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DrakeStormstar's avatar

Dangerous Genius

I want to hear peoples opinions. What is your favorite thing about fantasy novels, what do you like to see in them? do you prefer the world to be vast and highly detailed and the author to put time into it. Or do you want it more closed. Do you believe the story should be the main focal point influencing the world around it or do you feel that the world should have influence on the story, or a little of both? I want to hear everything you like about these books and your opinion on the matter stated above.
The problem with these questions is that the answers will be as varied as readers. You'd be better off spending your time developing a story you'd be happy to tell, because that's all that matters. There's readers for every story.

The world: As much detail and development as required by the story. You need to develop the world enough so that can write in it. Some require more than others. Some people need more developed before they write and others.

Story: The two are connected. How a story will play out in a setting varies based off that setting. A couple in an argument will play out differently in a bedroom, movie theater, and porta-potty. It's just how it is. One affects the other.

Look to the stories you've enjoyed. Analyze them. Think about them and how the writer accomplished what they did.
Kita-Ysabell's avatar

Distinct Conversationalist

I recently heard somewhere (sorry, don't recall the source) someone commented on how strange it is that the phrase "standard fantasy setting" actually makes sense to us, and I have to say that I really, really agree. Fantasy should mean that the setting is a blank canvas onto which the author can write any rules they see fit, but when you say "fantasy" the first image that pops into most people's minds is a version of Medieval Europe with different geography in which magic is real and there exist some combination of the following: humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, orcs, fairies, and trolls, with maybe one or two more original creations thrown in for flavor.

And yes, there are other sub-genres out there, and that strikes me as just as odd: that the sub-genre which a given work of fantasy falls into is determined by which of a handful of settings it takes place in. I mean, I've been saying for ages that genres are kind of nonsense, but it goes double for fantasy.
I_Write_Ivre's avatar

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DrakeStormstar
I want to hear peoples opinions. What is your favorite thing about fantasy novels, what do you like to see in them? do you prefer the world to be vast and highly detailed and the author to put time into it. Or do you want it more closed. Do you believe the story should be the main focal point influencing the world around it or do you feel that the world should have influence on the story, or a little of both? I want to hear everything you like about these books and your opinion on the matter stated above.


I don't like any of that. If you narrow my choices down to that, I'm leaving the fantasy section altogether.

If it's a good story, it's a good story. Don't take choices away from my authors.
Kita-Ysabell
I recently heard somewhere (sorry, don't recall the source) someone commented on how strange it is that the phrase "standard fantasy setting" actually makes sense to us, and I have to say that I really, really agree.

I'm guessing you recently watched the Zero Punctuation review of Dragon Age Origins?
DrakeStormstar
What is your favorite thing about fantasy novels?

I like adventure plots. Fantasy is usually a good outlet for that type of story, though I don't have any special love for the genre.
marshmallowcreampie's avatar

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What I love about fantasy is that you can do so much with it. Fill it with whatever creatures and monsters you want, the world can be a steampunk city or a magical rainforest or a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The entire world is your creation and you have almost complete power to change it to fit your needs. But it's a huge shame that a lot of writers don't really seem to take advantage of this. They use the same settings and the same creatures each time. I swear, it's like most fantasy stories are either "modern day setting with a magical world that's a seeeeecret!" or "Medieval Europe style fantasy world with elves and dragons". That's why I don't read fantasy as much as I'd like to. Sometimes I feel like it would be more appropriate to say "I like the idea of fantasy" rather than "I like fantasy". But there are a lot of animated fantasy shows I like. cat_rofl However, I'm still disappointed that a lot of fantasy writers seem to limit themselves.

Now, as for the level of world development... I say the author should develop the world as much as she needs to. If a story takes place in a big fantasy world but most of the story just takes place in one town, there's really no reason to talk about the faraway land that the dragon character came from, or the relations between the neighboring kingdoms or the flora and fauna of every single region on the planet.

