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Author Topic: Are taverns overused?  (Read 6926 times)

Offline TheGambler

Are taverns overused?
« on: August 04, 2012, 08:26:07 PM »
While I'm planning out my novel I'm trying to think of a place to use apart from taverns and inns, they seem to crop up in every book. Does anyone have any ideas for suitable replacements?
Im completely drawing a blank.
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Offline xiagan

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Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2012, 09:05:00 PM »
I don't think you have to replace them. They are what they are and in the worlds used in fantasy they are most of the time the typical place for people to meet.

When I read a book where the people have six fingers instead of five or the world has three moons instead of one without giving a good reason for that, I get annoyed (five moons is totally okay if there are five kinds of magic power related to the moons), thinking that the author just wanted to do something different for no good reason.

Same with your taverns. Don't invent something unnecessary or unbelievable just for the sake of it. Taverns are fine. If you really don't want to use them, go for marketplaces, village celebrations or the city's fountain.
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Offline Mordekai

Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2012, 10:27:50 PM »
They serve exactly the same purpose as pubs do in soap operas.

All the famous British soaps have an equally famous pub. Eastenders has the Queen Vic, Coronation Street has The Rovers Return, and Emmerdale has The Woolpack.

The trick is to make the tavern/pub feel believeable.
If its one you are going to come back to throughout your work, make it a character in its own right.

I can guarantee that if the produciton team for "Corrie" killed of ANY character in the show, the viewers would get over it, but if they knocked down the Rovers' and replaced it with a "Slug and Lettuce" plastic theme pub, the viewers would march on the studios with pitchforks and blazing torches.

You could always if you REALLY want, use Guildhouses, which are almost as cliched.
More chance of a good drunken brawl in a tavern though.

Offline Charlemagne

Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2012, 10:31:48 PM »
I actually think taverns are great. They might be cliched, but no one really cares, because they are logically the best meeting place. I don't think using them in your book is going to be a problem.
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2012, 10:40:02 PM »
One reason people see them as cliche is because of the problem concerning "bar fights." As Mordekai said, add character and depth to your tavern, unless of course its only a fleeting moment on the "stop to end the plot."

If you want something new just to be stubborn, add a little creativity to it. Mark Charan Newton calls his taverns "bistros." Nothing wrong with that. It's using a new word and idea, while at the same time it functions as a tavern just to add a little bit of worldbuilding and detail.

Unless all you do is have a barfight in these taverns, then I would suggest not having them at all. Or add A LOT of card games to the mix. :)

Examples of places on where to hold a meeting: apartments, warehouses, the SPOOKY WOODS!, on the pier, on the corner, on the roof, a pub, an underground lair, a restruant, an estate, etc. You get the idea. Just be creative. It'll come to you, hopefully.
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Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2012, 11:09:17 PM »
The other factor is that, if your characters are travelling (and a large majority of fantasy does involve travel) then an inn will be the logical place to stay.  Again, you could call them hotels, hostels or guest-houses, but the chances are they'll be something like an inn.

One possibility is to base the establishment around something other than alcohol.  Coffee-houses have been common in various eras (I used to frequent one in Soho in the 90s) and could work in much the same way.  In one story I wrote, although it was only a passing reference and there wasn't a scene there, a city had "smoke-houses" (and no, I don't think that was just tobacco 8)).

Offline AlmightyZael

Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2012, 03:18:22 AM »
Yes! They are SO overused!
But for good reason. If you create a tavern correctly, the atmospher it creates in a reader's mind is quite something.

Mordekai is right; give it a character of it's own. Make each one different, using entertainment or quirky items for trade. Also, change each taverns atmosphere, make one busy, make one quiet....you get the idea. Hope it helps.

If not, you could always call it a hotel and be done with it  8)
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2012, 03:34:35 AM »
They are used a lot, but in the worlds many of us create they're real and did exist. If you're doing something on a world that's a little later than your general medieval setting you could try a coffee house. They were dens of iniquity for the time.
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Offline TheGambler

Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2012, 08:37:06 AM »
Thanks guys, lots of helpful advice. Think I will stick with taverns then haha :)
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Offline Lor

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Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2012, 12:42:03 PM »
Humans are social beings, and like to congregate in places they can have a chat, a drink, a card game, a whore, a fight, you name it. Taverns are great for this. As in real life, these places tend to thrive on their reputation, and you can play on that in your writing; your character needs to complete a dodgy deal, chances are there's a place for that, and not necessarily the run-down shack in the dark corner of the square. I wouldn't worry about them being cliche, instead think about how to subvert the cliche, and make it truly your own.
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Offline Mordekai

Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 01:08:48 PM »
Another thing that helps a reader believe in a tavern is if they sell believable stuff.

