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Help with writing Fantasy, please?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Seira, May 21, 2019.

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  1. Seira

    Seira Minstrel

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    I tend to write whatever ideas come into my head and I don't really stick to any Genre but Fantasy is probably one of the Genres I am least interested in. I own no Fantasy books or movies. And I don't tend to like anything aimed a teenagers (even when I was a teen) it just always seems samey to me. So when I got the idea for this book, it became obvious it had to be Fantasy and YA.

    This book does fit young adult because it's dealing with a lot of first time experiences (first loss of a loved one, first adventure away from home, first temptations into darkness, searching for self idenitiy.) And it does fit Fantasy. But Fantasy and YA is not something I love to read. I've tried to ditch the idea and go back to writing my usual stuff but this idea has been bugging me for five years.
    When I started planning this idea six years ago I enjoyed creating the characters, plot and being able to play with setting and be unlimited but I didn't enjoy creating the magic systems or any Fantasy aspects (accept creating the planet and laws).

    I got some advice from one person who said “A writer should be able to write anything if they apply themselves.” But this genre definitely doesn't come natural to me.

    What should I do?
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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    Write the book you want to read. If you want to read a fantasy, then you'll be able to write a fantasy. But, caveat, my mom, who was the writer who trained me, always wanted to write a fantasy but her natural genre was satire. She was never able to make it work for some reason.

    Write the book you want to read, and find some good writing references to help you with the beginning of the path. On my bookshelf I have...

    https://www.amazon.com/Worlds-Wonder-David-Gerrold-ebook/dp/B07BG9C1ZZ/
    https://www.amazon.com/Sometimes-Magic-Works-Lessons-Writing-ebook/dp/B000FBFN4C/
    And a few others that are apparently out of print, but if you search for writer's guides you'll find quite a few.
     
    Malik and TheCrystallineEntity like this.
  3. I hate to break it to you, but you will have to start reading fantasy, within your specific genre. It might be a slog, but it'll have to be done. That way you can know how to avoid the sameyness that you says plagues the YA/Fantasy world.
     
  4. Seira

    Seira Minstrel

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    Yeah, I did start reading in that area. It seen Young Adult in General is fine but once you start into Fantasy and Dystopian repetitions start to immerge. I did some research and noticed others had seen this a lot as well.
    Dead, drunk, neglectful and/or oblivious parents
    Teens rebelling against a Government/higher power
    The spunky, tough, female hero
    The sexy love interest (love triangles)
    MC discovering a hidden magical power they didn't know they possessed.
     
  5. I don't know what your story is, but why not...not do those things in your story. Have the MC know they're magic. Make them come from a supportive family structure. Make the government be a not bad guy. Etc.
     
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  6. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Vala

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    I really like that idea.
    The family could be really supportive and encourage and not a lick of use. Cheerleaders but not in The Game...
     
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  7. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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    These are called tropes ( TV Tropes ) and are one of the big reasons for reading widely in your genre. All genres, all media, have tropes. There is nothing wrong with them. They are merely shorthand for certain concepts that readers are expecting to encounter in any given genre. Tools in your ever present toolbox.

    They are also made to be subverted.

    If you encounter a trope you dislike, turn it on its head. Play with it. Read and watch media that do this to see how it's done. We're writers - we do homework for a living.
     
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  8. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    This.
     
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I won't tell you to read. Everybody else will tel you to read, and they're probably right, so listen to them.

    But I'm going to tell you: You should invent your own definition of what your story is. Your own label. It's your story, and if you don't want to make a magic system, then don't. I won't tell you not to do your homework, but if the Fantasy aspects aren't in some way exciting to you, they won't be for your readers either. Some part of your story is so awesome that you've spent six years compelled to think about it. Find out what that awesome thing is and focus on bringing it to life and letting it possess your story. Some of the fantasy tropes will probably be necessary, and a story is work so there will always be some trudgery involved. But as much as possible you've got to focus on doing right by the thing that makes your story worth telling, whatever that thing is.
     
    Darkfantasy, A. E. Lowan and Svrtnsse like this.
  10. Dina

    Dina Dreamer

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    I understand the feeling of being out of your depth in a genre. I started writing fantasy when I was 11 and I haven't looked back since. It's tough for me to write other genres when I think too much about it, but if I have a basic idea of the story and let the words flow, it's generally far easier than if I sat down for hours plotting.
     
