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Cliches!

Postby Forever Zero » Sat May 21, 2005 10:31 pm

You writers want to be original? Well, you can start by avoiding these cliches. And I realize all of these are just my opinion; however these are opinions more than twenty people I know share.

1. The standard Elf, Dwarf, Human, and Wizard party. Come to think of it, don't use those races and classes at all. Come up with something of your own. Thats what Tolkien did with Elves, and thats why he's so popular. Copying him doesn't give you the same respect.

2. Elements. Fire, Wind, Water, Earth... I've played way too many RPGs to find this original in any way.

3. The Female Heroin. Yes, I said it. I am not sexist, either. I know its an original idea, or rather was, but it has been bastardized to a point where everyone just turns their head at this very notion. Do yourselves a favor, you want a girl to be a warrior? Make her an actual warrior. I don't need some prissy "cires when something goes wrong" princess with a sword slapped in her hand. Regardless of gender, if you're a warrior, you damn well better act like one, and you damn well better fight like one. And for pete's sake, make the girl able to take a damn punch. None of this Mulan crap, either, a girl doens't just decide to take up the sword and suddenly fight like a fully battle-hardened warrior. It takes months of training. Same for males if you're totally offended.

4. Good versus Evil. The concepts of Good and Evil are based on one's own morality. On the "evil" side, the good people are evil. Therefore good and evil does not exist. So get rid of those villains who destroy for the sake of destroying, and make them actual characters, too. Give them reasons to take over the world or whatever they're doing. When a reader can actually relate to a villain (Although on a minor level), you know you have something good in the works.

5. On-foot traveling. Seriously, I don't need to know how many miles your group walked to get to enchanted forest so and so. They can find horses, or vehicles, or something. The walking stuff, I see those as filler events. If you need filler events you don't have a good story.

6. War Battles: Giant mob A slams into giant mob B. Seriously, a war battle doesn't amount to two giant forces slamming into eachother and stabbing. It takes battle tactics and strategy. Have groups flanks the sides, get some reinforcements hidden in the shadows, have groups do battle recon. And for God's sake dont have the battle outcome be decided by one man. I don't care how much magic he possesses, if theres magic other people in the battle will have it too. If you have a warrior that powerful you've just lost a lot of people's interest by removing all possible tragedies that could befall him.

Anyone else out there feel free to add cliches as well. I'll post more when I remember them.
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Postby Magus » Sun May 22, 2005 2:31 pm

Excellent, excellent points, Forever Zero. I must say that I agree with pretty much everything you said. Personally I don't mind the elemental-aspect of fantasy, but there are still more then just those four to use, in my opinion. While some may be stretching it I find them to work very well on conjunction of the other four; light, dark, lightning and ice. I look at these as lesser elements of a sort, although I must admit that light/dark are not the most creative pair, and may border on cliche themselves, they can work, everything can really work, if done so as not to be cliched.

I remember that my eighth grade English teacher way back in the day would fail anything we turned in that had "It was a dark and stormy night" as the opening line. I remember just this year I got to think of that again, for no apparent reason at all. And that lead me to think that you could describe a dark and stormy night in a much better way. What I ended up with was what appears to be a prologue. To what, I don't know. But it just goes to show you that cliched openers always have another way to go.

An opening like that, I think, seems to be something of a cop-out to something better. It will turn most readers away from your work as soon as they read it.
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Postby Neurolanis » Mon May 23, 2005 2:45 pm

I think you make many wonderful points, ForeverZero! However, my current novel is guilty of the following violations: 1,3,4,5 and 6. Oach. All but one!

On the issue of war, YES! I read the "Art of War" by that Chinese general dude. Great book -- I HIGHLY recommend it for all Fantasy writers!! War is a craft, and mostly that is well reflected in my novel I think. I'm quite proud of it. That's one thing -- likely the ONLY thing that bothered me about the LOTR, as I kept thinking ... do these bad guys got any generals? They'd just go in and fight! Yikes. That was a disappointment..

On woman warriors, hmn ... let me be very honest here. Women can do whatever men can, and vice-vursa. We all know that. The average woman couldn't just become a fireman and drag full grown men from burning buildings ... not without a heck of a lot of weight lifting! I remember reading about a band of historical women barbarian-type warriors. They weren't exactly like Xena, but were described like big butt-head ugly men-like hairy women with massive arms and stuff. So, yes women can be warriors ... realistically.
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Postby Magus » Mon May 23, 2005 5:19 pm

The Nazgul acted as generals to some extent, certainly The Witch King of Anor was a general, being second in command. Plus there was the third in command who claimed Frodo to be dead and showed his Mithril armor as proof. I forget his name.

Woman can be great warriors like men can. But there are basic physiological differences that would hinder that pursuit, plus a general sexism surrounding that (assuming this is a mideival-type fantasy). So there would be definitely obstacles to overcome, more so then a man.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong Forever Zero, but I think the point he was trying to make, Neurolanis, was that they shouldn't just be a normal country lass one moment and *poof* Xena the next. That much I do agree with. But more then just with women, for all characters. There should be realistic progress, realistic improvement and a realistic pace of learning and skill development.
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Postby Neurolanis » Tue May 24, 2005 1:56 pm

I know there were generals, I just meant it seemed like there weren't.


That's how I took it as well.
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Postby aldan » Tue May 24, 2005 10:30 pm

Your friendly, wry human spell check here...

That rather difficult word you attempted to spell should have read "medieval".
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Postby Manji » Wed May 25, 2005 4:32 am

Sun Tzeu, Neuro.
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Postby Forever Zero » Wed May 25, 2005 3:25 pm

Expanding on the fmeale heroin thing...

7. Instant warriors. Seriously, I don't give a crap about some legendary sword or some magical essence, having some street-bum inherit the powers of the Gods, or even having him become some increidble fighter at the touch of a special sword is just plain retarded. Doing so lessens the strength your character actually has, although it may not seem like it on the outside. He's had a bad life, so he gets to be the best warrior in the world. Sure. What about the other warriors, REAL ones, who have spent their entire life in training and servitude to their master or sensei? What happens to THEM when they find out some little sixteen-year-old boy is destined to slay the scourge of the universe? It just doesn't make sense no matter how much magic or fantasy you throw into the story. And it makes even LESS sense when they just pick up a real sword and suddenly "discover" they can take on ten soldiers at once. Which is why the female heroin thing has been corrupted so much, people want women to be the prime role so much they jsut "give them" incredible fighting ability, even though they're just like man and need just as much training to learn how to fight.
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Postby Neurolanis » Wed May 25, 2005 3:30 pm

I still break the rule in my novel!!!! :smt042

My hero throws himself into battle for the first time and kicks butt! But, there is a mystical power surrounding this ... like an awakening. It actually applies to the philosophy of the story.
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Postby Magus » Wed May 25, 2005 8:00 pm

I find that I have to side with ForeverZero on this. I am all for magic swords or whatnot in story if they work and aren't just thrown in for the sake of having them there. But it still would take work, effort and a great deal of training to even be competent with the weapon, especially with no prior background with fighting, combat or that particular weapon.

This may work in your novel, Neurolanis. I don't know, having never actually read it. It may very well be an exception of sorts to the rule. But based strictly on what I do know this is my opinion.
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Postby aldan » Wed May 25, 2005 10:10 pm

This is an FYI for any and all...

Heroin is a banned drug in most countries.

Heroine is the female version of Hero.
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Postby Magus » Thu May 26, 2005 5:52 am

:roll:

:rofl:
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