Most annoying thing about fantasy

Arya Stark

Philosophizes with Kellhus
#21
I haven't read enough to have an opinion on overall genre problems but one thing I don't like is repetition of words or phrases not specific to characters. Specific to a character would be Ninefingers repeating things his father told him. Repeated phrases distract me. Especially if it's not dialog. Dialog I get...people have common phrases in areas. Idk...just really bugs me. I've read several authors considered to be the best of the best that do this
 
#22
It's not easy to develop a magical system that is vastly different from what already exist and still have it functional in a story. For most authors, magic is a tool, albeit sometimes a dull unpolished one. I got into writing fantasy after 20 years of Fantasy Role-playing and I feel that the mechanics of magic are just as important as the laws of physics. I have to look and dig up some of my articles and see how my theories compare to the modern writers.

Hovannes
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#23
It's not easy to develop a magical system that is vastly different from what already exist and still have it functional in a story. For most authors, magic is a tool, albeit sometimes a dull unpolished one. I got into writing fantasy after 20 years of Fantasy Role-playing and I feel that the mechanics of magic are just as important as the laws of physics. I have to look and dig up some of my articles and see how my theories compare to the modern writers.

Hovannes
It is nice to hear someone thinks consistency is important (at least by implication in the comparison with the laws of physics). Welcome to the forums, by the way!
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#24
It's not easy to develop a magical system that is vastly different from what already exist and still have it functional in a story. For most authors, magic is a tool, albeit sometimes a dull unpolished one. I got into writing fantasy after 20 years of Fantasy Role-playing and I feel that the mechanics of magic are just as important as the laws of physics. I have to look and dig up some of my articles and see how my theories compare to the modern writers.

Hovannes

Welcome to the forums! I'm not much of a fantasy writer yet but I try and I have a lot of good ideas. If a science fiction novel needs to stay consistent within the law physics then why shouldn't magic in fantasy novels stay consistent within it's own mechanics. I think inconsistent magic sums up pretty well why some snobby readers look down on fantasy.
 

AyameMajikku

Stood on the wall with Druss
#25
Welcome to the forums! I'm not much of a fantasy writer yet but I try and I have a lot of good ideas. If a science fiction novel needs to stay consistent within the law physics then why shouldn't magic in fantasy novels stay consistent within it's own mechanics. I think inconsistent magic sums up pretty well why some snobby readers look down on fantasy.

I know someone who doesn't read fantasy because of inconsistent magic systems or the magic solving whatever problem too easily... and I've had people assume that sort of thing without asking questions. To me, it should be part of the science of the world--just like Hovannes said, it should be just as important as physics to their world. After all, in a way, it is part of their physics--just different from what we're used to here.

:D And welcome, Hovannes!
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#26
...that Robert Stanek is still writing in the genre and now promoting his own "success" at self publishing on a new blog.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#27
Believability in general is probably fantasies biggest problem. It kind of encompasses all of the issues we've talked about so far - inconsistent magic, romance, heroes who are too strong, etc.

Since research technically isn't required to write fantasy that encourages lazy writers to choose this genre over others and is probably the reason there are so many bad fantasy writers. Writing historical fiction, science fiction actually requires some education since books in both genres must have some roots in reality. You can't write historical fiction without knowing history and fact checking beforehand. You can't write science fiction without some understanding of futuristic technology and science. I mean..... if you look at the worst fantasy books on this website you'll see a lot of relatively popular fantasy writers on that list including Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks, R.A. Salvatore, Mercedies Lacky, Karen Miller, Sara Dougless, Raymond E. Feist, Christopher Paolini, Stephanie Meyer, and David Farland.

So I guess the ultimate question is, why does fantasy attract so many bad writers? I guess that kind of goes back to the first sentence of the second paragraph,
 
#28
Thanks for the welcoming hands/notes. I wish I had more time to read and comment. This discussion has stimulated my memory, and I did manage to look up and find some of my old documents regarding the Laws of Magic I wrote some 10 years ago. I have even added these revised notes to my website and welcome all who want to read and comment to visit the website (not sure if its legal to post a link here, but a simple google search for pointsystemfantasy - google sites will get you there). Focus on the World of Equran -> Discussions of Magic to start. Three pages total some 1200-1500 words per page.

