The Expectations of Fantasy II: On What Has Gone Before

In my last post I discussed some of the more recent themes in fantasy books whereby the adventurous elements of the genre seem to have dwindled since the year 2000.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still adventurous fantasy stories being told, but there seem to be fewer of them (at least from what I have noticed), and lately we’ve been seeing a lot of tales of thieves and magicians with a plethora of covers in the fantasy and science-fiction sections of bookstore with hooded figures.

But this post doesn’t exist to go over again the same issues I mentioned last time in detail, because that would be boring.  What I am going to express now, are aspects of the genre that some people complain about having been “done before” because I read something earlier that inspired me to write this.

Dragons, elves, dwarves, knights in shining armour, angels, demons, vampires, magicians, good versus evil, you name it, they’ve all been done before, but you know what, so have humans.  I can’t claim to have read every book ever written in the fantasy genre, but I’ll wager that there are thousands more books in which humans feature than not, and fewer that involve dragons, elves and dwarves, and so on.

I’m not going to lie; the world I created has humans in it as well, but it also has dragons and elves, vampires (and more), and that age old concept of good versus evil.  What’s the difference then? The difference is me, and the way I perceive my world and how I write.  It’s no different for any other author.  Tolkien pretty much set the foundations of the fantasy genre as we understand it, and many have followed his example – I’m no exception.  Does it, however, mean that every single world has to be exactly the same? No.  Is every world exactly the same? No, but some may be similar.  Are every author’s morals, beliefs and techniques the same? No.  We’ll always compare such races to how they’re written by different authors, and some of them may be similar.

I’m not sorry to say that I write about dragons and elves and other races that have been used before, and I’m not going to apologise to anyone for doing so.  I’ve developed them to suit my world and my stories, and I just hope that people see the differences rather than just the similarities, and that they see the world and its lore for what it is.  Most of us want our work to be as original as it can be, for it to be one hundred percent original, you need to come up with something nobody has ever thought of before, and in truth, something entirely original should not even contain humanity.

Typically, fantasy is written in settings akin to Earth’s ancient or medieval times, but that doesn’t have to be the case on every account, though they are generally preferable.  My world encompasses ancient times, medieval times, and eras similar to the late renaissance and very early industrial.  Some of my ancient civilisations still exist, and there are many tiers to its reality.  I have drawn inspiration from so many different sources, and I just hope that many will find it agreeable, though I understand there will be those who it won’t be right for.

At the time of writing this, I am still a new author, but to other authors like me who are on their maiden voyage into the unknown, just be yourself.  If you want to write about dragons and elves, write about them.  If that’s not your thing, write about something else.  Just don’t knock other authors for writing about what they want to write about.  Some readers will love them, and some won’t.  It’s as simple as that.

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