thrill me.

You'd be in luck with one of my major projects that looks to finally be generating ideas for stories (it started out as a conlanging/cartography project); without giving too much away, a religion based around foxes and fox-worship, and also non-evangelical due to its origins and nature. I have researched real-world equivalents such as Inari worship (Kitsune as servants and messengers), but having said that, I'm taking mine in a different direction. It'd be the focus of stories set in that world since I'm exploring how a society based around foxes might work (and it's a little more complicated than just religion).

Dreity
06-29-2014, 08:44 PM
You'd be in luck with one of my major projects that looks to finally be generating ideas for stories (it started out as a conlanging/cartography project); without giving too much away, a religion based around foxes and fox-worship, and also non-evangelical due to its origins and nature. I have researched real-world equivalents such as Inari worship (Kitsune as servants and messengers), but having said that, I'm taking mine in a different direction. It'd be the focus of stories set in that world since I'm exploring how a society based around foxes might work (and it's a little more complicated than just religion).

That sounds really interesting. :) I'd definitely like to see more fantasy religions that don't necessarily have a real-world analogue, and it's certainly more convincing if said faith has a significant impact on the culture at large. I hope you get some of those story seeds growing.

My own WIP has the classic polytheistic structure, but since the "priests" are the MCs and not just side characters, I get to really dig in to their respective faiths on an individual level. The way they interpret their faith and the relationship they have with their patron deity (or the relationship they wish they had) also effects how their magic works (or doesn't work). Existential angst and plot ensues.

thwaitesyellow
06-29-2014, 09:10 PM
On the topic of fantasy religions, I'd like to see what happens when multiple religions coexist. And by coexist I don't mean that it's as straightforward as one religion is Good and the other is Bad, so of course the Good faithful are being wrongfully persecuted. That's not too say it should be all rainbows and unicorns - but I would definitely like to see more nuanced portrayals of worlds where there isn't just one monolithic religion.

PeteMC
06-29-2014, 11:48 PM
You might want to research the history of Jerusalem, in that case.

Roxxsmom
06-30-2014, 12:13 AM
How about more stories with gals like some of these (just got sucked into this site for too long).

http://www.rejectedprincesses.com/

thwaitesyellow
06-30-2014, 01:27 AM
You might want to research the history of Jerusalem, in that case.

A fantasy equivalent of Jerusalem was exactly what I was trying to get at :) There's a lot that would be interesting to draw from where Christianity, Judaism, and Islam intersect. An AU or something influenced by it. Not that it has to be the focus, but it could be a great source of background conflict.

ETA because I didn't see it earlier: that Rejected Princesses site is awesome!

rwm4768
06-30-2014, 02:01 AM
Faster pacing.

Some authors do a good job on their pacing, but there are other books where I feel like you can go a couple hundred pages without anything really happening.

On a similar note: good, concise description.

I understand that a little more description is sometimes necessary to paint a picture of your world. But I see unnecessary description far too often in epic fantasy. If there's nothing special about your inn, for example, don't go on for an entire page just describing the inn. Tell us it's an inn and move on.

Good vs. Less Good rather than Evil vs. More Evil.

I want to be able to identify with the characters. In a typical Good vs. Evil, I can identify with the protagonists, but not the antagonists. In an Evil vs. More Evil, I can't identify with anyone. That's why I'd rather have it where you can see good in both sides. Maybe the villain has a good goal, but the methods aren't so great. And, of course, you want some moral flaws in your protagonists. Perfect people are boring. But we don't need to go all Prince of Thorns and make a protagonist that's utterly despicable.

Dreity
06-30-2014, 02:40 AM
It's funny you say that, rwm, I just finished Prince of Thorns last night and what really stood out to me was, of all things, the pacing. I thought it was perfect. Something was always happening, and nothing was dragged out too far.

rwm4768
06-30-2014, 03:42 AM
It's funny you say that, rwm, I just finished Prince of Thorns last night and what really stood out to me was, of all things, the pacing. I thought it was perfect. Something was always happening, and nothing was dragged out too far.

I thought the pacing in the book was great. I thought it was a well-written book. I just hated the main character so much that I don't want to continue reading about him. I can handle main characters that do bad things occasionally, but Jorg was just too much for me.

M.T.Logue
06-30-2014, 05:05 AM
I thought the pacing in the book was great. I thought it was a well-written book. I just hated the main character so much that I don't want to continue reading about him. I can handle main characters that do bad things occasionally, but Jorg was just too much for me.

It's funny that you say that, because I'm in the middle of reading Prince of Thorns and realized today that I actually am rooting for Jorg, for some reason. I spent a lot of time analyzing why that was, since he's such a despicable person, and I've yet to come up with anything. It's just sort of happened.

To keep it on topic:

-Agree to more diverse time periods / settings.
-More female characters in significant roles
-More bears (though this is a personal preference)

snafu1056
06-30-2014, 05:35 AM
On the topic of fantasy religions, I'd like to see what happens when multiple religions coexist. And by coexist I don't mean that it's as straightforward as one religion is Good and the other is Bad, so of course the Good faithful are being wrongfully persecuted. That's not too say it should be all rainbows and unicorns - but I would definitely like to see more nuanced portrayals of worlds where there isn't just one monolithic religion.

This is another area where fantasy's narrow Eurocentric focus hurts it. Because dark ages Europe was dominated by the church, thats the religious model fantasy must use. But if you look further east during the dark ages youll find tons of multicultural, multi-religious communities, especially along the silk road, which was the main conduit for religious and cultural ideas. Europe was a cultural backwater in the middle ages compared to Asia and the middle east. Why fantasy writers have decided to drop anchor there, instead of where the real action was, I'll never know.

Atalanta
06-30-2014, 06:16 AM
Faster pacing.

On a similar note: good, concise description.


Yes! I want the story to MOVE. I don't want to read anything that's going to slow the story down -- that includes flashbacks, excerpts from ancient texts, long-winded descriptions, or gobs and gobs of interior dialog. Gah, I'm so sick of that. It makes me feel like the characters have been frozen in suspended animation while the author takes me aside to tell me something she thinks is super cool but bores me to death.

I'm such an impatient reader these days. :tongue

Liosse de Velishaf
06-30-2014, 07:33 AM
This is another area where fantasy's narrow Eurocentric focus hurts it. Because dark ages Europe was dominated by the church, thats the religious model fantasy must use. But if you look further east during the dark ages youll find tons of multicultural, multi-religious communities, especially along the silk road, which was the main conduit for religious and cultural ideas. Europe was a cultural backwater in the middle ages compared to Asia and the middle east. Why fantasy writers have decided to drop anchor there, instead of where the real action was, I'll never know.


Because most of them are from there of course. And many of the original modern fantasy works are set there.

OJCade
06-30-2014, 11:23 AM
I want to admire the language. I want dense, baroque, lyrical prose that I can drown in. Gormenghast and Salman Rushdie and South American magical realism.

I don't even care if the plot grinds to a halt and nothing happens, as long as nothing happens beautifully.

BethS
06-30-2014, 12:17 PM
I want to be able to identify with the characters. In a typical Good vs. Evil, I can identify with the protagonists, but not the antagonists. In an Evil vs. More Evil, I can't identify with anyone. That's why I'd rather have it where you can see good in both sides. Maybe the villain has a good goal, but the methods aren't so great. And, of course, you want some moral flaws in your protagonists. Perfect people are boring. But we don't need to go all Prince of Thorns and make a protagonist that's utterly despicable.

Yeah, I agree. I want the main character to be someone I can like and admire. Or at the very least, someone interesting whom I can root for.

