PDA

View Full Version : Fantasy about a group of people going on an adventure - overdone?



Galumph_Triumph
11-13-2015, 11:30 AM
Just wondering if the "long journey/quest" style is so overdone or too reminiscent of Tolkein. What are your personal feelings about works like this?

Marian Perera
11-13-2015, 12:50 PM
Just wondering if the "long journey/quest" style is so overdone or too reminiscent of Tolkein. What are your personal feelings about works like this?

I'd need more details to feel one way or another.

If the quest is headed by a Chosen One who gathers a ragtag group of characters consisting of a a thief, a barbarian, a magician, an elf, a dwarf and a hot, kickass woman, and they all search for a magic artifact that is the only way to defeat the Dark Lord... then no, I'm not interested.

But there are countless ways to develop, refine or twist the basic formula of a bunch of people going on a quest. So as I said, I'd need more details.

Bolero
11-13-2015, 01:29 PM
Well, broadly speaking, either you have to go to the action, or the action happens where you already are. With the latter the "fantasy classic" is that you have a couple of chapters learning what a lovely place somewhere is to live, then the evil of some form including an invading army pops up and trashes it. Just after you've learnt to love the place.
So in some ways, I prefer the home fires burning cosily, for the adventurers to return to, rather than the home burning.
Everything is how well you write it and the reader's personal taste. I actually like both tropes, depending on how they are done, with a slight preference for travel because of the whole create somewhere gorgeous and trash it.
There are of course many books where there is not an overwhelming evil that trashes everything and the action happens without wholesale destruction. (As distributed by Terry Pratchett's Cohen the Barbarian.)

jjdebenedictis
11-13-2015, 06:39 PM
Anything can be done well; anything can be done badly.

Fantasy publishers don't seem to be putting out as many epic quest fantasies these days, but I've heard there's a stronger market for them in self-publishing, because the audience for epic quest fantasy knows what it likes and is very loyal.

rwm4768
11-13-2015, 07:50 PM
I still have a soft spot for quests (as long as they're not cliched). It's a matter of how you handle it.

Cybernaught
11-13-2015, 10:22 PM
Who doesn't love a good quest? I am quite fond of The Hero's Journey.

Travis Kerr
11-13-2015, 10:33 PM
I'd need more details to feel one way or another.

If the quest is headed by a Chosen One who gathers a ragtag group of characters consisting of a a thief, a barbarian, a magician, an elf, a dwarf and a hot, kickass woman, and they all search for a magic artifact that is the only way to defeat the Dark Lord... then no, I'm not interested.

But there are countless ways to develop, refine or twist the basic formula of a bunch of people going on a quest.

Pretty much my thought on the matter, though there are exceptions. After all, it's not the quest itself that makes the story interesting or exciting, it's what happens to the people on it that makes the story. I've seen some quest stories very reminiscent of Tolkein or Dragonlance, but the stories are interesting enough that one can overlook the classic nature of the book. It's all about the writers ability to draw the reader into the emotion of the situation. If you create an emotional response in the reader, it can still be a good book. Just don't take it too badly when your work is criticized with the same scrutiny that those classic stories. Sometimes it's hard to go up against something tried and true. If you do it right however, I know I for one would probably read it.

snafu1056
11-13-2015, 10:40 PM
I don't have a problem with it. "A group of people go on an adventure" is an extremely generalized idea that can take countless different forms, from the Wizard of Oz to the Dirty Dozen.

It's only a problem for me when it feels completely uninspired and contrived. I want the quest to come about organically, not feel like someone's D&D campaign. I want everyone to have a good reason for being there. Come to think of it, I'll even accept contrived if it's at least an interesting kind of quest.

rwm4768
11-13-2015, 10:52 PM
Really, it's about the characters. Give me characters I love and I'll follow them through just about anything.

Another important thing is variety. You don't want the quest to get repetitive. Let's take monsters for example, looking at things from an RPG perspective (because most RPG plots are a quest of some kind). In an RPG, you need all those normal monster battles to gain experience. In a book, you don't want to show all those battles because they'll get boring and repetitive. Instead, if you're going to have monsters, you show the boss battles (and still probably do fewer of them than you see in the average RPG). You also make sure that each obstacle they face is something new.

Marian Perera
11-13-2015, 11:03 PM
Pretty much my thought on the matter, though there are exceptions. After all, it's not the quest itself that makes the story interesting or exciting, it's what happens to the people on it that makes the story. I've seen some quest stories very reminiscent of Tolkein or Dragonlance, but the stories are interesting enough that one can overlook the classic nature of the book.

I deliberately crammed all the stereotypes into my example. :) But while I agree that an interesting enough story can enable a reader to overlook other issues, there would have to be something amazing about the story to make me put up with certain stereotypes and cliches.

I've found a few such books, but not many.

