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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
The books are labeled the Gormenghast books or trilogy; the specific titles are Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone, published in that order. From what it sounds like, you might enjoy the books and understand what Peake did in terms of style and theme.
And the books in LeGuin's Earthsea series are all self-contained units. With the 2nd/3rd Earthsea books, you might better understand who Ged is by reading the 1st book, but the stories center on other characters in different lands. I haven't read the more recent books since the initial trilogy, but Wizard of Earthsea is my favorite of the trilogy.
Personally, I don't like that term; I wouldn't call anyone a whore as a slur. It sort of disgusts me how accepted it is in our culture, and yet it is a female specific slur, and a very condemning one.
I'm going to second the person who said The Dark Tower series (they're the only Stephen King novels I really like, to boot).
I'm going to be the five zillionth person to recommend the Discworld books. Especially the City Watch series and the two Moist von Lipwig books.
Hart's Hope by Orson Scott Card (yes, he's a jerkass, but he's also a good writer), as well as his various fantasy stories.
The Neverending Story was actually a book before it was a movie, and a very good book at that.
Sir Apropos Of Nothing is a rather funny sort-of-parody of fantasies.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (again, a good book before it was a movie)
Something Wicked This Way Comes
The Lathe of Heaven
The Sandman comics (just be warned that "24 Hours" is really, really disturbing)
Also, not sure if you're into video games at all, but a few classic ones:
Planescape: Torment (actually, forget good for fantasy, this has some of the best writing in all of video games, period)
King's Quest 6
The Gabriel Knight series (more urban fantasy)
One of the reasons I think is that nowadays, fantasy writers are woefully out of touch with reality and are simply working out their own personal issues by inserting themselves into a magical world where they are cool and powerful and sexy, or just wandering about passively in their own magic world.
The only way I feel a fantasy story will work is if you balance the more whimsical setting with realism. The writer must have worldy experiences to draw on, and a message that the readers can relate to. In the end, a good fantasy story isn't about elves or talking animals, it's about people. It's about our human struggles. No matter how strange the characters are, they must always mirror our humanity. No matter how strange the world, it must mirror our own.
And don't get me started on my hatred for the mad libs style fantasy plot where " (15-19) year old (mysterious, mispelled and or old fashioned female name) falls in love with (mysterious, old-fashioned and or mispelled male name) who turns out to be a (vampire, werewolf, demon, ghost, angel, etc)"
Frankly, the genre needs a revolution.
Damn, girl. I'm putting you on my watch!
I totally agree. Do you write fantasy? You could be a part of it.
My experience with writing fantasy is fairly limiting: one complete story and one mostly there story with a few rough drafts. My experience as a reader is only a bit better. So as a reader, I have a few expectations I like in a good fantasy story: a rich world full of mysteries as well as structured and realistic society that could not be experienced in the real world, a character to follow as they grow through their trials, and showing something that would otherwise be quite difficult to show in any other genre or possibly even mediums. And in some cases we do. In the "Night Watch", we are given two underground agencies that work in the background of the world as they deal with the fact that for one agency to get something they want, the other must be given something in return of equal value. Personally, I grew up with the "Harry Potter" books and watched, over the years, as a boy grew up with the difficulties of having an important task in a society that he lived on the outside and stepped into. Then "The Hobbit" takes a character who is not ready for an adventure and is thrown into an adventure in an unpleasant manner, all while the reader watches the hobbits inexperience in situations among well seasoned warriors.
But yes, as of late, I can say that the fantasy genre has been dwindling. I find it harder and harder to find a story that is about a great quest or simply someone living a normal life. From what I can see, it seems to be a genre that has too many authors who think the genre is about creating the heaviest fantasy world without any care about the small details (the dwarves actually had quite a lot to show off and the elves were actually full of themselves in "The Hobbit" compared to "Eragon" where the elves were pretty much all knowing and perfect while the dwarves did not have anything new) or else cater to people wanting more emotional drama in their stories (basically, trying to compete with "Twilight" with a dry love story or a more annoying character who whines about life versus trying to be like Harry Potter in which a boy just deals with growing up.) That isn't to say that the genre is dead. Oh no. While aged, I found my eyes glued to the "Dark Angles" trilogy to the point that I would buy the next book before I finished the one before and almost end up buying them when they come out. And I have gotten hung for one book for a supernatural detective in the 80's.
As a writer, there just feels like a lot I could critique on. The most common mistakes (the biggest probably being people thinking that they need weird and nothing related to the real world to make a good fantasy world) to even the strengths (almost infinitely deep sleeve of story material that allows the plot to stay fresh when done right and enhance the overarching theme.) But I think I'm pushing this post and I need to hit the sack.
" I get the feeling you're addressing the modern authors"
There should be a "some of" in there. >3> As in, I doubt you think every fantasy novel is bad, but that I think you're addressing this growing issue of fantasy for the sake of fantasy-issue.
As in... Twilight and such. Idk it's late. Sorry.
Not that this doesn't happen in books of any genre, it's just that fantasy might just make the clearest distinction between heroes and villains, which gives the poorer writers a good chance to make an "interesting" story with little to no actual story below the magic.
It's like certain shonen mangas. The characters keep getting more powerful without there really even being a limit, all the while the bad guys do the same to keep the story going and at the end, it's all about who's more powerful. Boom, explosion. Story? Long forgotten, it's all about grinding now and yet the fans reading it are saying that its story is amazing and everyone who disagrees is so full of shit it's not even possible.
The best fantasy books have that certain level of reality to them that make it possible for us to identify with the world and the characters, that makes them believable. Many young writers completely forget this aspect thinking that it's unnecessary because fantasy. You don't need to know how characters because dragons 'n magic 'n shit, yo.