Roxxsmom
06-30-2014, 12:31 PM
This is another area where fantasy's narrow Eurocentric focus hurts it. Because dark ages Europe was dominated by the church, thats the religious model fantasy must use. But if you look further east during the dark ages youll find tons of multicultural, multi-religious communities, especially along the silk road, which was the main conduit for religious and cultural ideas. Europe was a cultural backwater in the middle ages compared to Asia and the middle east. Why fantasy writers have decided to drop anchor there, instead of where the real action was, I'll never know.

Actually, I can think of a lot of fantasy that has a variety of religions in it, even when it's quasi-European. The retention of polytheism and religious pluralism, or the ascension of another dominant, but very different religion, is a big "what if," really.


Because most of them are from there of course. And many of the original modern fantasy works are set there.

I'll admit I have a fondness for cobbled streets, Tudor-style architecture, and oak-beamed taverns, so I've put some of those things into the setting of my current story. And I'm most familiar with the British monarchy, so I've modeled some of the particulars of their government and class system after that too, though there are differences too. But one of the countries that's important in my story has a theocratic government and culture that's different from any I'm very familiar with. So I'm sort of making it up from scratch really.

writer_mccall
06-30-2014, 02:16 PM
A fantasy equivalent of Jerusalem was exactly what I was trying to get at :) There's a lot that would be interesting to draw from where Christianity, Judaism, and Islam intersect. An AU or something influenced by it. Not that it has to be the focus, but it could be a great source of background conflict.

ETA because I didn't see it earlier: that Rejected Princesses site is awesome!

That's just what I tried to do in my fantasy book. The main setting is a secular atheist empire, with the religions undergoing mild discrimination and also at odds with one another (they are also closely based on Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions) and a few other weird religions too. I have one race of creatures called agorids, beastmen who worship a hunter-animal god.
Further books I plan to show more parts of the world and how the main religions are practiced differently, for example another nation will be have the main Christian inspired religion deeply enmeshed with the state ala Inquisition Spain

thwaitesyellow
06-30-2014, 09:02 PM
That's definitely something I would read! I also have haven't observed atheism in fantasy that much (more so in SF), though in many fantasy works the characters may as well be atheists because "the gods" are mentioned once and religion has not even the slightest impact on the characters whatsoever. If it's there, I want to know why it matters.


That's just what I tried to do in my fantasy book. The main setting is a secular atheist empire, with the religions undergoing mild discrimination and also at odds with one another (they are also closely based on Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions) and a few other weird religions too. I have one race of creatures called agorids, beastmen who worship a hunter-animal god.
Further books I plan to show more parts of the world and how the main religions are practiced differently, for example another nation will be have the main Christian inspired religion deeply enmeshed with the state ala Inquisition Spain

maxmordon
07-03-2014, 12:54 AM
More creativity in world-building in general. I'm tired as well of "Medieval Western Europe" settings with all its trappings, but if done in a fresh manner, it's always interesting. But there are other periods amd settings left unexplored. Steampunk touches on the Victorian era, but seldom gets involved in anything beyond the superficial aspects of the era.

Also, I like complex social structures and situations. For me, it's more interesting than anything magic can do. It's not about wizards, knights or rogues. But the lords and masters behind them that gets my attention.

Sometimes I imagine how a version of A Song of Ice and Fire would play out set in, say, a version of Europe during the 20th Century with Robert's Rebellion playing out as a WWII analogue, Robert himself as a Franco/Tito-type of strongman, Northerners and Ironborn as separatists akin to the IRA, the Chechenyans or the Basque movement with the Lannisters and Tyrells as posh prep school-type bankers and entrepeneurs. But I digress.

RikWriter
07-03-2014, 01:06 AM
I am going to run counter to a lot of people here in that my preferences for fantasy are very old fashioned. I like warriors in armor, wizards shooting lightning and dragons breathing fire.
I like the medieval-esque setting; no gunpowder for me. I like elves and dwarfs and orcs, whatever you want to call them.
What I'd like to see is a coherent explanation for the magic, though. Something that has rules and makes sense and imposes limitations so not every problem can be solved by throwing magic at it.

writer_mccall
07-03-2014, 11:13 AM
That's definitely something I would read! I also have haven't observed atheism in fantasy that much (more so in SF), though in many fantasy works the characters may as well be atheists because "the gods" are mentioned once and religion has not even the slightest impact on the characters whatsoever. If it's there, I want to know why it matters.

Yes that's what I've always observed as well. Most of my characters are atheists since the bulk of the story is set in the main empire, and some of them still use curse/exclamation words of the former mainstream religion "by the Creator", the same way non-religious people in our world still use "god damn" or other phrases.

The basic history of the Alkon Empire in my book is that it did use to have the mainstream religion as a majority until a huge civil war, started by the emperor being a whackjob religious nut and arresting his brother's family. After which the victorious brother secularized the entire nation, enforcing strict rules and regulations on the practice of any and all religions and religion slowly dwindled out over the next 400 years.

knight_tour
07-07-2014, 08:28 AM
I'd like to see more traditional 'Tolkienesque' high fantasy, but done in a more gritty, realistic manner, say if George R.R. Martin or Richard K. Morgan or Joe Abercrombie were writing it.

rwm4768
07-07-2014, 08:44 AM
I'd like to see more traditional 'Tolkienesque' high fantasy, but done in a more gritty, realistic manner, say if George R.R. Martin or Richard K. Morgan or Joe Abercrombie were writing it.

I don't know about that level of grittiness, but in one of my projects, which is somewhat Tolkienesque, I'm not afraid to kill off characters.

Roxxsmom
07-07-2014, 09:23 AM
I'd like to see more traditional 'Tolkienesque' high fantasy, but done in a more gritty, realistic manner, say if George R.R. Martin or Richard K. Morgan or Joe Abercrombie were writing it.

Well, actually, it occurred to me that Abercrombie's first three books were kind of a Tolkien spoof, or at least a spoof of a traditional heroic fantasy. Okay, no hobbits or elves, but there was a "kindly" old immortal wizard (cough cough) and a quest. Many of the elements of traditional fantasy were there, but they were twisted around and recast in a very grim, pessimistic light. They even had these vaguely orc or troll-like creatures.

knight_tour
07-10-2014, 08:54 AM
Well, actually, it occurred to me that Abercrombie's first three books were kind of a Tolkien spoof, or at least a spoof of a traditional heroic fantasy. Okay, no hobbits or elves, but there was a "kindly" old immortal wizard (cough cough) and a quest. Many of the elements of traditional fantasy were there, but they were twisted around and recast in a very grim, pessimistic light. They even had these vaguely orc or troll-like creatures.

I know what you mean, but no one is doing what I'm actually craving, which is truly Tolkienesque fiction done in a darker fashion. I love Tolkien, but it's all so black and white, while it would be fantastic to see the same style of setting done in a more realistic manner. This is why I wrote my own fantasy novel, though I'm still not happy enough with the editing to publish it yet.

phantasy
07-10-2014, 10:28 AM
Are there any books with a female heroine who doesn't fall in love in the book? Or she'd already married or something?

Lillith1991
07-10-2014, 10:39 AM
More cultures that have more than two genders, or even biological sexes would be nice. More non-patriarchal, non-heteronormative cultures would be nice too. You know, ones where the romance between same-sex characters doesn't end grimly or at least where the grim endings are justified instead of feeling tacked on.

Michael Steven
07-13-2014, 09:13 PM
I don't like anachronisms in fantasy, so trying to stuff things like gunpowder and flying machines into them have never worked, and have not improved the stories. Did you realize that ancient Greeks had invented the steam engine? They didn't develop it probably because they had no use for it. And remember that magic makes a great deal of technology pointless.

