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Why do you read/write fantasy?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Firefly, Apr 11, 2019.

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  1. Firefly

    Firefly Troubadour

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    I've seen some people mention in threads here (and other places) reasons why readers are attracted to fantasy as a genre, and I find the subject interesting because everyone seems to have a different answer. What are your reasons?

    I'm also interested in the reasons why you choose to write fantasy, especially those of you that enjoy reading a broad variety of genres.
     
  2. JGCully

    JGCully Scribe

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    I enjoy it. Not just the writing but the opportunity to world build and the way that little details, hidden here and there, can bloom into other stories. The chance as well to create more and more stories set in the same world. Prequels, sequels, off-shoots, spin-off's. I love the creativity sci-fi and fantasy give you, almost without restriction except those you may set yourself.
     
  3. Ewolf20

    Ewolf20 Minstrel

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    fantasy lets you do anything and you're not super limited unlike in sci fi where you have to make sure it relates to science...sort of. now personally i don't read fantasy but i enjoy writing it.
     
  4. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

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    What? There was a choice?
    Actually, I'm naturally a Science Fiction person - I was always the technician of the family, sister was the poet, brother the rebel. When it came to theatre I did the lighting and sound effects, when it came to music I ran the mixing console - actually, I'd built it. Useless at languages, no psychology, poor at communicating with other humans. So Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and a hundred copies of Astounding, Analog, If, Magazine of Fantasy and science fiction - mine was a family life that demanded escapism.

    Then I got a month's (maybe six weeks) work in a non-English speaking country, which actually lasted forty years. Problem - getting books. Railway stations and airports, every trip home for christmas baggage weighed down by paper, but never enough to keep me until spring; ignore a year-round stock. And more of science fiction oozed into reality - how can you escape when your imaginary friend shakes your hand every day? So I tolerated such fantasy as I came across, and added elves and trolls to my robots and spaceships, and heaven knows how many series I read in the wrong order. Never getting to the point of a TBR pile, but only rereading a portion. Fortunately I had the best job in the world and didn't need to escape all that often.

    And then I was retired, as superannuated, passed sell-by date, and sent me back to the UK, and I spent time writing my own tomes - sure, the dragons drove trains, and the space station in Mars orbit had a resident gremlin, but you could recognise my roots (as long as I steered clear of poetry). And I have no intention of dying in the immediate future, so I'm afraid you'll have to put up with me for a while.
     
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  5. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    I don't.


    I do love worldbuilding fantasy places from time to time, and I read just enough sci-fi derivatives to not get kicked out of the SFF genre entirely. I've been creating worlds and populating those worlds with stories as long as I can remember, which is admittedly not a very long time. Part of that process consists of figuring out how other people go about it and stealing their work.... *ahem* I mean letting myself be inspired by their work.
     
  6. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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    I used to read absolutely everything I could reach on the library shelf. I was an early and gifted reader and read way above my paygrade through most of my childhood. Then, when I was about nine, my dad, a life-long lover of sci-fi, handed me a copy of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight and I never looked back. I had always been meant to be a writer. My mother was a writer before me and her side of our Irish family was populated by poets. But now... now I knew what I wanted to write more than anything in the world. Sci-fi and fantasy. And I've been spinning worlds every since.
     
  7. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Sage

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    I would have to say right off that I do not write just fantasy. There are certain things that can be done in fantasy, certain directions I can stretch my imagination that do not work quite so well in mainstream fiction or other genres. In some ways, it is closer to the composition of poetry than it is to the writing of 'contemporary realism.' There is more room for metaphor, for philosophy, for thoughts of things beyond our everyday life.

    Now I don't mind writing about everyday life. I have a handful of non-fantasy novels out there and they have their own strengths, their own questions and answers. But fantasy fills a need for something more than they can provide. It brings back the wonder that can go missing in our everyday lives. I need that.
     
  8. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

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    I write it because of the awesome freedom for the writer it provides. I can essentially focus on writing the stories I want and don't need to spend years, and lots of money, on research as I would have to do for historical fiction.
     
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  9. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    It's been said that if there's a book that you want to read but no one's written it, then it's up to you to write it.

    I rolled up my sleeves when I was about 16 and spent the better part of the next 30 years figuring out how to write the books I had always wanted to read.

