Masquerades In Fantasy, opinions wanted

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megober

I am researching Masquerades In Fantasy and/or Masquerades In Literature, and I am trying to get a kind of generalized opinion on the subject.

I guess I am wondering on how typical or cliche' you think Masquerades are? If they are at all typical or cliche'-- I am fearing that there is a chance they may be overdone or considered a literary crutch.

In addition to this I am looking for a probable list of writing elements that are typical, cliche' or overdone. Things people groan at when they read it.

Thoughts. Be honest, but don't be rude.
-Mary
 

Ordinary_Guy

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megober said:
I am researching Masquerades In Fantasy and/or Masquerades In Literature, and I am trying to get a kind of generalized opinion on the subject.

I guess I am wondering on how typical or cliche' you think Masquerades are? If they are at all typical or cliche'-- I am fearing that there is a chance they may be overdone or considered a literary crutch.

In addition to this I am looking for a probable list of writing elements that are typical, cliche' or overdone. Things people groan at when they read it.

Thoughts. Be honest, but don't be rude.
-Mary
In fiction...? I seem to remember a few, at least in relation to gothic-style pieces (vampire fiction, IIRC). Unfortunately, exact titles escape me.

I would think it's dangerous territory (treading over a cliché like that), but if you can add a good spin – people would appreciate a new take on it. All or nothing for something like that.

As for masquerades elsewhere...? Well, my sister attended one just this last saturday – massive, massive party. Lots of... unusual characters there. She had a great time.

Really, it's what you put into it.
 

newmod

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To be honest I can´t really think of that many, but then I don´t read gothic style fiction where I guess it would appear more, perhaps!

I immediately thought of The Masque of Read Death by Poe which I remember liking when I read it many years ago. I imagine (although I haven´t any examples to give) that novels set in/from the (late?) middle ages up to 18th century would possibly contain masques.

I´m not sure this is really helping you at all though so I´ll make one more point and then leave you in piece.

I would imagine a cliche (if not the cliche) would be the mysterious stranger at the masque.

If I think of anything useful to add (not very likely, but you never know) I will let you know :)
 

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Poe's Masque of the Red Death is probably the reason why masquerades show up in vampire fiction. But masquerades are also not uncommon in murder mysteries from the early 20th century. Oh, and Terry Pratchett sets a scene in a masquerade in (naturally) Maskerade, which is his take on Phantom of the Opera.

I don't know that masquerades in fiction are overdone, but unless you have a really good reason for including one in your work, you might want to rethink it. Especially if you're writing vampire fiction. Then again, maybe vampires would dress like clowns and ballerinas and cowboys--you know, just to be different and get away from all the overwhelming ambiance they carry around with them. :)
 

sunandshadow

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I love costume parties so I'd personally like to see more of them in fiction. I think the way to make them not seem cliche is not use them for just a mistaken identity gag but make them seem more realistic by having several things going on - somebody eyeing up an attractive servant, somebody spiking the punch, a clumsy dancer, a minor disaster in the kitchen or among the musicians, etc.
 

TheIT

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As I recall, the story Daughter of Regals by Stephen Donaldson is set at a masquerade ball. The main character is the only one not in costume. Neat story.
 

bylinebree

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Of course, there's Romeo and Juliet. Not fantasy, but classic.

Now I want to read what TheIt recommmended by Stephen Donaldson; never heard of him.

I have one in a rough draft of a sequel, where a harlot crashes a royal ball to amuse herself, and so she can meet some intriguing men that are not "clients." She meets a man who she tried to seduce for her own previously, and now makes a try for him based on her costume-disguise. The theme at this ball is "fantasy creatures" which was fun, since the book is a fantasy.

To disguise friends for play, enemies for intrigue or spying, it could be twisted nicely to achieve your ends.
 

MattW

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Cushiels' Dart had a masked ball in it at some point.

I don't think of it as any kind of cliche - it's a setting just like a castle, battlefield, or space ship. Make it serve your purposes and forget how else it has been done, but be sure to not fall into the trap of too many mistaken identities, or passing a commoneer as a prince(ss). There be cliches there!
 

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The only story that immediately comes to mind is Tanith Lee's Faces Under Water. I don't think it's a cliched setting/device. I think there's a lot of cool stuff that could be done with it.
 
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