Daily Prompt: Recognise

Hello everyone and welcome back to the blog. As promised last week I have another writing article for you, this one focusing on the fantasy genre, and what I recognise as my favourite and least favourite parts of the genre. This is entirely my own opinion, and I suspect many people will have alternative opinions which is brilliant because I am always up for being swayed in one direction or another by a convincing argument. Let’s get started.

1: What Can be Included

Now, this first point refers to the breadth of what is available as a fantasy writer because there is a near-infinite amount of options in the genre. Even if you were to restrict yourself down to one of it’s sub-sub-genres you would still find a whole breadth of deviation between both sides. My favourite example is Lord of the Rings (traditional medieval fantasy genre), compared to a book I’ve reviewed before called The Sundered Crown (same genre). Both books were in the same sandbox, but while Tolkien went elves, dwarves and hobbitses, Olney (author of The Sundered Crown) went for a very different flavour with ghouls, werewolves, and various other forms of undead. I have read many books in this style, but picking up Olney still felt like a fresh read. However, I would also say this is one of the downsides of the genre because I have often read many books that, in place of a plot, throw in a new magical creature every few chapters to try and keep things entertaining. This approach is becoming less and less common, but many times I have thrown away a book in disgust because of this.

2: The Sub-Genres

My second love of Fantasy does in fact stem from it’s numerous sub-genres. I love that I can sit down and choose to right something and, rather than just being stuck in a single genre, I can reach out and mingle it with other genres. Do I want a gnomish gumshoe PI with a revolver instead of a bow and arrow, done. The flexibility involved is enormous and quite often I find myself writing a mingling of several different genres. Now, this doesn’t just apply to fantasy as a genre, it can be applied to any genre if you push hard enough, but sometimes I encounter books that I dislike because they probably shouldn’t be fantasy at all. I remember starting to read a mystery thriller where the protagonist was a vampire detective. Now, as far as I am aware, being a vampire had no notable affect on the story, beyond a couple of flashy fight scenes. By the time I was done reading I had decided that the story could have been fine if he was just a regular guy, and would have made the physical conflicts more tense because there was an actual chance of injury or death. I can understand the temptation, vampires and werewolves sell books, but sometimes I think that X book really doesn’t need fantasy.

3: Urban Fantasy

I am unable to talk about fantasy, without mentioning urban fantasy at some point, it is single-handedly one of my favourite sub-genres to write in and it is rare you will find my without my nose in a book from this genre. I love making my setting a big part of the story, and this genre allows you to take already existing ghosts stories, beast sightings, and paranormal mysteries and weave them into a narrative. There is nothing more satisfying for me than reading a book and realising inspiration was taken from something already existing in our culture. It’s nice to be able to believe that if you visit the city the book is set in that you might, if you’re very lucky, step into a world filled with magic and excitement. Now, if only we could avoid scantily clad, leather-wearing, uncomfortably posing female heroines on the front. I love strong female heroines, but you don’t need to wield a sword in a provocative and deadly way to be strong. Storm Front, Jim Butcher, and one of the strongest female characters in that book didn’t fight, often, but instead offered her husband and unshakeable love and support. She also cared for a gigantic family and found time to train her husband in swordplay. There are lots of different ways for a character to be strong, and I’d love to see female heroines given more dimension, and maybe even wear something that’s not leather.

4: LGBT (and all the other letters I’ve missed)

A lot of thanks goes to scifi as well as fantasy for this, but I’ve found a lot of representation for the LGBT community has come from these genres. I’m a gay man myself and I would be lying if I said I didn’t find characters like these easy to relate to, but I’m glad people aren’t making it a huge part of their stories. Sexuality doesn’t have to be a huge part of the plot, and I honestly prefer when it isn’t, but it’s nice to have those characters their, and it endears stories to a wider audience. However (cue my growl), if I see one more bare-chested horny werewolf erotica story I will vomit. Admittedly erotica isn’t my thing but seriously, bugger off.

5: Teasing Paranormal Romance

Sorry for all paranormal romance lovers, but I love teasing this genre. The minute Twilight hit the shelves and the screens I new I was going to have decades worth of material to take the piss out of. I really truly believe that this genre could produce some excellent stories, truly heartbreaking romances, but I will be damned if Twilight is going to one of them. Unfortunately this genre is popular, and people read this stuff, and that means people will keep writing in a similar vein to those god-awful books and I will keep making fun of the genre.

That’s all of my ranting off my chest, and I hope you found at least some of these points interesting. If not, let me know why in the comments. I will be back next Sunday with more about writing and my favourite genres.

Until then, seriously how can I not make fun of paranormal romance.