Trying to center fantasy stories around modern political movements such as stomping out racism (hard to put out a fire that isn't there) or letting homosexuals out of the closet do the same thing as other anachronisms. That's like writing a western focused on saving the spotted owl. How about The War of Independence as Seen by Willy the Orca.

There are a lot of things I've wanted to see in a High Fantasy story and that's why I wrote one. Do I have elves? Yes. Are they Tolkien-esque? Not really. Are they Keebler elves? No. Are they elves from Albion? No. They're my elves, their history is surprising, their culture is eye-opening and no other race refers to them as "elves"; that's their own name. I do the same thing with many common fantasy elements. They're there, but not at all what is expected. Even the magic isn't the standard magic.

Lillith1991
07-13-2014, 09:58 PM
Trying to center fantasy stories around modern political movements such as stomping out racism (hard to put out a fire that isn't there) or letting homosexuals out of the closet do the same thing as other anachronisms. That's like writing a western focused on saving the spotted owl. How about The War of Independence as Seen by Willy the Orca.

Your entire post sets off red flags for me, but the bolded bit is the worst as far as I'm concerned. There's most certainly still racism in our society, and some people choose to challenge it by showing it in their work. Same thing with homo/transphobia, it most certainly exists and people choose to challenge that by having LGBT characters in their work. There's absolutely no reason that everything should be white and heteronormative in fantasy, and more than one figure in history has lived at least semi-openly with a same-sex lover. Premodern societies weren't all ridged like ours can be and is, France actually was more liberally during the reign of the Bonaparts than after in regards to homosexuality. There's a notted French beraucrat at the time who lived openly with his lover in what was termed a "greek friendship," and nobody took issue with it. He was a well liked and respected man and so was his lover.

Marian Perera
07-13-2014, 10:34 PM
I don't like anachronisms in fantasy, so trying to stuff things like gunpowder and flying machines into them have never worked, and have not improved the stories.

Sorry to hear these don't work for you, but that's not to say they never work. Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy, and not anachronistic because if a fantasy is set in the equivalent of the late 1800s, who's to say the technology couldn't have developed?

It's not a question of "stuffing things like gunpowder" into fantasy. It's a question of whether something works for a particular story.


And remember that magic makes a great deal of technology pointless.Depends on the magic, doesn't it?

And I've written stories where people either don't have magic, or have limited, very specific types of magic. So they use technology.


Trying to center fantasy stories around modern political movements such as stomping out racism (hard to put out a fire that isn't there) or letting homosexuals out of the closet do the same thing as other anachronisms.Hmm. I have a gay character in the fantasy romance I'm editing, and he feels no shame about being gay because his culture and his family don't see this as substantially different from an attraction to women. I wonder if that qualifies as "letting homosexuals out of the closet".

Liosse de Velishaf
07-13-2014, 11:43 PM
I feel like someone should point out that an anachronism is only such within a certain context. Since fantasy can cover any time period from before the universe existed 'til after it's gone, nothing is automatically an anachronism.


As far as Greeks and the steam engine, it's less that they had no use for it and more that they didn't realize it's capabilities. Along with other issues, the availability of and knowledge of coal in Ancient Greece was not very high, and yet coal was the main fuel for modern steam engines. Saying the Greeks had access to a steam engine equivalent to modern ones and didn't need it is sort of like saying we have lasers like from Star Wars and don't care to use them. It's a mis-characterization based on ignoring a lot of other factors.


Also, homosexuality and racism have existed for as long as humanity. Many societies have had issues dealing with them. So approaching them from a fantasy perspective is hardly unrealistic.

Michael Steven
07-13-2014, 11:48 PM
Your entire post sets off red flags for me, but the bolded bit is the worst as far as I'm concerned. There's most certainly still racism in our society, and some people choose to challenge it by showing it in their work. Same thing with homo/transphobia, it most certainly exists and people choose to challenge that by having LGBT characters in their work. There's absolutely no reason that everything should be white and heteronormative in fantasy, and more than one figure in history has lived at least semi-openly with a same-sex lover. Premodern societies weren't all ridged like ours can be and is, France actually was more liberally during the reign of the Bonaparts than after in regards to homosexuality. There's a notted French beraucrat at the time who lived openly with his lover in what was termed a "greek friendship," and nobody took issue with it. He was a well liked and respected man and so was his lover.

Yeah, I knew I'd hit a nerve with some of that. But the point isn't that it doesn't exist, but rather most people don't truly know what it is. What they do is label everything even remotely hinting in that direction as part of it ... and it isn't. But that happens for a lot of hot topics and eventually people do get a handle and put it into proper perspective. Example? The communism witch hunts of the 50s. Racism today is very much like communism back then -- the big bogey man. It'll get sorted out and the over-reactions today will help get things organized in the future.

You see, I'm actually pragmatic by nature and not prone to witch hunting. I also know that given enough time people will make smart decisions. They may have had their hands in the fire a few times, but they'll get it.

Literary fiction is an ideal vehicle for that sort of stuff. Epic/high fantasy -- not so much.

CrastersBabies
07-13-2014, 11:56 PM
The whole thing with fantasy (and its history) is how it reflects MODERN times. Research Tolkien. Research WWI and the Battle of the Somme. Tolkien had a lot to say about the evolution of industry and technology in his books.

To sweep current political issues (read: human rights issues) under the rug because your story must reflect some outdated faux medieval society seems a bit regressive to me. Some authors might choose a world where women are oppressed, for example, but today's reader is going to do a whole heck of a lot of eye-rolling if the writer follows the same cliche framework: damsel in distress, breaking woman with rape, woman saved by man.

There are ways to write in an oppressive world (oppressive of gender, homosexuality, culture) without making yourself look like you have the cultural IQ of a bigot. Or a misogynist. Or a homophobe. I have one character in my medieval fantasy that is fighting against her gender. She is aware of her predicament and her limitations and geesh, that's been hella awesome for me to write. She doesn't have to come in, whip blazing, yodeling the Xena battle cry.

And another female character of mine exists in a society where women are seen as equals. (In the case of royalty, superior, as a woman's lineage from mother to daughter is always 100% verifiable.) It's fun to juxtaposition those two elements. To show how a woman can grow up believing that women are equal and that another woman has to fight against tradition.

Also, just because we don't read enormous amounts of literature and history that has to do with homosexuality (for example) doesn't mean that it wasn't as prevalent back then as it is today. Just hidden. Secret. What was it like for a gay man to be promised to a female wife? Wow, he has to procreate. He does it. It's what's expected, but he has an emptiness within him for his entire life. (Because it's confusing to be attracted to other men. Because it was considered sinful back then.)

To say these things cannot exist in a fantasy world is ludicrous. What, they can address the idea of inter-species mixing (half-elves, half-dwarves, half-orcs) but God forbid a male character be homosexual? Come on.

Furthermore, let's just look at the idea of "fantasy" unto itself. Whatever you can imagine.

Well, I imagine a world where homosexuality is perfectly normal/accepted. Wow, how hard was that? (Not very.)

I imagine a world where there are three genders and all have equal rights. Oops, I did it again. I used my imagination.

Do you have to write in these worlds? Nope, but you can address modern concerns with gender and sexuality in a meaningful way, or, you can continue ignoring it, opting to write in a world that consists of all white, heterosexual, able-bodied, patriarch-minded people.

I don't think anyone is asking writers to force current controversies into their world. Readers can also smell a shoe-horned idea/philosophy/character trait a mile away. But to write in a 1960's male mindset when it comes to culture and diversity seems like a dubious choice to me. There is a difference between presenting an unfair (oppressive) world in a way that goes against current hegemonic tropes and there's the ham-fisted crap that makes people throw books across the room.

