September 23, 2018, 07:18:00 PM

Author Topic: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?  (Read 618 times)

Offline Eclipse

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Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« on: August 11, 2018, 06:36:56 AM »
If a blurb mentions a prophecy I groan inwards.
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Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2018, 07:31:53 AM »
Same. They can be done well or subverted but if I see it I do groan.

Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2018, 12:00:55 PM »
Prophecies and "chosen ones" are just all used up, in my opinion. Maybe there's an original way to do it. But to me, it's just a way to constrain the plot. Regardless a prophecy is true or not, we'll be stuck in the same story of "can fate be changed?", "why does it have to be me?" etc. Boring.

Maybe there's a story out there to prove me wrong. But I'm not actively looking.
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2018, 03:01:22 PM »
I don't mind.
Especially because the 2 I really like completely turn the 'prophecy' upside down after the first book - Tom Lloyd's Twilight Reign and John Gwynne's Faithful and the Fallen
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Offline tebakutis

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Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2018, 05:44:06 PM »
I'll admit, I've always been a sucker for "the prophecy seems to be this one thing, but it is actually something entirely different and/or the opposite, but when you find that out, it's a twist that totally makes sense". I think it's because I enjoy wordplay and phrases with multiple meanings. But that's hard to pull off properly, and also requires the prophecy be vague enough to be interpreted in multiple ways, which make it useless.

Offline NedMarcus

Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2018, 01:20:16 AM »
I like them :)

But they have to be done well.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2018, 11:28:55 AM »
I think the only really interesting riff on prophecy I've read is JV Jones' Book of Words (first book The Baker's Boy), where it's not just a case of multiple interpretations of the prophecy pointing at various possible Chosen Ones, there are actually multiple versions of the prophecy... and precisely who's chosen to do what is somewhat nebulous.

Mind you, I have an idea bubbling in back of my head that involves messing around with the notion of prophecy, so I certainly ain't going to say it's a dry well. :)

Offline Skip

Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2018, 05:35:45 AM »
I struggle with this one. I have a story I want to write that involves a prophecy, but the wrong guy gets chosen. Everyone around him assumes he's the right person because all the Signs point to him, but he's simply not the right guy.

I know the setup and the conclusion, but it's the prophecy bit that has me stalled. If prophecies are real, then All the Signs cannot point to my hero. A prophecy that's wrong isn't a prophecy, it's just a bad guess. And if the prophecy is right, then it's absolutely iron-clad and there's no story there.

The misunderstanding-because-it's-vague feels like a mere dodge to me. It's like the murder mystery where the author manipulates the story to hide crucial information. It's mirrors. That can be clever, sure, but it's never more than that and won't work for in a high fantasy setting.

Right now I'm dodging in a different direction; specifically, I dodge the question of whether the prophecy is real or not. The world of the story *believes* it's real. So it's not really about prophecy at all, but about belief systems and individual free will.

But when it comes to using a prophecy simply to sprinkle fairy dust on the head of the farm boy, that's just a bad premise. It can be implemented with good writing, but no matter how good the writing, it cannot paper over the weak premise.
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Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2018, 06:12:18 AM »
Moderate to groans inwardly, depending on how they do it, and how the story turns out. (I mean of the book is good I'm willing to overlook it)  ;)

Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2018, 10:50:53 AM »
I'm cool with prophesies, they can be used very poorly tho.

My fav is self-fulfilling prophecies.  Like Circe and the witch could be interpreted that way.

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2018, 11:07:31 AM »
I struggle with this one. I have a story I want to write that involves a prophecy, but the wrong guy gets chosen. Everyone around him assumes he's the right person because all the Signs point to him, but he's simply not the right guy.

I know the setup and the conclusion, but it's the prophecy bit that has me stalled. If prophecies are real, then All the Signs cannot point to my hero. A prophecy that's wrong isn't a prophecy, it's just a bad guess. And if the prophecy is right, then it's absolutely iron-clad and there's no story there.
I like that idea!
And it could be the people who interpret the prophecy that are wrong, not the prophecy itself
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Offline Slaykomimi

Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2018, 11:42:20 AM »
I think if written good, anything can be great, prophecies are no exception. I think the main problem there is, that you expect it to happen, it´s like a spoiler if it´s too precise and can take the fun. On the other hand if it´s too vague it can also be annoying cause than it could mean anything. It is hard to find the perfect balance and of course it can be misleading. I should read more books but I enjoyed that about the first Sword of Truth book were there were prophecies that were actually very straight forward, but the context of why this happens wasn´t stated, which made it actually a interesting part of the story. It confused the characters, not thinking about the posibilities. prophecies can have many effects, depending on how they are formulated and how people understand and interpret them.
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Offline Peat

Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2018, 11:47:44 AM »
I like old fashioned fantasy and I like fantasy that reeks of myth and legend and, therefore, I think I de facto like prophecy. Its just part of the scenery that I like and while I'm not all that fussed if its not there, I'm happy to see it.

I understand why others feel differently though - in particular lazy use of the prophecy to drive character motivation.

Offline Slaykomimi

Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2018, 02:15:34 PM »
I just thought about that the "opposite" (if I can call it the opposite to it) is sometimes the case too. That there are higher lifeforms (be it gods, wizards, anyone with a high knowledge of the world) who seeks advice about the future but is not granted with it so they have no other option than to wait and see what happens.

I don´t know if that counts as the opposite but I rarely saw that in any form of story telling either, just wanted to point it out.
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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Does anyone like prophesies in novels?
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2018, 08:40:58 PM »
I just thought about that the "opposite" (if I can call it the opposite to it) is sometimes the case too. That there are higher lifeforms (be it gods, wizards, anyone with a high knowledge of the world) who seeks advice about the future but is not granted with it so they have no other option than to wait and see what happens.

I don´t know if that counts as the opposite but I rarely saw that in any form of story telling either, just wanted to point it out.

There's something a bit like that in the backstory to the Licanus Trilogy-- Augurs lose their ability to see the future and lose control of society. It also sort of makes me think of Minority Report