So in general, if I had to choose (sight unseen) between a quest fantasy that seems very D&D-derivative and a quest fantasy that's unusual and different, I would pick the one that's unusual. I'm sure the D&D-inspired fantasy will have an audience, but that's just not my personal preference.

Weirdmage
11-14-2015, 02:12 AM
Just wondering if the "long journey/quest" style is so overdone or too reminiscent of Tolkein. What are your personal feelings about works like this?

I think they are vastly less overdone than Crime novels with someone solving a murder...

Note: I love a good Crime novel, I think they are lovely reads.

danatcsimpson
11-14-2015, 03:04 AM
A lot of this might depend on what the goal is, and how that goal is realized. The tale of a journey is old, old, old and never going away. Nor should it. It's a great one, and if handled well is guaranteed to invoke loads of drama and action.

To avoid cliche, definitely draw on underused sources for both the goal of the quest and the setting the characters travel through. Instead of a plucky young hero on a search for his missing dad, the MC might be a bereft father searching for his vanished children. Instead of a deposed princess reclaiming a throne, she could be on journey to start a new life for herself as a tutor in a distant foreign land. Expand beyond the pseudo-pan-European medievalism. Quest across the glaciers and black sand and geysers of an Icelandesque island. Quest through a painted desert whose scattered pools are so alkaline they burn.

Writing off an archetype so enduring isn't the way to go, it just takes extra care to make it into a compelling story.

MikaelS
11-14-2015, 03:38 AM
Nope, it's an inextricable part of fantasy. However, certain types of adventure/quest tropes are getting a little tired, do you have any in particular that you're referring to?

kuwisdelu
11-14-2015, 09:48 PM
Boy meets girl. Overdone?

Once!
11-15-2015, 02:44 PM
Hero defeats bad guy. Overdone?

There are some plots which are so general that it is almost impossible to overdo them. There are so many ways of telling the story that we will never tire of them. Long journey/ quest, boy meets girl, hero defeats bad guy.

Where it starts to get tedious is if the other details of the story also follow well-worn paths. Magical rings, prophecies, swords, elves, destiny, dragons. And even there there is scope for originality in the way that the elements are treated.

Here's a funny thought. Much of what we think of as fantasy comes from Tolkien. Tolkien was a professor of Anglo Saxon. He was an expert in Arthurian legend, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. That shows in his writing - the characters and setting of both the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are more or less Arthurian. We have Arthurian era weaponry. The books are based on concepts of honour, inheritance, destiny, feudal government, the divine right of kings. We have ideas of quests which seem to be shadowing the grail quest of the Arthurian legend. Characters do great things because they are somebody's heir. Gandalf wanders through it all like Merlin.

But imagine for a second that Tolkien hadn't been so grounded in Anglo Saxon. Let's imagine that he had been a scholar of classical literature such as the Iliad and the Aeneid. Then he might have written a story about sieges instead of quests, spears instead of swords, demigods instead of wizards, oracles instead of destiny.

And if that had happened much of the fantasy fiction which followed might have looked more like ancient Greece instead of medieval England. And this thread might have been Is the "long siege" style overdone?

jjdebenedictis
11-16-2015, 01:32 AM
If the real question is, "Should I bother writing this story idea I have?", then the answer is yes. If you're worried about it being cliche, then just be aware of what the cliched elements are and see what you can do as you go along.

I find I can make my more-tired ideas mutate while I'm writing the book, so that by the end of it, the story winds up pretty original after all. You can't fix words that don't exist yet; you can fix a story that's been put on the page. Just start writing, but with a commitment to the idea of continuing to polish the story until it's ready. Everything yields to treatment. :)

kuwisdelu
11-16-2015, 01:36 AM
Hero defeats bad guy. Overdone?

Yes.

Twick
11-16-2015, 07:52 PM
Hero tries to defeat bad guy, but dies tragically. Also overdone.

In general, the whole "someone has a problem and tries to find a solution, leading to a crisis and then resolution" plotline is horribly overdone. Surely today's readers demand a story where nothing actually happens.

kuwisdelu
11-16-2015, 07:57 PM
Heroes and bad guys are so overdone.

Twick
11-16-2015, 08:01 PM
Heroes and bad guys are so overdone.

That whole "the story must have characters" cliché is outdated, I think.

CobraMisfit
11-16-2015, 09:06 PM
If the real question is, "Should I bother writing this story idea I have?", then the answer is yes.

This.

You can worry about pretty much everything being overdone (zombies, vampires, YA wizards, hero journeys, chosen ones, western-fantasy-erotica-cookbooks, etc), but no matter what wrapping you put on a story, if it's well-written, people will want to read.

Fear of what's already out there stops a lot of folks before they ever put words to paper.

Write your story and believe in it.

TWErvin2
11-16-2015, 10:14 PM
No, it's not overdone. Books with this premise continue to be published and find readers.

