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  1. #1
    Registered User SilentDan's Avatar
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    My New Fantasy tangent

    Obviously it'll have a better name that 'my new fantasy'

    So I've started work on a new fantasy novel (my third attempt, after the last two didn't get very far and I lost passion for them... that's not a spectre looming over this work!) and I've decided I'll be trying to steer away from cliches. That doesn't mean it'll be all new creatures (sentient and not), or all new spells or all new types of places. There'll be whatever I can think of, of course, and I'll try my best to be original. But the point of this work is to avoid cliches, and to do so when it's possible without stretching credibility (sometimes bending over backwards to go anti-cliche is just contrived, obviously, or it just stands out like a sore thumb for one reason or another).

    This is my sounding board. People can give me feedback on ideas - not the actual writing, that goes somewhere else I think, although I could be talked into posting it on this forum in the appropriate place. I'm just going to use this thread as a 'master thread' and bounce ideas around in general.

  2. #2
    Registered User SilentDan's Avatar
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    Title

    I liked The Silver Crystal (title thread), and some of those more 'winning' ones might become sequels. I also thought The Shadow Crystal or The Shadow Shard were okay.
    But of course, it's early stages yet and it doesn't have to be that title.

    Characters
    I should state that yes, it's got D&D influence, but only lightly - lighter than say, novels published by D&D. I sense that D&D is a bit of a polarising force around here. But sometimes an author can pull off great fiction based on a mechanics-heavy combat game. It's not different than those short story threads that take inspiration from (typically story-less) games from the 80s or earlier, like Space Invaders or Pong, and making stories out of them. That's a fun game. I had my local critique group in stitches with Memoirs of a Space Invader, even if it was really short.

    Anyway.

    Drounn Golan (I don't know, ending both names with 'n' seems a little off, though probably not as bad as Superman characters' more famous naming conventions: Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor...) a male gnome fighter who causes trouble from general foolishness more than anything sinister. A cowboy type.
    Sir Jareth dar' Canterbury, esquire: a gentlemanly paladin/knight type with a cane sword and monocle (and red jacket, can't forget the red jacket). He's aging but a great partier. Really in touch with the common folk. Aristocrat first, then paladin. The only one intentionally not anti-cliche, as such.
    Fenae, a young elf girl with - and here I don't know which colours to go with: red/chestnut hair and green eyes, or is copper coloured hair a real thing, and does it go with blue eyes? - who is a city elf and doesn't know a thing about bows or hunting game or the forest or any of that. She is sneaky and stab-happy though.
    Aerilya: a dwarven druid. I've seen that done ONCE. Also she's a she. And she's an outcast from dwarven society, what with the whole "I want to see sunlight and sky and trees and birds" talk.
    Draxen Strior: a hobgoblin wizard. Wizards touch a rune in their spellbook or printed on a stone or whatever works, summons up power inherent in the rune, traces it in the air, speaks the name and any incantation, and lets it loose. They can do this repeatedly but only for a time; too much is like those loooong days in the office filling out forms all day - the mind just turns to liquid and you can't focus by the end. Got this idea from a picture my brother did of am hobgoblin in a robe with glasses and a newspaper, tending his garden. I just worked backwards. He won't be that far off old age, though.
    Reb Wartracker: a half-orc monk. Yeah. And not a snarling, drooling barbarian.
    Zekfryn Oussneld, a drow/dark elf barbarian - or an exiled sorcerer turned barbarian at one point for survival. Sorcerers can basically skip the spellcasting process and fire the spell off at the click of the fingers. But they are severely limited in how many they can actually 'fire' per day, because it has a toll on their bodies. This guy, more than four a day (and they should be spread out) will cause a nosebleed - if he's lucky.

    I'm thinking of having a pleasant, amiable dwarven bartender, because how many nice dwarves have you seen? Yeah. (probably a sign I need to read more?)

    I'm also thinking of an unpleasant elf because of the same reason.

    The Silver Crystal
    You can't have a fantasy without an Artefact of Doom! Well you can but fans who expect certain things might get uppity. Or they might rejoice in the originality. Could go either way, depends on the person.
    Ahem. Artefact. A crystal (or something, form isn't locked in) that can transform into a castle wherein time passes much slower than outside - a day outside = a year or so inside. What could you do inside that sped-up time zone? Probably a LOT. That's a whole year that you have, which others don't. You could train an army in that time, or build it if it's a mechanical one, or animate it if animation of inanimate objects/corpses is involved. That's something a bad-guy will definitely be doing. A monster could gestate. You could come up with some really well-thought-out plans in there. I'm wondering what else could be done. Something political I guess. Brainwashing. Healing. Art. Growing stuff, if you have what you need.

    Phew.

  3. #3
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    probably a sign I need to read more
    Giggle, yes, but I love the idea of a knight with a red jacket, so who cares. But I would say that you need to read some Discworld novels from Terry Pratchett and some M.Y.T.H. Inc. novels from Robert Asprin, because both will help you with what you are doing. Also, yes, there are people with copper-colored red hair, like on Doctor Who:



    Or my friend Steve who has more orangey but coppery red hair and his oldest sun, who has bright copper colored hair, like a penny.