I have found that developing a functional set of rules/laws prior to writing a novel is essential for continuity. If the author does not understand the magic he has created, how can the reader. It's hard enough describing something that does not exist, changing the rules of magic as a story develops makes it that much harder for the reader in my view. That said, I find that most writers (dubbed 'bad') focus on the setting and characters at the expense of underlying aspects of magic. After all, most readers want to immerse themselves in the character(s) and the plot of a good story, and do not care of the actual 'mechanics' of a given magic system. I guess that 'give them what they want' mentality is the perception here.

My two cents;
Hovannes
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#29
why does fantasy attract so many bad writers?
I am not sure that the genre 'attracts' bad writers. I think it is more a case of .. oh i had a great idea/dream i'll write it down and everyone will love it! This kind of mentality without sound ability to write well leads to your point below.

inconsistent magic, romance, heroes who are too strong
If you have a look at other genres there are similar inclusions as well 'love story, interesting plot, descriptive setting, blah blah'. The fantasy genre and it's readers are known to draw people with vivid imaginations (imo) and i think some writers may take advantage of that, i would call those writers bad ones. Many of the self published or draft format books i've had a look at stem from the author having a 'need' to tell the story ... this makes me a little worried. i feel the need to burst out into dance OFTEN and i usually do (to the dismay and amusement of those around me) but i'm not going to put myself on youtube and expect people to like it because i think it is a great example of artistic expression. I do however have friends who are professional dancers who also feel the need to break out into dance, they however can put themselves on youtube and people would go awww wow /tears. Difference between myself and them is their years of training and dedication to their creative 'need'. Writing is the same, it's fine to feel creative but some of the stuff you create can be utter garbage unless you have honed your craft. Then that 'dream' or 'idea' will probably come out as something i, and others, might actually want to and enjoy reading.

You can't write historical fiction without knowing history and fact checking beforehand. You can't write science fiction without some understanding of futuristic technology and science
There has been many a post about inaccuracies and people getting annoyed about it. i think that is a matter of knowing the subject though. For example i was watching Bones (the tv show) and i have NO idea what the hell they are talking about most of the time, so i wouldn't know if they are being inconsistent. In the episode i was watching they went to a karate dojo and said some stuff about it. Thanks to a friend of mine i was able to see that they were being accurate ... if they weren't i'd be like OH WTH!! you're meant to be all smart and stuff and you don't know what kumite even means! if i was pedantic i might never watch the show again.

I however don't really have much general knowledge when it comes to the stuff in fantasy books (weapons, middle ages or whatever), so i don't really get bothered by inaccuracies. I do however understand how this could be considered bad writing/researching. I however, am still more concerned about the stupid inclusion of so many nautical terms in Red Seas than the accuracy of them :p
 

epicfantasyfreak

Journeyed there and back again
#30
I've got another to add. Kids. Just because you're writing a fantasy novel doesn't mean your main characters have to be kids/teens. How about some adults?
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#31
I've got another to add. Kids. Just because you're writing a fantasy novel doesn't mean your main characters have to be kids/teens. How about some adults?

I think they're a useful narrative proxy for a reader, since by default most children are going to have a very narrow idea of the world, and will need to be taught (just like the reader). And in the cases of a more 'realistic' world, their naivete is more likely to match the perspective of the reader's, as opposed to barbarian mercenary veteran Rapehallow the Murderizer, who views the world in terms of gold pieces and places to put his barbarian dong (although this latter archetype seems to be inexplicably rising in popularity), making it easier to win/align the reader's sympathies.

Of course, the authors who aren't very good don't seem to have more than a basic grasp of this idea (which more likely just comes from trying to do a coming-of-age Hero's Journey with little/no inspiration, so it isn't particularly well thought out anyway). Which is most authors. So I agree.
 

