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September 18th, 2004

10:59 pm: Rant on royalty
Just on royals, this time. Thanks to [info]melarin for the idea.

You might be medieval, but there’s no need to be pseudo-medieval )

Perhaps peasants shall be next.

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September 15th, 2004

07:55 pm: Invisible barriers rant
Ever get to the point where you’ve been reading so much idealistic fantasy that the idealism is leaking out your ears and getting in the way of your vision and…

…turning into something else? )

Not sure what rant I should do next.

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September 11th, 2004

09:36 pm: Merchant rant
Because I’ve been reading colonial history about them lately, and then felt like ranting about them.

We will take your money! Er, if the authors would actually let us… )

*puts up ‘Merchants Are People Too’ sign*

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September 8th, 2004

09:03 pm: Rant on D
As long promised and taking a long time to deliver: D&D stereotypes!

They’re responsible for more bad fantasy than Tolkien is )

I’m sure there are more of them, but this hits a lot of the important ones, I think.

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September 5th, 2004

08:25 pm: Handling frustrating characters
Well, I was going to do the rant on D&D stereotypes, but I didn’t really feel like it. I felt like doing this instead.

Whether it’s your frustratingly naïve heroine, your frustratingly blind parent, or your frustratingly stupid-and-shouldn’t-be hero… )

D&D stereotypes next, I promise.

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September 2nd, 2004

11:28 pm: On assassin characters
A bit late, but as promised, here’s the assassin rant.

So you want to kill people for a living… )

D&D stereotypes next, I think. Or why fantasy is not a role-playing game.

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August 31st, 2004

10:15 pm: Thief hero rant
Thief heroes are an affront to good sense, good taste, good fantasy, and good writing…if done badly.

The economics of thievery )

Assassins next.

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August 28th, 2004

09:59 pm: Fighter hero rant
This time, it’s on the other really frequent class of heroes.

Fighters: give them some freaking limitations )

I have just realized that this will necessitate a rant on writing battle scenes at some point in the future, because so many points I thought of just didn’t quite fit having a fighter hero. Rants on thieves and assassins first, though.

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August 26th, 2004

10:26 pm: On mage heroes
I resent the primacy of mage and fighter heroes in fantasy, since I think it’s a) harder to do original things with them by now, b) too convenient that every single person who matters in a fantasy world is an astounding mage or an excellent fighter, and c) the writer tends to make them superpowered. However, I’ve already done rants on different occupations and changing the protagonists themselves. If someone does insist on writing a mage hero, there are ways to avoid the worst clichés.

Mage heroes to go )

Fighter heroes next.

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August 24th, 2004

08:45 pm: Flaw-scrubbing rant
The title of this rant refers to a process that happens to characters who start off genuinely flawed—usually the heroes, but sometimes villains or random minor characters who need to learn a lesson. The author scrubs them throughout the book, turning every flaw or possibly murky incident into its best possible interpretation, and insisting that some other things that made the character who he was change completely. Now, I’m all for character arcs, but only if they don’t produce a shining, flawless stereotype at the end.

What not to do when dealing with flawed characters )

This ties in with redemption stories, but so often the hero really has nothing to be redeemed from; the author just thinks he does, because my gosh, he’s not Mr. Perfect yet, and winds up blotting out all the shadows that actually make him human.

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August 21st, 2004

06:04 pm: Special ability rant
I would have said, a little while ago, that I have a low opinion of characters with special abilities, but that’s not true. I have a low opinion of the way that most authors handle them.

Better ways of handling them )

I’ve grown more and more allergic to heroes with special abilities. Too often, it seems as though the story were written for the ability, not the hero.

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August 18th, 2004

08:57 pm: The suspense in fantasy books would like to stop dying, please and thank you
Ah, suspense. Probably the most frequent murder victim of bad fantasy, aside from common sense.

It’d like to stop hiring personal injury lawyers now )

If the suspense in fantasy books ever did turn sentient and decide to sue the authors that had killed it numerous times, with malice, the list would be longer than most fantasy books I’ve read.

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August 17th, 2004

02:12 pm: Religious questionnaire, part two
What the subject line says )

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August 15th, 2004

04:25 pm: Religion questionnaire
And back to the questionnaire format again. This time, some things that I tend to consider when setting up a religion.

Noisy gods and quiet saints )

Religion is a big conflict-provider in fantasy, handled right. The problem is that fantasy authors present whitewashed versions of it (just as they tend to do with battles of the sexes, romances, the conflict between good and evil, and everything else).

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August 13th, 2004

04:39 pm: Jumping into oblivion, a.k.a writing without an outline
I don’t know how many people do this, but it can sometimes be valuable. And it’s very useful when the story decides to change itself entirely anyway.

Some ways to make writing without an outline fun, not terrifying )

Writing with an outline is one way to do fantasy. It’s far from the only way. And I suspect a large part of the reason more people don’t write without one is due to fear of what might happen, or a desire to obey writing “rules,” rather than experimenting around and seeing what’s best for them.

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August 11th, 2004

05:00 pm: Healers and cures rant
A lot of people wondered why I didn't put something on curing diseases in the last rant.

Because I was saving it for this one )

I seem to start thinking like a Dark Lord when I write these rants. But every fantasy author has to, to a certain extent, or kill her own suspense, a huge problem in some subgenres.

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August 9th, 2004

08:12 pm: When the plague comes to town
Or, rules of creating fantasy diseases. Because famines and civil wars and Destiny and Dark Lords aren't enough; what you really need to slam into your fantasy world is an epidemic.

Some considerations )

More fun ways to put your characters through hell coming up!

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August 6th, 2004

08:07 pm: Rebel rant part two
Well, this is somewhat later than I promised, but here goes.

Calling somewhat brighter rebels than normal )

Given how many possibilities stories focused on rebellions offer, I don’t know why so many people manage to shipwreck them.

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August 3rd, 2004

10:42 pm: Rant on rebel groups, part one
This is a subject that’s rather been on my mind lately, since I wrote one rebel hero and, in my current novel, a woman who wishes the rebels and the status quo would all just get drowned together (in the immortal words of Mark Twain about James Fenimore Cooper’s characters). The vast majority of fantasies are about people rebelling against an evil overlord or a usurper or some aspect of the world as it is. So here are ways that I think they should be handled, combined with irritations about the way they often are handled.

Bright rebels and stupid ones- there should be a difference )

A second part on this tomorrow. I have a lot to babble about on it.

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August 1st, 2004

10:46 pm: Throwing out the kitchen sink
I’ve read a lot of very conventional fantasy (conventional both in the sense that it follows fantasy tropes and stereotypes, and in the sense that it doesn’t push its own original concepts far enough). There are a lot of good medieval fantasies, historical fantasies, and alternate Earth fantasies; my two favorite authors, Kay and Martin, write in those genres. But at the same time, fantasy has such limitless potential that I don’t think every new author needs to follow in that vein.

Some assumptions that conventional fantasies tend to make, and ways of throwing them out )

I get impatient, sometimes, thinking of all the great fantasies that could be out there, and which I’ll never get to read if people keep treading these well-worn paths.

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