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Thread: Avoiding cliched elves and genre crossovers in a Fantasy Project.

  1. #1

    Avoiding cliched elves and genre crossovers in a Fantasy Project.

    Hi all,

    I mentioned in my introduction that I've been writing for a while now and would like to do a fantasy story at some point. Now, I have started on a story about an Elf Princess, unfortunately I haven't fleshed out the story a whole lot in terms of mapping and such and I'm kind of stuck as a result.

    This is my first straight up fantasy project and while I'm trying to avoid genre crossovers with science fiction or the western genre (which I'm also quite fond of) I'm also trying to avoid the Lord of the Rings types of elves. This is difficult since I'm struggling to map out a story properly.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Going out of your way to avoid cliches isn't a great method of plotting. And genre crossing can be fun and interesting.
    So, I think you're totally backwards.

    Really, you could argue that the Elf cliche (thin, pale, blonde, pointy-eared, magical nature-lovers) is really not much at all like how Elves are portrayed Tolkien's books. So, trying to avoid that "cliche" seems like a waste of time. In fact, it'd be more original if you did Elves closer to how they were in Tolkien's books.

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  4. #3
    Senior Member Demesnedenoir's Avatar
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    Make elves how you want them, don't worry about cliche.
    Craven Raven, black of feather and black of beak,
    of what today shall we speak?

  5. #4
    This is my first straight up fantasy project and while I'm trying to avoid genre crossovers with science fiction or the western genre (which I'm also quite fond of)
    You shouldn't avoid genre crossovers. Western fantasy is an interesting idea. Science fantasy is a very fun genre.
    If you want to write a science fantasy-western with a generic elves you should - sound like a fun story .

  6. #5
    I second the previous posts. Don't go out of your way to make your elves not cliché, just let your creations be what feels right for the world/story.

    I will offer some advice however, if you really wish to make your elves different. First of all write down all the clichés yo know about elves. Such as: Tall, skinny, long lived, pointy ears, long hair, magically inclined, live in the forest, live on the northpole (santa's elves need love too), Elven monarchy (looking at you shakespearre).
    Once you've done that, write down the 5 or 10 things you personally find most iconic about elves. Keep that small number of iconic things, to make sure people will still recognize your elves as elves and change the other elven aspects.

    For example you can have long-lived, wise elves with pointy ears. But who also have curly black hair, dark skin, no talent for magic and live in a naval republic somewhere on a tropical archipelago.

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  8. #6
    Why are you trying to avoid genre-crossovers/LotR Elves?

    Also, do you really mean LotR Elves, or do you mean D&D Elves?

  9. #7
    Chessie
    Guest Chessie's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by WooHooMan View Post
    Going out of your way to avoid cliches isn't a great method of plotting. And genre crossing can be fun and interesting.
    So, I think you're totally backwards.

    Really, you could argue that the Elf cliche (thin, pale, blonde, pointy-eared, magical nature-lovers) is really not much at all like how Elves are portrayed Tolkien's books. So, trying to avoid that "cliche" seems like a waste of time. In fact, it'd be more original if you did Elves closer to how they were in Tolkien's books.
    Yes! Readers have certain expectations of what elves should look/be like as well. Make them your own, of course, but don't worry if they're tall, blonde either.

    I'm working on an elven romance series at the moment and not really caring about how cliche my elves are. They live in mountainous terrain and have olive skin. Everything else is pretty standard. What matters is the story, not how cool "you" did elves.

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    Senior Member DragonOfTheAerie's Avatar
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    Please don't worry about being uncliche. Supposed cliches and cliches for a reason: a lot of people like them.

    Genre crossovers are awesome. I love them. Genres are mere limitations anyway...

    Also, it annoys me when people try so hard to be "original" with a race or creature (mermaids, werewolves) and end up changing them so much they aren't mermaids or werewolves anymore; they might as well be something else.

    Though, I totally support the idea of dark-skinned seafaring elves. Those sound really cool.

    In short, don't worry.

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  13. #9
    Well, everyone else has mentioned the core stuff, but on a more practical matter, one thing I favor is to pick something else to mix together with the classic races to give them a twist. For example, I've had Elves that use biotechnology and were based around magical!genetic engineering. For a more mythic feeling to elves, I think mixing elves with the idea of Taoist Immortals would have interesting potential.
    DoOoOoOoOM!

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    Senior Member FifthView's Avatar
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    Make your elf race really a race of trees. At various times, like mating season or war or.....whatever, the large trees split their bark and from within step forth in another form, which just happens to be similar what we tend to think of as elves. They can exist in that form for some time, but not more than about a week or two, without returning; too long, and they deteriorate and die.

    Hah, I don't know. There are lots of things you could do.

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