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Author Topic: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?  (Read 53172 times)

Offline Overlord

FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« on: May 03, 2012, 03:53:16 PM »
Well, let us say you had to choose... which Clichés do you enjoy and which do you hate?

Inspired by yesterday's article: http://fantasy-faction.com/2012/ten-fantasy-cliches
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Offline ganstream1

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 04:04:17 PM »
Don't have problems with unlimited magic and unrealistic fighting. This is, after all, fantasy.

What I do hate though, is too much realism. An anchor (like physics or culture etc.) to the real world is okay, but too much of it irritates me.

Offline @JavierAndreCR

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 04:29:44 PM »
I hate elves, dwarves, orcs and dragons. It's been enough already!
Oh, and I hate it when somebody publishes their D&D adventure in novel form.
On the other hand, realism is good for a nice segment of fantasy readers (look at George Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire').
Anyway, what I really like in fantasy is DEPTH and CONTENT, not just superficial and empty situations or magic/power that comes at no cost to the characters. Basically the same things I like about any kind of novel.  ;)
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Offline Louise

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Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 04:40:45 PM »
Don't have problems with unlimited magic and unrealistic fighting. This is, after all, fantasy.

What I do hate though, is too much realism. An anchor (like physics or culture etc.) to the real world is okay, but too much of it irritates me.

Hehe, I'm kind of the opposite. I'm a real science nerd in that I love the hows and whys.

But yeah, I'm pretty sick of elves and dwarves too. Also, though this is probably not a "cliche" per-say, sometimes in fantasy you either get the girly-girl or the tough action gal (whom I actually find worse). A woman can still be strong and intelligent even if she can't pick up a sword and swing it around. :P

Offline RobJHayes

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 05:11:22 PM »
A woman can still be strong and intelligent even if she can't pick up a sword and swing it around. :P

Creating female characters can be next to impossible these days because so many people want so many different things. You give them a sword and people say - 'A woman can be strong even if she can't swing a hunk of metal'. You take away the sword and people say - 'So only men can swing hunks of metal'. You have them use some of them mysterious femine wiles and people say - 'she doesn't have to use sex to get what she wants'. You have her not use those same wiles and people say - 'women can want sex too, it's not just men'.

It's like walking through a particularly dense minefield wearing grenades on your feet... which would probably explain my lack of toes.

Anyway. Chosen ones and orphans being chosen ones. I have no problem with people just being orphans, it happens.

Also the 'nuke the sight from orbit' ending where the protagonist awakes their true magical ability, snaps their fingers and the world lives happily ever after. The end.
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Offline Friday

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2012, 06:07:26 PM »
I have no problem with clichés. I think its how you do something, not what that something is. Elves, Dwarves, Farm boys, Prophecies and Wizards are fine, if you do it right, and they can be done right. I think as soon as we start saying things like these "races", themes, plots and what have you should be avoided, or should no longer be a part of fantasy because they've been done however many times before, we start to destroy or at least damage the genre we love. We shouldn't restrict people to "this" in favour of "that", just because "this" has been done before. Sooner or later "that" will become cliché. (ok, that last part made sense in my head, honest. :D)
Someone who writes about Elves, Wizards and wild magic can be just as good as someone who takes the more "realistic" GRRM approach (bare in mind i only know his work from the TV show  :P).
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Offline AshKB

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2012, 10:58:36 PM »

Creating female characters can be next to impossible these days because so many people want so many different things. You give them a sword and people say - 'A woman can be strong even if she can't swing a hunk of metal'. You take away the sword and people say - 'So only men can swing hunks of metal'. You have them use some of them mysterious femine wiles and people say - 'she doesn't have to use sex to get what she wants'. You have her not use those same wiles and people say - 'women can want sex too, it's not just men'.

It's like walking through a particularly dense minefield wearing grenades on your feet... which would probably explain my lack of toes.

Gosh. It's almost like people want women to be interesting, complicated, varied people. /dry

The trick is to have many women, and to vary up their personalities. So, maybe the woman with the sword also enjoys sex (or is perfectly asexual) but she - like her male counterparts - finds it hard to settle into retirement (or has a husband and kids back home on the farm), maybe the girly-princess isn't afraid to be ruthless and kill people, maybe the lady who uses her looks as a weapon is also has a mean talent for accounting and also knows WHEN to use her looks. If you only have a few female characters, and they all fall into set 'types' (or all the same type), then of course it looks bad.

You can't please everyone, but *shrugs* Variation is the key. And more than one or two female characters, you know, helps. Just a little.

Ultimately, I'm with Friday - it's what you do with the cliche, rather than the cliches themselves. So, yes, let's have the farmboy or girl be the saviour...but maybe let's show what growing up a peasant would actually mean. Let's take the cliche, and twist it, turn it inside out, shake it about and turn it on its head, and then we'll have something new, or at least subversive and fun.

That said, I'm very tired of patriarchal, hetronormative cultures set in fantasy England.
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Offline Louise

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Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2012, 11:10:24 PM »
To power phrase Audre Lorde:

There are no new ideas. There are only cliches arranged in innovative ways.

