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Submitted on
November 26, 2012


16 (who?)
Lately I've been feeling that many fantasy authors say nothing (especially not anything new or imaginative) with their writing, and do so in as many words as possible.

Fantasy seems to be the only genre where people will be content to read about nothing for over a thousand pages.

I don't think I'm merely deluded by deviantART's sub-par selection, although it certainly has made an impression on my opinion. If you pick up a fantasy novel off the shelf in a bookstore, chances are the prose will be terrible, the characters will be charicatures at best, and the main point of the story will be to entertain you (which isn't really a bad thing if that's all you're really looking to get out of a book; but if you are looking for more, then it is a large waste of time reading fantasy).

Am I missing something here? Can anyone point out to me a fantasy novel I may enjoy? (So far all I can think of is perhaps Conan the Barbarian--it's on my To Read List, and there mostly for entertainment.)

There's also something about the type of people who write fantasy: usually undeservingly arrogant, ignorant, stubborn, and boring.

Perhaps not all fantasy authors: I mean the type of person who assumes they know all there is to know about writing, as if the gods have blessed them with a gift; they refuse to educate themselves on proper English despite the fact that it is their artistic medium. This is the type of person who will spout lines such as, "I write fantasy because it is the only genre that doesn't bore me."

If you require magic swords and elves in order to make something interesting you must have a very narrow view of what is interesting. We live in a great big beautiful world teeming with life and death and drama at every corner, behind each hill.

Perhaps they have such a hard time imagining anything set in real life to be anything other than boring simply because their own lives are so droll?

I'll end this rather negative outburst with a positive note. A good writer needs two things: an education, and lots of life experience.
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kurohalca Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2013  Student Digital Artist

I have to agree here... there's too much half-assed fantasy writing out there, and it all becomes so overdone that every book starts to look like it's set in the same world, just with different names for everything. And it seems all these writers don't want to set it in a European-based world with no technology, written in formal language, they just do it to follow the conventions. Fantasy is part of the reason why I've given up reading in English... I do all my reading-for-pleasure in my second language now, since I've been studying it for quite some time and it's also more entertaining to me than English books.


I find some fantasy video games more interesting than most of the books... lots of them mix old with new, Eastern with Western and serious with silly, which is awesome. I wish writers would try this for once.

beautifulsilenceLuKu Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2013  Student General Artist
Heres the thing.
People who read fantasy books do it for a reason ( or rather I do). I don't like reading reality books, such as things about murderers or children who get beaten, or books like that, because why would I want to read about it when the world is full of it? Why would I want my only escape to be full of depression and evil? Fantasy books allow people like me to escape to another world and forget about all the crap in the world. The story lines are ridiculous and so far fetched that it just makes it brilliant because we are reading about something we can never achieve leaving us wanting what we are reading about.
This post is so mean and so disrespectful. I am a young fantasy writer, and you have basically just crushed, not only mine, but everyone else who writes fantasy's, dreams of becoming a writer. Why do you think you have the right to do that to people? You are allowed an opinion, yes, but next time, word it in a nicer way.
And yes, I do believe that every fantasy book is so unoriginal. But that's what makes it great for people like me - we have to fight and put our original story lines out there to stop people like you writing stupid journals like this.
Next time, think about the people you have just crushed with his insensitive post.
witwitch Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2013  Student Writer
I didn't mean to crush anyone by stating my opinion. Why would the opinion of a random internet stranger crush your dreams? I don't work for a publishing company, I can't deny your novel from being published, so there's no real way I can crush your dreams if that's what you dream of.

If you really want to write fantasy, go for it. Don't care about what people like me think, I'm not your target demographic.
TicklyRoach Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I feel that my somewhat-below-average intellect and flawed English won't work in my favor here, so I'm not going to start an argument, even though I am a ridiculously huge fan of fantasy. I'm really just posting to say I admire you for so openly writing out your thoughts and opinions on a matter that seems to upset so many. I hope I learn to be this brave someday.
witwitch Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Student Writer
Thank you for saying so. :meow:

There's a famous quote that goes something like, "I don't agree with what you're saying but I will defend your right to say it!" :nod:
Thecoolboo Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013
hm it is entertaining, the main point of fantasy is a retreat from the real world for awhile.
saintartaud Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Professional General Artist
Out of curiosity, have you read anything by: Tanith Lee, Catherynne M. Valente, China Miéville, Mervyn Peake, or Neil Gaiman?

