This is not my main blog. This is the other blog. The one that charts all the random bumps on the highway that is life. It was also my first blog, so it is, in it's own special way, still the best.

The other one, the one that I update regularly, can be found here.

That's all for now.

June 20, 2010

Bad Fantasy Plot Devices

Dear fantasy writer,

Over the years I have spent a lot of time with you and your fellow writers. It's been fun, and I have greatly enjoyed it.

However I have started to notice a few tropes that are... how shall I put this...

They suck. You suck. Bad fantasy writer. Very bad fantasy writer.

Anyway, to here is a short list that I would you prefer not to use in the future:

1) There is no evil overlord of EVVVIILLLLLL.

I mean really? Just because you're writing fantasy doesn't mean you need an evil overlord. You can literally create any type of race you need to fulfil any role you require. Use it. Make a race of carnivorous frog people who desperately need to wipe out humanity. Maybe their range has been threatened and they're fighting back. Maybe they were there first and don't like these uppity monkeys are taking over. Doesn't matter.

What does matter is that it doesn't include a bad guy who is evil because... they're evil. For a start it's been done to death by people who really should know better (Tolkien, Rowlings, Lucas go to the naughty corner). Secondly it's lazy writing. Do better.

2) No time travelling and erasing the main character's traumatic past.

Let's be quite clear here: the main character is the main character because they are driven and skilled. The main reason they are driven and skilled is because of their traumatic past. So by time travelling and erasing their traumatic past you are...?

That's right, in one fell swoop you just completely erased the entire story arc that you'd carefully constructed over the last X books. It didn't happen and so it must be a complete waste of my time. Yes, I'm looking at you Gemmell. Yay?

3) Let it be a fantasy world.

This one really gets me. I mean why? It's a fricking fantasy world. The reason for this is because you wrote it that way. It does not - I repeat DOES NOT - need to be this world. It doesn't need to be related to this world. You know why? Because it's a fantasy world. No matter how hard I try I'm never going to be able to throw a fireball or control an elemental or fly. I'm okay with that. Really I've made my peace.

By all means if it helps move the story forward, or adds an interesting dynamic then transport someone from this world for it (Donaldson, Lewis have a star). If you really want you can even write yourself into your own book, interact with your characters and, hell, blame the 27 years it took you to write the series upon the bad guy (gold star King - but don't do it again). To get to another world I will happily climb through any wardrobe, cross any threshold or even throw myself in front of a car... okay, maybe not that last one. But I honestly don't need some little tid-bit that suggests the fantasy world is the future of this one (Butcher, Brooks - consider yourselves warned).