Fantasy authors can be a strange breed.
Seeking to write stories that revel in imagination and whisk readers into other worlds…but at times fall painfully, woefully short.
To paraphrase Eomer, “We should not doubt their motivations, merely their execution.”
Because let’s face it—some fantasy stories should have stayed locked up in the castle room high in the turret.
When Fantasy Authors Write Boring Stories
Because #elves and Tolkien lookalikes are the only way to make a fantabulous fantasy tale.
Not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with copying Tolkien. After all some Christopher guy wrote about Aragorn’s name alter-ego Eragon. It did pretty well. But still, as they say in science: don’t try this at home, kids.
Fantasy authors love to write all the fantasy things. Problem is, most of the time they really shouldn’t.
Oohhh, other races. Yes, let’s use them and ignore the fact that they’re nearly identical to elves and dwarves and orcs. Or pretend like they’re different (you know, call them something else) even when they’re really not.
The Chosen One story arc. The world won’t be satisfied until every poor farmer boy becomes a hero.
A dark, brooding enemy that lurks in the background and never shows his face beyond the shadows.
Trilogies! Yay trilogies!
The stunningly beautiful love interest who’s probably related to a king or has immortal blood flowing through her veins.
Here we go a questing, across the world so green. Here we go a traveling so far to be seen (pro hint: has a much better ring if read to the tune of the Here We Come A Wassailing song).
Let’s form a company of important people who do a lot of walking and talking, interrupted by occasional fighting (see above).
Hark, the gray-haired mentor comes forth with tidings of destiny and fate and the ruin of the world. Also, a pipe and staff and scowly eyes.
The world is ending! The world is ending!
Loooonnng descriptions of scenery and character appearances and more scenery. We’re talking paragraphs that look like the outline of a Manhattan skyscraper.
The fair beauty and grace of the one whom the hero has the privilege of being loved by, even if he couldn’t even hold a sword in Chapter 1 and has a 50% chance of smelling like barnyard.
Characters: we have a plan but it’s not that great and the evil overlord is terribly powerful and impossible to defeat. But hurray, we have magic.
Evil overlord: I shall tell my enemies my plans and conveniently wait to kill them for the sake of the story.
Characters: woe upon us, the evil overlord has greater magic than do we.
Evil overlord: woe to me, for I still fail to triumph.
The princess who loves the commoner but is forced or coerced or tricked or guilted into marrying the cruel lord. Is there no compassion in the world?
Unpronounceable names that don’t believe in vowels and are disturbingly fond of apostrophes.
Chapters that rival Gandalf’s beard in length.
A big, black, doom-bringing army.
An incompetent character who masters skills faster than Harry, Ron, and Hermione getting in trouble. Because he’s the hero and all.
Disclaimer 1: I say this because I, too, am a fantasy author, and that list pretty much describes my life story. Guilty as charged. Plus I LOVE reading fantasy, and there’s nothing better than a story that reflects all the best the genre has to offer instead of rehashing the same plot with the same characters in the same setting.
Disclaimer 2: Don’t fret if I’ve just described your story. Using tropes is fine. Some elements are like a story’s building blocks—you need them to make everything work. Just as long as you don’t overuse them. Think salt. A little bit goes a long way. Use it wisely, and at the end of the day, readers will thank you.
What things do fantasy authors write that you don’t like?