I know you posted this a couple of months ago, but here are my two cents. I used to, at one point many years ago, complain about the very same thing. Until, of course, I realized that some of the writers and works I liked classed as fantasy. Namely Gaiman, but there is also my undying love for Lewis Carroll, along with some comics and then some animal fantasies I read as a kid, etc. My issue was ultimately not with fantasy but with a particular variety of fantasy, which is what I think most people are also complaining about. That is, the kind of medievalist swords & sorcery high fantasy that builds heavily on Tolkien. I did read his work in my early teens and enjoyed it, but then nothing else I encountered in that vein drew my interest and I developed the attitude in question.

Along with realizing that fantasy encompasses more than just these subgenres was also the realization that a lot of books people don't consider fantasy in the proper sense features elements of what's called low fantasy. Magic realism is IMO a form of low fantasy. Stuff like Kafka or Bruno Schulz also constitute a variety of fantasy. Any movie that features some bit of magic or some inexplicable event like Big or It's a Wonderful Life are fantasies. Once you start thinking this way, it becoming more difficult to dismiss fantasy. I mean, Greek myths are fantasy. So's the Odyssey!

Anyway, the authors mentioned are all dealt with in the larger scope of fantasy and might be up your alley. All fit more under urban, contemporary, and dark subgenres, which I've always found preferable myself.
witwitch Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Student Writer
I've sampled Neil Gaiman but I didn't like what I was exposed to. I wouldn't call him bad--I don't feel I have the exposure to call him good or bad--just that I didn't find his prose compelling or his characters (when introduced to them) either interesting or relatable enough to make the prose/voice bearable; not my personal cup of tea. Haven't heard of the others.

I do like some fantasy. I suppose I'm really complaining about that particular type of fantasy you mentioned. Fantasy is what got me in to reading when I was a kid, particularly two series by Garth Nix, and The Chronicles of Narnia. I also really enjoyed A Wrinkle In Time when we read it in school, though now I can't recall much of it.

Others have suggested some "atypical" fantasy reads earlier in the comments of the journal. I've already added Wicked to my To Read list, it seems a bit more up my alley.
saintartaud Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Professional General Artist
Have you read any of the Sandman books? For me, his writing for comics still trumps his written works. He's not the most compelling stylist, I agree; I always feel like he's aiming but hasn't the ability to deliver. I like his characters, though, and I see him more as a storyteller. I read American Gods last year and enjoyed it. What have you read?

And yeah, generally that's what people are really complaining about--fantasy, but a particular type of fantasy. To be fair, the bulk of popular works in any genre is crap. Science fiction is just as bad (though it often gets a pass because it's deemed more serious or plausible).

I don't know enough about your tastes to know what exactly you'd enjoy.
I see that someone else way down did mention Peake's Gormenghast books, which are probably my favorite fantasy novels. He was a contemporary of Tolkien, but his world is not heroic, more what I would call Gothic and Dickensian. If you prefer lots of action and dislike too much description, it may not be your thing.
Lee has been around since the 1960s, but for whatever reason she's not as widely known as some. Still need to read the Flat Earth books, but I've read all her Paradys stories and recommend them if you like dark fantasy or Gothic fiction. She's an amazing stylist.
Valente and Miéville are more recent/contemporary. She's not widely known, but her work is pretty unique and beautifully written. I would recommend The Orphan's Tales, which is actually split into two volumes. And I'm mostly familiar with Miéville's Bas-Lag books, which are classed as urban fantasy or weird fiction. Perdido Street Station would be the one to check out. I find his work reminiscent of Dickens, and he's a fan of Peake as well.

I've actually got a huge back log of fantasy to read if you're looking for any ideas. A few have already been mentioned, specifically Zelazny's Lord of Light and Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Have you read any of Le Guin's stuff at all? The Earthsea books are straight-up high fantasy, but well written and pretty distinct.
witwitch Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Student Writer
I read the first couple chapters of American Gods and Neverwhere--I've read the latter a couple of times because a friend gifted the book to me but I could never get past those first few chapters. I haven't read any of the comics he's written for.

Gormenghast, it's called, and Dickensian, you say? Sounds interesting. And a story doesn't need to be chronically action packed to entertain me. I like writing that feels like it has something to say, or is entertaining with a strong voice and a unity of style and content, or has beautiful prose; preferably all three if I can get it. :lol: Whether it is fast paced or slow paced doesn't matter to me if it meets one of those qualifications.

I'll do some checking in to the others you mentioned; although I've heard nothing bad about LeGuin, I'm hesitant because I'm not a fan of long series.
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