  4. #4
    sf-icionado / horr-orator Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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    Probably it isn't what you are thinking about at all, and I honestly have no idea regarding the question I'm about to ask, but has there been, in this D&D style, anything written in the Steam Punk vein? Your description of the monocled, velvet-clad gentleman-knight and a "city elf" made me wonder. I've read two novels in recent years (The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, and sequel) which are more or less straight sf, maybe with a dash of fantasy to them but not of the non-human RPG sort. A pseudo-Victorian setting in which such things as orcs, drow, hobgoblins and the like have quietly persevered could be very interesting, to me at least (although more for the writing of it that the reading).

  5. #5
    We Read for Light Window Bar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentDan View Post
    Title

    CharactersI should state that yes, it's got D&D influence, but only lightly - lighter than say, novels published by D&D. I sense that D&D is a bit of a polarising force around here. B
    One of the most successful e-book writers of past couple of years has a D&D stripe a mile wide. Brian Pratt is his name, and he has overcome scads of nasty reviews to sell books by the hundreds of thousands. His first novel, The Unsuspecting Mage, is free at Smashwords.com, barnesandnoble.com, and many others.

    Have fun! It matters not where your ideas come from; it matters only how you use them.

    --WB

  6. #6
    Registered User SilentDan's Avatar
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    Just wondering if copper is a naturally-occurring hair colour. I originally had chestnut. Either's good.

    I haven't read much steampunk, so I don't know if I'm really qualified to write in the genre if I haven't read the genre. I have read a *diesel*punk trilogy though. I do know what steampunk *looks* like, that's all I need, right?

    Good to hear of D&D stuff that's successful. Of course my old favourite is R.A. Salvatore, although I have enjoyed some of the stuff by the guy who wrote about Diran Bastion, the assassin turned (good guy) priest, for the Eberron setting. I'd call him "the Drizzt of Eberron" though nowhere near the sheer status and longevity yet.

  7. #7
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noumenon View Post
    Probably it isn't what you are thinking about at all, and I honestly have no idea regarding the question I'm about to ask, but has there been, in this D&D style, anything written in the Steam Punk vein? Your description of the monocled, velvet-clad gentleman-knight and a "city elf" made me wonder. I've read two novels in recent years (The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, and sequel) which are more or less straight sf, maybe with a dash of fantasy to them but not of the non-human RPG sort. A pseudo-Victorian setting in which such things as orcs, drow, hobgoblins and the like have quietly persevered could be very interesting, to me at least (although more for the writing of it that the reading).
    There's a ton of steampunk fantasy. Vampires are probably a little more popular in them, but other creatures pop up as well. I think Tor.com is doing a steampunk week right now if you want to look for titles.

  8. #8
    LaerCarroll.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentDan View Post
    I'll be trying to steer away from cliches.
    All clichés can be made to work. You turn them into something more.

    Vampire? Yes, but a vampire that is dead at NIGHT and alive in the day. Or their skin is sparkly. Or they must suck tomatoes rather than people.

    Or (we must hope) something rather more interesting!

  9. #9
    Wirt's Fourth Leg Cirias's Avatar
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    In my opinion, these characters will never come across as real, three-dimensional people because you're categorizing them as RPG classes. Druid, paladin, wizard etc. Don't know if you're going for a lighthearted story or something more realistic, but you may want to keep that in mind.

  10. #10
    Registered User SilentDan's Avatar
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    That means I'll have to work extra hard to make them 3d characters (which I'll be researching - a summary of what that means would help immensely, though). I am going for mostly 'light' style, but I do want realistic characters.

  11. #11
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    The thing to remember is that people are people, not character classes. Say for example you have a soldier. That's his job, he's in the army. He salutes his officers, stands at attention when he's told to, cleans his rifle and polishes his boots before parade, etc etc, because it's his job. When soldiers aren't being watched by an officer they'll goof off, play cards and drink beer the same as anyone else, they don't just stand to attention in the corner and wait to be told to do something. Obvious? Good.

    So you have a Wizard. He reads books, says wise wizardly things, strokes his beard, and casts spells, but he doesn't do it all the time. What else does he do?

    One wizard might breed dogs, another might paint pictures or carve woodcuts or be a raving alcoholic. He's a person first and a wizard second, same as anyone else. He might play a musical instrument, even though he isn't a bard. He might fence for exercise and enjoyment, although he isn't a fighter. He might be religious, but not be a cleric, or enjoy gardening or tapestry or any number of things. Very few people are 100 percent defined by their jobs, and those people that are tend to be far too dull for anyone to want to read about!
    Last edited by PeteMC; October 13th, 2012 at 12:19 PM. Reason: why is it giving an ASCII code for a percent sign?

