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Would like opinion on my elven cultures

Discussion in 'World Building' started by JamesTFHS, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. JamesTFHS

    JamesTFHS Scribe

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    so i have been reading about how some readers hate the over use of elves and i was just thinking about how hard i have worked on my elven cultures over the years and would like some opinions on what people think. I am not going to go into deep detail just a basic over view to get feed back.

    So my elves were created by their elven god who gave them their own continent to live upon. My elves are immortal to the point where time does not touch them but can be killed by the sword. As being immortal beings they have a different perception of what is important in life giving them a wiser feel but not exactly true wisdom greater than the other beings. I have also given my elves the ability to will themselves to die if they grow tired of the world. They basically can stop their body from living without having to commit suicide. The great spirits saw fit to teach the elves all their wisdom for they favored the elves. Though this caused a rift in the elven culture as they tried to impose certain ideas on others claiming their way of life was better. The elves broke apart into 5 separate nations with the original slowly dying out. One nation of elves hates another so much as to the point they refuse to help the heroes when they align with them and actually set out to kill the heroes and all the other elf nations as they join them.

    it is rare for elves to value love as they have pretty much however long they want to find it. It is even rarer for any elf to love a human. I have no elf/human romance in my current novel. Just would really like some feed back there is a lot more.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  2. Wormtongue

    Wormtongue Minstrel

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    Cultures are a matter of author's preference. As long as you are self-consistent you can make your cultures any way you like.

    Just be creative, and remember the world and the cultures in it are only a framework for the story. So don't get so weird with your cultures that it distracts from the story.

    And you may want to break your posts up into paragraphs with some white space so they're easier to read.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  3. Spring-Gem

    Spring-Gem Dreamer

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    You can't please everyone. Yes, there are people who don't want to read about elves, but there are also people who like elves. Write the kind of story you want to read, and if it's written well enough it will have an audience.
     
    JamesTFHS likes this.
  4. Codey Amprim

    Codey Amprim Staff Article Team

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    Elves are getting to that "eh" point. We all (at least from my understanding) have that Tolkien template of elves stuck in our heads, and they're almost expected to be like that. In my opinion, I love the Tolkien elves, and I think that version of them is a great depiction. Yours does contain almost all of the same elements, but I wouldn't quite worry about the culture itself, unless you're writing a novel strictly to depict the culture. Sure, your elements are important, but as Wormtongue said, don't get too anal about the reader understanding your elves, just move along with the story.

    Honestly, my elves (actually in the inner debate process of being completely removed or kept) are very seclusive. They don't want to bother with the outside world, all they care about is maintaining their sacred grounds as their race slowly dies from the face of the world.

    Do whatever you want. :)
     
  5. James Chandler

    James Chandler Minstrel

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    Things I don't like: the name "elves." That's not a personal thing. I workshopped a chapter of my WIP earlier this year and that was the first negative comment. "Ugh, elves." There are plenty of fans and readers who still love elves, but other writers and editors seem to be really jaded about them. I have read several novels with a race/species that is basically elves by another name. So, you should consider changing the name, even if you and the readers still think of them as elves.

    Also, your description makes them sound too much like Tolkien/D&D elves. There needs to be some level of differentiation to interest the reader and pull him into the story.

    Things I like: The idea that what is important to elves is not what's important to humans and vice versa. This may make communication between humans and elves difficult. But, it also means they may or may not have many conflicts. I think there is a lot to explore there - just don't get distracted from the story.

    Similarly, I like the idea that "wisdom" for an elf is not necessarily "wisdom" for a human.

    Have fun.
     
  6. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    I see no issue in writing what you wish to write. If you wish to write about elves, then so be it.

    If you see an issue in this, however, then perhaps create your own species. You have already created that species - just give them a different name, perhaps (as James Chandler has noted), and your readers may see a parallel, but they will enjoy having made that parallel whilst reading.
     
  7. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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    Elves, I feel, have been sorely overused. The only elves I appreciate are Night Elves from the Warcraft franchise, wherein elves are darker. Heck, I just prefer a Drow.
     
  8. JamesTFHS

    JamesTFHS Scribe

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    A lot of interesting points thanks guys. One thing i would like to point out is that culture is very important because the culture shows the values and beliefs of the people and those are reflected by the characters actions within the story both the single character as well as the collective. but also i more of discussed their history over their culture so that is a little confusing. My new question is where are the similarities with tolkien's elves based on the info above.
     
  9. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    The chief similarity I see is the immortality-but-not-invincibility. As you put it, "immortal to the point where time does not touch them but can be killed by the sword."

    Really, not that big of a deal. This is one of those tropes that in my opinion is very easy to adapt between different fantasy worlds. Your chance for a unique take on this (though I've seen it in other fantasy, it hasn't appeared in the true mainstream yet) is the 'can voluntarily give up life' thing. It's not suicide, it's deciding when to die. Explore that facet of their society. When is it right to 'give up life?' When is is considered wrong? What effects does it have on the loved ones of those elves that do decide to surrender their life?
     
  10. Alex

    Alex Troubadour

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    I think that the way you have "designed" your elven race is certainly intriguing. Originality is definitely in there. However, as stated above, it is a lot like Tolkein's depiction as well as D&D. Again, it is a great depiction and I am sure it will filter and refine as you write. Have at it friend!
     
