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Harpies?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Evilyn, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. Evilyn

    Evilyn Scribe

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    Okay I know it's not the idea it's how you tell it...however I am currently reading through my WIP and at the start I have these Harpies that live in a forest and are always at war with my forest tribe but now I am thinking maybe I should change them into something else as I don't know how overdone harpies are..

    I am a firm believer in how the story is written and not whether it has cliches or not but I am suddenly doubting myself. My boyfriend thinks I am over analysing..it has come to that stage now where I am focusing on really small things like changing the name of a character and I spend 2 hours trying to invent a better name when I could have been writing. Sorry if I am rambling..

    Evi
     
  2. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

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    I personally don't think harpies are overdone if that's any good to you... though I only remember female harpies, and then they were underdeveloped, shadowy creatures. If you make more of them then tree should be no problems at all.
     
    Evilyn likes this.
  3. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    In my opinion, harpies aren't used enough. I say keep 'em in there!:)
     
    Evilyn likes this.
  4. Graham Irwin

    Graham Irwin Sage

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    I agree with Reaver, harpies aren't used that much in what I've read either.

    For some reason the creatures in the Colosseum scene of Star Wars Attack of the Clones make me think of harpies, all swarming and shrieking and such.

    Or maybe they are insectoid. I ramble.
     
  5. San Cidolfus

    San Cidolfus Sage

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    How in-depth are you going with these harpies? Are they just faceless antagonists, or do you intend to show the story from their perspective?
     
  6. Azza

    Azza Scribe

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    Go for the harpies! Your idea sounds really interesting and I don't think they're over-used. As you mentioned, it's how you write that counts. Make sure you give your harpie characters clear characteristics and stick with them and it'll work out fine I'm sure! Good luck with it!
     
    Evilyn likes this.
  7. Scott Staddy

    Scott Staddy Acolyte

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    I agree with the group. Harpies are under used and when they are, its usually in a negative way. Kind of like soulless creature bent on torturing men lol. It sounds like you have potential to really give them life in your story. Unless you mean them to be soulless creatures bent on destroying your forest tribe just because they want to.:)
     
  8. Acra of the Wind

    Acra of the Wind New Member

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    Even if they were merely evil because that is in their nature or there is some other complicated reason, I think that Harpies are a good idea, I haven't seen them that much in fantasy so it isn't too cliche either. Although I'm not an expert.
     
  9. Evilyn

    Evilyn Scribe

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    Thanks guys, you have made me feel a lot better.. I think I was just having sudden doubts.

    The scene I have written so far is firstly from the harpies perspective, they are evil but again it's how you perceive evil, they just have their own ways of life which just happens to include eating human flesh.. My forest tribe have long been at war with them over teritory of the forest. I have a Queen Harpie that all the others are devoted to and would gladly give their lifes for and her character is the one I have written most about so far.

    Evi
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  10. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    You're welcome! Are you going to post your WIP on the Showcase? It would be cool to read some of it.

    So your harpies are like ants or bees in that respect. A problem I ran into in my WIP when it came to harpies is procreation. Harpies are usually depicted as being female, so I created male harpies who are much smaller & posesses vestigial wings. Their sole purpose for existing is making little harpies. How did you get past this hurdle?
     
  11. Evilyn

    Evilyn Scribe

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    Well I have loosely based them on Amazons, they conduct raids on my human forest tribe and capture the men for procreation then fed upon them after :D
     
  12. Klee Shay

    Klee Shay Troubadour

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    It sounds like you've got your harpies pretty well worked. As long as you don't stereotype them, I agree with the others, go for it.

    Making them unique from other versions shouldn't be too hard since harpies aren't often used. If they have their own problems and personalities your readers will enjoy reading about them.

    This is just an example of the way one author I've read handled the issue. In Anne Bishop's 'Black Jewels' books, a harpy was any witch that was violently killed by a man. They were mean, dangerous and had, justifiably, a decided dislike for men. Even the Lord of Hell had a healthy respect for them :D

    Just something to consider.
     
    Evilyn likes this.
  13. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I'm going to take a different point of view than everyone else, but I'm doing so more so that you can hear a different point of view than because I really, really mean it.