It's about storytelling. Can you capture the readers' imagination? Intriguing character and plot, and not a complete rehash of what's been done before. Sure it can work.

jjdebenedictis
11-17-2015, 12:31 AM
That whole "the story must have characters" cliché is outdated, I think.Oh, your story has people in it? Pfft. Read that already.

Bolero
11-17-2015, 01:57 AM
Oh, your story has people in it? Pfft. Read that already.

And it will never win a literary award.

Xelebes
11-17-2015, 02:11 AM
You have to remove all nouns for pronouns. But many, many pronouns.

Twick
11-23-2015, 12:47 AM
Pfah! You use words? How limiting. Truly original writing uses nothing but letters and random punctuation.

Who could not be moved by: "fd;ls eoe> ,epsc}?"

An offshoot uses nothing but emoticons ;):evil:cry::rant::flag::Hug2::partyguy:, but most truly progressive writers feel that they aren't abstract enough.

Sagml John
11-24-2015, 07:56 PM
Surely today's readers demand a story where nothing actually happens.

Ha! That is the premise of my first story. Trying to keep it real, it was a couple dozen chapters of cliff hangers where each cliff hanger resolved to be... nothing much happened. It was designed to keep you going though.

Kitkitdizzi
11-24-2015, 08:35 PM
I'm going to write a 'choose your own adventure ' story.

It will be blank pages.

jjdebenedictis
11-25-2015, 12:29 AM
Who could not be moved by: "fd;ls eoe> ,epsc}?"A whole book of that would certainly make me weep.

TRezvani
12-08-2015, 01:38 AM
Personally, I don't think it gets old. I love the potential for character development that opens up when people go on a journey together. This has always been one of my favorite and defining things about the fantasy genre. I'd be disappointed if a fantasy story didn't have some kind of journey.

Spy_on_the_Inside
12-08-2015, 10:27 AM
No, this type of story at it's most basic is not overdone. It is one of the most timeless stories on the planet, and it is a story that has inspired countless real adventurers to venture out into the unknown. I will agree that there are certain elements that are overdone (a main character who the fulfillment of a prophecy, people sent out by wizard who become allies with elves). But writers have also shown how there are countless ways to tell this story, and as long as we can keep thinking of new ways to tell it, it is something we will never get tired of.

Jamesaritchie
12-08-2015, 06:29 PM
Fantasy publishers don't seem to be putting out as many epic quest fantasies these days, but I've heard there's a stronger market for them in self-publishing, because the audience for epic quest fantasy knows what it likes and is very loyal.

Publishers publish what an intense amount of research, including looking at self-publishing, tells them readers are looking for in large numbers. If the audience is there, publishers clamor for such books. Unless, of course, they're horribly written, as almost all self-published novels are.

Stormlord
12-16-2015, 12:37 PM
My novel involves the MC going on a quest to find and retrieve an item to cure her sister. But the larger plot involves war and saving her people. So I don't think the quest is overdone, as long as you put a spin on it. It's the way you tell it. I would avoid the generic "questing to defeat the Dark Lord."

scuzzycable
12-16-2015, 08:28 PM
Personally, I don't think it gets old. I love the potential for character development that opens up when people go on a journey together. This has always been one of my favorite and defining things about the fantasy genre. I'd be disappointed if a fantasy story didn't have some kind of journey.

Too true. Love a good journey story or scene.


I'm going to write a 'choose your own adventure ' story.


It will be blank pages.

LOL, my 10-year-old daughter didn't think of reading as an actual hobby, instead of institutionalized torture, until she came upon CYOAs. go figure.


Me, as long as it's written well, you could even sell me for my next three afternoons with a girl-meets-boy trope. Methinks that the general public flock to what they like and never get tired of it; hence, we wouldn't have Creed vs Rocky, Rocky 17. I could never tire of a good journey, road trip, or disaster movie.

Bing Z
12-16-2015, 10:41 PM
If the quest is headed by a Chosen One {who refuses to do the trip but is mind controlled by a fire ant} who gathers is presented with a ragtag group of characters consisting of a thief (the gay walking soul of a straight highway robber who is serving life in prison), a barbarian (actually a prom queen cursed by her jealous stepmom with a nasty spell only an insatiable amount of lust can break), a magician (who knows squat about magic and is a triple agent working for the dark lord and the fire ant and...), an elf (actually a bisexual weredwarf-werepanda hybrid), a dwarf (actually an exiled elf, to be played by Megan Fox in movie adaptation) and a hot, kickass woman (transgendered, working for surgery money to revert back to a kickass man so he can sleep with his ex-wives again, all 23 of them), and they all search for a magic artifact {which is the dark lord's left testicle which is, naturally, under the possession of the dark lord} that is the only way to defeat the Dark Lord (who has a dark secret about his/her addiction to sex hormones)... then no, I'm not interested.

What about this?