PDA

View Full Version : Sci-Fi/Fantasy cliches



Ivonia
02-20-2005, 10:35 PM
http://enphilistor.users4.50megs.com/index.htm#SF (Click on the one titled "The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches)

Not sure if something like this has been done before, but I thought that it could come in handy here, if nothing else, for laughs. Note that Star Trek has violated many of these things too hehe (I'm not bashing Star Trek, but some of these are really hiliarious, and then if you think back to certain episodes, you realize that they did do these things, and it's pretty funny. For instance, you would think that the Federation would've installed seatbelts in those chairs by now lol).

For you fantasy oriented peeps, here's a Fantasy list:

http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Labyrinth/8584/stuff/cliche.html

Disclaimer: Notice that they don't say that the cliches in themselves are neccessarily bad, it's just that many of them have been done to death that when it happens, it just looks bad now. A truly original twist on an old cliche certainly does make it seem cool again, at least until it gets copied to death hehe. If you have anything else to add to this post, feel free to share it.

Richard
02-20-2005, 10:48 PM
Heh. Yeah, I think I've got most of those in my Furl archive. Sometimes, I think that if I ever see another scene where the villain and good guy are both pointing a pistol at each other, only to have the villain say 'Drop the gun!' and have the good guy comply, I'm going to hurl my popcorn through the screen so hard that it'll bruise Casablanca.

mdin
02-22-2005, 08:00 AM
Some of those are hilarious. Like the bathroom one, which is so true.

DaveKuzminski
02-22-2005, 08:06 PM
Except that some of those cliches are based on truth. There are instances where amateur forces won against professional forces that also outnumbered them. See the Battle of Marathon.

There are instances of fighting priests. Those can be found documented in several cultures. Even fighting nuns were documented in Europe.

Girls disguising themselves? Joan of Arc for one. Look no farther than the American Revolution to find several more.

Spunky/feisty/spirited heroines? Historically, more than you can shake a stick at and I wouldn't advise shaking a stick at them. They would have known where and how to shove it back at you.

Basically, I'm saying don't be afraid to use a cliche. Just be sure you use it responsibly so that it doesn't grate on the reader.

mdin
02-23-2005, 03:41 AM
Very true, Dave. I bet most of us could go through that list and find at least one of the issues listed in our current and past projects.

I have a warrior nun in my current project. And she is one mean mofo.

bluejester12
02-23-2005, 08:14 PM
I was getting ideas just looking at that list. I should bookmark it.

clintl
02-23-2005, 08:24 PM
Girls disguising themselves? Joan of Arc for one. Look no farther than the American Revolution to find several more.



Yeah, but Shakespeare ruined this one for everyone else.

DaveKuzminski
02-23-2005, 08:44 PM
I should have stated that Joan didn't actually disguise herself, though one account I read as a youth did state that. All other accounts that I've read since then only pointed out that she wore men's clothing under her armor. Otherwise, there are numerous accounts throughout history of women disguising themselves as men or boys so they could fight or take part in a war.

Alphabeter
02-26-2005, 11:41 AM
Yeah, but Shakespeare ruined this one for everyone else.

That hack! I'll do it right--without the mushy love part. No one wants cross-eyed, cross-starred, cross-dressing lovers. They want THESE people:

Heroes who are utterly selfless and only think of the Greater Good.
Evil rulers/wizards in general.
Spunky/feisty/spirited heroines.
Handsome/rugged/dashing heroes.
The wise old wizard/hag/witch/herbalist/shaman/healer/etc.
Evil guy wants to take over the world just because he is evil. Evil men who are pedophiles/homosexuals/male chauvinists or any combination of the above for no other reason than to make them more distasteful. Evil = ugly, stupid and mean while Good = beautiful/handsome, wise and kind.

Now I have characters worth writing about! :idea:

fallenangelwriter
02-28-2005, 06:21 AM
I find it distressing how many fantasy cliches i use. my solution is to combine two or more cliches in one person. try it! two stereotypical characters become one interesting character.
some examples from my writing: mad scientist + debonair swashbuckler

angstful young hero + kindly wizard mentor

weak-willed boy king + master assassin

kindly wizard mentor + manipulative royal adviser

selfless hero + ruthless villain

useless love interest + hero gifted with incredible magical powers for no apparent reason.

Alphabeter
02-28-2005, 07:11 PM
Theresa Nielsen Hayden has a wonderful article on how to turn the cliches on ear and create interesting characters/situations/places/etc...

http://www.sff.net/paradise/plottricks.htp

As part of Travis Tea, she has used her own advice...though not to a degree I would recommend aside from a "what not to do" perspective.

