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Even if western-style dragons have been done to death, would you still use them?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Peregrine, Dec 12, 2017.

  1. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    Do you think western-style (2-legged or 4-legged) dragons should be avoided because they have been done to death?

    I am bothered when my world-built setting looks like another fantasy author's fictional universe; such as when fictional universes look alike even in the slightest bit.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I would include dragons because they're awesome, regardless of how, or how much, they've been used by other writers and world builders in their own settings.

    If it was important to me that my setting didn't have anything in common with any other setting I would analyse what role I want the dragons to play in the setting and then create something else that satisfies that role.
     
  3. Dark Squiggle

    Dark Squiggle Troubadour

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    You can't do dragons to death in the same way you can't do heros or airships to death. People love them, they just fill some natural void in our souls, I don't know. But just like heros or airships, if they don't belong, they are just clumsy and awkward.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
  4. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Absolutely I would still use them, without hesitation. It's like asking if six guns have been done to death in westerns.

    Original worlds really get that way by being truly original in a few aspects. Changing all aspects of the fantasy world can disorient the reader and overwhelm them, and you lose the ability to link into and exploit things that have built in resonances for the reader. That is not saying that a complete ly unique world is impossible to do, it is just harder to make it satisfying for readers.
     
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  5. Dragons are the bomb . com. I would use them without hesitation if the story/world called for it.
     
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  6. Absofreakinglutely!
     
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  7. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    Currently dragons (2-legged version only) are the only cliché in my fantasy setting I have so far, a little cliché in fantasy isn't bad isn't it?
     
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  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    They can't really be a cliche in and of themselves. It's how you're using them. If your dragons are cliches, then it may be a good idea to re-evaluate, unless the cliche is what you're going for.
     
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  9. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    I said they are cliché because they are the most ubiquitous mythical creatures in epic fantasy.
     
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  10. To answer this we must first ask, what is a cliche. Google says, "a very predictable or unoriginal thing" is a cliche. Therefore, make your dragons unpredictable.
     
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  11. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I'm not sure that something is a cliche just because it's common. The way I understand it, something becomes cliche when it's common AND used without thought in the same way its used everywhere else.

    If I add a dragon to my story, and all that dragon does is sit on a treasure hoard and demand virgin sacrifice and eat the knights who come to slay it, then that would be a cliche regardless of how many legs the dragon has.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yes Brian Scott AllenBrian Scott Allen , and the Cambridge Dictionary, in applying "cliche" to writing, says:

    "an idea or expression that has been used too often and is often considered a sign of bad writing or old-fashioned thinking."

    Again, a particular idea or expression of a dragon may be cliche. But not all ideas or expressions of dragons are cliche.
     
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  13. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    Dragons are so predictable that they are a fantasy staple.
     
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  14. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    What do you mean unpredictable, do you mean in physical appearance or something else? So if I made lizardly and wingless fire-breathing dragons does that count as making dragons unpredictable?
     
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  15. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    That's not necessarily true. Compare the dragons of World of Warcraft to the dragons of Harry Turtledove's Darkness series, or the dragons of Tolkien's Middle Earth. They're all dragons, but they're vastly different in what role they play within the world.
    Sure, they all have roughly the same basic appearance, but there's a lot more to them than just the way they look.
     
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  16. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Sure, dragons are a staple of fantasy stories, but that's not the same as being cliche. Swords, magic, and humans are all staples of fantasy stories. Not all characters have them, but they're common enough.
     
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  17. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    Are elves cliché or staple?
     
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  18. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Elves as such are a staple, but whether they are cliche or not depends on how the writer designs them. In some settings they are cliches, while in other settings the writer has put a new and interesting spin on them.
     
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  19. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    This article inspired me to post this thread. What is your opinion on Patrick Rothfuss remarks?
     
  20. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    What do you consider clichés about dragons in fantasy, give me some examples.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
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