If there are cows in your world, there's a good chance that beef, steak, and dairy products will be common. Likewise the availability of chicken andf eggs and so on and so on. Taverns near the sea will probably seel a lot of fish or sea food.

When naming your drinks make them sound realistic, and have your characters order them realistically.
Wine and beer will always be popular, but dont make their names outrageous expositions of the diffences in culture between your fantasy world, and the real world.

Imagine how people order drinks in pubs or bars in real life.
In England, for example, people dont ask for "A pint of John Smiths Extra Smooth Cask Flow Bitter please", they ask for "a pint of smooth" or "A pint of Smiths' please" or if there's no other bitter on the bar "a pint of bitter".
Unless they are fairly snobby, most folk order; "large Cab-Sauv' please..." and rarely; "large glass of 1986 Hungarian cabernet sauvignon, Chateau Snooty Plonk please..." you might get that in a posh restaurant when ordering an expensive bottle, but rarely at the bar.

This particularly applies to regular patrons.

Taverns can really help you world build. Imagine one of your MC's has a favoutie beer, and struggles to find it outside of his home town, or region.
"We dont serve that Dwarf-**** round here!"
Plenty of off-plot mileage there.

Taverns are great!
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 01:10:53 PM by Mordekai »

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Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2012, 08:23:01 PM »
Not much to add here, a lot of good advice has already been given.

You can make a tavern interesting without paying undue attention to it by giving it one or two striking characteristics.

We don't call it a cliche when people use toilets to empty their bladders, or when they eat a sandwich with their hands. Most fantasy worlds don't have another establishment to serve the role that taverns did. Whenever you break the ordinary, you draw attention. If that part of your story isn't important, don't draw attention. If something important is going to happen at that everyday location, give it some detail and a couple of interesting characteristics to get the reader mentally ready to pay attention.

If I were going to have a huge, bloody melee erupt at a tavern, I'd either give it a mood that built up to that or one that contrasted with it. A tavern that only allows speaking in whispers would be a great place for a surprise assassination attempt by a squad of armored men. :D

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2012, 01:43:18 AM »
I think you first have to think of purpose.  Social? Motel? Drinking?  Churches/Temples could take lodgers of their same faith, and provide a social setting.  Same with Guild houses.  A low-cost hostel would make sense where there is a lot of poor travelers (I don't think peasants did a lot, but you could have migrant workers or something).  A society could have developed where people liked to have visitors in their house, and might have "room to rent" signs along the road.  Boarding houses make sense.  But for drinking, whether you call it a pub, tavern, bar, house of ill repute, or whatever, they are the same all over.

Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2012, 02:57:58 PM »
I think you first have to think of purpose.  Social? Motel? Drinking?  Churches/Temples could take lodgers of their same faith, and provide a social setting.  Same with Guild houses.  A low-cost hostel would make sense where there is a lot of poor travelers (I don't think peasants did a lot, but you could have migrant workers or something).  A society could have developed where people liked to have visitors in their house, and might have "room to rent" signs along the road.  Boarding houses make sense.  But for drinking, whether you call it a pub, tavern, bar, house of ill repute, or whatever, they are the same all over.

Mediaeval monasteries certainly used to take in travellers - in fact, a lot of inns were originally monastic houses of hospitality.  For peasants, it would depend how far the journey was to the nearest market or fair.  It might well be far enough that it made more sense to stay overnight in the town than to go home in the dark.  And, of course, you can make that work however you like in your own world.

Offline Tsariloth

Re: Are taverns overused?
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2012, 06:46:05 PM »
Taverns are cliche and yes are overused. They can be fun, however. Some suggestions for alternate locals could be: A marketplace, a war-room in a fortress, a tent in a caravan oasis, the side of the road, a common hall in a frontier outpost, a monastery hall, a village long-house, a lord's manor, a common mess-tent in a war-camp, a village fair, or any other place that rowdy crowds gather.