Lord of Chaos
07-14-2014, 12:33 AM
The whole thing with fantasy (and its history) is how it reflects MODERN times. Research Tolkien. Research WWI and the Battle of the Somme. Tolkien had a lot to say about the evolution of industry and technology in his books.

To sweep current political issues (read: human rights issues) under the rug because your story must reflect some outdated faux medieval society seems a bit regressive to me. Some authors might choose a world where women are oppressed, for example, but today's reader is going to do a whole heck of a lot of eye-rolling if the writer follows the same cliche framework: damsel in distress, breaking woman with rape, woman saved by man.

There are ways to write in an oppressive world (oppressive of gender, homosexuality, culture) without making yourself look like you have the cultural IQ of a bigot. Or a misogynist. Or a homophobe. I have one character in my medieval fantasy that is fighting against her gender. She is aware of her predicament and her limitations and geesh, that's been hella awesome for me to write. She doesn't have to come in, whip blazing, yodeling the Xena battle cry.

And another female character of mine exists in a society where women are seen as equals. (In the case of royalty, superior, as a woman's lineage from mother to daughter is always 100% verifiable.) It's fun to juxtaposition those two elements. To show how a woman can grow up believing that women are equal and that another woman has to fight against tradition.

Also, just because we don't read enormous amounts of literature and history that has to do with homosexuality (for example) doesn't mean that it wasn't as prevalent back then as it is today. Just hidden. Secret. What was it like for a gay man to be promised to a female wife? Wow, he has to procreate. He does it. It's what's expected, but he has an emptiness within him for his entire life. (Because it's confusing to be attracted to other men. Because it was considered sinful back then.)

To say these things cannot exist in a fantasy world is ludicrous. What, they can address the idea of inter-species mixing (half-elves, half-dwarves, half-orcs) but God forbid a male character be homosexual? Come on.

Furthermore, let's just look at the idea of "fantasy" unto itself. Whatever you can imagine.

Well, I imagine a world where homosexuality is perfectly normal/accepted. Wow, how hard was that? (Not very.)

I imagine a world where there are three genders and all have equal rights. Oops, I did it again. I used my imagination.

Do you have to write in these worlds? Nope, but you can address modern concerns with gender and sexuality in a meaningful way, or, you can continue ignoring it, opting to write in a world that consists of all white, heterosexual, able-bodied, patriarch-minded people.

I don't think anyone is asking writers to force current controversies into their world. Readers can also smell a shoe-horned idea/philosophy/character trait a mile away. But to write in a 1960's male mindset when it comes to culture and diversity seems like a dubious choice to me. There is a difference between presenting an unfair (oppressive) world in a way that goes against current hegemonic tropes and there's the ham-fisted crap that makes people throw books across the room.

Quoted for agreement. It's fantasy, and the author has the right to do whatever he/she wants with the world. It doesn't make it an anacronism to include homosexual characters or racism/classism/descrimination of other kinds. We all draw inspiration from our world, be it current political trends, genocide, war, or social movements.

I have classism in my books and in some parts there's sexism, but the world is mine and addresses the issues that are prevelent in it. In some "noble" (for lack of a better word) families the inheritance passes through the men, but in those same families the women retain their family name when they marry and it's the men who change theirs. I think it's a fresh take on some of these issues

CrastersBabies
07-14-2014, 01:27 AM
Quoted for agreement. It's fantasy, and the author has the right to do whatever he/she wants with the world. It doesn't make it an anacronism to include homosexual characters or racism/classism/descrimination of other kinds. We all draw inspiration from our world, be it current political trends, genocide, war, or social movements.

I have classism in my books and in some parts there's sexism, but the world is mine and addresses the issues that are prevelent in it. In some "noble" (for lack of a better word) families the inheritance passes through the men, but in those same families the women retain their family name when they marry and it's the men who change theirs. I think it's a fresh take on some of these issues

This is what I'm talking about, yeah. I feel like people think readers want to see Xena riding a giant dinosaur through town and then killing all the men and blah blah (I'm bored already). It's silly.

But, when I read fantasy novels from the 80's, for example, I see so many areas where writers were pushing forward in terms of gender (for example). The Dragonlance series comes to mind. While it wasn't perfect by any stretch, I think of Kitiara. Female warrior. Had some lovers. But love wasn't her entire focus. She was badass. And evil. And rode dragons. And nowhere in the books did we get precious little moments like:

(GASP), a WOMAN riding a dragon, carrying a sword! ooooooo, that's so strange! And progressive!

I remember disliking her right away (she was the villain!) but respecting her as a threat all the same. Especially when she offed a certain character that I was just beginning to like. :)

I think a fresh take (as stated above) is a great approach. How can I make this slightly different? Sure, some people don't like romance in fantasies. Maybe they're sick of the chosen couple trope. For me, I have a married couple. Arranged marriage, but let's forgo the BS, "Omg, this is so bad that I'm in a marriage like this. WAHH WAHH." How about they act like people who grew up in this society and who simply must make it work? And respect one another. And, above all, learn to work together. Then later, how do they both obtain their goals and still maintain a working marriage?

I start off where these people are already married. He's back from war. What now? Well, we do our duties. The marriage is on the back burner. Our real goals speak to our deepest wants/desires and those, my friend, are not wrapped up in, "Aww, does he wuv me?" but rather in issues that impact entire kingdoms and countries. (Epic fantasy, yo!)

Roxxsmom
07-14-2014, 01:46 AM
Quoted for agreement. It's fantasy, and the author has the right to do whatever he/she wants with the world. It doesn't make it an anacronism to include homosexual characters or racism/classism/descrimination of other kinds. We all draw inspiration from our world, be it current political trends, genocide, war, or social movements.

I have classism in my books and in some parts there's sexism, but the world is mine and addresses the issues that are prevelent in it. In some "noble" (for lack of a better word) families the inheritance passes through the men, but in those same families the women retain their family name when they marry and it's the men who change theirs. I think it's a fresh take on some of these issues

I also agree with Crashter's point and yours.

I think the argument that fantasy has to reflect some narrow view of "real history" is vacuous for another reason too: real" history isn't very narrow. There really were matrilineal societies; there really were cultures where QUILTBAG folks weren't anathema; there really were societies where skin color wasn't the end all and be all of social status; there really were widely divergent attitudes about things like slavery. There really were (and are) a ton of different religions out there with a ton of different attitudes about things. There really were lots of different ways of determining kinship, social obligation, responsibility to family etc.

Even medieval Europe was not monolithic in this respect (the middle ages lasted 1000 years or so, and Europe is a continent, not a tiny little country). And it's not that hard to imagine that just a few changes, something like the presence of magic, or another intelligent species, or even a different culture or religion becoming ascendent, could have made history unfold very differently than it did.

And anyway societies that were more narrowly sexist, homophobic, bigoted etc., had plenty of women, QUILTBAG people, people of color etc., who broke the "rules" and accomplished things.

rwm4768
07-14-2014, 03:38 AM
Yeah, I see no reason why fantasy worlds have to have things against homosexuality. I believe it was just fine in Rome and Greece. A fantasy society isn't going to share the same views as medieval Europe, not unless you're designing it as a medieval Europe analogue.

