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The Fantasy Clichenomicron

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by dangit, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. dangit

    dangit Scribe

    On the Friday Chat Mindfire came up with the brilliant idea to make a thread all about fantasy cliches! So I thought I'd make it happen.

    if you have a Cliche you'd like mentioned please post below and I will edit it into this post.


    1.The Angelic Hero

    2.The evil King/Sorcerer

    3.The Farmer/Orphan as Hero

    4.Pure Evil

    5.The Chosen One

    6. You Decide:Biggrin:!
  2. Sheriff Woody

    Sheriff Woody Troubadour

    Wize old wizard

    Sexy warrior chick
  3. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    Threads about fantasy cliches

    I mean, seriously, how many of these have we had?
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  4. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

    I'd say at least five more threads are needed.

    Suave rogue

    Damsels in distress

    Elves being awesome hunters/bowman

    Going through a dwarven tunnel/mine to reach an objective
    dangit likes this.
  5. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    1. The recurring character (usually a mage) who only makes an appearance to assist the protagonists.

    2. Dragons portrayed as mindless and vile killing machines with no redeeming qualities.

    3. A single object of power being capable of destroying the planet.

    4. Barbarians using a big sword and being stupid.

    5. A dwarvish miner/craftsman

    6. Stupid demi-humans.
  6. arroncook

    arroncook Dreamer

    I agree that all of the above can be overplayed - but surely some of these features, as long as they're well written, are actually features of the genre? I.e. evil antagonist with magical power? Think how many fewer classics there would be without that!
  7. Chime85

    Chime85 Sage

  8. Clarence Matthews

    Clarence Matthews Dreamer

    unfortunately just about everything that makes my favorite race awesome is what makes them a cliche..... Dwarves living deep in a mountain mining and blacksmithing and just generally being badass :cry::cry:
  9. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

    Elves as an advanced and/or dying civilisation
    Elves as uptight, snobbish, pretentious, naturally graceful, genetically skilled at everything, arrogant, xenophobic, racist a-holes
    Evil creatures whose only purpose in life is to be evil
  10. FireBird

    FireBird Troubadour

    Princess running away from an arranged marriage, even though she would have known it was going to happen for her entire life.

    Villians who are brilliant suddenly becoming bumbling idiots in the presence of the hero.

    Introduce villians by having them kill puppies. (I'm looking at you Goodkind)

    Off the top of my head, I can only think of one example in history where the ruler of a country marries a commoner and both rule well. (Justinian and Theodora) So why does it happen so damn much?

    If I even sense a love triangle beginning to take over my novel I burn it. It's why I tend to avoid urban fantasy.

    Pointless secrets. Yeah you're the long lost heir to the throne. Even though you know nothing about ruling you can be a great king. Everyone knew this but you so I decided not to tell you for 3/4ths of the novel. Oh by the way I'm your father.

    Villianous monologues....... Make me want to vomit.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  11. ElliotWyndwryght

    ElliotWyndwryght Dreamer

    I agree, love triangles=blah

    The; oh you're adopted

    Hitting puberty and getting magical powers (I'm guilty of this one)

    Being destined to 'save the world'
  12. MadMadys

    MadMadys Troubadour

    Magic is a thing of the past but is about to make a big comeback!

    Calender months like July and August, named by Roman, self-interested, emperors, appear in stories taking place in other worlds or well before Rome ever existed.

    Big things in small packages.

    Everyone else sucks with a sword/weapon except the main character who is insanely skilled.

    Villains who are evil 'just because'.

    Villains having disposable guards/servants that die if the main character(s) look at them funny.
  13. Can I just mention that most of these are archetypes, not necessarily clichés.

    I honestly don't even believe that narrative devices can be clichés inherently, rather they become clichés when the writer fails to make them interesting.

    In other words, blame the author, not the archetype.

    Arranged marriages weren't necessarily established from birth. And even if it was, there are several reasons the princess would decide to run away: She might have recently gained a new perspective on things as part of growing up, or she didn't want to leave her whole life behind before the situation became genuinely desperate (who knows, the guy might die or something) or she had only recently met her bethroded and found him to be kind of an ass.

    We call this "Plot Induced Stupidity" or PIS on another forum. It's not really a fantasy cliché - it's bad writing in general and happens in virtually every genre.
  14. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

  15. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    I have an arranged marriage, but it is out the ordinary, and she didn't know who it was until just before the story began.

    "You sly dog! You got me monologuing! I can't believe it. "
    Incredibles blew monologuing out of the water.
  16. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    I'm with Anders here - most of the things that have been mentioned aren't cliches. Some are archetypes. Some are tropes (which isn't the same as a cliche, they're more like narrative tools, and only become cliche through repeated poor handling and serial unoriginality). Some I wouldn't even say are tropes or archetypes. MadMadys said "Big things in small packages" - what does that even mean? It could be interpretted to mean a lot of things, and most of those interpretations won't be unique to fantasy. The TARDIS could be a big thing in a small package. A laptop with internet access could be. Tinkerbell could be. What have any of those things got in common the would make "small things in big packages" a cliche - or even a trope?

    This thread just seems to be a list of things people find annoying about some books.
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Yeah, not only are most of these not cliches, the assumption that there is anything necessarily wrong with them (including the cliches) is a mistake. I've only ever seen beginning writers obsess over this stuff and act as though no such things can be included in an original and effective story. At some point, you realize that you should just write what you want and forget about this sort of thing.
    Chilari likes this.
  18. WyrdMystic

    WyrdMystic Inkling

    Agreed. The cliche thing has been taken to such an extreme and there is such a wealth of talent in the world that not using cliches is cliche. I love cliches. They give you a solid opportunity to lull your readers into a false sense of security and generate some real emotion when you flip them.

    Besides, I love coming-of-mage books. I want to read more of them because I like them. It like your favorite flavour of milkshake - everyone will have a cliche they love - elves, dragons, mages, witches, vampires, evil blah blah blah. Sure you'll try other flavours, but when it comes down to it you'll always go back to [insert favorite flavour here].

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