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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. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    They are a staple. I love them. Sure, they are a bit cliche, but that is okay, I think? It's like the marshmallows in hot chocolate. You could replace them with something else, but why?

    I like when writers use traditional dragons in untraditional ways, like Pete's Dragon. Seriously, who as a kid didn't wish a dragon lived in the woods who would look after them if they got lost?

    I'm a bit obsessed with the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild game right now, and the dragons in the game are sort of cool, benign creatures that float around Hyrule. I like the twist.

     
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  2. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    No matter if they are cliché or not, I would still use them in my fantasy setting.

    But I am not sure if its better to subvert their physical appearance, such as making them wingless which is not edgy nor not bad (but I am worried if this is a subversion for subversion's sake) because the western-style (2-legged, 4-legged) dragons have been overdone.

    Wingless dragons are cool, but I like winged dragons more even though they are overdone.
     
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I read the article, and what he's basically saying is that there are too many writers who just add some fantasy elements to the story without putting much thought or effort into it. I think this quote from the article sums it up pretty well:

    "Dragons aren’t trite. But a lot of people make them trite with bad storytelling."

    That kind of sums up the issue. It's not the dragons as such that is the problem, or how they look, but rather how they are used by the person telling the story.
     
  4. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    ^^ This is what I was saying.

    Yes they are cliche. Yes they have been done a billion times. Yes they are still cool. Like marshmallows.

    If you throw old stale marshmallows in hot chocolate it won't be good.

    If you throw fresh new out of the bag puffy marshmallows in, yum :)
     
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  5. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    What are the bad/cliche ways of using a dragon?
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
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  6. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I think it's all in the combo of lots of things. Execution is key.

    The hot chocolate metaphor goes both ways. If the hot chocolate mix is old, or the milk is sour then it doesn't matter how good the. marshmallows are. They won't save it.

    If the writing is poor, and the concepts of the battles are over done, and there isn't enough focus on characterization than it doesn't matter how cool the dragons are. And vice versa.

    So the above description is all fine and dandy. It sounds good. It is hard to tell either way without sampling the entire piece.
     
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  7. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    The first and foremost reason I have dragons is because I love winged two-legged fire-breathing dragons.

    The secondary reason is because I wanted to have a flying mount. So I wanted a flying mount, that can be used both for aerial transportation and warfare and dragons fill that role perfectly.
     
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  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Great. Then I don't understand the question? Use them.
     
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  9. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I'd say it's the same with dragons as with everything else: the bad/cliche way of using something is to simply copy whatever everyone else is doing without putting any thought into it.

    It's also not something where you can easily draw a line and claim the everything on the far side is cliche and everything in the near side is not. It's all about judgment calls for each individual setting.
     
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  10. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    This was your original question. You got a lot of different answers. At the end of the day you want to use them, so use them. They sound like they fit the bill for what you need. So who cares that Rothfuss says they are overdone?
     
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  11. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    I wanted to quit having the western-style dragons when I knew how overused they were in fantasy.
    I can't resist having Western-style dragons in my setting.
     
  12. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    Sometimes when a thing becomes too popular, people start "hating" it and avoiding it at all costs, this is maybe the reason why Patrick Rothfuss doesn't want dragons in his novels.

    I can't agree on dwarves, dwarves are cliché.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
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  13. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Yes I would use.

    I am not sure I would avoid anything just because it thought of as cliché'. I think a good story trumps cliché.
     
  14. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    This.
     
  15. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    Its interesting that Patrick Rothfuss targeted dwarves and dragons, because they happen to be my TOP 2 favorite creatures in fantasy.
     
  16. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    They're just examples.
    He didn't target dwarves or dragons. He targeted bad use of dwarves and dragons.
     
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  17. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    I got it.
     
  18. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Humans are clearly over used in fantasy, you can't swing a dead dragon without hitting them.

    PR's point in that interview was far subtler than what you are taking it as. He was making a point about what fantasy really is, and how people began to think fantasy is just the trappings rather than the spirit or meaning of the genre. He was right on that point.
     
  19. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

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    Was aware before you said it.
     
  20. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    I would probably use them as it would save me lots of work. If I used say Chinese dragons then I would need to explain what they're all about while I can be fairly sure that my audience will connect the dots without me needing to go into as much info-dumping on them.
     
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