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  11. Seira

    Seira Minstrel

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    Great advice so far. I do read just not Fantasy (I think I find the length of some books off putting and some series go on forever). I think maybe I was trying to force my story into a neat box. Because it was Fantasy I thought I had to have magic. I read another comment on here where someone's grandfather had given them advice which was basically "write for yourself".
    Also found a possible way around reading...I might get some audio books to listen to in bed at night.

    I guess my book isn't really generic fantasy. No elves, dwarfs or anything. I mostly focuses on the spirit and dream world.
     
  12. MrNybble

    MrNybble Minstrel

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    I listen to science fiction audiobooks while I write fantasy. There are similarities between the two. Fantasy has some expectations for what it supposed to have. Take a story that contained no generic fantasy elements, but still had the theme. The people in this story lived in an apocalyptic environment caused my a disaster hundreds of years ago. Fields of intense radiation segregated humans into small colonies of a few thousand people each. The Fantasy element came into play as the people developed a collective unconsciousness (shared lucid dreaming) with all people on the planet. In the dream world anything can happen with no magic needed.
     
  13. Seira

    Seira Minstrel

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    MrNybbleMrNybble - that sounds a lot like my novel could you give me the name and the author so I can check it out. Thank you.
     
  14. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    Very much this. I took the "Lost Prince" trope about a boy from Earth who discovers another world where he learns that he's secretly magic and the long-lost heir to the throne, and then I made him into the evil wizard in my series.

    Because it turns out that if you take a stoop-shouldered loser kid with no friends or social skills and hand him unlimited power and wealth (see every YA coming of age portal fantasy ever), in a few years he'll become a real dick about it. The hero in my series is brought over from Earth to kill him.

    You have to know the tropes if you want to subvert them to carve your own niche, in the same way that you have to know the rules of English if you want to break them and develop as a stylist.
     
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  15. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    Adding here that you might not want to subvert tropes, and that's fine, too. It depends on your audience. For instance, there will always be a readership for YA & MG bildungsromans featuring lost princes / princesses. The trick is to be aware of what you're doing and where it fits . . . or doesn't. That only comes with reading voraciously across every genre but especially your own.
     
  16. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    My question is, why do you think you need help? Are you struggling with the story? Does it feel like there's something missing? Have you gotten feedback that made you think you need to understand fantasy more?

    If there's nothing going wrong or bothering you about writing the story, then my advice would be to just keep writing it however you want to.
     
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  17. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Tropes are what allow readers to understand the author's thoughts and intentions. It's a communication device, if anything.
     
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  18. Kalessin

    Kalessin Dreamer

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    If you're gonna start reading YA Fantasy I recommend The Bartimaeus Trilogy (plus fourth book that's an almost standalone prequel).

    Alternate London in a, come to think of it, ambiguous time period that sorta resembles an even more modern 1940's or so. England is the world superpower and is famous for its magicians who do their magic by summoning demons that can't be seen by most people. Follows a boy from like 6-18 who's gifted and gets in over his head in book one, where he starts off as an apprentice. Great characters, especially the djinn Bartimaeus, who has an alternating pov with the kid.

    I think you might be surprised by how delicately the genre can be handled.
     
  19. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    ^ Ah yes. I recall reading the Graphic Novel of The Amulet of Samarkand. It was pretty good, and Bartimaeus was a fun character.

    The Fantasy genre is a very flexible genre, and it seems to me that many works of fiction that don’t ‘fit’ elsewhere, or are set in the future, are labelled as Fantasy. I recall my school library had the Dragonriders of Pern books in the Fantasy section, (because it quacked like a Fantasy) until it was revealed in the story that the inhabitants of Pern are space-faring Earthlings that had colonised this world. Subsequently, the books where moved to the Sci Fi section. I’ll quote a little from Wikipedia -

    The Dragons of Pern are a fictional race created by Anne McCaffrey as an integral part of the science fiction world depicted in her Dragonriders of Pern novels.

    In creating the Pern setting, McCaffrey set out to subvert the clichés associated with dragons in European folklore and in modern fantasy fiction. Pernese dragons are similar to traditional European dragons in the fact that they can breathe fire and resemble great lizards or dinosaurs with wings, but the resemblance ends there. Unlike most dragons in previous Western literature, Pernese dragons are entirely friendly to humanity. Furthermore, they are not magical at all. Instead, they are a heavily genetically modified species based on one of Pern's native life-forms, the fire-lizard.

    Dragons (Pern) - Wikipedia

    I agree with Devor. Let others worry about the label.
     
  20. Seira

    Seira Minstrel

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    Sorry, it took me so long to get back to you guys, my PC died on me and I had to replace it.

    Thank you for your replies, they helped me move forward with my work. x
     
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