Buffy V Slayer

Knows Who John Uskglass Is
#32
Really bad cover art. I have been embarrassed to pass on some really good fantasy fiction on more than one occasion because the cover is a cheese-ball picture of some half-clad woman in wolfskin leggings and 80's hair standing on a rocky outcropping and pointing into the distance with her staff, her wolf companion at her side. lol
 

TCSimpson

Might as well be a Malazan regular
#33
I don't think there's any author out there who we couldn't find an issue with. One man's diamond is another man's useless stone. In the end unless the writing is completely horrible, you will find someone who sings praises. As for magic. I love magic and sword fights and that reflects in my writing. It's why I LOVE Sanderson more than I do G.R.R.M. I think Martin pulls out the magic when he needs to create a neat situation/plot line. (Just think of the times he used it.) No explanations, no one really KNOWs how the magic works etc etc. That's my issue there, BUT his characters and plots are incredible.

For me, my annoyances comes down to gobs of backstory at the start (Why do I care about the history of this city? ZZZZZzzzzzzzz), bad fight scenes and the author not defining their magic. Yes, it can be done and the rest of the book be great, but those two do get to me. And I'd have to add, Deus Ex Machina.

Oh, and why, oh why, do so many fantasy authors think they should start off with the weather?
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#34
For me, my annoyances comes down to gobs of backstory at the start
Oh, and why, oh why, do so many fantasy authors think they should start off with the weather?
Both of those are big ones for me, too. Weather, descriptions of cities, long passages of histories, elaborate mythologies in agonizing detail, etc. -- these things do not grab the reader's attention when they show up on the first page. (They also bore me when some "teacher" figure is telling a "student" figure an agonizingly long story to impart a lesson, but really the author is just using it to do a backstory infodump, as evidenced by long, multi-paragraph speeches.)
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#35
If you have a look at other genres there are similar inclusions as well 'love story, interesting plot, descriptive setting, blah blah'. The fantasy genre and it's readers are known to draw people with vivid imaginations (imo) and i think some writers may take advantage of that, i would call those writers bad ones. Many of the self published or draft format books i've had a look at stem from the author having a 'need' to tell the story ... this makes me a little worried. i feel the need to burst out into dance OFTEN and i usually do (to the dismay and amusement of those around me) but i'm not going to put myself on youtube and expect people to like it because i think it is a great example of artistic expression. I do however have friends who are professional dancers who also feel the need to break out into dance, they however can put themselves on youtube and people would go awww wow /tears. Difference between myself and them is their years of training and dedication to their creative 'need'. Writing is the same, it's fine to feel creative but some of the stuff you create can be utter garbage unless you have honed your craft. Then that 'dream' or 'idea' will probably come out as something i, and others, might actually want to and enjoy reading.
So you're saying fantasy authors take advantage of the fact that it's readers have vivid imaginations... Does this mean these bad writers who think everyone will love their terrible story believe that their readers will be able to vividly imagine their poorly drawn descriptions? Sounds like an insult to every avid fantasy reader out there if you ask me. I think sub consciously bad authors know that their not any good even if they act arrogant. I know when I'm writing badly and when I'm writing well. I'm not even going to consider getting published any time in the immediate future because I know I haven't honed my craft well enough.
 

Aikura

Became a Faceless Man
#37
Here are a few things that tend to get on my nerves, none of them confined to the fantasy genre, but they do crop up there with notably high incidence:

· Overused tropes – This echoes what others have said about farmboys with swords etc, but the moment I encounter that first groan-inducing cliché is the same I seriously consider abandoning the book.

· Shallow characters – I can’t stand the overly rigid, stoic brooding heroes who try too hard, nor the other extreme where every character is an angsty, self-obsessed, hormone-driven teenager. Yes, there are real people like that, but most people are complex individuals who react differently to circumstance. Not insipid flakes who react with equal passion to getting mud on their clothes as to having their village burned to the ground.