  12. #12
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    That's a good thing to keep in mind -- if you are doing the sort of story where it's something to keep in mind. Characters are not people. They are story people. Story people are developed only to the extent that we need them to be developed and want them to be developed for the story. Anything about them -- breeding dogs, polishing boots -- is only there because the author has a use for it and chooses to focus on it for usually multiple goals in the story. So one writer will spend a lot of time with a more minor character and another writer will not. An author writing a satiric story may be using broader strokes, hyped up dialogue and less subtle methods to reveal character and back story, concentrating mainly on character voice -- how they sound and appear. Another writer may be doing a story in which much of the action takes place within a character's head and we get enormous amounts of material about his past and feelings. One author may be using a great many symbols and building things around those symbols. Another author may be using direct action as his symbol and spend less time on imagery and setting details.

    That's why I'm always discouraging the idea of universal templates. The idea that characters have to have this and the plot has to do that only works for a story in which you need the characters to have this and the plot has to do that. For another writer doing a different type of story, it's useless. The author style is relevant. Some might call your style pulp, others classical, etc. -- doesn't matter. You are the engine of the story and the navigator. That's why your interests have to come first because if you can't do it, then the story doesn't go. Doesn't matter if that's someone else's view of the ideal story to have -- you have only your stories. You can develop skills, but your goals are no less relevant for you than different ones for another writer. Again, it does not matter what other authors are doing. Aping their style won't help you, neither will trying to write in exact opposite and the market takes all comers. So if the idea of having a wizard breed dogs or play a musical instrument seems utterly silly to you, don't do that. Maybe we don't have time with this story to know anything else about him except that he reads books and works magic. (Although he certainly doesn't have to have a beard and hundreds of wizard characters don't.)

    The character classes of D&D are useful because they are symbolic of various ideas about big esoteric things like the nature of war, evil, sacrifice, political power. If I say a character is lawful good, what we are talking about is how the character views the world, how that character analyzes the world and how that character makes decisions. It's not set in stone (unless you have a story need to have it magically or otherwise set in stone, to have the character be unyielding and dogmatic,) but it is an orientation about how the character will process what he or she is encountering and what may be most important to that character. That's not two dimensional. It's just a short-hand symbol that became more fun and flexible for the game than saying good guy, bad guy, Switzerland. Characters are not their trappings, but the meaning of those trappings. If a wizard plays a musical instrument, that means something not only about his character, but symbolically in the story. That musical instrument fulfills several purposes, not one. It represents things. The fact that you choose blue for a character's scarf instead of green represents something. That you have the character notice a crooked tree branch alongside the road -- symbol, emotion, interpretation. And all coming from you and how you see things. You'll get input from people, and you'll use it, but it will be your judgement on the words to use and in what order and what you focus on. So it doesn't matter that there is a D&D game that many people are very familiar with. It doesn't matter if you use ideas from that game -- which are not unique to that game -- or you don't. It's just a framework that Dan is using as a jumping off point. But the ideas, symbols and words will be Dan's. The characters can be called clerics and drow, or they could be called galoopas and chirrichangas. It's the concepts and symbols behind these mythological portrayals that is actually being worked in the way that works for that author for that story.

    That's why Dan's idea to "steer away from cliches" I find to be a rather fruitless pursuit, although it seems to be giving him ideas he enjoys. The idea of a cliche assumes that any object is being used the same way every time and that what the object is (the trappings,) is more important than what the object represents in the story. It assumes that the most important thing is how your story relates to other stories, mainly well known ones, even stories that are tonally completely different from your own, which is actually the least important thing, and again, mostly fruitless as a concept. It's not how your words and trappings compare to others' works; it's what they mean in yours. That's what readers will react to, and as we've said before, they'll react in many different ways. So what's interesting about a paladin with a sword cane, monocle and red coat is not that he has a sword cane, monocle and red coat. It's what they potentially represent in the story. A dwarf who is sober, genial and tends bar (and genial dwarfs, etc., have been done before,) is not interesting for being sober, genial and tending bar, or inherently better as a character than a drunken, surly dwarf who drinks at the bar. It's what he'll represent in the story -- anything from broad comic relief to inspiring and poignant tool of plot.

  13. #13
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post

    The character classes of D&D are useful because they are symbolic of various ideas about big esoteric things like the nature of war, evil, sacrifice, political power. If I say a character is lawful good, what we are talking about is how the character views the world, how that character analyzes the world and how that character makes decisions.
    I understand what you mean, and I'm assuming you mean "if I use this term in my notes about the character to help me write about him/her". If I read "Varg was Lawful Good" in prose, I'm gonna throw the book across the room. Just saying.

  14. #14
    sf-icionado / horr-orator Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteMC View Post
    I understand what you mean, and I'm assuming you mean "if I use this term in my notes about the character to help me write about him/her". If I read "Varg was Lawful Good" in prose, I'm gonna throw the book across the room. Just saying.
    Unless, I would hope, Varg also "plays at an old poker table in his mom's basement with Thrurl and Bobby (who still hasn't quite got into the swing of it)".

  15. #15
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteMC View Post
    I understand what you mean, and I'm assuming you mean "if I use this term in my notes about the character to help me write about him/her". If I read "Varg was Lawful Good" in prose, I'm gonna throw the book across the room. Just saying.
    If I wrote Varg was Lawful Good, I'd get sued for trademark infringement from the D&D folk unless I'm doing a tie-in novel, and I don't remember them putting the character alignments into the tie-in novels either.

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