A :Sun:

azbikergirl
02-28-2005, 08:07 PM
You can't win if you try not to use any of the fantasy cliches listed. For instance:

Hero's culture has no brothels, no bars and everyone smokes a pipe but nothing stronger.
Prostitutes/brothels.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't!

Re: Village taverns, especially those populated with saucy tavern wenches.
In medieval settings, taverns were gathering places. It's not like they had TV. Sheesh.

allion
02-28-2005, 09:44 PM
My thought exactly. I mean, it's not as if they could go hang out at a Starbucks back then.

And you had to go to market to get "stuff" - there wasn't a Costco or Wal-Mart around.

My characters go to inns if they have to, and that's that.

Velleity
03-01-2005, 03:36 AM
You can't win if you try not to use any of the fantasy cliches listed. For instance:


Hero's culture has no brothels, no bars and everyone smokes a pipe but nothing stronger.
Prostitutes/brothels.



If you have both in the same work, however, you might have a problem.

azbikergirl
03-01-2005, 04:07 AM
If you have both in the same work, however, you might have a problem.
Not sure what you mean. You either have brothels/prostitutes or you don't. The cliche site suggests that having them is cliche, and not having them is cliche.

Velleity
03-01-2005, 06:36 AM
But if you have a hero who comes from a land without brothels, and then he adventures to a land with brothels, you can have both at once!

... though the contradiction between the two cliches did occur to me as well.

preyer
03-01-2005, 12:46 PM
i'm not sure how having a brothel is cliche. that's like saying the women wore dresses and people used wagons. duh.

history has more women dressing up. anne bonney and mary reade (sp's) were female pirates who dressed as men. so, would it be cliche to have the queen dress up as the king, who's bedridden?

azbikergirl
03-01-2005, 06:28 PM
would it be cliche to have the queen dress up as the king, who's bedridden?
Not in my opinion. That scenario has not been 'done to death.' :)

Alphabeter
03-01-2005, 07:33 PM
One of the (I did massive world-building for my "saga") myths in my major religion is similar to the Catholic Church's legend of Pope Joan. That the leader/Pope who was ALWAYS male turned out to be a dressed up female who was only found out after they fell ill--and gave birth.

Then there are the rumours of a monarchy that was held together by a cunning wife whose husband "whispered" orders for her to give--only he was in a coma and she was really making all the decisions. Big nono in those days.

So no, definitely not done to death.

A :Sun:

Eowen
03-03-2005, 05:27 AM
history has more women dressing up. anne bonney and mary reade (sp's) were female pirates who dressed as men. so, would it be cliche to have the queen dress up as the king, who's bedridden?

Not so much a matter of dressing up, but Shajar al Durr (Spray of Pearls, in English) was the wife (or possibly concubine) of the Egyptian sultan in 1249 when the Sultan was fighting against Louis IX. When the sultan died, she conveniently failed to mention it, and kept passing "his" orders. After the battle, she arranged for his funeral, and then had assorted politics based on whether or not she should keep ruling. She'd done a darn good job of it, but she was a woman, after all.

Information summarized from Uppity Women of Medieval Times by Vicki Leon, (c) 1997, Published by MJF Books. ISBN 1-56731-250-0. An excellent book for inspiration and information about what women were really doing at various points in history (along with the companion volumes Uppity Women of Ancient Times, Uppity Women of Shakespearean Times, and Uppity Women of the New World all by the same author).

Eowen

preyer
03-04-2005, 08:24 AM
...all of which begs the question, how accurately are women portrayed in fantasy vs. real life? lots of people automatically jump to the idea that all women in every culture throughout time have served in a slavish capacity, with absolutely no rights, no say-so, and no respect. fantasy, more often than not it seems, is based clearly on a medieval european, ah, 'setting' for a basis of their humanworks, but i often wonder if the author knows the first thing about the real history there, and if so, why their assumptions can be so flawed. since it's all about characters, how far can you deviate from historical standards, created world or no? that is, writing fantasy without a theme in mind is fine and dandy; however, it's the best genre (with the possible exception of sci-fi) that best suits metaphors, making it very human, very historical, and potentially having something worthwhile to say without coming right out and saying, 'okay, the orc village represents corporate avarice since nafta and gatt, and blah blah blah, and the dwarves, i.e. america, are now slaves to the rest of the world.'

my question is, how effective can a fantasy writer be without knowing their history?