Here's something I want to see in epic fantasy. Fast pacing and tightly plotted stories where things are actually happening. I've read too many books, even acclaimed books, that are so, so slow.

sohalt
07-14-2014, 05:09 AM
Lots of great ideas already, quoting my favs:



Hmm... I suppose that would be along the lines of many historical fiction books with Big World Events as backdrops; you're not going to follow The Guy Who Took Out Hitler And Saved The Free World (in part because that guy doesn't exist), but someone else whose own problems mirror, or are magnified by, the greater turmoil. It could work, so long as the author makes the character and the conflicts interesting enough that the reader doesn't keep trying to peek past them to the Big Bad Battle... a more realistic portrayal of life in a secondary world than the Farm Boy Who Saves The Universe.

Yes. I'm pretty tired of the climactic battle boiling down to the hero facing off with some sort of dark lord/personification of evil, thus single-handedly deciding the war, while all the other team members just had to keep the forces of darkness at bay long enough so that he could do his thing. (Which I guess is just another way of saying I'm not necessarily here for chosen ones). Real history doesn't work like that, with one decisive hero, and one decisive battle, and historical/literary fiction tends to acknowledge that. Doesn't make it less epic. I want more fantasy that reads like War and Peace rather than Lord of the Rings in that regard.



Sometimes I imagine how a version of A Song of Ice and Fire would play out set in, say, a version of Europe during the 20th Century with Robert's Rebellion playing out as a WWII analogue, Robert himself as a Franco/Tito-type of strongman, Northerners and Ironborn as separatists akin to the IRA, the Chechenyans or the Basque movement with the Lannisters and Tyrells as posh prep school-type bankers and entrepeneurs. But I digress.

Here for more later-than-medieval epic fantasy. Yes, it's tricky to make magic co-exist with technology. But it seems like a worthwhile challenge.

The urban fantasy genre, as it currently presents itself, doesn't quite scratch that itch for me, because it seems to me mostly a mix of paranormal romance + noir.

Roxxsmom
07-14-2014, 05:25 AM
I think some of the issue with stories--fantasy or otherwise--focusing on a single protagonist who takes out a single baddy, or exposes a single plot that makes the evil house of cards come crashing down is because it's darned hard to write something that's both realistic and satisfying in that sense.

Think of it--if Sauron had continued to exist, albeit in a weaker form--for months or years after the ring was destroyed, then the good guys might still have lost. Even a weakened army of darkness can win in it's much larger than the good guys' army, and has more resources at its disposal (the mundane details of food and supply lines weren't Tolkien's literary forte either). And if the sides had been more evenly matched to begin with, the way they often are in "real" wars, then the whole destroy the ring thing would have become less important, and the heroes struggles less urgent and poignant.

As a writer, I'm not sure how to write a self-contained story with a clear and satisfying ending that doesn't rely on some kind of big showdown or trick at the end (whether it's something magical, or a trick like Luke's "using the force" to find the hole in the first Death Star's defenses).

Writing more realistic conflicts, where each character has their own arc and role to play in the overall conflict, and some are even dead ends? Well, there's ASoIaF. It's very popular, probably because of its novelty (and all the rape, murder and dysfunction probably doesn't hurt--just like a soap opera in a fantasy world). But the further Martin gets into the series, the harder time he has writing it, and the less satisfied his fans seem to be with each installment. I think readers are wanting that "big standoff" where Danys comes to Westernos with her dragons, and we finally find out whether our theories about Jon Snow's parentage are correct, and we figure out where all the various characters fit into the whole puzzle, and the Starks are vindicated in some way, and the armies find a way to fight event though there's no food because winter is finally here, and...

Problem is, he's written something where it's going to be very hard to give the readers what they're looking for without simultaneously making for some kind of let down.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-14-2014, 05:43 AM
I think it is hard to write a "realistic" plot because we don't actually know all that much about how realistic stuff happens. It just does. We can point to some big events here and there, and make a decent guess they had a strong effect, but it's hard to say for any specific medium or small event what kind of effect it had. And certainly the emotional pay-off can be bigger with a clear victory by a main character.

Also, it's hard to build up an antagonist, especially when you don't get their POV. So imagine building up several low level antags who never get a POV chapter. Or trying to characterize the morale of a group of low-level enemies. Cutting the head off the snake is a strong symbolic moment, and is easy to grasp for a reader. Cutting off a few toes or severing a tendon here and there is less substantive in each instance and can be harder to great across the importance of to a reader.

.Fay.
07-14-2014, 06:29 AM
I thought the pacing in the book was great. I thought it was a well-written book. I just hated the main character so much that I don't want to continue reading about him. I can handle main characters that do bad things occasionally, but Jorg was just too much for me.

When I finished the first book in this series I completely agreed with you. My best friend bought it for me and asked if I was going to read the rest and I said no way I hate the main character so much I just want him to die. Then I found myself at the book store and just enough cash to buy me book 2 and really none of the other books were that cheap. So I said, fine. And he gets better. And book 3 was awesome. I highly recommend just *trying* to read book 2. You might change your mind (I did!)

sohalt
07-14-2014, 01:35 PM
I think somewhat open endings can be pretty satisfying too, as long as the central characters get some sort of closure. You can still have big, flashy showdowns without implying that's all it takes to resolve multi-layered conflicts without residue.

Eg. A Song of Ice And Fire - Even if Martin does decide to end the War for Dawn by having Dany, or Jon, or Tyrion, or maybe Bran fly on a dragon into the Land of Always Wintern and defeat the Great Other in single combat while everyone else holds the fort at the Trident or the Wall, that's, well ... just the War for Dawn. We all know it won't automatically cure the rot in the Westerosi institutions that led us to the point; we can make an educated guess that this will be a tad more difficult than just putting the right ass on the throne.

The War for Dawn can be won or lost and I guess we'll get a decisive answer at the end of the series. The Game of Thrones however just enters another round. So the really interesting question is not so much who gets to make that heroic sacrifice to defeat the Great Other epic fantasy-style, but rather who survives to pick up the pieces and what the survivors decide to do with those. Targ restoration? National independence of all 7 Kingdoms? Gradual transition into a constitutional monarchy?

At this point of the story I'm much more invested in individual characters' various reform projects (Dany trying to abolish slavery, Jon trying to integrate the wildlings, Jaime trying to restore the King's Guard's honor, Asha trying to find alternatives for the raiding-lifestyle for the Ironborn) than in who gets to end up on that chair. Some of those will probably fail, and some might succeed. There's not going to be one big pay-off resolving everything, but several smaller ones. Besides, I suspect that most readers will be quite satisfied as long as the Starks reunite at some point and one of them gets to rebuild Winterfell.

Of course it won't please everyone. That's pretty much impossible any way. But I think Martin is actually in a quite favourable position, in as far that it will also be impossible for him to displease everyone with his ending. That's the great advantage of inspiring so much divided loyalities over such a huge ensembe of conflicting points of view - not matter who gets to survive, they will have some fans who'll be thrilled about the outcome.

Roxxsmom
07-14-2014, 11:14 PM
I think somewhat open endings are pretty common these days, at least in EF, but I suspect it's more about leaving things open for sequels than from a desire to be more realistic :)

writer_mccall
07-15-2014, 01:20 PM
I think somewhat open endings can be pretty satisfying too, as long as the central characters get some sort of closure. You can still have big, flashy showdowns without implying that's all it takes to resolve multi-layered conflicts without residue.

Eg. A Song of Ice And Fire - Even if Martin does decide to end the War for Dawn by having Dany, or Jon, or Tyrion, or maybe Bran fly on a dragon into the Land of Always Wintern and defeat the Great Other in single combat while everyone else holds the fort at the Trident or the Wall, that's, well ... just the War for Dawn. We all know it won't automatically cure the rot in the Westerosi institutions that led us to the point; we can make an educated guess that this will be a tad more difficult than just putting the right ass on the throne.