    As others have mentioned, Harpies aren't really overdone in Fantasy, but I think there's a reason for that. I just don't think they're very compelling. It's my understanding that the Harpy in modern fantasy is typically a savagely violent bird-woman, who like the Amazons, reproduce by copulating with their victims. As the random monster they're more creepy than they frightening, and as a society they're rather flat. And with the variety of winged-creatures we see nowadays, if you develop them much from that concept, they're no longer really Harpies.

    I mean it's up to you, and I don't know how much you've really developed your concept or how well you're able to pull it off. And I probably wouldn't have said anything except to give you a different opinion. But depending on your setting, if you want a more versatile winged creature, I might recommend something based loosely on the Tengu demon from Japan. I think a Western reader is probably unfamiliar enough with the concept that you can alter them any way you please to create a more original concept.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    Evilyn likes this.
  14. Evilyn

    Evilyn Scribe

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    Thanks Devor for your interesting point of view, I will investigate the Tengu idea, while I am rather fond of the harpies I appreciate your point that they aren't that compelling for everyone and thats why I created this thread so thanks :)

    Evi
     
  15. Hans

    Hans Sage

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    What makes you think that? Just because not much has been written about harpy society doesn't mean it could not be interesting. Of course, if you only take the original three, Aello, Celaeno and Ocypete there is not much of a society. But your comment already has reproduction resulting in other harpies, so any society could be built.
    How much have fantasy harpies in common with mythological harpies of Greek anyways?
     
  16. Wiggles2021

    Wiggles2021 Dreamer

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    I struggled with the same thing, about Orcs, and dwarves, and weather they are over done or weather mine fit in with the status quo, until i decided to keep them in there, but dont actually call them "dwarves". I made up a new name for a "short, bearded, humanlike people that live in the moutains. " dont think if this helps at all....
     
  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I think it would be flat because, being a simple and crude society that lacks in males, there are far fewer relationship dynamics which can exist between characters of that society. Most stories about the Amazons inevitably connect the Amazonian characters to people outside their society, but that would be harder to do because of the nature of a harpy. There are fewer stories to be told because of the harpy's key distinctions as a race, and I think their lack of prevalence in the genre demonstrates that.

    I also said they were creepy.


    Who said anything about the Greeks? I don't think I'd pick up a book with harpies on the cover, but I'd be more inclined to if the book was about Greek mythology.
     
  18. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

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    I haven't come across many harpies, and the few I've read about get little screen time. (Or is that page time?) I have seen fantasy cultures focused solely on war. If your harpies are developed beyond the "bloodthirsty barbarian" stereotype, don't worry about it.

    I think you should push ahead. Doubt is normal.

    I don't think this is true at all. The lack or dearth of males doesn't mean the harpies can't have a functioning, complex society. Thinking of any setting where one gender is the majority, I see other dynamics and conflicts coming to the forefront, like subordinate/superior, mentor/pupil, comrades-in-arms, outcasts, friendships, family, etc. You just have to put thought into what the group and individual goals are and what the hierarchy is like, and go from there.

    The thing that makes me leery isn't their race but the "always at war" idea. That sort of thing tends toward "flat" very easily. I'd think they'd come up with sneakier ways of getting human flesh and, ahem, donors. It seems odd to fight and incur casualties in order to procreate even if you get a roast human sandwich out of it. Either the harpies don't die easily, the forest tribe sucks at fighting, or the queen lays a lot of eggs, otherwise the harpy death/birth rate wouldn't be sustainable.

    Only speculating here, but I think the scarcity of harpies is more about which tradition they come from, and the fact that they're not sexy or romantic. I see more Norse and Celtic based stories than Greek, even though Greek myths seem to be better known. People like Greek gods well enough, but I don't an awful lot of Greek beasties and critters roaming about.

    For the record, I'm a fan of creepy. :p
     
    Evilyn likes this.
  19. The Grey Sage

    The Grey Sage Troubadour

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    Unfortunately this is true, *EPIC POSE* but we can change that! (cape blows in the wind)...
     
  20. Evilyn

    Evilyn Scribe

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