    I read damned near everything. However, I've always wanted to read epic fantasy written at historical-fiction levels of accuracy, and that really drilled down on the mundane details of the world, expected inaccuracies in the tropes be damned. I wanted "hard fantasy." I wanted a fantasy Hunt for Red October. I wanted intense technical details, and plot points that turned on mundane technical facts that other fantasy novels either don't mention, handwave, or just get plain wrong. (A major plot point in Dragon's Trail centers on a gap in steel-making technology as an international stressor sufficient to kick off a war if no one's careful. Compare this to a popular series of fantasy novels that uses the terms iron and steel interchangeably.)

    Critics, reviewers, and fans rave about the fight scenes in my books, but it's not just the fighting that holds up to scrutiny. From the phases of the moon to the splinters in the floor, I beat my brains in for decades figuring it all out, sometimes at risk to life and limb: making shear steel in a backyard forge, learning stunts on horseback, mountaineering, competing as a boxer and swordsman. I eventually joined the military and wound up in Special Operations, where I learned how to do most of the really cool shit that you'll find in my books, from training fledgling armies to tracking a wounded man through the desert. It all works; it's how it really happens.

    In the end, I delivered what I'd set out to build. I'm working on the final book in this initial series. The next series promises to raise the bar even higher.
     
  10. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Maester

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    I read more then I write, but I read sci-fi and fantasy because I enjoy it. I have since I went from Laura Ingles Wilder and Louis L'Armor and into Animorphs and then the Dragons of Pern stories. It was always an escape from growing up on the farm, where I already went off to different worlds already thanks to toys like Lego and the assortment of 90's kids shows. Books became an even better escape and given I already had a medieval attraction (Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog did not help matters) and a love of dinosaurs and dragons that I've yet to grow out of, it really brought more of my likes to the front.

    I got into the writing aspect because my drawing is not that great and I still felt the need to tell the story for every picture I drew. I can still look back at some of my old art and dredge up the story that went along with it. For now anyways, before age creeps in a bit more. That and I like creating worlds and seem to come across idea's all over. My job helps a bit in that I get to go outdoors, clear my mind at times or people watch as they go about the parks. That and I always imagine some small kaiju in the local lake that I want to be real because it'd make the park more awesome, by my standards anyways (most my co-workers would be inclined to disagree).

    So, yeah, that stream of conciseness is why I do what I kind of do. Mostly read and fail at writing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
    Ban likes this.
  11. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    This pretty much sums me up (except the working out was in my head. Talk about commitment Malik). Raymond E. Feist got me hooked on fantasy at about 12 with Magician, but I always kept one foot in the SF realm. At 18, I decided I wanted to read my book; 22 years later I’m ready to get my hands dirty. And life seems to be ready to let me too!
     
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  12. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

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    Another aspect of writing fantasy that I like is that I can essentially re-write stories or historical scenarios that I could see go another way, without being constraint by practicality, fact or endless determinist complaints. For example if I would like the Continental Saxons to hold off Charlemagne and the Franks, then I can write a story where that's the core scenario that happens. And arrange the setting to provide for this.

    I suppose that you could call this a kind of part of the freedom of fantasy that I mentioned earlier. If I ran it as a historical fiction or alternative history, then, as much as I love that genre, I would be looking at years of research in languages that I haven't mastered, but I can make things up without feeling cheap or get called out on obscure northern German geography if I place the same story and characters in a fantasy setting created specifically for the story..
     
  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Hey, there's nothing obscure about northern German geography! (said the guy who wrote is thesis on exactly that area <g>)

    Like so many others here, I've always written. In earlier decades it was SF. Then for a long time it was all history because I was a historian. Somewhere in there, maybe because of learning D&D so I could play with my kids, I started writing fantasy. I must use that word advisedly, as it was all just notebooks filled with ideas and fragments and false starts.

    Once I got serious about writing, I had already conceived of Altearth. With an entire continent and 1500 years of both legends and history to play with, I figured if I couldn't get five or six stories out of that, I didn't deserve the sobriquet. Well, I've got my five or six stories and I'm still going strong. Taking time to write anything else would feel like abandoning Altearth. Everything I could possible want to say is in there.

    Do I write because I love it? Not really. It's because I've always written. It appears to be a thing I don't know how not to do. It's just that now I'm serious about it and I get actual stories finished--usually after much moaning and groaning around here.

