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for Various Rants About Fantasy Fiction

10/19/2006 c3 4Sakka-Fenikkusu
All good points. You have brought up several things I didn't even consider about magic. I mean, it's painfully obvious now, but I just didn't think about it much. Yes, elemental magic has always been stereotyped to me.

Did you ever think about the possibility of someone from long ago coming to our time and mistaking our technology for magic? It really would look like it to him / her, watching us clap our hands to turn off the lights or hit a button on a remote control (or a wand, might be the term?) to turn on our TV. If anyone reads this review and thinks that would be an awesome idea, it's okay. You can steal it. I don't mind.

I want to fave this. Really badly. I am going to clean out my faves. I must. Maybe.
10/19/2006 c2 Sakka-Fenikkusu
"Pointy eared hippies with cheekbones to die for." Now that is the best description of an elf I have heard in a long time. You rock.
10/19/2006 c1 Sakka-Fenikkusu
First thing: Your first chapter's title is brilliant.

Second thing: I agree quite a bit. When I read about an assassin's brutal slayings, it makes me kind of sick to my stomach.

Third: You're right about the training bit. Killing someone is painfully easy when you have a sharp weapon. Stab them in the neck, stomach or heart (if you have enough strength in your stab- it's hard to get past ribs) and they are almost guaranteed to die. This is called a knife, Mr. Assassin. And this is called a jugular. Knife meets jugular, target meets ground.

Fourth: Time to read the next chapter. Sorry I can't fave you. Regrettably, I do not have any room. I will try to make some but it is not guaranteed (I'm attached.)
6/28/2006 c3 25The Mumbling Sage
Not to be generalizing or anything, but it really wouldn't be Fantasy if it didn't involve magic, would it? I suppose there's the alternate universe theory, but that's more science fiction or historical fiction. I like the rest of the chapter, especially the 'Sufficiently Advanced Technology'.
11/11/2005 c5 6Anya Tempest
Hilarious - absolutely hilarious! And so true...
10/18/2005 c5 1Madcow13
I’m guessing you love to rant? I love to rant too. I go on and on and on even in my sleep and through everything and to myself... Then eventually someone has the decency to gag me. It's like verbal diarrhoea, I tell you.

Anyway, I pretty much agree with you on everything that you’ve rant about here. I’m guilty of most of it, I confess. I’m trying to change my ways and I have to say I’m improving slowly but surely. Or, I hope so anyway.

I especially agree on the whole perfection part. I hate perfection. I can’t really emphasise with it and it gets on my nerves. I mean, how can you emphasise with perfection because nobody is perfect. I prefer characters with flaws and characters with realistic flaws – because some people come up with the weirdest excuses why their characters aren’t perfect, I mean, is them not being able to play scrabble really relevant?

I agree about assassins too. Not particularly cool if you ask me, but people are getting more violent nowadays so I guess I can see why more people write about it.

And your points about Chosen Ones, I completely agree. I am completely guilty, but that isn’t the point. I prefer a Frodo type hero because it shows that hey, you might not be amazing and all powerful but if you work for something you can make it happen. I guess Aragorn is a bit perfect for me, but I do agree with your points about him too.

So, anyway, thanks for giving me a laugh with your sarcastic remarks and thanks for the pointers on the annoying clichés of the Fantasy genre. I enjoyed the read.
6/16/2005 c1 stacey
5/31/2005 c1 8Nosmada
Hm. Well, I cannot entirely agree with you that assassin characters are "BAD(!)", but I do concur with your point about how well they lend themselves to stereotypes and cliches. And yes, for that matter, I have witnessed many a shitty story/novel on this website which featured an assassin character. I, however, did not attribute the shittiness of the story to the character's profession, but rather the author's simplified way of illustrating this profession. Some techniques that I often see are

1) Assassin just wants to be loved, but can't find decent work elsewhere (excuse me? For this to work, you'd have to set up your whole society according to a very foreign caste system, which might work, but most amateurs authors don't put that much thought into it)

2) World just doesn't understand assassin. Assassin is cold and withdrawn. This is a cliche in and of itself. Who says that an assassin can't wear bright clothing and dance to disco music? Who says that an assassin can't go home and play with her kids-a la Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill flicks? (though, granted, those were semi-satirical, but not of the assassin issue, as I saw it) *I think Limyaael actually made this point in one of her rants, as I recall.

I believe the fatal flaw of most fantasy assassins is that their "mystique" is overly emphasized. There is no rule that says that assassins must be dark and mysterious, but 99% of the time, they are.

Hmm. In the prologue of my first novel, I had a *former* assassin character, though she wasn't the main protagonist. She wore a brightly coloured sweater and blue jeans. She lamented her past as an assassin and felt guilt for killing people for money, partly due to superstitious reasons, a string of later bad luck, and believing gods cursed her. She is then promptly killed by someone from the past who she pissed off awhile back.

I don't write "good" and "evil", however. I prefer shades of grey, and my protagonists are often as morally corrupt as my antagonists. I chose a dystopic power-based largely lawless slum as a large setting for my writing, though, so I seldom felt much need to justify explaining why a person would kill others. In, say, the slums of some Latin American countries, drug trades, murder, and gang life are very quotidian, thus I do not find my dystopic concept to be terribly far-fetched by the standards of our own world.

