It’s almost enough to send you back to Serious Mainstream Literature. Or reading the backs of cereal boxes.
I think we ought to have a chat: which fantasy cliche do you find the most odious, the most soul-deadening, imagination-killing, boring old pap? The crusty but benign wizard? The invincible female warrior? The thief with the heart of gold?
(He runs screaming to the sidewalk…)
One of the purposes for which this blog was originally set up was to advertise my fantasy novels and hopefully to get people to buy them.
But we should have a chat. Which fantasy cliche really frosts your buns? Here’s your chance to vent! Which particular cliche moved you to drop-kick that book across the room? C’mon, tell me–I really want to know.
5 comments on “Fantasy Cliches I Have Tried to Avoid”
Hm… I think your article hit all the low points of the cliches, except for the dragons, maybe. I desperately try to avoid them but I’m sure I’ve fallen into it while writing on some occasions, if only because the ideas start petering out and instead of just stepping away for a while, I just keep writing because I feel guilty if I don’t. Hopefully it all gets washed out in revision…
Anyway, I have to say that I’ve recently been over on the tvtropes site that lists all the cliches for the different genres. It’s fun (i.e., it’s a time-sinking rabbit hole) to go over the list of tropes and find the ones that have been turned on their heads, or invent ways to turn them on their heads.
Now, however, some of the subversions are tropes themselves, like the Mary Sue kick-butt women with no flaws who just haven’t admitted to themselves how fantastic they are but once they do they inherit even more invincibility. I get it–no woman wants to read about a female character who is a doormat, but the verisimilitude is completely thrown overboard when she one-punches a guy three times her size or gets thrown around without a broken bone (or a broken fingernail!), or have other people tell her just how brave/stunning/amazing she is without her having to learn anything.
Aaaagh….! It hurts to read about invincible warrior women!
My pet peeve is the skinny petite women who kick the butts of macho, body-build men – what a sick fantasy that is.
It is distressingly abundant… and heaven help the poor fool who thinks it’s real.
In real-life, even top ranked women kick boxers, or martial artist practitioners, do poorly when faced with a low ranked male. Or in most sports, as we have seen in swimming competitions, when a very low ranked male swimmer, competes with the top ranked females, the male will come out on top. Beside your books, and rereading a few of Edgar Rice Burroughs books, I don’t read fantasy novels any more. I have read a few of Frank Peretti’s books, which I enjoyed, but do not consider fantasy.
To answer your question, which fantasy cliché burns my buns, it’s probably the invincible woman warrior. Even in Robert E. Howard’s books, hosting Conan the Barbarian, there were incredible and believable woman warriors, but still, even they could not overcome the best male warriors.