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Is Medieval fantasy cliche?


Is Medieval Fantasy Cliche Today?  

6 members have voted

  1. 1. Is Medieval fantasy cliche in today's writing circles?

    • Yes, it's been overdone.
      0
    • Never!
      3
    • Depends...
      3

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I've seen/heard several authors/LAs on youtube decry Medieval high fantasy as an overdone trope. That said, we all know how well youtube represents the general population...

 

What are your thoughts? Please be so kind as to comment below.

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Is it a trope? yes. is it overdone, yes. is it cliche? depends on the story. I think there's a reason it's overdone, and I think that's not necessarily a bad thing. Like werewolves... lots of people are tired of hearing werewolf stories. One of my critiquers on a different forum actually thought my story was one after reading the first chapter, but it was just different enough that he kept reading, finding it wasn't. he was pleasantly surprised, but he had mentioned he had been tired of the werewolf, romantic fantasy trope. That doesn't mean a great story can't be written within that subject, though. if that makes sense... so my answer is in fact yes, it's overdone, but I don't think that should stop anyone from writing it... they just need to be careful how they go about it. it needs to be original enough and warranted that it adds to the story and isn't easily comparable to the millions of similar stories. So it's not just... another one of those stories, but unique.  (saying all that, my story is indeed a medieval fantasy. 😆)

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Mideveil or earlier are my personal go-to! It's a great setting! I understand that there are plenty more settings in this genre, and it's great if you write them, I have read some of them too. However, this girl loves sword fights and the lack of electricity! I want to see someone punched in the nose for mouthing off. I want horses. I want candles, lanterns, fireplaces, and more. I really like that setting!

 

There are a ton of us that feel the same way, but at the end of the day, it's the story that will make or break you. Don't try to sell to the world. Find your niche and write to them. They will be the ones to come back again and again. They will be the ones to tell all the other like-minded readers they know about your amazing book. 

 

Target reader is the point here. If you write midevil, I would be the target readers! (Not even remotely ashamed of it!) 

Edited by Alley
Autocorrect and I had a fought... I mean, fight! 😁
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The problem is the minute to get too far away from Medieval trope, it becomes sci-fi.  Because sci-fi is just fantasy with ray guns and space ships.

 

When you start mixing magic and technology, you'll quickly discover that magic loses its allure.  Magic was the "balance" for those worlds that do not have technology as a device.  When you roll out technology, it is accessible to everyone.  So what is the point of "magic" when something better is available?  It seems to me that you end up making an unsustainable fantasy world when you go that direction.

 

There is a mystique to works like Beowulf.  A hazy past filled with heroes, monsters, and legends that were eventually lost to time.  It draws people to it, and excites their imagination.

 

Though I find this newfound criticism of Medieval fantasy to be somewhat manufactured.  It's not like it hasn't been tried before.  Some seventy years after the Lord of the Rings, and no one has ever written something besides swords and sorcery?  I don't think so.  Its just that people actually *like* the trope.

 

I personally have no problem with someone going their own unique direction.  I'm all for that.  But, in my opinion, this is a concerted effort to try and push people in to wanting stuff they don't actually want.  Write a good story.  Build good characters.  People will read it.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jeff Potts
bad sentence.
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I think that if you write for yourself, you are free to experiment with whatever storyline or elements you want. There is freedom in that. 

 

If you are writing to sell books, well then, you may have to sacrifice some stuff. 

 

My advice, write the best story you can the way you want to. Cherish that process before it gets all muddied with other peoples wants and thoughts.

 

Then, after you have cherished your work, put on a thick skin and prepare to make some sacrifices. See what the betareaders think. See what the agents think. Hopefully, you picked the right niche readers and agents to listen to. 😃 

 

In all things, I pray your writing brings you closer to God and to others. 

 

 

Blessings,

 

E.T.

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First to answer the questions, it depends.

 

Terrible Tolkien knockoffs that imitate all the window trappings of the Lord of the Rings and none of the heart and soul are utterly, contemptibly CLICHE.

 

Stories set in Medieval times that have their own rules and magic and details, those are not cliche at all.

 

Tom Simon wrote a great book of essays called "Writing Down the Dragon" about Tolkien and his imitators. He references Ursula K. Le Guin's "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" essay a lot as well. Both works are really good at explaining why we feel like certain fantasy stories make our souls sing and others make it groan in agony. It all comes down to authenticity and internal consistency really.