Also, setting always affects the story, not just in fantasy. (though a fantasy writer will likely have to think about it more, since fantasy worlds tend to have more variety and extremes. The more different and original your world is, the more you will have to thing about how X affects something else) Setting provides context for a character's thoughts and actions. A 17-year old girl in a modern-day American suburb will have different aspirations and motivations than a girl the same age in a monster-filled wasteland, or an upper class girl in Victorian England. A female character who can't take care of herself, and it obsessed with marriage and finding a man to take care of her would probably be called sexist... Unless she was in a time and place where she would've been raised to be like that. Setting will affect how a character grew up and how she was raised. That, in turn, will affect her views on things, how she makes her decisions, what decisions she makes, and more.
DrakeStormstar's avatar

Dangerous Genius

Thank you all for your inputs....though i slightly feel i didn't come across the way i intended. In no way were the points or questions i asked what i feel a fantasy setting should entitle. I'm a huge fantasy nerd, my favorite are the God Slayer Chronicles, LOTR (both hobbit, trilogy and simarillin) Game of thrones*cough -signature- cough* and the list goes on. I played s**t like DND and played Baldurs gate. My point is i don't think fantasy has any restrictions thats my favorite thing about it. The reason i presented those idea's is because i wanted people to add their specific opinions to those specific questions along with the rest.

Personally i am trying to write a fantasy book, it is by far one of the most difficult things i've ever done. But i love it because i am making a world from scratch, you can obviously see influences in my work but its my world and my own. Thats what i love. Anyway i'd love to continue to see peoples opinions and again thank you all for your input!
Kita-Ysabell's avatar

Distinct Conversationalist

Maltese_Falcon91
I'm guessing you recently watched the Zero Punctuation review of Dragon Age Origins?
That is entirely plausible, although I'm still not certain. Maybe I heard it more recently from someone else who watched the review. It's funny how opinions can spread like that. All I know is that I didn't come up with the idea, but I do agree with it.

Aside from that, what makes a fantasy story good is likely what makes a story of every other genre good. We've gotten a fair few threads asking "what makes X genre good?" and the answer is always the same: good writing. Interesting and engaging plot, well-developed characters, elegant and multi-sided development of issues and implications, intriguing and imaginative setting, the list goes on.

Any particular fondness I have for the genre is... well, beyond wearing thin. I raegquit a long time ago when a certain horribly written (and, I believe, self-published) iteration of the same old Swords an' Sorcery theme had a badly-researched desert that DID NOT BEHAVE LIKE A DESERT. DESERTS (with very few exceptions) GET COLD AT NIGHT. Now I only read fantasy if it's been vetted by a lot of sources that I really trust and all of them say that it's really, really good.

That said, there is one trope that I am still rather enamored with: cursed cities. You know the ones. Ruins, mysterious circumstances, angry spirits, sins of the ancients, the works. Something about that is just hard to screw up for me. Heck, I have a story on deck (as opposed to the one on hiatus or the one, much shorter, in progress) that takes place in just such a city, only everyone isn't quite dead yet. Although I wouldn't call it straight-up fantasy. Surreal fantasy, maybe, or non-standard fantasy if I'm feeling snarky.
Kita-Ysabell
That is entirely plausible, although I'm still not certain. Maybe I heard it more recently from someone else who watched the review. It's funny how opinions can spread like that. All I know is that I didn't come up with the idea, but I do agree with it.

Yeah, I sort of know what you mean. I dug up the original quote, if you were curious:
Quote:
And there's something terribly weird about the standard fantasy setting, not least of which the fact that the phrase "standard fantasy setting" can be uttered without irony. Look at this, we're a civilization so steeped in escapism that we've managed to find mundanity in something that doesn't exist and never will, whatever your Otherkin friend might say. Why is it accepted fact that elves fire bows and arrows and commune with the trees? That was Tolkien's thing. Without him, elves would be just about qualified to sell Rice Krispies. And he made dwarves all have braided beards and wield battleaxes. Real dwarves don't do that; they get hired by Lucasfilm or take corporate office jobs because they're an equal opportunities bonanza. Are we all but children playing forever on the same swing set while J.R.R. is the grumpy dad watching from the park bench and trying not to get aroused?
marshmallowcreampie's avatar

