Avoiding Clichés

Clichés in fantasy are many, and in previous blog posts, I have addressed a few that I try to avoid.  As an author it can be dangerous to make the claim that I am avoiding clichés when they can be hard to avoid.  I would imagine that many times when authors use clichés in their works it is unintentional, or perhaps I would just like to give my fellow writers the benefit of the doubt.  Especially if the writer has a traditional publishing contract, I would guess if the author included clichés it is intentional.  What cliché have I not addressed before that is replete in fantasy books, TV shows, and films?  The one magical weapon that can destroy the dark lord.

I have seen this cliché repeated in various fantasy stories.  There is the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings, the Sword of Shannara in the Shannara series, and Harry Potter is the only one in the whole world who can defeat Voldemort.  In that sense, Harry Potter is the magical object that can destroy the villain.  It is a neat concept and is believable within the context of a nearly all-powerful villain.  If a writer sets up an immortal, super-powerful antagonist, it is very difficult to defeat him or her in a believable way.  However, does this have to be the case for so many villains in fantasy?  This cliché is also one of the many common complaints I have found with post-Tolkien fantasy.  What if fantasy started to regularly employ other means of defeating the main villain?  What if modern fantasy could rise above the common problems that make it look a lot like clones of the Middle-Earth Legendarium?  What if the antagonist destroyed himself?  What if the protagonist found an unconventional chink in the villain’s metaphorical armor?

What I want to see is new life breathed into the fantasy genre.

Sign up for my newsletter!

Goandria: A world set apart

One of my favorite ways speculative fiction is portrayed is when the setting is a completely different world and environment. I like to see stories take place in worlds other than Earth. I understand the purpose of placing fictional stories in our home world, but for me to truly get immersed in the experience, I like it to be somewhere new. From my perspective, it seems that science fiction works much better on Earth than fantasy does.

Once again, I will use Tolkein’s mythology as an example. He paints a beautiful picture of Middle-Earth, filled with races and creatures completely different than we would encounter in everyday life. Yet the stories of Middle-Earth are supposed to be a fictional history of the Earth we know today. It is an intriguing idea, but there is a part of me that is disappointed. I feel that placing a magical world within our own ruins the mystery. Of course not all share my view and this is just a personal preference. However, when I set out to write my own stuff I decided it would not take place on Earth, nor will it be an alternate dimension. I made Goandria to be its own world. The best part of speculative fiction for me is the speculative part.

With making something entirely different with Goandria, I feel I have the freedom to be more fluid with the world. There is medieval technology in Goandria, but I mix in modern dialogue to show that Goandria does not necessarily follow the same developmental history as our own world. With Goandria I aim to take the reader on a journey that I would enjoy to go on. One where everything is new, yet there is a sense of familiarity that coincides with it.

Sign up for my newsletter!

Behind the Scenes: The Worlox

The worlox are antagonists of The Schism and creatures of utter depravity. Long before the events of the short story series, these demons entered into Goandria, and with them came destruction and death. Much of Goandria froze over when the worlox arrived because of the power of these beings. But who are the worlox, and what makes them different from other antagonists?

The worlox are demons, but they are a diverse group. I depict several kinds faced in The Schism. Why would I chose this foe? Well, this part of Goandria’s history is only hinted at in an upcoming novel series, and when I was a kid, I wrote out a timeline when the worlox ruled. Until recently, though, I did not intend to write the story of the worlox. Then a friend who had read my first manuscript said it would make a great story. I imagined a world before the Three Republics established in Goandria, a world where there are no real governments outside of the worlox. The only laws, beside the worlox, are those of the wizards, and the wizards loosely enforce these laws at best. Being representatives of Voshnore and his will, the wizards have taken charge to care for the people of Goandria. Yet, like all people, the wizards are flawed. They become somewhat self-righteous and arrogant, focusing on war instead of the people.

What I wanted to do with the worlox is have a very different enemy than the upcoming series. In the novels that take place after The Schism, I have an oppressed people that comprise the armies of the antagonist. I wanted to toy with the idea of powerful spiritual beings taking on physical form and dominating the world. What would the world look like if demons did that? Now my answer to that question is not as dark as it could be. There was a bigger story to be told in The Schism, and I didn’t want to focus solely on the brutality of the worlox. I also aim to have a large age range for my books, but there were times when I contemplated showing the true darkness within the worlox culture. What I chose to do instead was offer bits and pieces, small glimpses into their world and what they are like. Instead of focusing on the gritty dark details of their lives, I aim to show what it would be like to have armies of demons roaming the world and what inevitably happens when a race of inherently selfish beings take over Goandria.

Sign up for my newsletter!

Behind the Scenes of Goandria: The Schism

20141013_022913000_iOS

The short story series Goandria: The Schism tells the tale of two wizards, Lorkai and Evera, as they make their way to the northern regions of the world to save seventeen captive comrades. In this series, Goandria is a much different world than I had originally envisioned, featured in the up-coming full-length novel series. The Schism takes place several millennia before the main events of the novels. It sets up the events to come, but it was a story I never really intended to write. It is a time period when demons, known as worlox, rule Goandria, and most of the people have been eradicated or enslaved except for the wizard order.

As a result of worlox oppression, the wizards have been waging war upon the demons for generations. The war has gone on for so long that none remember when there was no war. Since the wizards at this time make up the majority of the population, let’s talk about them and their powers.

To continue my theme of breaking from the norms in fantasy and still presenting something familiar, I wanted to make the wizards of Goandria blessed with a special gift and held accountable for its usage. Wizards in Goandria are not gods among men. Yes, they have powers other people could only dream of, but they have their limits. One of the biggest turn-offs for me with the Harry Potter series is that there are no defined limitations on magic. As far as I can understand, Harry Potter magic is limited only by the user’s innate abilities, and that still doesn’t limit the user because a witch or wizard can become more powerful. Essentially, how I understand Harry Potter, the world could potentially end up with bunch of mini-gods running around. Note: this is not to say I dislike Harry Potter, just that this is something I have observed with the series and I don’t care for this element personally. I actually enjoy the overall story of Harry Potter.

So what is my response? How do I create a wizard order that has limits and cannot become demi-gods? In the Goandria series, the wizards are bestowed with their magical gifts at birth by the creator, Voshnore. Similar to other series, wizards need to be trained. In Goandria, they go to the temples to learn. Some wizards live at the temples during their training, while others live with their families (similar to college, but for all ages). Magic must only be used by the wizards as a way to help others, or to help themselves under extreme circumstances. The magic Voshnore has blessed the wizards with cannot be used for selfish means, such as for doing chores or for evil. Since Voshnore chooses those who can handle the gift, he will also take it away when it is misused.

While I hint at this in The Schism, the main point of that story is to give a background to a prominent character in my upcoming novel series. The wizard system of magic is flushed out in more detail in there. In The Schism, I aim to show another side of the wizards, where they are more political and self-righteous.

Sign up for my newsletter!