Offline psuppak

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Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 12:29:54 AM »
I enjoy the prophecy and destiny. It's predictable, yet you can't tell how it's going to end up like how it is said. The interpretation of what thought to be a hard fact always come up to be a surprise, and I like the juxtaposition of that.

For example, a man goes to lead a war with the prophecy saying 'the hero must die at the end.' So he thought he knew the destiny and prepares for it. Turns out his lacky sacrifices himself, so the lacky is THE hero, and he died. I think it's a cliche' that has not been as exploit as other ones, and you can play around it a whole lot.

I can't stand the white white and the black black: the uniformity of race, tribe, or sides in war. You are Elves, hence you are nice. You are ogre, oh, you are violent and blood lust. You are an evil lackie? Oh! You must be just pure flat evil. You support the opposite side from the dark lord! Oh man, you must be angelic.

I for once in the real world have to tolerate the stereotype people cast upon me through where I come from and what I look like, and that sucks, so I don't like it being pushed on others, even in the fantasy world. In the stories, I always want to explore what the races are and how each character reflects on their own identity.

Quote
Gosh. It's almost like people want women to be interesting, complicated, varied people. /dry
If people stop thinking that a character is a man or a woman, that, would be interesting.
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Offline Francis Knight

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2012, 12:33:04 AM »

Gosh. It's almost like people want women to be interesting, complicated, varied people. /dry


actually I can see it both ways. In some ways, people DO complain every which way. And yes, you do need variety and that will be telling in the end. Ofc not every story will be able to do that (depending on a myriad of things. My FP male narrator for instance is a notorious womaniser - you only get to see women through his eyes. Therefore, being as he starts the story as 'Not the world's most well adjusted male' it will seem as though women are seen in a certain way. It was done for a purpose, but....I have sneakily flipped gender roles with one couple though - he's the nurturer, she's the let's kill everything :D And I will get complaints that she didn't need to be bad ass I'm sure. No, perhaps she didn't, but she is. Because that is who that character is.*) Some stories just don't lend themselves to lots of female characters, same as some don't lend themselves to lots of male characters. But if you let those characters be people....



That said, I'm very tired of patriarchal, hetronormative cultures set in fantasy England.
[/quote]

That's why I rarely read them any more - there is so very much out there that breaks that mould, why read it if you don't want to?

Other than that? Any cliche can be well done. It's all in the execution. Never say never. (Except for Slave Girls of Gor perhaps...)


* I find it difficult to say I should judge these things only one one book, for this sort of thing, precisely because some characters fit one story, but not another. Now, over a whole body of work, say, then maybe you can get a picture. For instance, some authors have say two books where women don't feature much, but five where they are prominent and well portrayed. Others will be problematic in every book, and there I get antsy. Judging on one book is ..premature.
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Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2012, 12:41:43 AM »
Did someone mention Gor?

Gay, Bejeweled, Nazi Bikers of Gor

Most awesome fanfic ever written. Briiliant for reading aloud; even better than My Immortal.

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Offline THElewisdix

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 12:56:42 AM »
The things I hate are the Evil Empire or the Evil King that are simply evil because they stand in opposition to the main characters. Also, the numerous soldiers serving said Emperor or King that are wantonly slaughtered by the "hero" of the story with little to no regard for the countless lives he or she has ruined. And of course the hero who wantonly slaughters the enemy and then goes to tea afterwords.
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Offline RobJHayes

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2012, 01:08:39 AM »
Gosh. It's almost like people want women to be interesting, complicated, varied people. /dry

I can't see that being the case...

The things I hate are the Evil Empire or the Evil King that are simply evil because they stand in opposition to the main characters. Also, the numerous soldiers serving said Emperor or King that are wantonly slaughtered by the "hero" of the story with little to no regard for the countless lives he or she has ruined. And of course the hero who wantonly slaughters the enemy and then goes to tea afterwords.

So what you're saying is we should start a campaign for more stories from the villain's point of view despairing about how the 'good guys' keep breaking into their keep, slaughtering their friends and breaking all their favourite toys. I really like that idea.
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Offline psuppak

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Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2012, 01:42:47 AM »
Quote
So what you're saying is we should start a campaign for more stories from the villain's point of view despairing about how the 'good guys' keep breaking into their keep, slaughtering their friends and breaking all their favourite toys. I really like that idea

I have read a Japanese story where the Dark [Lady] joins the Legendary Hero to create a better world by switching roles and playing each other's part in order to create a better social structure of the empire.

Confuses the world out of me, but very interesting indeed.
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Offline AshKB

Re: FANTASY CLICHÉS - What do you love and What do you hate?
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2012, 02:42:41 AM »

That's why I rarely read them any more - there is so very much out there that breaks that mould, why read it if you don't want to?

Trick is finding them! My luck on that has been terrible - I keep meaning to make a request post for suggestions for things that break that mould.
The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted - Plutarch

I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow - Woodrow Wilson