 

On to other things:

 

11 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

When you start mixing magic and technology, you'll quickly discover that magic loses its allure.  Magic was the "balance" for those worlds that do not have technology as a device.  When you roll out technology, it is accessible to everyone.  So what is the point of "magic" when something better is available?  It seems to me that you end up making an unsustainable fantasy world when you go that direction.

 

That's why in my first series of books (only two in, still working on that) only people blessed with magical abilities or given such by their devilish 'gods' can even operate much of the technology in the world. For example, they have 'skyships' which are like zeppelins, but they can only be piloted by people blessed with the ability to control the wind and air. People with magical abilities are rare and getting rarer in the setting, which makes for a bunch of civilizational level tension as the untenable nature of their lifestyle (depending on all this magical technology) is obvious to the wiser folks.

 

Oh, I really love my setting for those books. There are 666 fallen angels that walk the world in physical bodies and are worshiped as gods. There are 77 faithful angels sent by God to protect His true believers. Every human was born with an ability to control one or more elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Aether), but after their version of the Fall, those abilities became more and more sporadic. The fallen angels can warp and change their followers into powered up versions of humans, but they are never as powerful as the truly magical people. Those who still follow God and his Son are called Sojourners. They are persecuted greatly by all the people who follow 'visible' gods (i.e. fallen angels). I didn't even mention the bird people or the sword or any of that good stuff... Ah, good setting.

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At least for children’s books, I still see the medieval setting alive and well. However, I have seen a shift from agents’ wishlists to more diverse settings (less Eurocentric tradition and folklore).

I asked in a conference once whether we should stay away from writing cliches. The answer of the speaker was this.... write a cliche if you must but make it your own. In the end, the words of C.S. Lewis rings true...

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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35 minutes ago, Thomas Davidsmeier said:

Terrible Tolkien knockoffs that imitate all the window trappings of the Lord of the Rings and none of the heart and soul are utterly, contemptibly CLICHE.

 

It's not even that.  Everyone points to Tolkien, but Conan came out in the thirties.  That brand is just as universal as Frodo, Samwise, and Bilbo.  And what does the Conan series involve?  Swords.  Magicians.  Castles.  Walled cities.  Quests.  Morally ambivalent, yes, but nevertheless as many Medieval tropes as you find in Lord of the Rings.

 

I think why the Medieval type fantasy is so popular is that it takes people back to a time before the Industrial Age, a time where superstition was just as real as fact, and that you can place a whole lot of grandiosity center stage against that backdrop.  People expect prose in that setting.  It harkens back to an age of romanticism.

 

The more you make it "real," the further you get from these things, in my opinion.

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2 minutes ago, L. Wong said:

I asked in a conference once whether we should stay away from writing cliches. The answer of the speaker was this.... write a cliche if you must but make it your own

 

I've struggled with that with my book.  Mine has a "chosen one," trope.  It's obvious and clear from Chapter 1.

 

By the time you hit the climax book (which is at least 3 books away), that whole "Chosen One" thing gets turned on its head.  You can't see it coming from Book 1.  And I'm cringing as I send out these query letters to agents because I know that some of them will see this right away, and put the query into the infamous Circular File.

 

I think the idea of playing with clichés and tropes is fun, but the current anti-Trope sentiment makes it a bit of a pickle.  Because you can't capsize the boat if it ain't in the water.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, L. Wong said:

However, I have seen a shift from agents’ wishlists to more diverse settings (less Eurocentric tradition and folklore

I was wondering about that.

 

I have no problem with cultural/setting variety, but I also despise the idea of being "forced" into including diversity for the sake of an LA's agenda.

 

It makes me wonder if I should bother with traditional publishing since my current work is based in Celtic Mythology.

 

 

 

Edited by RockyMtn Gal
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1 minute ago, RockyMtn Gal said:

Based solely on the word "Dragaera", I would say some fire breathing lizards are involved.

 

You'd think, but they're actually lizards-turned-bipedal humanoids. As far as I know, nothing breathes fire in this world.

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As Brust refers to it, the humans who live there call them Dragaerans, and the Dragaerans refer to themselves as Humans and refer to the humans as Easterners. 

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