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Fantasy cliches

A while ago skylark97 posted an entry about fairy tale stereotypes. I'm doing something similar, except I want to find out more about what common fantasy stereotypes and cliches that people may have come across while reading so I can attempt to be funny parody and poke fun at them.

Also, I hope that this is the appropriate format to post links in this community, but I wanted to share this Fantasy Writer's Exam that someone on my flist posted a few months ago. It's fairly tongue-in-cheek, but quite good if you want to avoid common cliches in your writing - and the digs at Robert Jordan are really funny. Though personally as fantasy novels (like any other genre) follow a set formula, I think that the recommendation that if you answer "yes" to even one of the seventy-plus questions, you bin the whole endevour is a little harsh. In my opinion, as long as your book isn't just one cliche stringed to another, your own take on one or two traditional fantasy elements is fine.


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(Deleted comment)
Jun. 12th, 2006 10:42 am (UTC)
Re: Heaven help you, do you ever use the term "hit points" in your novel?
I fail on these points:

1. Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?
61. Does your hero (in my case, one of the main characters, but not the main character) fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?

But otherwise I pass, although in earlier stories I have force-fed my characters an exordinate amount of stew. And I'll just have to kill somebody on page 49 and then I'm just one-down ;)

Actually, the quiz just does't account for fantasy *slash* stereotypes, in which case my novel would fail horribly.

The biggest thing I've noticed that with both original and fanfiction slash pairings is that there's often one character than has the dominant "male" role and another that has the more submissive "female" role - and in this way the gender stereotyping is more conservative than in non-slash pairings! I find it ironic how some writers use slash pairings as a way to escape traditional gender roles, yet their slash pairing replicates those same roles.

Dragons are either good! or bad! but never just there. Wizards are actually starting to diversify a bit, though the best of them are still long of beard and gray of clothes (or quite young-looking and evil!)

Yes, while I currently don't have nor plan to have any place for dwarves or elves in my story because they've been done to death (and quite frankly, they just don't interest me anymore), but maybe I'll have a place for wimpy, whiny, teeny dragons whose purpose is to trade behind the kingdoms and swindle gold which they then attempt to sell for extraordinarily high pieces. And they'll be able to produce enough fire to light a pipe, but that will be it. And of course, to be original I'll name them dragans or something ;p

While I have a fairly clear idea of what one royal family's mage is like, my problem is that he comes across as a standard Merlin/Gandalf/Dumbledore clone and I can't figure out how to make him unique. And yes, the young hot wizards are always the bad ones (ie. Tom Riddle). I personally think that JKR has had bad experiences with good-looking guys as in her books they either end up dead (Cedric Diggory, Sirius Black), prematurely losing their looks (Sirius Black, Bill Weasley, Tom Riddle) or evil (Tom Riddle) ;) What's wrong with hot guys, damnit?

And I just love the Robert Jordan sporking in that quiz. In my opinion that series could have been at least four books shorter.
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