The War for Dawn can be won or lost and I guess we'll get a decisive answer at the end of the series. The Game of Thrones however just enters another round. So the really interesting question is not so much who gets to make that heroic sacrifice to defeat the Great Other epic fantasy-style, but rather who survives to pick up the pieces and what the survivors decide to do with those. Targ restoration? National independence of all 7 Kingdoms? Gradual transition into a constitutional monarchy?

At this point of the story I'm much more invested in individual characters' various reform projects (Dany trying to abolish slavery, Jon trying to integrate the wildlings, Jaime trying to restore the King's Guard's honor, Asha trying to find alternatives for the raiding-lifestyle for the Ironborn) than in who gets to end up on that chair. Some of those will probably fail, and some might succeed. There's not going to be one big pay-off resolving everything, but several smaller ones. Besides, I suspect that most readers will be quite satisfied as long as the Starks reunite at some point and one of them gets to rebuild Winterfell.

Of course it won't please everyone. That's pretty much impossible any way. But I think Martin is actually in a quite favourable position, in as far that it will also be impossible for him to displease everyone with his ending. That's the great advantage of inspiring so much divided loyalities over such a huge ensembe of conflicting points of view - not matter who gets to survive, they will have some fans who'll be thrilled about the outcome.

Even fantastic stories can let slip on the endings. I just hope Martin sticks to what he wants to write rather than trying to please fans.
I remember Mass Effect, such an amazing sci-fi game universe and story and yet by trying to cover all their bases in the ending they ended up pleasing nobody
'If you try to please everyone, you'll only end up pleasing no one'

NRoach
07-15-2014, 04:34 PM
Even fantastic stories can let slip on the endings. I just hope Martin sticks to what he wants to write rather than trying to please fans.
I remember Mass Effect, such an amazing sci-fi game universe and story and yet by trying to cover all their bases in the ending they ended up pleasing nobody
'If you try to please everyone, you'll only end up pleasing no one'

Mass Effect's problem was less trying to please everyone, than writing themselves into a catastrophic corner and changing the lead writer over the course of the series.

LessonsToLiveBy
07-24-2014, 05:54 AM
I'd like to see more traditional 'Tolkienesque' high fantasy, but done in a more gritty, realistic manner, say if George R.R. Martin or Richard K. Morgan or Joe Abercrombie were writing it.


Yes, and where we actually find something (or a lot of things) to like in the MC. I'm getting tired of characters with so many flaws that I can't see them as heroes or even protagonists.

I have a character that I think of as "Jason Bourne with a sword" when I write him.

Ariella
07-25-2014, 02:21 AM
I agree with Lessons.

I would also like to see more stories where the protagonists actually succeed in doing something positive for their society. It may just be the books I've read lately, but seems to me that in recent years endings have swung from one extreme to another. Whereas older books ended with the demise of the evil overlord, and assumed that his one life was all that was standing between the heroes and a better kingdom, newer books seem to be set in worlds so malicious and corrupt that no one is empowered to make them even slightly better places. I would like to see more books where the heroes manage to accomplish something constructive.

fergrex
07-26-2014, 01:22 AM
Are there any books with a female heroine who doesn't fall in love in the book? Or she'd already married or something?

Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion trilogy. The main character, Paks, is not interested. It's not that she hasn't found the right person, or has some kind of complex about it; she just has other goals.

writer_mccall
07-26-2014, 04:24 AM
How about an urban fantasy set in 16th-17th century Ottoman Empire?
Just a though I had the other day. Maybe I should right it up

Liosse de Velishaf
07-26-2014, 03:54 PM
How about an urban fantasy set in 16th-17th century Ottoman Empire?
Just a though I had the other day. Maybe I should right it up


I wish there was more "urban" fantasy set in historical periods but you may find it hard to market such a novel as urban fantasy, since most people consider it UF only if it's also contemporary fantasy.

Mr Flibble
07-26-2014, 08:10 PM
How about an urban fantasy set in 16th-17th century Ottoman Empire?
Just a though I had the other day. Maybe I should right it up

Write it


It'll probably be marketed as historical fantasy (as said above, UF is generally contemp), but hey, write the sucker anyway. I love that stuff!

endearing
07-29-2014, 04:28 AM
I like this thread. :) Possibly because I just really like epic and high fantasy, though a lot of the fantasy I read these days isn't.

I'd love to see more:
- non-European settings (and personally, I'm going to say Asian-inspired settings)
- loyal sidekick/best friend (not that I think there's necessarily a dearth of them, but I just love them a lot)
- romance between equals who make each other better and help each other on their quest
- a naturally unfolding conflict of a magnitude you don't initially expect

endearing
07-29-2014, 04:29 AM
I wish there was more "urban" fantasy set in historical periods but you may find it hard to market such a novel as urban fantasy, since most people consider it UF only if it's also contemporary fantasy.

Hmm, that's true. Though there's also the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, set in Victorian England. (But those are YA and Clare has made quite a name for herself with urban fantasy, so possibly an exception?)

Liosse de Velishaf
07-29-2014, 07:17 AM
Hmm, that's true. Though there's also the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, set in Victorian England. (But those are YA and Clare has made quite a name for herself with urban fantasy, so possibly an exception?)


Not Urban Fantasy. But Cassie Clare doesn't need a genre. She's practically her own by now.

Morri
07-29-2014, 07:29 AM
- Dragons. I think they're awesome and I don't care if people are sick of them. Bonus points if they're Eastern or are more than just scaly lizards that are okay being ridden like fire breathing horses that fly and can crush you with their feet.

- I'd like to see more matriarchal societies and how they function. The only one I can think of right now is in the series by R.A. Salvatore, but that may just be because I'm not looking hard enough.

- Desert settings. I don't know why, but I'm really interested in them. That's why I loved The Lions of Al-Rassan so much, apart from the amazing prose.

- Speaking of deserts, I would love to see more fantasy set in Egypt. I love the mythology, and it has such a rich history.

- Elves with varying skin tones. I don't understand why they either have to be 'light' elves and pale or 'dark' elves and a weird grey color? And why have I never seen or heard of a fat elf? Am I reading the wrong books? :Huh:

rwm4768
07-29-2014, 07:49 AM
- Desert settings. I don't know why, but I'm really interested in them. That's why I loved The Lions of Al-Rassan so much, apart from the amazing prose.

You might give Glenda Larke's The Last Stormlord a try. It's set in a desert, and the magic system is an integral part of surviving in that desert.

Parts of Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle (starting with The Warded Man/The Painted Man) are set in a desert.

You might also try out Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon, though I was a little disappointed by it.

Roxxsmom
07-29-2014, 11:12 AM
- Desert settings. I don't know why, but I'm really interested in them. That's why I loved The Lions of Al-Rassan so much, apart from the amazing prose.

- Speaking of deserts, I would love to see more fantasy set in Egypt. I love the mythology, and it has such a rich history.



Mercedes Lackey's Joust books had dragons and they were set in an Egypt-inspired society. They were ridden, but it was interesting how she fashioned their social system and the way they bonded to their human handlers after birds.

Sherri S Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country was a novel (more SF than fantasy, though) set in a matriarchal society.


Elves with varying skin tones. I don't understand why they either have to be 'light' elves and pale or 'dark' elves and a weird grey color? And why have I never seen or heard of a fat elf? Am I reading the wrong books? :Huh:

There doesn't seem to be many fantasy novels with elves in them anymore. Not sure why that is. I agree that it would be nice to see elves with the same kind of diversity that we see in humans.

A race of elves that tend towards plumpness would be a nice change from willowy tree dwellers.

writer_mccall
07-29-2014, 01:18 PM
I like this thread. :) Possibly because I just really like epic and high fantasy, though a lot of the fantasy I read these days isn't.

