An Author’s Gripe

I remember reading an article where a “fan” of the fantasy genre stated that fantasy was getting too predictable. They complained about every fantasy novel or short story having the same plot devices such as prophecies, magic, a mission that the protagonist(s) had to perform, etc. and asked why fantasy writers couldn’t come up with anything original. I was irritated after reading the article and though ‘if they want a fantasy story without those elements, then why didn’t they try writing the story they wanted?’

Then I realized that those who gripe the loudest are the very ones who couldn’t write a fantasy story to save their lives. Yes, they can always point out what is wrong, in their opinion, with how a story is written.

Novel Idea # 1: Hey book critics: If you can’t stand the standard fantasy novel plots, why not come up with a few new plots, try to write a story around them, then submit them to see if they actually work?

I’ll bet you would find it isn’t half as easy to formulate a story if you removed the very elements that make fantasy what it is. Write a fantasy story without a central prophecy. Write it without magic or an element of mysticism. Take the quest out of it. Go ahead.

I’ll guarantee you that, by the time you are done, you will not have a fantasy story. You will have just a regular, bland, run-of-the-mill allegory with absolutely no point or direction.

Novel Idea # 2: Try to understand that fantasy is known as fantasy simply because the plots aren’t necessarily believable, realistic, or without magic or mysticism.

In fantasy, as with science fiction, there are only a handful of plots or plot devices. what good would sci-fi be without interstellar travel or something scientifically more advanced than modern day? The same goes with fantasy.  fantasy would not be the same if it wasn’t built around some long ago era or based on a world vaguely similar to our own, yet either less developed or more savage. It does not hold up without magic and or prophecy.

Think about it. What are key “concerns” in modern culture? Is it not our aversion to magic, even though we are drawn to it, and yet our obsessive fascination with prophecy–which,  in its own right, is still a form of perceived magic? In our own little way, we sate our desire for fantasy through our modern fixation with prophecy-both in a religious sense and a secular sense.

Novel Idea # 3: Fantasy is fantasy because it cannot be believed, not because it resembles reality.

Fantasy allows the reader to escape from reality, not relive it. It is designed, much like science fiction, to take the reader to other worlds and times, not to remind them of the world around them. It isn’t supposed to be believable. nor is it supposed to reflect reality in any way. It is fantasy simply because it is what all fantasize about: magic powers, mystic journeys, fulfilling a mission or a personal prophecy, etc. Why try to change it?

Novel Idea # 4: Finally, if you are that disgusted with, or hate fantasy that much, why not try another genre?

I will tell you, if you don’t like fantasy’s plot devices and themes, you will not like science fiction for all the same reasons. After all, both science fiction and fantasy rely on two or three different plot devices that have remained unchanged since they were created and every story seems somewhat predictable, if you have studied plots and plot devices.

Go read romance, erotica, Christian Fiction, horror, or detective novels. Oh, wait. All genres rely on three or four central plots/plot devices. it is just how writing is done. deal with the familiar and change as little about the formulation as possible.

In conclusion, I guess what I am trying to say is this: before you gripe about how a book is written, try writing one yourself as you would want it written so you can see whether it would work or not. Otherwise, don’t bitch. Authors write what they see in their minds, not according to what other believe it should be.

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