Incidentally, one other note: Sometimes I think the appeal of a decently-written assassin character can be not in what they do, but *how* they do it. I think that many fantasy authors do not truly consider this. For instance, in Jhereg by Steven Brust, the first of the Vlad Taltos novels, the intrigue of the novel came not because Vlad finally kills his target (you know it is coming) but of *how* he plotted his scheme out. Watching him plan and plan and finally execute those plans is all very interesting. The assassination itself is merely the conclusion. But, if you've never read the Taltos novels, I should mention that they are largely parody as well, and so not to be taken seriously, thus fitting in right about where you seem to believe that fantasy assassins belong.

There is one other point of yours that I somewhat disagree with:

"More importantly, from the point of view of a writer, if murder in a story does not feel cruel, brutal and violent then maybe, just maybe, there is a problem with your characterization. If your readers can watch characters – even supporting characters – get casually snuffed out without reacting with even a little distaste then perhaps those characters don’t feel properly real, and that, if you’re trying to write something serious, is a problem. "

But say that you're writing in third-person limited and your view-point character (who, hell, might even be the assassin in the first place) does not *FIND* murder to be sick and twisted. Well, obviously, the damned story is from their limited point of view, so why would the narrative feature anything to make the murders sound particularly horrifying?

This does not make sense to me. If I were an amoral killer (which I'm not; thank the gods, or something) and someone wrote a story about my life using my third-person limited view-point, then would I really kill someone and maybe focus on the horrendous details as being-well, truly horrendous? If I were an assassin, I might just be like "All in a day's work", or if I were a psychopathic serial killer whose mind was out in space, then I might be thinking of, say, flowers, as I chopped up my victims. Who's to say? But being a psychopath/assassin, I'm sure I wouldn't be shocked/horrified, so I doubt that the narrative would convey a very strong sense of horror.

Unless you mean horror as shown by the reactions of the secondary characters or someone else finding the body, that is. That might work.

"Do we really want our murderers to look cool? Is that not, at the end of the day, a little bit – well – messed up?"

Well, yes, but there is a school of thought that says that writing can be used to alleviate society's desires for the dark, twisted, and depraved. Now I'm not necessarily saying that I want to leap around rooftops and shoot at people with a crossbow, because I most certainly do not, but as a writer, I will concede that there is a certain thrill in "getting into the mind" of someone whose mentality on life is vastly different from your own.

It is a challenge, as I see it. I have never had an urge to kill others, yet I might attempt to write from the point of someone who does. Why? Not because I want to kill others, but because I see the psyche and the motivations behind a character's actions as fascinating, especially when those characters are entirely different from me in some very fundamental ways. I mean, I am an eighteen year old girl who spends most of her time writing and reading novels. I could write about, say, a bunch of eighteen year old girls who spend most of their time writing and reading novels. However, there would be no pleasure in doing so because I would simply be writing myself time and time again.

Being a pacifistic person by nature, I absolutely cannot *fathom* what would make one human being kill another. However, seeing that mentality, I might think: Could I write someone with a mindset such as this and make them believable? Much more of a challenge for a young author, than, say, writing about a girl who goes to school and listens to music or whatever. The more foreign the character's belief system, the more difficult they are to write; ergo the more thrill an author may have in writing them.

Or so I think, personally. I'm not sure if the above statements are in any way related to why many authors write assassins, as I am speaking entirely for myself here.
5/27/2005 c5 a viewer
I love these "rant" essays! You are so totally right about everything you said! I write fantasy fiction myself, though I haven't (and don't intend to) post it here or elsewhere, and I find that a lot of my friends who are into RPG, anime and LOTR have a lot of steriotypical situations and styles. I've always tried to keep my stuff very original, and I'm glad there's someone to back me up. BTW, you sound like a true Tolkienite - congratulations.

PS You claim to be a lot meaner and cynical than you are.
5/9/2005 c1 Scrappity
I am somewhat disappointed that you didn't add the ever popular and alarming number of vampire cliches. Then again, this is fantasy, but I would love to hear you make a comment about that.
5/5/2005 c5 Raleighj
The MJH person, back again...with an account this time. Sorry all the words of the previous posts got smashed together – very difficult to read, now, I’m afraid.

On rebels – yes yes and more yes. Especially the “why are other people NOT rebelling against it” part. And the “a) rarities and b)often not particularly sexy” part. I also liked your way of fixing the rebellious princess plot. (Writing about a culture in the midst of a massive progressivist upheaval would be awesome..I’m going to have to try it sometime, after I finish some of my other stuff.)

I have tried to explain some of this stuff about chronological snobbery and societal heritage myself, and pretty much failed – from now on I’ll bow down and link people to this semi-eloquent rant.

Your take on two varieties of Chosen Ones is quite interesting – I like it. Very good way of explaining some problems and difficulties with C.O.s, and how to remedy them.
3/17/2005 c5 8SwordoftheKing
Ouch. I am, impressed, and, wounded. I must thank you for being both well worded, and somewhat blunt. Truthfully I have had quite a few stories that would be cut to ribbons by this rant. (not necessarily the ones I have on this site) I am humbled by your great knowledge.
3/6/2005 c3 Miz
Magic is losers, anyway. In ficton you see wizards who can't even tie their own shoes without magic.
3/5/2005 c2 Miz
*giggles* "Pointy-earred hippies"? Actually, the hippies are assosciated with drugs and peace, not exactly the stereotype elf from what I gather.
3/5/2005 c1 Miz Zag
Then there are the hard-hearted people who prided themselves on being malicious.
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