Today is Good Friday, a holy day. Although I have already been exposed to more disgusting and infuriating news stories than I can easily count, I will report on none of them today. All they prove is how desperately the human race needs salvation, how utterly incapable we are of providing it ourselves, and the magnitude of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross.
And so, I think, a few words about the art of writing fantasy…
It should be easy to write fantasy. Just put the imagination into gear and let ‘er rip. Only it doesn’t often seem to work out that way, does it? Somehow, some of the most unimaginative and unoriginal writing you’ll find anywhere is found in fantasy.
In the interest of forcing fantasy writers to be more creative, and interesting, I propose the following changes to the genre.
1. Expel these stock fantasy characters: the wizard, the lusty tavern wench, the resourceful thief with a heart of gold, his hulking barbarian sidekick, the invincible female warrior, the helpless damsel in distress, dragons, dwarfs, and elves. Begone! Take a long sabbatical. You have been so overused, that you are now no more exotic than the bank teller, the checkout clerks, the boss who is a pain in the neck, or the guy who’s supposed to come and fix your cable and somehow never gets there. When the uncommon becomes common, it’s time to look elsewhere.
2. No more super-powers. So much of fantasy is tailored to the Young Adult market; but teens are the last readers in the world who need to be titillated with images of cool kids who are like the superheroes in comic books. Please try to make your novel look less like a video game or a comic book or a Dungeons and Dragons game.
3. That goes for “magic,” too. I mean, really, is it too much to ask that characters in a novel get things done by using their brains, rather than just reciting a magical spell or flying around or reading minds,whatever?
Well, if we’re going to get rid of all these routine elements of fantasy fiction–what’s left?
Achtung! Nothing about fantasy should be routine!
Let’s see if we can actually surprise our readers, shall we?