I'd love to see more:
- non-European settings (and personally, I'm going to say Asian-inspired settings)
- loyal sidekick/best friend (not that I think there's necessarily a dearth of them, but I just love them a lot)
- romance between equals who make each other better and help each other on their quest
- a naturally unfolding conflict of a magnitude you don't initially expect

Slowly getting more ideas for an Ottoman historical/urban fantasy story. Having recently played Assassins Creed Revelations gives me quite a good feel for the setting. Might have to put off some other projects to work on this now

Morri
07-30-2014, 02:44 AM
You might give Glenda Larke's The Last Stormlord a try. It's set in a desert, and the magic system is an integral part of surviving in that desert.

Parts of Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle (starting with The Warded Man/The Painted Man) are set in a desert.

You might also try out Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon, though I was a little disappointed by it.

I think I've read the samples of all three of those on Amazon, but it was a while ago and my brain has muddled them together. I'll have to go look at them again. What was it about Crescent Moon that disappointed you?


Mercedes Lackey's Joust books had dragons and they were set in an Egypt-inspired society. They were ridden, but it was interesting how she fashioned their social system and the way they bonded to their human handlers after birds.

Sherri S Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country was a novel (more SF than fantasy, though) set in a matriarchal society.



There doesn't seem to be many fantasy novels with elves in them anymore. Not sure why that is. I agree that it would be nice to see elves with the same kind of diversity that we see in humans.

A race of elves that tend towards plumpness would be a nice change from willowy tree dwellers.

Dragons! Egypt! I'm definitely looking into that. I've also noticed that there's less elves in general, and I'm not sure if it's because people aren't interested in reading about them or if agents aren't picking up novels with them. I hope it's neither one, since they're the main source of conflict in my current project.

Personally, I would be very tickled by a portly elf with a nice tan.

jjdebenedictis
07-30-2014, 05:45 AM
What was it about Crescent Moon that disappointed you?Can I answer that? It reads like a kid's book. The writing is simplistic, the love story is twee, and it's not a particularly convincing plot.


- Desert settings. I don't know why, but I'm really interested in them. That's why I loved The Lions of Al-Rassan so much, apart from the amazing prose.
Here're some desert-settings books that are much better, imo, than Crescent Moon:

- Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
- The Emperor's Knife by Mazarkis Williams
- Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Alif the Unseen is my favourite in that list, but it's not epic/high fantasy; it's more like urban fantasy set in the United Arab Emirates. The Emperor's Knife definitely is high fantasy set in the desert, and it's also the start of a trilogy if you like what you read. Who Fears Death is excellent, but it's not easily classified and doesn't really "feel" like a lot of fantasy you've read before -- which is part of the appeal.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-30-2014, 06:01 AM
Alif the Unseen is cyber-punk fantasy, and absolutely brilliant.




Crescent Moon is basically Arabian Nights D&D, which Ahmed admits to going for. Like if you took Standard Generic Medieval Fantasy #5454525 and switched out all the cultural references for Middle Eastern ones instead. And the writing is pretty much average midlist level. If it weren't for the discussion of diversity in spec fic right now, I doubt it would have gotten any serious attention at all.

rwm4768
07-30-2014, 08:26 AM
I think others have pretty much summed up my thoughts on Throne of the Crescent Moon. I had hoped for so much more out of it, but it did feel like D&D, just with a different setting, and I didn't feel convinced by the setting.

There were some enjoyable elements. I do like a good quest after all. So I'll probably see if Ahmed improves with subsequent books.

rwm4768
07-30-2014, 08:29 AM
Here's something I'd like to see:

More settings along the lines of Glenda Larke's The Last Stormlord. Not necessarily the desert bit (though I do like deserts). More than anything, I loved how the magic system felt so appropriate for a desert society.

Of course, I wanted to see that, so I wrote a story with a setting along those lines. I have another one sitting in the back of my head.

Filigree
07-30-2014, 11:49 AM
For functioning matriarchies, look at Melissa Scott's newly republished 'Point of Hopes' novels, set in a secondary-world inspired by late Renaissance France (and with some fascinating riffs on magical astrology and culturally mainstreamed GLBTQ characters.)

Rachel77
07-30-2014, 06:20 PM
For functioning matriarchies, look at Melissa Scott's newly republished 'Point of Hopes' novels, set in a secondary-world inspired by late Renaissance France (and with some fascinating riffs on magical astrology and culturally mainstreamed GLBTQ characters.)

They're republished? *runs to the bookstore*

Seconding this recommendation; the books are excellent.

Mr Flibble
07-31-2014, 12:04 AM
- Desert settings. I don't know why, but I'm really interested in them. That's why I loved The Lions of Al-Rassan so much, apart from the amazing prose.


City of Silk and Steel. Awesome book


For functioning matriarchies It has some of that as well :D

Morri
07-31-2014, 02:25 AM
Thanks for all the recommendations! I've got quite a nice list now.

Jacob_Wallace
08-03-2014, 04:15 AM
Elves with varying skin tones. I don't understand why they either have to be 'light' elves and pale or 'dark' elves and a weird grey color? And why have I never seen or heard of a fat elf? Am I reading the wrong books? :Huh:

Well, elves usually only come from a certain location (not counting D&D that has a shitload of sub races for elves) so it wouldn't make much sense for there to be different races of elves.

As for fat, well, not many fat at all in fantasy fiction. Except for a king here or there.

Roxxsmom
08-03-2014, 04:50 AM
Well, elves usually only come from a certain location (not counting D&D that has a shitload of sub races for elves) so it wouldn't make much sense for there to be different races of elves.

As for fat, well, not many fat at all in fantasy fiction. Except for a king here or there.

Or an evil, greedy merchant or wicked stepmother now and again.

Though Samwell Tully's fat, and he's a sympathetic character.

WhitePawn
08-03-2014, 09:37 PM
Complete removal of all lists. Need to cut word count? Start with lists. Even Martin is guilty of this (See: every big meal Bran or Sansa sits down to) and it's utter crap and fluff. He gets away with it because all the surrounding words are awesome, but the lists stand out as annoying given the quality surrounding these lists.

No elves. In fact, the moment you find yourself here, please, go watch four YouTube videos of honey boo boo as punishment. I'm serious. Then return to the blank page. Repeat as necessary. If avoiding elves is that much of a problem for you, switch to Teletubby videos after you run out of material.

New races that are not elves. Yes, it can be done and is. See: Robert Jordan's Ogier race.

Unique though simple magic systems. Just waving a hand and conjuring fire gets old. See: Sanderson's Allomancy in the Mistborn series.

Protag(s) not starting out in a village that is suddenly under attack.

Protag(s) that have personal flaws other than anger management issues. I'm especially tired of this with female protags. Like all "strong" women are emotional nut-jobs that get angry often, rendering themselves unable to think straight...and thus try to impale themselves on the blades of others through reckless action. Granted, this is more an urban fantasy problem.

jjdebenedictis
08-04-2014, 01:10 AM
Well, elves usually only come from a certain location (not counting D&D that has a shitload of sub races for elves) so it wouldn't make much sense for there to be different races of elves.See, this is something I (respectfully :) ) disagree with. If you write fantasy, you get to make up all the rules, not just some of them.

Who says you can't have an elf with Asian or African features? I just don't buy into the logic that it's perfectly believable to have a dragon or a wizard in your story but not believable to have a brown person. Sure, the folklore about elves started in Europe -- but fantasy is all about slurping the reader into a world that is beautifully, breath-takingly unreal. As an author, you don't have to make it mirror anything in our world if you don't want to.

