Karalora wrote:For me, it's certain character types that get overused:
* The naive farmboy who turns out to be the heir to the kingdom.
* The hot-tempered girl who is skilled and confident but nonetheless keeps getting endangered so Farmboy can rescue her and they can fall in love.
* The wise old eccentric wizard who knows what's going on but won't just tell anyone despite the trouble it would save.
* The good young king being led astray by his evil counselor.
* The evil king secretly being controlled by the Dark Lord.
* The Dark Lord who has no motivation for what he does besides lol!evil.
* The sexy female lieutenant of the Dark Lord who dresses like a dominatrix, tries to seduce Farmboy, was actually in love with the Dark Lord all along, turns good at the last minute, and gets killed for it.
* The sexy sorceress who is implied to have vast magical powers but seems to use them for only two things: 1) keeping herself young and beautiful forever, and 2) seducing heroes. (Bonus points if her magic fails toward the end of the scene where she appears, revealing that in reality she's--EEEEEWWWW!!!!--old!)
* The grizzled old veteran of The Last War, who has a heart of gold underneath it all.
* The haughty member of the nobility who insists upon joining the party and fancies themself the leader but is useless at everything (can be male or female).
I could keep going like this all day.
Has anyone else read Diana Wynne Jones's "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland"? It's all about fantasy cliches.
Karalora wrote:Not only are the protagonist's parents nearly always dead, but the death was always from one of two causes: some nonspecific "plague" that swept through the village about ten years prior to the start of the book, or murder at the hands of the villain or his minions. I'm rather jaded toward this plot point not only because it's so common, but because it's an authorial cheat--if the protagonist doesn't have any family (notice how often the uncle who raised him also gets killed early in the novel?), then there's no need to worry about how that family is doing while the kid is off having an adventure that takes anywhere from three to nine books to resolve. There's no angst about "What if I'm needed on the farm?" because the farm got burned down in Chapter 3.
I would love to see more fantasy heroes who quest not to avenge their dead family, but to improve life for a living one.
Ferretclaw wrote:At the same time, it is terribly agonizing for me, because many of these things are extremely hard to avoid while still having a good tale.
Karalora wrote:Ferretclaw wrote:At the same time, it is terribly agonizing for me, because many of these things are extremely hard to avoid while still having a good tale.
So here's what you do: you start to use the cliche, but then you turn it on its head. My favorite fantasy series of all time is the Discworld series because of how well the author, Sir Terry Pratchett, does this. It plays with the "lost heir to the throne" trope by having the guy turn up and be everything the populace would hope for in a lost heir to the throne...but he's not interested in ruling. He's happier being a policeman and he probably does more good for the people that way than if he were sitting on a throne. Meanwhile, the city carries on being ruled by a black-clad dictator...who figured out a long time ago that the best way to remain in power was to make sure that things ran well and the people were happy and not oppressed, so no one would be keen to assassinate him. Any fantasy convention you can think of, Pratchett has taken it and turned it inside out into something really refreshing and often quite funny. The Discworld is built to be fundamentally absurd, but it often comes out more realistic than any Tolkien-imitator on the shelf.
Karalora wrote:My favorite fantasy series of all time is the Discworld series because of how well the author, Sir Terry Pratchett, does this.
AK_Brickster wrote:That's because being a cliche does not necessarily mean it's bad writing. In fact, it's often very compelling writing, but it is used often enough to become "cliche".
Albatross_Viking wrote:To add on what AK said, I believe that good fiction in general is becoming gradually more difficult to write, simply because more and more interesting plotlines and characteristics eventually get added to the cliché list as they grow more common.
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