Writing fantasy


Because I took the Fantasy Novelist Exam (as suggested by Cassandra) and had 4 “yes” answers – which, according to them, means I should abandon the prospective novel(s) at once – out of 75. This made me feel allowed to explain whose 4 “yes” and how they’re NOT the fantasy cliché implied in the exam.

9) Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?

The Books of the Immortals all have “gods” in disguise, but I believe the reader can recognize them almost immediately once s/he figures out the trick (i.e. probably faster than the characters themselves, hehe), so it’s not really cheating on the reader.

19) Would “a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan” aptly describe any of your female characters?

Yes, my warrior women (and most of my Amazons) are more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan – just like yours truly! 😉 I can’t cook and don’t “waste time” on many women chores of the present, therefore my women are usually as unconventional and unfeminine as me. Some sweetness (and a gown or two) have been added lately to some female protagonists, though…

37) Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?

Yes, the names of Genn and Fajrulo are composite that sound like Joyspring or Firestarter. I’m not very good in splitting English words into syllabes, but sometimes I have longer names – and the short form (Winged Jesminder a.k.a. Jez) – besides Lauralanthalasa a.k.a. Laurana of Dragonlance anyone?

48) Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?

Yes, because they’re wandering characters (mercenaries, minstrels, merchants, adventurers), BUT they’re not on a quest to find the Magic-thingamagic, NOR to save the world. They wander in search of work, themselves, a new place to call home, whatever.

Therefore, even if I said “yes”, I wasn’t really using any fantasy clichè, this I consider to have passed the exam and than I can continue writing what I’m writing! 🙂

Story Wednesday update – Poll closes Aug.18 (i.e. next week) because I’m going to start earlier than expected and… just stay tuned for what’s to come! 🙂

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18 Comments

  1. While interesting, I think a couple yes answers doesn’t equate to an abandonment of the project. Some of those elements are part of the reason I even read fantasy. I love elves and mages, so I want to write a fantasy novel that has an elf main character. And one of those questions just confused me. I don’t know when baler was invented even though I live in a town called “wheatland”. Some of those aspects work, and umm I like Robert Jordan’s novels, and dragonlance novels. Anyways, before I start rambling and going off on the topic when it probably isn’t needed, I’ll end here. It’s interesting but not something I’d follow unless I said yes like 20 times out of 75 or more.

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    • I love the Dragonlance novels too, especially the Twins trilogy! 😉
      I also think one needs to say “yes” like 20 times out of 75 to drop a fantasy project…
      Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

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  2. I did that test and thought it was an utter joke. Answered almost no to every single question. Are they serious?

    Barb, we write what we write and its fantasy. We don’t have to justify the style or the form to anyone except our future agent, our future publisher, and our readers.

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    • I think they just point out the overused fantasy clichés (Limyaael did dozens of rants on that – I printed a word.doc and it’s 950pages of rants on fantasy cliché) and want new authors to avoid writing LOTR/Narnia rip-offs (or HP/Twilight rip-offs) – I certainly wouldn’t read any more quests and had enough of vampires with the first 3 Ann Rice books…
      You certainly don’t have to bother, your fantasy is the most original I’ve read and I love it! 🙂

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  3. I really do think it would be impossible to write a fantasy and not have any of the features on that list in the book. How can you call it a fantasy without at least some of them? I think the best use for it is to have a laugh and to consider what makes your book unique within the genre.

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    • totally with you (and Dawn comment on having at least 20 yes out of 75 before reconsidering)! 🙂

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  4. Great link. This is a pretty interesting little “survey” to take. I think that you are in the clear to keep trucking on your novel. Good luck.
    -Josh

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    • definitely – it’s out to beta-readers for the summer! 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. The linked “test” reeks of elitism and opinionated absolutism. 75 specific cliches, and if you use even one of them, you should abandon your novel immediately? And most of them are so broad that it’s virtually impossible to write within the genre of fantasy and not run afoul of more than a few. I mean, what… are all female protagonists supposed to be cooks and scullery maids and oppressed? That’s kind of a teensy bit sexist and also stupid. In fact, that one’s an almost garaunteed LOSE, because the the immediate prior question is the opposite… so if you have female characters who are either skilled with a sword or not skilled with a sword, you lose.

    Second the “Trilogy” or “Quintet” or “Decalogue” or is your novel nice and thick. Heck… some of us like these things and consider them features, not bugs. More of us seem to like them than to hate them as much as the author of this test.

    So… I say take this test with a very heavy dash of salt. If you only had four yes’s out of the 75 I’d say you’re ahead of the curve on “avoiding cliches”.

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    • like anything found on the internet, the test is more a game than anything, I guess! 😉 It was fun “replying” to it, though, even if the authors won’t know! 😀

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  6. No worries, there are always exceptions to every rule and it sounds like you have a good handle on yours.

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  7. I wouldn’t worry about it. If you think about it, aren’t there cliche’s in every genre? Romance almost always has two opposites drawn together or a couple torn apart because they can’t communicate; mysteries usually have at least one dead person and many have an ameteur sleuth, etc. It’s your voice, writing style and what you do with the ideas that makes your stories different from others. So, I say ditch the test and go be unique!

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  8. I know.. 🙂

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    • You don’t get a glimpse to my famous warrior women in Air, though! 😉 Will have to wait for an Amazon story (because waiting for the Chronicles of the Varian Empire might take waaaaaaaaaay longer!) 😀

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  9. Hello Barb Ji,

    I will be honest – I couldn’t understand any of it:( But I can tell that you are very passionate about something that you are writing and so I want to give your my best wishes and my blessings. May you succeed in your fantasy writing project and get the fame that you deserve.

    – Gorakh Nath.

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    • Thank you, Gorakh Ji… did I mention that “Air” is India/Persia inspired? It’s fantasy, but my Indian beta-reader sounds amazed of my grasp of Indian things… I’d like to remind him it’s still fantasy, though! 😉

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  10. Shafali

     /  14/08/2010

    Hi Barb,

    I didn’t know you could check the fantasy-quotient of your creations by taking a test! I’d rather allow the readers to be the judge:) Don’t worry about those four points…and don’t confine your imagination to a box given by those know-alls:)

    All the best for your book.
    Regards,
    Shafali

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    • I did take it as a game and I will keep writing fantasy my way, even if it means self-publishing! 😉

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