· Misogyny – Be it passive damsels or enthusiastic rape scenes, nothing puts me off a book like misogyny. I think arguments that these boy fantasies somehow reflect medieval ‘realism’ are weak, especially when such scenes are used gratuitously to shock or titillate rather than serving any kind of narrative function. No thanks.

· Repetition – As others have said, authors sometimes just don’t give their readers much credit when it comes to retaining established facts about their fictional world and characters. Mistborn is a good example, where the properties of each metal are re-explained in tedious detail during the fight scenes, totally robbing them of their ferocity and tempo. The Final Empire is much more guilty than The Well of Ascension in this regard, making fight scenes more enjoyable in the latter in my opinion.

· Deus ex machina – Grrrrr. I actually don’t mind magic being used mysteriously or without defined rules, except when it is used to spontaneously manufacture solutions. This is particularly painful when the invocation of said magic actually devalues important parts of the story and characters’ struggles. In Jon Sprunk’s Shadow’s Master, the protagonist spends the entire book on a painful trek across the whole world. Then, near the end, Sprunk decides it would be convenient to have a resolution scene in the city where he started, so the protagonist suddenly discovers he can teleport. Ugh, his whole journey is now rendered worthless. Another example from the superior The Well of Ascension/The Hero of Ages:

Okay, so Elend almost dies at the Well, but by incredible fortune there happens to be a magic Mistborn pill like right there. Hella convenient. But that, I can actually swallow. What annoys me is not that this turns Elend into a Mistborn, but that it turns him into an uber-powerful Mistborn. This devalues the struggle we experienced with Vin through two books as she has toiled to develop and master her abilities. It also makes Elend a bit of a Mary Sue, because where before he was flawed, he is now an unstoppable, confident, intelligent, handsome warrior-philosopher-king. Mind you, I haven't finished Hero yet so this may yet be redeemed.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#38
In Jon Sprunk’s Shadow’s Master, the protagonist spends the entire book on a painful trek across the whole world. Then, near the end, Sprunk decides it would be convenient to have a resolution scene in the city where he started, so the protagonist suddenly discovers he can teleport.
Those books (I read the whole series) were unoriginal and full of tropes anyway. I mean like, seriously, how many times can a guy be on the verge of death only to fight like a badass in yet another battle?
 

Aikura

Became a Faceless Man
#39
Very true. There were some things I liked about the series; as far as over-the-top fight scenes described in detail go, I thought these were done very well. And the writing itself was not bad at all. But otherwise, it could tick off most of my pet hates: cliché, shallow characters, deus ex machina (almost always in the form of convenient magic), misogyny (weak female characters, frequent use or threat of sexual violence).
 

Obscenic

Told lies with Locke
#40
Misrepresentation of weaponry and combat in fantasy worlds that are similar to that of the Middle Ages in western Europe. A few examples:

Huge, weighty, unwieldy weapons. An average sword weighed 2 to 3.5 pounds. Even claymores, the huge swords of the Scottish highlanders, rarely weighed more than 8 pounds.

Long, drawn-out combat—A fight between two people wouldn't last more than ten seconds, and that's if it was drawn out. Hollywood's complete neglect of understanding western martial arts has led to ridiculous, fancy sword play both in movies and novels. In reality, there would be at most one or two parries/blocks before an opponent would be successful in delivering a crucial, killing strike. A sword was a weapon to kill, and they were very good (and expedient) at doing so.

People killing birds in flight with a bow and arrow. This happens in ASOIAF and many other books, mostly as a device to kill a messenger bird. Even the most skilled riflemen in the world find it nearly impossible to shoot down a bird in flight. Certainly no one ever did it with a bow and arrow without extraordinary luck and skill.

Open battles in the middle of a field—this was quite rare, and mostly avoided. Medieval warfare was all about gaining fortifications. Kings and lords did not waste precious gold on an expensive campaign to fight in the middle of a field when they could siege a castle or overrun a strategic outpost.

These things don't annoy me as much as they used to. After all they are fantasy novels.