Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What do you like in fantasy?

A lot of people like fantasy literature, and a growing number enjoy fantasy movies and video games. So, what is there to like about fantasy? I don't mean generically, over all, as in "why do people like fantasy?" That's too difficult to answer, and it's probably got more to do with psychology than I want to go into at the moment.

No, I'm talking individual things about the fantasy genres, part of what some would call tropes of fantasy.

An example: Dragons. What's there to like about dragons as a fictional story element? Or as characters? I myself have no great love for dragons, whether good or bad, and can only ever remember using a dragon in one of my stories. I don't hate dragons, but as a writer I've yet to find a lot of use for them. They also seem done to death to me, and I also like to focus on humans instead of other races.

Wizards? I'm not real fond of wizards either, at least not as characters. Magic is a bit too easy for me, especially in worlds where you can do almost anything. Give me a warrior with a sword any day of the week. However, there are a few exceptions to my general dislike of wizards and other magic-wielders. I think they were used to great affect in the Lord of the Rings, and the Hobbit, but the truth of the matter is (BIG SPOILER FOR ANYONE HAPPENS TO NOT KNOW THIS) the mages Tolkien used were not human, but immortals akin to angels (or devils, I suppose, depending upon the wizard).

Other things: Swords. Love 'em.

Armor. Love it.

Horses. Eh, they get you around.

Daggers. I have to laugh. They can be used effectively, but most times they're used unrealistically in fantasy fiction. Using a dagger against a sword, or a monster, is like using a revolver to take on a guy with an M-60. If you don't know what I mean, learn your weaponry. You'll need to if you're going to be a writer.

Other races: My thoughts are known. Generally, I don't like to write about them, though I hold nothing against them.

Other weaponry: The more the better. But keep it real. Pikemen in heavy armor are slow, but in a group they are deadly to almost any other force on foot. And despite what you saw in Braveheart, heavy cavalry is practically unbeatable, at least until heavy crossbows and gunpowder come along. Speaking of gunpowder, until the invention of the flintlock, it was pretty useless; even then, until the invention of percussion caps, longbows were better weapons (though they took a lot more training to use).

Vampires: Done to death. No pun intended.

I'll think of other stuff later.


Anonymous said...

What do you mena, daggers make you LAUGH???!!!!!
That hurts, Kron!

Anonymous said...

Mena, or mean. I can't read what I'm typing here, you know. Sorry about that.

Ty said...

It hurts?


Howard von Darkmoor said...

interesting thread, Ty. I shall have to think upon this for a time and get back to you.

cyn said...

i think i love fantasy for its fantastic elements. =) the imagination has no limit.

on another level, i love the clearcut aspect of good versus evil in a lot of the stories. i don't find the real world so clear cut these days. in fantasy stories, you know who you're supposed to root for.