    I keep reading fantasy in part to be aware of the genre, of what's going on, and in part in the rarely-realized hope of finding something really good. When it's really good, fantasy (and SF) takes me away into another world in a way no other form of literature can. I enjoy detective novels, even thrillers, and a fair number of classic literature. They all have their rewards. But the SFF category is unique. Though the payoffs are few, they're worth it.
     
  14. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Minstrel

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    It's fun to read. I like the imagination, mystery, and adventure possible in fantasy. And I can explore areas I can't with other genres—intuitive and psychic abilities which would be harder to write about in other genres.
     
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  15. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Sage

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    I like reading about alternate history, legends, myths, cartography, crime, history, geography, politics, cultures, faiths, wars, murders, assorted technologies, architecture and disasters. Fantasy lets me indulge in all of these and more.

    I love world building but I got bored with creating imaginary countries that were good enough to convince investors to ask me if they could invest in them so writing fantasy seemed to be a natural progression from this.
     
  16. Hir i-Chorvath

    Hir i-Chorvath Minstrel

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    I love how fantasy is so different from normal, boring life. Anything can happen and you get to visit another world. I guess for me, fantasy is the escape to the world that I wish was mine. I love the fact that you can make your own rules and boundaries for what can or can't happen. Also, reading fantasy takes me to a new place, magicks and creatures to explore and discover every time I open a book.
    Looking this over I realize it sounds kind of silly but that's how I feel about it.
     
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  17. My recent decision to attempt to take up writing was due to a few diffrent factors. I was never much if a reader, I am hoping to fix that in the future, but ever since I was young I would day dream about heroes battling villians and make up scenarios in my head, but never thought much of it. Eventually I was introduced to tabletop games such as DnD where I could suddenly take these daydreams I had and have a simple method of sharing them with others. Eventually I found that playing in other peoples games disinterested me, as I got to only work on one character, so I found myself running a tabletop game. I spend hours planning every bit of this world, finding myself working long and hard on aspects I don't even think my players will encounter, and I enjoyed when they interacted with my characters and world more than the mechanics of battle and such. I slowly learned that I didn't love playing these games, I loved telling my stories. I haven't written anything substantial, just a assortment of half finished short stories, as I hated writing when I was younger due to factors when I still was in grade school which I won't go into now, and I'm working to basically undo my aversion to writing which seems to plague my work so I can learn to write and get my stories down for others to see.
     
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  18. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I credit my love for fantasy to my grade school obsession with Egyptian and Greek mythology. I think it was 5th grade when we started reading Greek mythology and I fell in love. Then it was 6th grade when we started learning Ancient Egypt. I became hopelessly obsessed and cleared my local library of all the books about Egypt I could find in the kids' section. Since then, I've never stopped loving ancient history and in particular the mythology and religion of ancient cultures. And I think it just kind of ruined me for non-genre lit. For several years I read mostly historical fiction because I was afraid people would think I was terribly geeky if I read fantasy. But once I finally made the plunge into fantasy it was like coming home.

    Nothing about the real world interests me. I don't find it beautiful. Every fiber of my being longs for gorgeous and complex fantasy worlds to get lost in.
     
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  19. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Because it's awesome? Idk.

    I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons/Warhammer with my dad, read a lot of those books and as I matured the fantasy genre always stuck with me. It's a difficult one for me to write in and I basically can't, so I just read the books. The times I've tried to write fantasy I've failed miserably—it's much harder than it looks. The reason why I enjoy reading it so much is because I've always wanted to go on a magical adventure. Never gonna happen, right? :)
     
  20. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

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    I don't really read much Fantasy or write it until lately (crime and psychology thriller girl here!) but I write whatever ideas come to me.
    But one it was a genre I had never tried and knew nothing about, had no idea what an orc was (don't shoot!). So it gave me something totally knew to research. It also allowed me to use my imagination and since I wrote crime stories based of real events I couldn't wander much. I wanted to try something totally unfamiliar and "scary" to me.
    But mostly because the new idea for a book I had didn't fit into any other Genre, accept maybe Dystopian.

    I found world-building, character creating and theme setting fun but I'm having a bitch of a time with my plot because I am so unrestricted. Maybe this book will never get written because I don't have a flare for Fantasy. But I'm not looking to get published, I just write what I'd enjoy reading. I create my own little library.
     
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