Roxxsmom
08-04-2014, 01:33 AM
And even if elves (or elf-like beings) do only come from one region in your world, there's no reason why it has to be a northern-European temperate type area. Maybe the elves come from the tropics, or the desert, or simply from a place where genetic drift resulted in features that differ from the stereotyped ones in fantasy.

Of course, then we get into the whole issue of whether or not something that differs from the traditional perception of a fantasy creature is still that creature, or whether one should call it something else. That also raises the question of whether or not real-world cultures from different places on Earth have traditions about magical beings that are somewhat similar to European elves.

But I'm still trying to get a good feel for when when borrowing a mythological being from a culture that isn't strictly northern/western European (my ethnic background) and modifying it to fit the needs of my fantasy world falls under cultural misappropriation, or might be seen as a shallow stereotype of something that's important to other peoples' cultures or histories.

Some fantasy creatures have been used and reused so often, and in so many ways, that the people who originally conceived of them don't mind their being tinkered with. But this isn't always true.

meltong
08-04-2014, 09:58 PM
A fresh take on unicorns.

Dinosaurs. I'm working on this.

A fantasy foodie. I don't mean an epic fantasy where the author includes more and more details about food in lieu of story; we already have a series for that, thanks. I mean one where the food is an integral part of the plot. Maybe the heroine is head cook in the castle, or the hero is a food taster. Either way, there should be mouth-watering fantastical feasts.

A desert setting or a High Arctic setting. Or a convincing underwater setting. Convincing for me = humanoid characters adapted for swimming are not likely to have full breasts or long flowing hair.

Machines of any kind.

Hive minds. Which are not automatically evil or wrong because they lack individuality.

ooo yes, i have a fresh take on unicorns, at least that's what I'm dedicating my time trying to write. =) PM me if interested in reading. would love input

Morri
08-04-2014, 10:48 PM
See, this is something I (respectfully :) ) disagree with. If you write fantasy, you get to make up all the rules, not just some of them.

Who says you can't have an elf with Asian or African features? I just don't buy into the logic that it's perfectly believable to have a dragon or a wizard in your story but not believable to have a brown person. Sure, the folklore about elves started in Europe -- but fantasy is all about slurping the reader into a world that is beautifully, breath-takingly unreal. As an author, you don't have to make it mirror anything in our world if you don't want to.

Yes, these are my thoughts as well. I don't think there should be anything 'usual' about fantasy.

Michael Steven
08-04-2014, 11:39 PM
No elves. In fact, the moment you find yourself here, please, go watch four YouTube videos of honey boo boo as punishment. I'm serious. Then return to the blank page. Repeat as necessary. If avoiding elves is that much of a problem for you, switch to Teletubby videos after you run out of material.

With all due respect, not only no but ... well, you get the picture. Frankly, there aren't enough elves. Besides, when you get right down to it, there aren't that many races to choose from. Besides, it's the the setting and how they interrelate. Flying off the deep end with crazy story ideas just leaves you with a crazy story. Fun every once in a while, but not something from which to make a steady diet.

Do I have elves in my story? Yep. Will I ever drop them because there are a few folks out there who don't like them? Nope.

What I don't like are dwarves. I never understood why so many people think they're the greatest of characters. But, even though I don't like them, I still have them in my story. Why? Because, like the elves, I have my own take on them, and where they came from. They fit in my story very well. I don't like bad guys either, but I certainly have them in there, too.

I also have orc-like humanoids, trolls, drakes, dragons, fairies, vampires and a plethora of other creatures. None of them are quite like other people have made them. That's what makes them unique :D

lilyWhite
08-05-2014, 02:46 AM
Besides, when you get right down to it, there aren't that many races to choose from.

Technically, there are about ∞ races to choose from. The only limitation is one's imagination, and no two writers will come up with the same idea if asked to create an original race.

Though I do agree against the fervent opposition towards elves. I'd rather read an interesting elf character than a boring siren, even if the elf lore isn't unique in the slightest (or if the author thought making their sirens nothing like sirens at all makes them interesting).

That is something I like to see, to be honest: stories where the author takes mythological creatures and doesn't give their own special little twist. Taking the original mythology and making an interesting character from that is more appealing to me than taking classic creatures and distorting them to the point that they might as well be called something different.

rwm4768
08-05-2014, 05:22 AM
Besides, when you get right down to it, there aren't that many races to choose from.

Huh? There are infinitely many races out there. It's fantasy. You can think up any races you want (whether those are traditional races or races of your own creation).

E.F.B.
08-05-2014, 05:44 AM
No elves. In fact, the moment you find yourself here, please, go watch four YouTube videos of honey boo boo as punishment. I'm serious. Then return to the blank page. Repeat as necessary. If avoiding elves is that much of a problem for you, switch to Teletubby videos after you run out of material.

*stubbornly points to avatar and location and proceeds to write about elves taking Honey Boo Boo and Teletubbies hostage, dispatching them, and hiding their bodies where they'll never be found again*


Technically, there are about ∞ races to choose from. The only limitation is one's imagination, and no two writers will come up with the same idea if asked to create an original race.

Though I do agree against the fervent opposition towards elves. I'd rather read an interesting elf character than a boring siren, even if the elf lore isn't unique in the slightest (or if the author thought making their sirens nothing like sirens at all makes them interesting).

That is something I like to see, to be honest: stories where the author takes mythological creatures and doesn't give their own special little twist. Taking the original mythology and making an interesting character from that is more appealing to me than taking classic creatures and distorting them to the point that they might as well be called something different.
My feelings exactly.

Marian Perera
08-05-2014, 05:55 AM
Besides, when you get right down to it, there aren't that many races to choose from.

Agreed, if you mean choosing from among the races that have cropped up in fantasy before: elves, dwarves, orcs, mermaids, etc.

But that doesn't mean writers can't make up their own races. I prefer doing this to choosing among previously written-about races - because, as you said, there aren't that many to choose from, and I enjoy making up my own species anyway.

Filigree
08-05-2014, 07:56 AM
Seconding Queen of Swords. I create races to fit alien settings. I make a token nod to elves, but mine are going extinct, and have a little more in common with the Pini's marooned spacefarers than Dragonlance or Tolkien.

Wilde_at_heart
08-05-2014, 04:10 PM
I'd like to see more Lord Vetinari-type intrigue, less battle.


*stubbornly points to avatar and location and proceeds to write about elves taking Honey Boo Boo and Teletubbies hostage, dispatching them, and hiding their bodies where they'll never be found again*
.

I'd read that :D

Liosse de Velishaf
08-05-2014, 06:03 PM
There are tons of fantasy "races" to choose from, though: elves, dwarves, various fairies, merfolk, goblins, orcs, vampires, werebeats, angels, various demons, various smart animal-based races a la Mercedes Lackey, etc.


That said, you can also make up your own unique races with little trouble.

WhitePawn
08-05-2014, 08:34 PM
Technically, there are about ∞ races to choose from. The only limitation is one's imagination, and no two writers will come up with the same idea if asked to create an original race.

This.

There is so much opportunity for fantasy world-building here, one that doesn't necessarily exist one step sideways from Tolkien or Dungeon's & Dragons (an admitted spin-off of Tolkien). A new race can help define a new world. Just look at all that creepiness happening on the north side of The Wall in Martin's world.

I don't "hate" elves as such, I even play an elf rogue in D&D, but I do roll my eyes and get bored when I find them in books. With bows. In the trees. With heightened senses. With...

But yeah, there are those who do the opposite and look for elves in their fantasy. Either way, OP, you have to choose how to define your world and the people in it will be responsible for a large chunk of that.