Fantasy Mistakes sure to sink your epic

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So anyone following my twitter feed or reviews won’t have to be Sherlock to discover what book prompted these post, however I don’t want to overkill criticism of this novel while still offering a few insights and cautions for fans of the fantasy genre.

Anachronism:

This mouthful of a term refers to features being out of place for a time-period. Now technically most epic fantasy exists in worlds apart from our own, so its only an assumption that fantasy worlds should be somewhat similar to medieval history. However I think it’s fair to say that keeping modern parlance out of fantasy prose is a good idea. Words and phrases like:

  • finance
  • Gave me the chills
  • yeah right

Sit very awkward in a swords and sorcery novel.

Not that all the language should be Forsooth, thee and thou or unnecessarily archaic, just that an author should have a keen eye for words that jolt the reader out of their fictional world.

Also it’s not just dialogue that needs attention, issues like characters knowing first aid (i.e. checking pulses) doesn’t fit with fantasy (usually)

Magic:

Magic is a highly controversial part of fantasy. Most authors want to include it, but truth be told as dangerous as spellcraft is in the word, its equally as dangerous to good stories. Fun as it is magic often creates risks of lazy plotting, where tension is resolved by a convenient spell rather than a character making a tough choice. Magic systems can also side-track the plot as rather than characters pursuing any sort of real character arc they start to fulfill the mythological needs of the world.

The same can be said of fantasy creatures, while incredibly fun there is a huge risk that introducing monsters and mayhem will turn a story into a D&D session rather than a good tale.

Plotting

People assume that fantasy plots are easy.

They are not.

The challenge is creating a decent world threatening setting, which somehow links to and develops a more character focused tale. Lord of the Rings, is a great example. I fear that many authors simply jump to the world shattering endangerment aspect without considering the character of the people they will throw into their tale. The problem being that we’re all seen dark lords, zombies, Gods, everyone really threatening to destroy the known world, and it’s not much engaging on it’s own.

That’s all.

What fantasy tropes do you like/love?

Any examples of excellent (or terrible) fantasy to share?

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