  11. Johnny Cosmo

    Johnny Cosmo Inkling

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    Expanding on that - I like the idea that some elves might consider holding on to life for too long to be pathetic, or disgusting, and would look down on those who do. Perhaps there is a lot of social pressure to die at a respectable age, perhaps it could be considered rude to live for too long.

    It's such a simple alteration, but it adds a lot of depth.
     
  12. Codey Amprim

    Codey Amprim Staff Article Team

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    Even too add some sprinkles on the ice cream, benevolent elves may be forced to give up their immortality, or be stripped of it from an elder if that could be possible. Perhaps if they commit a certain act they will lose it regardless if they will it or not, such as mating with a human or another outsider race, betraying a kinsman, rape, etc.; this can add a constant threat in the minds of the elves during the story. Just try some thigns out - see what you like, what you don't.

    I personally fell in love with elves when I was younger, mostly because they seemed like such perfect beings. As I grow older, however, I begin to see a different light on them. What I want to say to you is this: you don't want to make ANYTHING, whether it be a race, a God, or character wholly perfect; they may 'seem' perfect, but there needs to be fallacies and faults. Try implementing human faults to your elves. Try anything! But, for me, anything that becomes wholly "ultimate," "invincible" or "perfect" immediately turns me off.
     
  13. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

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    Kristen Britain has some elves that choose to sleep instead of living immortal lives. At the point where the Green Rider novels take place, they haven't awoken. Basically, it resembles an "opt out" clause for overemotional and young elves. Not sure if it's relevant.

    The timeless elves who can be slain aren't exactly new. Neither is the pairing of wisdom with elfdom, even if the elven cultures have conflicts about the correct path. I'm not saying elves should be stupid, but I'd rather see cunning, plain-speaking, or sensible elves. When I see elves in a fantasy novel, I know it's a matter of sentences before the "wisdom" comes slinking in, like a mangy mongrel licking its chops. We don't need to keep throwing that dog a bone.
     
  14. zizban

    zizban Troubadour

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    My elves are merely longed lived, which in the kinda brutal low tech fantasy world my humans live in makes them seem immortal.
     
  15. W.k. Trail

    W.k. Trail Scribe

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    I don't really have any cultures that are "elf" cultures. I also don't have an "elf" continent. The real world has places where different races are higher in stature, but it's important to mark that - just as Star Wars has taken individual earth biomes such as desert, forest, etc and turned them into theme planets - having a given species have an exclusive culture is perhaps a little blase.
     
  16. OrionDarkwood

    OrionDarkwood Scribe

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    Interesting concept the only flaw (well more a opinion) is have them be killed by something other than a sword or if by sword make it something special like they can only be killed by a sword blessed by a one eyed beardless dwarf or killed only on the night of their birth.
     
  17. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    This phrase conjured an image of an elf being killed by an exploding birthday cake with a horrified, lightly-singed friend gasping, "not again!" Another elf realizes, as he brushes bits of frosting and brain from his sleeve, that there hasn't been a death by exploding cake in centuries. He keeps the comment to himself.



    Maybe I should have done the same as the other elf, but I really couldn't resist.

    I took the phrase "time does not touch them but [elves] can be killed by the sword" to mean that elves don't deteriorate with age, they likely have a powerful immune system meaning that diseases don't kill them (though it's possible), but elves CAN be murdered by almost any means that would kill a human (with possible exceptions, such as poison).

    I didn't take it to mean that one must use a sword to kill an elf. And again, my overactive imagination conjures an image of a young samurai failing to kill an elf. Dundee the Barbarian laughs at the samurai. "That's not a sword!" Unsheathing his greatsword, he completes his taunt--"THAT'S a sword!"--and charges into the fray.


    If my interpretation of your elven race is correct, I think your race fine as is. You add your own twist to what (I think) most people expect from an elven race.

    The only thing I would frown upon is some odd cosmic rule governing very specific ways in which a powerful being must be killed. It's one thing to have an immunity, such as "fire can't kill a dragon." It's a whole other can of worms if you say "only ice can kill a dragon." That's when a reader like me rolls his eyes, wondering why a dragon would venture outside of the tropics... and whether he could be killed by an ice cream cone.
     
  18. OrionDarkwood

    OrionDarkwood Scribe

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    I just remarked without thinking or even having a mental picture. But LMAO.. I might have to use that idea assassinated by a mutant alien birthday cake.
     
  19. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    I have a warped sense of humor, which makes it hard for me to suspend disbelief whenever disbelief is funny. This isn't much of an obstruction when I'm the reader... but as the writer, this is either helping me or hurting me. I make fun of my own ideas so much, I don't think I can ever write a completely serious story. It try to write in a way that people laugh with me more often than at me.
     
  20. OrionDarkwood

    OrionDarkwood Scribe

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    Same here I have a interesting take on things like I got asked to leave a Asian Buffet after I was there for 10 hours. I told them it said all you can eat it didn't give a time limit LOL

    Or otherwise put why I am writing a short story series called "Furry Kung Fu Redneck Aliens the Reality TV Show"
     
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