The saddest part is how this kind of mentality is getting more and more common.
I may write books that people consider fantasy but I also agree with you. I get the feeling you're addressing the modern authors (instead of omg all fantasy authors ever), both amateurs and published, in this post(mainly at least) and in all honesty, most of them do write pretty useless stuff. Most artists of every medium are bad and as sad as it is, a LOT of bad literature gets published these days because it belongs to a category that's in these days. I'm going to say that getting fantasy published is relatively easy because it is likely to pay itself back than sooner than later, whether it was tasteful or not. :/ Too bad there are people who don't understand this and who flag you as a hater because "omg u disagree with me ur a hat0r".
For the record, I like fantasy. Heck, the LotR trilogy was literally the first book I ever read myself(I got the all-in-one book from my dad when I turned ten)! However, not all fantasy is good fantasy just because it's fantasy.
Speaking of which, I should probably recommend "Wicked", it's a book about the so-called wicked witch of the west and I think it was very enjoyable, not to mention that it gives an entirely different view of the character from the other books(also it's got a lot of Oz-politics in it). No need to read it but I enjoyed it.
Also yay, I qualify for both the things a good writer needs! :
I liked this journal and I apologize if I sound confusing, it's been a long day and my brain's a bit scrambled.
-His Dark Materials trilogy
-Lord of the Rings trilogy (if you haven't read it already!)
-The Black Cauldron
-The Faerie Queene
-Chronicles of Narnia
-Alice in Wonderland
-almost any original Grimm's fairy-tale
There's plenty of good fantasy out there. It's just a matter of finding what's well written AND what you like. I've read plenty of good and rubbish books in almost every genre. Just because Twilight is so popular doesn't mean the romance novel is dead, for example.
I love writing fantasy because I love making up new worlds, species (instead of just elves, orcs, and the likes), and having my characters overcome something you just wouldn't find in a modern day setting. However that doesn't mean I can just skimp on my character development and plot just to indulge the reader in the fantasy part of it. That's what bad fantasy writers do.
You can most definitely have a thrilling, mind bending, thoughtful, and deep fantasy book the same way you can in a non-fantasy book. The only true difference between the two is the setting, one may take place in the made up land of Narwhalia where fairies exist and people can shoot laserbeams, and the other may take place in Manhattan, but both stories could have a relatively similar plot of the character learning, growing, overcoming fears and problems, and being deep.
It just depends on how it's written.
I don't care much for genre. Telling me a story has unicorns gets me about as excited as telling me there's a scene with a toaster in it. If the book is good, it's good, and the genre doesn't matter.
I just feel bad that young writers use fantasy as a way to try and escape that, as if it doesn't matter anymore purely because the story is suppose to be a fantasy, ugh D:
A good Fantasy is flippin' hard to write, fleshing out all the different species, the way your world works, why it works that way, towns, villages, religions, and oh god it hurts my brain XD
I also think with time most young writers do gain a good sense of respect for writing more reality geared works too, I know I did. When I was in middle school all I wrote was pretty bland fantasy mainly stolen from other already set works (Tolkien and the likes) but in highschool I took classes to better my writing and started to really love writing non-fiction/non-fantasy
I read it in high school and loved it. It's very deep and deals with our own views of ourselves and others. It can be a bit bombastic at times, though. Sorry.
Real fantasy writers (or authors of any genre) will do lots of research, study psychology to make their characters more believable and developed, and can usually argue their way out of any given situation. They have to set limits for what is possible in their world and keep people emotionally attached to the characters. They have to be adept in mythology, history, anatomy, and any other skill set that comes up in their stories.
Unfortunately, publishing companies aren't interested in shelling out the money to wait for an author to create a masterpiece. They just want something they can put on the shelves as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Which is how we end up with a large selection of crap aimed at teenage audiences.
You have clearly had the misfortune of being exposed to such "literature" and have developed a bad opinion of all fantasy from this experience. Please, don't write off all books of the fantasy genre based off of a few bad examples. There are better ones out there that you could have read which might have given you a different view from the beginning if only you had been introduced to them before reading the swill provided for our youths.
Also, you say that fantasy writers have narrow views, but you seem to be constricting your own to exclude part of the great, big, beautiful world you profess to love. You say that they are arrogant, ignorant, stubborn, and boring. Yet you have doomed an entire style of writing without a second thought. I know for a fact that you have not read all the fantasy novels out there; no one has.
Fantasy novels are meant to entertain, to explore different worlds and to exercise the imagination. Can you really damn them for being what they are designed to be? If you find them boring, then perhaps it is because the characters do not speak to you or the plot is not to your taste. If you think there is nothing being said, perhaps it is because the author was being too subtle for you to pick up on the message.
Maybe you just haven't had enough life experience to have learned how to read between the lines.
Don't like fantasy? Fine, go read true crime.
P.S. It saddens me that you couldn't make it through "The Lord of the Rings." You're missing out.
I'd like to think I can pick up on subtle messages. Hell, I'm usually the type who pretends there's a message there even if the author didn't intend it. My friend and I sometimes even have contests to see who can make a more profound conclusion from a pop-song.
Why would I want to read true crime? That's oddly specific.
And as for Lord of the Rings, one of the main reasons I read is for the prose itself. I just simply couldn't stand the way the books were written. Aside from that, I've seen the movies, and the only characters I liked were Sam, Merry and Pipin. I don't want to sit through many pages reading about characters I find incredibly boring, like Aragorn and his elf girlfriend. I didn't find the adventure itself very engaging either, but I don't really care for adventures.
Do you have any other suggests for good fantasy? Since I seem to be missing out.