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Why do we read and write fantasy?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Garren Jacobsen, May 19, 2016.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I made an earlier post on this thread, which I've just re-read, and I'd like to modify that. I agreed with others that for me fantasy is escape. While that's why I read fantasy, I realized it's not why I write it.

    For me, I spend so much time and effort constructing my fantasy world of Altearth, it is very real to me. Certainly as real as any other place I have never visited. I think my writing of fantasy is about a couple other things. One, of course, is to give purpose to all that world building. Only by constructing stories does Altearth actually come alive, and it deserves that much.

    The other reason is the creation of specific peoples and cultures. I can't think of any other venue (except SF, of course) where the author can play around with beliefs, relationships, prejudice, gender, appearance, architecture, all of it; while at the same time being held to high standards of verisimilitude because our readers are demanding and discerning.

    What a fun place to play!
     
    TheKillerBs likes this.
  2. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

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    For me it started out as escapism. Now it more than that it become an addiction, need and hunger to feed my creativity and my core personality. As i am happiest when i write.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  3. Eyeofdreeg

    Eyeofdreeg Acolyte

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    I write because it gives me some sort of way to escape into a world that I would actually want to live in. A world where I don't have to work a boring 38 hour work week and be a nobody. Instead I can be a roaming adventurer, a devilish sorcerer or a swashbuckling warrior. I can explore amazing lands, learn about amazing characters, fight giants and talk to God's. So that is why, in a nutshell :)
     
    valiant12 likes this.
  4. Reality seems so narrow and boring to me. Fantasy gives me the chance to experience and explore every possibility out there I can imagine.
     
  5. ^Agreed! :)
     
  6. Thomas Laszlo

    Thomas Laszlo Sage

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    I think mine has always been a slight mix of wanting to learn AND escapism. I don't make friends easy and very few people keep up with my dizzying train of thought so characters became my best friends


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Alyssa likes this.
  7. Mike Chara

    Mike Chara Scribe

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    This is really a simple question for me, not that I don't respect all the philosophical escapee's above.

    Wizards are cool.
    Swordfighters and gunslingers and fantastical races are cool.
    Dragons and other fantastical creatures are cool.
    If they all happen to have conflicting interests, or conflicting interesting personalities, and reasons to fight each other, and so do, that too is cool.

    It's just cool.
     
    Peat, Alyssa and Thomas Laszlo like this.
  8. EmilyMcIntyre

    EmilyMcIntyre Dreamer

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    For me, fantasy is the ultimate lens on 'real life'. I'd like to believe that any meaningful literature is at its core is an attempt of the author to share a perspective of life with the reader. Fantasy allows us to dispense with the factual niceties of documentation, and to concern ourselves with exploring universal principles. Granted, there's plenty of fantasy that seems "pure escapism", but I think the best fantasy offers us something more... magical/bigger/beyond.

    And, Nimue, you said it perfectly. We need 'bigger-than-life' story to grasp Story; our own fumbling attempts at making it through life aren't fascinating in the least, and thus we often miss the greater meaning that could be found in our own stories. Through fantasy, through the intensification of emotion, character, conflict, and wonder, we learn/feel beyond our usual capacity.

    That said, I love well-written escapism...
     
  9. Peat

    Peat Sage

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    The following is a true story.

    Once upon a time I was dreaming, and in my dream there were three men. One was old and grey with skin like old leather, and one was tall and dark and bearded, and one was young and laughing with hair like butter. All three of them only had one eye, and all three stood on one leg, and all three of them pointed at me with one finger and spoke to me:

    "Mark our words well, young Peat, for they are true words concerning your fate, that which no man nor woman nor god can turn aside. If you write fantasy fiction, then you shall always know happiness. And if you read fantasy fiction, then you shall always know contentment. And if you do neither, then your mind shall be like fog and your heart shall be like mud and your kidneys shall be like a maggot farm, and long shall be your misery."

    "Oh, and if you say a bad thing about David Gemmell, we'll bloody batter you."

    So there we go. I have no choice. Its the truth I swear.
     
  10. Drakevarg

    Drakevarg Troubadour

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    I like to contemplate alternative realities. Sci-fi doesn't really do it for me most of the time because it's all about exploring what's possible. I prefer fantasy because it comes in admitting "it probably isn't possible, but what if it was?" Much less restrictions there.

    However, on the other hand, I prefer low fantasy over high fantasy. It's easier to feel the impact of the changes the closer you keep it to that collective delusion we call reality. Too much magic and it's just a dream sequence. Just a little magic and you can watch the ripples.
     
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  11. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

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    This.
    Also we live in an age when our whole planed is explored, yet we don't have the technology to expllore other worlds.
     
  12. Mike Chara

    Mike Chara Scribe

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    I know I'm off-topic, but this is probably the best off-the-cuff explanation I've heard of the separation of the two genres, for those books that stick to the genre hard and fast. It's why I like [hard] sci-fi, because I love thinking that it could actually happen, and it's also why I like fantasy, because it's cool to be creative about what can't.
     
  13. Peat

    Peat Sage

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    Wee story aside, its everything for me.

    Fantasy is cool. The aesthetics are cool. The mix of myth and history, two things I love, is awesome (although I feel the mix is off these days most times).

    It is also a great tool for examining reality. Any story can be, but I think fantasy's ability to put down whatever we please makes it a very useful tool. But it can be an excellent way to escape reality too, sometimes even in the same story.
     
  14. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

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    Why do we read and write fantasy? Bit of a loaded question there.
    First of all, every single fictional genre is, at its core, fantasy. Science Fiction, both hard and soft? Absolutely fantasy. They just use "sufficiently advanced science" instead of "magic." Romance and erotica? Pure fantasy, in almost every way. Spec fic? Not even trying to hide it.
    So, in essence, everybody who reads and writes is involved in fantasy.

    That being said: I don't "write fantasy." Nor do I "read fantasy." I write and read stories. In both cases, the fantastic tends to be what grabs me. But I know very few people who specifically read and write one genre deliberately.
     
  15. LuxMyalis

    LuxMyalis Acolyte

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    It's curious. People always ask me why I read fantasy. I could go into long winded explanations about the escapism aspect, or how certain fantasy stories are allegories for our modern world with ways to deal with current problems. While both are valid to a certain extent, those aren't the reasons I am drawn to it. I read fantasy because I feel good when I do. It makes me happy. I get take part in a creation of art and I find that beautiful and inspiring.
     
  16. LuxMyalis

    LuxMyalis Acolyte

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    Here Here! Well said. :)
     
  17. LuxMyalis

    LuxMyalis Acolyte

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    Here Here! Well Said. :)
     
  18. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

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    I don't agree with your definition of sci fi, but you are spot on romance and erotica.
     
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