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Fantasy that isn't heavy on the weapons?

The more I read of currently popular fantasy, the more dismayed I am that there tends to be such a huge focus on weaponry and fighting and the protagonists being (or becoming) martial arts geniuses. I stick with some of these books anyway if, such as in The Hunger Games, they're written really well and the plot and characters are compelling. But I've got to admit that violence and weaponry and action scenes are really not my favorite things. They're never the parts I re-read for pleasure (that would be the love declarations, or some particularly amusing exchanges or incidents, or passages of beautiful writing describing something magical). I don't particularly like writing fighting-and-weapons scenes either, though sometimes I find I have to, given the way I've set things up. So now I'm pondering how to set up a fantasy book so I can spend as little time as possible in violent weapon-related scenes and still create a really good read.

I think this is actually what appeals to me about the Harry Potter world, and also stories like Howl's Moving Castle: we get a lot of time to hang out in the magic world and enjoy it, and when there's fighting, it's almost solely with spells and with using one's brain. When Hermione actually uses her fist to hit Draco, it's all the more startling and satisfying that way. Except I want to write for grown-ups more than for kids. So, yeah. Pondering this, and I see from forum discussions like this that others have pondered it too.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2017 05:34 am (UTC)
Take a look at Tolkien. For all that he writes about war, he really doesn't go into that much detail when he does. (I remember that one of the reasons he didn't want to license his stories for movies is that he thought there would be too much fighting.) Even if you've set things up, as you say, for fighting to happen, that doesn't mean you have to get into describing it. It's your book - there's no reason why you should have to write about something you don't want to write about.
Aug. 6th, 2017 09:43 pm (UTC)
True--I was thinking about Tolkien. Though obviously he gives armies and weapons a lot of importance, some of the most important things are done by completely non-martial hobbits sneaking around. :) I count him in the "approved" side since we do get to spend a lot of time enjoying the magical world and its beauty, rather than being dunked too deeply in a grimdark mood. I will have to do it the way I like it--otherwise there really is no point in writing it!
Aug. 6th, 2017 09:59 pm (UTC)
I think that fantasy as a setting may see the most published works in genres where battle prowess is expected, either as a perquisite or as a beat for coming-of-age - sword and sorcery, sword and sandal, high fantasy, low fantasy, heroic fantasy, etc.

I don't think I see a lot of /regular/ marketing or push for other types of stories set in a fantasy setting. While you bring up Harry Potter and it's ilk, there are plenty in the YA market that follow "traditional" lines as well.

So in some ways it's selection bias where what gets written most is what already shows it's market viability.
Aug. 7th, 2017 02:55 am (UTC)
Yeah, it may be that if I choose this less-violent path, it'll be far less likely to get wildly popular. But I doubt I'd enjoy writing the grimdark violent type, therefore so be it! Maybe I'm a paranormal-romantic-comedy type at heart. :)

Edited at 2017-08-07 02:55 am (UTC)
Aug. 24th, 2017 08:40 pm (UTC)
I've noticed the same emphasis in LARPs, too. There's not a lot of room for noncombatant characters, and I think this is unfortunate. Nothing wrong with combative books/LARPs, but it'd be awfully nice if there was more variety.
Aug. 25th, 2017 06:28 pm (UTC)
Ah, yeah, I can see how the same problem would apply there. Need more representation for the scholarly and wise and funny characters! :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )