How to avoid writing clichés in fantasy
Any bookstore you walk into, you will find shelves upon shelves of fantasy fiction. There are actually quite a lot of fantasy books but they all seem to be weak imitations of the same book. Most fantasy books tend to be predictable and filled with clichés at every step. If you remove all the fantasy clichés you’ll end up with a book that isn’t much of fantasy but you definitely earn points for coming up with something new.
The trick to writing great fantasy isn’t exactly removing all the clichés but putting your own twist on them because fantasy readers love stereotypes twisted into a fictional narrative.
Here are a few clichés you must try to avoid and put your own spin on when writing fiction.
Not that all fantasy books play on the trope of a Chosen One but there are many that simply revolve around the journey of a hero taking control, although reluctantly because there is a prophecy that he must in order to defeat evil in the world. Prophecies about ‘the Chosen One’ make up some of the most beloved fantasy works such as The Lord of the Rings, The Harry Potter series, and many more. These books are proof that ‘the Chosen One’ trope was an incredibly successful one. But that is also a reason why there can’t be more of the same with the same kind of success.
Why not write about a prophecized villain? Or prophecize someone who wants the responsibility or is vain instead of writing the same valiant and insufferably humble heroes under new names. Better yet, why not write prophecies without making them the sole motivation to save the world. Maybe the hero just wanted to? Or believed in a worthy cause and decided to go for it?
Reusing the same tropes no matter how successful they were in the past will not work. The key is to create something nobody has read before. In fact, fantasy is all about the strange ones, the misfits; so why not write about the unlikely?
There are many settings for your fantasy plot and Medieval Europe is no longer one of them. There’s just too many. And as a writer who loves to half-ass the research process, trust me; I would go for a medieval European setting and just come up with a name for it for the ‘fictional world’.
There are so many cultures with rich history, fables, and mythology that you can fuel a fantasy novel with. It’s all about leaving your comfort zone and creating something new. In fact, a new setting is the most prominent aspect of a fantasy novel and can significantly impact how unique the overall story will be.
This one hurts me to write because I am a sucker for a fantasy novel where the main character has a magical weapon and it has been hiding in plain despite the quest he is set on. But isn’t there always a magical dagger somewhere in the mix that can stab the absolute hype out of a Night King or two.
The world does not need more of that.
Here’s food for thought. Maybe the magical weapon doesn’t belong to the hero. Maybe the magical weapon is the problem? Maybe there are a few powerful weapons in the hiding and better yet, the hero invents one.
The seat of power.
Fantasies almost always showcase monarchies and although we love a good dynasty of dragon riders ruling with an absolute iron fist (and some dragon fire) we need the fantasy world to be surreal but also relatable. And as it so happens Monarchies are just not.
In fact, using different kinds of government systems in your story can actually make it more interesting. The possibilities are endless once you break away from the mold of a fantasy kingdom.
The governments must be inclusive, (Yes, even in the real world)
Why cant the rulers be dwarfs, goblins, and other mythical creatures that have been deemed less (not so surprisingly) by humans in the realm of Fantasy?
Fantasies are full of possibilities which is why people love to read them so much. There are so many ways that you can avoid using clichés and reinvent them to ensure that your fantasy is the unique one.
Let me know in the comments below which fantasy clichés are you planning on planning to put your own spin on.