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Monday, November 8, 2010

Standing Out in Fantasy

So I've begun my NaNoWriMo effort, as I posted in my last blog. I believe I also posted what it's about. Essentially it's a story set approximately one thousand years after the fall of the Great Old Ones, which in my world was caused by the Elder Race bringing a gigantic meteor crashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The protagonists are the first great heroes among humankind, men and women who perform great deeds to establish humanity as the dominant force on the planet, and thus become the pagan gods of old.

It is, as you obviously surmise, a heroic fantasy, swords-and-sorcery tale, and there are so many paths that could be taken that it could easily expand into an ongoing series. A few notes:

1. It's damn hard to write a fantasy world where humans have civilization without metallurgy.

2. Damn, Seth is one brutal son of a bitch. Poor Isis! I suspect she'll give him his just dues in the end, though.

Here's the problem I've run into.

Have you been to a book store lately? Browsed the sci-fi/fantasy shelves? They are positively littered with books of high, epic, and heroic fantasy. And the VAST majority of these books look very similar on their face. How does one create a fantasy series that's different, that stands out in some way and makes a mark? Is it worth the bother even to try?

I sort of dig the concept behind this work, so I'm going to write it for myself, either way. In the end, I guess, that's all that matters--write for yourself and hope an audience finds you.

So, dear readers, what do you think? What's it take for a fairly typical heroic fantasy work to stand out these days? Is a novel concept enough?


  1. If you really wanted to break the mold of heroic fantasy, then prohibit yourself from including any quests, mentors or prophecies. I have been unable to do so in my own writing, but what the hell. :-)

  2. Hah! I can see it now: "Odin sat passively, contemplating the nature of the universe. Occasionally he'd swat a fly with his stone hammer. One day he climbed up on a tree and had Loki nail him to it."

    For 300 pages.

  3. Interesting site you have here, Jason. My own NaNo effort was derailed by vacation and illness. What caught my gaze was your thoughts on contemporary fantasy. Truthfully, most of it is tired. Like you, I've been trying for years to write sword & sorcery in a different way ... sort of the same way your previous commenter described except I went first person with it. It's tough, but doable. I think that after 15 years of wrestling with my writing, I'm to the point where I'm going with your advice of writing for yourself and hope for an audience. I've known this to be true, but never pursued it. This is a good web log. I dig it.

    ~ Will

  4. Thanks, Will! Glad you enjoy the blog. Pass the word around--I live on comments and readership.


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