Naomi Lane's Blog: Lost in Sevalia - Posts Tagged "fantasy"

I thought I would blog about things I like and don't like in fantasy novels (though some could be generalized to all novels). I figure people who like or don't like similar things will want to keep reading.

Today, I will start with things I don't like. Here they are in no particular order:

Characters
1) Emotionally Damaged Women – They are tough as nails yet need a man to heal and save them.
2) Saints – People who are too self-sacrificing; Example: Peeta Mellark, he would give his life for Katniss without even knowing her?
3) Villains who are born evil – Evil usually has a source, like abuse and corruption.
4) Children who sound like adults – People complain my heroine Jenna who is 13 sounds 15. That's fine because children do mature at different rates. I just don't like children who sound like they're 40.

Plots
1) Magical artifacts with the potential to destroy the world – Who would ever make such a thing?
2) Anything related to world destruction – Overused and over the top even for me.
3) Plot twists that come out of nowhere – I like to figure the twist out; it makes me feel smart.
4) Evil monsters invade – I like good vs. evil, but evil tends to be more subtle.
5) Inherently evil magic – All power is corruptive.
6) Heroic battles – War involves pain and death; I don't like it shrouded in glory.
7) Cliffhangers – The feeling of suspense fades if you have to wait more than a week.

Settings
1) Post-apocalyptic worlds – Difficult to do well; of course I am a tough audience (engineer and economist).
2) Undefined time scales – Example: Game of Thrones, where winters last for years. A year on earth is defined by the seasons; how can winters last a variable amount of years? Is a year just a set number of days or defined by something else? Just say so!
3) Convenient geographical barriers – Lands walled in by mountains or deserts to avoid having to make the entire world map.

Romance
1) Love at first sight, especially aided by magic destiny – Lazy writing and boring.
2) Happily ever after – It never is.
3) Marriage is the ending – It can make a good beginning; there is plenty of conflict in marriage.
4) Women who are defined by their love for a man – See Twilight Saga.
5) Great sex the first time – I wish.
6) One true love – It doesn't exist.

Fight Scenes
1) Injuries that don't mean anything – The human body can only take so much damage.
2) Training takes over – It doesn't; it takes immense concentration, though practice is critical.
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Published on March 31, 2012 19:57 • 486 views • Tags: fantasy, writing
And now to the themes I enjoy. Because they are common to almost all human experience, people relate to them. The trick is to take the standard plot and add something unique to hold the reader's attention - something I'm still working on. Here are my top seven in no particular order.

1) Coming of Age and Self-discovery – Every person has to figure out who he or she is, and so do characters in a story; I usually enjoy the story of a girl or boy discovering he or she has magical powers, it builds to theme 6 below.
2) The Hero's Call – Society needs heroes: people who see challenge as opportunity and use their abilities to promote the greater good. They should be people to root for, but like everyone they make mistakes and can't do everything.
3) Good and Evil – Although a complex topic, there is an essential truth behind it: good stems from doing what's best for the good of the whole, be it tribe, nation, world, whatever, but not to the point of pure selflessness. Evil is using power for selfish gain.
4) Love and Romance – Everyone falls in love, and it is a powerful force. It is also easy to over-romanticize, hence my list of pet peeves.
5) Family – Conflict within families is inevitable. Most common in stories is parent/child and sibling rivalry as they are easiest to relate to.
6) Power and Responsibility – One of my favorites. All power corrupts. Good leaders know this and compensate for it. Bad ones don't. This fits in well with theme 3.
7) Death and Change – Everyone loses someone at some point, but I think of this theme as encompassing all permanent change and how people adapt to it. Stories often start with a death or an arrival.
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Published on April 02, 2012 18:29 • 430 views • Tags: fantasy, mythology, writing