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Kita-Ysabell
I recently heard somewhere (sorry, don't recall the source) someone commented on how strange it is that the phrase "standard fantasy setting" actually makes sense to us, and I have to say that I really, really agree. Fantasy should mean that the setting is a blank canvas onto which the author can write any rules they see fit, but when you say "fantasy" the first image that pops into most people's minds is a version of Medieval Europe with different geography in which magic is real and there exist some combination of the following: humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, orcs, fairies, and trolls, with maybe one or two more original creations thrown in for flavor.


This is what bugs me about a lot of fantasy stories. The very nature of it gives you so much freedom, yet a lot of people, even writers, seem to have a narrow view on it. It's one of the big reasons I started writing, I read a lot of books but could never find what I was looking for. I figured that if no one else was going to write what I wanted, I'd have to do it myself.
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marshmallowcreampie

This is what bugs me about a lot of fantasy stories. The very nature of it gives you so much freedom, yet a lot of people, even writers, seem to have a narrow view on it.


Indeed. You can get damn creative just with 'orcs, dwarves, elves, and humans' or 'worlds based on the four elements' or even 'two magic people hate each other's kind.'

Although I do miss Jim Henson.
marshmallowcreampie's avatar

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I_Write_Ivre


Indeed. You can get damn creative just with 'orcs, dwarves, elves, and humans' or 'worlds based on the four elements' or even 'two magic people hate each other's kind.'

Although I do miss Jim Henson.


Oh, totally. Fantasy is the genre that allows for the most creativity, so when a book is just using Generic Fantasy World #3 I'm not gonna go easy on that criticism.
Symphony of Magic's avatar

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Fantasy is my genre, writing and reading; I love it. I also despise it.

There's nothing in particular that makes any genre really good; it's the writing. How the writing goes is what makes a piece good or bad, not the particular genre. Just something I've found after jumping several genres and bouncing around.

I love dark fantasy, especially. That is, when it's done right. When it's done wrong it makes me want to put my face through my desk. For me, fantasy is in what you can do with it. With all the options, fantasy has quickly become my favorite genre ever. But it's a double-edged sword. For all the creative chances, it's so common to see your typical more medieval setting. I happen to like the setting if it's done well, but so many people take that common thread and put it through the same tropes and the same species... It saddens me greatly. It's the biggest reason I chose fantasy as my final genre. I have something to say, and I really like to put a little spin on things. My first novel may be the more typical almost-medieval setting, but for a reason, with a few differences from your norm. Play the cards right, and fantasy is beautiful. Play the cards wrong, and it's hideous. It's all about how the writer writes.

None of my stories have these "chosen" normal people. No big prophecies regarding a strangely specific person, no world-fighting evil versus good. No elves or dwarves. I have numerous species and a more original-type setting for my hopeful series. Dragons in much of what I write, because I adore dragons.

But I am also careful with my definition of "dark" fantasy. I see too much of "dark" described as nothing but gore and sexual assault. I rarely see it applied well to moral gray areas or dark ambiance, which dismays me more than I can say. So I decided that, since I don't feel there's all that much of my personal definition of "dark fantasy", I may as well write it.

I'm probably rambling here, but yes. Fantasy is something I love and I hate. I love it for its options, its beauty when done well, and its gorgeous chances. I hate it for the lack of chances taken and the tendency to follow so many similar tropes.
Sianserais's avatar

Blessed Lunatic

I tend to be more impressed when a writer includes details that makes the world feel like a real place rather than a narrow ribbon wrapped tightly around the plot. I'm not talking about reams of unnecessary description, of course, but give me a few passing mentions of ones that real people would notice or consider in whatever those situations are. I suggest ones that demonstrate, by their very existence, how the world is connected and how things have changed over time.
But hey, that's me.

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